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A mass outbreak of dodgy logic


AS THE pandemic goes on, some have queried the State’s facts; now I’m beginning to wonder about its logic.

Here is the Telegraph, relaying the message promoted by ‘health chiefs’. Under the heading ‘Flu deaths could hit 60,000 in worst winter for 50 years, say experts’, it reports: ‘More than 35million people will be offered jabs after health chiefs warn that lockdowns and social distancing have led to a drop in immunity.’

Note that the story is not about a new, deadlier strain of flu; it’s about the weakening effects of lockdowns and social distancing. By implication, we should have gone out and mingled with others to keep ourselves strong.

Why does this reasoning not apply to Covid?

Also, there is double-think about the use of the needle. Our long-standing strategy with flu is vaccination, focusing on the elderly and vulnerable, but even now, officials aren’t proposing to vaccinate the whole country against flu. Contrariwise, with Covid the plan is to jab everyone aged 12 and up, despite a January study saying that severe allergic reactions to the Covid vaccines are ten times commoner than with those for flu. In particular there is mounting concern about inoculating healthy youngsters when they are naturally so resistant to the disease.

As for consumer resistance, a recent official news release sought to overcome it by a skilful muddling of issues. The Guardian  quoted Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, on the need to take jabs for both flu and Covid:

‘Covid-19 will still be circulating and with more people mixing indoors, sadly some increases are possible. For the first time we will have Covid-19 and flu co-circulating. We need to take this seriously and defend ourselves and the NHS by getting the annual flu jab and the Covid-19 booster when called.’

(I don’t understand that ‘first time . . . co-circulating’ bit; or rather, I don’t accept it. At what point in the last 20 months has either disease ceased to circulate? Perhaps he was misquoted, or ‘misspoke’.)

In any case, one suspects that this story was a ‘nudge’, persuading us to extend our confidence in the overwhelmingly safe flu vaccination to the more doubtful coronavirus jab, even though the latter is still being delivered under emergency-use terms that protect the pharma companies from compensation claims.

Add fear (‘60,000 could die!’) to the cauldron (it’s nearly Hallowe’en, after all); and finally, an assertion of authority. The Cabinet’s Behavioural Insights Team recently made the mistake of publishing a study celebrating the public’s gullibility, or as they put it, ‘powerful tendency to conform’ and ‘deep set reverence for legitimate government authority’; it was swiftly taken offline, but not swiftly enough! 

The government claims to have saved 130,000 lives by the vaccines but health issues are complex and it can take years for experts to agree an analysis. How many have died and will die in the years to come because of lower fitness levels, inappropriate responses to stress, mental health issues and the panoply of negative socioeconomic consequences of failing and failed businesses, reduced income for workers, and unemployment?

Perhaps one early warning can be seen in mortality statistics that do not mention the coronavirus on the death certificate. Looking at the ONS weekly figures this year from week 27 (start of Q3) up to the most recent available (week 41), every week in 2021 except one has seen the most deaths since the equivalent week in 2010. To put it another way, let’s look at each year’s total for that 15-week period:

There is a gradually rising trend anyway, presumably because of a growing and ageing population; but 2021 is clearly above the trend.

Further, deaths from Covid in the same period are much higher this year than last. For Weeks 27-41 in 2020, there were 3,423 where CV ‘was mentioned on the certificate’; in 2021, 8,885 (or 7,691 if you count only those where CV was the ‘underlying’ i.e. main cause of death.) Adding those in for last year and this, total deaths from all causes in this 15-week period are running at c. 1,000 a week more than the highest equivalent (in 2017 – point 8 below) of the previous 11 years:

If this pattern continues it will need some explanation. Something is going on, and I suspect that factors may include the indirect effects of the anti-Covid strategy and people’s behavioural responses.

Perhaps those who ‘know better’ might pause in their censorship, mockery and vilification of those who have concerns, lumping us all together with conspiracy theorists, the half-educated and hysterical under the scornful term ‘anti-vaxxers’, and consider whether they may possibly be mistaken in one or more respects. They mean well, of course, but to err is human.

For an example of how good intentions can lead to disaster, consider the case of the Amazon’s Yanomami tribe, many of whom were inoculated against measles in 1968; thousands subsequently died of the disease. One of the anthropologists who administered the vaccine later admitted that the strain used was dangerous for immune-depressed people, producing ‘severe symptoms in people suffering from anaemia, dysentery or chronic exposure to malaria, and the Yanomami suffered from all three’. 

If we accept the latest official suggestion, that our immune systems have been weakened by lockdowns and social distancing, then perhaps that may help explain 2021’s outbreak of the ‘worst cold ever’. We might go further and ask whether our resistance to Covid itself may have been dangerously lowered – and maybe the risk of severe anaphylaxis has been raised; who knows for sure?

All vaccination is a calculated risk, but in the current case I feel we still do not have enough information to make an accurate personal calculation; instead, we are getting propaganda and redaction. I took the gamble and was double-jabbed over six months ago; I didn’t react badly, but there has been a bit of an ache in my chest for a long time as though I was coming down with flu; and I have been sneezing a few times a day, for weeks and months. Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe not.

Now I’ve been nudged by post, and hounded daily by text, to get the booster jab. Will I do it? On balance, considering my circumstances, probably yes. Am I sanguine about it? No. 

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Rolf Norfolk
Rolf Norfolk
Rolf Norfolk is a former teacher and retired independent financial adviser.

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