Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Friday, January 22, 2021

U.S. Mortality in the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Dangers of Amateur Epidemiology

Adam Larson (aka Caustic Logic)

January 22, 2021 (rough, incomplete)

edits Jan. 24/28

Genevieve Briand, favoring reporter Yani Gu, the woman in the cited video, are most welcome to contact me or dispute my reading - supporters of theirs can also try - I will go ahead and read and rip on this my own way in the field, as its fans have done - THEN I'll ask for any response from the ones I can name and contact. (maybe not today though). If they can clarify much by e-mail. I'll have to wonder why they couldn't do so before that.


A video I happened to see shows one brave American woman "starting to push back against the Orwellian covid restrictions" by refusing to mask up inside a store. When pressed, she cited the supposed impossibility of her infecting anyone else due to not feeling any symptoms (false - it's not the norm but totally exists and "experts say asymptomatic spread clearly is contributing to fall spikes of COVID-19"). And it's no big danger anyway, in her mind; she asks the women talking to her "do you know there have been fewer deaths overall, in 2019, than there were in 2018 [sic]. Look it up. fewer deaths - all they've done is recategorized all the deaths. This is not what they're telling us it is. It's a lie. I'm telling you. ... they feed us thus lie and we comply with it, and I'm done..." Refusing an offered mask almost as if in terror, she insists "I'm a healthy person. No. I'm not crazy. This is like psychosis. For everyone to put stuff on their face when they're healthy is insane." https://twitter.com/tbs_viral/status/1344241143555502080

She's not exactly crazy or sick, but she's a moron and a public menace, like so many others. And they have these amazing "facts" to back them up, usually issued by some expert they trust. 

In this case, she probably refers to Genevieve Briand at Johns Hopkins University. She's an Asst. program director of the Applied Economics master’s degree program - not a medical expert, despite the JHU's school of medicine being its most famous part. Their COVID-19 tracker is a great resource. Their school of economics ... well it just took one credibility hit I know of. It's Briand who, in a school-related educational video presentation, compared weekly mortality levels in the US over time to declare fewer deaths than reported or even than normal. That in turn suggests to many - who already suspected as much - that there is no deadly pandemic in the United States to take precautions over. 

At the center of it is a supposed paucity of other natural causes deaths suggesting they had been re-branded as covid ones, helping to exaggerate that danger. In her video presentation of November 13, Briand spends a long time proving there were other deaths besides COVID-19 and, shockingly, there were EVEN MORE of those deaths. She suggests we should feel bad for nor remembering all those other deaths and/or focusing on this one class that caused less than half the deaths in 2020.  She seems like a truly fired-up non-expert who already suspected what she found. She seems amazed by every pattern she sees along the way, and sloppily mines it for possible discrepancies - makes a big deal of basing her findings on the actual data, ignoring the central role played by confused and prejudiced misreading OF that data. 
Of most relevance here: 
seems in line with other data I do know and have made better sense of. Note: recently change for the New Year - 2019 is added to the archive, and the the current set compares 2020 and 2021.

Mrs. Briand's presentation and derivative materials have been eagerly cited by adoring fans as a hard truth sussed out by a JHU professor (and that's an esteemed school re:medical issues). But of course, in their view, it was retracted under political pressure, squashed by the elites to protect their big hoax. It's the most likely basis for any recent claims the US has witnessed no excess deaths - though both notions have been raised previously by others. 

The American Institute for Economic Research has long favorable to any argument opposing lockdown and business restrictions, because they love freedom and they think they understand medicine well enough to meddle in public health debates, sponsoring a "Great Barrington declaration" favoring vaccine-free herd immunity as soon as possible, recklessly submitted to moron president Trump with his moron adviser Scott Atlas. (I say moron in lieu of evil). Ethan Yang wrote for them, summarizing the message he got from Briand's findings: 

New Study Highlights Alleged Accounting Error Regarding Covid Deaths – AIER

"Deaths have remained relatively constant, yet reported deaths due to deadly conditions such as heart disease have fallen while reported Covid deaths have risen. This suggests that the current Covid death count is in some capacity relabeled deaths due to other ailments. ... The hysteria over Covid-19 has likely led to the alleged accounting error noted in Briand’s study, the reclassification of expected deaths from all causes into Covid deaths. That accounting error has likely led to a number of policy decisions that have drastically crippled our ability to support the general welfare of society, economically, socially, and spiritually. Going forward these findings should give us pause and reconsideration over the threat Covid-19 actually poses and realize how much avoidable damage we have done to ourselves as a result."

Matt Margolis, PJ Media, Nov. 27 UPDATED: Johns Hopkins Retracts Article Saying COVID-19 Has 'Relatively No Effect on Deaths' in U.S.

"Briand concludes that the COVID-19 death toll in the United States is misleading and that deaths from other diseases are being categorized as COVID-19 deaths. There have been reports of inflated COVID-19 deaths numbers for months...." 

So far it seems none of these impressed fans is able to verify or add much to an argument that seems to confuse them. I put off untangling what seemed like a maddeningly dense tangle of confusion and error. But I finally sat through most of the video presentation that started the noise, and identified five claims I hope I understand, and my explanation why each is horribly wrong. 
* Steady age breakdown
* Normal seasonal pattern
* Missing heart attacks
* Natural causes swap-out
* Normal death numbers

Reference material:

Original video presentation "Covid-19 Deaths: A Look at U.S. Data" - published by JHU Advanced Academic Programs, November 13, 2020  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TKJN61aflI

Some later q&a with Briand: https://twitter.com/HricSchink/status/1332920820079857665 

Review article in the JHU newsletter By Yanni Gu, November 27, 2020- since pulled - archive.org copy: https://web.archive.org/web/20201126163323/https://www.jhunewsletter.com/article/2020/11/a-closer-look-at-u-s-deaths-due-to-covid-19 - or compare with the copy shared by the newsletter itself as a PDF to cool accusations it was trying to silence or erase the article. 

JHU rebuttals: 

Quick explanation in place of the pulled article https://www.jhunewsletter.com/article/2020/11/a-closer-look-at-u-s-deaths-due-to-covid-19

Explanatory editorial: https://www.jhunewsletter.com/article/2020/12/on-the-retraction-of-a-closer-look-at-u-s-deaths-and-our-coverage-of-covid-19

A fuller explanation WHY Briand is wrong, citing several and more relevant JHU experts. https://www.jhunewsletter.com/article/2020/12/public-health-experts-and-biostatisticians-weigh-in-on-covid-19-deaths-a-look-at-u-s-data-webinar

From the first editorial: "The leadership of The News-Letter takes responsibility for this situation. The article shouldn’t have been published without the additional information needed to put Briand’s research into perspective." They're too polite. The proper perspective for this is in the toilet. It should never have been published. OR else its retarded ass needs to be babysat and explained for at every turn. Otherwise ... I'm for free speech in general, but consider what this says, from a "JHU expert," and now it was cited so eagerly. It will become easy fuel for hordes of dangerous idiots who will keep causing deaths, allowing the virus to breed like mad, and spawn deadly variants that much faster. 

The follow-up with experts is also too polite, but hey, that's good form. I'll be citing this as I take the chance to play bad cop to their good cop.  The total failure of Briand's analysis does need explained, maybe better than it has been. I'll now show how I babysit this thing on a long walk to the outhouse, where I leave it. 

Steady Age Breakdown

First, let's consider how Briand addressed weekly deaths by age group  in her popular figure 1 (see 12min in the video). This shows a breakdown for weekly all-causes deaths to week 32, broken down by color-coded age groups. She decides the percentage doesn't change over the weeks shown here when it should, as the elder-slaying Covid-19 entered the scene in March - ... "I would expect that percentage to go up during the weeks of peak covid-19 deaths, which are weeks 11-13 and we don't have that." the "chunks pretty much stay the same." 

She'll agree COVID-19 mainly kills older people and suggest this shows there weren't very many covid deaths. Rather, as she argues, there were many deaths from heart attacks and such that were mis-categorized. And she'd also agree these mainly happen to older people, so ... the best reading of what she means is the year's deaths are pretty well the same types and numbers as always

Actually weeks 15,16 and 17 are the spring peak of covid deaths, as Briand realizes at other points. So it it's not even clear why she was looking in a span 4 weeks earlier. But as it happens, this is the spot where her reading is the most wrong; just the time she claimed  to see no rise - during the upswing to the peak, from w10-12, deaths of 85+ rise from about 30% to 33% before dipping back to 30 and then about 28% (the image below makes this more clear). And conversely, there's a slight decline in the percentage of younger people dying - under 54 drops about 2-3% in weeks 11-13 before rising a bit into the spring and summer. At week 11, 11% of deaths were aged 54 and under, and at w19 it peaked at 15%, then holds steady around 13%. 

My addition: figure 1 flipped upside down to clarify what's a rise here, cropped on the 85+ bracket, and vertically stretched a bit to clarify the minor differences. Compared to curve of covid deaths lined up below it, the relevance seems clear to me. No change to reflect any major outbreak - really? 

Four points emerge:

1) Age proportion was never the main issue. It was the scale of deaths, actual and possible, that scared people, not the incredible oldness of them. But still, covid does have that age issue. It should appear, and apparently does. To the extent it's not as clear as it should be (?) ...

2) There were covid deaths from year's start and it seems even in late 2019, back to week 47 at least. So the age breakdown may be covid-distorted from the start, and a comparison with prior years' breakdowns might have been more useful to make her point. 

3) If the age breakdown remains this steady, even as it applies to the enormous deaths of weeks 11-22,  to the extent she's right and age proportions remain steady, she helps weaken the myth that covid only kills people in their 80s and up and thus isn't much of a danger to society. It means COVID-19 has always killed a wider age range than Briand was "told." She might find it surprising how many in their 30s and 40s and even 20s and younger have died from/with it. 

Justin Lessler, an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the JHU's School of Public Health (not economics) pointed out for the JHU newsletter:

“I see that the proportion [in Figure One] has not changed as evidence that we should not be seeing COVID-19 as a disease of just the very old because, in terms of relative risk of death, it is impacting all ages (or at least all adults) fairly equally... just what that raw number is, is quite different for each age,” he wrote. “If anything, I think [Figure One] is just a stark illustration that COVID-19 raises mortality risk in all age groups.”

Normal Seasonal Pattern

Around 20 minutes into the video, Briand shows the yearly seasonal variance of deaths between 2014 and 2020. She seems amazed to realize there's a yearly pattern with regular ups and downs, rising each winter to a peak between 60,000 and 70,000 deaths per week, usually in the second week of January, falling to about 50,000 over the summer, then rising again over the fall. She also learned some details of these winter spikes, including: 

* it's mainly older people who die each time, 

* they die from a mix of  flu and pneumonia and resp. illness deaths and elevated deaths from heart disease, alzheimer disease and other causes 

She doesn't seem to understand when or why this happens, but 2020 also has a rise and then a fall, is only so much higher than the next highest peak, and thus maybe just the normal thing.

Briand somehow choses 2017-18 as the best comparison year, rather than the prior season (2018/19), the one most likely to have a direct bearing on 2020's mortality situation. The year she picked does have the highest peak of deaths (around 68,000), and thus the best chance to call 2020 normal in comparison, or maybe even low in some useful way ... which she does.

The JHU News-Letter cited Emily Gurley, an associate scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health (not economics), who "noted that the assessment in the webinar did not compare the same months in 2018 and 2020, leading to a flawed interpretation." 

"Comparing winter months (Figure Three) to spring months (Figure Four), Gurley explained, does not account for seasonal variations; for instance, mortality due to most causes, including heart disease, declines in the spring. “She compares specific cause of death data from 2018 to 2020, but instead of comparing the same months in 2018 to 2020, she compares the time period where total mortality peaked each year,” she wrote. “In doing so, the presenter neglects the fact that COVID-19 deaths peaked in the spring, even though the usual seasonal patterns for other causes of death did not change.”

Lessler added that 2018 was a year with excess mortality, as echoed by the CDC, and noted flaws in focusing on only the peak in mortality of that year. 

“2018 was a bad flu year, so she is comparing with a year that we already had some excess mortality. 2020 peaks in deaths are far higher than pretty much every other year,” he wrote. “Also, she makes a logical error in focusing only on the [2018 peak]. If you look at the CDC site you will notice [deaths in] 2018 exceeds the seasonally adjusted average for only 6 weeks, but [deaths in] 2020 exceeds the seasonal average for every week since March 28, 2020.”

Another Briand image with corrections added; we can see now steady the seasonal pattern is, always the same time to worst seasonal peak - underlining the centrality of week-to-same-week comparison, which Briand finds to be optional. She compares a seasonal peak that's the highest available to an off-pattern, post-peak super peak in 2020 that rises to some 23,000 deaths above the equivalent week in even in the high-mortality 2018.

Scott Zeger, a professor whose primary affiliation is with the Biostatistics Department at the JHU School of Public Health  (not economics) 

“Dr. Briand correctly points out the winter peaks in most causes of mortality. These are associated with respiratory infections that exacerbate many chronic conditions,” he wrote. “In the winter of 2019-2020, there is clear evidence of the expected seasonal peak that was then swamped by the COVID rise in the spring. 

Fact Check: Johns Hopkins Lecturer Did NOT Prove There Are No Excess 2020 Deaths Due To COVID | Lead Stories

Robert Anderson, chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch of the National Center for Health Statistics, also disputes Briand’s analysis. According to Anderson, Briand didn’t account for seasonal changes in deaths. “In the spring of 2020, during a period where we normally should be seeing declining mortality, deaths continued to increase and were at unusually high levels through the spring,” he told Lead Stories. “So, the comparison of the most lethal weeks in 2018 with the most lethal weeks of 2020 is not appropriate.” 

“In 2018, deaths followed the normal pattern (although at a higher level than normal). In 2020, deaths did not follow the normal pattern…they should have been declining in the spring, but instead increased substantially,” Anderson added.

Indeed, the standard is to compare same-week levels in different (usually adjacent) years, or better yet in average, or well-adjusted model. Skipping the differences in yearly mortality and comparing 2018 to 2020 using comparable weeks - the same graph Briand made shows week 15 peak is not 11,292 above the same week in 2018, but rather a bit over twice that - ~22,800 above expected by the usual pattern. or some 142% of the expected deaths around ~55,000 in week 15, 2018

Missing Heart Attack Deaths/Natural Causes Swap-Out

So Briand mistook the covid peak for the seasonal all-causes death peak, where all causes combine and, as she noticed, heart disease is usually in a solid lead. Even in 2020, it still led among non-covid causes, but Briand was stuck on the strange data suggesting Covid-19, at its peak, killed more than heart disease, for the first year in history. In fact, four weeks in a row it did this. She knows it usually kills way less - zero, in fact, because it never existed. Why should this year be so much different unless there's some deception afoot? 

29:30 in the video: "those lines over there look weird to me." The parabolic curves of very large numbers gradually brought under control look strangely "smooth" compared to low-level wigglings of usual deaths - as if she's never encountered such an effect in her study of economics, or can't see a bit of it in every spike to the left in her same image? 

But never mind just how "lumpy" the curves are, one of them is just way too big. "It looks as if the peak of covid deaths is HIGHER than the peak of heart attack deaths." She finds this amazing; as if she had video of Elvis' ghost, she implores the audience "you see that?" 

Gu article: "COVID-19-related deaths exceeded deaths from heart disease. This was highly unusual since heart disease has always prevailed as the leading cause of deaths," Apparently she thinks it must always be the leading killer, no matter how lethal the competition.  Like, if COVID-19 tried to kill more, even for one single week, heart attacks would by definition have to go on a real rampage to keep their pre-defined permanent leading role. 

Of course that makes no sense. Covid is simply deadlier than heart disease, even when it's curtailed as it has been. It's even visible in a highly average view; the US totals include hard-hit areas and ones barely affected. Covid killed more than heart disease for 4 weeks straight at the spring peak. In the winter surge, it's killed more since week 47 (to Nov. 21), or at least six weeks in a row to week 52 (incomplete data after that). 

When I was tracking Texas briefly in the summer, covid surpassed heart attack at least 6 weeks straight, peaking at near twice as many deaths. Note how h.d. itself and other causes - all known covid co-morbidities - were also seen rising at odd times. Spring, summer, winter of 2020 - all natural, seasonal spikes of all-cause deaths with missing heart attacks?

New York City, week 15: of 7,860 total deaths, at least 4,564 were caused by COVID-19. That's 58% - more than the 42% killed by all other causes combined. At the spring peak, covid surpassed heart for nine weeks straight, even with heart deaths seeing a strange surge just then (see compiled table). (CDC source, for this and much else in this article)

In parts of Italy, weekly deaths from COVID-19 were far more than heart disease and all other causes combined. I recall hearing Bergamo (IIRC) suffered up to 800% the normal mortality before the virus was reigned in. If so, that suggests the virus (and/or lockdown, etc. - something new) briefly killed 7x as many as all other causes combined. Don't quote me on that part, but it definitely can kill more than heart disease if allowed. (and some bonus questions: do we see NYC's share of missing heart deaths here? How many more were there supposed to be in those weeks, and why?)

Add 1/31: the 800% mortality I mentioned for Italy also happened in New York City. In the same week 15 when over half the deaths were from covid (confirmed/probable), that number was 780% of normal. Almost exactly 1,000 deaths expected that week occurred, plus covid killing 485% that many on top of it, PLUS 1,930 unexplained excess deaths that include a massive spike of h.a., other covid replacements and co-morbidities, New analysis considers possible lockdown deaths too. See timing of most deaths. Delayed treatment? Not much for cancer in that peak span, and not much room later for any other natural-cause excess. External causes like suicide? It's probably quite incomplete, but by the CDC's data as of now, there's a possible slight elevation at first that gives way to unusually low deaths from week 32 on.

But even a fraction of that known killing power seen in a U.S. average makes no sense to Briand. 31:30 "Hm? It doesn't make sense. Doesn't make sense at all."  She has to ask "what's going on?" and "where have all the heart attacks gone?"  

Comparing to the 2017-18 peak, she finds 367 fewer deaths than "expected" for the 2020 peak 2.25 years later. She marks this (narrow band) as "expected not seen," and then marks a much bigger gap between that and something up past 18,000, labeled +???. I guess she sees a natural spike just like 2018's but bigger for who knows why, and thinks HA should have led at super-peak levels, just naturally there in April. As I measure it, this shows some 3,090 more heart attacks that she (maybe ???) expected to see for that week. Her image with my notes added in mostly red, and explained below.

We'll keep considering this point, but as it tangle with a couple others and all need some space,  header for a related but separate issue. 

Natural Causes Swap-Out

Briefly, the rest of her case for a lot of "missing" deaths before we come back to the details: Around 34min a slide showing "change in deaths over previous week"  for weeks 15-16-17 (and NOT weeks 13 and 14), which make up the downslope of the supposedly low peak she identified above. She notes heart disease declines massively here, as do most other conditions, aside from barely-affected cancers (the lung one has seen suspect increases, the rest mostly not). Briand presumes weeks 15 and 16 should have same or even higher heart deaths, since overall deaths were still increasing, and that's what always happens during death spikes. So she sees the decrease - or at least the size of it - as suspicious. 

Finally, after mistaking the covid peak for the seasonal all-causes death peak, it seems she mistook the following seasonal decline (see above, added aqua-green matching curves) for a continued suspicious decrease into the summer. Prof. Scott Zeger: "The trough in non-COVID causes that Dr. Briand notes that spring is not a mis-attribution of non-COVID deaths to COVID. It is the natural spring abatement of the winter mortality rise that happens every year.” That may not be what she meant, but if so, he's right. I'll add the decline started from the elevated levels many have noted, was steepened by lockdowns and others measures that would limit the spread of all contagions that, as Zeger noted, cause the extra few deaths adding up to the winter spike. Also, that effect in turn is offset some by false covid inclusions that continue - especially into the summer, when "non-covid" excess deaths rise again contrary to usual trends. 

But all these "missing" deaths, not just from heart attack, opened a big fake mystery. And it's not hard to solve - deaths don't disappear, once they're "expected." They simply must be in disguise, hidden in another category. 48min "[the published numbers] are somewhat misleading or some of them are going to be misleading, in that - the data show the number of heart attacks decreased during the peak of total deaths that we experienced, and heart attack is the leading cause of death in the United States. If [the numbers] were not misleading at all, what we should have observed is an increased number of heart attacks and also the increased COVID-19 numbers. But a decreased number of heart attacks - and all the other death causes - doesn’t give us a choice but to point to some re-classification. Not all of them" she hastened to add, just "some" unspecified portion of them. 

She won't call the COVID-19 death toll entirely fake or even fake on purpose, but of course her readers, especially second-hand ones,  just know that can't be an accident, and they're sure the portion of fakery is major or even total. The woman cited at the start understood it: "all they've done is recategorized all the deaths. This is not what they're telling us it is. It's a lie." 

But there is no overall decline. Rather, 2020 saw a large excess of natural causes deaths.  All those expected and more - at least 88,634 NON-COVID natural causes deaths above 2019 levels over a similar span to what Briand studied (to week 36, or 39, incomplete). This is on top of a bit over 200,000 confirmed covid deaths in the same span, all by definition above 2019 levels that were zero. See here for my graphs. Not that I've checked, but the same probably happened with the fall and winter spikes of covid deaths. 

Briand and I have different expectations for 2020 partly because the best available comparison is not 2018 but 2019, with its smooth, low curve that can be seen flowing easily into 2020 (again, see aqua curves in the image above -  they match each other AND the years quite well), but with some early covid-esque spikes. The real mortality baseline for 2020 aside from the virus, and lockdown etc. will be its own story, and things change - as this pandemic shows. But otherwise the change might have been small, so 2019 might be as good a comparison as a well-adjusted 5-year average, or even better. 

The 2019-2020 flu season starts almost a copy of the last, by many signs even a bit lower in fatality aside from covid (not that it's easy to tell). Clearly above the baseline, there are some early bumps of possible relevance at week 39 and 47 of 2019, and a big and clear surge of definite covid deaths just after new year's, just a handful of which managed to be confirmed. Then there was a mild dip and a rise to the massive spike of mortality in the spring most of us have heard about, then another fat, low surge in summer, and we know bigger yet has followed since, growing from mid-autumn to the present (recent 7-day average 3,300 covid deaths per day in the U.S.). Officially, it's near 420,000 now confirmed killed.

Including mis-classified deaths behind those other n.c. excesses, the real toll so far might be some 40-50% higher. Wherever we can see, including all U.S. states, the "non-covid" excess deaths seem to mainly be yet more covid ones. The timing and scale, the similar age bracket, and the elevated causes (mostly known covid co-morbidities) all point to that. From there, lockdown etc. causes a decline in all transmissions - SARS-CoV2, influenza, other - and thus reduces external triggers for heart attacks, etc. which fall to low, seasonal levels, before rising again with the summer covid spike. (Scott Zeger: "the winter peaks ... are associated with respiratory infections that exacerbate many chronic conditions." And note COVID-19 is one of these). And as the JHU News-Letter explained "those with those underlying conditions are statistically more likely to be severely affected and die from the virus" Some of those who would have died of HA etc. died of covid instead, or the two combined. And as they probably realize, some will do that and have the covid part missed, explaining the strange increases. See US. flu-pneumonia deaths - spiking oddly after flu transmission had fallen - it'll be the pneumonia catoegory risen, and guess what they tend to call undiagnosed covid suffocation deaths?

Consider that in late 2019 and early 2020, zero percent of covid deaths were diagnosed properly, even though we now realize they were happening. That doesn't change entirely, not overnight or probably ever. In the first weeks, deaths from solo co-morbidities (heart, alzheimer, cerebrovascular, etc.) and undefined pneumonia were super-elevated. That's probably due to slim diagnosis of covid deaths, both direct and indirect (illness survived, but with exacerbated conditions leading to a swift death afterwards). But identification improved a good bit, and then mis-classified deaths fall (while remaining high) just as covid rises a bit more sharply. And the actual deaths also decline as the cause of them decreases.

Now back to the w15-17 decline: it seems there was a change in classification around early April, besides a peak of deaths in most places. In the United Kingdom, their Office of National Statistics issued a report that mentioned but also soft-pedaled the notion of missed covid deaths and a higher, hidden death toll. This report suggested it was unlikely for influenza-pneumonia (if not other causes) "since Week 14 (week ending 3 April 2020)," at which point they diagnosed more covid deaths and lone co-morbidity deaths (especially this one) declined proportionally. See plate showing the five leading causes of death, with week 14 marked. i/p at bottom falls clearly after that. Others fall or rise less sharply, then increase again, as covid deaths (probably including these) were still accelerating. Mainly, the lesson to draw from this is the change didn't affect most causes that much - they kept on being super-elevated with no real explanation. (it's not lockdown, or denied medical care - see link below)


It seems a similar thing happened in the US too, just a bit later (see below). The very peak of natural causes deaths was week 15 ending April 11 (US system is offset a day from UK) with only a slight decline in week 16 - nc overall fall a bit as the major covid portion increases a bit. As shown below, the purple area shrinks. This is what that plate above showed in numerical form and missing key context; the fairly insane weeks before, when nc deaths were about 45% above normal. "the total decrease in deaths by other causes almost exactly equals the increase in deaths by COVID-19," as Briand said, at the decline between weeks 15 and 16,  and perhaps for some other spot by coincidence, but NOT as an overall pattern. This is what Briand notices, and it proves what? Levels that insane couldn't last, especially with distancing and lockdowns reducing infection rates all over.

Does Mrs. Briand think there SHOULD have been ~23,000 n.c. deaths above 2019 levels in mid-April, for no reason that can make sense - and since there aren't, 16,000 being rebranded as COVID-19 - or whatever portion of them she means (+3,090???)?  In fact it was a suspicious presence of elevated deaths, seen being reduced but not eliminated in weeks 15-17. And she never asks where that elevation came from, taking it as natural, due to that clear seasonal pattern, comparable numbers, steady age breakdown, etc. 

Here's your missing hart attack deaths - actually over-abundant all year long, compared to same-week levels in the best example year of 2019. “If [the COVID-19 death toll] was not misleading at all, what we should have observed is an increased number of heart attacks and increased COVID-19 numbers." She doesn't even get why that's true, but it happens to be. And it is observed, so what's the deal? She somehow didn't observe.

I've boxed in red the span where program director Briand notes the suspicious decline in weeks 15-17. If you ask yourself WHY these weeks each see a decline from the previous week, instead of rising higher yet to stay ahead of the ongoing covid rise ... the answer is because that only makes sense. How they ever got to that week 15 high is the real mystery Briand ignores, pretending THAT was the normal part of a seasonal death spike that's only 13 weeks late. 

And this is why she decided on missing heart attack deaths. The fact that she claims to have found them somewhere else when they were never missing just adds to the embarrassment.

"Normal Death Numbers" & Conclusion

Briand and company found "no evidence that COVID-19 created any excess deaths. Total death numbers are not above normal death numbers. We found no evidence to the contrary." They didn't find this, or found it wrong. If the latter, and the circular nonsense provided so far IS the explanation, well... that was a big fail. (updated from initial tweet - she was referring only to the span including the first two waves) https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/1338522626973523968 

Matt Margolis seemingly noted this disconnect: "So, if COVID-19 has actually had no significant impact on U.S. deaths, why does it not appear that way? To answer that question, Briand shifted her focus..." to the kinds of details addressed above, and simply left the disconnect unexplained. That seems to have worked for a lot of people. But the main problem they SHOULD be stumbling over more is the death toll is clearly NOT low, or normal, or even close. Briand either doesn't realize this, or has issued a very poor challenge to the agreed fact; she disputes the official numbers provided by state governments, as tallied by the CDC, but so far gives no good reason. This, even as she relies on misreading OF those numbers AS valid, to find factual "data" to question their ultimate validity - and thus any work like her own based on it. 

Video, 40:46 "We also found evidence that COVID death numbers were misleading. We found evidence that some deaths caused by diseases of the heart, chronic lower respiratory disease, flu and pneumonia and more were simply reclassified as COVID-19 deaths."
Lead Stories cited this, and rebutted "Briand makes that claim with no reference to specific deaths, doctors or death certificates in which she has evidence a death attributed to COVID was actually caused by something else." It seems this is not further evidence they found, but a reference to all the death causes that appeared low to her. That's the "evidence" that left her "no choice" but to strongly suspect they had been swapped out. 

Lead Stories also cited "Ronald Fricker, Jr., the former head of the statistics department at Virginia Tech, who studies statistical models used in disease surveillance, said Briand hasn't done enough work to make the claims she makes ... He pointed to an October, 2020, editorial and research letter from the Journal of the American Medical Association, concluding that 67% of the excess deaths from March through July "were attributable directly to COVID-19." Regardless, it is clear that the total number of deaths in the United States has increased this year by at least 10% and likely will be 13% or more by the end of December."

Emily Gurley told the JHU News-Letter "that because Briand’s presentation does not specifically examine excess deaths, her conclusions are flawed. “Researchers (from both within the CDC and outside) have already analyzed data on vital statistics to show that >300,000 deaths have occurred in 2020 than occurred during the same time in other recent years (after accounting for changes in the size and age of the population),” Gurley wrote."

And Sourya Shrestha, a research associate in the Department of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health (again, not economics), "elaborated on the standard method used to calculate excess deaths. He asserted that comparing death counts week-to-week as Briand did fails to account for two important considerations: random fluctuations and seasonal trends. “A more robust way [to calculate excess deaths] is to construct a baseline of expected deaths using trends from past data and compare that to the observed deaths,” he said in an interview with The News-Letter." He describes the method used by the CDC ...

"The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published on Oct. 23, reported that 299,028 excess deaths occurred from Jan. 26 to Oct. 3. About two-thirds of those deaths were attributed to COVID-19. Other peer-reviewed papers have reported similar findings." (and I'll add at least a majority of the other 1/3 are suspect)

Gurley noted that the data presented in the webinar failed to address these statistics and did not demonstrate that officially reported numbers were wrong. “There are no data in this presentation that show that previous reports on the magnitude of deaths from COVID-19 are incorrect,” Gurley wrote.

And finally, a point no lockdown critics consider well, and Briand seems to ignore entirely - how many deaths MIGHT we have seen if the measures of March and April hadn't been taken? Infections were artificially limited, all-cause deaths fell soon after that, and they complain that shouldn't have happened - the vulnerable should have been put in magical bubbles and everyone else turned loose to develop herd immunity with no vaccine safety net needed - if their advice had been followed, my God what a massacre.


bonus: From the twitter Q&A, Briand arguing that 2020 deaths were not just normal but a bit low. Agaian, she picks absurd expectations, and dashes them with the help of some bad math, so she can make another case for mass fakery. 

Briand's 2019 deaths: 2,852,609 vs. my tally from possibly revised numbers: 2,791,887

Briand 2020: 

* expected by year's end: 2,894,771  vs. 3,349,566 incomplete final tally when I looked (from here, careful tally of weeks)

* expected by 9/31 (week 39/40): 2,880,717  vs. 2,436,055/2,494,251 as logged now 

** vs. seen then 2,402,953 (even more "less than expected!") 

**  vs. 2019 through w39, ending 9/28: 2,123,698 (a decent basis NOT to expect 2.88 million as normal for the following year)

* expected w41-52 (to year's end minus to 9/31): 14,054.  This is about one week's deaths, not three months' worth. vs. 855,315 actually logged, still a bit incomplete. 

* Why less deaths? She doesn't know. Maybe less traffic accidents? No. That's a tiny class of deaths - not sure, maybe 1-2% of the total, cut by maybe 1/3 on average. Suicides are a bigger class yet, and alcohol/drug OD bigger yet, and both of these were elevated in 2020 (some of those "lockdown deaths" that do exist). Those would more than offset any such decline in deaths from external (un-natural) causes. Exact numbers aside, even these are small compared to any leading natural cause, tiny compared to what COVID-19 has done, and miniscule compared to what it could have done if left un-checked.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

U.S. COVID-19 Lockdowns: Correlations, Outcomes, Idiocy

Covid Deaths, Not Lockdown Deaths, part 5

U.S. COVID-19 Lockdowns: Correlations, Outcomes, Idiocy

November 21, 2020

How Lockdown Failed Before it Began

I'll start with "Sweden Has a Lower COVID-19 Death Rate Than the US" by Jon Miltimore, September 9, 2020, Catalyst Independent, but first from FEEE (Foundation for Economic Education and Epidemiology - kidding on the last E). 

Miltmore writes: "The year 2020 will go down in history as a historic calamity. But this was not because COVID-19 struck," he declares, noting deadly respiratory viruses have existed as long as humans have." Longer, in fact. And they've always been fairly harmless, or whatever maybe not always, but this one is invisible, which makes it extra harmless, and the disaster arose "because central planners erroneously believed the best way to protect humanity from an invisible respiratory virus was to order healthy people to remain in their homes under almost all conditions, in many cases under threat of fine or imprisonment." I remember when they tested us all and made the healthy ones stay home. Sad day for humanity there. No, of course the point is it's invisible, you can't be sure who IS healthy and not contagious, so they ordered the sick and anyone who might be - which is everyone - to come out only as needed and cautiously. Just why that's an erroneous approach isn't clear, once the idea is unscrambled. 

Anyway, this piece cites something run in the Wall Street Journal as “The Failed Lockdown Experiment,” wherein "Donald L. Luskin, the chief investment officer of TrendMacro, a global investment strategy consulting firm, says data show lockdowns are actually correlated with a greater spread of the virus." Ah! Leave it to a business stimulation expert and data manipulator to find what all global disease experts have missed. He finds a correlation. There are a lot of those. 

Apparently Luskin checked virus spread until lockdown but not after, found that of all the times he checked, it was the worst right at the start of maximum lockdown. Luskin's explanation, re-worded just a bit so everything he has correlating is reversed from how he presented it. If they correlate, that should be fair; a = b is the same as b = a.

Measuring from the start of the year to each state’s point of maximum lockdown—which range from April 5 to April 18—it turns out that a greater spread of the virus correlated with lockdowns. States with larger Covid outbreaks also had longer, stricter lockdowns. The five places with the heaviest caseloads - the District of Columbia, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts — had the harshest lockdowns. 

It could be that strict lockdowns were imposed as a response to already severe outbreaks.

Yeah, it very well f@*#ing could be, huh? And it got way better after the lockdowns in each place. Case confirmation might increase, but transmission will decline if people follow the guidelines. Deaths always do increase afterwards, as that maximum caseload dies off over the following weeks (see here), and then it improves.  I'm not a subscriber, haven't seen any illustration Luskin used, but as I read it:

And so lockdown was said to have failed. 

Of course there were measures underway to slow the spread prior to that, including a suggestion of - basically - voluntary lockdown, during which time the virus spread rapidly anyway. He'll argue people keeping apart and even staying indoors with their families instead of taking the bus to work or going on a travel vacation is why it spread so widely between households and across whole regions. But clearly the orders - to the extent they were heeded - slowed what was going to be an even more amazing spread. This stuff has a reproduction rate over 5 sometimes, if left to run freely. This SARS CoV-2 is some powerful stuff.

Miltmore notes lockdown duration, but not what happens during that lamentable span, which is a vast improvement. Fox News' Dr. Marc Siegel told Tucker Carlson “Lockdowns don’t work if there is already a lot of virus in the area," but he did note "over 20 states that have come out of lockdown have actually seen an decreased number of cases." Again a = b, so we could say 20 states that finally saw a decreased number then came out of lockdown, enjoying that advantage. Does it get better or worse after that? Siegel wouldn't be able to answer that honestly. (Dr. Siegel Tells Tucker: Lockdowns Producing ‘More Deaths From Despair’ Than Coronavirus Daily Caller, May 20) he also claimed "that “deaths from despair” could surpass 75,000 in the U.S. “because of COVID-19 and people not having jobs.” ... "It’s going to be more deaths from despair than from the virus itself," while the headline says lockdowns are "producing more deaths" (present tense). See part 4 for my assessment of that claim.

Poorer Outcomes: ND vs. NY

Finally, dr. Siegel also "mentioned the absence of coronavirus cases in South Dakota “which was never in lockdown.” Joel Smalley, MBA, also found this concept significant, penning the article "Study: Dems COVID19 Lockdown Measures Causing Most Deaths" which finds as of June 27, "the empirical data very strongly suggests that mortality outcomes are improved with fewer interventions." That doesn't seem to make sense, but he points out: 

"...of the 12 states that have experienced no excess death at all during the period in question (Alaska (R), Arkansas (R), Hawaii, Idaho (R), Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota (R), Oklahoma (R), South Dakota (R), and West Virginia (R)), 5 of them (Arkansas (R), Kentucky (D), North Dakota (R), Oklahoma (R), and South Dakota (R)) had no ostensible lockdown. " 

They tend to be Republican, as he selectively notes ... they're also all of our sparsely populated "podunk states," lacking much for big cities, with less using public transport, and none was hit by an early surprise outbreak that we know of.  Texas is pretty Republican too but faired poorly and had a lockdown - whatever the correlation there. Hawaii is Democrat but island-based, which seems to be a huge plus for controlling covid, especially with help of a lockdown. A lot of factors play, but being this is a highly contagious virus, Smalley found the political ones most worth considering, and just went the hell off:
"It is evident that Democrat states have a much stronger tendency towards intervention and this has led to much poorer outcomes for citizens of those states.... A possible reason could be in the nature of collectivism versus individualism, where Republicans might be more likely to take appropriate responsibility for their own welfare, making decisions and taking actions according to their own perceived risks, whereas members of the collectivist states may be more inclined to rely on the diktats of the state even though they may not be logical or reasonable. This conjecture would need much deeper investigation to be upheld."
He surmises Democrat states are full of irresponsible Socialists who follow the state's "diktats" - his actual word - and just to "protect the common good" rather than their own Ayn Rand interests, they hunker down in terror behind walls and masks, and then naturally, evil things happen and a lot of people die. The same was happening in more populous Republican states like Texas and Florida even as Smalley wrote, but ... Nebraskans for example take responsibility and do nothing about a harmless flu except washing their hands and praying, just like always. Naturally it spreads less because ... prairies and real American values scare the hell out of this commie Chinese virus? There's no point to studying that at all. If you believe it, you just keep doing that and re-arrange the facts so they seem to agree.

However it seemed in late June, we have a better view now in November to judge which approach truly has the worse outcome. A handy data map I saw on Twitter shows per-capita rates of confirmed infections for all48 contiguous states, as of November 13. Here it's annotated to show the five no-lockdown states as I recall it being when I checked way back. ND, SD, Nebraska, Iowa, and Arkansas. These are the kind of sparsely-populated states that could possibly do without stern measures, and perhaps did fine for a while. But Iowa and the Dakotas especially wore out that buffer - maybe by standing together like that - to become the most-infected states, per capita. It turns out they weren't spread-out enough. They didn't each have their own personal workplace, grocery store, or bar, so it finally spread all over. By this, a week ago North Dakota had nearly 8,000 per 100,000 infected, or near 8% - CONFIRMED. That's 2.7 times as infected as New York (which is at 2898.9, or 2.9%, and probably with a much higher confirmation rate). 

North Dakotans had come together to log 2,270 new COVID-19 cases on November 13 before before Governor Burgum announced a statewide "lockdown" as of the 14th: a public mask mandate would be in effect, with businesses limited to 50% or even 25% capacity, school sports and big gatherings banned. Critics of his reaction to another "casedemic" might fail to note it came with a peak of 334  covid-related hospitalizations on the 12th. Hospitals were reportedly at 100% capacity with more than 250 new patients a day since November 1st., and so shorthanded they had covid-positive nurses keep working (Grand Forks Herald). Since the lockdown, cases dropped sharply to about 1,000 a day but quickly began creeping back up to 1,500 now. Hospitalizations declined but remain high, and deaths are averaging 16/day, with up to 30 (reported) in a single day, and it seems to still be rising (Bing tracker - state site). Again, the state's population is not even one million. What they have now is terrible, but it was about to become enormous, even there.

Joel Smalley and Dr. Siegel must be disappointed. Even in North Dakota, Burgum locks the people down and again it correlates with a dramatic rise in cases and deaths. Is there no end to this Communist plot?

I looked at the North Dakota's covid and all-causes deaths and compare them to New York state - minus New York City because that's how the CDC table I use lists it, and for a fairer comparison. There are some tallying issues here; New York's numbers per CDC are higher than I get subtracting NYC's dead from the state's total at Bing, while Bing lists considerably more deaths than the CDC for North Dakota. I haven't taken the time to sort that all out, so the comparison here may be skewed. Also the numbers for ND are so small it's hard to be sure about any pattern that seems to emerge, but ..., As of now, ND seems to have roughly or exactly caught up with 'the rest of New York' for COVID-19 fatalities, per capita - just over one in a thousand killed so far, or by week 42 ending Oct. 17. They've both gotten sharply worse sincer then, but the public data on that isn't clarified yet. 
* 12,134 COVID-19 deaths in NY aside from NYC (by CDC's numbers) = 1,091/m or 0.109%
* 824 in ND (by Bing's fuller-seeming numbers) = 1,081/m or 0.108%. (it's gone up 16 since the graphic: 840 now = 1,102/m. But NY's gone up too.)

Here are the numbers for those plotted covid deaths (red line). That's the same actual number, not population-adjusted. Any week where they have the same death toll is a week where North Dakotans died at 14.6 times the rate of New Yorkers (again excluding the even worse-hit New York City). They're close to equal these days, with North Dakota usually being lower, but sometimes higher. Right now (not sure how to get a comparable daily tally for NY), North Dakota might have hit triple digit deaths first. 

Expanding a bit to consider "non-covid" excess deaths: starting with natural causes rather than all causes, and calculating excess over same-week 2019 levels, New York aside from the city had 14,173 above 2019 levels up to week 42  (after that, the numbers are too incomplete to bother with). Using a baseline of 80 deaths/week below 2019 (a possibly high average level) adds 3,360 to w42 = 17,553 excess deaths, almost all of them probably due to COIVD-19, confirmed or not. Adjusted for population, that would be 1,577 per one million, or 0.158% dead up to week 42 ending October 17. 

Natural Causes excess for North Dakota: total to w42= 470 - more than the CD's total to then of 384 covid deaths, or Bing's 404, but not by much, considering the mini-spikes seen at weeks 10-12, 17/18 and 35 forward. The baseline here is hard to call, and I went with a mild 14/week from week 14, and just half that before. That would give 967 excess deaths to w42, which feels a bit too high. But then again the scale of unconfirmed deaths is unknown and it's had a normal-length spring and summer to add up. That would be 1,269/million, or 0.127% of North Dakotans killed by then. That's still better than New York, but of course it's gotten worse since. 

By my rough baseline-adjusted calculations, New York has had 30.8% of covid fatalities go un-noted (otherwise, it's less than that - or more if I did it low). That would be a bit on the good side of normal, where a U.S. average seems to be roughly 1/3 missed, or about 33%, and 50% or more missed is not uncommon; the U.K. seems close to that. Belarus, by apparent policy of counting low, misses perhaps 90% of its massive covid deaths (to be addressed in a future post). North Dakota looks good in contrast, but it seems they keep a bit looser track than in New York and have so far missed close to half of their deaths (probably less than the 58% I get comparing 967 excess to 404 covid). 

Anyway, we'll see who has the worse outcome as we move deeper into flu season, but I'll say it now: nice outcome there, Joel Smalley, MBA. That was just as stupid as the Trend Macro guy's correlation work.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

"Deaths of Despair" in the U.S.

Covid Deaths, Not Lockdown Deaths, part 4

"Deaths of Despair" in the U.S. 

November 18, 2020

As part 3 explained (will explain), any sizeable deaths caused by "lockdown" would be found under natural causes like heart disease, but mainly what we see there is a lot of apparently misdiagnosed COVID-19 fatalities, These are equal to around 50% of the virus deaths reported, or one in three goes unnoted, and the U.S. death toll may be over 400,000 already. Lockdowns, mask mandates, and other measures have kept that number from being even higher, but that's not to say they don't also have a heavy cost, including lives lost due to denied medical care and screening for a range of serious conditions. 

Yet attention has been grabbed by a smaller, more optional class of deaths - people who died from lockdown-related unemployment or social distancing, via suicide or fatal overdose. The former is highlighted as driven by loneliness and sheer desperation, while those who drink themselves to death or overdose might do so out of boredom and idiocy. All of them have a hand in their own deaths, yet previously existing mental conditions don't matter to the critics like medical ones do with covid - people who kill themselves died OF, not WITH lockdown, and they're sure the number is immense and set to grow.

There is little reason to doubt that deaths from both suicide and over-intoxication have increased with idleness, isolation, and depression, and there's various evidence to support it. Overdoses especially seem easy these days with all these opioids making the rounds. But the proportions are unclear, and can hardly compare to the other scales of fatality involved here; all non-natural deaths combined (suicide, homicide, other violence, accidents) are usually less than 10% of a yearly total, while >90% are from natural causes and, as part 3 showed, those are all in a general and massive elevation this year. 

But as an RT article warned back on May 7 Lockdown-inspired suicides on course to DWARF coronavirus deaths in Australia & in time, even in US – studies. This noted how President Donald Trump had "warned early on in the pandemic that there would be “suicides by the thousands” if prolonged economic shutdowns were imposed" over what he considered a harmless "kung-flu" that would soon vanish via "herd mentality." With such advice widely refused, the article foresaw "fallout looming on the horizon", citing an Australian professor's predictions of up to 1,500 extra suicides there by year's end - a 50% increase - and a dramatic increase already underway in Tennessee. 

Martin Armstrong / Armstrong Economics reported back on developments on September 6, claiming "there have been far more deaths from suicides and drug overdoses than from COVID-19," a claim he falsely attributes to the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). I'll come back to that below, but first, Armstrong whined "the leftist media will no doubt claim the CDC is wrong. The social media firms will scrub any mention that this COVID has been a hoax." With that set and the CDC's backing secured, Armstrong turned on the people "allegedly responsible for the rising death toll from destroying everyone’s future. ... Everyone should write to the Attorney General and demand a criminal investigation into Zucker, Gates, Soros, Schwab, and of course Fauci." 

On June 16, James Lucas at the Federalist alerted readers Research Finds Lockdowns Are Far Worse For Health And Lives Than Coronavirus. Mainly, he was worried about unemployment caused by all the stay-at-home orders and business closures:

"[U]nemployment has very deleterious effects on public health, particularly due to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. ... Unemployment also adversely affects mental health ... directly increases mortality by increasing suicides. ... Extended unemployment can reduce average life span by up to two years. Applying that to the more than 40 million unemployed in the United States right now and the results are frightening."

Of course circumstances will vary, and it will be quite stressful for some workers, and especially for many business owners. But usually such job-related anxiety comes from loss of income, while in many if not most cases, pandemic relief ensured unemployment benefits at 100% for lockdown-related temporary layoffs. Some people including myself enjoyed a fully paid "staycation" and have been back to work for a while now, no worse for the wear. 

75,000 "Deaths of Despair" in the U.S. - a desperate distortion

One study Mr. Lucas cited found that being unemployed was historically “associated with a twofold to threefold increased relative risk of death by suicide,” while the current situation was worse, not better; "an even more recent study has put the increase in lockdown-related “deaths of despair” at 75,000 in the United States alone." That's an astounding claim. An increase over normal levels of 75,000 would account for all the non-covid excess deaths to that time (around 50,000, non-adjusted) and then account half of them a second time, with no help from any other cause.

Let's examine the claim. This would be suicides and drug-alcohol overdose, with "despair" likely just presumed as universal. This data is usually delayed 1-2 years before release, but for reference: 
* In 2018, some 48,000 people died from suicide in the United States (CDC)
* In 2019, almost 71,000 people died from drug overdoses. (CNN

These numbers should be fairly similar year to year, so we could plug them into 2020 and have a decent idea what to expect otherwise. I hear both are rising each year, but let's skip that here to let lockdown have a try at explaining any increase.  They total 119,000, with about 40% suicide and 60% OD. In context, that 75,000 would be about 30,000 EXTRA suicides by early July (atop some 48,000 expected all-year), and 45,000 people who drank/shot up too much and died in that same span, beyond the usual yearly number around 71,000. 

That seems faintly possible, but something says they calculated high or, as it turns out, the findings were misrepresented, maybe by accident. As the linked press release explains "new research released by Well Being Trust (WBT) and the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care" predicts "as many as 75,000 more people will die from drug or alcohol misuse and suicide." Lucas made it sound like that was an estimate of the actual deaths so far, but it's the high end of an estimated range of future deaths over an unclear timespan, anticipating ... hold on ... 

Here's the report, direct PDF link. A key issue is increase in mortality per one point rise in unemployment (is it 1%, 1.3% or 1.6%?) and rate of economic recovery. "the negative impact of isolation and uncertainty" suggested the highest increase in mortality (1.6%) would apply, as it did in the Great Depression. With a slow recovery (Same as Great Depression) they estimate that would cause up to 154,000 deaths of despair, but spaced out over a span of 10 years, and apparently with little mitigation possible in the meantime. 

A fast recovery would take 4 years, as the report considers it, and at just 1% mortality increase, might drive as few as 27,644 to the grave in the end. The number 75,000 doesn't come up, but is similar to medium recovery at +1.6% mortality and 80,735 deaths of despair over 7 years. 14,932 of those were estimated by the end of 2020. Now that sounds plausible, as far as I know. 

119,000 despair deaths annually could be split into 29,000 per quarter, except for the last quarter getting 32,000 (holidays increase suicide). The lockdown period in question is roughly second quarter, so around 29,000 deaths normally. I could see a full doubling of the rate for an extra 29,000 deaths, though that seems high. I'll defer to the WBT/Graham Center report that predicted a total of 14,932 such deaths by the end of 2020. Even if we put all those in the acute lockdown span in question, that would be a roughly 50% increase over the expected 29k - 15,000, not 75,000. I'll plot this out below.

A 50% increase is apparently kind of extreme. The cited RT article noted "In the best-case scenario, suicide rates will increase 25 percent, Professor Ian Hickie predicted, observing that 40 percent of those would be among young people. If the Australian economy continues to deteriorate, suicide rates could increase 50 percent." Someone more expert than me trying to raise alarm predicts 25% and maybe 50% increases, and the WBT/Graham Center report doing the same proposes something close to or less than 50%. So in my plotting below, I'm more than fair in considering 50% and 75% increases in the U.S. and still finding the alarmist claims fail even my lenient plausibility test. First though - why I "claim the CDC is wrong" or, as it turns out, was misrepresented.

Redfield's Comments: True?

Center for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield has been widely cited for his statements on July 14 that "We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID. " That's a direct quote from a fairly balanced article with some detail, which I'll mainly cite below: CDC Director Compares Rate of Suicides to COVID-19 Deaths, by Micaela Burrow, Town Hall, July 28. See also National Review.

Armstrong Economics for one was less balanced, reporting sloppily: "The Director of the CDC has come out and bluntly stated that there have been far more deaths from suicides and drug overdoses than from COVID-19," as in comparative totals to date. But Redfield was clear it's something "we're seeing ... now," at a moment when covid deaths had been brought much lower than they had been or would be. In fact he may have meant to make a dual point that covid was brought so low it was even lower than the increased self-endings now on par.

His exact meaning is otherwise a bit unclear. For example, were there "far greater suicides" and "far greater deaths from drug overdose" - as it sounds - or did the two combined outstrip covid? As I'll show below, that makes more sense by the data. Michael Thau seems to get the "now" aspect, but decided "Even Redfield admits lockdowns are now killing at least two times the number of Americans as COVID-19," exceeding it "by far" once for suicides, once again for ODs. (Head of CDC Admits Lockdown Killing Way More Americans Than COVID! Urges Masks. When Will These People Be Held Accountable for the Carnage They've Caused? Redstate.com, July 27, 2020) 

COVID-19 was killing around 500-700 a day at the time, so that's at least 1,000-1,400 lockdown deaths per day suggested between the two causes. The stats used here yield a normal rate of ~128 suicides and 192 ODs per day, or ~320 combined, as an expected norm. Thau's reading would be around four time the normal rate, while data and realistic predictions suggest more like 1.5 times at most. 

Several articles (including Thau, above) cite Redfield's comments as applying to all Americans, but that makes little sense even at early-mid-July's lower death rate, let alone compared to the masses of mortality seen in April. And he specified this is a "cost that we’ve seen, particularly in high schools," and perhaps only to there to the cited degree. At the time, schools were closed as normal for summer break, but had been closed for lockdown prior to that, and re-opening in the fall was a big question Redfield was addressing. 

Overdosing-overdrinking and suicide are always top killers for teenagers - a promising but moody segment with overall low mortality, and especially low COVID-19 mortality. It is logical that the situation had increased those tendencies, plausibly even doubling the relevant rates for this demographic. Yet all ages and all pandemic phases considered, COVID-19 has definitely killed far, far more people this year than all such deaths combined, normal and excess, and was probably outstripping them both even in early July. But "probably" is boring, so let's have a look. 

Suicide-OD estimated norm (as mentioned above) = ~29,000 each quarter (13 weeks). Lockdown measures began variously from the end of week 12 and more widely in week 14. If we start lockdown counting at week 14 to week 26, that's a full second quarter and covers the span to lowest covid deaths Redfield likely referred to. Plotting this in: 
* 29,000 divided by 13 weeks = 2,231 weekly average.
* at 50% elevation: 43,500 = 3,346 weekly av
* at 75% elevation: 50,750 = 3,904 weekly av
* of course the real numbers would vary more, maybe about normal in some spots, and up past 75% in others. The slight wiggle I added to the green lines was just for effect, so it looks like plotted data and not part of the scale.

This finds that if a 75% increase was in effect at weeks 25 and 26, they would exceed COVID-19 deaths slightly (by about 100 each week), for those two weeks only. And recall lockdown isn't responsible for all of those, just the smaller half in excess of normal (the 75% in a 175% situation). So the data suggests Redfield might be referring to a real but remarkable fact, covid deaths were briefly outstripped by elevated deaths of despair, underlining the need he was addressing - to relax controls, get schools re-opened, etc., while keeping the virus reined in so those covid deaths could stay low. 


Burrow at Town Hall noted "Where Redfield obtained his data is unknown ... health authorities will not have verified data regarding suicides and drug overdoses in 2020 for two more years." One CDC source says "For deaths due to external causes of death [including suicide, accident] or unknown cause, provisional data are highly unreliable and inaccurate in recent weeks, and it can take six to nine months to ensure sufficiently accurate estimates," while another says "Upward trends in other causes of death (e.g., suicide, drug overdose, heart disease) may contribute to excess deaths in some jurisdictions." But in general, these deaths are most likely not even reflected in the data we have, or only in small part - which would mean deaths of despair explain very little or none of the excess we have numbers to fret over. 

We may have yet to see how many extra thousands actually killed themselves due to lockdown. Even a 25% average increase for quarter 2 seems high to me, but if it ever hit 75 (as Redfield's comments suggest at weeks 25 and 26), then it may be too low. Let's say 30-35% = 8,700-10,150 extra deaths.  The 2nd quarter should be less acute in this regard as activity increased and much work resumed, But economic issues may still drive an increase of 10-20% = 2,900-5,800.  There may have been even more, or less, but a fair and broad estimated range might be 11,600 to 15,950 "deaths of despair" so far. 

Meanwhile, a somewhat reined-in COVID-19 has actually caused the bulk of overall U.S. mortality that, up to mid-November, is surely past 320,000, and may be as high as 405,000 (see here). All-causes mortality in the entire United States increased to at least 45% in the peak of deaths at week 15 (ending April 11), largely because New York State (including NYC) saw up to 416% its normal fatalities that same week (4,663 to 1,952 in 2019), because New York City saw 746% the usual deaths (7,863 vs. 1,054 in 2019). Importantly: that peak was kept from being higher and later because of lockdown, etc. As always, it gets its spike shape - narrow peak with a solid and sharp downslope - over the few weeks following a successful lockdown. Otherwise it would be just the lower upslope of a big, fat mountain, as shown above in orange and brown. The actual number is hard to say and depends on what else exactly would have happened. But it must be a comparable number - maybe much lower (50%?), equal, or twice as high. That puts it anywhere between 160,000 and 800,000 Americans who might have died by now but haven't. 

And I concede, these measures also contributed heavily to probably at least 11,600 additional self-cancellations in the last 6 months, and possibly over 16,000. Seeing that trade-off does give pause and reminds us of the need for balance, a chance the lockdown critics largely squandered.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

COVID 19's Evil Twin, LUMPIN 20

Covid Deaths, Not Lockdown Deaths part 2

COVID 19's Evil Twin, LUMPIN 20 (Long version)*
(slightly rough, over-complete, rev. likely)

October 21, 2020

updated Nov. 23

*(in case there's a short version - probably not - mainly just to say sorry this goes on so long)

U.K. Excess Deaths: Caused by the Virus or the Controls?

The global SARS CoV-2 / COVID 19 * pandemic has witnessed massively elevated mortality, with  often-massive deaths attributed to the virus, and at the same time, large and disputed rise in supposedly non-covid deaths. This was especially high and prolonged in the U.K., as I considered in some detail here. The graphing below is worth including again here for reference. 

* I'm not the only one who's been confused: SARS CoV-2 is the virus named for a syndrome ... similar to the syndrome it causes ... which is called COVID 19 - a syndrome named for that virus, under its alt. name - COronaVIrus Disease (novel in 20)19. Does that make sense? Do I even have the hyphenation right now? Whatever. I'll often use "covid" as shorthand. 

Here the blue bars show average daily deaths in England and Wales (weekly totals divided by 7) as they compare to a 3-year average for each week. Some variance is down to these being "estimates" - apparently real numbers, but reporting and time lags of certain basic sizes are known and guess-corrected for - something like that. Iit didn't work perfectly this year, with some weeks oddly low then high to catch up, etc. I also mark in magenta a low-flu yearly baseline that seems more applicable than the average, and daily COVID 19 deaths (all U.K., before and after a count change in England in red vs. blue), and a timeline of control measures and SARS CoV-2 infections.

All-causes deaths vary on an amazing scale, rising from about 1,000/week below average to massively above it. In week 16, there were an estimated 22,351 deaths in England and Wales, compared to a 9,640 3-year average (or a 10,497 5-year average per ONS). That's 213% to 232% as many as usual. Week 17 was also well above 200%, with weeks 14, 15, and 18 fairly close to it. (also noting: I messed up the dates on which weeks end in the UK's system - weeks 16 would end on April 17, not 19, and so on.)

The steep curve of COVID 19 deaths is a U.K. total, including smaller numbers from Scotland and Northern Ireland, and yet only account for a slight majority of this mortality mountain, which again is just in in England and Wales (England alone is a huge majority of UK pop.). The rest of these deaths - besides whatever excess there was in the rest of the kingdom - require an explanation. 

Only two significant things had been added to the picture - the virus, and the control measures against it, including "lockdown." As soon as it was possible, a debate emerged over which was more to blame for all that death. Many independent and otherwise-sharp minds have pinned most or all of it on the latter. 

For example, some point to deaths rising after lockdown as showing it was to blame. But In fact, as part 1 showed, the pattern of overall deaths - in the UK and just about everywhere - follows the curve of covid ones almost exactly, as seen above and even more clearly in most cases. In 4 major cities and a province that I checked (Madrid, New York, London, Paris, and Guayas, Ecuador), overall excess deaths only pile up badly for about 20 days after lockdown and decline steadily from there. Here: London, with the slowest response of the five, peaking only at day 21. The original analysis conveniently misplaced lockdown markers (red bars) by one week, forcing many deaths preceding it to appear as if they came after it ... as if caused by it, as argued. Huh.

The span I used there - 20-33 days - isn't crucial. It's the way the results line up so close to that 20 end that was so interesting. As noted in part 1, that's the early end of the span I estimate it takes for long-struggling fatalities to die, following on an infection just before lockdown. The median for that should be somewhere in the early middle of 20-33 days, but quite a few earlier, relatively sudden deaths are expected, and would offset the center of this spread - perhaps to just the 18-21 days that kept coming up. 

This consistent pattern alone suggests the lockdown worked, by keeping peak deaths from being higher and later. And in the same stroke, it suggests that the clear bulk of those other-causes deaths were yet more virus deaths that were simply never verified, and classed wrongly as something else. How? 

Besides its immediate pneumonia-like illness, COVID 19 is known to cause damage to the heart and blood vessels, lungs, kidneys, neurological system, and more. Numerous conditions involving these are the same co-morbidities most covid fatalities have (in more detail below). Some will suffocate during the immediate illness, while others will pull thorough that only to die soon after from the new and old damage combined. 

In cases where the virus kills without being confirmed, adequately suspected, etc. to be identified, the person might be listed as dying from a mysterious pneumonia, or have the known and relevant co-morbidity get the entire blame. If that happened to any serious degree, you would see unusual elevations of those death causes, roughly corresponding with deaths from the virus. And as I'll begin to show in this article, this is just what's seen in the UKI've already shown it in the United States, overall and more clearly in some hard-hit states. Widespread and often fatal organ damage has been noted widely already, and in time it will be known as a heavy cost of the pandemic we were slow to recognize. 

The U.K. Office of National Statistics (ONS) has now issued two reports on "non-COVID 19" deaths in the UK (mainly England and Wales): early August overview  - old version from June. These were able to make a solid case based on data that quite a few virus deaths went misdiagnosed as other causes, which are notable elevated in just the patterns to suggest that. For example, they explain:

"Deaths involving COVID-19 could have been recorded as non-COVID-19 deaths if the person had a severe underlying condition that was exacerbated by COVID-19. This could include deaths due to conditions such as chronic lower respiratory disease, dementia and Alzheimer disease and "symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions", possibly where pneumonia has been mentioned as a contributory factor on the death certificate because of the similarity."

They suggest a "severe underlying condition," but I don't see why the same couldn't happen with a moderate or mild one, or none at all, where the virus has the main or exclusive part. All a condition needs to be blamed is to be listed, with it partner in crime left undetected. And ONS stats agree the 4th most common class of co-morbidity for COVID 19 (see below) is "No pre-existing condition" - in some cases it's unknown or simply doesn't exist.

The ONS reports also notes that, while some deaths will be "related to undiagnosed COVID-19," others "could suggest a delay in care for these conditions," - much service was disrupted and curtailed "as the healthcare system adapts to ensure it has capacity to treat COVID-19 patients."  

A fuller picture will take longer for some deaths with delayed reporting to come in, but all considered, they found as of early May:

"There is not enough evidence to suggest the other theories investigated can explain much of the increase in non-COVID-19 death registrations; these other explanations were reduced hospital capacity and increases in deaths caused by stress-related conditions."

More on these reports and this subject below. First, I found these ONS reports via critic who argued against that conclusion, blaming denied medical care and murkier causes combined, all essentially blamed on a disastrous U.K. lockdown.

Anti-Fascist Resistance?

With his website "In This Together," Englishman Iain Davis claims to fight for the infected and the susceptible alike against what might be the biggest plot ever. "So-called western democracies have copied the Chinese model of technocracy to create a single biosecurity State" or, as he also puts it, an emergent "global fascist dictatorship." 

Davis seems to share in a widespread impression that the virus is a harmless part of nature's balance, while human measures will be sinister, almost by definition. His reading has led him to feel "COVID 19 is not a high impact infectious disease, it has low mortality rates and is absolutely comparable to influenza. It isn’t even clear that is can be identified as a disease at all." ( Covid World - Resist! ) So why else do the corrupt authorities all claim otherwise? There must be an ulterior motive, right? 

All considered, I think Davis is a genuine good guy at heart. But he's not the clearest thinker, and is currently mired in some deep confusion that's not to his credit. So I'll just be brutally blunt about that.

It's implied that nearly all world governments, including staunch enemies like China and the United States, Russia and the UK, Israel and Iran, and all their relevant doctors and health experts and responsible officials at every level of government have been co-opted somehow into acting on this huge plot. Or perhaps in ignorance they help exaggerate the viral threat as a pretext to re-make society. From Wuhan to Tehran and London, from Bergamo to the Bronx, Madrid to Moscow, Washington, Caracas and Copenhagen, Helsinki and Havana, Riyadh and Tel Aviv, etc. ... the parasitic global elites all started killing their people right off with their business closures and ruthless stay-at-home orders, to be followed with behavior-modifying mask orders

My main focus here is Davis' June 13 article "Lockdown Regime Deaths and the True Cost of LOKIN-20" (In This Togetherre-published at Off-Guardian), regarding the British experience. Elevated deaths in the United Kingdom "correspond with the lockdown regime," he notes, before exploring some other details and finally assuring his readers "there is no doubt that the Lockdown regime has resulted in the unnecessary deaths" of  what he ultimately claims to be more than half of all above-average and Covid deaths up to June.  

"Sadly, it appears the UK State are intent upon continuing their Lockdown regime. In all likelihood this policy has already led to the premature deaths of more than 34,000 British people. Unfortunately that figure is set to rise."

That was Davis's warning in mid-June. In fact overall fatalities were falling and near average as he wrote. They fell to below average shortly thereafter, and stayed there for weeks, even for a while after lockdown was ended and the pubs re-opened on 4 July. Above we can see from weeks 25 to 32 is where it's low (again, subtract 2 days on the timeline). The first part of this span, to week 28, is the second half of the "lockdown regime," where virus, the controls, and all else combined anti-kill, compared to usual. I've seen lockdown critics puzzle over this anomaly, suspecting the numbers are fake, and another sign of a mass deception. But this time sees Covid confirmed deaths dipping to 0-9 per day, alongside relaxed controls. Lockdown, strictly defined, was over. 

Then as many refused to have their behavior "modified" by wearing a "useless" mask, infected people were able to spread the mild, flu-like virus wider than they would. Maybe in a coincidence, all-causes deaths crept back to and above average, as barely shown above, hitting significant excess again in weeks 33-37 and nearing it again in weeks 39-40. COVID 19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths had climbed slowly over this time as well, getting a bit ominous by mid-September. 

Only then was was a second round of lockdown threatened and even implemented in places. Now in mid October there are 100-125 deaths per day and rising, from infections 2-3 weeks go. Higher deaths will come from the current 1,000 hospitalizations/day, and rising. Higher yet is promised by current confirmed cases, risen to to about 20,000 per day. Unconfirmed infections ... unclear but surely massive, despite more widespread testing now. All-causes mortality, non-covid and past-28d covid: expected to swell again. (my post on that, FWIW - not that good so far, if ever - needs updated)

Davis and his ilk will probably dispute these new deaths as caused by the lockdown. So let's have a look at how that was argued the first time. 

How Lockdown is Said to Kill

Naturally, any shift on such a huge scale, with enforceable stay-at-home orders, massive closures, and so on is likely to cause some deaths that wouldn't happen otherwise. Depending how it's done, it might cause others it was never bound to cause. Such deaths definitely exist, proportion unclear but well worth considering, as I will in another post, took a quick stab at with this graphic and tweet, and will consider briefly now. 

So yes, lockdowns and related measures have very high costs - primarily economic, sometimes immediately fatal. There can be little doubt an excess of idleness, isolation, and depression would lead to increased fatalities from suicide, and from drug and alcohol abuse. And domestic violence, fatal and not, seems to have increased. But the scale of these deaths should be quite small, proportionally. For example in the gun-toting, car-crashing USA, natural causes still account for at least 90% of all deaths, even in a normal year (it's far higher in 2020, including COVID 19 and unexplained elevation of several top killers like heart diseases, Alzheimer's, and cerebrovascular disease). Less than 10% of deaths are from traffic and other accidents, domestic and other violence, starvation, drowning, suffocation, etc. combined. Even a 100% increase in one of these categories hardly makes a difference, statistically speaking.

And the detested control measures are also bound to prevent at least some deaths that would otherwise happen.  Davis and his ilk tend to gloss over that as possible, banishing balance from their assessments. But it's obvious on reflection that, if measures had been lesser or later, there might have been tens of thousands - possibly even hundreds of thousands - of further confirmed COVID 19 deaths. And there might have been around 40-80% as many unconfirmed ones along the way. Whatever excess or imbalance may exist in these policies, the solution would require a clear-eyed assessments of the threat posed by SARS CoV-2. 

Davis's analysis didn't get hung up on the possible lives saved by U.K. lockdown, nor on the smaller-scale costs like increased overdose deaths. He stuck to the costs only, and wisely focused on the larger - and more disputable - effects one might expect from diminished hospital care. He pointed to the ONS report from June (as linked above) and its suggestion of covid death mixed into the non-covid ones. For that I have him to thank - I hadn't noticed the report before. But he was critical of that notion, instead focusing on and magnifying the report's consideration of lockdown and related measures likely contributing to the death toll as well.

I've heard many lockdown opponents claim UK policy forced COVID 19 patients from empty hospitals into nursing homes where they spread it and killed many. That might be, and/or refusing to accept patients - I still haven't looked much into the details of that. But either way, the ONS reports confirm all kinds of admissions, treatments, and deaths occurred far less in hospitals as they spiked badly in care homes and private homes. That seems to start at week 15 ending April 10, just before the peak of covid deaths. The first report noted the same issue as well, with a bland and likely incomplete explanation: "As the healthcare system adapts to ensure it has capacity to treat COVID-19 patients, some facilities may be less available because of COVID-19 and care for other diseases may be reduced."

I'd need to look into this a bit more to say, but this could be a genuine dark side similar to disturbing euthanasia policies in Sweden, at least (I've heard lockdown opponents claim similar happened in Madrid and in New York as well). Some people were just given up on, given some morphine and left to die. But in general, something like this is more likely to be a decision of grim necessity, maybe carried too far in some cases. If so ... in Sweden alone the necessity was invited by government policy and, if Tegnell et al. are to be believed, some gross lack of foresight. 

Anyway, wherever such a course is taken, many infected people would be left to die with no help. However, it may be the vast majority of them couldn't be saved; priority might've been given to those with the best odds, as the Swedes were clear in doing. To do much past that - in England - might continue the terrible overload of the hospital system, and infect even more of the crucial medical staff along the way. In fact, between NHS staff, paramedics, and social care workers, more than 620 reportedly died from COVID 19 by August, most of them in the early days before this controversial policy, when hospitals were swamped with infectious patients and running out of protective gear. (The Independent). 

Davis points to a drastic drop in admissions to the hospital emergency room (A&E) in this time; "both general A&E presentations and those for heart attacks were down by half." This might ignore how admissions were down 50% from an unsustainable 220% of the norm in the days before that, as thousands of paramedics, nurses and doctors were infected in the process, hundreds of them bound to die. He also noted slowed ambulance response as likely adding to the death toll. 

Perhaps more relevant: "crucial surgery and diagnostic tests, for a range of other serious conditions, have been delayed in huge numbers," Davis accurately points out. Exact details aside, he might be right that "treatment and essential screening has effectively been withheld" for all five of the U.K.'s five top killers (aside from a novel virus this year). As cited and generally agreed, these are: 

* Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

* Ischaemic heart diseases

* Cerebrovascular diseases

* Chronic lower respiratory diseases

* Influenza and pneumonia 

We'll come back to these and other co-morbidities below and, as we'll see, the bulk of officially "non-covid" deaths are listed as dying primarily from these same causes as they claimed far more lives than usual. Davis had that fact ready, and the denied treatment and screening cause explained, yet he made little use of it. Maybe he realized that wouldn't make much sense to explain so many deaths in such short order. Maybe it even struck him that they might wind up weakening his case against lockdowns, or even flipping that case upside-down by suggesting SARS CoV-2 was to blame.

Only one of these causes is specified as elevated: "Cardiovascular disease kills nearly 170,000 people every year in the UK. With an average mortality of 460 deaths per day, a 50% drop in presentations, over the nearly three months long Lockdown regime period, has and will significantly increase mortality from cardiovascular disease." Here he specifies lockdown already "has" increased cardiovascular deaths caused by reduced care, but he doesn't give any kind of estimated figure. But as an ONS table below shows, the leading part of that (ischaemic heart diseases) was increasing before any lockdown or changes in medical service, just about as covid deaths were rising, and then peaked and declined at about the same time as them. The continuing deaths projected over the months have yet to materialize.

The second ONS report's figure 10 shows numerous "Conditions which can quickly become fatal if not treated in time" rising dramatically in weeks 11-18, and that some "have continued to appear above five-year average levels during Weeks 19 to 28." In particular, "symptoms signs and ill-defined conditions," diabetes, and hypertensive diseases remained well above average. No causes are worse then they had been - all had the greatest deaths during the time of massive covid deaths (known and unknown), so it remains hard to untangle the excessive demand aspect from the limited supply aspect. All those shown had improved in the following weeks. Dementia-Alzheimer's in particular - likely the far-and-away top contributor by numbers - had deaths fall  to almost exactly average from 140-145% over in w11-18. 

I'd wager most of these rates only improved further after this, and have only worsened again in recent weeks, amid the second wave of COVID 19 infections.

The first ONS report says the effects of diminished treatment "might be most apparent in long-term serious diseases where delayed treatment increases mortality within a period of weeks, including renal failure and cancers with a moderate rate of survival." Just the two relevant death causes are mentioned - neither in the top 5. The report's figure 15 shows how both have overall level increases at week 14,  and from there on they have less hospital deaths, and increased ones at care homes and private homes. 

The cancers will include a few kinds, so it's hard to say if the virus might amplify these deaths. And their overall levels seem barely affected, despite the alarming rise seen outside hospitals. We see only a tiny rise at week 14 and forward, possibly due just to decreased care. But renal failure is especially high, passing well over 200% normal outside hospitals, and peaking - for 3 weeks in a row - at about 140% above average altogether. And this might well be elevated by COVID 19; kidney damage has been noted following known infections, should do the same for unknown ones, and of course the time-frame is consistent.

There's more on this aspect, but I moved it below. First, a bit on what else Davis does to try and assign more blame to lockdown and less to the virus.

LUMPIN 20 And Re-Branding the Dead

"Unless there is some unknown pathogen ravaging the nation," Davis wrote in June, "what remains are excess deaths which correspond precisely with the Lockdown regime period."  We know what caused that, after causing widespread confirmed infections and associated deaths, and the high case-fatality ratios between these. We know it also caused enormous unknown infections, driving down the actual infection-fatality ratio (IFR), as generally calculated. 

And we should suspect it caused at least moderate unknown deaths along the way (an important factor, then, to set a real IFR). That would be the "unknown pathogen" ruining his "unless there is" construct. But Davis rules that out from the start, and declares "we don’t have any other explanation for this loss of life," and since "all deaths occurred during the Lockdown," he decided "We will call this LOKIN 20 mortality." 

"We" is a group not including me. His "LOKIN 20" ... syndrome is it? ... is by name an inversion of COVID 19, where "LOcK-IN" somehow kills even more than the virus. I'll be talking about this quite a bit, but we'll call it LUMPIN 20: he makes some specific arguments to move as many fatalities as possible into his category of possible lockdown deaths. But as I'll show, it's an ill-defined catch-all for any deaths caused by lockdown-related policies, and any others - including covid deaths - he can raise any specific questions about. The questions don't even need to be good ones. All this simply LUMPed IN is what Davis proudly puts a very big number on, and pretends that means something. 

While counts vary some, Davis used a figure recently publicized by the BBC of 63,708 above-average deaths in the UK up to then. "With 50,107 deaths allegedly attributed to COVID 19," (as it was then reported - revised down since), he explains "the BBC report 13,601 LOKIN 20 deaths." Here Lokin = excess deaths of all non-covid causes. As we've seen, these primarily happened in weeks 13-17, early in the lockdown. The later revision removed nearly 5,400 deaths past 28 days in England, arguably giving Davis the same number he could add as lumpin, by that same token. He could now claim almost 19,000 - but only by adding people who had COVID 19 and died quite soon after - mainly within 60 days - and so were statistically unlikely to be killed by anything much but the virus. So LUMPIN 20 would include 5,400 almost certain covid deaths. It already includes far more than this, so why not?

Next, he turned to the deaths "allegedly attributed to COVID 19." He finds, reasonably enough, that "approximately 95% of COVID 19 decedents have at least one other serious comorbidity," as if this is new or matters. Another "9,510 were identified by symptoms alone" and/or compelling context, so "it is not clear how many of these deaths can legitimately be attributed to COVID 19." The numbers he considers writing off  are immense. But in particular, he found a few more specific questions he used to re-brand nearly half of these as ambiguous enough to claim as more fatalities of the "lockdown regime". So LUMPIN 20 also means COVID 19 plus some debatable ambiguities.

"where and both pneumonia & influenza are also mentioned on the death certificate, it cannot be objectively determined that these deaths were from COVID 19." Davis writes "For weeks 14 to 22 the ONS report that 37.3% of all COVID 19 deaths also mentioned both pneumonia and influenza," maybe in a sense of first guess, second opinion, best-informed diagnosis or confirmed test saying Covid 19. And he thinks "diagnosis is by observation alone" in a lot of those cases, and so he concludes "it is not reasonable to claim these deaths were from COVID 19." ... "While we don’t know the distribution of these deaths between those identified by test results and those identified merely by symptom, we can reasonable state that at least 3,547 of the 9,510 symptom diagnosis were inconclusive." (he doesn't know how many, but it's 9,510?) 

Since it can't be all three, it's probably not the one, or it's inconclusive, anyway. Adding this to "the BBC's" all unexplained excess deaths, he decides "his leaves us with potential LOKIN 20 mortality figure of 17,148." (emphasis mine). 

Finally, "There is a significant problem with claiming that a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2 proves that the patient was suffering from COVID 19," the resultant disease or syndrome. Many of those infected  are asymptomatic, and "this means they have the virus, not necessarily the resultant syndrome of COVID 19." They're at least sometimes contagious, perhaps leading to other peoples' deaths, but "without COVID 19 they don’t have a disease that will impact their health." They don't have any symptoms, suffer no damage, and therefore any sudden turn in their health resulting in a swift death might be some sort of coincidence, and should be fairly rare on the timescale involved. 

It's hard to see how Davis could subtract many covid deaths by discounting infected people who died despite suffering no illness. But he uses some averaging to decide "42.5% of positive test cases" are asymptomatic, and "This means that 17,211 of the claimed 40,497 COVID 19 deaths ... are unlikely to have had COVID 19." (emphasis mine) That's quite a leap. Nearly a third of those people who died after testing positive - falsely or truly - must have not had the disease at all. They died in a massive crush due to some other coincidence  ... that ... hey, just might be from the lockdown, the lumpin, whatever. It was something more contagious or coincidental, and even more symptomatic (deadly) than COVID 19, and targeting people who also tested positive for that, and almost entirely in the early days and weeks of the lockdown "regime," as pre-lockdown infections were still dying. It was LUMPIN 20. 

"Added to the potential 17,148 LOKIN 20 deaths already noted," Davis concluded, "it appears LOKIN 20 accounts for at least 34,359 of the 63,708 deaths reported by the BBC" - and not just potentially - it's apparent now. That's well over half the total excess deaths in the U.K.. He'll suspect others in there also belong, but since he couldn't be quite so rigorous about all of them, it would be hard to set a number and lump them in properly. At least 53.9% of all covid-and-above-average fatalities up to June, killed by that ill-defined cluster of real causes, doubts, and ignorance we call LUMPIN 20. COVID 19 and anything else combined only "legitimately" killed 46.1% of them, at most.

He also makes a tentative case - already amplified into a fact by some - to suggest far less covid deaths and more lumpin ones, but without claiming explicit numbers. As noted above, some 95% of deaths had pre-existing conditions. He expanded on this: "Using ONS data for England and Wales we can calculate an estimate of the likely percentage of deaths that were genuinely attributable to COVID 19. We can then apply these percentages to the figures reported by the BBC to extrapolate estimates for the UK."

Covid patients who actually died from co-morbidities acting alone (??): 24,419

"Genuinely attributable" to COVID 19: 1,318.

The questioned deaths are surely above average expected death rates for every class, and incredibly far above for most of them. "In this together" floats this argument hardly any deaths were "genuinely attributable to COVID 19," belying control measures to "save more lives" when hardly any were really lost - to the virus. But that opens a question that's easy enough to answer; in this roundabout way he blames the same measures for some 95% of those killed (in the sense lockdown = LUMPIN 20 = all disputable deaths) . What a genuinely sick joke of a concept.

But then Davis didn't really go that far, taking a more reasonable course of claiming only the larger half of all excess deaths (at least) based on this basic deniability plus any other question he could find. In review, Iain Davis' LUMIN 20 mortality as of mid-June:

* 20,758 total Covid deaths (officially, and he concedes some might have died from it, it's just inconclusive)

** 17,211 estimated to never have had covid (might admit estimate could be off - estimate makes no sense - how many can have no symptoms and then die of whatever else - that's lockdown-related - on this short a scale?)

** 3,547 that are inconclusive (might have had it, but I/P also mentioned)

* all 13,601 non-covid excess deaths to June (regardless of cause or details)

= 34,359 total

This will read as reasonable to many poor thinkers in allowing for perhaps half of overall excess deaths to be from COVID 19. But unlike the virus, Davis feared lockdown was set to keep killing for years to come with the unavoidable damage it has unleashed. He probably thinks England has natural herd immunity by now, and always did, and so did everyone, or whatever.

So he doesn't have the best overall thought process. But he's right that lockdown etc. will have caused some deaths, and we still have an enormous number of unexpected deaths caused by something, which I'd like to come back to. 

What Kind of Excess Deaths? 

Timeframe and Age Brackets

No infection picked up during lockdown is likely to explain the accelerating deaths witnessed in its first month, unless one wants to argue it spreads better through walls than through inches of air. A contagious illness that hit them about 2-3 weeks earlier - mainly prior to lockdown - is not just possible but, as I'll show, all but certain. But Davis doesn't suggest that - perhaps because the illness would probably be Covid 19, which he labors to absolve of these deaths.

So the mystery forces behind LUMPIN 20 should no be a contagion. But they worked in the same time-frame; as the graphic above shows, weekly all-causes deaths (in England and Wales) increase from below to far above average just as covid deaths are rising, prior to lockdown. They peak about 3 weeks out from lockdown, about a week after virus deaths peaked, and then fall with them from there. That alone suggests that the solid majority of these deaths were caused by COVID 19.

Further, data from the European Mortality Monitoring project (EUROMOMO) shows the people dying across most of Europe, even beyond those killed by SARS CoV-2, are primarily elderly, just like the virus kills. Those in England include more in the 15-44 bracket than usual (most likely with 95% of those in their 30s and 40s). But other member states - notably Spain - also have more younger deaths than many would expect,. This trend that has gradually increased over the pandemic, and from the way it spreads between age groups, is likely due to the ups and downs of the virus in question and the varied learning curves regarding it. The younger vulnerable people aged under 59 - and especially in the 30s and 40s - often fail to realize the danger and/or simply can't afford to avoid it well enough (they aren't retired, have to jump in the fray going to work every day). And so excess deaths across Europe are increasingly young - especially but not exclusively in England, and especially in the East Midlands of England (see here). 

Public Health England made a switch, back in mid-August, to match the rest of the UK (and just who else I should find out) in counting covid deaths only to 28 days past confirmation. Those who die before then, whatever the cause (including car crash, etc. - likely very few) are listed as virus deaths. But ... when they die even directly from the virus on day 29 or later, they're not listed as covid victims, except on a list where they still are (several tallies are still kept by different agencies). 

With a bit of work, I was able to show how, in England, those with Covid who live past 28 days wind up dying, on average, at several times the usual rate: 8x English average at last view, up to 14x before that, maybe just 4-5x normal by now. Combined deaths have been below normal while the very many covid survivors die well above, so to average out, everyone who's avoided infection fares far better under the lockdown reign of terror. Why does lockdown or whatever target COVID 19 patients so heavily, and give the rest of the populace such a break?

Returning to unconfirmed deaths: ... we do see Covid-linked death causes seeming to kill on their own but at elevated levels, at the same time deaths linked to the virus are the highest. The ONS reports on "non-covid 19" deaths in the UK (mainly England and Wales) - the links again: early August overview - and old version from June cited by Davis.

The older report page now links to the new one as preferred, and that was able to show more of the post-lockdown effect in various ways. For one thing, as figure 3 shows, the non-covid deaths in the span of week 11 to week 18 were of older ages. Among those aged 90 and above, 8,037 people above average died in this span, along with several thousand excess deaths aged 65-89. But there were just 13 over-average non-covid deaths aged 64 and under. (There will likely be a few unknown covid deaths there as well, with lower deaths from other causes concealing them.) 

So we have an oddity: lockdown or whatever causes "non-covid" deaths in the same age brackets most heavily targeted by Covid 19.

That's who dies in weeks 11-18, early in lockdown, as covid infections from before that were resolving fatally, and the smaller number since had shrunk a bit more. After the effect of control measures had fully settled in, the lessons to avoid the virus had been widely learned, and transmission had been low for a while - the same brackets see the greatest below-average deaths, while those under 65 have about the same levels - just above, then just below average. 

This too is lockdown, where the biosecurity technocracy anti-kills in all age brackets, but especially where it HAD been killing the worst. Just what accounts for this massive variability in Lockdown-LUMPIN death rates? The oldest classes' avoidance of covid deaths is remarkably similar to how they quickly evaded ... whatever mysterious force lockdown was killing them with. 

LUMPIN 20 and Covid Comorbidities

And as shown here in part (to be be explored further in another post), "LOKIN 20" also kills them in  the same range of ways, physiologically speaking, and mainly whenever covid is going strong, and especially the first time it hit. as already explained ...reword: damage to the heart and blood vessels, lungs, kidneys, neurological system, and more. Numerous conditions involving these are the co-morbidities most covid fatalities have - it's the same in the United States too.


Thanks to Deus Abscondis for finding this (on Twitter). 

From the ONS total Aug. 21 - out of 50,335 "deaths involving COVID-19" just in England and Wales, one is "Fracture of femur" (195 deaths), but the rest seem pretty likely to matter. Top ten:

Main pre-existing condition         Number of deaths

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease 12,869

Ischaemic heart diseases                 5,002

Influenza and pneumonia         4,582

No pre-existing condition         4,476

Chronic lower respiratory diseases 4,061

Symptoms signs and ill-defined conditions 3,428

Cerebrovascular diseases         1,781

Diabetes                                         1,273

Diseases of the urinary system 1,132

Hypertensive diseases                 942

I'll suggest from how common it is, entry 4 "no pre-existing condition" primarily means no KNOWN condition. It might be 99% of fatalities have conditions for all I know. 

A flip-side of lowered hospital admissions right at the covid peak: much case confirmation happens at hospitals, among those coming in very sick, often to die. When they stop taking in as many patients, some number of actual infections will die at home with no help and no confirmation, to have the known condition solely blamed. There's a rise in all these death causes covid is known to partner with. Whatever role limited care had in that, unknown infections probably matter far more, by requiring such a vast degree of often-futile care to begin with.

 Above we looked at deaths from renal failure rising sharply over a class of cancers, and kidney damage is known to result from some infections. Missing treatments are likely enough to be a large factor, but still much of the excess (absolute numbers unclear) probably adds a bit more to the explanation for those 30-40,000 excess deaths left unexplained. A bit over 2% of covid deaths also involved urinary (and kidney) diseases.

I've also mentioned a couple of times how top 5 killers and covid co-morbidities have been on the rise. Now let's look at a couple of these other and larger causes of death in a bit more detail.

An Unseasonable Increase in Respiratory Illness Deaths

"Seeing as COVID 19 is supposed to be a pandemic," Iain Davis reasoned in his lockdown deaths article, "if under diagnosis is an issue, we should see an unseasonable increase in pneumonia deaths within the non COVID19 mortality figures." Influenza and pneumonia are usually combined into an I/P category, which is mainly by bulk a variety of pneumonias, and misdiagnosed covid cases are often listed as "atypical pneumonia." So indeed, if this happened much, we'd likely see a mysterious increase in deaths, probably right alongside covid ones. 

He suggests there was no such rise, but there was. I had already plotted an unseasonable rise in I/P deaths in the United States, including a bulge at the new year responsible for at least 4,000 deaths above natural levels. And the same appears in the U.K. ONS reports: in early 2020, "deaths due to influenza and pneumonia were below the five-year average" while overall, al-causes "mortality levels from the beginning of 2020 were lower than average," in both cases "possibly" or "probably because of the relatively mild winter and low levels of circulating flu." 

This is consistent with my amateur hunch that I/P infections are the main cause of elevated deaths from these other causes every winter - in almost every place I've checked, Alzheimer's and such have a mild seasonal variance. In 2020, most places I've checked had abnormally low levels for I/P and most other relevant casues, until the rise suggesting covid appeared (not that you can always tell when - sometime in later 2019, in most places. - it helps to look so far back you're almost out of this flu season anyway). Then the seasonal declines stop and reverse into mysterious rises, usually right at the time that would best explain the mystery - COVID 19 is causing increased deaths at that same time.

Above was an ONS figure10 showing "respiratory illnesses other than I/P" but also taken as non-covid: these should also be higher in winter, falling over the spring. But 2020 saw a massive increase, almost 20% below average for the first 10 weeks to nearly 40% above in weeks 11-18, then back to at least 10% below in weeks 19-28.

Davis complains how ONS was suggesting covid death had been lumped in with I/P but then "contradict this notion in their own report. That does find it "unlikely that symptoms of COVID-19 have been mistaken for pneumonia since Week 14 (week ending 3 April 2020). It is possible this contributed to non-COVID-19 excess deaths observed before that time.” (emphasis mine) - apparently the point they started applying a more exhaustive sorting of deaths, besides accepting far less patients. He cites their figure 13 which claims to show "no clear increase" in "the percentage of non-COVID-19 deaths due to each of these underlying causes where pneumonia or influenza is mentioned" - noting some slight rises but final lows allowing for little false inclusion. 

But the best place to see any rise is with the cause mentioning pneumonia most frequently. Chronic lower respiratory disease (death cause #4, 18,783 deaths in 2018) has this on 45% of certificates, until exactly when covid deaths were spiking but still heavily  misdiagnosed. Here it rises slightly to 50%, and then drops sharply to about 38% after covid is filtered out better, meaning an extra 12% was mixed in prior to that visible spike. But when did it sneak in? I/P deaths usually show a strong seasonal decline in this span, but the line here just stays flat at 45% for a long time, as if the natural decline had been offset by a small but growing number of undiagnosed Covid 19 deaths starting around week 7 - just as SARS 2 community transmission was first noted in early February. Adding this to their plotting:

Next up: all deaths "where the underlying cause was respiratory disease (ICD-10 J00-J99)" in England and Wales, flu season 2019-20. Actual weekly numbers are included in the ONS yearly fatality summary (PDF), usefully listed by week, right alongside Covid19 deaths. This is  I/P and chronic lower resp. disease (killers 4 and 5), combined with a few others. I plotted these, noting the same interrupted seasonal decline mentioned above, first just traced in, based on the interrupted fall and lower levels seen later. 

If this baseline is correct, the suspicious overage in respiratory illness deaths would be the shaded area, peaking in week 14 at about 900 above normal - nearly double the expected number. Combining weeks by visual estimates, rounded to the nearest 50 yields around 6,150 above-normal deaths by week 21. In the later weeks, baselines and comparisons are unclear, and case transmission should be low, so it didn't seem worth trying to count any excess. The little bump in weeks 33-35 seems to matter, but I'm not putting a number on it. 

Later I found, from the ONS reports, a 5-year average for this mimicking the same patterns but higher on the scale. As with most relevant death causes, 2019-2020 was a low season to start. Compare to that, there's no above-average deaths until week 14, but I think the full pattern comparison shows how meaningless that is. 5-year average surprised me in showing the same New-Year's hump but higher on the scale, with a similar decline also staying higher. Usually this is shallower than in 2020, and continuous as I guessed - it doesn't go flat at week 7. There's even a similar rise at week 14, right after 2020 hits average at week 13. But the rise is much smaller normally, when there's no Covid 19 epidemic to strangely mimic. As you can see, my estimate was pretty sound, and so there were around 6,000 excess respiratory deaths to week 21. The possibility of these continuing since then appears a bit stronger now.

Considering lockdown and social distancing, all contagions should suffer in their ambitions, and the baseline for legit non-covid death may well be lower than this, making for even more excess. We could add a token 50 fatalities to get a fair and conservative minimum of 6,200. This doesn't add to prior calculations of 30,000-40,000 non-covid excess deaths in the U.K.. It just explains 15-20% of them, and gives an idea of the scale of relevant deaths that could plausibly add up to just the big range I propose.

LUMPIN20 Recruits the Top Five Killers

Aside from emergency visits, Davis points out that "crucial surgery and diagnostic tests, for a range of other serious conditions, have been delayed in huge numbers." Some conditions left unchecked will be ones with a normally low death toll, but he suggests the same applies to all five top killers (aside from covid). As Davis points out, for sufferers of these conditions, "during the Lockdown regime, treatment and essential screening has effectively been withheld." Once again, these are (by what seems to be 2018's figures): 

* Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: 13% of all deaths registered were due to one of the two and they are the leading cause of death for women. In total, 51,407 deaths were reported due to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in 2018

* Ischaemic heart diseases: 23,662 deaths.

* Cerebrovascular diseases: 20,523 deaths.

* Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 18,783 deaths.

* Influenza and pneumonia: 17,614 deaths. (source)

Davis explains "The top 5 leading causes of death account for more than 40% of  deaths" in England and Wales in 2019. "On average these five causes kill 0.37% of the population every year, equating to approximately 0.06% every two months. Roughly the same figure as reported COVID 19 deaths." By his math, the one virus officially killed as many as all of these do combined in a normal year. In 2020 they killed quite a few more, but most likely they didn't do that on their own. No, they had help - from the year's top killer and/or the lockdown.

Most of these are also included in the above list of "conditions which can quickly become fatal if not treated in time." But I don't think all of these five require tight weekly management to avoid sudden massive deaths, that sometimes begin a few week BEFORE any lockdown-related changes occurred (see above, weeks 11-14). So that in itself cannot explain all of  of the rises shown in ONS 2nd report, figure 9 (with added notes). This shows weekly deaths from top 5 killers # 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, plus lung cancer and the elder-oriented "symptoms/ill-defined," shows as percentage difference from a 5-year average for the same week. There's simply no good reason for these to do much more than wiggle a little above and below average, aside from deaths involving COVID 19 wrongly mixed in. 

Limited treatment likely contributes a bit to the deaths rate for one or two of these, maybe a fair amount for another. But such spikes with all of them  (considering rises and declines) could be better explained by new damage caused widely by unknown covid infections incurred a few weeks before. 

The worst effects and best indicators are with Alzheimer's-dementia - up as much as 120% above normal (220% the usual number) in week 16 - and "symptoms, signs, and ill-defined conditions" (meaning general debility, frailty, senility etc. of older folks) up as high as 150% above normal in the same week 16. The other taken-as death causes included show a rise and then fall at the same basic time, but to lesser degree (proportionally): chronic lower respiratory infections, cerebrovascular diseases, ischaemic heart diseases, lung cancer, and influenza and pneumonia. 

Note how the these likely false inclusions vary first with a mild rise than massive spike of deaths in week 14, then better but imperfect filtration mellow the increase, then more deaths steepen it anyway, and then finally an oddity: as the effects of lockdown could win over the effects of the virus, there are far less of these deaths - they fall back to their yearly norm of well below average. That happens quickly, by week 19. As noted above, Davis worried about cardiovascular deaths "over the nearly three months long Lockdown regime period." As shown in fig. 9, a leading part of that (ischaemic h.d.) is shown above increasing before 3 April (app. start of curtailed medical care), then peaking and falling alongside covid deaths before falling to normal. It killed at elevated levels for about six weeks, not the whole 3 month. 

Again these are the five top killers in the UK (aside from Covid 19 this year), all markedly elevated in just that pattern suggesting many, most, or all of the excess deaths are NOT "non-covid" after all. 

Among the smaller-scale killers in England and Wales are other elevated causes of likely relevance. Again, Covid 19 has wide-ranging effects on the lungs, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and probably on the brain and neurological system, and several of these conditions are known to be linked to confirmed virus deaths. They will connect with unconfirmed deaths too. That's probably the main reason the following causes were all in general and drastic increase during the UK pandemic, although medical service changes and other factors will also play in.

cause          peak rise above 5-year average 

                                        (in weeks 11-18, age 65+ unless noted)

Cerebral Palsy etc.        31.73%

Diabetes                42.3% (under 65)  

Parkinson's disease         39.41%

epilepsy                 33.58%

hypertensive dis.         53.23%

cardiac arrythmias          33.47 (w19-28, under 65)

cardiomyopathy       31.10% (w19-28, under 65)

heart, ill-defined           23.01%  (under 65) 

pulmonary h.d.             22.91%

urinary/kidney dis.     23.26% 

All to get a little more detailed consideration in time.


Iain Davis' "LOKIN 20" was supposed to encapsulate a majority of abnormal U.K. deaths as caused by lockdown and related measures, leaving relatively little to blame on COVID19. Instead, it's just a poorly-defined catch-all trying to claim some half of all covid deaths, and all others above average, regardless of cause - hence we call it LUMPIN 20. Yet the mysterious combined forces behind that kill overwhelmingly when COVID 19 is killing, and then relent when it does - starting about 3 weeks after lockdown. It kills at the basic speed as that syndrome, and in the same age groups. And it kills its victims in  the same range of ways, taking advantage of the same conditions it turns to co-morbidities just like covid does. 

LUMPIN 20 comes across as COVID 19s' evil twin. But in reality, it's the same thing with some ignorant doubts slapped on. 

Davis dismisses COVID 19 as killing only those with serious and largely age-based conditions that would have killed them fairly soon anyway. In fact that seems to be his main basis for deciding the virus "has low mortality rate" and/or one that was not "high impact," making it "absolutely comparable to influenza" 

It was made to seem as if the 34,359 lives taken in a panic by LUMPIN 20 were of an ordinary spread, including plenty of productive lives cut well short. But Davis never specified this, leaving the type of lives lost rather vague. Either way, as a slight majority of deaths or greater, he'd say LUMPIN 20 clearly outweighed the smaller number (maximum 46%) of relatively marginal lives taken by the flu-like virus.

But it turns out to be overwhelmingly the same people who have been killed by the factors he refers to as "LOKIN 20." Davis may or may not realize the hypocrisy here: lockdown was imposed (ostensibly) just to spare some lives - tens or hundreds of thousands, for all he knows - from COVID 19. But considering those lives would be mostly old people with conditions who were going to die soon anyway, it's an outrage that the response caused - he thinks - 34,000 deaths. And these were - as the facts reveal - among mostly old people with the same exact conditions, presumably just as likely to die.

Finally, the type of lives being about the same, let's reconsider how many each takes and, more importantly, how that varies over time. Even the 29,349 maximum COVID 19 deaths Davis allows is a serious death toll. Being a highly contagious disease spreading exponentially up to lockdown in late March, it clearly would have killed far more if measures had been much weaker or enacted even a few days later. In contrast, lockdown and related measures - even if they were behind much of the excess mortality (which, again, doesn't seem to be the case) - only killed for a short while before relenting, allowing all-causes mortality and nearly every specific cause to return to average or below within 2 months after lockdown.

Maybe he couldn't see it then, but we can now: the virus is the greater killer by far. It's probably responsible for around 99% to 99.9% of all LUMPIN 20 deaths, and about 99.9% of all covid deaths. 

But Davis et al , consistently opposes any measure limiting that - ostensibly to "fight the power" AND save lives. But to favor an anti-lockdown position AND acknowledge the facts (including just who died under lockdown and when) would be to consciously sacrifice far more lives just to avoid 'healthy young people' or businesses having to be inconvenienced. They shouldn't have to shut down, limit crowds, mask up or keep a distance or any part of that incredible global plot. Nor certainly should they be grounded failing that. Any further lockdown must be resisted, to keep the pubs and dance clubs open and maintain the old normal, all that free market fundamentalist stuff ... just to resist sound medical advice mean to save a lot of lives that tend to be less economically productive. 

Let it rip, let's part, let the deadwood burn off already. See anything from the American Institute of Economic Research, for example - they fetishize some vague ideas of herd immunity, citing Kyle Reese from The Terminator or whatever, avoiding details like 60-80% of people needing to be infected before that works (that's probably at least 5x the infections so far in the U.K., off the top of my head) Knowing ~95% of those who will die had conditions anyway, who cares if it's 10 or 20 or 60 million that die globally? The AEIR sponsored the expert-endorsed but similarly vague and reckless "Great Barrington Declaration" that seems to have impressed "herd mentality" fan president Trump.

That's the anti-fascist way? No, that's actually kind of an ugly position. At the very least, it's not as compelling as a nice dramatic story putting us at the center of a just and total struggle for survival against a huge China-inspired plot. We simply must reject the fabricated fear, resist the mask, and pursue the holy grail of herd immunity. We must, or we all die off in WHO "health camps" or they'll "Great Reset" us, whatever that's supposed to be (I should have a look). Readers and donations are fired up by stuff like that. Many people with ingrown intellects, and especially it seems in England, spin variations back and forth, reinforcing each other's suspicions, and increasingly take them as facts. And these anti-fascist facts obviously trump all ignored facts of a more logical sort.

Whatever the reason for that widespread fact-swapping, the effect is to maintain their confusion and prolong their fascinating tale of epic struggle. Most of them are so far in to their stories by now they can barely even see over the edge of the pit and perceive the common-sense, socially-responsible thing to do. They need to accept that starting doubt they had 6 months ago and keep stumbling over, but for God's sake, finally go and give that a real, open-minded double-check. And in the meantime, call it a doubt - not a fact - and quit being controlled by fear of just cooperating with the rest of us. If everyone would take the danger seriously enough to cover their face and maintain some space, you know,  just in case it is a real hazard? Is that really such a big a risk to take?

Update, Nov. 23: I meant to develop this more in another post as this one is so bloated, but quickly - the top 5 killers plus lung cancer and the ill-defined kind, plotted atop covid and compared to all deaths.

Interesting. How many others might covid explain? Taking the listed co-morbidities as sum-100% (not sure if it is or if they overlap and up to more, meaning I can't say how big "all others" really is). But this suggests some 82% of the peak deaths are covid and the other 18% (~5,500 over the five deadliest weeks so far) might include others, as well as however many deaths lockdown-related measures caused or contributed to.