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Barrington Schmarrington

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The Barrington Declaration may not be so great after all:

An open letter that made headlines calling for a herd immunity approach to Covid-19 lists a number of apparently fake names among its expert signatories, including “Dr Johnny Bananas” and “Professor Cominic Dummings”.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/09/herd-immunity-letter-signed-fake-experts-dr-johnny-bananas-covid?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

The scientific ‘experts‘ also include 18 homeopaths and a practitioner of Mongolian khoomii singing. And another whose first name is the lyrics to the Macarena. 
 

I hope they don’t apply the same level of quality control to their scrutiny of the evidence about COVID...


 

Post edited at 09:45
3
 wintertree 10 Oct 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Does anyone else make a mental jump to Danny John-Jules as this Barrington?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TUhEJ9lUPYE

Its good that some of the media are digging in to the signatories now, but too late; this PR event and it’s Three Stooges have already achieved their purpose - contributing to the noise that falsely elevates their goals in the public mind far beyond their merit.

1
 Blunderbuss 10 Oct 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

The way this nonsense has been latched onto by the right wing press as a 'solution' and now parroted by the hard of thinking on SM is disappointing but not unexpected...

3
 Wainers44 10 Oct 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Aren't they also all members of SAGE??!!

In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Not much news there.  Anybody could sign it from the outset as expression of their opinion.  Pity seeing that paper sunk into the sewage to purposely deceit, and then make that their story (marking their own homework).  Why couldn't they do some proper investigation journalism into the other side of the science - oh, that would require brain cells, effort, etc..

There seem to be quite a few significant world leading expert signatories to that document, but amazing how much weight is given to fraudsters to "prove" the contents is invalidated.  Seriously, we need better journalism than the sh!te they publish.

I have no opinion on the Barrington Declaration itself, but the process for signing wasn't intended to be exclusive.

18
 wintertree 10 Oct 2020
In reply to druss:

> Why couldn't they do some proper investigation journalism into the other side of the science - oh, that would require brain cells, effort, etc..

Indeed - investigative journalism remains alive in NZ and was digging in to the "science" and the organisational links of the anti-lockdown campaign in the early days.  

>  but the process for signing wasn't intended to be exclusive.

Yet...

  • They asked people to tick box to say if they were an academic or practitioner in relevant fields
  • They then present a specific list of "Co-signers" titled "Medical and Public Health Scientists and Medical Practitioners" with the clear intent of showing credibility of their document
    • The media report the size of that list as the number of of relevant professionals to sign it without - until after the initial press buzz has subsided - giving it any scrutiny.

If I was organising this, I would have had some basic verification process based on a professional email to vet the list that I present to the world as medical experts.  Then again I would also have included a clear, visible conflict of interest declaration for each of the three actual signatories before releasing a single word of the work to the world.

They are not following any of the basic tenants of science in the gathering and presenting of evidence for this signing process - some that absolutely apply here are the verification of data, declaring conflicts of interest and considering them in light of a well defined policy, contextualising the data they present etc.  I invite peopler to draw their own conclusions from this.

1
 wbo2 10 Oct 2020
In reply to druss: If it's not exclusive what's the point?  If you're not an expert it isn't expert advice, jsut rambling

1
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Interesting how Google no-longer returns search results to for the Declaration, but other search engines do.  Searched using the same string "the great barrington declaration"

One thing that scares me in this pandemic, is the role of tech companies (being private) have the ability to manipulate our echo chambers and decide what is true/untrue.

How much of our lives are being influenced by algorithm and management intervention.  Scary stuff.

12
 kaiser 10 Oct 2020
In reply to druss:

> Interesting how Google no-longer returns search results to for the Declaration, but other search engines do.  Searched using the same string "the great barrington declaration"

> One thing that scares me in this pandemic, is the role of tech companies (being private) have the ability to manipulate our echo chambers and decide what is true/untrue.

> How much of our lives are being influenced by algorithm and management intervention.  Scary stuff.

Yikes that is actually quite scary...  

3
 Stuart William 10 Oct 2020
In reply to druss:

> Interesting how Google no-longer returns search results to for the Declaration, but other search engines do.  Searched using the same string "the great barrington declaration"

No, it’s not interesting because it’s nonsense. I searched “Barrington declaration” in google and got the original site with the declaration and option to sign, along with a fairly balanced ratio of critical and supporting articles.

Post edited at 12:10
1
 Stuart William 10 Oct 2020
In reply to kaiser:

It would be if it were true. The declaration appears on google along with both supporting and critical articles. 

 Luke90 10 Oct 2020
In reply to Stuart William:

> No, it’s not interesting because it’s nonsense. I searched “Barrington declaration” in google and got the original site with the declaration and option to sign

It probably was nonsense but it's not quite as clear cut as that because Google personalises search results quite heavily these days. Two different people can get very different results for exactly the same search, let alone a slight variation on it.

 kaiser 10 Oct 2020
In reply to Stuart William:

> It would be if it were true. The declaration appears on google along with both supporting and critical articles. 

It's true for me.  When i used those words in google I didn't get the original site and I looked 6 pages down - odd.

As others have said google must give different results to different people

2
 mik82 10 Oct 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Essentially what it's proposing is the return of shielding but a return to normal life for everyone that is not shielding, except care workers. Given what happened with shielding and lockdown before, and that we'd need a year running at the infection rates we had at peak before any kind of herd immunity, I'm not surprised people are signing it as "Johnny Bananas"

3
 Stuart William 10 Oct 2020
In reply to Luke90:

Interesting point. For what it’s worth I just tried the same search from a private browser on a brand new work computer, which hasn’t previously been connected to the internet nor linked to any of my web accounts. Far from conclusive but I got a very similar set of results, possibly with a slightly more positive bias toward the declaration, along with the original site. 

As I say, far from conclusive of anything but I’m confident in saying that google hasn’t censored the declaration as implied.

Admittedly the most recent news cycle about the fake names comes up highest in the results, followed by the initial news cycle publicising the declaration. But it makes sense to me that the algorithms are picking up high traffic international news sites before a small subject-specific website that likely has minimal traffic and no meaningful web history. 

 Stuart William 10 Oct 2020
In reply to kaiser:

Interesting. I mean I’m not surprised that the Barrington declaration ranks lower than major international news outlets in terms of what google thinks people are looking for but maybe it’s not there, or even lower in the results for some people. Although would google be wrong in looking at your browsing history and predicting that you are more likely to be looking for an article from BBC, guardian, independent, or whoever rather than the small and new barrington declaration website which you’ve presumably never visited before (and possibly rarely or never visited anything similar)?

I’m curious, although in those 6 pages you didn’t get the original site, did you get a mix of pro and anti results? If google is trying to instil an “echo chamber” then one would expect any pro articles or blogs to also be filtered out. 

Edit: to be clear I am not trying to suggest there is anything wrong with your browsing history. My results when I first searched for this were spot on for what I was looking for - a range of responses and news articles at the top; I wasn’t particularly bothered about reading the original document which was listed further down. 

Post edited at 13:00
In reply to Stuart William:

> Interesting point. For what it’s worth I just tried the same search from a private browser on a brand new work computer, which hasn’t previously been connected to the internet nor linked to any of my web accounts. Far from conclusive but I got a very similar set of results, possibly with a slightly more positive bias toward the declaration, along with the original site. 

But presumably from the same i.p. address as one you used minutes before with your original computer/device?

In reply to druss:

> Not much news there.  Anybody could sign it from the outset as expression of their opinion.  Pity seeing that paper sunk into the sewage to purposely deceit, and then make that their story (marking their own homework).  Why couldn't they do some proper investigation journalism into the other side of the science - oh, that would require brain cells, effort, etc..

> There seem to be quite a few significant world leading expert signatories to that document, but amazing how much weight is given to fraudsters to "prove" the contents is invalidated.  Seriously, we need better journalism than the sh!te they publish.

You’re coming at this with an open mind, then...

> I have no opinion on the Barrington Declaration itself,

Of course you don’t 

but the process for signing wasn't intended to be exclusive.

Self evidently. They clearly subscribe to the “never mind the quality, feel the width” school of scientific debate. 

Post edited at 14:11
 Stuart William 10 Oct 2020
In reply to Nempnett Thrubwell:

Actually no, work laptop is restricted to only connect through a VPN

Edit: unless I misunderstand VPNs, which is entirely possible

Post edited at 14:17
In reply to wbo2:

According the Declaration website they state the purpose.

Great Barrington Declaration - As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

I assume they're trying to get attention to have their concerns taken seriously.  Not sure if having an open signature format with self-declaration of whom you represent was the best approach. 

5
In reply to Stuart William:

Interesting.  I just re-did my search from clean browser, same computer, and didn't find the website in the search results.

I find it weird for the Google search algorithm to not find the actual website containing the exact search phrase, yet other search engines do find the website, as well as the new outlet responses.

Post edited at 19:19
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Last point.  I'm surprised how easily the media has rolled over and supported this government and advisors without making an inkling of effort to maybe just see if the decisions over mental health, societies increased anxiety (which environment of fear leads to), jobs and our kids futures, our grand parents loneliness are based something close to science.

The media should be the 4th pillar of government and they're not doing their job.  At the moment we have a dominant party; no effective opposition seeing through tough lines of questioning; a compliant media.  The checks and balances of society are gone.

2
 Blunderbuss 10 Oct 2020
In reply to druss:

> According the Declaration website they state the purpose.

> Great Barrington Declaration - As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

> I assume they're trying to get attention to have their concerns taken seriously.  Not sure if having an open signature format with self-declaration of whom you represent was the best approach. 

It offers nothing in terms of practical, workable solutions to what they propose and that's before you even get onto issue of how long immunity lasts.....

1
 girlymonkey 11 Oct 2020
In reply to mik82:

> Essentially what it's proposing is the return of shielding but a return to normal life for everyone that is not shielding, except care workers. 

Which would mean that care workers kids couldn't go to school or any kind of day care, so the care workers can't go to work! And if their partner has to go to work with people, they will need to live separately! All of this while working 12 hour shifts and earning nowhere near enough! Genius plan, I wonder why the government hasn't followed it!

(Not having a go at you, I know you are repeating it and not proposing it. I just needed to vent frustration at the stupidity!)

2
 DancingOnRock 12 Oct 2020
In reply to druss:

It doesn’t show up for me either. 
 

This is more likely to be because their ability to build a website that is SEO and google friendly is just as good as their ability to include references and scientific rigour. 
 

The google ranking engine isn’t very transparent, especially to avoid people gaming the system. 
 

News outlets may not be providing back links to the original page which would really reduce the page’s visibility, as I understand that’s how google used to partly work. 

 wintertree 12 Oct 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

> I know you are repeating it and not proposing it. I just needed to vent frustration at the stupidity

Its not stupidity, it’s deliberate malice crafted by a political lobbying organisation.

4
 DancingOnRock 12 Oct 2020
In reply to wintertree:

They are being very clumsy with their approach. There are good reasons for isolating cases better and for providing better financial packages for those at risk to enable them to shield better. 
 

The wholesale lockdown of chunks of healthy society is a very blunt way of approaching this. We should have a much more coherent strategy, including specialised Covid units kept separate from hospitals and care homes.

We messed up in March by not testing and then not isolating local areas where there were outbreaks. And we were (unavoidably) killing people by giving them the wrong treatments and not isolating known cases. 

In reply to mik82:

> Essentially what it's proposing is the return of shielding but a return to normal life for everyone that is not shielding, except care workers. Given what happened with shielding and lockdown before, and that we'd need a year running at the infection rates we had at peak before any kind of herd immunity, I'm not surprised people are signing it as "Johnny Bananas"

Presumably not just care workers, anyone who works for the NHS, their families and anyone who wants any kind of medical treatment.

In reply to Blunderbuss:

I agree re practical solutions, but the current approach doesn't appear to be practical either to living with sars-cov-2 either.  Zero-covid (not achievable according to virologists) or wait for an untested vaccine for what looks like less than 0.6 % of the susceptible (death) population and less than 10 % for poor outcome/hospitalisations.

I see big impact either way and no idea which is worse.  confusing unsettling situation

In reply to druss:

A rough and ready analysis of the hospitalisation to death rate for Covid in England, with a 10 day lag looks to be averaging a pretty steady 20% at the moment. Suggesting that the 544 admissions on 9th October will equate to around 110 deaths on 19th October (England only).

Post edited at 17:46
1
 kaiser 12 Oct 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Even allowing for the 'Harold Shipman' brigade, the numbers behind this are pretty huge...

concerned citizens 381,372

medical & public health scientists 8,727

medical practitioners 22,040

In reply to kaiser:

> Even allowing for the 'Harold Shipman' brigade, the numbers behind this are pretty huge...

> concerned citizens 381,372

> medical & public health scientists 8,727

> medical practitioners 22,040

Not when you consider that there are 950,000 medical doctors in the US alone, real ones.

1
In reply to The New NickB:

> A rough and ready analysis of the hospitalisation to death rate for Covid in England, with a 10 day lag looks to be averaging a pretty steady 20% at the moment. Suggesting that the 544 admissions on 9th October will equate to around 110 deaths on 19th October (England only).


I didn't think it was that high so off I went to look at gov.uk stats and reporting. https://coronavirus-staging.data.gov.uk/. - Thanks!  Not how I planned to spend a relaxing evening going down a rabbit hole. LOL

Taking the timeline from BBC to reconstruct a timeline from test through to death - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-us-2020-54463280 I come up with the following totals (includes England, NI, Scotland and Wales)

  1. 20-09-2020 - 250,954 Daily PCR tests processed
  2. 23-09-2020 - of which 7046 (2.81%) cases reported positive
  3. 28-09-2020 - resulting in 427 (6.06%) requiring hospitalisation
  4. 11-10-2020 - which despite best efforts there were 15 (0.12%) that passed away (it's not clear if this is hospital deaths or hospital plus community deaths)

Looking at the variances between dates the number's don't fluctuate massively and don't appear to come anywhere close to 20%.  No idea if this broadly the right way of thinking about it.  Maybe I can't use google properly, but couldn't find similar at the pandemic tracking sites.

I did find IFR (infection fatality rate) by age meta-analysis (preprint) - https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.23.20160895v6.full.pdf+html

The estimated age-specific IFRs are very low for children and younger adults but increase progressively to:

  • 0.4% at age 55
  • 1.4% at age 65
  • 4.6% at age 75
  • 15% at age 85

So even the most at risk age group itself didn't cross 20% of people who end up being symptomatic.

There's also IFR research for the UK (https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/estimating-the-infection-fatality-ratio-in-england/) which includes:

  • ONS figures imply an IFR as of 4 August estimated at 0.49%
  • MRC figures imply an IFR as of 28 July estimated at 0.30%

Who knows, the scientists don't seem to know, and if they do, they don't appear to be talking to each other and Joe Blogs is left to try make more sense of things.

I wish the government and their advisors would just tell us what they know; what they don't know, and what they are urgently trying to find out.

1
In reply to The New NickB:

came across this article this evening - https://www.news.com.au/world/coronavirus/global/coronavirus-who-backflips-on-virus-stance-by-condemning-lockdowns/news-story/f2188f2aebff1b7b291b297731c3da74

Excerpts

"The World Health Organisation has backflipped on its original COVID-19 stance after calling for world leaders to stop locking down their countries and economies.

Dr. David Nabarro from the WHO appealed to world leaders yesterday, telling them to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the coronavirus.

He also claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved."

continuing ...

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

... ending with

"When asked about the petition [Great Barrington Declaration], Dr Nabarro had only good things to say. “Really important point by Professor Gupta,” he said."

1
 wintertree 12 Oct 2020
In reply to druss:

Is there any sign that his interview to The Spectator was actually endorsed by the WHO?  Is there any official guidance from the WHO agreeing in any significant way with what he said in his likely unsanctioned press interview?  

Funny coincidence that despite being Swedish, he has a strong personal connection to Oxford and is complimentary about Gupta, also based there.  I’m not a great fan of coincidence.

I wonder how long this good doctor is going to remain a member of the WHO?

2
In reply to druss:

I'm not suggesting that the IFS is 20%. It is probably something in the order of 0.5%.

Take the number that died on any specific day, divide it by the number admitted to hospital 10 days previously, it will be around 20%.

In reply to druss:

Extremely disturbing.

 wintertree 12 Oct 2020
In reply to The New NickB:

> Extremely disturbing.

I don't know about you, but I start to wonder how these people get turned - or were they sleeper agents?  This guy has gone rogue, given a damning interview to a rag that has a lot of form for misrepresenting facts over the pandemic.  His reputation with the WHO can't possibly survive this.  He knows he's a burnt asset after this, but it doesn't matter because his follow up fall from grace won't get the same press coverage as the initial outburst where his maverick interview is being widely misrepresented as being on behalf of the WHO when it's clearly in an individual capacity.

The media aren't so dumb as to fall for this, they're guilty of perpetrating the misrepresentation to bring in the advertising revenue.

2
In reply to The New NickB:

> I'm not suggesting that the IFS is 20%. It is probably something in the order of 0.5%.

> Take the number that died on any specific day, divide it by the number admitted to hospital 10 days previously, it will be around 20%.

I assume typo and you meant IFR, not IFS?  I went and just did what you wrote and interestingly very close to 20 (17.36%) when averaged using my random scroll select of data.  Obviously not every death is exactly 10 days after hospitalisation.

  • healthcare - 29-09-2020 426 admitted to hospital
  • deaths - 09-10-2020 32 (7.51%) dead
  • healthcare - 26-09-2020 333
  • deaths - 06-10-2020 61 (18.32%)
  • healthcare - 27-09-2020 331
  • deaths - 07-10-2020 91 (27.49%)
  • healthcare - 22-09-2020 345
  • deaths - 02-10-2020 61 (17.68%)
  • healthcare - 18-09-2020 254
  • deaths - 28-09-2020 53 (20.87%)
  • healthcare - 15-09-2020 260
  • deaths - 25-09-2020 32 (12.31%)

However, the research doesn't support IFR this high, nor anywhere close (references in earlier post). 

I am interested though in where/how you came by the 10 day?

In reply to wintertree:

> Is there any sign that his interview to The Spectator was actually endorsed by the WHO?  Is there any official guidance from the WHO agreeing in any significant way with what he said in his likely unsanctioned press interview?  

> Funny coincidence that despite being Swedish, he has a strong personal connection to Oxford and is complimentary about Gupta, also based there.  I’m not a great fan of coincidence.

> I wonder how long this good doctor is going to remain a member of the WHO?

In the interview excerpts published, the language he was using, implies he was speaking in formal capacity as WHO Special Envoy.  I did a quick search and didn’t find WHO guidance to use lockdowns for epidemic control is appropriate either.  The UK is locking down so things should improve now as we go through winter and into spring.  No chance of us taking alternative approach.

A number of other press outlets are reporting it too so maybe we’ll see him kicked out of WHO soon.

In reply to druss:

Why do you keep suggesting that I have said the IFR is 20%? It is around 0.5%.

10 days is just an approximation based on a number of studies looking at median hospitalisation periods.

In reply to druss:

Your BBC link goes to a completely different story. However, UK Covid 19 deaths reported on 11th October (worldometer) were 65, not 15 as you claim.

In reply to The New NickB:

> Your BBC link goes to a completely different story. However, UK Covid 19 deaths reported on 11th October (worldometer) were 65, not 15 as you claim.


The BBC link was to just show where I got a timeline from (incubation to severe cases), and nothing to do with "sentient orange".  Scroll to the bottom of the BBC page. UKC doesn't allow posting images directly which would've been better option.  There is more official covid-19 timeline but I didn't want to spend time looking for it for the illustration and point of discussion.

Deaths, healthcare, case, testing data comes directly from the UK government coronavirus website.  The link was provided.

In reply to The New NickB:

> Why do you keep suggesting that I have said the IFR is 20%? It is around 0.5%.

> 10 days is just an approximation based on a number of studies looking at median hospitalisation periods.


Your wrote earlier: A rough and ready analysis of the hospitalisation to death rate for Covid in England, with a 10 day lag looks to be averaging a pretty steady 20% at the moment. Suggesting that the 544 admissions on 9th October will equate to around 110 deaths on 19th October (England only).

which is the IFR and you were broadly correct in what you said.  We're in violent agreement.  LOL

 wintertree 13 Oct 2020
In reply to druss:

I think you're talking at cross purposes due to terminology confusion.  Easily done.

> Suggesting that the 544 admissions on 9th October will equate to around 110 deaths on 19th October (England only). [...] which is the IFR 

IFR = (number of actual deaths)/ (number of actual infections)

CFR = (numbers of attributed deaths) / (number of infections detected as cases)

NickB is talking about (number of attributed deaths) / (number of hospitalisation), which is definitely not the IFR.

10 days seems like a reasonable mean time between hospitalisation and death - I've been trying to eek the distribution of times out of our hospitalisation and deaths data but it doesn't resolve, I think because the demographics - and hence the distribution - are shifting as things worsen.  Also, it's a fool's errand when the daily figures report deaths within 28 days of a +ve test rather than deaths by death certificate cause(s). The later are collated less frequently.

Post edited at 10:09
In reply to wintertree:

Yes, I was responding to the suggestion that less than 10% of the people hospitalised with Covid die, as this does not take in to account the time lag between hospital admission and death. Using 10 days is pretty rough and ready estimate, but I think the principle is sound. Using seven day averages for both would probably make it more accurate.

Interesting that there seems to be a discrepancy between the NHS figures for 11th October (15 deaths) and the Worldometer figures (65 deaths). Worldometer gives the NHS as the original source. I know which number is most likely.

In reply to wintertree:

> Is there any sign that his interview to The Spectator was actually endorsed by the WHO?  Is there any official guidance from the WHO agreeing in any significant way with what he said in his likely unsanctioned press interview? 

> Funny coincidence that despite being Swedish, he has a strong personal connection to Oxford and is complimentary about Gupta, also based there.  I’m not a great fan of coincidence.

He is correct though, lockdowns shouldn't be the primary control method because the virus will simply carry on where it left off when you come out of lockdown as evidenced in many places. Unfortunately it would appear that the current UK primary control methods aren't effective enough at suppressing the spread, nor are many in Europe and elsewhere. Yes, the 'lockdown activation' bar may be higher now that more beds are available in hospitals, there's better treatment, and there's better testing; but if the live case count is increasing that bar will be reached eventually......and with the higher prevalence facilitated by the higher bar it's harder to knock the caseload back down quick enough.  This leads me to my long-held conclusion that elimination within a secure bubble and expansion of that bubble is the way forward because the level of primary control restriction is too much for the economy & government to bear in the long term.

 LeeWood 13 Oct 2020
In reply to Stuart William:

> No, it’s not interesting because it’s nonsense. I searched “Barrington declaration” in google and got the original site with the declaration and option to sign, along with a fairly balanced ratio of critical and supporting articles.

You must watch The Social Dilemma - in which it is stated that Google hands out different results to different searchers in different regions. If google 'knows' that druss regularly searches anti-establishment material it could easily put the brakes on - just another algorithm

2
 LeeWood 13 Oct 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

It's blatantly obvious that such a petition is open to opposition creating false signatories - then pouncing upon them.

6
 Blunderbuss 13 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

> It's blatantly obvious that such a petition is open to opposition creating false signatories - then pouncing upon them.

It would be very easy to have general signatory section and one for qualified academics with the latter having to go through some vetting process....

 wintertree 13 Oct 2020
In reply to Toerag:

> He is correct though, lockdowns shouldn't be the primary control method because the virus will simply carry on where it left off when you come out of lockdown as evidenced in many places

He is right - but at precisely the wrong time.  Right now he is contributing to some very dangerous anti-lockdown messaging as we approach a crisis with no other resolution in sight.  Lockdown should be a matter of last resort to allow appreciate control methods to be implemented, and to hit a reset button if needed when they fail.  Perhaps the UK will pull this off without needing a lockdown from where we are, but if it does it'll be a reckless feat. 

> This leads me to my long-held conclusion that elimination within a secure bubble and expansion of that bubble is the way forward because the level of primary control restriction is too much for the economy & government to bear in the long term.

Yes, and we know it is achievable through clear, consistent guidance, forwards planning and excellent messaging from government to the people, engaging everyone in the team effort with clear benefits at the end.

In reply to wintertree:

Thanks.  Yes. easily done and many of the experts in the field famously already did the same. 

 Stuart William 13 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

I don't doubt they do. But in this case it is a tiny, brand new website with barely any traffic, no history, and few if any links back to it from elsewhere. At the same time the same search terms ping numerous international news organisations and well established blogs. Who do you think will come out on top in the results?

So yes, it could be some big establishment conspiracy. Or it could be exactly the outcome one would expect to see given the knowledge available about standard SEO practice and Google's search results. 

I'd still be interested if those not getting the page are still getting a selection of pro-declaration articles along with the anti-declaration articles, because if so that rather weakens the grand conspiracy.

 LeeWood 13 Oct 2020
In reply to Stuart William:

Quote: Tech giant Google has decided that the view of these scientists should be covered up. Most users in English-speaking countries, when they google ‘Great Barrington Declaration’, will not be directed to the declaration itself but to articles that are critical of the declaration – and some that amount to little more than smears of the signatories.

Quote: There is so much at stake in the debate over lockdown – whatever decisions we take will have enormous repercussions for life, liberty, health and so much more. That a tech giant is using its considerable power to smother one side of the argument is nothing short of sinister.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/10/12/why-has-google-censored-the-great-barrington-declaration/

6
In reply to LeeWood:

And you're quoting Spiked because it's a bastion of fair mindedness and not pushing an agenda are you? I guess you know how they've all gone from being the (North London division of the) vanguard of the revolution (comrade) to the right wing(nuts) of the Tories and the Brexit Party? 

1
 LeeWood 13 Oct 2020
In reply to TobyA:

Whatever you have to say about spiked, I think you're on shaky ground to dispute the US media clampdown on anti-WHO authority. This is well publicised and condoned - by all and sundry - 'for the greater good'.

2
In reply to LeeWood:

When you say "media clampdown on anti-WHO authority", I guess you mean besides the President and the executive branch of government and their ardent amplifying and propagating TV networks, radio networks, and social media networks?

 Stuart William 13 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

... or you could completely ignore the points made and just link to an entirely un-evidenced opinion piece/rant. There is nothing there at all to suggest that the entirely predictable finding that large well established websites rank higher than a small brand new site is better explained by conspiracy.

I feel like this is covering old ground, but just because some bloke wrote something on the internet does not make it true. "It's well documented" is a meaningless claim if none of that documentation comes with the slightest shred of evidence.

Google is a commercial entity. It exists to make money which it does through advertising and selling other products. This relies on traffic. It does not surprise me at all that Google might make the following predictions: a) an article about "Johnny Bananas" will generate more clicks than a dry, fringe statement from some doctors, and b) based on people's search history they are statistically more likely to be looking for a BBC article than a dry, fringe statement from some doctors on a new website that is essentially an unknown entity. I would make exactly the same predictions, and I'm willing to bet I would probably be right.

And as for c) if they wanted to censor it then I am sure they could have done a better job. Even the article you link to just says that it doesn't appear in the top results - not being in the top results is a long way from censorship.

I think for Google to be displaying that site at the top, when there have been so many well established, high-profile news sites and blogs using the same phrases, would actually be a stronger pointer to a biased manipulation of searches. But I guess you wouldn't be complaining if they were manipulating searches to boost the agenda website and "censoring" any opposition?

Post edited at 22:07
 Stuart William 13 Oct 2020
In reply to TobyA:

Who do you think you are with your fancy-pants observations of the actual world around us? What you are forgetting is that somewhere on Youtube a bloke said it was true.

 LeeWood 14 Oct 2020
In reply to Stuart William:

I don't need some bloke on youtube to tell me. I've seen 1st hand search results 'dry-up' in the last months eg. anti-vax material

Quote: CCDH said its research indicated that social media companies had chosen to adopt lenient policies on anti-vaccine content, with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube promising only to reduce the ease with which users could find anti-vaccine content but refusing to remove pages or groups which promoted anti-vax content.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/coronavirus-vaccine-antivaxx-conspiracy-theories-one-in-six-brits-refuse-a4490866.html

nuff said - clear evidence of shuffling and de-prioritising research results

3
 Stuart William 14 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

I have already acknowledged that I don’t for a second doubt that google tweak the results in some cases. Particularly in the case of verifiably false information that directly leads to deaths.

But we are not talking about anti vax sites. We are talking about a specific search for the barrington declaration that seems to throw up entirely predictable search results. 

The very fact that you were able to find that spiked article (presuming you used a search engine), which is currently result 4 on google for me, immediately followed by the original website, demonstrates that support for it is not censored. 

Now that the news cycle has moved on a bit, and the barrington website has presumably gained some more traffic, what happens if you search “great barrington declaration”? I’d be interested to hear your results. 

Post edited at 09:00
 cb294 14 Oct 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Just heard that now, but supposedly the declaration was also signed by a Dr. Harold Shipman....

CB

 Ridge 14 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

Yes, to an extent it is censorship. However the information is not being removed. The search algorithms tailor content in all sorts of ways. The information is out there, if it's genuine research then it will be available in the various journals, and if that research reaches valid conclusions it will lead to further research.

As for 'reducing the ease users can find things' there are lots of things on the internet that don't pop up top of search engine results that many people are interested in, illegally purchasing automatic weapons, how to join Daesh or whatever they've rebranded as, stolen credit card details, hard drugs, kiddie porn. It's all lurking somewhere, but there are good reasons for trying to prevent it being accessed by malicious, or vulnerable, people.

The people peddling all these anti-vax, covid-is-hoax, let-it-rip articles and 'research papers' are a much greater threat to society than someone with a bag of charlie and an assault rifle. Once you undermine vaccination programmes and other public health initiatives there is the potential to cause death or life changing disabilities to tens or even hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Social media is being weaponised, and it's highly effective. Anybody, no matter how well educated, can be manipulated by reinforcing their prejudices, fears, dissatisfaction, hopes and world view via social media. At the extreme end of the scale "Share this if you support our troops" or "Please repost in solidatity with the Palestinians" sends the vulnerable down neo-nazi or islamist rabbit holes that become constantly deeper as the feeds become more and more extreme.

More subtly things like the "Great Barrington Declaration", linked to a right wing economic think-tank that puts profits for the rich far above the lives of the poor, can be manipulated by state actors for other purposes. Attacking public health measures is as effective as cyber attacks on critical national infrastructure like banking or the national grid. Attacks that already happen thousands of times a day.

Its a fantastic weapon, from influencing brexit to US elections, to causing panic and social division. It's the ultimate propaganda weapon. You don't ever have to reveal your cause, you just manipulate people, even with political views diametrically opposite to yours, to spread the misinformation for you. You can get flag waving US patriots to enthusiastically help out the PRC or Putin.

If you hear hoofbeats when walking down a dark country lane, don't automatically assume it must be Bill Gates riding on a zebra.

Post edited at 10:50
1
 wintertree 14 Oct 2020
In reply to Ridge:

Spot on assessment.  

Would that the social media platforms would show the same level of collective responsibility as the search engines in their weighting algorithms - I've seen the argument made that it's purely weighting things in a quest for advertising revenue that's driving this spiral of madness on social media; somehow that's a more nihilistically terrifying thought than an organised cabal behind it all.  

> If you hear hoofbeats when walking down a dark country lane, don't automatically assume it must be Bill Gates riding on a zebra.

It might be an honest scientist who has had enough and has found themselves a horse, a bag of Charlie and a linear accelerator with a plasma stage in a 40 watt range and is off to chat with a few people about the distinction between academic freedom and treason.  (Edit:  most of the coke is for the horse - it's got a long way to travel)

Post edited at 11:02
 wintertree 14 Oct 2020
In reply to cb294:

I'm surprised it's not signed by Dr Mengele and Otozō Yamada.

In reply to Ridge:

Good post. There's a tiny sliver of a chance it could possibly open a little crack of doubt in someone's mind who believes a load of total crap. But I am a bit skeptical tbh! 

> If you hear hoofbeats when walking down a dark country lane, don't automatically assume it must be Bill Gates riding on a zebra.

It's always bill on a zebra (well, sometimes it's the Jews, or Foucault on an alpaca). 

In reply to Ridge:

> don't automatically assume it must be Bill Gates riding on a zebra.

Apparently, Bill Gates rides a unicorn. I saw it on a YouTube documentary.

 LeeWood 14 Oct 2020
In reply to Ridge:

> The people peddling all these anti-vax, covid-is-hoax, let-it-rip articles and 'research papers' are a much greater threat to society than someone with a bag of charlie and an assault rifle. Once you undermine vaccination programmes and other public health initiatives there is the potential to cause death or life changing disabilities to tens or even hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

The people peddling vaccines, medications, and promoting un-bridalled corporate control of the food chain are a much greater threat to society than someone with a bag of charlie and an assault rifle. Once you undermine the impact of NCDs and the need for initiatives to reduce degenerative disease, the potential is there to boost death or life changing impairment for tens or even thousands or even millions of people - blissfully innocent of the political folly which drip-feeds poison into their bodies on a daily basis.

5
 Ridge 14 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

I see. Vaccination is all a conspiracy dreamed up by Edward Jenner in 1796 to boost the profits of industrial dairy farming by injecting surplus cowpox into the population.

The problem is you might have a point re mass produced food and vested interests controlling the food chain, but it's undermined by all this anti-vaxxer shite you keep droning on about.

 cb294 14 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

That is your typical mix of crap with worthwhile points, I wonder how you can get the two processed in your brain at the same time.

> The people peddling vaccines, medications, .......

I very much prefer not having to worry about polio, or my children being safe from SSPE and other nasty and reasonably common side effects of measles.

> and promoting un-bridalled corporate control of the food chain are a much greater threat to society than someone with a bag of charlie and an assault rifle.

That is indeed an issue, and the main driver of the mass extinction caused by our industrial agriculture.

Where can I get my bag of charlie and assault rifle?

CB

 mondite 14 Oct 2020
In reply to Ridge:

> It's all lurking somewhere, but there are good reasons for trying to prevent it being accessed by malicious, or vulnerable, people.

Oddly enough in several of those cases its not the search engines hiding it as such but rather the website owners either intentionally or just as a byproduct of trying to keep the website mostly anonymous. If you make it to easy for people to order illegal weapons then sooner or later you are going to be sending something to Joe Bloggs co police station and then have a few of his mates pop round to compare weapons.

There are various interesting questions around what controls there should be around search engines and the like. At what point would their commercial power be enough that it really needs proper review and control to prevent it being misused.

How that can be done without either risking governments taking advantage of the controls to misuse it in their favour is difficult. Especially since the obvious solution of requiring openness both makes it harder to innovate and also risks the SOE arseholes using it to spam us to hell and back.

Switching to the anti vac muppets. I dont get the claims about profiteering and crap. Anyone who puts five minutes thought into it would recognise vaccines are generally shit for profiteering. You might need a jab and then another every few years to boost it (unless its something like flu and changes all the time). So some opportunity for profit but not as much as if you can go the long term treatment route.

In reply to Stuart William:

I found the Declaration by clicking on the crtical article in the OP then clicking a link to another Guardian story that talked about the Declaration and that had a direct link to the Declaration website. Hardly censorship by the MSM.

And did you know that if you search Climbing Sheffield the Heeley boulder doesn't even show on the first page. Such oppression of those who like (free) alternatives

 Ridge 14 Oct 2020
In reply to mondite:

> Oddly enough in several of those cases its not the search engines hiding it as such but rather the website owners either intentionally or just as a byproduct of trying to keep the website mostly anonymous. If you make it to easy for people to order illegal weapons then sooner or later you are going to be sending something to Joe Bloggs co police station and then have a few of his mates pop round to compare weapons.

I'll bear that in mind when opening my online coke and assault rifle emporium, which my covert market research on UKC has discovered a huge market for.

 Stuart William 14 Oct 2020
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

Shocking news indeed! I searched for "sharks" and all the top results were about shark attacks. Indisputable evidence of the rampant anti-shark agenda in the media

 LeeWood 14 Oct 2020
In reply to Ridge:

> I see.

Both vaccination and medication put emphasis on curing problems after they have developed. Which suits the public mentality - and also corporate interests of the food industry. The pandemic health strategy perpetuates this dis-proportionate interest in cure rather than prevention. 

71% die prematurely from degenerative diseases. 95% of covid-19 deaths have co-morbidities. Ultra processed and sugar-rich diets are largely responsible for the ever-higher rates of degenerative disease, and thus also for coronavirus susceptibility.

It is now recognised that coronavirus vaccines may be only 50% effective and will not eliminate the virus from seasonal circulation. If we can raise national health levels it will lower viral susceptibility. Which can in turn put a brake on hospital overloading. Without hospital overloading there will be no further need for lockdown restrictions, national or regional. 

4
In reply to LeeWood:

> Both vaccination and medication put emphasis on curing problems after they have developed. Which suits the public mentality - and also corporate interests of the food industry. The pandemic health strategy perpetuates this dis-proportionate interest in cure rather than prevention. 

I agree with pretty much everything in your post, and yet somehow you still manage to make it sound a bit mental.

1
 Stuart William 14 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

Tried running the search for great barrington declaration yet?

1
 LeeWood 14 Oct 2020
In reply to Stuart William:

Have you watched The Social Dilemma yet ?

4
 Stuart William 14 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

Hilarious! So in all your complaints about censorship you haven’t actually bothered to see for yourself if the site is there.

Or you have and didn’t like what you found. Neither would surprise me. 

You’re really treating us to a masterclass in confirmation bias here.

 LeeWood 14 Oct 2020
In reply to Stuart William:

gbdeclaration.org is No.1 - head of the list  

Qwant

1
 wintertree 14 Oct 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

I made this post to The Pub on October 7th.  I’ll paste it here for posterity.  I’ve corrected a few typos and standard Wintertree dyslexic word substitutions...

======

Everyone's favourite theoretical epidemiologist is back - I thought I'd share my rant from another platform on here.

The "Great Barrington Declaration" is the latest escalation in the PR campaign orchestrated by vested interests in the US towards "let it rip".  

The "Great Barrington Declaration" may tell you what you want to hear, but the people behind it know that their that "proposal" will not give you what you want and need in the long run - a healthy economy with strong social welfare for all.

Some reasons I disagree with the "simple" solution they present of isolating the most vulnerable whilst letting the virus rip through the young:

Scientists without an agenda would note the - at best - 30% false negative rate of PCR testing means that routne testing doesn't work as a way of keeping Covid out of care homes once the disease is in widespread circulation.  This can be seen in the PHE data for the last 3 weeks in England for example

They continue to omit any and all mention of the increasing evidence of many younger, healthier people going on to suffer long term health damage.

They say "schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching" when there is clear and certain evidence going back to early on that young adults present a high risk of symptom free transmission in confined spaces; enough of the signatories are older members of universities - clearly they're not ignorant of the demographic of teaching staff who would be getting highly exposed and in many cases hospitalised through "in person" teaching in a "let it rip through young people" scenario. Again, "screening" doesn't work with the sensitivity of current diagnostic tests.

They continue to present a one-sided view in which a series of simple risk control measures will allow life to return to normal for most of us. If it really was that simple, they wouldn't need to go on repeated, orchestrated PR campaigns to push this.

One of the lead signatories has a been pushing what I consider agenda driven bullshit since the early days of the pandemic including claims in May (demolishable at the time by studying localised outbreaks e.g. meat packing plants, highly questionable given seroprevalence and demonstrable nonsense by now) of 50% herd immunity in the UK and that a true IFR that was butting in to the hard lower bound given by (known death)/(population). This is not science, this is politics masquerading as science.

What they propose for control measure is exactly what we are doing in the UK right now, and it's not working because carers (commercial or familial) have their own support needs and no person is an island. It's not working now when prevalence in younger people is less than 5% of what it would be under their plan.  Hospitals are filling up across Western Europe when we're at 1% prevalence of the disease, not the 30%+ the worst part of their "let it rip" plan would see.

Their whole claim is built on the idea that widespread circulation will produce widespread, naturally acquired herd immunity. At this stage the virus has only been circulating for ~9 months, and seroprevalence studies show a clear drop in immunity with time from infection, e.g. figure 48 in the latest PHE Surveillance Report [1]. We haven't had enough time pass to prove that naturally acquired immunity is persistent because the virus is too new. Data on T-cells is patchy and antibody data is showing a clear downwards trend with time.

These people are encouraging a course of action based on over simplistic mis-representations of what was going on when various countries and regions entered lockdown (e.g. cancer screenings down due to lockdown, as if without lockdown when hospitals were beyond 1.5x normal capacity with dead and dying other routine services could have magically continued) selling you an unproved hypothesis (naturally acquired herd immunity is achievable and persistent) whilst brushing away the massive problems associated with protecting millions of people against a background of widespread prevalence in the young, and the devastating health consequences this is having on some survivors.

This is being described in the news as "Thousands of scientists and medical practitioners" and words to that effect. That's globally. In the UK there are 290,000 doctors  and about 30,000 academics in engineering, the sciences and medicine (the fields the secondary signatories are drawn from). The signatories represent perhaps 0.05% of such people in the uk, close to a third of a million have not signed this.  The real news is that perhaps 15 million doctor's haven't signed this.  It's a very small minority opinion.  Why does it keep getting so much press time?...

This "declaration" has emerged from a private summit held by a US economic "think tank" the AIER [2], formed close to a century ago to push personal freedom and a small state over socialist ideology. The words "conflict of interest" do not appear anywhere in the declaration purporting to be from medical types but orchestrated and facilitated by financial lobbyists, nor is it disclosed who funded a UK academic to fly to the United States to attend this meeting from which this document emerged. Read the articles on the AIER webpage and ask yourself if you trust them to convene an impartial, evidence driven panel of medical and academic experts that is driven by anything other than their particular view, or indeed why medical experts should be suggesting economic policy, when as I have maintained since the start they should be providing their best forecasts on different courses of action to government to allow a democratic decision making process tensioning the different variables.

AIER is an organisation with a $100m endowment and about $1m of donations a year [3] with a very clear course of lobbying. Is this an organisation you would trust with your life, or the life of your parents, or your children's economic future? Or is this an organisation lobbying for the worst of US culture?

Don't for a minute thing that the people behind this movement are misguided; the same people have been popping up adapting their ever changing story and knowledge to their agenda since early March. They are guided in what they do, not misguided. Guided by whom and for what purpose? You decide.

You will recognise some of their arguments from a few UKC posters - established and pop-up - nonsense claims over IFRs, claims that we "simply isolate the vulnerable", claims that our "liberty" is worth more than the lives of others.  Is this the kind of society you want to grow old in?  One were every crisis is jumped upon to push small-state politics with a barely disguised eugenics agenda?  

I maintain that there is debate to be had about how this crisis is handled, what level of deaths is acceptable, what minimises net harm to society.  I think there is no place for political agenda driven bullshit such as this “deceleration” masquerading as science.

[1] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/923668/Weekly_COVID19_Surveillance_Report_week_40.pdf 6

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Institute_for_Economic_Research 12

[3] https://drive.google.com/file/d/1H19rM24K7iMNpDlUFQ58JhE29Jt

Post edited at 22:27
2
 Stuart William 14 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

Fantastic - so it sounds like we can agree its not been censored

In reply to wintertree:

Yes, an important post, should be on record rather than being zapped when the “pub closes”

 LeeWood 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Stuart William:

Not by Qwant search engine , no.

Checked up on google - just for you - which posts it 2nd on the list, so it's not exactly hidden. However, google 'prefaces' TWO 'Top Stories' above it - from Forbes & Washington Post - both critical.

From Qwant wikipedia is 2nd, while google puts it 5 down. NB. Qwant results are prefaced with 3 commercial results for Great Barrington rental/Inn/accomodation.

In Qwant youtube is absent from the top 20 results, while google posts a youtube link 5 down - highlights their commercial partnership.

The spiked article is creating a larger sensation than warranted - but google is certainly presenting a bias. Not exactly censorship in this instance.

7
 mondite 15 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

> Checked up on google - just for you - which posts it 2nd on the list, so it's not exactly hidden. However, google 'prefaces' TWO 'Top Stories' above it - from Forbes & Washington Post - both critical.

And? Should it be desperately trying to find approving stories in order to appeal to you?

There is a lot to be said about googles integration of its other offerings, such as news, into its search engine results but to be trying to present it as deliberate bias against is quite special.

 Ridge 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

>> Both vaccination and medication put emphasis on curing problems after they have developed. Which suits the public mentality - and also corporate interests of the food industry. The pandemic health strategy perpetuates this dis-proportionate interest in cure rather than prevention. 

> I agree with pretty much everything in your post, and yet somehow you still manage to make it sound a bit mental.

I think he has a valid point about processed foods in general.

However, when Lee states:

> The pandemic health strategy perpetuates this dis-proportionate interest in cure rather than prevention. 

He's incorrect, the GBD is all about attacking the preventative measures put in place by the current strategy.

Whilst processed foods, trans fats, aspartame etc have known hazards, I don't think microwave ready meals were around in 6th Century China, or 14th Century Europe when 30 to 60% of the European population died from the Plague.

 mondite 15 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

> Both vaccination and medication put emphasis on curing problems after they have developed.

Can I just check here what you think the mechanism for vaccination is? Since its pretty much the exact opposite of your claims.

> Which suits the public mentality - and also corporate interests of the food industry. The pandemic health strategy perpetuates this dis-proportionate interest in cure rather than prevention. 

So now we have big pharma/food working together? Okkkaayyyy.

> It is now recognised that coronavirus vaccines may be only 50% effective and will not eliminate the virus from seasonal circulation.

It has always been recognised that vaccines dont work for all people and that if a virus varies a lot then the vaccine will be less effective.

However I notice you have failed to show any evidence beyond wild assertions that your ideas are more effective than a vaccine.  I would note that you only need to look at the success of vaccines in third world countries, where they dont have big fooder, to see that your claims that simply not eating processed food is more effective than a vaccine are flawed.

Post edited at 08:57
 Stuart William 15 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

Thank you for checking, it makes it so much easier to sensibly discuss if we are looking at the same thing rather than relying on third parties who have their own biases. 

Personally I would suggest that being result 2 is categorically not censorship rather than “not exactly censorship”, but that’s a relatively minor point in the grand scheme of things. 

For me the fact that a new and unestablished site has steadily climbed up the rankings as it gains more traffic and references from elsewhere is exactly what I would expect to see given what I know of SEO etc. Gbd and wiki are 1 and 2 today for me, followed by top stories. Certainly nothing that looks sinister there.

And as for there being “against” articles displayed as well, good. If there wasn’t a mix of pros and cons that would be a clear sign of bias. 

It’s also worth considering what is being published, not just what is being shown on a search engine. Google can’t show stuff that doesn’t exist. I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your notice that most of the major news outlets are not expressing glowing support for the declaration. For google to fill the first page with supporting articles from smaller sources absolutely would require a deliberate bias. I’d like to think we could both agree that it would be sinister if google were actively promoting the declaration, but I can’t help but wonder if we would be having a very different conversation in that instance. 

Edit: As an additional point about variation between search engines, again I think that’s a positive sign. If they all presented identical results that would suggest they were all using identical algorithms and therefore all being run by the same people, which again would be much more questionable. 

Post edited at 09:33
 Offwidth 15 Oct 2020
In reply to wintertree:

My head is still spinning that you chose to post that in The Pub  in the first place!? DLTBGYD

In reply to Ridge:

> He's incorrect, the GBD is all about attacking the preventative measures put in place by the current strategy.

Yes, OK, when I said I pretty much agreed I didn't mean everything.  I'm trying to encourage Lee that there's a germ of truth in what he says, even if he overstates it.

I think that you could argue that the current crisis and massive vaccine development effort is reactive and could be contrasted with increased popular scepticism about vaccination and defunding of preventive medicine by successive governments.

It's also perfectly true that, purely as a business model, a patented long-term palliative treatment of a common chronic disease is the holy grail of the pharmaceutical industry.  There's not much crude commercial incentive to invest a lot of time and money developing treatments for rare diseases, or diseases common only to people who can't afford to pay.

However, fortunately, even the pharmaceutical industry isn't quite as nakedly exploitative as this, and governments can also intervene to provide incentives and impose pricing restraints.  There are also, ironically, influential philanthropists like Bill Gates working to support projects where there are insufficient commercial incentives.

It is certainly true that, without active government intervention, much of the food industry isn't much motivated to encourage people to eat less and to reduce the proportion of highly processed food in what they do eat.  I greatly fear what may result from Brexit and a desperately one-sided deal with the US in this regard.

So, I agree with Lee to the extent that health policy doesn't pay nearly enough emphasis on preventative measures (restrictions on food advertising, actively promoting vaccination, water fluoridation, antibiotic education and tighter regulation in medical, agricultural uses and on imports of food produced by use of antibiotics) and that the behaviour of food manufacturers should be more closely regulated ( as the pharmaceutical industry already is).      

 mondite 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Yes, OK, when I said I pretty much agreed I didn't mean everything.  I'm trying to encourage Lee that there's a germ of truth in what he says, even if he overstates it.

The flaw is there is a load of crap in what he says as well which actually damages the useful part of his message and puts lives at risk.

Remember he is constantly attacking vaccines and trying to claim they arent preventative. Maybe he wants to get back to the glory days of kids having to spend their lives using iron lungs etc due to polio when we had less processed food but also less vaccines but I would rather go for reducing the former and keeping the latter.

In reply to Ridge:

> Whilst processed foods, trans fats, aspartame etc have known hazards, I don't think microwave ready meals were around in 6th Century China, or 14th Century Europe when 30 to 60% of the European population died from the Plague.

I'm genuinely interested in what you think the known hazards of aspartame might be.

 Ridge 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> I'm genuinely interested in what you think the known hazards of aspartame might be.

Mea culpa, I've fallen for the hype over increased cancer risk, which was indicated in rat studies but doesn't seem to correlate to human use.

Post edited at 11:16
In reply to LeeWood:

> It is now recognised that coronavirus vaccines may be only 50% effective

Amazing, vaccines are still being worked on and yet already you somehow know they may only be 50% effective. But of course they may be 100% effective.

In reply to Graeme Alderson:

Further commentary from one of the GBD authors.  In response to Matt Hancock's remarks in Parliament this week about herd immunity.

https://unherd.com/2020/10/matt-hancock-is-wrong-about-herd-immunity/?=frlh

 LeeWood 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Ridge:

> Whilst processed foods, trans fats, aspartame etc have known hazards, I don't think microwave ready meals were around in 6th Century China, or 14th Century Europe when 30 to 60% of the European population died from the Plague.

Here's an interesting point to consider: if our present coronavirus had been circulating in the 14th century - could anyone have known that it was anything more than 'a flu' - either from overall mortality or symptoms ?

7
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

> Amazing, vaccines are still being worked on and yet already you somehow know they may only be 50% effective. But of course they may be 100% effective.

I can't find the research/vaccine design paper now (hopefully someone has also read it?), but from memory the text stated that vaccine development would unlikely be beneficial for the population with the known co-morbidities risks. 

It appeared that expectation for vaccine effectiveness would benefit healthy population, but wish I could find the paper as I may be misremembering.

 LeeWood 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> There are also, ironically, influential philanthropists like Bill Gates working to support projects where there are insufficient commercial incentives.

He has done a good job presenting activities as charitable, but all BMGF activities are commercially motivated, all donations lead to recompense - and his net worth keeps growing.

'While the Poor Get Sick, Bill Gates Just Gets Richer'  05/Oct/2020

'The billionaire’s pandemic investments, like much of his work, remain a secret'.

Quote: While the Gates Foundation is a nonprofit organization, its endowment still generates billions of dollars in income—more money over the last five years than the foundation has given away in charitable grants.

https://www.thenation.com/article/economy/bill-gates-investments-covid/

5
 The Norris 15 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

Given that the average life expectancy around then was apparently around 30 to 40 years, I doubt coronavirus would have caused much more than a few sniffles in comparison to every other infectious disease circulating. 

In reply to LeeWood:

That is how charities survive, by generating income and making investments. If not they quickly run out of money.

It's the BMGF that makes the money not Bill or his missus.

 mondite 15 Oct 2020
In reply to The Norris:

> Given that the average life expectancy around then was apparently around 30 to 40 years

Average life expectancy can be misleading since, for men, once you got to teenage years you would generally have a fairly long life. Women had the additional risk of giving birth but if they managed to get past that they also had reasonable life span.

However the 14th century was a particularly shit time. A major famine early on and then the black death. So coronavirus would probably have failed to even register. Not a selling point really though.

In reply to LeeWood:

Do you have any idea how charitable foundations work?  Even if what the article you link says about the Gates Foundation's investments is true (and that's a big if, given the nature of the publication) what would be wrong with it investing in vaccine companies, making money on those shares and then using the money it makes to make further philanthropic donations? 

What does Bill Gates have to do to convince you that personally he already has more money than he needs and he and his wife have pretty much devoted their lives to giving it away in the most beneficial and efficient ways they can think of.  They are not part of Big Government, they are not part of Big Pharma, they made their money entirely honestly and are trying to use it to benefit people who need help most. 

Post edited at 12:47
 elsewhere 15 Oct 2020
In reply to druss:

> I can't find the research/vaccine design paper now (hopefully someone has also read it?), but from memory the text stated that vaccine development would unlikely be beneficial for the population with the known co-morbidities risks. 

> It appeared that expectation for vaccine effectiveness would benefit healthy population, but wish I could find the paper as I may be misremembering.

That can be enough. If the population is mostly* vaccinated with a mostly* effective vaccine R is reduced below 1, the prevalence of the disease decays over time and those unvaccinated ad/or vulnerable are unlikely to encounter it. Mass vaccination protects the unvaccinated and vulnerable by creating herd immunity.

*how high "mostly" is depends on R.

 LeeWood 15 Oct 2020
In reply to mondite:

> Can I just check here what you think the mechanism for vaccination is? Since its pretty much the exact opposite of your claims.

So we can talk about prevention (vaccination) and pre-prevention (nutrition)

> The flaw is there is a load of crap in what he says as well which actually damages the useful part of his message and puts lives at risk.

Your vaccine-centric focus will put more lives at risk. All the time you wait for a vaccine people are dying from infection - because 'vaccination is the only solution' ?? ditto for every new virus which pops up in years to come

Quite apart from the pandemic, the lives of many could be improved in quality or longevity through lifstyle inputs (food chain) *which pose an escalating threat since the last few decades*.

5
In reply to druss:

> Further commentary from one of the GBD authors.  In response to Matt Hancock's remarks in Parliament this week about herd immunity.

Jesus.  It would really help if either Matt Hancock or Sunetra Gupta knew half as much immunology as they seem to think they do. 

 cb294 15 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

> Your vaccine-centric focus will put more lives at risk. All the time you wait for a vaccine people are dying from infection - because 'vaccination is the only solution' ?? ditto for every new virus which pops up in years to come

Nutrition will not protect you from coronavirus infection. You MAY be able to deal with it better, but my guess would be that age and genetics explain much larger fractions of the observed variance in outcome.

A vaccine will provide enough immunity to eliminate the disease from circulation, eventually. Until then, masks,  social distancing measures, and lockdowns of various flavours to keep infection chains from growing too long and to drive R < 1 (same thing, really) are needed.

And yes, we will have to do that for any emerging virus able to cause a major pandemic, with the exception of flu (where vaccines can be made based on guesswork that usually work well enough).

If done correctly, and with a bit of luck with respect to the molecular biology of the virus, non-vaccine measures can be sufficient to stop a baby pandemic in its tracks. Examples for that include SARS classic and MERS, the former is completely extinct in humans (but probably not in the reservoir animal that some Chinese guy decided looked tasty), the latter just pops up in the odd camel shagger....

No such luck with smallpox, measles, rubella, or polio, all of which only became controllable with the help of vaccines.

CB

In reply to LeeWood:

> Your vaccine-centric focus will put more lives at risk. All the time you wait for a vaccine people are dying from infection - because 'vaccination is the only solution' ?? ditto for every new virus which pops up in years to come

Lee, no amount of healthy living, exercise and excellent nutrition will make much difference if some new virulent highly infectious pathogen comes along.  Vanishingly few of the millions killed by smallpox, influenza, measles, polio or even AIDS died because of lifestyle co-morbities.

Make no mistake, vaccination is the main defence.  We now have technologies that allow us to develop new vaccines quicker than ever before but, when something completely new comes along we are always going to be vulnerable for the first couple of years.  What we can do is vaccinate routinely, extensively and efficiently against the things we already know about like measles, meningitis, whooping cough, diphtheria, TB and HPV, not to mention typhoid, cholera, hepatitis B, and others, as appropriate to the geography.        

> Quite apart from the pandemic, the lives of many could be improved in quality or longevity through lifstyle inputs (food chain) *which pose an escalating threat since the last few decades*.

Absolutely.  Right now this is a big issue.  But only because we aren't dying of rampant epidemics before we even get old enough to become pre-diabetic.

Post edited at 14:07
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Jesus.  It would really help if either Matt Hancock or Sunetra Gupta knew half as much immunology as they seem to think they do. 

I would love to know more about immunology.  What sources do you recommend I start with so I can get a bit more knowledgeable on the subject?

Cheers!

In reply to cb294:

Sorry, you were obviously typing quicker then me! 

 mondite 15 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

> So we can talk about prevention (vaccination) and pre-prevention (nutrition)

meaningless but lets go with it. I guess its a start that you are managing to spot vaccines are different from general medicines.

> Your vaccine-centric focus will put more lives at risk. All the time you wait for a vaccine people are dying from infection - because 'vaccination is the only solution' ?? ditto for every new virus which pops up in years to come

I am not sure where to start with this strawman. It is telling that you think someone pointing out vaccines work is "the only solution".  Are you really unable to comprehend most people can actually work with more than one idea at a time?

You also seem to miss a key factor of vaccines which is they aid herd immunity. I can have an ultra healthy diet with lots of exercise and so unless I am unlucky would be only slightly inconveniced by measles. However my poor neighbour who has an immune disorder despite having an equally healthy diet and exercise is liable to end up dead or permanently disabled.

Thats the advantage of vaccines. It gives us a chance of controlling and minimising the spread so the vulnerable arent put at risk. Ultimately, in theory assuming there are no nonhuman reservoirs, it means we can completely wipe out a virus.

 cb294 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

This. Hard to tell where to start if you wanted to critique that pile of shit...

CB

1
In reply to druss:

> Further commentary from one of the GBD authors

GBD is an unfortunate TLA, since it also refers to the Global Burden of Disease...

In reply to elsewhere:

My feeling is most people and media generally think a vaccine (if proven effective) would have broad effectiveness, but not recognising that this would depend on having good uptake of the vaccine to protect the people to blunt the spread to those whom a vaccine wouldn't work for. 

Producing billions of dosages and distributing to the populations every year is going to be monumental effort.

Anyway, day job and this is rabbit hole.

In reply to druss:

> I would love to know more about immunology.  What sources do you recommend I start with so I can get a bit more knowledgeable on the subject?

There's a challenge.  Can I ask how much biology you know?

In reply to Dave Garnett:

Only basic, but happy to learn which I consider a lifelong endeavour.  Since our health depends on immune function, its worth getting to know rudimentary of it and guide how to understand this and what needs further reading to come to some reasoned position.  Thanks for the information.

Post edited at 14:26
 wintertree 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Jesus.  It would really help if either Matt Hancock or Sunetra Gupta knew half as much immunology as they seem to think they do. 

In Hancock's case, it would be sufficient if he recognised the limits of his knowledge and made good use of expert advisors where necessary.  Perhaps they could help him to be consistent and pedantic with nomenclature about "naturally acquired herd immunity" vs "vaccine assisted herd immunity"  etc.  I agree with his point as best as I can tell, but he's not very clear about it.

My suggestion for Gupta is far blunter and - once cleaned up of invective - involves issuing The Mother Of All Retractions followed by her resigning from her chair in shame and maintaining the now legendary low profile.

There's being wrong, there's being a fool, and then there's being someone else's wrong fool for show.

Post edited at 14:25
2
 wintertree 15 Oct 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> Absolutely.  Right now this is a big issue.  But only because we aren't dying of rampant epidemics before we even get old enough to become pre-diabetic.

Funnily enough I was googling Margaret Thatcher's legacy for work earlier and found this Guardian article from 2013 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/datablog/2013/apr/08/britain-changed-margaret-thatcher-charts The second chart shows the rise in life expectancy in the UK since 1976 up to 2011. It went up 10 years in that time - which I sort of knew but it really stands out when you see it visually like that - perhaps I didn't realise it was quite that big a difference. I totally agree that most of us find it far too easy to eat unhealthy overly processed food, but even despite that we are all living longer, not less. 

 mondite 15 Oct 2020
In reply to TobyA:

>  but even despite that we are all living longer, not less. 

I have seen suggestions that there is an indication in several countries that this may have hit a peak and life expectancy may start dropping.

In reply to druss:

I’ll try to help with some immunology primers ( there are other regulars who might be able to help too).  It’s a cliche but immunology is pretty complicated and doesn’t make much sense without knowing something about basic cellular processes and the nature of the organisms that cause disease.  I’m also aware that was first taught  all this some time ago and some of that classical stuff may be a bit academic now.

Why don’t you have a look at this and see how much sense you make of it?


https://www.ildcollaborative.org/covid-19/immunology-primer

 Old Skooled 16 Oct 2020
In reply to druss:

> Interesting how Google no-longer returns search results to for the Declaration

Worked perfectly well for me.

In reply to wintertree:

> Being pushed by the White House

Thanks - given the roiling, toxic shitshow that is the Trump administration, my only surprise is that Crazy Uncle hasn’t been claiming it as a “perfect” idea, that he came up himself back in February....

Post edited at 09:00
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Good article here https://www.wired.co.uk/article/great-barrington-declaration-herd-immunity-scientific-divide?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

So it was only signed by 3 people, the rest signed on-line so their ID and therefore credentials cannot be verified.

 wintertree 16 Oct 2020
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

I only just found this take from the president of the Academy of Medical Sciences - representing ~ 1,200 people drawn from across the top of biomedical sciences in the UK. 

https://acmedsci.ac.uk/more/news/navigating-covid-19-through-the-volume-of-competing-voices

The closing paragraph speaks volumes:

Scientists bear a strong responsibility here and must work to ensure the public not only have access to the latest reliable evidence, but have been involved in how that evidence was produced. This is particularly true if the views they are sharing could be used to undermine public health measures. Extraordinary claims about COVID-19 measures should only be made with solid evidence and a large amount of certainty.

Or, as an uncle in a Spiderman movie would put it "With great academic freedom comes great responsibility".  

 jkarran 16 Oct 2020
In reply to LeeWood:

> Both vaccination and medication put emphasis on curing problems after they have developed.

Oh dear. Both can be used for both but the commonly deployed vaccines are focussed on prevention, not treatment.

> 71% die prematurely from degenerative diseases.

We've gotta die of something.

> It is now recognised that coronavirus vaccines may be only 50% effective and will not eliminate the virus from seasonal circulation.

By whom is it realised? They aren't even certified yet, we have no certainty how or even if they will function long term in the wild.

If we can raise national health levels it will lower viral susceptibility. Which can in turn put a brake on hospital overloading. Without hospital overloading there will be no further need for lockdown restrictions, national or regional. 

Like last time. Magically overlooking the fact one of those issues would take a revolution in our governance and at least one generation, probably two of concerted effort to 'solve'. The other will happen in November.

Lunacy.

jk

In reply to Dave Garnett:

> I’ll try to help with some immunology primers ( there are other regulars who might be able to help too).  It’s a cliche but immunology is pretty complicated and doesn’t make much sense without knowing something about basic cellular processes and the nature of the organisms that cause disease.  I’m also aware that was first taught  all this some time ago and some of that classical stuff may be a bit academic now.

> Why don’t you have a look at this and see how much sense you make of it?


Thanks!

In reply to Old Skooled:

> Worked perfectly well for me.

Cool.  I also noticed a differences in the returned results in the last few days.  Don't know what or why there was a change.


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