No Minister

Fear Pornography

with 5 comments

Over at Kiwiblog, David Farrar has been maintaining his own chart of the number of cases in the latest Covid-19 outbreak here in New Zealand.

His latest update was yesterday and he titled it with the most obvious headline one can get in this situation, Growing Cases.

I have some problems with this. Clearly, as a National Party man, DPF wants to damage the government, and what better way to do that than turning its own data against it. Since they have boasted so much about case numbers being “crushed” in 2020, let them hang by the same measure now.

But if we continue to scream about this measurement we might actually talk ourselves back into an L4 lockdown. I presume DPF does not want this.

From the opposite POV, Chris Trotter was horrified at the end of the Level 4 Lockdown (Will Jacinda Stand? Or, Has She Already Fallen?) and remains so because he thinks that we could have achieved Covid-Zero as we did in early 2020 with the Alpha variant. I have not had the heart to comment on that post or successive ones where he has spun himself up to the point of demanding total vaccinations, combined with “The Big Stick” to achieve it, even moaning about how his beloved CTU has not got fully onboard. The words “war”, “crisis” and “frightening” have been used, by both him and his largely elderly Leftist commentariat.

Were I to comment over there, I would point out that Labour is actually the victim of their own success in 2020. In the face of zero cases and an incredibly low death toll, all arguments against lockdowns were dismissed, despite solid points such as lockdowns never having been recommended by epidemiologists in the past or by public health bodies around the world, for the basic reason that they just don’t work, let alone all their unseen negatives.

Nobody apparently thought to ask whether we might have some special factors also operating for us, such as:

  • High UV levels that kill the virus in the open much faster than in much of the rest of the world.
  • A far less dense population, even in our largest cities, where single, detached homes still predominate over flats or “row-houses”.
  • Houses that “breath” more than the solid brick and mortar structures of many other countries, something we usually curse (or should) for lousy insulation.
  • A vastly lower use of public transport.
  • An outdoors lifestyle.

But no. As is often the case, we smug, arrogant Kiwis simply decided that we were the smartest and most communal positive people on the planet, (“Team of Five Million” and all that) and that while lockdowns may have failed in other places, even other island states like Hawaii, we had made them work because we’re just so fucking awesome.

There was also no apparent desire to investigate the Waikato University study in early 2020 showing that Covid-19 antibodies were appearing in twice as many samples of donated blood as expected – a strong indicator that the Alpha variant had been spreading in the population well before lockdown, but going unnoticed because for 99% of people it wouldn’t show as symptoms at all or merely as “the sniffles”.

Every year in the USA, the CDC must estimate the number of people infected by the flu virus of the season, in order to calculate the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR), which is always naturally much lower than the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) based on the numbers known to be infected via tests. The IFR is an estimate because for almost any disease there will always be many more people who catch the disease but don’t even know it. In the US the flu has a CFR of 2-3% and an IFR of 0.1% or lower.

To my knowledge we never made much of an effort to calculate the IFR of the Alpha variant here in NZ, which may be down to our public health uselessness (that article uses foreign IFR estimates and then bangs on about racism) or (the more cynical take) because a flu-level IFR number would have popped the fear bubble.

Aside from all this, one original point made was that if the L4 Lockdown had truly worked in 2020, we should have seen a pattern of rising hospitalisations and deaths, before the effects of the lockdowns kicked in after two to four weeks and those numbers began to fall. But we didn’t see that; we saw random deaths during the whole period. The same timing issue was observed overseas.

Even this puts aside the initial argument for an L4 lockdown, “Two weeks to flatten the curve”. Remember that? It meant we were always going to get a certain number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths under each curve, but that the flatter it was the more spread out over time all those numbers would be and the healthcare system would survive.

Only as cases went to zero did the objective change to elimination of the virus, together with the arguments over how such is defined.

Or measured. There’s a terrific article here, Why Is the COVID Case Count So High?, that explores the science behind the numbers. What it comes down to is the now infamous PCR test, a valuable science lab tool that even its inventor has said should not be used in real-world situations:

The inventor of the test stated that RT-PCR was never intended to be a diagnostic test and using it as one was scientifically illegitimate. “[It’s] like trying to say whether somebody has bad breath by looking at his fingerprint.”

The lab starts the RT-PCR by doubling genetic material multiple times to make it easier to identify. In research, if it’s not positive by thirty-five “amplification cycles,”, it’s not positive. FDA guidance indicates that anything found up to 40 cycles is considered “positive.” At forty cycles a glass of water may test positive. Stopping at thirty-five would show that COVID-19 wasn’t any worse than flu, if it was that bad.

The PCR test has produced ridiculous numbers of false positive and false negative tests. Is it any surprise that most people so tested find they have the virus when otherwise they didn’t have a clue.

Where are the saliva tests and the antibody tests, of which the latter would rapidly show the degree of seroprevalence in the population, meaning the degree of natural immunity in existence

Mind you, that figure, were it known, would also destroy the narrative of lockdown-vax as the only path forward.

And this is before asking about therapeutic treatments like monoclonal antibodies, which would also mean less worry about crashing the hospital system and “mass death” should this thing “get out of control”.

That would also destroy the narrative.

In any case, having won the war in 2020 and dismissed the lockdown opponents, when the first Delta case appeared in Auckland, and with a still largely unvaccinated population, the Labour government thought a lockdown war would work a second trick. This despite several months of evidence from around the world that Delta was both more infectious and far less deadly even for unvaccinated people, let alone those vaccinated.

As the graph shows, even Adern had to give up by late September as it became obvious that cases would continue to dribble along in double digits under L4, meaning the disease was spreading anyway and that the costs of lockdown could no longer be justified, with the “science” and the scientists now ignored. Another simple, brutal fact was that people are just tired of all this. Many Adern supporters still can’t accept this, like Trotter:

This is not the Labour Government that New Zealanders flocked to support exactly one year ago this Sunday. That government would never have dreamed of abandoning Auckland to its fate. That Jacinda Ardern told all of us to be kind to one another and gave us her promise to stamp the virus out. She kept her word, and Labour was rewarded with 50.1 percent of the Party Vote.

Where has that Prime Minister gone?

Oh dear. She was always that Prime Minister; Trotter was just too smitten to know it.

But here’s the thing. There is good news in the Covid-19 numbers for the Labour government if they chose to focus on different ones like hospitalisations and deaths. Out of 1855 cases (as of Oct 16) there have been two deaths and a handful of ICU cases: a CFR of 0.11%. In other words 1853 people have walked out, and with natural immunity to boot, even for those who were vaccinated.

The even better news for the government (and hence bad news for DPF), is that while the case numbers have served the purposes of the Fear Pornography Narrative to date – driving the demand for lockdowns and vaccinations, which helped the government – they’re now on the verge of hurting it on both factors. Look at yesterday’s “Vaxxathon” (ugh). I heard that they’d beaten the previous daily record for injections and everybody was patting themselves on the back. A total of 127,342 doses, of which 38,133 were first doses.

Hang on! That means about 70% of them were already booked for a second dose. According to the MOH there are 4,231,778 people who are eligible to be vaccinated. That means that yesterday’s stupendous effort pushed the needle from from 83.0% to …. 83.9%.

If this much vaxxing effort, lockdown fatigue/anger and fear pornography has only got us to that level, I can’t imagine what else can be done to push it higher.

As a result it may well be that even the MSM will stop focusing on case numbers, much as the Covid-19 death toll counters vanished from the screens of CNN and Fox News once Biden became President in the US.

That’s if the government doesn’t stop focusing on case numbers before the MSM. They’ve clearly and repeatedly told everybody, including all the poor souls they and the MSM have scared to death over the last eighteen months, that L4 Lockdowns are not going to return.

Moreover, they’re likely to declare victory on the vaccination front for the same reason: all that can be done, has been done, although we may see screams for booster shots at some point, depending on media hysteria.

Their supporters will take longer to catch up on these bitter truths but as a former Prime Minister was known to say in her deep, dulcet tones: “It is time to move on”.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 17, 2021 at 11:03 am

5 Responses

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  1. Yes, it is time to move on, but where to? (Good post, btw).

    Unfortunately, everyone is now fixated on the unvaccinated. DPF’s latest post on unvaxxed midwives is disturbing, in that he thinks it’s safer for them to quit rather than stay on. So, it’s safer for women to run the risk of not having anyone to help them give birth than to come into contact with an unvaxxed midwife. Right.

    I’m going to give up on predicting where this will go next. I don’t do stupid particularly well… people generally surprise me here.

    Lucia Maria

    October 17, 2021 at 12:14 pm

  2. A very good post that is very informative, has a lot of information, and which I mostly agree with.
    It’s difficult to explain all this to the average person thou, because it’s just too deep and their eyes glaze over before you have finished. You are also competing against the fact free news, that is on TV everyday.
    I think New Zealand is at a crossroads of sorts, but I dont think there is going to be a decision made, where everyone heads in the same direction..


    October 17, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    • It’s difficult to explain all this to the average person…

      Yeah, as we see with all these people still wearing mask outside. Admittedly the proportion of those has dropped a lot in the last two or three weeks, and even then it’s mainly elderly people, slowly walking home to watch One News at 6pm.

      Tom Hunter

      October 17, 2021 at 3:42 pm

    • You also see people wearing masks when they are driving their car with no-one else in it. That ia totally irrational behaviour but in keeping with the fear paranoia.

      Chris Morris

      October 17, 2021 at 4:37 pm

  3. Interesting article this which debunks the British MPs report saying they should have locked down earlier. Even with hindsight, the MPs couldn’t get their analysis right and just ignored counterfactuals.
    The last paragraph is especially good.
    They need to be told, again, and again, and again that lockdowns, however timely, do not work, and that there would not be a catastrophe in the absence of them. Labour cannot be allowed to get away with demanding ‘circuit breakers’, and the Tories cannot be allowed to get away with selling vaccine passports as “the only way to avoid another lockdown”.
    I suspect a similar exercise in NZ would be equally worthless. Any Inquiry should just deal with what lessons can be learned and put into practice. The past is history and can’t be changed.

    Chris Morris

    October 17, 2021 at 3:00 pm

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