An article was recently published in the British Medical Journal that reported on a matched cohort study which compared the risk of dying for those infected with the new British variant (a.k.a. B.1.1.7) and those infected with the older covid variants.
A matched cohort study is a type of observational study where you take a group of people with some condition and then try to find a similar group without the condition to match against. Then you follow the two cohorts over time and see if they differ in some meaningful outcome (like death). Since it is an observational study, it can only show correlation. It can’t prove the existence of a cause and effect relationship, but that doesn’t stop many people acting like it does.
The article has resulted in fear-mongering headlines in news media around the world. Just to take the first example I could find, Al-Jazeera published an article with the headline: “UK variant up to 100% deadlier more deadly, study finds”.
Those darn studies, they’re always finding things. It’s like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. You knock one down here, and another one pops up over there. Anyway, let’s look in to the study some detail, and see if the claim is true.
There were two criteria that had to be fulfilled for a person to be included in the study. They had to have a PCR-test positive for covid at some point between the beginning of October 2020 and the end of January 2021. And they had to be over 30 years old. The authors don’t provide any reason for the second criterion. The only reason I can see for removing people under the age of 30 is that they pretty much never die when they get covid, and including them would therefore have resulted in less impressive mortality numbers, which would have made it a little bit harder to use the results as part of public fear mongering campaigns.
In the UK, the PCR test currently in use is based on three reading frames. In other words, three separate pieces of viral RNA are sought. The B.1.1.7 variant has some variations in its genetic code that cause one of these reading frames to turn up a negative result. This is useful, because a problem with doing a big study like this and comparing mortality rates for different viral variants is that most people don’t actually get their infections gene-sequenced. So all you have to work with in most cases is a PCR test. But the fact that the B.1.1.7 variant has this oddity, that one of the three reading frames turns up a negative result, means that it can be identified through PCR with pretty good accuracy. No gene sequencing necessary.
So, what the researchers did was to put everyone with a covid diagnosis in which the other two reading frames were positive, but this specific reading frame was negative, in to one cohort, the “B.1.1.7 variant” cohort. Those who had all three reading frames turn up positive were put in the other, “old variants”, cohort.
Now, as mentioned, a cohort study is a type of observational study, and observational studies are rife with confounding factors that mess up the results. In order to minimize this problem as much as possible, the researchers went through and matched each person in the new variant cohort to a similar person in the old variant cohort. The cohorts were matched on date of testing, in order to deal with potential biases caused by one person for example getting tested during the covid peak, when hospitals were overstretched, while the matched person in the other cohort got tested at a time point when nurses actually had time to fluff their pillows. The cohorts were also matched on geographical location, age, gender, and ethnicity.
The endpoint that the researchers chose to look at was death within 28 days. This is a very problematic end point, that will tend to overestimate mortality due to covid. Basically, anyone who had a positive covid test and who then died with the next 28 days was counted as a covid death. Even if they got hit by a bus. Apart from overestimating the covid death rate, this could also muddy the results of the study, making it harder to see a real difference in mortality between the new variant and the older variants, if such a difference does exist. Why they chose to do this rather than actually looking at death certificates, to see whether covid was listed as the cause of death or not, I really don’t understand.
Anyway, let’s get to the results.
54,906 people with the new covid variant were identified, and these were matched with 54,906 people with the older variants. Among those with the new variant, 227 patients died (0,41%). Among those with the old variants, 141 people died (0,26%).
So, the new variant does appear to be a little bit deadlier than the older variants, 0,15% deadlier to be precise. To put this in perspective, for every 700 people who develop covid due to the new variant, you can expect one extra death, as compared with getting covid due to the older variants.
You could of course, like the mass media do, focus on relative risk, and say that the new variant is 61% deadlier, or “up to 100% deadlier” as Al-Jazeera state in their headline (based on looking at the upper end of the confidence interval), but in this instance, looking at the absolute risk gives a much clearer understanding of how deadly the new variant actually is, don’t you think?
One should of course always remember that this is an observational study, and although the researchers have done their best to get rid of confounding factors, it is still possible that the increased mortality rate seen here is due to some unknown confounder, and not due to the new variant itself.
The thing that strikes me most about the results of this study is not the fact that the new variant seems to be a bit more deadly than the old variants, but how un-deadly this study clearly shows that covid is. We have to remember that this study only included people who actually took a PCR test. According to the eminent Dr. Anthony Fauci, 40-45% of covid infections are asymptomatic. Obviously, people who are asymptomatic are for the most part not going to get a PCR test (unless they get caught through contact tracing, but this likely only catches a small proportion of asymptomatic infections). And equally obviously, people with asymptomatic infections aren’t going to die of covid. So, although this study found a fatality rate of 0,41% for the new variant, and 0,26% for the old variants, the real fatality rate is likely considerably lower.
That is especially true if we also factor in that this study excluded people under the age of 30, and counted every death within 28 days of a positive covid test as a covid death. Both of those factors would push the fatality rate down further if factored in. So this study, funnily enough, adds to the existing evidence that the infection fatality rate for covid has been grossly overstated.
To be fair, the proportion of participants over the age of 80 in the study is low, only 0,5%, compared with 3% in the UK population as a whole, which will push the fatality rate in the opposite direction. Whether excluding everyone under the age of 30 (constituting 25% of the UK population) or only having 0,5% of participants be over the age of 80 (when they constitute 3% of the UK population) has the bigger impact on the overall fatality rate in the study, is hard to say. But it raises another interesting point. The mortality rate in the 80+ group in the study is 100-fold higher than it is among the people aged 30-59 (12%, or one in nine people, as compared to 0,12%, or one in 900 people). This is in line with earlier studies that have shown that the risk of dying rises steeply as people reach an advanced age.
As always, the devil is in the details. So, what can we conclude from this study?
The B.1.1.7 variant does appear to be a little deadlier than the older variants, increasing the risk of dying for the average person who gets a symptomatic infection by a marginal amount (0,15% to be precise).
However, the main take-away from this study is that the infection fatality rate, even with the new variant, is very low for most people. I think a more reasonable title for Al-Jazeera’s article about this study would have been “Covid much less deadly than everyone thinks, study finds”.
86 thoughts on “Is the new covid variant deadlier?”
Great walkthrough of a studie that has kept Denmark closed since Christmas.
You are a little mistaken in your assessment of the ‘cohorts’ you refer to. Since September 2020 the UK Government has required the presence of only 1 gene to be present for a sample to be declared positive. The new variant was declared to be as a result of a mutation to the ‘S’ gene making it useless so was ignored and either one or both or all three, ‘S’, ‘N’ or ‘ORF’ gene is regarded as positive.
It is small wonder therefore that the number of cases increased, especially since the number of daily tests increased from 250,000 per day to 1.5 million PER DAY.
Just to ensure that there is no misunderstanding, a PCR test that is positive for a single ‘N’ gene (a fairly ubiquitous item) is regarded as a case, which is in turn equated to disease and infection by SARS CoV-2, neither of which is remotely true and are certainly not indicated by the presence of a single gene – any single gene.
That may be true in the UK generally, but it isn’t true in this study. In this study people were only included in the B.1.1.7 cohort if N and ORF were positive while S was negative, and people were only included in the old variants cohort if all three were positive.
That may be true, but since the definition of the ‘new’ cohort is a mutation to the ‘S’ gene there is no way that the study could reliably differentiate twixt the two strains as there has never been a substitute gene to identify that new strain. The best that they can say is that they are positive for a only two genes, that is not the same as being positive for a specific strain.
That being the case, it scientifically illiterate to infer that one has any properties different from any other, lethality, infectiousness etc.
As it happens only 5% of postive PCR results are now positive for all 3 genes, without alternate genes or differentiators the current and historic claims of infections (since September at least) are wildly over counted.
Lies, damned lies and statistics. Another great piece of work and five stars for your book too!
Love you and love your work. But you know as well as I do that all these variants are designed to keep people in fear and maintain the lockdowns.
Over the past year I have stayed away from any mainstream news. In order to maintain my sanity.
But over the past 2 weeks I’ve ventured back ever so slightly into online news, mainly MailOnline.
The reason I’ve ventured back in is because as many educated people among your followers will know, this is supposed to be mad March, where revelations start to wake people up .
So in the past few days apart from the Harry and Meghan debacle, I’ve found 2 new variants of Covid
The Breton strain. It’s mutated so much the PCR test is unable to detect it. Seriously that is what the article said, in MailOnline. Which begs the obvious which I will let your readers work out for themselves.
And the very next day, we had the Killer from Manila. Come on seriously.
If people are not waking up by now unfortunately they never will.
Keep up the great work. Love you guys on Patreon.
Excellent analysis and further proof the media cannot be relied upon for impassioned reporting
Citing relative risk is a favourite tactic of drug companies….here it seems quite misleading. Absolute risk is never talked about..
The designers of this study aren’t the only ones to use the bizarre Any-Death-Within-28-Days-Of-A-Positive-Test-Even-If-Hit-By-A-Bus definition of a covid death. The BBC are particularly fond of it. Sebastian, you say it could be muddying the results. Could they be so muddied that if they were de-muddied, that 0,15% would disappear? It doesn’t sound like a very high percentage.
Do we know if there is any clinical (as distinct from statistical) reason to believe the variant to be more deadly? Is it associated with any more severe symptoms?
Dear doctor, I would suggest you to read dr.Stefano Scoglio’s (Nobel nominee in 2018) about the scam of variants, about which people are still losing their time, spreading only confusion and hysteria among people (as you wrote “it appears to be a little deadlier”.. yes I know overall you stated that the IFR has been exaggerated but it’s not enough). Instead of doing so you should be debunking and going after all this that by now appears to be more than some plain “medical mistakes”, more likely to be confirmed as a criminal organization whose deeds by the way have yesterday been focused on by The Hague’s court after two layers filed a complaint against the Israeli government. So instead of discoursing about “variants” and “strains” of a virus that hasn’t even been isolated (about which I’ve been writing to you here without any answer) I kindly invite you to read doctor Scoglio’s article (https://www.databaseitalia.it/le-ridicole-varianti-del-sars-cov2/ : it’s in Italian but hope you can easily translate it) and to invite people to be peaceful and to live their lives normally because there is not absolute reason to neither panic or to believe to any of these staged lies. Thank you.
Thanks for an excellent breakdown, as always. It makes me profoundly sad how media, and for that matter also authorities, continue with the fear-mongering, scaring people for nothing. It seems the voices, like yours, who point to the actual data and state what’s glaringly obvious, that SARS-CoV-2 is nowhere near the plague that the present narrative describes it as, don’t get heard, or sometimes are actually silenced. How will we ever get out of this mess?
There is some hope in the fact that several US states have decided to remove all restrictions, perhaps that is the beginning of a new narrative? One that once more realizes that it’s very much a part of the human condition to live alongside various threats to our lives, and that we cannot cancel life to save a few lives from one specific threat (and cause many more because of it).
The estimate of 0.26% ‘positive test’ fatality rate.
That is a lot lower than the IFR estimate done by a large team looking at international first wave results which produces a number closer to 1.27% IFR when applied to the UK population.
If we apply the infection fatality rates estimated from the first wave (which were classified by age) the difference in number of deaths between the under 31s and the over 80s is about 300 to 1 even though there are more than 10 times as many persons under 31 than over 80.
That is an average estimate of about 16% fatality for the 2.5 million over 80s and .006% for the 23 million up to age 30.
It is possible to look at those figures and work out how they would be changed if the under 31 and over 80 were excluded.
I think that this reduces the apparent IFR by a factor of about 1.19. (The huge number of deaths in the over 80s is more influential than the smaller difference caused by the under 30s)
If applicable this would raise the 0.26% to about 0.3%, but this is still not an estimate of IFR as it was based on only persons who were tested.
(None of my calculations can be relied upon, but you can look at the sources…)
Assessing the Age Specificity of Infection Fatality Rates for COVID-19: Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis, and Public Policy Implications
Andrew T. Levin, Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, Nana Owusu-Boaitey, Kensington B. Cochran, and Seamus P. Walsh
Just one word of caution – there is ‘infection fatality rate’ and ‘case fatality rate’ – as a positive PCR test (with who knows how many fragments needed, and at a Ct of 40-45) is being used to define a case, the entire question of IFR vs. CFR is muddied beyond reconciliation…
In this study they had a CT cut-off of 30, in other words, the PCR test had to be positive after 30 or fewer cycles in order to be considered positive.
I take, just like many of my colleques in 1914-1919 and 1920 did, only chlordioxid, because it cleans in 2-3 hours any sick covid patient.
I am not a doctor anymore, just a man of wishdom.
This is ugly!
No one should ingest chlorine bleach!
Only trolls paid by big pharma calls chlorine dioxide bleach.
Trolls don’t read the thousends of scientific reports that prease the use of chlorine dioxide in all cases where it is peer reviewed tested.
The big problem with chlorine dioxide is that it cost nearly nothing, it cannot patented and every user can make it on their own kitchen sinck with a desinfection pill in one liter water. The result is good for approx. 5.000 covid, malaria, ebola, enz. patients and it cost less than 0,2 eurocents per treatment.
If I was big pharma, I would also be afraid, but we all work for the health of our patiens and hopefully not for health of big pharma.
Maybe you dont know it but your immune system runs mostly on chlorine dioxide as base and yes, it tast like swimmingpool water, but without it, your body don’t life a single day.
If you think chlorine dioxide is ugly, how would you feel about a stomach full of hydrochloric acid? Because that’s what you’ve got.
Chlorine dioxide is a powerful oxidant as is hydrogen peroxide. Oxidants generally are bad for our bodies which is why we take antioxidants.
Only 3 till max 6 drops of activated chlordioxide in 250 ml of water is needed to cure a lethal covid patient.
In this example they give the patient an intraveneus amount of 500 ml, that is approx 10.000 drops.
The FDA is not an independed health organisation, it is runned by members of big pharma, and they fear chlorine dioxide as a real and probally free medicin replacer.
I have found this example a view times as reaction.
There are several organisations who collect reviews of the use of chlordioxide, with million of reviews and always you find messages like this example, mostly send by people with “no respond” email addresses.
We have the health of our patients on place number one, above our health, and we see the health of big pharma as one of our worst patients.
Did you ever hear from a deadly Cytokine Storm in patients with a lack of UV-b?
It looks that a lot of Covid, TBC and other viral ill patients are hospitalized in stone build hospitals or elderly homes with glass covered windows or in the dark like in most IC’s.
UV-b cannot pass glass contact lenses, glass goggles and glass windows.
The V-b censors are in the eyes of all mammals and therefore also a lot of medicine tests with animals are done in the wrong healthy light environment, with the wrong results and evaluations.
You hardly reed about the light environment in clinical reports and hospitals.
Did they report the total age distribution of the cohorts?
How many were over 70 y?
(Where vacinated people included?)
I havent read the study, but it seams like that the study was designed to look the difference of IFRs, not the actual IFR of the population.
Making conlusions about something else that the study was designed for is a no no .
That is true, it was designed to look at the difference in fatality rate. I disagree however about not being able to use to results to estimate population fatality rate. They’ve taken a random sample of people with a positive covid PCR test, and then followed them over time to see how many die. To me that is a pretty good method to use if you want to see how deadly covid is, with the one caveat that it largely excludes people with asymptomatic infection who therefore don’t get tested, and the study will therefore likely heavily overstate how deadly the disease is.
I do take your point however that the fatality rate for covid should really always be stratified by age, which gets around the problem in the study that the proportions of different age bands were not representative of the wider population. As I discuss in my article, the risk found in the study for people age 30-59 is 0,12%, while for people over 80, it is 12%. Those are really the more meaningful numbers, showing that covid has a very low fatality rate in people under the age of 60, and that it then rises rapidly as people reach an advanced age.
According to this studie the death rate (IFR) of Covid19 in are:
0 -29 y: N/A
30-59 : 0.12%
80-? : 12.6 %
In the studie 88.3% belongs to the age group 30-59 y.
In reality this number is around 26% (2019).
Also, there is no information that vaccinated where excluded in this studie. Hence, we can assume that they were included.
1. Yes, but even the smallest of the included age bands (80+) had over 500 people, which should be enough to get a reasonably good idea of the case fatality rate in people with symptomatic covid in that age band. Note that this study can tell us about case fatality rate, not infection fatality rate. If we want to draw conclusions from case fatality rate to infection fatality rate we should probably divide each number by 2, to compensate for all the people who are asymptomatic or so mildly symptomatic that they never bother to get PCR tested.
2. It’s irrelevant whether people who were vaccinated were included in the study or not because this study is only of people who actually have covid.
1. I think most people get tested these days, even with the smallest sign of infection.
In total there have been 60 000 000 tests during the study period.
But it is surely relevant what fraction who takes the test, (and even more interesting the fraction of infections without symtoms)
2. Isn’t true that the vaccinated ones could get infected anyway? but then the outcome is most likely a mild one. About 10 000 000 had received their first dose at the end of the study (1 feb).
“Whether excluding everyone under the age of 30 (constituting 25% of the UK population) or only having 0,5% of participants be over the age of 80 (when they constitute 3% of the UK population) has the bigger impact on the overall fatality rate in the study, is hard to say. ”
It’s rather easy to do a quick-n-dirty estimate with your numbers: 0.5% of 54906 people were of age 80+, and one in nine of those are expected to die. 54906 * 0.005 * (1/9.) = 30 fatalities
If the study had included the proper percentage (3%), you would have expected 54906 * 0.03 * (1/9.) -30 = 153 more fatalities
Since the study recorded “just” 141 fatalities for the original COVID strain, the difference in the age proportion more than doubles the number of expected fatalities, which is on the same order of magnitude as the effect that they find for the UK variant!
This tells us that the study cannot be a reliable guide for the overall fatality rate. It might be a valid result for people below 80 years of age.
But if you do that at one end, then you have to do the same at the other end too, for the 25% of the population under 30 who virtually never die. I do agree however that it’s more valuable to look at the mortality rate in different age bands, since there is such huge variation, rather than looking at the population as a whole.
Yes, but since as you say people under 30 almost never die of covid, this will reduce the percentages by a quarter or so, while absolute numbers of victims will remain the same. In other words, they could have included 54906*0.33 = 18119 more people under the age of 30 and they would have found the same number of fatalities, or maybe one or two more, and just calculated the overall fatality rate with the larger denominator.
The ‘died within 28 days’ thing has riled me from the beginning and is a clear attempt to control the population by vastly overstating the reality. I also read that coroners et al were instructed by govt to add ‘Died with Covid’ to all death certificates if there had been a ‘positive test’ within 28 days just to add some credence or ‘evidence’ to the claims when and if all this nonsense stops.
I understand that in Ohio, Kathryn Huwig dug into the data and presented her findings to Legislature. She found several records attributing cervaza vir. post-mortem. Somehow, the-se and other mistakes were “corrected” just before the hearing….how did they know? Hmmmm.
If the mortality rate is about 0.4% and 120,000 have died from Covid in the UK, then that means 30,000,000 must have had the disease – nearly 50% of the population. Add in immunity from vaccination for those who have not had the disease and surely the country cannot be far from the 60% herd immunity threshold. I do doubt the figures, though. If half the population have had the disease I would know many more of them than I do. No one I know directly at only 4 at the friends of friends level.
This is a common statistical misuse. It stems from a failure of logic; if A implies B, then it is false to conclude that if B is true, then A is true.
As an example, if 100 people have been infected and 1 has died, then the IFR is 1%. If you are then told that there has been one death in a different group of 100 people, you cannot conclude that therefore all 100 people have been infected. It could be any number between 1 (ie the death) and 100. Obviously, the larger the sample, the less error there is likely to be.
Using a global IFR for whole populations is especially likely to lead to erroneous conclusions about the likely number of cases when the IFR differs between subgroups of the population by a large amount. You could improve the estimate by making a stratified calculation.
The 28 day thing has never made sense.
Surely, for useful comparison, anybody who dies within 28 days of receiving ‘a jab’ should also be deemed to have died from ‘the jab’.
Why aren’t the authorities doing this?
Absolutely! One more red flag about all things declared COVID “science” via virus tunnel vision.
Thanks so much, Sebastien. Very helpful and clear as always! How about the issue of greater transmissibility of this variant?
This isn’t a study, it’s marketing. Our politicians are Pharma reps. The credentialed can’t/won’t acknowledge that Covid has nothing to do with health, hence these studies and comments.
Buy why can’t they? Why won’t they? Someone explain this to me. It can’t be what I think….30 pieces of silver? Is that ALL they get? That puny amount? That is too cruel and evil to ponder when I think of the devastation of the human race. God, have mercy on us.
Thank you 🙂
The study authors seem to like the ubiquitous fear mongering since their conclusions say that
“The probability that the risk of mortality is increased by infection with VOC-202012/01 is high. If this finding is generalisable to other populations, infection with VOC-202012/1 has the potential to cause substantial additional mortality compared with previously circulating variants. Healthcare capacity planning and national and international control policies are all impacted by this finding, with increased mortality lending weight to the argument that further coordinated and stringent measures are justified to reduce deaths from SARS-CoV-2.”
“They had to have a PCR-test positive for covid at some point between the beginning of October 2020 and the end of January 2021.”
This is the time they they started killing off the old folk with the vaccines, has this factor been taken into account?
Use of relative risk figures should be unlawful. They serve no useful purpose except to deceive.
Pharma’s vaccine efficacy from their press release was touted as 95%, which the press ballyhooed and the People cheered without once wondering if that number might be too good to be true (given that other vaccines with longer development times are far less effective). Nor did they mention it was a relative risk reduction. When the real-world data arrived, the RRR was found to be 25%. The threshold for FDA EUA approval was 50%.
But the actual and far more relevant Absolute Risk Reduction is a mere 0.7%. Which is to say, these vaccines are hardly worth considering, even if risk free, and who really knows anything about that.
What the vaccines seem to be designed for is profit for the executives. Consider that Pfizer and Moderna execs cashed in 60% and 100%, respectively, of their stock holdings on the day of their PR announcement and instantly made many millions. So this vaccine was a huge success for them. One might wonder why they’d not want to hold onto their stock for a year or so and make a real killing as the approximately $15 Billion of expected follow-on revenue rolled in.
You cannot image how cheap and easy it is to make an mRNA vaccine. All stocks supplied are already paid for by governments (tax payers), so they don’t care if it is used or not. They can literally ‘print’ out vaccines quickly and easily. The quality control is a joke. Gene jocks (many only with a Bachelor of biochemistry) are used to construct each part of the vax. For each new “variant” (strain) they will print out a new vax, already paid for by government. They have already planned for 3 vaccinations per year, to cover the short, 3 month, protection period of each vax. Remember, all vaccines are LIABILITY exempt. A low cost, no risk, high investment product.
Good question. I suspect that these richies are doing what so many other cartel elite are doing ~~> grabbing as much cash as they can and converting it to safer currencies, like arable land and water.
I think it would be good to have a number or numbers to put on my face mask. The number should be telling a simple truth about Covid. If there were a set of numbers I would label different masks for different days.
Suggestion for numbers? Let’s start the ball rolling –
17% The number of people who bothered to quarantine in the UK after Covid
34-38% Asymptomatic who traveled and worked without knowing they were passing it on (Faucci makes it higher for the USA)
88% of people who died of Covid in the Uk are over 70 years of age. (UK figures when they had vaccinated the over 70s) How many over 60? In other words people who have retired and do not affect jobs?
87% of Covid deaths in Sweden are second cause of death not first (hope I have my number right?)
I am sure you could think of more? In fact if you do, let’s see if I can make a list and I will start circulating it. How long before the police arrive at my door…. 🙂 I really do not care anymore and I believe the public are the same and now moving to the sensible attitude we had in 1968 and no one talks about that anymore.
The final madness has to be that the vaccine is available, if you feel unsafe but these people are going to insist on a virus visa…… If you had the vaccine you have the protection you want, how will the bureaucracy help?? How much extra plastic has been used for our masks, now we are to get a plastic card too?
Can we crowd fund to buy an island where people think first – it will need to be a big island but not the whole world?
Love your idea of crowd funding to buy an island! Count me in!
I especially want to be around thinkers. I am over being weighed down by sheeple.
(There are many suitable islands in the Pacific). Indonesia has 17,000 islands, and only discovered about 10 years ago that it had another thousand islands on top of its know 16,000 islands, which tells us that it doesn’t closely monitor or manage its own islands.
I was going to suggest ‘Australia’, but alas, the locals on the most populous side are wrapped up in The Narrative.
However, with the way we’ve been selling property and businesses to certain Inscrutable Investors who are wont to be buying up our ports, air-strips (next to mineral assets) and property, I feel confident only a few pounds will secure you a place here. Bring an inflatable boat if you aim for the East, a sun-parasol for the rest !
This posting adds to the very recent emergence of a wondering ~~> If we removed CV-19 as an optional cause of the annual morbidity and mortality counts, and silenced the hysterical press long enough to hear ourselves think, how would the data look / be different? How many actual “cases” (rather than casedemic cases) would remain after assigning the data to the specific comorbidities / preexisting diseases allegedly triggered by SARS-CoV-2 or any of its progeny? One would think that the real number of otherwise inexplicable aka “covid” infections would align with excess mortality figures. And the fuel for media hysteria would dry up about as fast as news of post-presidential Trump.
Hi Dr. Rushworth,
I have thoroughly enjoyed your writings and your book as well. Great stuff. Thank you!
Just wondering if you are considering updating your thoughts on the IFR for Covid in light of the seasonality of Covid? I know you mentioned that, in light of Mike Ryan’s estimate back in October, 750 million infections with 1 millions deaths puts the IFR at .13.
This is not a critique in any respect. I am simply looking to defend your position in light of someone responding to the increase of cases and hospitalizations in Sweden in November and December. And, as you can predict, this same argument will be made if a similar thing happens elsewhere.
And I am wondering what the updated IFR would be now, as of mid-March 2021? Thanks again for your insights. Much appreciated!!
Thank you. In light of the second wave, I think the Ioannidis estimate of somewhere around 0,23% is more accurate, at least as relates to Sweden.
So you believe that almost 60% of Swedes has had covid?
Currents deaths at 13260, o.23% of populaton 23230 , 13260/23230= 57%.
Then new infections should be very few at this point.
Well but how to explain 25000 deaths in Czech Republic related to Covid with a population of around 10.7 Million? This is I think the highest number of Covid related deaths in the world in relation to residents (0.24) and if the Numbers of Ioannids were true that would mean virtually every resident has to have had Covid, meaning herd immunity which should prevent further illness and deaths – but the numbers are still rising fast.
I’m afraid I don’t know anything about what’s going on in the Czech republic. How sure are you that they are diagnosing correctly?
Here in Sweden a substantial number of “covid deaths” are actually deaths with covid (not of covid) or deaths within one month of a positive covid test, that have nothing to do with covid.
If two otherwise similar countries vary wildly in the number of covid deaths, then at least one of them is likely doing something wrong in terms of what they are defining as a covid death. By what criteria are people being diagnosed as covid deaths in the Czech republic?
Hi Dr. Rushworth
Not sure if you saw Ioannidis recent systematic review of IFR…he puts it at around .15, which was right where yours was back the fall
Very interesting, thanks for sharing!
Would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the potential for vaccine breakthrough strains. Is it a coincidence that the predominant new variants that have been reported seem to have arisen in Brazil, South Africa and UK, which is where certain vaccine trials were conducted? I guess the answer is, as with so much about COVID vaccines, we do not know wha tlong term side effects will be because those trials havenot been completed. However, mass vaccinations with partially effective vaccines (from the point of view of stopping transmission) could create a crucible for catastrophe – as it did with Mareks disease in chickens. It seems like we may be at a tipping point, and if we continue to rush headlong over the cliff with the lemming-like mentality that seems to be running governmental responses to COVID19, we may well end up in a very, very, very bad situation – i.e. if we are not vaccinated we die.
Well, I’m not surprised that one of the variants was discovered in the UK, because the UK does more gene sequencing than pretty much any other country, and is therefore most likely to discover new variants. Not sure if the same is true of South Africa and Brazil.
Or much more likely we get vaccinated and die.
Why do you think this particular respiratory virus, unlike any in the history of the the planet will mutate from one with the lethality of flu to some malicious Satan-bug that will resemble bubonic plague? If so where is the evidence that points in that direct rather than diametrically opposite, where it turns into a largely benign, endemic pathogen. Ohh wait a moment – it is.
The evidence that I know about comes from Mareks disease in chickens and avian influenza. In both cases, ‘leaky vaccines’ have resulted in much more virulent strains – and the problems with Mareks is colossal (a gift that keeps on giving for vaccine suppliers – but essentially a man made problem). I am not sure if the same it true in mammals/humans – I guess so but have not looked in to this.
What is so special about this disease that it had to be overblown, manipulation by manipulation? Who gains from such a strategy?
Seamus, order your popcorn and fizzy drink… sit back and relax, for it will be a long and convoluted list…
Hint:- Start with people with Way, WAY too much money, naturally wanting more, and Power and…. they want it BEFORE the Earth’s resources are used up….
Your explanation of “why” is both cogent and I believe right on. The heist is happening in all sectors and with instability on the horizon as the theft continues to create a bigger and bigger gap between the haves and have-nots, they’ll need all that money to widen their moats. Meanwhile, using Gates’ number of a 20-1 return on vaccine investments, what better business plan than 1a) capture governments and their regulatory agencies (welcome to the campaign donor class), 1b) gain legal immunity (judicial vaccination) against damages from any vaccines, 2) capture the medical science scientists, academia, and labs (philanthropically support “science”) , 3) capture mainstream media by showering it with (making it dependent upon) pharma ads, 4) control the public narrative by censoring all dissent, whether consumer or scientist, 5) invent a fearmongering health event blaming another invisible / imaginary virus instantly accompanied by a graphic visual depiction to root the deception in the minds of the masses, journalists, government peeps, and in the minds of state and local public health officials, 6a) capture the market by making all vaccines mandatory for all ages 6b) implement “makes sense” vaccine compliance IDs, 6c) increase mass surveillance via social media and (absurd) public health tracing procedures (which can be used for Phase Two total control of the masses, political processes) to provide continuous influx of “new cases” thereby cultivating more fear and growing the resource potential ~~> and get a load of change back from your purchase cuz you still have billions of dollars to use to fill in the tactical blanks.
At the risk of diverting attention from the main point of defusing panic away from Covid
Apart from the political advantage – every government has been given a weapon of mass control that keeps people quiet that they never had before, there are other factors:
Oil consumption at an all time low – this directly affects a country’s balance of payments and pollution record.
Removes the job opportunities of many people making them fodder for zero hour contracts of larger businesses, reducing peoples ability to improve working conditions etc.
Large businesses can survive in some fashion and small ones go the wall? (re: the movie “Wall.E”). Large businesses tend to sponsor governmental parties in return for ‘advantages’ they can accrue.
Police overtime is paid by reductions in petty crime – what evening curfews are really about because the virus never sleeps (but it does get to go on holiday?).
Increased nationalism – diverts from home problems when you can blame another country for lack of vaccine, bad behaviours, worse situations etc.
Special laws and regulations can be introduced which can be badly worded but well worded for a government to use when and how it wants. Just writing this could “seriously annoy” the catch point of the new anit-protest bill going through the UK parliament.
There is more to lose in this ant panic campaign than just having to sit at home. It is up to us to spread truth where there is none and shine light into the dark corners – I think someone said this before 🙂
Do your best to stick to the truths, the numbers and people will realise themselves that they have been conned? Good Luck!
Thanks so much for your analysis of the studies about the deadliness of ‘the variants’. Could you please send me a link to the exact details of the study. I would love to critically analyse the methodology in fine detail. “They” are aware that fewer people, each day, are afraid of COVID19. In Australia, despite there still being people who only watch mainstream news and religiously believing the ABC, many Australians think the whole COVID19 event to be a joke (especially the younger generation who roll their eyes at the mention of it at school …. thank goodness). When we hear the word ‘variant’ (a word carefully chosen) we need to remember that a variant is just another ‘strain’, such as a new influenza strain that appears each year, and for which we are all well-equipped to deal with (even though some strains are more virulent than others). We have been dealing with influenza strains since the dawn of time. The only healthy people more susceptible to a new influenza strain are those who have become ‘primed’ from taking the flu shots. The whole ‘variant horror’ is designed to terrorise (and confuse) people who are now unafraid of the original virus. Hopefully, that will all backfire and reveal, yet again, that this is a scam designed to vaccinate everyone and usher them into the ‘new world order’. NO THANKS. P.S. “They” have given themselves until 2030 to achieve their aims. They will NOT desist or relent. They are in this for the long haul and are relying on us to get sick of hearing about it or simply ignore the whole topic and/or give up and willingly ‘accept’ it all as a fait accompli. The Nazi’s used this method and people did come to accept everything that was dished out them – wherever the Nazis took control, across Europe. Their ’cause’ began before 1930 and they didn’t give up …. until 1944 (when there were hardly any of them remaining). Just because there are no armed forces threatening us (yet), does not mean that we are not under siege.
Agree with you. I can not see any difference between that “covid 19” something, and a little bit harder common flu.
What is your opinion on mass vaccination using “leaky” vaccines potentially leading to vaccinated people becoming incubators for super viruses?
Correction: in reality 40 % belongs to 30-59 years.
In recent weeks there has been a surge of new cases of Covid in Sweden while death rates continue to plummet. It may be that death rates are about to soar, but I doubt it and herd immunity wouldn’t account for this. Any thoughts?
Pretty much everyone over the age of 80 has now been vaccinated in Sweden, which I think is likely the explanation.
A relaxation in the testing protocol, as in the UK since September, where only a single nucleotide is regarded as positive with PCR tests rather that 3 the tests are designed for and is the number recommended by the manufacturer?
I have had a quick look at the study and have some pertinent questions which you may be able to help with ?
1. The study has a graph showing proportion surviving over time for each variant. For the first 10 days or so these are identical and both variants are equally ‘deadly’ killing about 0.15%. The old variant graph then flattens but the new one doesn’t and continues in a straight line. This seems odd. The curve of the old variant line shows that if you survive for the first 10 days you are then less likely to die after that time. For the new variant you are just as likely to die in the second 10 days as you were in the first 10 days – very odd – and I would say highly indicative of a different disease process.
2. Patients are drawn from Pillar 1 tests(many already in hospital) and Pillar 2 tests(community). I have not spotted where these differences are eliminated by using this criterion to match cohorts? Clearly Pillar 1 testing includes testing hospital patients already ill with other conditions which may kill them within 28 days anyway. So eliminating this factor would seem essential.
3. If some patients were NOT actually dying from Covid but were dying of other serious health conditions then this might explain why the likelihood of dying in the cohort with the variant is linear and does not flatten out. That is, this cohort differs perhaps only because it includes more Pillar 1 cases and NOT because of the different variant.
Perhaps I am missing something and you can explain, otherwise I question the results of this study ?
Good point, that could certainly be the confounding factor that explains the increased mortality in the group with the new variant, if there is a difference in the share coming from each pillar in the two cohorts, which isn’t clarified in the text as far as I can see.
This here seems to be another new study on Case Mortality Rate in England – could you give this some attention too? Thanks.
Viruses are only deadly if people die from them. In the case of C19, unfortunately, there seems to be a huge reluctance on the part of the UK authorities to ‘strain every sinew’ to
find treatments that will cut the death rate. So shouldn’t the method of treatment (if any) be a significant factor in assessing deadliness here?
I have bought and read your book “Covid: why most of What you know is wrong”. Very brilliant and useful! Thank you very much.
Giada, from Rome
Hi Sebastian, thanks for your work.
In addition to the risk of dying from covid, have you also looked into how big the risk of serious illness from covid is? It would be interesting to see, both in general, but more importantly for different groups, like age groups, people with/without underlying medical conditions, male/female etc. I guess there must be a way to measure this.
As you know mass media in Sweden sometimes reports that even young, seemingly healthy people get seriously ill, and it would be good to put this into perspective, how often it happens/likely it is to happen if you get covid. How scared should you be.
Thanks. I’ve written about long covid here: https://sebastianrushworth.com/2020/11/17/what-is-long-covid/
“Why they chose to do this rather than actually looking at death certificates, to see whether covid was listed as the cause of death or not, I really don’t understand.”
Probably because in the UK if someone dies within 28 days of a +ve PCR result COVID is listed as underlying cause of death on the certificate anyway?
In other words, just another season of the common, seasonal influenza, which is what the “covid 19 ” is. Rätt eller fel?
I am truly amazed at your courage especially as shown in the recent article in Göteborgs Posten. I recently wrote a paper focusing on the psychoneuroimmunology aspects involved in Covid-19, in which I quoted the work of Oliver Robinson which I think is highly relevant (I have not read you book yet so you may have covered it):
Robinson, O. (2021) COVID-19 Lockdown Policies: An Interdisciplinary Review. In
Robinson, O (2021) Scientific and Medical Network. Lockdown policies: Doing
more harm than good. Webinar 23 February, 2021.
Question: what is the Swedish strategy for coronavirus testing? In the UK there is almost a mass screening program, but the Ourworldindata graphs suggest that it’s more targeted in Sweden.
Well, it’s not being used for mass screening, but over 300,000 people are being tested per week in a country of ten million, so it’s not far off. Basically, everyone with even the slightest sign of a respiratory infection is supposed to order a test.
Many thanks. Will do the maths and add to my blog.
You don’t mention what really stuck out for me in the BMJ paper – this admission:
“Some of the increased risk could be explained by comorbidities. Information was not available about comorbid conditions in the data we analysed, although this would be partly controlled for by matching on age, ethnicity, and index of multiple deprivation.”
Yes, you read that right. The researchers were unable to control for comorbidities, which are known to have an enormous effect on COVID severity and fatality. They admit this. And yet they still published; without highlighting the enormous question-mark this puts on their conclusions. And yet the media screamed about this paper.
I find this unbelievable.