Covid-19 – The facts about the media, hysteria and economic breakdown
By Rob Woodward – TruePublica: It is true to say that the coronavirus Covid-19 is quite frightening, more so because its modus operandi is covert. It is indiscriminate and likes to pick on the more vulnerable but isn’t fussy about its victims. It creates a perfect panic button. And just as the story of a mass serial killer on the loose is stoked by a media frenzy with the political opportunism that follows – the whole event is turned into a circus of mass hysteria. This article is not designed to mock or belittle the incredible effort being put in to combat Covid-19, but question why, as a country, we have reacted the way we have.
On the 16th of July 2009, the Guardian published its headline, as many others did, quoting a predicted 65,000 deaths from the H1N1 pandemic as a result of the chief medical officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson’s warning. Health Protection Agency modelling forecast two peaks, the first to reach a weekly contagion rate of 115,000 and the second at 80,000 twelve weeks later. UK epidemiologists at Imperial College London considered that H1N1 swine flu was spreading fast enough to justify the preparations for a pandemic.
Coughing and sneezing was thought to be the transfer cause and washing hands and cleaning surfaces that were potentially infected was the advice given. Anyone suspected of having H1N1 was advised to stay at home and self-isolate.
Weekly Cobra meetings were called with Tony Blair, the hero of the day, managing the tiller of the ship. In the heart of Downing Street, Cherie Blair caught it and had to cancel public engagements.
Professor Steve Field, the chairman of the Royal College, said: “Swine flu is spreading rapidly across the whole of the country now. GPs are saying that they are coming under a lot of pressure from patients who have it and many GPs say that the publicity surrounding the death of six-year-old London schoolgirl Chloe Buckley has increased demand and made people more anxious.” (Headline 15th July: Swine Flue cases soar sixfold)
Research was later carried by the NHS out into the actual mortality rate and from 540,000 known infections in the UK, 138 died by the time the outbreak had fallen to very low infections in December, not the tens of thousands reported in the newspapers. In 2010, The Telegraph reported that from start to finish the ‘pandemic’ had killed 457 people and cost the country £1.2billion.
Further research from the BMJ found that reporting of the 2009 ‘pandemic’ was more measured and by the second wave (and lower rate) of infections, the mainstream media had lost interest and moved on. In other words, the majority of people in Britain knew about ‘swine flu’ but weren’t frightened by it as they are with Covid-19 today.
Like a decade ago, everything is the same, except today the story is amplified and then magnified in tiny detail. Forecasts from scientists suggested that 250,000 could die this year if the government used its ‘mitigation’ strategy, whereas a ‘suppression’ strategy will half that number to a very worrying 125,000 victims. A government U-turn from the former to the latter strategy has led to a partial lockdown. The expectation is of more control measures quite soon. The economy is rapidly contracting.
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Speculation, misleading stories, fake news and propaganda are the main characteristics inside the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic story of 2020. This is partially because we know little about how to combat Covid-19 and for the click-baiters it is fair game. Fear has been stoked by the mainstream media to levels not seen in Western countries since the financial crash of 2008 and even that didn’t dominate as this story has. In Britain, that sordid episode in our history saw a massive transfer of wealth that has seen public national debt explode by £1trillion.
The reality is that Covid-19 is nothing like the existential threat to us all that the mainstream media, scientists and the politicians who have knelt to their pressure would have us believe.
We should not forget that each year around 500,000 people die in England, and it is predicted that this will rise to 590,000 within the next 20 years. Heart failure and stroke are the biggest killers. With an increasingly ageing population, the majority of older people will be living with a number of conditions. For example, around 30% of people over the age of 85 with cancer will also have dementia. One in four people in the UK will die of cancer. Covid-19 has four main health targets, the same that most previous modern-day pandemics have had.
We should also not forget that the 21st century, just 20 years in the making, the world has officially recorded 67 ‘epidemics’ – almost double that recorded for the whole of late 19th and all of the 20th century. The four that we are aware of were worldwide but also affected the West. Little known in the UK is that in 2015, the H5N2 epidemic broke out in the USA and fear caused by the media ended with 43 million poultry birds (mostly turkey’s) being slaughtered but not one human fatality. The birds were culled by pumping an expanding water-based foam into the barn houses, which suffocated them.
But there is another statistic that is rarely reported. Public Health England updated their annual findings on 11th March last year – “Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year attributed to its long-term exposure. There is strong evidence that air pollution causes the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and lung cancer, and exacerbates asthma.” All of these health conditions happen to be targets of Covid-19 as well.
In Italy, the Centre of International Studies at the University Institute of Lisbon has published research in newspaper ‘publico’ that shows that nearly 25,000 Italians died in the winter of 2016/17 of flu and that in 2015, 38,000 people died of just one toxic emission – diesel fume (NOx) inhalation throughout Europe. Neither caused the media mania of today. At the time of writing, Italy is in a tight lockdown, its economy has been utterly crushed, looting and public unrest is emerging as many households have run out of money and food. So far, half the number have died of C19 to that of the Italian winter flu outbreak of 2016.
Over the last decade, well over a quarter of a million people living in England have died of air pollution alone. Like Covid-19, these unfortunate people became victims of a silent serial killer, breathed in its toxic cocktail and succumbed to the effects of it. The government, the health services, think tanks and experts have known this fact for years but for Covid-19, the country is about to allow its economy to completely implode.
Isabel Stockton, a research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said on March 26th: “The response to the covid-19 pandemic has led to a sharp downturn in economic activity. It has also, rightly, prompted a substantial fiscal policy response, the cost of which will add directly to government borrowing. The outlook is uncertain to say the least. Only taking account of measures announced so far, and even if the economy “only” shrinks by 5% per cent this year, we might expect borrowing in the coming financial year to exceed £175 billion, or more than 8% of national income. This would be more than triple the amount forecast in the Budget just two weeks ago. About 40% of that increase would result from new fiscal measures, and the rest from the economic downturn depressing revenues and adding to government spending. The deficit could easily swell by much more than that if the economy shrinks by more, if take up of the employment retention scheme is high, or if further substantial fiscal measures are unveiled. A deficit of over £200 billion in the coming financial year is well within the bounds of possibility. Yesterday’s announcement in parliament to increase the contingency fund for the coming financial year from £10.6 billion to £266 billion suggests the government may be prepared to go even further than that.”
The current Bank of England interest rate has been slashed to 0.1 per cent. An additional £200 billion in quantitative easing will ensure the banks are protected against loan defaults and already Stockton’s forecast has been obliterated less than a week later.
The OECD has now calculated that Britain’s GDP could contract by something like 25 per cent during the Covid-19 lockdown. In 2019, the UK’s GDP was £2.091 trillion (source ONS). This expected contraction will, therefore (adjusting for Q1 and Q4 being as normal), cost over £250bn in lost revenue and business activity. Bankruptcies, insolvencies and debt defaults will skyrocket for both businesses and individuals irrespective of government support.
Annual seasonal flu
Covid-19 acts a lot like seasonal flu in the UK in many respects. Annual deaths reported by Public Health England from flu have been: 2014/15 = 28,330, 2015/16 = 11,875, 2016/17 = 18,009, 2017/18 = 26,408 and 2018/19 = 1,692. Over five years the total number of deaths has been 60,314, averaging 12,062 per annum. Most cases of seasonal flu are reported by week 50 (mid-Dec) through to week 8 (end Feb) and continue to decline through to Week 15 (mid-April). The bad years go into the summer, fall and then spike early winter. Most winters the country is also dealing with at least three if not four different strains of flu (see Fig.27 Page 33). There is no knowing yet, but in all likelihood, there will be no seasonal flu deaths recorded this year, all will relate to C19 or underlying conditions.
If Covid-19 kills people in line with seasonal flu numbers of around 20,000 this year and then disappears like SARS and MERS did, which it is expected to do, a question will need to be asked. Why did the media and government not be so outraged when worse happens year in year out with air pollution? Why was the economy crashed for the annual pilgrimage of an ever-evolving virus that we always knew was coming? And we knew it was definitely coming a few years ago after ‘Exercise Cygnus.‘
Economic post mortem
When the Covid crisis has been brought to heel and the economic post mortem reveals the true scale of damage, the people paying the price for the mainstream media’s hysteria will be measured in shattered businesses, banks picking over their corpses, bailouts for corporate hustlers and decimated high streets. Then their focus will shine a light on the terrible plight of the millions queuing at job centres- when all along, this self-inflicted economic catastrophe was created by the Guardian, Daily Mail, Express, Telegraph, Mirror and the Sun – who indiscriminately cashed in on their click-baiting strategies.
Britain was barely recovering from the financial implosion created by the banks that is known to have killed at least 120,000 by rabid government policy that looked more like social engineering and eugenics aimed at the poorest in society. Where was the outrage for them over the last decade? Where was the outrage for the 300,000 or so Britons who have lost their lives to the fossil fuel industry in the last decade? Why were their lives so expendable? Is it perhaps that the poor have no power but that Covid-19 might just touch the lives of those actually in power? The country was just about to have about 5 per cent of its GDP ripped out for another decade over Brexit but this media scrum to publish the most outrageous fear-mongering headlines will completely overshadow any worries about Brexit.
By now, it should be sinking in that the 250,000 mass death prediction was complete nonsense. The National Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis has now said the national effort of self-isolation can work if everyone plays their part – and if they do, Covid-19 deaths will be more like 20,000. There is no attempt here to state the Covid-19 is not dangerous or that we should divert from government advice. But that number is less than two of the last five years who have died from seasonal flu and more for three of the last five years.
All the numbers point towards the fact that we’ve willingly crashed the entire economy to balance that one statistic. And without questioning the realities of Covid-19, the only people who really benefit was a click-baiting media, the banks, politicians and some zombie corporates already on their knees like Richard Branson’s failed Virgin Atlantic empire that no-one wants to buy. For the rest of us – another decade of austerity beckons. As that decade unfolds, statistically speaking, another Covid will visit us – what then?