Follow The Science On Covid-19
A lot of people I talk to say that we need to follow the science on this Covid thing. There is merit to that, but in a situation where the science is unknown or unclear, what else can be relied upon? And what do you do if the science is disputed?
Science is always being questioned. Indeed, it has been said that if you can’t question it, it isn’t science.
Any theory or position, if sound, can stand up to scrutiny and need not be concerned by critical analysis. If the government knows what it is doing and has got this, then why can’t people question it? Why, then, is the science not being presented?
Much of what I read presented by the government and reported in mainstream as the government position, is long on assertions but short on evidence.
SA’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier’s video promoting South Australia’s COVID-ready plan modelling, in which she presented 3 scenarios for “opening of borders” on 23rd November, 2021, has a series of assertions. (Ref 1)
The difference between Scenarios 1 and 2 is simply the removal of mask mandates. This supposedly leads to:
- an increase of the chance of an outbreak from 27% to 64%
- an increase of the chance of exceeding hospital ward capacity from less than 1% to 3%
- an increase of the chance of exceeding ICU capacity from <1% to 20%, and
- an increase of predicted deaths from up to 51 individuals to up to 186 individuals.
These are significant differences brought on by removal of mask mandates, which speaks to the efficacy of masks. Yet commenting on the studies on mask efficacy that have been used to predict the increase, the report authors say: “The evidence base is limited and uncertainty regarding this estimate is high.” (Ref 2)
Should we trust that these figures don’t need any scrutiny or discussion?
Limited Evidence For Protection From Masks
Consider this information – with no supporting evidence – from the Australian Government’s Department of Health website. (Ref 3)
On manufactured non-medical grade face coverings including homemade coverings (which are the vast majority of masks used by the public), it states that there is “limited evidence for protection.” On the type of protection, it states that “wearer protection is possible,” and there is “possible source control.”
This is hardly an argument for mask mandates.
Worse than this though, it also provides advice on when these masks should be used. It states explicitly: “not for use with no community transmission.”
“No community transmission” described the situation in South Australia and most other States prior to 23rd November for the last goodness knows how many months. (And, incidentally, with more than 20,000 infections in South Australia in the 6 weeks since 23rd November, doubt has to exist as to whether they are helping even now.)
So, in the face of this contradiction of advice on one simple aspect, should we trust that these modelling figures don’t need any scrutiny or analysis? Hardly.
Contradiction On Roadmap Modelling
And while we’re on the subject of contradiction, according to SA Premier Steven Marshall and Health Minister Stephen Wade, this 80% target is based on modelling done by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, a research institute situated at the University of Melbourne.
Adelaide independent news, INDAILY, reported on 4th November that a parliamentary committee heard that a University of Adelaide researcher who produced State Government-commissioned modelling on South Australia’s expected surge in COVID-19 cases is “frustrated” by “misrepresented” claims his work came from the Doherty Institute.
How Well Do Our Leaders Understand Their Briefings?
Doherty Institute epidemiology director Professor Jodie McVernon told parliament’s COVID-19 Response Committee that her institute was never contracted by the State Government to produce modelling on the expected spike in COVID cases once South Australia re-opens its borders.
McVernon said the modelling was instead produced by University of Adelaide researchers Professor Joshua Ross from Adelaide’s School of Mathematical Sciences and Dr Thomas Prowse from the School of Biological Sciences.
And those misrepresented claims come from no other than the SA premier and his health minister.
Nicola Spurrier contradicted them – she does this occasionally – by saying that the modelling was commissioned by SA Health in partnership with SAHMRI (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute), undertaken by a team at the University of Adelaide.
Spurrier describes SAHMRI as “part of the broader Doherty network.” Doherty Institute’s McVernon confirms that Ross is part of the Doherty Institute’s “consortium,” but that Ross and Prowse undertook the SA modelling in their roles at the university, not as part of a Doherty contract. In other words, completely separate from Doherty.
The point of all this is simply to call into question how well our leaders – those who supposedly make the ultimate decisions – are briefed. Or how well they understand their briefings.
If it’s not right, you lot are to blame
Uncertainty In The Modelling Figures
In her video introducing the SA Covid Roadmap, Spurrier rightly says that there is uncertainty in the modelling figures. Indeed, the executive summary of the Mathematical Modelling For South Australia To Inform The Covid Ready Plan prepared by Spurrier, states that predicting human behaviour is inherently difficult, explaining “some of the uncertainty.” (Ref 4)
Yet when she spoke in her video, she stated simply that “the uncertainty is due to human behaviour.”
In other words, if it’s not right, you lot are to blame.
Danger In Relying On Modelling
It is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security when one hears about computer modelling, because computers are always right. They’re fast and they’re smart. Right? In truth, computer modelling is no better than the data that is input. And the data is invariably an estimate. Or, to put it another way; a guess.
When I see one message constantly being pumped out by the government and health departments, enthusiastically supported by a sycophantic media and talking heads, I start to worry. The media used to be a vehicle assuring freedom of speech and presentation of news. It used to provide balance. Now, it’s just a propaganda machine.
Suppressing Alternative Views
Coupled with this is a throttling of alternative views. Anyone who holds a position not in accord with the government message is met in one of two ways.
One such way is a simple 3-pronged strategy: deny, deflect, divert. All too often, countering an opposing view gets personal.
If a person states an unwelcome view, rather than providing a counter argument – if there is one – the person is attacked. Qualifications, background and history can all be used to denigrate the person. If the individual can be denigrated, that person’s view is inferred to be unreliable, regardless of whether or not the view has merit.
Another popular and much simpler way is censorship. That person’s views are simply not allowed to be heard. Platforms like Facebook and YouTube remove posts and videos almost immediately if they contain information contrary to the official message. Even when the information quotes official figures.
Messages Not Consistent With The Data
And there is significant evidence on government websites to indicate that their messages are not consistent with the data. For example, figures for cases and deaths by age groups very strongly indicate that children are not at risk from Covid-19 and has done so consistently from the time that the figures were first posted in the first half of 2020. (Ref 5)
Yet the government has pushed vaccination on younger and younger age groups. Currently, it’s down to 12 years and older. On 10th January, it will be from as young as 5 years. And don’t think they’ll stop there…
Science Is Data Driven
Whatever else it is, science is data driven. With data from around the world indicating that 5-10 year olds are at more risk from adverse effects of the vaccine than from the disease, my heart cries at this institutionalised child abuse. How could any parent put their child at risk for almost no benefit? Why would they do it? Presumably, because they believe the mainstream message that continues to spew forth.
Tear your eyes away from your TV screens and newspapers, people. Seek and you will find.
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Ref 1: SA’s Covid-ready plan video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgoImsqHb60
Ref 2: Covid-ready final report for SA Health – https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/f834e239-4388-479f-b47d-26331b3deee3/COVID-Ready+Modelling+-+Final+report.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE-f834e239-4388-479f-b47d-26331b3deee3-nPKKjU5
Ref 3: Facemask info on Govt. Health website: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/11/coronavirus-covid-19-face-masks-how-they-protect-you-and-when-to-use-them_0.pdf
Ref 4: Summary of final Covid-ready report for SA Health – https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/9eea2e17-ba7c-4306-af6e-6a88f8e7da99/COVID+Ready+Modelling+-+Summary+by+CPHO+-+Final.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE-9eea2e17-ba7c-4306-af6e-6a88f8e7da99-nPnqinE
Ref 5: Govt. Health website – https://www.health.gov.au/health-alerts/covid-19/case-numbers-and-statistics#cases-and-deaths-by-age-and-sex
The only thing I can think to say, whenever government produces more restrictions because of the ‘scientific evidence’ is 1984