You should always look after your emails, particularly those on contentious matters, upon which, far from the jury still being out, the witnesses are still being examined.
One email in particular I now wish I could lay my hands on. I sent it way back in early 2020 to a friend who is a very senior clinician and medical educator, and in it I suggested that there was an urgent need to use what limited testing capacity we then had to determine the true prevalence of the Covid 19 virus in the population by a program of random testing, as distinct from testing individuals who presented with symptoms, or whose Covid status was otherwise of special interest. It seemed to me that we weren’t going to get a true measure of the lethality of the disease unless we had some idea of the total number of people infected, and that we weren’t going to get that if we only tested symptomatic people. At the time, all sorts of attempts were being made to determine the lethality of the virus, based on the mortality among those who presented with symptoms. These were returning scary rates of mortality, on the basis of which it was being proposed that stay-at-home orders should be issued. It seemed to me that the only way to get a true measure of its lethality was to determine, so far as possible, how many people were in fact infected, including the as yet unknown number of people who were infected but asymptomatic.
I mention all this because I’ve just seen an excellent interview of Dr Jay Bhattacharya which appears to me to make exactly this point. And guess what? He confirms that, by failing to assess what I now know to be called seroprevalence (isn’t it great when you find that something you’ve struggled to describe turns out to have a name?), the infection fatality rate (IFR – there’s another!) was over-estimated – not just by a bit, but by an order of magnitude. Had the correct IFR been known, it’s unthinkable that we would have suffered the ruinous lockdowns that have been inflicted upon us. Not even Dan Andrews, surely, could have justified ruining Victoria’s economy on account of a disease which killed 0.3% of those it infected.
Dr Bhattacharya is a professor of medicine, and a signatory to the Great Barrington Declaration. In his interview he describes how many of the adverse consequences that he and his cosignatories foresaw – the impact on health, both mental and physical, the damage to the economy and so on, have all been amply realised. For those of us who opposed lockdown from the very start – and I know that goes for a lot of Harrumpf readers – none of this will come as much of a surprise. But coming from a clinician of Dr Bhattacharya’s stature, it’s a little feast of I-told-you-sos. It might not be a very creditable indulgence, but after all we’ve been through – not just the lock-down itself, but the ostracism that has greeted our dissent, and, dammit, the feeling that we’ve been living for the last year and as half among zombies who used to be our family, friends and colleagues – surely we deserve a little treat. Oh, and as a little bonus, we learn that Matt Hancock, the UK Health Secretary doesn’t understand the concept of ‘herd immunity’. Seems he thinks it’s a synonym for ‘zero-Covid’. I suspect he’s not alone.
It’s quite a long interview, but well worth listening to in full.