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John Church: The Role of Children

This is a guest post by John Church. John is an oil and gas professional and has spent some 30 years working for one of the biggest oil companies in the world.

I have been inspired by some of the information I have read on this site pertaining to some hard numbers and hard number analyses that have recently been posted, particularly some of the recent posts by Robert Watson on statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on age-dependant Covid mortality and comparisons with other causes of death.

Early on in the crisis, arguments based on various available hard data, which might have lead to a conclusion that the crisis would not require draconian responses, were opposed by the tide of arguments about ‘protecting the NHS’ and ‘saving lives’. These are mostly emotive angles and the decisions in mid-March were taken with very little debate about the alternatives. A situation compounded by aggressive and often unreasonable media personalities. What government minister is really ever going to be able to stand behind data and logic with the highly emotional backdrop of the prospect of thousands of people dying? It was politically not possible to point out that 50,000 people die in this country every month in normal times. But the problem with this situation is that is can lead to spectacularly bad policy decisions. Policy decisions that are not that easy to reverse.

And it is even stranger that, as cases and deaths have flattened and now started to drop, the language supporting the alarmism and restrictions has become more emotionally charged, not less. What used to be ‘protect the NHS’ has now become ‘a mis-step now will unleash catastrophe’. The Prime Minister’s words, not mine. I think this is because the hard numbers and data just do not support the policy responses. And so, in order to maintain the case that the right actions have been taken, it has been necessary to dial-up the emotion. But this is an unsustainable strategy, because in the end the emotion will die down, but the hard numbers will remain. Irrefutable and implacable.

I have previously made some postings regarding an age-dependant mortality model. I have updated it as fresher data has become available which has changed the average mortality numbers slightly, but the overall results have shown remarkable robustness. From this model and from information on death tolls, we can estimate the spread of the virus and know how far we might be from ‘herd immunity’. The evidence that children do not fall ill from Covid-19 and may not even transmit it is a topic of hot debate at the moment. They certainly very rarely fall ill, although you wouldn’t know it from the fear-mongering and general absurdity about the perceived risks of opening primary schools. But if these statements about children are true, then it means that they may act as a cohort that effectively already have immunity, and give a big jump start on any journey towards herd immunity thresholds (HIT). It has been widely reported that the herd immunity threshold is about 60%. But when you have a cohort of already immune children, then you can work out what impact this would have on the required infection levels of the remainder of the population. For the UK, the herd immunity threshold effectively drops from 60% to 50%, as a function of having an already immune cohort of 18% of the population under the age of 15.

As per the previous posts, I have also looked at different countries to see the impact and possibly explain the anomalies seen. In the case of Nigeria, 43% of the population is below 15 years old and this leads to a reduction of the effective herd immunity threshold from 60% down to 30% (of the remaining population). With an average age of only 18 and this kind of effective herd immunity threshold, it is not surprising that Covid has not surfaced as a major threat on the African continent, despite the alarmism recently written in the UK press.

I have created a table below with some key numbers for five countries : the UK, the USA, Malaysia, India and Nigeria. I have calculated what reaching that effective herd immunity is in ‘month deaths’ to put it in the context of the amount of deaths these countries experience in an average month. And I have calculated a ‘survival rate’, under a scenario where Covid passed through these countries up to these effective herd immunity thresholds.

As can be seen from this table, in the UK and the USA, reaching the effective HIT would result in 3.7 and 3.3 months worth of average deaths respectively. Whether these are genuine excess deaths or whether they are accelerated deaths of people that would have died this year anyway we will only be able to see at the end of the epidemic and after some months have passed. Looking at the other countries, an effective HIT infection level would be 2.2, 1.3 and 0.3 months worth of normal deaths for Malaysia, India and Nigeria respectively. It becomes quite clear why there has not been the size of Covid outbreaks in these countries that we have seen in the West. To get to a herd immunity threshold, Nigeria would have to suffer about 10 days worth of average death toll. With this information and also looking at the range of survival rates (99.72% in the UK to 99.97% in Nigeria) one must ask if lockdown solutions are proportional to the problem. I do not wish to diminish the loss of any individual from a personal perspective, but I do not think these numbers support the level of damage to our national economies and the removal of centuries of societies cherished freedoms. And it is only by looking at the very hard numbers, stripped of all emotion, that we can avoid making galactically large policy mistakes.

For anyone interested, the updated mortality model can be accessed here: Corona_data_post_update_May15

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14 thoughts on “John Church: The Role of Children

  1. One of the mysteries of SARS is why it has little effect here in SE Asia. I was favouring low population density and an outdoor lifestyle, but I hadn’t considered age. There are a far greater number of children running around here in Thailand than you will find in the west. Food for thought.

  2. Definitely time to take the emotion out of the discussion. Time for a reset based on facts and learning. Politicians need to show some bravery and leadership.

  3. ” It has been widely reported that the herd immunity threshold is about 60%.”

    I really hate that expression “herd immunity”, dripping as it does with the ill-concealed condescension that our Betters clearly feel towards us peons. In their eyes, we (you, me) are little better than a herd of dumb cattle, raised to be sent to the slaughterhouse of taxation. And I am saddened that so many of us willingly adopt language that demeans ourselves. Let’s use the proper non-insulting term “population immunity”, and make it as politically inexcusable for anyone to say “h**d immunity” as to say “n****r”.

    But back to the quantitative point. The Diamond Princess experience, now months in the past, demonstrated beyond doubt that at least 80% of the population is already immune from C-19 — because around 80% of a disproportionately susceptible group of about 4,000 people were exposed to C-19 and did not catch the infection.

    If 60% population immunity is enough to remove any fear of apocalypse, then we were there even before Chinese actions triggered panic in Western politicians & bureaucrats.

  4. Gavin, a couple of points. Firstly, the Diamond Princess was a good experiment into the contagiousness of the disease but critics will always say that it didn’t have long enough to spread throughout the ship – only two weeks I believe.
    The other is this term “herd immunity” I’m not sure it’s the term that is so offensive but its implications.. I think our snowflake generation just cannot accept the reality of what this means. “Something nasty is out there and they’re saying that I have to be exposed to it! That’s not good enough!”
    So, countries have locked down and crashed their economies to appease this childlike behaviour. Fortunately, the UK’s lockdown probably came too late to stop population immunity occurring. I’m not so sure about New Zealand though, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens when its winter arrives next month.

  5. The DP experience lines up with experience of coronavirus infections in human populations which hardly ever exceed 20%. The reason is quite simple. Other coronavirus, such as the common cold give a high degree of immunity and coronavirus has no preference to its mammalian host, its as happy in say cats as it is in humans.
    By the way the population of the DP was exposed for far greater than 2 weeks.

  6. There’s another section of society that while not totally immune, are significantly under represented in the infection figures – smokers. One could posit that given smokers are under represented in the infection figures by one third to one half when compared the non-smoking population, one should perhaps allocate somewhere between a third and a half of the smoking population of a country as functionally immune, and another ‘free’ building block towards herd immunity. It has been argued that one reason for German and Swedish under representation on the CV-19 infection figures is the greater prevalence of smoking, and in Sweden particularly the taking of snus.

  7. *It was politically not possible to point out that 50,000 people die in this country every month in normal times.*

    But why should a Prime Minister be forbidden from speaking the truth about death rates? it’s not as if the human mortality rate is lower elsewhere or has or could ever be less than 100% under any other regime.

    Tens of thousands have perished from respiratory viruses in previous years, to say nothing of the numerous epidemiologists arguing that the CV-19 fear was unwarranted. In the words of Dr Wolfgang Wodarg that ‘The emperor has no clothes’. What’s the value of political leadership at all if the truth can’t be uttered in the service of those whom they’ve been elected to represent?

    Else it’s just a media management PR exercise. The only sense I can make of ‘politically’ here is the media mob. I’ve long believed that the Daily Mail editor has more political power in England than any politician. But why have the globalist media been hyping CV-19 out of all proportion to the threat?

    Not just hardcore gutterpress like Sun and Daily Mail but also the more soft porn titles like The Times and The Economist. Why has The Economist consistently taken the line that CV-19 deaths have been *underestimated*, more recently that it’s a new kind of virus which will never go away?

    Why have so-called ‘sceptics’ been marginalised throughout the media so that ‘lockdown’, a term from the US prison system that has become synonymous with police state, is made to appear the norm? Men like Lord Sumption and Peter Hitchens opposing police state measures to seem contrarians?

    There was a petition doing the rounds recently for a report on Muslim grooming gangs to be published. But the facts are already in the public domain and have been for years. Just smothered and distorted when reported on at all by the media.

    Far more publicity was given to retrospective charges against 1970s DJs and soap stars against whom there was no evidence at all other than the uncorroborated testimony of their accusers, ageing women, their erstwhile groupies, getting some belated attention.

    It’s become the norm for the police to go on fishing expeditions for evidence in cases where it’s politically expedient, as where the defendants are all men of European origin. It’s a violation of law but not a single elected representative dare say a word as they’ll be slaughtered by the media. You can hardly blame the police for thinking they’re a law unto themselves, because they are.

    Same kind of bias we’re witnessing with the virus scaremongering, where the truth is suppressed. and we’re supposed to think we’re in danger of deadly contagion. Dissenting voices are portrayed as heretical and lockdown/police state is put beyond question, just like CO2 or Diversity.

    Tried to post some comments on the Daily Mail, where the reporting has been completely hysterical. About half the comments get through. No difference in content. It seems that they’ll only allow a certain number of ‘sceptical’ comments.

    The most plausible explanation I’ve come across as to what’s driving it has been termed a “global health mafia”. A YouTube video shows various world leaders reciting the same lines about the need for vaccines etc.

    CEO of YouTube says that content violating WHO guidelines will be censored. Presumably they can’t censor content of politicians complying with WHO guidelines / Bill Gates Foundation.

    You can see them here the language is almost verbatim, all reading from same script as our own Kim Jong Son:

  8. Sean – couldn’t agree more. The fact that ‘dissent’ is actively being censored is far scarier than any threat from this virus.

  9. Sean L: The most plausible explanation I’ve come across as to what’s driving it has been termed a “global health mafia”.

    Sadly, there is another plausible explanation — China’s leaders have launched an economic war, rather than a military war, against the West, with the objective of so weakening Western countries that they can no longer pose any kind of threat to China. Elements of this economic war include taking a hit by modeling the desired Lock Down approach in Wuhan, backed up by the pay-off from long Chinese involvement in Western academia, media, and politics.

    Is this hypothesis the correct explanation for what we are seeing in the West? I have no idea. But it cannot be dismissed out of hand as being inconsistent with the evidence.

  10. the pay-off from long Chinese involvement in Western academia

    Agree. On Monday Imperial College, home of Prof Neil Ferguson, received £5 million from Huawei

  11. Agreed Gavin. ‘Global health mafia’ and Chinese espionage are different views of the same thing. In this context it relates to that video.

  12. Why are the vast majority of people commenting on websites like Hector’s apparently male?

    Perhaps the answer to your question is that the risk averse female mindset is now dominant in our culture; and vociferously assertive of its own immunity to being challenged.

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