The Bat that Roared

Maybe you remember a cold-war era humorous novel by Leonard Wibberley, entitled The Mouse that Roared? It was subsequently made into a film starring Peter Sellers.

The plot is that a tiny European country called the Duchy of Grand Fenwick (based on historically anomalous mini-states like Lichtenstein), whose entire economy depends on their Premier Grand Cru wine*, finds its livelihood threatened because of American counterfeits of their wine. Their proposed solution is to declare war on the USA, immediately surrender, and benefit from the financial support America always provides for its defeated enemies. This was in the days before America deliberately bequeathed entire weapons systems to its enemies.

Unfortunately their declaration of war gets lost in US bureaucracy (premonitions there of Chinese defector Wei Jingsheng’s early warnings about a new deadly bat-virus in Wuhan that somehow never got passed up the intelligence chain!), so hearing nothing their only recourse is to despatch their army, in the form of twenty or so longbow-men, to the USA.

Anyhow, through some fortuitous plot-turns the Grand Fenwickian “forces” accidentally come into possession of a secret doomsday weapon called the Q-bomb, which leads to the immediate surrender of the USA, and indeed to the submission of the Eastern Bloc as well, the unambitious and peaceful Duchy then becoming the international arbiter of the world’s WMD deployment.

The final twist, though, is that Grand Fenwick’s examination of the Q-bomb by their chief scientist reveals that it’s actually totally ineffective. The Duchy has effectively subdued the warring world by a bluff.

Though that sounds totally implausible, in the 1970s a friend of mine, who was working as an electronics engineer in a major armaments firm, quietly (and in breach of the Official Secrets Act, to which I was also a signatory!) told me that the entire project on which he was working was a fraud whose sole purpose was to deceive the Eastern Bloc, though I hasten to add he told me nothing about the nature of the fake weapon. Perhaps even now it forms the mainstay of our defence policy.

Now, it is not inconceivable that SARS-CoV-2 was developed by the Chinese military as a doomsday biological weapon, though everything suggests that it was actually deployed accidentally. Alternatively it may have been genuinely a part of a health-research project. I’m even open to any future evidence for the conspiracy theory that it evolved naturally through a sinister cabal of bats, pangolins and humanised mice.

Whatever the origin of COVID-19, there seems little doubt that it has been very effectively weaponised, more likely than not by some largely separate bodies, as I have suggested before.

The Chinese Government, in keeping its overall approach to ideological conquest, no doubt spent considerable effort in thinking how to turn a catastrophe into a strategic advantage, through concealing the problem, providing misinformation, and wangling their economic leverage so that the West’s irresponsible spending on COVID went largely into China’s coffers.

The familiar corruption of Big Pharma is another facet of COVID’s weaponisation, working to minimise and discredit every intervention other than experimental vaccines, and to maximise the deployment of the latter, even at the expense of human lives, in countries that could afford to pay the full whack to the drug corporations and their hangers on.

The corruption of the virological research community led by Peter Daszak and his ilk appears to have engaged in misinformation and disinformation for the even more squalid motives of self-preservation of their reputations and bank accounts. They are the equivalent of those who pilfer military weapons to rob grocery stores.

Then we have the ideologues, and their cynical financial supporters amongst bankers, oligarchs and corrupt politicians, weaponising the “worst pandemic in a century” to reset the global financial system and, indeed, the entire socio-political structure of the world into a centralised technocracy.

We may include among these those motivated by a desire, genuine or cynical, to “save the planet” from climate change, using the new totalitarian restrictions for COVID as a preparation for even more centralised control. Some enthusiasts are even seriously advocating the perpetual continuation of lockdowns until the world’s temperature drops, which it perhaps would after several billion unburied corpses finally decayed exothermically. At COP26 this week this power-concentrating ambition has been much in evidence, from Prince Charles’s call for putting climate-change on a war footing to Boris Johnson’s apparent slip in including the abolition of cash amongst his climate policy goals.

Yet at the end of the day, the Q-bomb of COVID, which is by no means totally harmless, is increasingly showing itself to be a great deal less harmful than the measures those in power have deployed in response to it.

The best estimate of overall Infection Fatality Rate from before the vaccination program is probably still that of John Ioannidis, accepted by the WHO, at around 1 in 1,000. It is based on worldwide antibody data that were still relatively fresh, and uncontaminated by vaccines. As we all know, this mortality is massively influenced by age, so that lethality almost exactly matches the usual age-mortality curve.

“Case numbers,” as all informed people know by now, are almost entirely useless as a statistic, given the numerous fallacies in their collation. For example, the number of official COVID deaths from death certificates in the UK is around 165,000. But even if all 70 million people in Britain had caught COVID and not been vaccinated, the Ioannidis IFR would predict only 70,000 deaths.

In fact the latest ONS estimate of natural infections overall is only 1,102,800, or around 1:50 of the population. If true, that would make the actual number of COVID deaths in Britain in the order of only 1,100. Even if COVID’s lethality were 1%, rather than the probable 0.1%, the actual death rate would be 1/16 of what the death certificate figure suggests.

Nearly all of our “COVID deaths” must therefore be attributed to other causes. This has profound implications for the claimed worldwide death-toll: it may be over two orders of magnitude lower than stated. It also has profound implications for what has actually caused all those deaths.

So the most reliable way of estimating deaths in a pandemic, at least until the era of lockdowns and mass-vaccination, remains the figure of “excess mortality.” Those countries showing an early spike, like Western Europe and the north of North America, reveal what, in retrospect, was a very short period of marked excess deaths. In the UK’s not-untypical case, 2020’s age-adjusted mortality was exceeded in every year before 2008. In some instances, such as Sweden, there was no excess at all across the year.

Here in 2021, any excess in the winter has been balanced by unusually low deaths in the spring. The picture now is clouded by the unexplained increase in non-COVID deaths. For interest, here’s a rather interesting graphic in relation to that (which many say something important about COVID vaccines as a weapon, but not about COVID itself).

A more immediately relevant graph is the following from the CDC, which rather than showing your chance of dying if the COVID Q-bomb drops on you, gives your total risk of its hitting you in the first place and then killing you. These date are for the US until July, but are probably much the same as the pattern here and in many other countries where COVID is approaching becoming endemic.

As you can see, there’s really not a lot to worry about if you’re less than 75, and even above 85 a 2% risk of catching a fatal condition is scarely Q-bomb Armageddon. In this metric, we would expect that data since their July cut-off would vary according to how the prevalence has changed in different countries, and the increasingly uncertain effects of widespread vaccination. But nothing we see in the stats suggests any change in orders of magnitude.

The bottom line is that, whatever credible metric one uses, the risk of death from SARS-CoV-2 is far, far lower than the disruption and destruction caused by the response to it. Sadly, the disruption and destruction appears to include a good proportion of the admittedly limited excess deaths over the last two years. Since there are as yet no signs of repentance on the part of those who have over-reacted to a weapon of mass destruction as weak as Saddam Hussein’s air force, then the inefficiency of SARS-2 as a pandemic virus may still prove no barrier to its proving to be the most destructive Q-bomb in history.

  • * Footnote: the sequel to The Mouse that Roared, The Mouse on the Moon, is also rather topical. It describes how Grand Fenwick beats America to the Moon in the space race using a rocket fuelled by Premier Grand Cru. It sounded ridiculous then, but last month Prince Charles revealed that his Aston Martin has been modified to run on surplus Duchy of Cornwall wine. Such is our fantasy-world.

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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