We were right about false positives

The current “false positive” discussion that’s reached the MSM is about the lateral flow tests prodigally doled out at supermarkets for the worried public to bodge at home, and how many people will be quarantined unnecessarily for every true positive case. It goes along with the statistic that routine and invasive testing of school children, not at any risk from COVID, costs £120,000 to find one case (and that is probably a false positive too). That many were warning the government of this last year does their policymaking no credit at all.

But you’ll know that many of us were concerned even last summer about the unknown false positive rate of the “better” PCR tests. They’re only “better” than the LFTs in the sense of being the sole WHO criterion for diagnosing COVID, as opposed to how well they reflect the real world of disease. This is especially true when considering not only the intrinsic (but even now not specified) false positive rate of the method, but also the lack of requirement for any clinical confirmation, repeat confirmatory testing, inconsistent number of amplification cycles and standardisation, and of course the inevitable errors of mass-testing using inexperienced and not necessarily committed staff. One positive PCR, and you’re an ONS statistic.

I’m aware that this is a worldwide problem. Through incompetence (if we’re charitable) or social manipulation (if we’re realistic) nearly all governments have followed the lead of China and the WHO, despite being well aware of the malevolence of the one and the corruption of the other. To be a dupe is blameworthy, whether it is through incompetence or moral complicity.

I, for one, was longing for a study that would do the obvious and simple check of repeat testing to find the true false positive rate amongst those diagnosed with COVID. This paper, although intended to refute one of the government’s more misleading “scientific” statements (and how many there are to choose from!), references a very useful study, over the third lockdown period, of Cambridge students.

This was a screening study of thousands of mainly asymptomatic students, in which positive PCR results (of which there there were only 43 altogether) were checked to exclude false positives. The bottom line, for my purpose, is that this procedure negated a whopping 84% of the positives, even though the overall false positive rate was, in fact, a good deal lower than either the NHS’s or my previous estimates. This figure is well within the same Ballpark as folks like Mike Yeadon and Ivor Cummins were suggesting when they called last summer’s ongoing scare a “Casedemic,” and were vilified for their pains whilst the rest of us were put into muzzles on pain of prosecution.

Now, it’s as well to note that the false positive rate as a percentage of positives is a moveable feast, depending on how many people are actually ill with the virus. As I (and many others) have been saying all along, that percentage rises dramatically when there are few, or zero, actual cases, as was the situation last summer and as is the case now. The fewer the infections, the more widespread testing will cause a Casedemic. If the virus becomes extinct, 100% of the cases will be false, and their number will depend on the overall false positive rate multiplied by the number of tests done. Test everyone twice a week, as the government have used vast amounts of our money to attempt, and that is always going to be a very large number, persuading many that vaccine passports and so on really are necessary.

That’s why it is significant that the Cambridge student study was done at the height of the winter infection wave (always assuming that was truly caused by COVID, in the surprising absence of flu and all the other usual villains, which may not be a safe assumption). With that proviso, we can conclude that if 85% is the effective PCR false positive rate at the height of an epidemic, it will be a much larger proportion still as numbers of “cases” begin to drop. Or conversely, where confirmatory testing or autopsy has not been performed in a patient, PCRs will never have given less than 84% of false positives throughout the pandemic, but often more than 84%.

Now, remember that the very definition of a COVID death in the UK is a death, from any cause, within 28 days of a single PCR positive test (before last August it was 60 days, and remains so if “COVID” is included on the death certificate). As far as the ONS statistics are concerned, clinical confirmation is irrelevant, and in any case a virological “gold standard” has never existed. Consequently, we have no easy access to how many “COVID deaths” were the result of the pathognomonic respiratory syndrome SARS. Many of last spring’s deaths undoubtedly were such: it is less clear how many of last winter’s were.

Furthermore, in this country as in many others blindly following the blind, a high proportion of deaths were from the start in care homes to which sick people were discharged from hospitals, with no serious attempt at careful diagnosis and a lot of assumptions. This was especially true latterly when nobody is willing to attribute such deaths to imposed social distancing: “non-specific pneumonia secondary to malnutrition and social deprivation, compounded with Vitamin D deficiency.”

Accordingly, it would not be unreasonable to generalise the Cambridge results to the total of COVID deaths in this country, currently claimed at 127,000. Exclude 85% of these as false positives, in line with the Cambridge study, and you get a bit above 20,000 deaths, the overwhelming majority in those over the average life expectancy of 81. Subtract that from the excess deaths total, and you’d get a rough estimate of the effects of lockdown. For 2020 alone (missing much of the recent spike) the excess deaths were 85,000 – large by recent standards, though as pointed out in my last post, not that dramatic in historical terms. Even the larger figure is well below the “management target” given in the UK’s 2017 pandemic plan of 210-350K, abandoned inexplicably at the start of COVID.

Still, my estimated 20,000 “real” COVID deaths would have been entirely unremarkable even in recent years, had the world not been suffering from monomania. But a further excess of 65,000 deaths owing to government COVID policies themselves is a rather serious matter, especially when it is combined with meltdown of the economy and the looming permanent loss of our civil liberties.

After a year of studies we now know:

  • COVID’s IFR is only around 0.2% overall.
  • Very few people under the age of sixty will die of it, and not that many below 70 – and no otherwise healthy children will.
  • Asymptomatic spread is astonishingly rare (a mere 0.7% of the 17% infection rate even in households, or less).
  • COVID does not survive outside by day or night, so that infection outside is rare to unknown.
  • Lockdowns affect excess death rates marginally or not at all, but do immense damage in many other ways and may even increase COVID deaths long-term.
  • Masks as used by the general public in normal settings give little or no protection.
  • 2 metre social distancing is no better than 1 metre (but the evidence for the latter is poor).
  • Most (85% +) positive tests are false positives.
  • Mass testing in an endemic situation is entirely purposeless.
  • Variants in Coronaviruses, unlike in Influenza viruses, are of no significance to continued immunity from natural infection or vaccination.
  • Mass vaccination pursued as Phase 3 safety trials of novel vaccines has produced the highest rate of adverse reaction reports of any vaccine, and some deaths in those who were at negligible risk from the virus.
  • Since infection rates and transmissibility in vaccinated people is still unknown, vaccine passports have no clear public health benefits, whereas internationally-accessible health databases sound the death knoll of civil liberty. Meanwhile, the known symptomatic protection given by vaccines limits risk to the uninfected, and the unvaccinated, which is their choice.

If you’re interested in these points, you’ll already have accessed the research papers behind them; and if you’re inclined to disbelieve me, though a retired professional, why should I spoon-feed you with references? But I’d be interested to hear if you can think of even one pillar of government COVID policy that hasn’t been demolished by them, apart from the Psy-ops and other propaganda, of course.

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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