Saturday 18 April 2020

Cocked Hat

You’ll probably have already watched this fascinating video from Unherd (featured on Guido Fawkes.) It's Freddie Sayers’s interview of Swedish expert Prof. Johan Giesecke

Fawkes’s bullet-pointed extrapolations from the film hold good, but I would take away a few extra ones as well. 

The Swedish strategy turns out to be much less dissimilar to the UK’s than meets the eye, and Freddie Sayers’s questioning is pertinent and of a kind that the BBC repeatedly fails to put “on our behalf.”  His questions are ones that viewers themselves would actually wish to put, should they have the opportunity to do so.

For example, I spy a political underbelly here. For me, the clue lies in the professor’s fear that a strict Lockdown strategy is an inevitable route to totalitarianism and dictatorship. A very Swedish attitude.

Sayers asks if Prof. Giesecke is taking “A slightly cold-hearted approach” (and that was something that immediately struck me.)

Again, one of the most significant remarks that stood out for me (It would, wouldn’t it?) was:
“Let’s discuss this a year from now”.
If you’ve been following previous threads on this blog you’ll know what I mean.

The proliferation of this kind of direct reporting, (think also of Steven Egerton of The Sun) consistently knocks the BBC's efforts into a cocked hat.


  1. Summary of main points - h/t Guido

    • The flattening of the curve we are seeing is due to the most vulnerable dying first as much as the lockdown
    • UK policy on lockdown and in other European countries is not evidence-based
    • The correct policy is to protect the old and the frail only
    • This will eventually lead to herd immunity as a "by-product"
    • The initial UK response, before the "180 degree U-turn", was better
    • The Imperial College paper was "not very good" and he has never seen an unpublished, non-peer-reviewed paper have so much policy impact • Is dismissive of the 510,000 figure that was predicted if mitigation measure were not implemented
    • The paper was very much too pessimistic and did not factor in the now much increased ICU capacity
    • Any such models are a dubious basis for public policy anyway
    • The results will eventually be similar for all countries
    • Covid-19 is a "mild disease" and similar to the flu, and it was the novelty of the disease that scared people.
    • The actual fatality rate of Covid-19 will turn out to be in the region of 0.1%

  2. I agree with nearly all of the good Professor's comments. I don't agree that the results will eventually be similar for all countries. I think the huge disparities (e.g. between Greece and Belgium) will remain.

    I had a hunch that many millions of people in the UK have been exposed to the virus but have warded it off without necessarily creating antibodies. I found this online which seems to confirm that is more than possible - probably very likely:

    "Local infections at surfaces such as the mucosa can elicit local cell-mediated and humoral (IgA) immune responses, but not necessarily systemic immunity. The host has multiple immune defense functions that can eliminate virus and/or viral disease."

    I haven't heard anyone mention this in the media but of course it is vitally important and has huge implications. It means that if you start antibody testing, probably millions of very fit and healthy young people are going to be found not to have "had" the virus - despite their bodies having fought off an infection.

    On that basis, I have revised my view and think that mass antibody testing of the workforce for staggered returns will be a huge waste of time, money and resources.


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