What is left to say?
Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, Scottish doctor
December 30, 2020
I have not written much about COVID19 recently. What can be said? In my opinion the world has simply gone bonkers. The best description can be found in Dante’s Inferno, written many hundreds of years ago.
In it, Dante describes the outcasts, who took no side in the rebellion of angels. They live in the vestibule. Not in heaven, not in hell, forever unclassified. They reside on the shores of the Acheron. Naked and futile, they race around through a hellish mist in eternal pursuit of an elusive, wavering banner, symbolic of their pursuit of ever-shifting self-interest.
I find this description of the desperate pursuit of an elusive wavering banner rings rather true. This, it seems, is pretty much the place we have arrived at. Which banner have you decided to follow?
The ‘COVID19 s the most terrible infection ever, and we must do everything in our power to stop it, whatever the cost’ banner.
Or the ‘What on earth are we doing? This is no worse than a bad flu, and we are destroying the world economy, stripping away basic human rights and killing more people than we are saving’ banner.
There may be others.
Between these two, main, completely incompatible positions, lies the truth. It is in pretty poor shape. It has been crushed, and bent out of shape, smashed, and left as a broken heap in the corner. I search where I can, to find the fragments, in an attempt to bring together a picture that makes some kind of sense.
But what to believe? Who to believe?
I feel somewhat like Rene Descartes. In order to find the ineluctable truth he scraped everything away until he was left with ‘Cogito, ergo sum’. ‘I think, therefore I am.’
I have stripped away at the accuracy of PCR COVID19 testing. I found myself left with nothing I could make any sense of. I hacked down to establish the way that COVID19 deaths are recorded. All I found were assumptions and difficulties.
Did someone die with COVID19, of COVID19 – or did it have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with COVID19? Who knows? I certainly don’t, and I wrote some of the death certificates myself.
Have we overestimated deaths, or underestimated deaths? I do not know … and so it goes on.
So, what do I know? I know that COVID19 exists – or I am as certain of this as I can be. Was it a natural mutation from a bat, or was it created in a laboratory? Well, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. It’s here, and there is no chance that any Government, anywhere, would ever admit responsibility for creating the damned thing. So, we will never know. If you asked me to bet, I would say it was created in a lab, then escaped by accident.
Is it deadlier than influenza? Well, it is certainly deadlier than some strains of influenza. Indeed, most strains. However, Spanish flu was estimated to have killed fifty million, when the world’s population was about a fifth of what it is now. So, COVID19 is definitely less deadly than that one. About as deadly as the influenzas of 1957 and 1967. Probably.
• Will it mutate into something worse? Who knows.
• Will the current vaccines work on mutated strains? Who knows.
• Can it be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers? Who knows.
• How effective are the current vaccines going to be? Who knows.
What are we left with?
At the beginning, I kept relatively quiet on how deadly COVID19 would prove to be. Because I didn’t know. The figures raged up and down. The infection fatality rate become a battle scene, with warriors lined up on either side to defend their positions.
I even got attacked by factcheckers, the self-appointed know-it-alls who are, it seems, capable of judging on all matters of scientific dispute. Truly, the Gods have descended to live amongst us. Those who can determine what is true, and what is not. No need for any further clinical trials, or any more scientific studies of any sort, ever. We just need to ask the Fact Checkers for the answer, to any given question.
Anyway, it appeared that tens of thousands died in some countries, almost none in others. What I was waiting to see, was the impact on the one outcome that you cannot alter, or fudge. The outcome that is overall mortality i.e. the chances of dying, of anything.
I did this because, when it comes to recording deaths from a specific illness, things can go in and out of fashion.