As the lockdown measures in multiple countries, including here in Canada, continue to become more intense, it raised many red flags for a number of scientists. For me, it also raised a red flag given what we’ve seen from global pandemics of the past, like the swine flu, which infected more than a billion and killed more than half a million around the globe. I am not comparing the new coronavirus to the flu, I’ll leave that to the scientists. According to an article recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Dr. H. Clifford Lane, and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the case fatality rate may be less than one percent, and the clinical consequences of COVID-19 may be more similar to that of a severe seasonal influenza.
Dr. Eran Bendavid and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, two professors of medicine at Stanford University recently published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Is the coronavirus as deadly as they say?” In it, they provide reasons for why the fatality rate might be significantly lower than the projection given by the World Health Organization (WHO).
John P. A. Ioannidis, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Stanford, recently published an article entitled “A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data.“ In the article, he also argues that there is simply not enough data to make claims about reported case fatality rate. He states that rates, “like the official 3.4% rate from the World Health Organization, cause horror — and are meaningless.
A paper recently published in The International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents titled “SARS-CoV-2: fear versus data claims “that the problem of SARS-CoV-2 is probably being overestimated.” (source)
There is information going around the that infection rate of the new coronavirus is most likely higher than what the data we have so far has shown. That opinion is being shared quite a bit, which would ultimately drive the death rate down. But what about deaths?
An article published in Psychology Today written by Robert Bartholomew Ph.D, points out that,
Professor Walter Ricciardi, an advisor to the Italian Health Ministry, observes that the high death rates there may reflect the way that deaths are recorded. “The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die … with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus,” he has said. “On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 percent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 percent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity—many had two or three” (Newey, 2020). Pre-morbidity refers to having serious health issues prior to the onset of a disease.
According to another study out of Italy, 99% of Italy’s coronavirus fatalities that were examined specifically for this study were people who suffered from previous medical conditions. More than 75% had high blood pressure, about 35% had diabetes and a third suffered from heart disease. The study provides inside as to why their death rate may be much higher compared to other countries.
An article recently published by the Financial Times points out,
In the UK, about 150,000 people die every year between January and March. To date, the vast majority of those who have died from COVID-19 in Britain have been aged 70 or older or had serious pre-existing health conditions. What is not clear is how many of those deaths would have occurred anyway if the patients had not contracted COVID-19. Speaking at a parliamentary hearing last week, Professor Neil Ferguson, director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, said it was not yet clear how many “excess deaths” caused by coronavirus there would be in the UK. However, he said the proportion of COVID-19 victims who would have died anyway could be “as many as half or two-thirds”.
It’s interesting to note in the quote above that Professor Ferguson pointed to the fact that there could be many “excess deaths” as a result of COVID-19 that have gone, and will go undocumented. But again, that being said, the number of COVID-19 victims who would have died anyway could be “as many as half or two-thirds.”
This idea was also recently echoed by Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, a specialist in microbiology and one of the most cited research scientists in German history who refers to the measures being taken governments around the world as “Draconian.” You can read more about that and watch what he has to say about the new coronavirus, here.
Some influencers on social media are also raising concerns with regards to what’s happening. Candace Owens, for example, is calling into question the decline seen in pneumonia an flu deaths during the time of this pandemic. She is questioning whether or not these are cases that can be lumped into the concerns listed above, that some deaths are wrongfully being attributed to Covid19.
Apart from what’s discussed above, some physicians are taking to the internet to emphasize that even with the current numbers as they are, the panic and hysteria that seems to be taking place doesn’t seem to be justified. Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, a specialist in microbiology and one of the most cited research scientists in German history, is one of them. He calls the current measures being put into place as Draconian. You can watch his recent video and read more about that here.
Dr. Martin Dubravec, an allergist-immunologist, wrote an article for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons published on March 29th, in it he states the following in an attempt to provide people with perspective.
Of all the deaths reported in the United States as of today, only 2 have been in patients under 18 years of age. Currently, our death rate (deaths/confirmed cases) has been as high as 2.3% and as low as 1.1% over the past 2 weeks. The President’s COVID-19 Taskforce estimated that as many at 1/1000 New Yorkers may have the virus. If this were projected to the entire United States (population 328,239,523), then the total number of COVID-19 would be approximately 328, 239 and deaths from COVID-19 (1.8% death rate) at 5,909. Even if this ends up being wrong by 1,000 percent, the death rate would still be 59,000, i.e., within range of the estimates for influenza deaths. You can look at it in another way. 98% of people who get COVID-19 fully recover!
As of today (March 29, 2020) there are 123,828 confirmed cases and 2229 deaths (1.8% death rate) from COVID-19 in the United States. Compare that with the influenza estimates so far this year: 29,000 deaths! And the flu season is not yet over, with the CDC estimating as many as 59,000 will die of influenza by May of this year.
The CDC estimates a death rate of 7.4% for influenza like illnesses and pneumonia this year. This death rate is similar to previous years. Who in the media is discussing this? (source)
At the end of the day, we don’t know, we don’t have all of the data and we won’t for some time. But there is nothing wrong with questioning what we are getting from the mainstream media. That seems to be a duty these days.