Dr John Lee Writing In The Spectator On Coronavirus.

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Deskdiary | 14:12 Mon 30th Mar 2020 | News
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Interesting article providing an alternative view.

I found the points he was making pretty compelling.



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It is impossible to know what to believe, though of course I hope he is right. A report in The Lancet is rather more gloomy and gives some estimates of hospitalisation that would certainly justify the building of temporary hospitals - 8% of over 50s for example.
If someone would have died in six months from an underlying condition, and instead died today because they had coronavirus on top of that underlying condition, then did they die WITH coronavirus or OF coronavirus?

It's semantics ... but it is important. As PP says, on a two week cruise you don't normally have 12 deaths. But if you took all the passengers on a cruise ship and followed them over the course of a year following the cruise, you may well have 12 deaths.

Apply that to the UK ... if you take all the natural deaths due in a year - around 600,000 - and jam them in to a short space of time, we become totally overwhelmed. That is why we're in lockdown. It's also why these deaths are being described as "of coronavirus" ... so they can be tracked.
Correction to my post above, it should read 8% of those age 50-59, it would be higher for all those over 50.
Actually on that cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, there were 3,700 passengers and crew on board; around 700 people were infected, and twelve died.

At that rate, if they'd all been infected around 60 would have died.
// I maintain, as I have since the beginning, that whilst we must be cautious we do need to retain a sense of perspective in all this.//

This is fine, but it's very difficult to have perspective in the middle, or at the beginning, of something where you don't know where it's going. Three weeks ago you wrote

//...the vast majority of deaths have occurred in China. 3024 out of 4,200 worldwide.... so a little over a thousand in the rest of the world in total have died. I really think we need to keep a sense of proportion...//

Which was fair enough at the time -- although there are concerns that China is underreporting the death toll there massively, which, if true, would hardly be encouraging -- but is somewhat undermined by the trajectory of the disease since then, which has seen the number of recorded Covid-19 deaths outside China grow from 800 or so on March 10th to around 34,000, and increasing by at least 3,500 daily.

In the limited sense that Covid-19 won't wipe out the world, then, yes, let's have some perspective. In every other reasonable sense it's still scary, and extreme measures will still be needed for months before the disease can be truly said to be under control.
The other problem of an article like this is the, obviously unavoidable, reference to "at the time of writing". This is a fast-evolving crisis. At the time of writing he notes 422 deaths and (presumably) 8,000 cases in the UK. That was a week ago. It's now 1,400 and 22,000, ie a threefold increase. Later today it's expected, according to an article in the Telegraph, that the death rate may rise significantly as we take into account deaths that didn't occur in hospitals.

In as much as policy needing to be evidence-based, I agree with him. That the evidence needs to be assessed continually, and policy revised as appropriate, I agree with him. But the message about keeping a sense of perspective needs to be tempered by the realisation that not enough panic is as risky, if not worse than, too much.
//as of 30 March 2020, 715 660 cases of COVID-19 (in accordance with the applied case definitions and testing strategies in the affected countries) have been reported, including 33 579 deaths.//

The death toll as of yesterday equates to 4.6% of ‘reported’ cases, the vast majority of victims having been classified as vulnerable. The figure takes no account of the thousands of unreported cases. From a world population of 7.8 billion, I’d say we definitely need to maintain a sense of perspective.
For sure the death toll across all cases will be lower than 4.6%. Current estimates are in the region of between 0.5% and 1%. That's still a lot. The other problem is that you are ignoring another relevant statistic, namely the rate of spread, and that certainly appears to be far higher in Covid than for, say, Flu, or SARS, or Ebola. Indeed there's sort of a warped logic here: a disease that doesn't kill often is more of a threat than a disease that kills loads of those it infects. Ebola struggles to spread because the people it infects get sick too quickly to spread it; Covid has spread like wildfire precisely because a lot of those who are infected don't appear suffer so much, meaning there's that much higher a chance that it can reach those it does kill.

I'm not ignoring anything. I'm being realistic.
If you are being realistic, then, realistically, it should be clear that we are still just at the start of this crisis. Nobody can say for certain where Covid will go next. But they can say for certain that it's far from over.

The reference to the world population of 7.8 billion is also premature. The disease hasn't infected everybody yet; almost certainly, not even close.
//Nobody can say for certain where Covid will go next. //

Including you. You carry on panicking and doom-mongering if you like - I'll just carry on calmly following official advice.
I'm not doom-mongering. It's manifestly obvious that COvid-19 will kill many more people in the coming months. The question is one of scale. Wild optimism allows you to double the number of deaths before it's over; more realistic optimistic predictions would be in the region of 1 million or so worldwide.
And the other point is that, if the total casualty count at the end is as low as a million, it will be precisely because of the panicking and doom-mongering that forced people to take action. If we weren't in lockdowns in so many countries, the death toll would undoubtedly have ended up far higher.

It's such a shame that your definition of doom-mongering is so broad as to encompass even the most modest of predictions of scale. It's clear that humanity as a whole will survive this. It's equally clear that many humans will die before then. Saying so isn't doom-mongering.
I'll stick to the figures. You carry on as you will.
I'm sticking to the figures too. The figures tomorrow will be higher than they are today. And so on.
If you stick to figures it is very scary. It may become less scary if you assume the figures aren't telling the whole story, as Dr Lee is.
I know. Nevertheless, proportionately they are low ... very low. Whilst as I said, we must be cautious, dire negativity does no one any good at all. You did the same with Brexit day after day - and guess what? The sky didn't fall in. Chin up, Jim. I'm an optimist.
They are proportionally low currently. Hopefully they will stay that way.

Saying "chin up" isn't going to make me, or anyone else, feel better about something that is killing thousands now, will kill thousands more, and has wrecked millions of lives.
// followed them over the course of a year following the cruise, you may well have 12 deaths.//

yeah and if you followed them over 60 y then they would all be dead (100%) for those not good at ratios (*)

so as Jim will confirm - for any number of deaths ( says er ecks) - you will find a time ( tea time) when the number of deaths up to (T) a monf, a year, a decade whenever will be the same ( er ecks)

so all you are doing is defining - - a function and not the end of the world

and yes I really really ask why a doctor or doctors didnt notice this

(*) no not me - in the long run we are all dead J M Keynes
Worry on then, Jim, ... for all the good it will do you.

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