How Deadly is COVID?
Real Science vs Media Hype
Chris Lonsdale | 21st Century Wire
I tend to be very curious about the world. I always have been. It’s probably what brought me to Asia in the first place. I get especially curious when things don’t make sense, in which case I find myself drawn into exploring what might be really going on. So, in early 2020 when the panic about COVID-19 started to spread around the world, like most other people I accepted the logic that we needed to “flatten the curve” so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed.
After all, nobody really had enough information to know what was going on, or how serious this new disease might be. And reports from front-line medical staff about the symptoms being experienced by COVID-19 patients made for gruesome reading. At the beginning it made sense to be very careful.
But, as the months went on, it became increasingly difficult to match what was being reported in the media with what we could observe using our own senses. I knew of no-one who had died of COVID-19. No-one who had even gotten sick with COVID-19. There certainly weren’t any dead bodies piling up in the streets. This now makes sense because mortality data for Hong Kong, and other Asian countries where I also spend time, show that 2020 was a very normal year as far as overall mortality levels were concerned.
Globally it was a little different. Most of the people I connect with around the world also didn’t know anyone who had died of COVID. One neighbor knew someone (in Russia) who got very sick but then recovered. One person I follow on Twitter, who is in his 70’s, was put into intensive care for several weeks and a few other people I follow on twitter had a family member who got very sick or died. Clearly there was an issue, but the data coming in about the scope and severity did not mesh with what we were being told through the media.
Importantly, the predictive models coming out of Imperial College in the UK assumed that almost no-one was immune to COVID-19, that it was both incredibly infectious and very deadly for everybody, and that millions would die.
We must remember, of course, that the author of the Imperial College report, Neil Fergusson, who has a history of extreme overestimations. In 2005 as just one example, Ferguson predicted that up to 150 million people could be killed from bird flu. In the end, only 282 people died worldwide from the disease between 2003 and 2009.
Never mind Fergusson’s “checkered history”, immediately after the Fergusson models were published the media around the world began screaming that something like the “black death” was about to crush us, and that deaths from COVID-19 were mounting up at a terrifying rate. We were told that we had to be afraid …. Very afraid.
Counting COVID Deaths
While clearly something was going on, and there were people dying, more and more thoughtful and highly skilled people around the world began to wonder about the disconnect between the media hype and the reality on the ground. The big question was, how serious and deadly was this pandemic really?
About that time, I was reminded of a basic tenet of scientific research, which came in the form of an admonition that we should be wary of the distinction between “DYING OF” COVID-19, and “DYING WITH” COVID-19. This basically refers to the fact that one should NEVER equate correlation with causality.
You may have noticed that we are being reminded of this fact every day now, as the COVID vaccines get rolled out and there are many adverse reactions. We are told that, just because someone gets paralyzed, or has painful rashes over their entire body, or dies from blood clots within hours or days of being jabbed with the experimental “vaccines”, we absolutely should not assume that these “vaccines” actually CAUSED the injury or death. This is true. And for each of the deaths, an autopsy should be performed to identify the actual cause.
Yet, for some strange reason, this very same basic premise was, and is, totally ignored when it comes to COVID-19. From Day 1 of the pandemic, every death apparently associated with COVID-19 in some way was counted and reported as a death CAUSED BY COVID-19.
For instance, at a press conference given by the Director of the Illinois Department of Health in April 2020, when asked about the definition of a COVID-19 death, the answer was: “It means technically even if you died of a clear alternate cause, but you had COVID at the same time, it’s still listed as a COVID death. ” You can view the original news story here: https://week.com/2020/04/20/idph-director-explains-how-covid-deaths-are-classified/
This same situation is mostly true around the world because every country is following guidelines coming from the WHO (World Health Organization). For example, the recommended death reporting form for COVID-19 from the WHO is structured in such a way that, if COVID-19 is written on the form even if there are other factors, then COVID-19 must be listed as the underlying cause of death.
The WHO guidelines state: “… in a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case ….. A death due to COVID-19 may not be attributed to another disease (e.g. cancer).”
The WHO guidelines for death reporting involving COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.who.int/classifications/icd/Guidelines_Cause_of_Death_COVID-19.pdf?ua=1
Problems surrounding the sudden revision of death certificate protocols have been discussed by medical professionals throughout 2020, but this topic is treated as verboten in mainstream media and politics.
In practice this means that when people who were already on their deathbed die, they will be marked as a COVID-19 death based on an assumption (i.e. “probable” COVID-19) or a PCR test. So, unless there’s an autopsy, the public record shows COVID-19 as the cause of death.
When it comes to using the PCR test to determine cause of death, CDC (US Centers for Disease Control) guidance states: “The detection of viral RNA (i.e. PCR test) cannot demonstrate the presence of an infectious virus, or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent of clinical symptoms.” (Source: https://www.fda.gov/media/134922/download)
In other words: we simply cannot use a PCR test to determine that a death was caused by COVID-19, and yet this is what has been done routinely over the last 16 months.
There are also serious problems in the PCR test which I wrote about in a recent China Daily article.
From the above we can begin to understand a major issue. Because of the way COVID-19 deaths were (and are) being reported, if we did not dig deep into the data we would have no real idea of the scale of deaths actually caused directly and only by SARS-Cov-2, as opposed to the number of deaths that would have happened anyway where COVID-19 was somehow associated with a recorded death (which does not mean that COVID-19 actually caused the death).
So, let’s dig into the data. A simple first step is to simply look at the age distribution of people dying and having COVID-19 on their death certificate.
Today the average life expectancy in the UK is around 81 years of age. Did you know that the average age of death “involving COVID-19” in the UK was 82 years of age? In the US, 92.64% of COVID-19 linked deaths occurred in people 55 years old or older, with 80.73% being over 65. Read more here:
In Hong Kong, from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic until now, only 210 people have died with COVID-19 marked as the cause (based of course on the WHO guidelines mentioned above). The average age? 78.2 years. 28 of those deaths were in their 90’s and only 2 people just under 40 died with COVID-19 listed as the cause. According to data provided by the Hong Kong Department of Health, no-one younger than 38 has died either OF, or WITH, COVID-19 in Hong Kong. See the official figures here: https://www.chp.gov.hk/files/xls/previous_cases_covid19_en.xlsx
With this new understanding we now know that while COVID-19 is clearly dangerous for certain at-risk groups – almost exclusively elderly people – the danger level of the pandemic to society as a whole is substantially less than what we have been led to believe.
It’s also very useful to look at official data such as that regularly updated at the CDC. As of June 9, 2021, the CDC report that, in total, 586,659 people have died having COVID-19 listed as a cause or contributing cause of death in the US.
You probably do not know this, because the majority of the MSM will not have put this in front of you, but late in 2020 the CDC quietly changed the information on their website to start showing how many so-called COVID-19 deaths occurred for people who had serious co-morbidities. This is no trivial change in data reporting.
Note how in the CDC’s reporting, when you scroll down you see a table showing all the co-morbidities of the people who died with COVID-19 being listed as the cause of death:
The note associated with that table reads: “There were co-morbidities or other conditions listed on the death certificate for as many as 95% of all COVID-19 deaths. The other 5% of death certificates in which COVID-19 was the only condition listed was likely related to a lack of detail listed about other conditions present at the time of death”.
This means that at most only 29,332 people have died in the US with COVID-19 as the only known cause. However, the entire world continues to believe that all 586,659 “COVID-19 linked” deaths in the US were CAUSED BY COVID-19, simply as a result of how data was captured and entered into the public record, and how it was publicized by the media.
The Case of the Disappearing Flu
A slightly different way of understanding all this information is the fact that COVID-19 seems to have cured the flu, heart disease, cancer and a number of other serious conditions. Data comparing flu cases around the world have shown that the flu completely disappeared worldwide since the emergence of COVID-19.
Some medical pundits are claiming the flu has disappeared because of the effectiveness of masks and social distancing. But this is has yet to be proven through any peer reviewed studies, and so it is still only a working theory at this point. This theory posits that it is because of the effectiveness of coronavirus measures; lockdowns, masks and social distancing – which eliminated the flu. This theory is problematic as it doesn’t explain why these same measures did not stop COVID-19. In response, those defending the disappearing flu narrative will usually claim that COVID couldn’t be stopped because it is ‘much more transmissible.’ Hence, the disappearing flu story can then be used to validate the official consensus that SARS-Cov-2 is unlike any other virus seen before, and has special abilities which allowed it to traverse the globe and penetrate populations in a matter of weeks.
While the authors of the Scientific American paper state that “the public health measures taken to keep the coronavirus from spreading also stop the flu”, there is a much greater likelihood that influenza cases were simply being coded as COVID-19.
So, in summary, we can say that many but not all of the deaths labelled as being due to COVID-19 alone were quite likely due to other causes. Also, individuals with compromised immune systems were very vulnerable to the spike protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is the spike protein which appears to be the toxin responsible for the COVID disease. In all of these cases, however, we cannot say how many of those deaths were actually caused BY COVID-19 alone without the autopsies that would be required to make such a judgement.
All we can say with certainty is that COVID-19 was correlated with these deaths.
The entire global media almost as a whole have ignored this distinction, along with other very important distinctions in this pandemic, and sold the story that all the deaths reported were CAUSED by COVID-19, and that we therefore had to be afraid. And, as we look around, we see the massive damage that this fear has created in our world.
Again we face the question, why was fake news spread around the world in this way by the mainstream media? Was it simply a matter of scientific illiteracy? Maybe it was simply laziness, or a lack of curiosity? Was it because “death sells”, and the more horrible the numbers the more viewers would be drawn into the drama and therefore build the ratings for the media? Or were other factors at play?
I will deal with issues such as these in future articles in this series.
In the meantime, given what the data now tells us, it is time to stop the panicking and let go of the fear.
(TLB) published this article from 21WIRE with our sincere gratitude for this perspective.
Author Chris Lonsdale is a psychologist, linguist, educator, entrepreneur, dialogue facilitator and corporate advisor with over thirty years experience doing business in Asia. He is the creator of the Kungfu English mobile self-learning system, author of “The Third Ear” and “How to Learn Any Language in 6 Months” (in Chinese), and his TEDx talk on Language Learning is one of the top 10 TEDx videos of all time. See his 21WIRE archive here.
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