$21 billion: we have lost all sense proportion with Covid-19 and it’s hurting us




New Zealand just recorded a further four Corona virus deaths. That bring the total to nine (as of 14 April 2020):
  1. Woman, aged 70’s with an underlying health condition.
  2. Female, aged 90’s with an underlying health condition.
  3. Male, aged 80’s with an underlying health condition(s).
  4. Male, aged 70’s with an underlying health condition(s).
  5. Male, aged 80’s with an underlying health condition(s).
  6. Male, aged 90’s with an underlying health condition(s).
  7. Male, aged 80’s with an underlying health condition(s).
  8. Male, aged 90’s with an underlying health condition(s).
  9. Male, aged 70’s with an underlying health condition(s).


Interestingly, for all individuals from 3 onwards I had burrow into the Ministry of Health’s briefings to determine that all had underlying health conditions, the mainstream media failed to report that key fact.  

The death of any individual is clearly tragic – everyone is someone else’ mother / father / sister / brother and their loved ones will be heart broken.

But we also need to place these unfortunate deaths in context. In 2017 (the latest data released 2019 from the Ministry of Health) 33,599 people died. That’s an average of 92 New Zealanders dying per day.

Of the 33,599 people who died in 2017 the top 5 causes were:
  • 10,438 circulatory (heart) related diseases
  • 9,368 cancer
  • 3,234 respiratory related illnesses
  • 2,113 external causes (accidents, crime etc)
  • 917 diabetes

2017 also recorded 668 suicides and 378 road deaths. All those individuals were someone else’ mother / father / sister / brother too.

This means that since the lock down started on 25 March (21 days ago) approximately 1,933 people have died in New Zealand. However, in none of these instances did the government suspend parliament, rescind fundamental civil liberties or lock down the country and in doing so eviscerate the economy.

Every decision comes with consequences. The cost of this lock down is roughly $1 billion PER DAY. The government itself is spending roughly $500 million per day directly. That means (so far) the lock down has cost New Zealand roughly $21,000,000,000. To put this in context $21billion would pay for:

And that is all in just 21 days. If the lock down ends on time those numbers will have increased another 25%. How many cancer sufferers lives could be saved with this money? How many road deaths averted? How many suicides prevented? How many children educated? And all of this money will need to be paid back either via future taxes or reduced services (or both) for decades to come.
Well intentioned people will of course argue that “we locked the country down to prevent 80K deaths.” However, based on offshore data it is now clear that this figure was almost certainly significantly inflated and is based on the increasingly discredited work of Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London which heavily influence New Zealand’s own response.

When giving evidence in [the UK] parliament a few days ago, Prof. Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London said that he now expects fewer than 20,000 Covid-19 deaths in the UK but, importantly, two-thirds of these people would have died anyway  https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/how-to-understand-and-report-figures-for-covid-19-deaths-  
If Neil Ferguson is now expecting 20K deaths in the UK with a population of 66.5M then New Zealand with a population of 4.9M (13 times smaller) should proportionately have 2,711 deaths. This would be a tragedy but we need to keep in mind:

1    this number is a long way short of the predictions of 60,000 to 80,000 the government used to justify the lock down,

2.       even if we hit that terrible number it would be less than 8% excess mortality over New Zealand’s usual 33,000 deaths per year and

3.       currently we have 9 deaths. It simply not credible to claim that our lockdown no matter how successful avoided 79,991 deaths.

In short, there is an increasing body of evidence from an ever larger number of medical researchers, doctors and academics who are calling into question the proportionality of the response to the Covid-19 crisis. According to data from the best-studied countries such as South Korea https://www.businessinsider.com.au/south-korea-coronavirus-testing-death-rate-2020-3?op=1&r=US&IR=TIceland https://www.buzzfeed.com/albertonardelli/coronavirus-testing-iceland and Germany https://www.tagesschau.de/regional/nordrheinwestfalen/corona-studie-heinsberg-101.html  the overall lethality of Covid19 is in the one per thousand range and thus about ten times lower than initially assumed by the WHO and broadly in line with seasonal influenza. A key study from Italy also found that 99% of those who have died had other illnesses and almost half had three or more co-morbidities https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-18/99-of-those-who-died-from-virus-had-other-illness-italy-says. For an excellent summary of articles on this topic see here: https://swprs.org/a-swiss-doctor-on-covid-19/

The decision to enter (or exit) lockdown also needs to take into account the misery, deaths and collateral damage caused by the lock down itself in terms of increased rates of family violence https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12324065, depression and suicide (UK suicides are up 25%) https://www.zerohedge.com/health/british-suicide-rate-soars-record-high business failure and unemployment https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/world/413320/covid-19-us-jobless-claims-hit-new-record-as-virus-spreads. There is also the fact that delays to surgery and medical treatment will almost certainly lead to otherwise preventable deaths. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120820546/coronavirus-urgent-surgeries-scans-cancelled-as-covid19-empties-hospitals. How are these deaths and the grief of their familiar measured against Covid-19 victims?

As Michael Burry, the man who blew the whistle on the US housing market (made famous in the film The Big Short), tweeted “If COVID-19 testing were universal, the fatality rate would be less than 0.2%. This is no justification for sweeping government policies, lacking any and all nuance, that destroy the lives, jobs, and businesses of the other 99.8%.”

Finally, at an international level Oxfam estimates the decision by developed nations to shut down the world economy in response to Covid19 could push half a billion people into poverty (6% of the global population) could be forced into poverty, resulting in millions of deaths from unsanitary conditions, malnutrition and preventable disease, the majority of them children and women. https://www.oxfamamerica.org/press/half-billion-people-could-be-pushed-poverty-covid-19/ The effect could be to set back the fight against poverty by a decade, and as much as 30 years in some regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. More than one million Bangladeshi garment workers (80 per cent of whom are women) have already been laid off after orders from western clothing brands were cancelled or suspended.

For a Prime Minister who claimed she entered politics “for one reason: child poverty” the actions of her government are curiously opposed to that goal: the lock down is likely to lead the largest destruction of value (and consequently the largest increase in poverty) New Zealand has ever experienced, with all the associated negative social and health outcomes.

There is no question we are faced with difficult decisions and none of the outcomes are good, but we can’t afford to panic. We need to balance the costs and consequences carefully and do what is right for all New Zealanders, young and old, healthy and ill. We need to maintain a sense of proportion. We are in great danger of being the elephant, who having seen a mouse, stampedes off a cliff to its death.

Alex Davis.

If you enjoyed this article please share across on FaceBook, Twitter etc. These articles take a long time to research and your support in getting the message out there is greatly appreciated. You can follow me @emperorsrobes

Both the NZ Herald and Stuff originally indicated they would publish my Covid-19 articles but then pulled the pin at the last moment, I suspect (with good reason) under political pressure.




Comments

  1. Excellent work, thanks very much. A "lethal new disease" that only kills the very old and the mortally ill, and because of this we have to wreck our economy, small businesses, jobs, health, our democracy. They may stopped broadcasting the ages of the diseased, but the first ones made established the pattern that has continued - the second "coronavirus death" was a 93 year old woman with Alzheimers and other health issues. If you suggest that she would have been just as vulnerable in another year, with a different seasonal virus (or the same) you get called a psychopath. The government could accept they've made a mistake, more information has come to light etc and walk back, but it doesn't look as though it will happen. https://stovouno.org/2020/04/10/open-letter-to-mps-the-lockdown-is-a-disastrous-error/

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    1. Hi Barbara - thanks for the kind words. Yes I agree with you with all your points. Unfortunately those on the left (I don't really subscribe to "left vs right" but the short cut will do) have largely weaponised empathy to achieve their policy objectives.

      The government is highly unlikely to admit their mistake, the damage is now too severe. They will plow on and start trying to shift the blaming onto everyone who advised them instead.

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    2. So, you're OK if my children are left as orphans? Because what myself, my ex, my brother, mother, half of my employees and many others are all are considered as at risk!

      Maybe it's not about empathy, maybe it's about risk and maybe you are the one that is being brainwashed by politicians who are weaponising propoganda to open commerce again?

      You claim not to be left or right, but have cherry picked articles and statistics and research that supports a very right wing viewpoint!?

      One blaring gap is that prople don't typically develop herd immunity to respatory viruses... You know like the Flu that you catch again and again as it mutates every few months. So the percentage points you are talking about could get wiped out over and over.

      But its true, it will probably only kill the millions of people that have pre-exisiting medical conditions that may have eventually died from those... Personally my kids would like their parents for the next 20-30 years before that happens.

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  2. Excellent summary. It's does look like there is no end in sight for this mass hysteria, I do wonder how the public is going to react when the real impact of this starts to hit home.

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    1. Hi David - thank you and agree. The chickens will soon start coming home to roost and all those who initially enjoyed clamored for this are going to realise just how much damage has been done.

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  3. Ferguson has used mathematical modelling to provide data on several disease outbreaks including the swine flu outbreak in 2009 in the UK, the 2012 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus outbreak and the ebola epidemic in Western Africa in 2016. His work has also included research on mosquito-borne diseases including zika fever, yellow fever, dengue fever and malaria.

    Seems to have experience. And you Jim

    Ferguson was appointed Order of the British Empire(OBE) in the 2002 New Year Honours for his work modelling the 2001 United Kingdom foot-and-mouth outbreak. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) in 2005.[41] He is also an International Member of the US National Academy of Medicine.[8]

    And your qualifications and recognition Jim.

    If Neil Ferguson is now expecting 20K deaths in the UK with a population of 66.5M then New Zealand with a population of 4.9M (13 times smaller) should proportionately have 2,711 deaths. This would be a tragedy but we need to keep in mind:

    BUT !!!!!

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    1. "Ferguson has used mathematical modelling to provide data on several disease outbreaks including the swine flu outbreak in 2009 in the UK, the 2012 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus outbreak and the ebola epidemic in Western Africa in 2016"

      Yes, his track record has been very uniform. He has predicted doom for every virus since he started and has been wrong every single time. No one has every reviewed his computer model either. His computer models have been proven, time and again, to have no predictive ability. The government has not listened to his predictions of doom for 20 years, why now?

      from The Spectator;

      "Q1.
      In 2005, Ferguson said that up to 200 million people could be killed from bird flu. He told the Guardian that ‘around 40 million people died in 1918 Spanish flu outbreak… There are six times more people on the planet now so you could scale it up to around 200 million people probably.’ In the end, only 282 people died worldwide from the disease between 2003 and 2009.
      How did he get this forecast so wrong?

      Q2.
      In 2009, Ferguson and his Imperial team predicted that swine flu had a case fatality rate 0.3 per cent to 1.5 per cent. His most likely estimate was that the mortality rate was 0.4 per cent. A government estimate, based on Ferguson’s advice, said a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ was that the disease would lead to 65,000 UK deaths.

      In the end swine flu killed 457 people in the UK and had a death rate of just 0.026 per cent in those infected.

      Why did the Imperial team overestimate the fatality of the disease? Or to borrow Robinson’s words to Hancock this morning: ‘that prediction wasn’t just nonsense was it? It was dangerous nonsense.’

      Q3.
      In 2001 the Imperial team produced modelling on foot and mouth disease that suggested that animals in neighbouring farms should be culled, even if there was no evidence of infection. This influenced government policy and led to the total culling of more than six million cattle, sheep and pigs – with a cost to the UK economy estimated at £10 billion.

      It has been claimed by experts such as Michael Thrusfield, professor of veterinary epidemiology at Edinburgh University, that Ferguson’s modelling on foot and mouth was ‘severely flawed’ and made a ‘serious error’ by ‘ignoring the species composition of farms,’ and the fact that the disease spread faster between different species.

      Does Ferguson acknowledge that his modelling in 2001 was flawed and if so, has he taken steps to avoid future mistakes?

      Q4.

      In 2002, Ferguson predicted that between 50 and 50,000 people would likely die from exposure to BSE (mad cow disease) in beef. He also predicted that number could rise to 150,000 if there was a sheep epidemic as well. In the UK, there have only been 177 deaths from BSE.
      Does Ferguson believe that his ‘worst-case scenario’ in this case was too high? If so, what lessons has he learnt when it comes to his modelling since?

      Q5.

      Ferguson’s disease modelling for Covid-19 has been criticised by experts such as John Ioannidis, professor in disease prevention at Stanford University, who has said that: ‘The Imperial College study has been done by a highly competent team of modellers. However, some of the major assumptions and estimates that are built in the calculations seem to be substantially inflated.’
      Has the Imperial team’s Covid-19 model been subject to outside scrutiny from other experts, and are the team questioning their own assumptions used? What safeguards are in place?

      Q6.
      On 22 March, Ferguson said that Imperial College London’s model of the Covid-19 disease is based on undocumented, 13-year-old computer code, that was intended to be used for a feared influenza pandemic, rather than a coronavirus."

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    2. "should proportionately have 2,711 deaths. This would be a tragedy but we need to keep in mind:"

      We have paid $20bn (in reality much more) to save these lives assuming everything you claim is correct. How many more lives could have $20bn saved if the money was used productively?

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    3. 100% agree - though I doubt we will ever find out. Watch out them try to deep six data like increased suicide rates as well.

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  4. There are many industries and organisations functioning quite well while lockdown has been enforced, health, police, farms snd horticulture, mest works,fishing , retail supermarkets, warehousing and supply to supermarkets, tv snd radio, power, water etc provision, all required to keep us fed and supplied why could notother industries have been operating with the same caution and control as obviously there has not been any severe negative mpact from those still operating..

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    1. I'm inspired to know the 'industry' of police is in good health in a proto-police state.

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  5. You make a compelling argument and if it were simply a case where people who were going to die say next week, meet their demise a week earlier, then it would be difficult equation to balance (economically). However, I think the whole point of the lock own is to avert a situation where the number of COVID-19 cases needing hospitalisation overwhelms the health system, resulting in people who would otherwise live a long and relatively healthy life being struck down unnecessarily early. Italy and Spain are two that spring to mind.

    It would be a big call for any government to ignore what the rest of the world was doing and chart their own path through this pandemic (even our own Simon Bridges said “the country hadn’t over reacted going into lockdown”). Sweden tried this and are now scrambling to get their outbreak under control (currently ranked 8th in deaths per million https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104709/coronavirus-deaths-worldwide-per-million-inhabitants/).

    What we don’t want to do now is whip everyone into a frenzy and have COVID-19 come back with a vengeance, where we end up with the worst of both outcomes. Stay the course… we’re almost there.

    Ironically, road deaths are way down….

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    1. Sweden are not 'scrambling' to get the outbreak under control, it's almost over in Sweden. The media have really done a snowjob on that.

      I do not think anyone in NZ has really understood the true economic impact. It's going to be in the hundreds of billions.

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    2. Agreed - re Sweden's position is being misrepresented by the main stream media - the rest of the developed world, having lost its mind and jumped off a cliff can't have Sweden a counter-factual so they are placing enormous pressure on them to buckle and fall in line - here is an analysis https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/comparison-lockdown-uk-non-lockdown-sweden

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    3. David, Alex,

      I’m open to healthy, objective debate, and will happily stand corrected if the ‘facts’ (inverted comments because in the world of the internet and the fake news so popularly coined by Trump, it often becomes a battle of who’s link one chooses to believe) but I’m not sure the link you sent on Sweden is fully up to date. I came across the below link from the Guardian (which is a reputable publication despite what you may think) and I will concede that the jury is out on Sweden as to whether this is going to be a lesson we can all learn from or a catastrophic social experiment. We’ll have to watch and see how it pans out. There is typically a 3-4 week lag.

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/15/sweden-coronavirus-death-toll-reaches-1000

      Regardless, it far from ‘over’ in Sweden as your reply suggests. The latest figures show that compared to NZ, Sweden with just over 2 x population (10.23m vs 4.88m), their figures are markedly different to ours.
      NZ Sweden Ratio
      Total Cases 1431 13822 9.6
      Hospital 18 1054 58
      Recovered 912 550 0.60
      Deaths 12 1511 125

      (Sweden’s data from this link: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/sweden/)

      The other point I would make is that Sweden’s economy is not operating at full steam. Senior High Schools and Universities have been closed as well as banning gathering of 50 or more and while they may be have chosen not to enforce mandatory business closures, many of the citizens are choosing to adopt some form of social distancing, so I imagine GDP will be much reduced, despite the government not enforcing a shutdown (i.e. the government can’t force people to go about their normal daily lives and spend as though nothing it wrong). Again, we’ll have to watch how this plays out both economically and from a health perspective.

      The fact is, this is largely unchartered waters, and while it’s easy to point to other countries that are doing OK, with less stringent social distancing… everything is clear in hindsight.

      There is a ground swell of people now comparing NZ to AU and stating the obvious, that they have had a better economic outcome with less stringent lockdown and that we should have done the same. Watching what every other nation has done and then picking the one who came out best is the same as trying to buy a ticket in the Melbourne Cup after the race has been run. Of course you now know who has the winning strategy… we all do. No Nobel prize for that…

      Those in power have to make decisions with the information available at the time. We know a lot more today than we did four weeks ago and I bet you any money we’ll know more again four weeks from now. That the way it works.

      Keep an open mind and try not to let your political affiliation affect your judgement (btw, I voted for Bill English last election but I don’t claim to hold a strong political alliance to either side).

      Russell

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    4. "Those in power have to make decisions with the information available at the time. We know a lot more today than we did four weeks ago and I bet you any money we’ll know more again four weeks from now. That the way it works."

      Can I just suggest that the data they had in no way supported a total lockdown of an entire nation? All they had was a computer model that produced scary numbers.

      That is not, in any reasonable way, data.

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    5. They had more than computer data

      Spain Known cases 196,000 deaths 20450 = 10%
      Italy 179,000 23600 = 13%

      In both cases most at home deaths weren't counted so the % is likely quite a bit higher.

      New York is currently running at about 7.4% the UK is at about 13% and the list could go on and on. And I will leave it there.

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    6. Richard, this is going to have a death rate almost exactly that of the flu. The data is all heading that way and the numbers you are using are highly misleading. Iceland is the only place where a significant amount of random testing has been done and it has the best resolution of the real.

      "Iceland, currently reports two deaths in 963 patients, CFR. 0.21%. If 1% of the population (364,000) is infected, then the corresponding IFR would be 0.05%. However, they have limited infections in the elderly as their test and quarantine measures have seemingly shielded this group, and the deaths will lag by about two weeks after the infection."

      https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/global-covid-19-case-fatality-rates/

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    7. I think we are coming from this from two different viewpoints. You are using 2 small isolated islands where I am referring to more of a world view as I live in Alberta, Canada. One size in this case doesn't fit all but your government errored on the side of safety, which based on the available data at the time was likely the correct choice. Looking at the greater picture my numbers aren't wrong as there are multiple examples of them being correct other than not including asymptomatic and pre symptomatic cases, but these would need to be in the millions to have any real effect.

      Hopefully now that New Zealand is nearing the flu season she won't become like the rest of the world, and you will be some of the lucky few that return to the new normal sooner than most.

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  6. Hi Alex, I have been quoting you everywhere, but ... have you data on the 3 latest deaths, or could you tell me how you found it for earlier deaths?

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    1. Hi Barbara - thanks please do keep quoting - you can also find me on twitter @emperorsrobes. Re the data - I painfully watched the covid19 pressers each day. They normally bury the data in there.

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  7. So, when you're thinking about the people you're willing to sacrifice, think of me. I'm 57 years old, have what might be described as an "underlying condition" and have developed pneumonia as an added bonus to three out of the past five colds I've caught. How do you like my chances of surviving an infection? You're pretty keen on a Randian analysis so here's mine: I'm extremely keen on ME staying alive so I'm massively in favour of our government's strategy of trying to eliminate the virus so that I'll be safe. What you're advocating might be good for you but it isn't for ME so, by your own standards, how does 'get fucked sound?

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    1. Unknown, I am sorry to hear about your condition, I truly am. I care deeply about the impact of these decisions. However there are two factors that need to be considered:
      1. Every decision has consequences. One of the impacts of this lock *will* be dozens or hundreds of additional New Zealand deaths from suicide, preventable diseases such as cancer that went untreated too long and general declines in overall population health over the long term due to the economic depression we are heading into. Those deaths need to be balanced against the deaths that the lock down is attempting to avoid. This is not even to mention the 500,000,000 people who will be thrust back into poverty because of these lock downs, with the resultant increase in rates of maternal and infant mortality, increased disease, violence and crime etc.
      2. Unfortunately no one should ever craft policy on the basis of the personal situation of one individual. I know that is cold comfort and I hope that you and yours remain safe and well.

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    2. Ah, did I misinterpret your essential ethos? You're actually a collective-responsibilty advocate rather someone of any sort of libertarian bent? Mounting the argument that my responsibility in this business is to die in the interests of the "collective" seems like a strongly socialist position. Which is a fair-enough stance to take but the idea of individual sacrifice in order to advance the welfare of the whole does seem a trifle off-brand, no?

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    3. "What you're advocating might be good for you but it isn't for ME so, by your own standards, how does 'get fucked sound?"

      How many people should die so you might live? How many businesses should go bankrupt? How many people lose their jobs?

      What is the price you want everyone else to pay for your 'safety'?

      No one is stopping you maintain your own isolation if that is the best course of action for you to protect yourself. You would then be able to benefit from all the other things an active country can produce. Would you care to explain why your health concerns requires everyone in NZ to become a prisoner in their own homes?

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    4. No, no, no; you're the one who is advocating the policy change on the basis of the 'costs' involved so it's your job to set my price. I guess (I hope) that you might think that my death would be too big a price to pay for saving, say, one other person from being slightly inconvenienced but I don't have a good understanding of your values so please do tell me what you believe my life is worth in your terms.

      Incidentally, which study of suicide rates during periods of nationally imposed isolation orders are you citing when you project the number of deaths by suicide we need to expect? Or are you just making a bunch of lazy assumptions that ignore the unique circumstances? (Fun anecdote: the old widow who lives a few doors down from me says that she's never had so many people making contact with her to ask how she's getting along; did you factor the positive, suicide-preventing phenomena that this situation is bringing out into your analysis? No, I thought not.)

      Also, is 'poverty' necessarily a permanent condition? Death is, you know.

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    5. "I guess (I hope) that you might think that my death would be too big a price to pay for saving"

      I'm saying, and I'm going to be very clear, NZ is paying a heavy cost in LIVES that will be lost as a result of the lockdown and that lockdown will in no way improve your chances of survival.

      Your demand for everyone else in NZ to be imprisoned for your own selfish self-internest is completely insane given you have not the slightest evidence it improves your chance of living longer. There is also a lot of evidence from the UK that many people with medical issues are dying through this lockdown do to fear to access medical services (2500 excess deaths last week alone,)

      "Also, is 'poverty' necessarily a permanent condition? Death is, you know."

      Poverty has a higher mortality than Covid 19. Do not forget, NZ will spend many times it's annual budget for the entire nations health care in a few months on this lockdown. That means there will be far less money to pay for your medication, and medical needs.

      Wake the fuck up.

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    6. David, your political leanings are clearly clouding your ill-informed judgement here. This is not about the economy or jobs. This is about health. WAKE T. F. UP!

      Lockdown or not, NZ's economy is going down the toilet anyways. The entire world's is. What, you think that somehow by keeping our own economy open the rest of the world will buy our products and spend their money to keep us going over the long term?

      THe world is shutting down. Right now. We might as well try and eliminate this virus, so that at least with the world in depression we have excellent public health outcomes compared to the rest of the world. We're well ahead of the curve, and should stay that way. Forget the economy; the world's economies are a lost cause now anway.

      We have a choice:
      1). Ruin the economy now, get relatively back on track quicker, and be ahead of the world
      2). Or, ruin the economy later, (and probably only a couple of months later) and join the rest of the world languishing at the bottom of the heap while we still have a nasty disease rampaging through our society, as will everyone else.

      I prefer Outcome a). I'm guessing you prefer b).

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    7. Reference to the age and health of the deceased is clearly not that to suggest they are therefore expendable. The point is that we would do a better job looking after the vulnerable if we were focused on that and weren't wrecking the health system. There is no reason to believe that those who died in New Zealand wouldn't have died in another year, with another virus - we can't be sure that it was a virus that finished their lives.

      It's dishonest to claim that people who are concerned about the health implications of the lockdown, including for the elderly, don't care about the welfare of the elderly. There is no reason to believe the lockdown will save a single life - it will certainly shorten many.

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    8. "The point is that we would do a better job looking after the vulnerable if we were focused on that and weren't wrecking the health system"

      Exactly. There is already plenty of example of this. 31 people have died at an old folks home in Canada where the staff abandoned them in fear of this virus. There will be many more examples of this across the world.

      That is a total failure of the health care system all in the name of the healthy putting themselves into 'isolation'

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    9. "Lockdown or not, NZ's economy is going down the toilet anyways. "

      Your house was at risk of burning down so you decided to set the fire yourself. This is the reasoning of an arsonist, not a fire fighter.

      "we have excellent public health outcomes"

      The UK had more than 2,500 excess death last week not from Covid. A&E admissions are at a record low, down from 160,000 in an average week to just 60,000. The hospitals across the world are almost empty, vast amounts of 'health care' has been stopped dead.

      This is a public health care crisis unfolding that most of the world, yourself included, is blind too.

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    10. David you are clearly a bit extreme in your views. I'd suggest if the rest of the world doesn't look at things in the same light as yourself, it's likely yourself that is wrong, not the rest of the world.

      "Your house was at risk of burning down so you decided to set the fire yourself. This is the reasoning of an arsonist, not a fire fighter."
      - Erm, no that's not exactly true is it. NZ's economy wouldn't have survived any better than anyone else's if we had ignored this crisis. As it is with the lockdown we stand a good chance of coming out of it better off than most. Maybe if you're such an arsonist yourself, think of it as a backburn.

      "The UK had more than 2,500 excess death last week not from Covid. A&E admissions are at a record low, down from 160,000 in an average week to just 60,000. The hospitals across the world are almost empty, vast amounts of 'health care' has been stopped dead."
      - Well we're not the UK, and thankfully, but a lot of what you describe is because A&Es around the world are being prepared for receiving an influx of patients on the scale of Italy or Spain, which is why they're empty now. Those countries instituted their lockdowns too late, which is what we're trying to avoid. NO doubt there will be other health outcomes as a result - this is unavoidable, but manageable in NZ while the case count is relatively low. It won't be manageable if we go down the route those countries took.

      Your extreme views are what costs people their lives. Putting this stuff all about the internet is dangerous and deliberately misleading. Stop.

      Delete
    11. David, you are writing about things you know little about. The issue mentioned had nothing to do with our health system but rather a few frightened and selfish people. They in no way represent our front line workers. The vast majority of Canadians are working very hard at "flattening the curve" to insure that the health system doesn't get overloaded and fail as it has in places in Europe.

      Delete
    12. "David, you are writing about things you know little about. "

      NZ hospitals have a grand total of 18 people suffering from Covid19. Just two are in ICU. This is true across the world, Hospitals are at record levels of spare capacity. So much so, many medical staff are spending their time making TikTok videos.

      "The vast majority of Canadians are working very hard at "flattening the curve" to insure that the health system doesn't get overloaded and fail as it has in places in Europe."

      Hundreds of thousands of health care workers in the US are being laid off because they have nothing to do. Perhaps you can hire them if you are so overworked?

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    13. "Your extreme views are what costs people their lives. Putting this stuff all about the internet is dangerous and deliberately misleading. Stop."

      You are the extremist. The fact you are in the majority may give you comfort, but you are profoundly wrong. There are plenty of professionals in this field who support my position, the fact you are not hearing them is something you should be very concerned about.

      You can chose to listen or not, but you have no right to demand 'silence' from me, that just tells me how fragile your own position is. Orwell will be spinning in his grave.

      I will take all the responsibility I possibly can for my views, and I fully intended to ensure those who have made the disastrous decisions in NZ are also held to account.

      Delete
    14. Its ok, you are just doing what normal non Canadians do. Confuse us with our southern neighbours. I think if you do a proper search you will find that we are not laying off health care workers,. Nor have we hired a lot more so most are doing what they normally do, looking after our normal sick and needy as they are still around requiring attention. Re the US nurses. they wouldn't be qualified to work in Canada. Different standards.

      But now you just seem to be taking offence for someone tripping you up. I'd say grow up but you likely already are. Sad..

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    15. "You are the extremist" Am I? I think we're all being very civil here, it seems you are not. Taking responsibility for your own views means owning them and admitting when you are wrong, which given the state of the rest of the world you clearly are. If the rest of the world had done nothing where would we be. Lockdowns work, you seem to be suggesting we shouldn't do that here? Go our own way and just let it rip and see what happens?

      We're not about to do that David. That would overwhelm the healthcare system and not flatten the curve at all, which would be disastrous. We're trying to prevent that from happening. You are not helping, and this risks lives. THAT, is not OK. That si something you need to think about when I and the vast majority of others demand silence from you for your extremism and ill-thought logic.

      Yes we have 12 deaths and that's small. It wouldn't be 12 deaths if we let it rip. So while these things may appear to be an overreaction because our numbers are small, our numbers are only small because we've done what we've done. The lockdown is the reason. Otherwise, we'd be Italy or worse.

      I don't know what you're on about with the Canada thing, I really don't. NZ isn't Canada. NZ isn't the UK. NZ isnt the US. Get over it. The only comparison worth making is what would happen if we didn't have the procedures in place to stop this thing. Which is what's happening in those places. We don't want to be them.

      Comparing deaths caused by lockdown to deaths caused by not having a lockdown, give me a lockdown every time thanks. We've already saved potentially tens of thousands of lives by having it, this doesn't compare to the tragic deaths caused by depression. In addition our road toll is currently non-existent, our workplace accident rate is nil, and our pollution levels are at record lows. Lets talk about how THOSE things have been caused by the lockdown.

      "I will take all the responsibility I possibly can for my views, and I fully intended to ensure those who have made the disastrous decisions in NZ are also held to account" Good. You go ahead. You seem to think you have some sort of power to do so, and power makes you feel good, eh? But we all know why people power-trip. And that's what you're doing.

      You're not making any sense with your angle on this, nor are you helping. My guess is, your're the person going surfing, the person attending parties every night or the mountain biker who thinks it's OK to go out and risk the lives of the emergency services. The one who couldn't care less, so long as you get to keep the life you lead, and to hell with everyone else.

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    16. "Comparing deaths caused by lockdown to deaths caused by not having a lockdown, give me a lockdown every time thanks."

      The lockdown will cost many lives. The fact you cannot see this does not change that fact.

      "My guess is, your're the person going surfing, the person attending parties every night or the mountain biker who thinks it's OK to go out and risk the lives of the emergency services"

      I went surfing yesterday, I am going to the barber for a haircut today and I have a construction site I am running with over a hundred people working on it.

      Explain how any of that harms your health in any way. Your logic seems to be that no one should every do anything, that way no emergency services ever need to do anything.

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    17. gmbyromApril

      ""You are the extremist" Am I? I think we're all being very civil here, it seems you are not. "

      Just to add, this is your idea of civil;

      "Your extreme views are what costs people their lives. Putting this stuff all about the internet is dangerous and deliberately misleading. Stop."

      Delete
    18. "Richard UnderwoodApril 19, 2020 at 8:26 PM
      Its ok, you are just doing what normal non Canadians do. Confuse us with our southern neighbours. I think if you do a proper search you will find that we are not laying off health care workers,. Nor have we hired a lot more so most are doing what they normally do, looking after our normal sick and needy as they are still around requiring attention."

      31 dead in a Canadian retirement home, abandoned by the staff to die. Maybe Montreal isn't Canada either eh?

      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/16/world/canada/montreal-nursing-homes-coronavirus.html

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    19. David, stop. You are endangering lives.

      Surfing eh. Running a construction site. Going to the barber for a haircut. You seem blinded to the fact that these don't directly endanger MY life, they endanger the lives of the emergency workers who would be forced to come to your aid if you had an accident. And that endangers the lives of all of us.

      Suggesting the lockdown will cause many more deaths than COVID itself would if we didn't have it, is ludicrous.

      Just stop. TIme to accept you are wrong.

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    20. "they endanger the lives of the emergency workers who would be forced to come to your aid if you had an accident"

      What is the point in emergency workers then exactly? Is this not there purpose? You do seem to be unaware of the logical destination for this thinking.

      I am struggling to see what need there would be for emergency workers in the execution of my haircut, but perhaps you can explain.

      "Suggesting the lockdown will cause many more deaths than COVID itself would if we didn't have it, is ludicrous."

      There is far, far more evidence for this fact than there is that Covid-19 will kill many. Unemployment has a significant mortality impact. Poverty has a higher mortality than Covid-19. We can add to this all the impact of spending vast amounts to try and restart an economy that has been shutdown on purpose, spending which will exceed the entire years budget for all NZ's healthcare many times over.

      Just because you are blind to this does not mean it does not exist.

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    21. Jesus David you are the most callous, unintelligent and selfish person to deal with. Emergency workers shouldn;t be put at risk of COVID-19 just because you in your selfish interests want to go for a surf. Going for a haircut, nothing to do with emergency workers, more to do with the spread of disease and all the older people you are putting at risk by potentially spreading what is a very nasty, horrible disease with no way for relatives to be at the bedsides of the people who die. That is an absolutely disgusting viewpoint, disgusting and callous and dangerously selfish.

      You sound like you maybe own a construction business. I have some sympathy for small business owners and even large business owners in this situation who are unable to move their businesses forward. But I have zero sympathy with you. Your attitude has shown that you care about nobody but yourself and you think your business is somehow more important than veryone else's. This isn;t just a NZ problem, it is an international prolem and around the world countries are realising the reasons why they should've done what NZ has don, only earlier. Many of them have, only too late and lives have been lost as a result. This appears to be what you want in NZ. Because you care only about you.

      For gods sake your credibility if you had any at all has disappeared by claiming that lockdown will kill more people than COVID. Duh.

      It's not just our economy. It's everyone's economy. The whole world is shutting down, in case you hadn't noticed NZ isn't the only one so quit your selfish complaining. What will happen is when we start up earlier than most others we'll be ahead. This is good. But you are putting it all at risk.

      STOP.

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    22. David Moore, thanks for the taking the time to write your reponses here. I've read this thread and have nothing to add except that out of all the people in this conversation you have the most well-thought out and intelligent repsonses. The others in this thread haven't added anything of real value except their opinions, and you know, smart people believe facts not opinions. I do think people are very scared of covid, and in some way this has limited their ability to think critically. The data definitely shows covid is not the deadly disease it was portrayed to be (and not because of lockdown but because of a medical paper that wasn't peer-reviewed or published but everyone like idiots believed), but then once people latch onto an idea they become so passionate about it even facts won't change their mind.

      Don't stop.

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    23. Good on you David for sticking to your guns and not accepting media hype as fact without questioning it and investigating facts. Those who are personally attacking you here and demanding you "stop" should ask themselves whether we are living in a democracy in NZ where debate and discussion are encouraged...or not.

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    24. I was seriously sick due to mistreatment and experimentation in the health system. Then I became terminally ill and sent home to die. My husband saved my life with cannabis and saved many others with it and now sits in a prison cell because of that here in NZ leaving many people suffering and dying and our child and I stuck isolated in the country somewhere. Firstly, how has anyone done anything like gone into lock down to prevent my death? When did anyone be forced into lock down to prevent the death of all of these patients my husband has helped and saved? How has this lock down prevented me or our son or my husbands patients who are immune deficient? Or how does this lock down that ensured he can not come home keep us safe or save lives? The thing that sickens me most is this self entitled, me mentality and the fact that the evidence is there in black and white what the end goal is which is to bankrupt our economies, completely control the worlds population using digital identity, immunity certification and block chain currency utilising mass surveillance and tracking to achieve this through 5g. The aim of our government was never to save lives!

      Delete
    25. unknown, oddly enough I'm building a plant to process CDB oil for a client at the moment.

      I don't believe the goal of the government is to take control, it's simply their instinct coming to the front in a crisis. The problem is they won't give it back without a major pushback and the public mood is begging them to take as much as they want.

      Delete
  8. It is distressing when anyone has a life-threatening illness. To be one of that number would be very frightening and depressing. Unfortunately, we will all die, of one thing or another. A 32 year old mother of three little children, otherwise perfectly healthy, dies of a brain tumour. A 92 year old dies of pneumonia. These are the people that make up the statistics. So what is so special about an individual, in the general scheme of things? Nothing really. ME is very important to me, but to the rest of nature, ME is insignificant, and would not be missed. ME hasn't been on the planet for the past 4.5 billion or so years, and will not be on the planet for the next however many billions of years. ME is not worth any more than anyone else.

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  9. An interesting viewpoint, however you are talking deaths without context or other medical costs social distancing etc. helped to lower. I agree in a lot of cases the world, not necessarily only the left as seen by China locking down cities to try and control Covid-19's spread, overreacted, or Russia sending supplies to the USA only to now realize they need them and are in lock-down themselves.

    But can you blame the world of being somewhat fearful? They have Italy, Spain, France and New York as examples of the errors in your work, where deaths reach in some cases upwards of 8-10% of known cases. Where doctors had to make the decision to treat only those likely to survive and tell the families of the others they simply didn't have the facilities or equipment to help their loved ones. So yes the world over reacted but based on real events not computer modeling. I think we will, in hindsight, decide we should have responded somewhat less than we did but much more than you and those on the far right would have liked us to.

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    1. " those on the far right would have liked us to."

      The far right is loving this. It has created a proto-fascist state. Government controls everything and can take all your rights in a heartbeat just with the phrase 'non-essential'.

      No one is advocating 'do nothing', myself I believe the correct approach was to control the boarder, test extensively and protect those most at risk. We have very good data on who this most effects (those of 60 with existing medical issues), and it's a population that can be supported by those who are younger and fit. The idea of locking up the most capable in society is a completely insane idea.

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    2. Your original article would have been better received if it had included those comments. I am from Alberta, Canada so was looking at it more from a world view. We have few restrictions other than the normal and close contact businesses are closed. Others by choice or they are working from home. Our upcoming issue isn't the dead but rather the sick as several of our meat processing plants are running out of staff and therefor may have to close. Then we have a Covid-19 and a food shortage issue ☹. Take care, be safe and stay healthy.

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  10. Too many shoulda coulda woulda's in this article like many that are being written around the lockdown.

    The decisions have been made (I didn't necessarily agree with them) by the government. I am down to one income living in Auckland with 3 kids. It is not ideal but I will figure something out.

    I have taken the time to glance at the negatives of the lock down whilst focusing on a shitload of positives. I have seen the worst case scenario for me and am spending my time figuring out how I can improve my situation. So now I am assuming the worst and working my ass off for the best and trying to help others where I can.

    Lets see how we go!

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  11. It doesn't matter what our numbers are. You're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't in this situation.
    If we opened up our borders, streets, and businesses, then a great many more Kiwis would die including the young. (Maybe they would care more if that happened?)
    The 190+ countries around the world are all in this together, and that means even if we eradicate it here, we still can't open the boarders, so economically we are schtuked, as all countries are. Tourism is a huge part of NZ's annual income, without that, we are back where we were thirty years ago. (Pity we didn't just talk about GDP diversification.)

    So there is no silver bullet that is going to miraculously wind back the clock or click the 'economy' switch. The world is never ever going to be the same again. That means we must grow in a new direction out of this, you simply cannot go back - and what that means is that we must now 'think', the one thing that been missing for ever.

    This is a small post I put on Facebook last week.

    "With 1% interest rates prior to Covid19 and 1% owning almost all the worlds assets and cash, the idea that the 'global economic system' was in OK shape, is bizarre - and on top of that situation, the idea that all we have to do is get the lumbering monster back to its feet and everything will be OK again is assine (see Trump et al).
    The global economy was literally teetering on the edge when Covid hit (one country producing almost all the goods and the other 190 producing nothing except beneficent tourism), so all Covid has done is ankle tap what was an incredibly lopsided mess just prior to it falling in on itself.
    Personally, this way of 'correcting' the global economic system is far more civilised that the mess having it collapse overnight would be.
    This is a soft 'unblamable' landing - and no matter how many people are now trying to lay blame, there is no blame to assign.
    It was out of balance and could not possibly resurrect itself, and we are lucky that Governments have had no option but to move 'softly' to save peoples lives (and their economies). If it was collapse and fighting in the streets, the army would be out there shooting us.
    If we as a species don't use this wonderful opportunity to 'change' the basics of our global economic system so that it creates 'productivity' and not poverty, then we are Darwinian dog eat dog fools.Its up to us now, and if we all stay silent waiting for someone else to do it for us, then God help us."

    A second post from yesterday re the Greens suggestion that we embark on a solid infrastructure program that aims to establish a nationwide rail system for freight and tourism.

    "New Zealand will need a massive infrastructure spend after Covid19 to offset the economic downturn that will happen.This, is the perfect solution. Kills two birds with one stone.
    Borrow and build the infrastructure we will need to take advantage of what we have and who we will be in five years time."

    Paul McGrail

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  12. I'll add this here, this is the perspective of the Swedish approach. While the media seem to be determined to paint Sweden as a failure, it is worth hearing exactly why they are following there policy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfN2JWifLCY

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. (Sorry, my previous comment was sloppy...)
      I've seen criticism (by professors who favour natural immunity of healthy and protection of vulnerable) of the Swedish approach, in that it still went too far, still had social distancing.

      I've just been watching some of the Daily COVID-19 media conferences. The whole thing is surreal. On the 14th they solemnly reported four more deaths bringing the total to nine. We were also told that of the nine, six have been from the dementia unit at the Rosewood care facility, who were then moved as a group to Burwood Hospital. The average age of this group seems to be about 90, with other underlying health conditions as well as dementia.

      Seasonal viruses tend to go through care homes quickly in any year, which is why they have shutdowns at the sniff of an epidemic, regardless of the government. But if you suggest that these people would have been just as vulnerable in another year, with a different virus, you get some clown accusing you of wanting to murder their healthy, active 84 year old mother. (Bearing in mind we have had reports of people of 101 and 106 years recovering).

      It's not clear to me why the whole country cannot see that this is a shameless beatup.

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    3. The most negligent aspect of this is that at no time has any context been provided to put some perspective into place. People die, that is a simple fact, over a million a week.

      Italy, for example, had a bad flu season in 2018, 28,000 died and the hospitals were badly overrun. Australia had a bad flu season last year, 1100 dead. They reacted with a sensible policy, the rest homes were put into isolation and a few other measures were used. There were still far more deaths than Covid had any prospect of causing, yet they did not shut down the entire economy.

      The lockdown has greatly harmed NZ's ability to support those who really are vulnerable.

      Delete

    4. I think the point people on this forum are missing is that while the case load remains low, the health services will be able to cope and accordingly death rates will remain proportionally low.

      The danger lies in the case loads exceeding the capacity of the health system, whereupon, the health system collapses and people who would otherwise survive, start to die due to not receiving the level of care required to keep them alive. This what happened in Italy and Spain.

      The death in NZ to date has been the very old and/or with pre-existing conditions. The most vulnerable will always be the first to go.

      Just prior to lock down, we saw the case numbers starting to ramp up markedly. Logic (and overseas case studies) would suggest had we done nothing, our numbers would have continued to escalate and we may well have seen the health system put under extreme pressure. But, we may never know, because it’s not possible to play out both scenarios simultaneously, except by observing what has occurred in other countries and through modelling (by those smarter that all of us on this forum). And for those tempted to respond with examples of how poor the modelling is… what would you suggest… not consult the experts and take note of overseas examples and simply hope for the best. That would be akin to sticking one's head in the sand and pretending the problem is not there.

      Recently, I’ve seen a comparisons to the Y2k bug, which people are using as an example of another case where the media blew it all out of proportion. As someone who worked in the IT industry during that period, I know that corporations and governments alike spent hundreds of millions of dollars globally checking source code and testing changes as required. When the year 2000 finally ticked over, there were virtually no instances of failure that the media had warned about. Why? Not because it wasn’t a risk but because those involved had taken the necessary precautions to prevent such occurrences. It’s the same with what we are witnessing in NZ currently.

      I would urge people to try and put aside the political allegiances/biases and try to look at the data objectively.

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    5. My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I am right.
      Ashleigh Brilliant

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    6. Social distancing makes tracking and surveillance so much easier.

      Delete
    7. "The death in NZ to date has been the very old and/or with pre-existing conditions. The most vulnerable will always be the first to go."

      This has been the case worldwide. Covid 19 impact almost no one under the age of 65. Why are the healthy and those at almost no risk locked in their homes?

      "But, we may never know, because it’s not possible to play out both scenarios simultaneously, except by observing what has occurred in other countries and through modelling (by those smarter that all of us on this forum). "

      I've dealt with those doing the modelling. Your assumption that they are smarter than 'all of us on this forum' is laughably misplaced. Allowing single function thinkers to take control is a profound mistake.

      Delete
  13. Interesting article - It’s good to keep a balance and see things from both sides.. However, there are some major inaccuracies in this piece which are VERY misleading. Firstly it’s important to point out that the United Kingdom ARE themselves in lockdown and because they acted late it looks like they will remain in lockdown A LOT longer than NZ - This means the cost to their economy will be much worse. DESPITE lockdown in UK there are already at 21,092 deaths and numbers are STILL rising by a few hundred a day - BEFORE lockdown was taken seriously they had started reporting around 1000 deaths a day!! This article makes it sounds like they have done nothing and are only facing a low percentage of deaths, but in reality who knows what the numbers would have been if everyone had carried on as normal there?! I honestly think the NZ governments hard and fast approach has massively softened the economic impact of this in the longer term - Of course it is not without pain but who knows where we would have been if no action had been taken. This whole situation comes with so much uncertainty globally, but I know my friends and family overseas are in awe of the way it’s been handled here. I guess in the end only time will tell.

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    1. "BEFORE lockdown was taken seriously they had started reporting around 1000 deaths a day!"

      The UK locked down on the 23th March when the daily deaths were 54, not 1000.

      Deaths peaked on April 10 at 980, 2.5 weeks after the lockdown.

      Not also the UK records any death of any person with Covid-19 as a Covid-19 'associated' death. They are not recording who has died from Covid-19.

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  14. Thankyou for taking the time to write this article. I don't agree with all of it, but we need to have this discussion and voice our different opinions. I do think you're right on point about the impact on global poverty (and more urgently, food aid to famine struck regions). These less fortunate folk will likely be the real victims of the whole thing. I think we citizens of democratic nations need to pay attention to this more, so that our governments will.

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  15. Great work David. Sadly most of the Lems have an opinion that based on an emotional reactions fuelled by a frantic unscrupulous Media. There are so many hidden details in statistics we fail to consider when forming our opinions. We have to go looking for the truth. Its all about harm. We are simply creating a higher level of harm with these Excessive Lock down measures. We wont see it as much, because it will be relatively hidden. As are most of our harms. Firstly I find it outstanding that we are ignoring the associated deaths yearly from viruses, and other communicable illness. Children shouldn't be dying from diarrhea because we want cheap t shirts. 130,000 die from pharmaceuticals, but that's just business! The list goes on. Greed, money and selfishness kills millions, but we will put that in the too hard basket. On a personal level I find it bizarre that most people ignore the preventable deaths that are in the tens of millions caused by our own lifestyle choices. We practically shut the world down, and hide in our homes when an aggressive virus threatens us. Its not Covid19 that pushes the health system to overload. The health system is already at breaking point just from eating shit, alcohol, cigarettes and stuffing big macs in our mouths. This is a wake up call. It will happen again.

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    1. Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.
      Charles Mackay

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