Extended lockdown is elimination’s ‘own-goal’

25 August 2020

Media Release

The extension of Auckland’s lockdown shows the cost of the Government’s continued pursuit of elimination of Covid19 and intention to wait for a vaccine.

The Covid Plan B group says New Zealand is now one of the few countries pursuing elimination and “hiding” behind its border and lockdowns in hope of a vaccine.

Spokesperson Simon Thornley says “the Government, and the experts it is listening to, are hell-bent on elimination. The extension can’t be justified for any other reason.”

“They are betting the house on eliminating Covid-19 long term and finding a vaccine in that time. It’s like developing policy based on winning Lotto.”

“It is a brave call to defy the conclusion the rest of the world has come to; that we must learn to live with this virus. But they must take responsibility for the success or failure of their approach.”

In a webinar on Monday evening, Plan B clarified measurable goals whereby the success or failure of the government policy may be judged, since the government and its health advisors are now talking simultaneously of elimination, but say the country must also be prepared for further frequent community outbreaks of Covid-19. Here we clarify that these outcomes are mutually exclusive.

  • Success will see no community transmission of Covid-19 in NZ forever, (ie. elimination), and dissemination of an effective vaccine against Covid19 by the end of 2021 that achieves herd immunity. Such a policy must also result in: no decline in quality of life or mortality for other illnesses, no reduction in social wellbeing, mobility or happiness measure, no increase in people in poverty, no decline in economic measures or at least a decline less than comparable countries that opt for suppression of the virus. All cases that occur during this period must have a recent history of international travel.
  • Failure will be continued community transmission of Covid-19 into the future (ie. the virus is not eliminated), with no effective vaccine delivered by the end of 2021, with: an increase in mortality from other illnesses (except influenza), worse measurements of wellbeing, more poverty, and declines in standards of living, debt, GDP that are at least as bad as international levels.

“We also point out that there are several infectious diseases in New Zealand with effective vaccines or treatments that are yet to be eliminated from this country. These include: pertussis, syphilis, scabies, viral hepatitis, HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, meningococcal disease, pneumococcal disease and tuberculosis. The only successful globally eradicated viral infection is smallpox and this took thirty years to achieve.”

/ends

Contact: Simon Thornley, 021 299 1752

New lockdowns are proof that they don’t work

Media Release

13 August 2020

Epidemiologist Simon Thornley says the new virus outbreaks and lockdown responses are proof that New Zealand must, as the WHO has recently said, learn to live with the virus.

“An outbreak was inevitable, and therefore lockdowns were never a viable repeatable solution – you pay a high price, repeatedly.”

“As we’re about to experience yet again, lockdowns harm everyone more than the coronavirus does.”

“Protecting the elderly, staying at home if you are ill and hand hygiene are the mainstays of reducing the spread of the virus.”

Thornley says it is ironic that the Government had now also decided to lock down all aged care facilities.

“This is precisely the solution we advocated three months ago. Proof has since mounted that those of us over 65 are the only people at real risk: the age of death with this virus is much the same as what we observed in people who died last year. The risk is extremely low for people aged less than 65. No one has yet died in their fifties or younger in New Zealand.

Even in apparently ‘hard hit’ regions of the world, people aged less than 65 without underlying conditions were very unlikely to die from the virus. They accounted for 0.7–3.6% of all COVID deaths in France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Georgia, and New York City.

“Safe hygiene practices and protection of the elderly is the best solution.” Thornley said.

Thornley points out that the Government promised that the first lockdown was to eliminate the virus, and its four-day extension would ‘lock in the gains’.

“Yet here we are, with the virus, locking down again. Proof, if you needed it, that lockdowns only delay, or even magnify, the health and economic harm.”

On Monday 17 August, the Covid Plan B group is live streaming the COVID-19 Science and Policy Symposium, featuring international experts analysing the New Zealand situation.

The international speakers confirmed include founder of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre Dr David Katz, who worked at the front line of New York hospitals dealing with patients, and viral immunologist Dr Byram Bridle who is part of a team commissioned by the Canadian Government to develop a COVID vaccine.

To find out more information about the COVID-19 Science and Policy Symposium, visit here.

ENDS

Herd immunity the “only long term solution”: Oxford Public Health Prof

“If safe and effective vaccines and life-saving preventative and therapeutic medications are not found, lengthy lockdowns prove impossible, and the pandemic does not disappear spontaneously, population immunity is the only, long-term solution.

“I am not advocating that we dispense with all control measures, we still need to wash our hands, keep our distance and do everything we are being advised to.

“The bottom line is that older people have got a lot to gain from lockdowns and a lot to lose from the infection. Young people have a lot to lose from lockdowns and not much to lose from the infection.”

Raj Bhopal, emeritus professor of public health at Edinburgh University.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12352932

 

 

 

How did it come to this (Covid over-reaction)?

Dr. Carlo Caduff, King’s College of London, delivers a thoughtful critique of the social, political and ideaological drivers behind the panicked response, and the almost deliberate ignoring of facts.

We urgently need to look beyond the virus if we want to understand the real seriousness of what is happening today. How did we end up in this strange space of thinking, acting and feeling that has normalized extremes and that is based on the assumption that biological life is an absolute value separate from politics? Never has it been more important to insist that another politics of life is possible.

https://evidencenotfear.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Carlo-Caduff-What_Went_Wrong_With_Corona.pdf

Covid19 response may kill more in India than the virus

Mob mentality that feeds hysteria

By Bharat Dogra 

 

The situation is much more serious in developing countries like India where a large percentage of people lead a precarious life even in normal times and hardly have any savings to fall back upon in distress situations like those created by prolonged lockdowns.

“[The] aim should be to protect the risk groups, without endangering the availability of medical care and the health of the whole population, as is unfortunately occurring.” One of the reasons why evidence- based response could not become effective has been because the voice of some very senior scientists like Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, who challenged draconian measures and exaggerated response at an early stage, did not get the desired attention.

Why new Covid19 cases is not a “surge”

https://www.orlandomedicalnews.com/article/3545/letter-to-the-editor-why-increasing-number-of-cases-of-covid-19-is-not-bad-news

Letter to the Editor: Why Increasing Number of Cases of COVID-19 is NOT Bad News

By JOHN T. LITTELL, MD

Several times a day, on every possible news outlet, we are bombarded with updates as to the new number of “cases” of COVID-19 in the U.S. and elsewhere.  News analysts then use these numbers to justify criticisms of those who dare to reject the CDC’s recommendations with regards to mask wearing and social distancing.   It is imperative that all Americans  – and especially those in the medical profession – understand the actual definition of a “case” of COVID -19 so as to make informed decisions as to how to live our lives.

Older Americans remember all too well the dread they experienced when a family member was diagnosed with a “case” of scarlet fever, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), or polio.  During my career in family medicine, including several years as an Army physician, I have cared for patients with chickenpox, shingles, Lyme disease as well as measles, tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS.   The “case definition” established for all of these diseases by the CDC requires the presence of signs and symptoms of that disease.  In other words, each case involved a SICK patient.  Laboratory studies may be performed to “confirm” a diagnosis, but are not sufficient in the absence of clinical symptoms.

Having now been privileged to care for sick patients with COVID-19, both in and out of the hospital setting, I am happy to see the number of these sick patients dwindle almost to zero in my community – while the “case numbers” for COVID-19 continue to go up.  Why is that?

In marked contrast to measles, shingles, and other infectious disease, “cases” of COVID-19 do NOT require the presence of ANY symptoms whatsoever.   Health departments are encouraging everyone and anyone to come in for testing, and each positive test is reported as yet another “new” case of COVID-19!

On April 5, 2020, a small number of state epidemiologists (Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) Technical Supplement: Interim-20-ID-01) came up with a “surveillance” case definition for COVID-19.  At the time, there was uncertainty as to whether or not completely asymptomatic persons could transmit COVID-19 sufficiently enough to infect and cause disease in others. (This notion has never been proven and, in fact,  has recently been discounted – cfr “ A Study on the Infectivity of Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Carriers,  Ming Fao et al, Respir Med, 2020 Aug – available online through PubMed 2020 May 13, as well as recent reports from the WHO itself).   The CSTF thereby justified the unconventional case definition for COVID-19, adding  “CSTE realizes that field investigations will involve evaluations of persons with no symptoms and these individuals will need to be counted as cases.”

Hence, anyone who has a positive PCR test (the nasal swab, PCR test for COVID Antigen or Nucleic Acid) or serological test (blood test for antibodies –IgG and/or IgM) would be classified as a “case” – even in the absence of symptoms.   In our hospitals at this time, there are hundreds of former nursing home residents sitting in “COVID” units who are in their usual state of good health, banned from returning to their former nursing home residences simply because they have TESTED Positive for COVID-19 during mass testing programs in the nursing homes.

The presence of a positive lab test for COVID-19 in a person who has never been sick is actually GOOD news for that person and for the rest of us.  The positive test indicates that this person has likely mounted an adequate immune response to a small dose of COVID-19 to whom he or she was exposed – naturally (hence, no need for a vaccine vs. COVID-19).

It is important as well to understand that the presence of lab testing is not the ONLY criterion that the  the CDC uses to established a diagnosis of COVID-19.  The presence of only 1 or 2 flu-like symptoms (fever,chills, cough, sore throat,  shortness of breath)  – in the absence of another proven cause (e.g., influenza, bacterial pneumonia) is SUFFICIENT to give a diagnosis of COVID-19 – as long as the patient also meets certain “epidemiological linkage” criteria as follows:

“In a person with clinically compatible symptoms,   [a “case” will be reported if that person had] one or more of the following exposures in the 14 days before onset of symptoms: travel to or residence in an area with sustained, ongoing community transmission of SARS-CoV-2; close contact (10 minutes or longer, within a 6 foot distance) with a person diagnosed with COVID-19; or member of a risk cohort as defined by public health authorities during an outbreak.”  Note that the definition of a “risk cohort” includes age > 70 or living in a nursing home or similar facility.

So, in essence, any person with an influenza- like illness (ILI) could be considered a “case” of COVID-19,  even WITHOUT confirmatory lab testing.  The CDC has even advised to consider any deaths from pneumonia or ILI as “Covid-related” deaths – unless the physician or medical examiner establishes another infectious agent as the cause of illness.

Now perhaps you see why the increasing number of cases, and even deaths, due to COVID-19 is fraught with misinterpretation and is NOT in any way a measure of the ACTUAL morbidity and mortality FROM COVID-19.   My patients who insist upon wearing masks, gloves and social distancing are citing these misleading statistics as justification for their decisions (and, of course, that they are following the “CDC guidelines”).  I simply advise them, “COVID-19 is NOT in the atmosphere around us; it resides in the respiratory tracts of infected individuals and can only be transmitted to others by sick, infected persons after prolonged contact with others”.

So you may ask – why are we continuing to report increasing numbers of cases of COVID as though it were BAD news for America? Rather than as GOOD news, i.e, that the thousands of healthy Americans testing positive  (also known as  “asymptomatic”)  are indicative of the presence of herd immunity – protecting themselves and many of us from potential future assaults by variants of COVID?

Why did we as a society stop sending our children to schools and camps and sports activities?  Why did we stop going to work and church and public parks and beaches?  Why did we insist that healthy persons “stay at home” – rather than observing the evidence-based, medically prudent method of identifying those who were sick and isolating them from the rest of the population –   advising the sick to “stay at home” and allowing the rest of society to function normally?  And, while we witnessed the gatherings of protestors in recent days with little concerns for COVID-19 spread among these asymptomatic persons, most certainly many are hoping  that the increasing “case” numbers for COVID-19 will discourage folks from coming to any more rallies for certain candidates for political office.

Fear is a powerful weapon.  FDR famously broadcast to Americans in 1933 that “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself”.  I would argue that we have to fear those who would have us remain fearful and servile and willing to surrender basic freedoms without justification.

John Thomas Littell, MD, is a board-certified family physician. After earning his MD from George Washington University, he served in the US Army, receiving the Meritorious Service Medal for his work in quality improvement, and also served with the National Health Service Corps in Montana. During his eighteen years in Kissimmee, FL, Dr Littell has served on the faculty of the UCF School of Medicine, President of the County Medical Society, and Chief of Staff at the Florida Hospital. He currently resides with his wife, Kathleen, and family in Ocala, Florida, where he remains very active as a family physician with practices both in Kissimmee and Ocala. To learn more, visit johnlittellmd.com

Learn to live with virus: NY Times

Around the world, governments that had appeared to tame the coronavirus are adjusting to the reality that the disease is here to stay. But in a shift away from damaging nationwide lockdowns, they are looking for targeted ways to find and stop outbreaks before they become third or fourth waves.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/24/world/europe/countries-reopening-coronavirus.html

Millions of accumulated years of life will be lost to Covid-19 response

[Lockdown] policies have created the greatest global economic disruption in history, with trillions of dollars of lost economic output. These financial losses have been falsely portrayed as purely economic. To the contrary, using numerous National Institutes of Health Public Access publications, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and various actuarial tables, we calculate that these policies will cause devastating non-economic consequences that will total millions of accumulated years of life lost in the United States, far beyond what the virus itself has caused.

https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/499394-the-covid-19-shutdown-will-cost-americans-millions-of-years-of-life

Stanford epidemiologist says ‘no more lockdown’

John PA Ioannidis

Lockdowns were desperate, defendable choices when we knew little about covid-19. But, now that we know more, we should avoid exaggeration.21 We should carefully and gradually remove lockdown measures, with data driven feedback on bed capacity and prevalence/incidence indicators. Otherwise, prolonged lockdowns may become mass suicide.

 

Prolonged lockdowns fuel economic depression, creating mass unemployment. Jobless people may lose health insurance. Entire populations may witness decreased quality of life and mental health.19

 

Underprivileged populations and those in need are hit harder by crises. People at risk of starvation worldwide have already exceeded one billion.20 We are risking increased suicides, domestic violence, and child abuse. Malaise and societal disintegration may also advance, with chaotic consequences such as riots and wars.

https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1924

 

Did the Cyprus lockdown make a difference? Yes – it made infections worse.

A Cypriot epidemiologist tracking the data…. says around half of people infected in Cyprus may have contracted the virus while indoors.

 

Dr Elpidoforos Soteriades, who got his degree in epidemiology at Harvard, told the Sunday Mail: “In the case of population lockdown, people were forced to stay at home. However, once the virus was already spreading within the community, lockdown was literally forcing healthy individuals to stay in close contact with relatives that might have been exposed to the virus and were potentially spreading the virus at home.”

Lockdown: did it make a difference?