See show world governments (and ours) reacted to the pandemic. GO!
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Some Initial Thoughts
The return of an ancient enemy
Throughout history, nothing has killed more human beings than the viruses, bacteria and parasites that cause disease. Not natural disasters like earthquakes or volcanoes. Not war – not even close. Malaria, spread by mosquitoes, still kills nearly half a million people a year
When compiling the list of pandemics we realised one key thing - we don’t seem to eradicate these viruses totally. Viruses can mutate over time and become even deadlier than before. Often as we have seen in the past very quickly things go back to normal until the virus raises its head again often under the same circumstances.
The years 2020 -2022 have changed our world completely
Media driven hysteria or sensible reaction?
The measures governments took in response to the pandemic and the scenes in Italy with the health service threatening to be overrun have changed the relationship between the governments and the people. Freedoms that have been taken for granted since WWII in most countries were removed, without much protest. Polls suggested that the majority of people were actually in favour of these measures.
There was an unrelenting barrage of media which served the purpose of terrifying the population - whether for good to encourage compliance with necessary steps being taken or for another reason - who knows?
One thing for sure - a lot of 'information' that was reported and which was defended by anyone publicly disagreeing being vilified and excluded has since turned out to be wrong. In EpidemicDrive we wrote that after vaccination people wouldn't get re-infected, and wouldn't be able to pass on the disease. Wrong.
Media which for years has peddled the 'company line', reporting Covid deaths every day, now state that the death toll is 'inaccurate'. Professor Carl Heneghan from Oxford University's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, said: 'Some of those counted as a Covid fatality may never have had the virus'. He claimed that the death-toll data led to 'an explosion of fear-mongering' online.
See below for more details on these and other aspects.
Facts About Epidemics
4 types of coronavirus cause 15-30% of common colds (SCMP) – the COVID-19 coronavirus is the seventh type identified which affects humans of more than 200 types.
10% of the world’s population are estimated to have died in the Plague of Justinian A.D. 541-542 which racked the Byzantine Empire
The mortality rate for SARS is 9.6% compared to 34.5% for Mers and 0.1% for influenza – COVID-19 is unknown yet (SCMP)
Some estimates suggest that 90% of the indigenous population including Incas and Aztecs in the Western Hemisphere was killed off by the American Plagues (European diseases incl Smallpox) in the 16th century
500,000 is the number of people commonly cited to die of influenza in a given year with no complications (SCMP)
The plague started in April 1665 and spread rapidly through the hot summer months. Fleas from plague-infected rodents were one of the main causes of transmission. By the time the plague ended, about 100,000 people, including 15% of the population of London, had died.
1357 AD was the start of the Bubonic Plague in Europe – it killed 50 million people – a greater &-age of the world’s population than anything else (HistoryExtra)
20% of the estimated 500 million people from the South Seas to the North Pole who fell victim to Spanish Flu died from it (Healthline). It didn’t start in Spain!
The history of pandemics
Here's some information on some of the worst plagues in history. .
The plague of Justinian 541-542 named after the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (reigned A.D. 527 - 565) - this was the bubonic plague and it started the decline of the empire. Estimates suggest 10% of the world's population died.
The Black Death 1346-1353 brought from Asia to Europe and spread by fleas on rats, some estimates suggest it killed half of Europe's population. It changed the course of history - with so many workers dead technical innovation increased and working conditions improved.
Cocoliztli Epidemic 1545 - 1548 this was a viral hemorrhagic fever that killed 15 miliion people in Mexico and Central America.
Great Plague of London 1665 - 1666 this was the last major outbreak of the Black Death and killed 15% of London's population.
Spanish Flu 1918 - 1920 infected an estimated 500 million people and one fifth of these died. Its spread and fatality was made worse by the conditions of soldiers in WW1. It didn't actually start in Spain - Spain's neutrality in the war meant its press could report freely on the disease and people thought the disease was specific to Spain.
Asian Flu - 1957 - 1958 started in China this killed more than 1 million people and was a blend of avian flu viruses.
AIDS 1981 - present day HIV the virus that causes AIDS was likely a chimpanzee virus that transferred to humans in West Africa in the 1920s. Estimates suggest that 35 million people have died from AIDS and about 64% of the estimated 40 million people living with HIV live in sub- Saharan Africa.
H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic 2009 - 2010 this originated in Mexico before spreading to the rest of world, infecting 1.4 billion people and killing between 151,700 and 547,400 people, according the the CDC.
Ebola 2014 - 2016 In West Africa there were 28,600 cases reported and 11,325 deaths, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There is no cure for Ebola and it is thought to have originated in bats.
Zika virus 2015 - present day spread by mosquitos mainly although it can be spread through sexual intercourse, this attacks infants in the womb and causes birth defects. It is found mainly in South and Central America and in the southern US states.
"Crimson Contagion" this was an (imaginary) exercise carried out in 2019 by the US Department of Health and Human Services which postulated a flu pandemic caused by a novel virus starting in China and spreading round the world, predicting 586,000 deaths in the USA alone.
This scrolling infographic from the South China Morning Post (SCMP) goes through different types of coronaviruses, explains how they spread and how they affect humans.
It opens in a different window - click on the image then scroll down.
In December 2019 the world was introduced to the word Zoonotic; Pertaining to a zoonosis: a disease that can be transmitted from animals to people or, more specifically, a disease that normally exists in animals but that can infect humans. There are multitudes of zoonotic diseases.
In 2003 the Chinese government confirmed SARS originated in the meat markets of China. The government banned the illegal markets and 12 months later they all started up again.Covid-19 is a version of SARS and has mutated over 16 years but this time it’s more infectious.
What's the current position with Covid-19?
This real time dashboard from John Hopkins University has the latest numbers for COVID-19 cases, deaths, recoveries and more. It’s sorted by country and state and updates in real time.
It opens in a different window – just click on the image and bookmark the page!.
There's some info on death rates below - when we looked at this dashboard we saw the deaths: cases ratio for the UK was 0.83%.
The Financial Times also has a Coronavirus Tracker – normally only open to subscribers but available to anyone, which gives a constantly updated view of the effects of the pandemic.
It allows you to compare countries (for example, the cumulative deaths per 100K people since 1/1/2020 attributed to Covid-10 in Sweden which had no lockdowns is two thirds the rate in the UK).
It also shows excess deaths — the numbers of deaths over and above the historical average — across the globe, and again per million people Sweden’s rate is about 2/3rds that of the UK.
Let’s see what we can do to stay safe. And enough doom and gloom – see the tabs below for more info – the last few are light-hearted impacts from the recent lockdowns.
What is long Covid?
Most people get over Covid recover completely in a few weeks. Others get symptoms that last for weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is called post-COVID-19 syndrome or “long COVID”.
The virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems.
How ill you are when you get the virus doesn’t seem to affect whether you get long term symptoms.
Common long COVID symptoms include:
extreme tiredness (fatigue), shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”), difficulty sleeping (insomnia), heart palpitations, dizziness, pins and needles, joint pain, depression and anxiety, tinnitus, earaches
feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite, a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste, rashes
Click on any of the tabs on the right to see more information
What did governments do?
It's fair to say that a lot of assumptions made initially were, well, just plain wrong. Some things that were regarded as mad anti-vax conspiracy theories have now been accepted as fact by the WHO. When we initially created EpidemicDrive we put:
"Once you’ve had the disease and recovered, it’s believed you have immunity and don’t get sick or pass it on. Ideally once enough people have had the disease, we develop ‘herd immunity’ where enough people don’t get the disease and it dies out. "
Now we know you can catch the disease after being vaccinated and boosted, and also pass it on. The fourth dose is now being made available to the vulnerable.
Governments reacted to the situation in Italy, where it looked as though the health service would be overwhelmed. Social distancing was introduced, masks were / weren't / were made mandatory and lockdowns were introduced, and a race to create effective vaccinations started. Interestingly Sweden didn't introduce a lockdown - because their constitution did NOT allow the government to make the decision - it was made by their chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell.
The first reaction almost worldwide was lockdown. China tried Forced Quarantine Hubei province. Social Distancing is avoiding public gatherings, staying at home and keeping a distance from others. It can be applied to a moderate group of people or more extensively – some people will always have to do key jobs.
The problem is that enough people get sick at the same time the Health Service can’t cope and we see the pressure like there was initially in northern Italy, and people die.
The Washington Post has a great interactive page which allows YOU to model these different approaches and see what the different outcomes are. It shows the numbers of people healthy, sick and recovered and how these change over time in different scenarios. Try it here – it opens in a new window – scroll down and have a look.
To summarise, it models a fake disease which spreads even more easily than Covid-18 through a population of 200 people; when a healthy person comes into contact with a sick person, they get sick. When they’ve recovered, they can’t catch it again nor transmit it. The chart below shows the results of free for all movement, forced quarantine, 3/4 of people social isolating and 7/8ths of people social isolating.
Grey is healthy people, brown is sick people and pink is recovered people. You’ll see the ‘curve’ of people getting sicker is higher in the first two simulations.
How effective are Lockdowns?
You may have seen a ‘John Hopkins study’ which has been doing the rounds on social media? We have to admit that sadly we were taken in by it initially!
It actually isn’t from the University as such – it’s a working paper by a Professor of Applied Economics at John Hopkins and two other professors from Denmark and Sweden.
However, there’s a paper titled: Lockdown fatigue: The declining effectiveness of lockdowns from Patricio Goldstein, Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Luca Sartorio on VOX EU / CEPR dated 30 March 2021 which does show that : “Initially, lockdowns are associated with a significant reduction in the spread of the virus and the number of related deaths, but this effect declines over time. Lockdown does not work as a continuous containment policy in the event of a protracted pandemic.”
What's the death rate?
"The death rate of the coronavirus is difficult to measure. At the time of writing, there have been 40,636 deaths from 923,470 confirmed cases around the world, or 4.9%. This compares with a death rate for seasonal flu of 0.1%
The figure is hopelessly unreliable, depends on what we’re measuring and varies hugely from country to country. We don’t really know:
- how many would have died anyway
- how many people have been infected with only mild symptoms and not counted
- who has been tested
- how old the infected people are
- the way the country report the cause of death
Note that in the UK about 150,000 people die every year between January and March – the vast majority who have died have been over 70 or had a pre-existing condition."
Since then we know a lot more about these factors. The chart on the right is from Our World in Data (click button to go to site) and shows the case mortality rate - see the tabs below for other measures.
Click on any of the tabs on the right to see more information
So what's changed?
The pandemic and the world's governments' reactions to it have changed the way we look at things. The restrictions to personal freedoms, whether for better or worse, would never have even been considered ten years ago, and we are still not fully out of it.
The world has changed - so let's look at some of the ways it has changed, and whether it's for better or worse.
Click on any of the tabs on the right to see more information
I believe that the coronavirus epidemic is a threat unlike is exaggerated more than anything else
The box below shows some information on exactly how bad the coronavirus epidemic is and why. Hover over it and it will show you some arguments that suggest we are overreacting and that the situation isn’t as bad as is being reported. Click the button on the back to see this second point of view and YouDrive’s thoughts!
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The Coronavirus explained
The coronavirus explained
this animated video by Kurzgesagt still provides a handy explainer on how the virus works. It’s about 8 minutes long
A TED TALK ON THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
This talk explains more about COVID-19 and how it fits in with the global health system.
How the Coronavirus fits in
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Corona, False Alarm?
Facts and Figures
In Corona, False Alarm?, award-winning researchers Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi and Dr. Karina Reiss give clarity to these confusing and stressful times. They offer analysis of whether radical protective measures, including lockdown, social distancing, and mandatory masking, have been justified, and what the ramifications have been for society, the economy, and public health.
Covid: Why most of what you know is wrong
In this book, the Swedish doctor Sebastian Rushworth examines some of the most central questions about the Covid-19 pandemic: How deadly is Covid-19? What is long Covid? How accurate are the Covid tests? Does lockdown prevent Covid deaths? and many more
CRISIS, CULL or COUP?
WHAT, HOW and WHO? Facts and Truths to Make You Think!: Exposing The Great Lie and the Truth About the Covid-19 Phenomenon.
So, you want to know what’s really going on? Are you ready for the shocking truth? An inconvenient truth that requires each and every one of us to take individual and collective responsibility in the face of what may yet prove to be the greatest orchestrated crime against humanity that the world has ever seen.
NHS provide information on coronavirus and advice on symptoms and self isolation
The government publish daily information on the number of cases and more information
The NHS as part of their every mind matters provide advice on maintaining mental wellbeing during this time
The World Health Organisation provide a global update on the coronavirus epidemic
This world map by John Hopkins University is updated daily and has many worldwide facts
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control have information you can see and download on Covid