Expired: Covid, the untold story, by Dr Clare Craig; Nielsen UK, June 2023
THIS book by respected pathologist Dr Clare Craig, an Oxford and Cambridge graduate, is a post-mortem dedicated to the Covid-19 response. Those happy with the government narrative need not read on. For those wondering whether Boris Johnson and his megalomaniac Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (which included no immunologist for the first three months!) mounted a ‘disproportionate response’, here is a brief overview of Dr Craig’s readable, well-researched, fully referenced, informative, animated, humorous, sometimes emotional, and accessible look at the Covid facts. All punctuated with personal anecdotes and a balanced, dispassionate approach to science that weighs up both sides of the argument.
Dr Craig points out that measures to combat the spread of the airborne virus known as SARS-CoV-2, arose ‘partly from an overwhelming fear of death’. She explains how polarised positions, which divided families and friends, occurred because all sides believed they were arguing to prevent the most harm. One side thought every intervention saved lives, while the other focused on the harms caused by those interventions. Was one side more right than the other? Dr Craig dissects what she describes as ‘Cloud-Covid-Land’ to draw her conclusions.
The basis of the book is that 12 popular beliefs shaped individual responses. From 2020, Dr Craig says, there was an inversion of ethical principles where the needs of the elderly were prioritised over those of children, a situation we have never been in before.
The human brain is marvellous at forgetting trauma, so the book reminds us how badly we were treated ‘for our own good’. Governments enforced policies that were certain to result in harm, with minimal opposition and debate. Human rights were disregarded and laws enacted that interfered with daily living, for example, being able to comfort a dying loved one, or simply sitting on a park bench.
Fearful, most complied. Dr Craig writes: ‘People responded in an unexpected manner: they outsourced their thinking to fact checkers, their morality to legal guidance and their bodily autonomy to the state.’
She began her personal journey believing the fear, convinced we were all in danger. Her first doubts appeared in September 2020, nine months into the pandemic response, when she raised concerns about the efficacy of covid testing.
To make her book easy to read, and it is, she looks in depth at the 12 beliefs. Were we bombarded with misinformation by our government and health professionals or given accurate information? Her analysis could surprise you.
Belief One: Covid spreads only through close contact
In December 2022, the NHS told us we could catch Covid if we breathed in droplets containing the virus. We would meet those droplets if someone with the virus breathed, spoke, coughed or sneezed in our vicinity before the droplets fell to the floor. This was misinformation and led to the cruel idea of locking children in their rooms to avoid spread within a family.
The truth was that the virus remained in the air, contained in aerosols (a term for tiny particles like dust and smoke floating in the air) and travelling long distances, so social distancing, one-way systems in supermarkets and masks were not effective against stopping the spread.
Asymptomatic transmission was not real either. How do we know? In December 2021, Covid broke out in the Belgian Antarctic base one week after the researchers arrived, despite all being vaccinated, and with four sets of negative tests. An Argentinian fishing vessel had been at sea for five weeks. Everyone tested negative before they began their voyage but they got Covid hundreds of miles from land. Neither of these cohorts had contact with infected people so infection had to occur another way. Unfortunately, the World Health Organization failed to recognise this until December 2021, two years into the pandemic.
Belief Two: Everyone was susceptible
The theory from Professor Neil Ferguson at Imperial College London was that the Covid virus was novel and no one had any immunity to it. The Imperial model was extrapolated from what was known about measles. A measles outbreak in the Faroe Islands in 1846 infected around 6,100 out of 7,864 people who lived there. It killed just under 3 per cent of those infected, but spared those who had been infected in the last outbreak 65 years before. The measles model supposes that everyone is susceptible until infected. Imperial predicted 510,000 deaths in a year from Covid based on the assumption that 85 per cent of the population would catch it and that only lockdowns and vaccination could protect people from the virus ‘ripping’ through the population. We now know that most of us had met a coronavirus by the time we were three years old, so had some immunity, and that 99.8 per cent who caught Covid recovered.
Belief Three: Covid would likely kill me
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told us we were at war against an invisible killer. Michael Gove said we were all at risk. A UK survey found people judged the threat of Covid-19 via the magnitude of the policy response. Americans estimated they had a 10 per cent chance of dying if they caught Covid; Australians thought it was 38 per cent. Reality showed it was less than 0.024 per cent. The average risk from Covid was understood by late spring 2020 and by 2022 it had halved for the vaccinated and unvaccinated, but we were still being frightened instead of reassured.
These three examples illustrates the painstaking analysis Dr Craig used to explain why we believed what we did. Other beliefs were: death certificates are never wrong, a new variant spells doom, if you test positive you have Covid, one in three people with Covid spread it while asymptomatic, lockdowns save lives, lockdowns are not harmful, masks reduce transmission, children are resilient, and Zero Covid is achievable.
At the end of the book is a letter from Dr Craig to her own children explaining her preoccupation with Covid and why she worked so hard for no pay. She said that children were deprioritised while her own generation failed to speak out and complied with harmful measures.
‘My generation is currently leaving you a world with shrinking horizons and debt, where traditional values have been trashed and thrown aside in the name of an emergency,’ she writes. ‘I want a future for you where if you are sick, a doctor will greet you with an outstretched hand and a smile. Where your doctor can decide on care that best suits your needs, rather than what fits the structure of a centrally and anonymously prescribed algorithm. I want it to be laughable that catching a virus could be considered a punishment for sinful behaviour or be blamed on other people, particularly children.’
Dr Craig rightly criticises religious leaders for stoking the fear and coercing those worried about taking an experimental vaccine. She summarises: ‘Cloud-Covid-Land was a cruel place. One illness was made a priority over every other aspect of life, overshadowing births, marriages and deaths. Families were separated, the elderly in care homes were stripped of everything that makes life worthwhile and children’s wellbeing was sacrificed for the Greater Good.’
Dr Craig is writing a second book, Spiked: A Shot in the Covid Dark, which looks at beliefs related to the spike protein, covering the origin, treatments and vaccines, and long Covid.