With half of the UK going into tighter lockdowns starting at midnight tomorrow, one could forgive oneself that the threat of Covid-19, despite all the doom and darkness, has never been so great.
But as ROSS CLARK reveals, things may not be nearly as bad as the scare-mongers would make you think …
Claim: The beds in the intensive care unit in Liverpool are already 95 percent occupied
Reality: There are fewer beds in the intensive care unit than last year
On paper, the 95 percent statistic released earlier this week by Liverpool City Councilor Paul Brant paints a worrying picture of overcrowded hospitals and inadequate care.
So rest assured that it has no relation to reality. In fact, Liverpool University Hospitals' NHS Foundation Trust on Thursday dismissed Mr Brant's lawsuit, insisting that his units were only 80 percent full and only 47 of the 61 intensive care beds were occupied.
That might still seem high, but it's actually perfectly normal for the intensive care beds to be full at this time of year.
For example, last year 51 out of 59 ICU beds in Liverpool's hospitals were full, compared to 52 out of 59 beds in 2018.
With the demand for intensive care beds for Covid-19 patients soaring, we must not forget how quickly the NHS was able to reuse general and acute care hospital beds during the first surge in the coronavirus.
In fact, Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool only announced on Thursday that it already had 40 beds with ventilators and another 30 beds with special CPAP breathing machines.
NHS data shows that units are typically 85 percent full at this time of year. Currently, however, they are only 80 percent full, according to hospital trust
Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty, the country’s top science and medical staff, predicted 50,000 cases a day by mid-October. However, the UK only lists about 20,000
Claim: The Covid-19 death rate is indeed high
Reality: It really isn't
Such fears date back to March, when the World Health Organization sullenly announced at a press conference that the virus had a 3.2 percent death rate.
However, that figure was based on a rough calculation that divides the number of deaths by the number of confirmed cases of infection.
In fact, as we know from antibody tests that show many people had Covid-19 without knowing it and without being tested, most of the cases were not recorded.
To pinpoint the death rate, we need to focus on what's known as the infectious death rate (IFR) – the number of deaths divided by the number of actual cases.
Scientists at Imperial College London originally estimated the IFR for Covid at 0.9 percent, and an updated estimate put it at 0.66 percent.
And many even believe the number is far lower.
An article published this week in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization by John Ioannidis, professor of medicine at Stanford University, reviewed 61 studies from around the world that calculated the IFR.
His analysis shows that their median – the mean value – for the IFR is 0.27 – suggesting that only four out of every thousand people infected with Covid-19 have died from it.
Claim: A second spike could cause twice as many deaths
Reality: Far fewer people are dying now
This troubling claim stems from a July report by the Academy of Medical Scientists commissioned by senior scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance that could cause an estimated 119,000 deaths if a second surge coincides with a peak of winter flu.
In order to achieve this number, the so-called “second wave” would have to be significantly worse than it is now.
Only 138 people who had tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 28 days died on Thursday.
By comparison, there were more than 1,000 deaths per day at the height of the epidemic in the spring.
Such an improvement is hardly surprising as treatments have improved and many of the most vulnerable people have – unfortunately – died at their first peak.
Claim: The current wave of infections will break through the elderly
Reality: We are much better prepared this time
In response to the signing of the Great Barrington Declaration by more than 3,000 scientists last week urging governments to abandon uniform bans in favor of targeted shielding, Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England described the claim that "Older people can somehow simply be shielded from risk" as "wishful thinking".
Of course, older people are much more susceptible to Covid-19. According to an analysis by the Oxford Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, the average age of a coronavirus victim is 82.4 years.
But does this really justify widespread panic? After all, it is significantly higher than the average age of people who die from all other causes, namely 81.5 years.
And don't forget that a large proportion of elderly deaths occurred in the spring because they were discharged from hospitals to nursing homes without testing, and also because nursing home staff – many of whom did not have adequate protective equipment – worked in multiple nursing homes.
But now elderly patients are routinely tested before they are released to nursing homes, and the Department of Health's winter plan has banned employees from working in more than one nursing home, which should help reduce the spread of Covid-19 from home to stop.
The average age of people who have died of Covid-19 since the pandemic began in England and Wales is 82.4 years. The data shows how this compares to deaths from other reasons
Claim: Hospitals are less prepared than this time in March
Reality: Doctors are far better equipped to fight the virus
An unnamed doctor at the Royal Liverpool Hospital was quoted on Thursday as saying, “Before the first climax, elective surgery was restricted so the hospital was pretty empty and staff were being hired. (But) this time there was no real restriction on any electoral work. & # 39;
However, before we get to apocalyptic conclusions about the readiness of our hospitals, we should remember that this is just a view of a doctor in a hospital.
Contrary to his panicked statement, it is undeniable that intensive care physicians have learned a lot about the treatment of Covid-19 in recent months, for example when and when patients should not be ventilated.
The ICU death rate for Covid-19 patients in the 28 days following admission fell from 44 percent to 34 percent between March and July, data showed earlier in the pandemic
The secret of COVID-19 immunity
Scientists still don't know for sure if people can catch Covid-19 more than once or if they become immune after their first infection.
With some diseases, such as chickenpox, when they get back into the body, the body has precise memories of how to destroy them and can fight them off before symptoms start.
However, it is so far unclear whether people with coronavirus can get it again.
Tests have shown that many people who recover have antibodies – which can provoke future immunity – but it's not known if there are enough of them.
A doctor, Professor Karol Sikora, said he found that only 10 percent of people known to have had Covid-19 actually developed antibodies.
This means that if they get infected again, it's difficult to measure whether they can fight it off right away.
Another study from the University of Melbourne found that all of the patients in a group of 41 developed antibodies but were only able to fight off an average of 14.1 percent of the viruses when exposed a second time.
Research on other similar coronaviruses, which also infect humans but usually only cause mild illness, found that people tended to develop protective immunity, but their antibody levels fell within months and they could be reinfected after about six months.
However, antibodies are just one type of substance that can induce immunity.
Others, including white blood cells called T and B cells, can also help the body fight off disease, but are more difficult to detect with currently available tests.
The Melbourne study found evidence of increased numbers of coronavirus-specific B and T cells in recovered patients, suggesting that these types of immunity may be stronger than antibodies.
They asked for more research on the subject.
A promising study in monkeys found that they failed to catch Covid-19 a second time after recovering from it, leading scientists to believe that the same could apply to humans.
The rhesus monkeys were purposely reinfected by scientists in China to test how their bodies reacted.
With the coronavirus only known to scientists for seven months, there wasn't enough time to investigate whether people develop long-term immunity.
So far, cases of people being infected more than once have been neither numerous nor convincing.
Claim: There is no immunity
Reality: The chances of re-infection are slim
Earlier this week, it was revealed that a 25-year-old man in the US had caught Covid for the second time, which Dr. Mark Pandori of the University of Nevada warned that it could have a significant impact on our understanding of immunity to Covid-19 '.
It is worth noting, however, that researchers in Nevada have admitted that they are not entirely sure whether the patient was actually re-infected.
Instead, it is said, there is a possibility that the virus of its initial infection was dormant in his body and was reactivated.
More importantly, if infection with Covid-19 hadn't given us immunity, at least in the short term, we would know by now.
After all, there has to be a reason hundreds of thousands of people who have suffered from Covid-19 don't have second and third attacks of the disease.
Claim: We will never achieve herd immunity
Reality: We shouldn't rule it out
Speaking to the House of Commons earlier this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the absurd claim that "herd immunity is a flawed target without a vaccine, even if we could do what we can't".
He backed this up by suggesting that a number of infectious diseases such as measles "never reach herd immunity."
Since then, Mr. Hancock has been led by Dr. Martin Kulldorff from Harvard University and Dr. Stanford's Jay Bhattacharya – who pointed out that in the days leading up to a vaccination, due to herd immunity, measles outbreaks ended before they all became infected.
Although the government's scientific advisors have claimed that herd immunity could be achieved if around 60 percent of us were infected, other scientists believe the number is much lower.
According to a model by Gabriella Gomes of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, we could achieve herd immunity if only 10 to 20 percent of us had the disease.
Claim: & # 39; Long Covid & # 39; can leave millions of people with symptoms for years
Reality: Serious cases are very rare
According to a report released Thursday by the National Institute for Health Research, "significant psychological and social effects" could appear on people with long-term Covid-19 who are making claims on their recovery.
While the term "long covid" may sound terrible, it is important to note that delayed recovery is not uncommon in viral illnesses.
In the meantime, don't be fooled that such a long reaction to Covid-19 is common. In fact, many people infected with Covid-19 – up to 80 percent according to some studies – do not have any symptoms at all.
Claim: Only a breaker will stop the virus
Reality: It will only delay the inevitable
On Wednesday Claudia Paoloni, President of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, warned grimly: "We are in an inimitable situation where we take our time (lock the whole country for two weeks) to buy ourselves some time" and that Suppress virus.
In addition, Matt Keeling, a mathematician at the University of Warwick, recently estimated that a two-week breaker could save 8,000 lives.
But even Sage, the government's emergency scientific advisory group, which called for the circuit breaker to be temporarily turned off three weeks ago, admits it would only delay the epidemic by 28 days.
In other words, if we graduated tomorrow, we would only be back with the infection rate we had at the beginning of the month by the end of October.
Claim: By closing faster, the Scottish and Welsh governments have better dealt with the pandemic
Reality: The results were the same
Surely Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford took every opportunity to attack the Westminster government and remind us that they are doing better.
But while England recorded significantly more cases and deaths than Scotland and Wales for short periods during the summer, this is no longer the case.
Indeed, the latest analysis of the numbers shows that there is little to separate the three countries.
In the past seven days, England had an average of 230 new infections per million people, while Scotland has 205 and Wales 213.
The reported cases by date are listed above for the four UK nations. It shows the number of people who have received at least one laboratory-confirmed positive Covid-19 test result
Claim: Infections are higher now than they were when the UK was banned in March
Reality: There is an increase in cases – but only because we test more
Yes, it is true that the current number of registered infections – 19,000 on Wednesday alone – is higher than ever before.
However, this is mainly because we are currently running more than 250,000 tests per day – compared to less than 6,000 per day in mid-March.
Even in April, fewer than 10,000 people were tested a day in the UK.
While the number of positive tests that come back now seems to be significantly higher, we are seeing more cases because we are testing more.
The Denial by Ross Clark is published by Lume Books
This graph shows infections diagnosed after the announced day (yellow) and the total number of infections believed to have occurred, according to the Cambridge scientists model (red). There are currently an estimated 47,000 new infections per day in England
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) Coronavirus