The Covid Hockeystick and the Decline of Science

They wheeled in Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber yesterday in order to frighten the British nation once again into accepting hugely damaging restrictions upon their personal, professional and social lives in order to head off a ‘second wave’ which the blond mop-haired lunatic in charge says is ‘incoming’.

It was a cold and calculated exercise in disinformation and government propaganda, light on science, light on data, designed to conceal the actual rather less alarming truth from the public, in favour of painting an apocalyptic picture of Covid doom. Sound familiar? Of course it does. Climate ‘scientists’ and the alarmist main stream media have been doing this for years re. the so called ‘climate crisis’, more recently a task taken over with missionary zeal by Greta ‘How Dare You’ Thunberg and the unwashed, unhinged Stinking Rebellion.

James Delingpole compares the Glum Two’s effort to convince us of imminent Covid catastrophe with Mann’s Hockey Stick. To illustrate the likely growth of ‘cases’ (i.e. positive PCR tests), they came up with this really scary graph, which does look a lot like a hockey stick, but which they insisted was ‘not a prediction’ (knowing full well that the media would take it as exactly that):

Says Delingpole:

Apparently — at least according to Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Science Adviser Patrick Vallance — if we’re not careful Britain will be in danger of nearly 50,000 new Chinese coronavirus by mid-October.

My suspicion is that — just like the discredited Hockey Stick chart invented by the dodgy professor Michael Mann — it is an artefact that has much more to do with propaganda than honest science.

The Hockey Stick was what is known in colloquial English as ‘bent as a nine bob note’ — or indeed ‘dodgy as fuck’. 

As climate sceptics, we know it all too well and we know the dodgy data and dubious science which went into crafting it, which is why Delingpole says:

It’s the reason why several of the most sceptical voices on Chinese coronavirus — for example, Peter Hitchens in the UK, Marc Morano and Tony Heller in the US, Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones in Australia — also happen to be very outspoken climate sceptics.

For my money though, Whitty and Vallance’s absurd exponential growth graph is more reminiscent of the absurd projections of global temperature increase by 2100 according to the misleadingly named ‘business as usual’ RCP8.5 representative concentration pathway. The analogy is closer in that W & V are probably using some dodgy Ferguson derived epidemiological model to arrive at their ‘not a prediction’; climate scientists use dodgy climate models, dodgy parameterisations of natural processes and dodgy socio-economic models to arrive at their catastrophic ‘not a prediction’ rise in global mean surface temperature:

We’ve had this BS once, with the first lockdown, with absurd modeled projections of 510,000 deaths without mitigation, leading to Johnson shutting down the country for 3 weeks to ‘flatten the curve and save the NHS’, 3 weeks which turned into 6 months with a few reluctant easing of restrictions over the summer. Now we’re back to facing a second punishing 6 months of extra restrictions/lockdown to head off a ‘casedemic catastrophe’ which government boffins assure us will eventually translate into thousands of deaths if we don’t do something urgently. There are very few hospitalisations and deaths at the moment, so the government have had to fabricate the so called ‘incoming’ second wave with reference to what is happening in Spain and France and with reference to a supposedly worrying ‘acceleration’ of ‘cases’ in this country, 90% of which may be actual false positives.

On the subject of France and Spain, here is the actual rise in cases, in both countries, compared to W & V’s projected exponential rise. Spot the difference?

The lack of anything resembling real science and solid data in the Whitty and Vallance presentation is extremely worrying, given that Johnson will almost certainly use it to impose more hugely socially and economically damaging restrictions upon the nation over winter. What on earth happened to evidence-based science? It seems to have been rejected wholesale now for government lies, propaganda, distortion and disinformation. Michael Yeadon, a former professional colleague of Vallance, is bravely standing up for it though:

Pre-Enlightenment science indeed, which is now become post Enlightenment science, post normal science; you might even say Endarkenment science. We are headed into very dangerous territory if this hocus pocus, mumbo jumbo pseudoscience being used to radically alter our societies and erode our fundamntal civil rights is not robustly challenged, right now.

UK Covid Deaths

England Covid Hospitalisations
Cases Per 100k – Updated to September 23rd

Update on Spain. They have switched to a new case diagnostic now which eliminates non-infectious positives by capping the cycle threshold on the PCR test and just look what has happened. Oh dear, the casedemic is running rapidly out of steam. If the UK were to do this, I imagine we would get exactly the same result.

Update: 2 Oct:

Even with the huge increase in testing, even with the refusal to eliminate non-infections being picked up by a cycle threshold set way too high, positive tests are levelling off it appears and the chance of getting anywhere near 50,000 cases per day is virtually zero.

Here’s the ‘inevitable rise in deaths’ following that ‘second wave’:

Even allowing for a lag between being infected and being killed by this virus, it is blatantly obvious that ‘infections’ are not translating into deaths.

Update 3 Oct:

Final update to the Vallance and Whitty Covid casedemic hockeystick. It’s a total bust now and it is clear that it should never have been presented to the public as a plausible projection. Both of them should be sacked for misleading MPs and for deliberately and unnecessarily alarming the public.

Actual Cases vs. Whitty/Vallance Hockeystick

17 comments

  1. As I think I’ve made clear I’m sceptical about the “science” being relied on by the Government, and don’t understand why the differing analyses put forward by many at Oxford University are simply ignored. I also fail to understand the inconsistencies in many of the policies adopted by the Government, whether in the UK/England, or by the devolved governments. E.g., if things are so bad, why is it still OK for people to fly abroad for an unnecessary holiday and back again, packed in like sardines while they’re on a ‘plane? In Scotland, why can people from different households meet in a pub or a restaurant but not in a private house? What’s so special about the bewitching hour of 10pm in pubs and restaurants?

    Having said all that, and while I despair at the direction of travel, and while I also despair about a completely spurious graph showing doubling of cases every week for 8 weeks, I am more than mildly concerned at the trend in cases, whether that be infections, hospitalisations, or deaths. Today’s numbers for instance:

    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/uk/

    “4,926 new cases and 37 new deaths in the United Kingdom”

    Definite and significant upwards trends in both, which shouldn’t be ignored.

    On the other hand, Black death it isn’t, Spanish ‘Flu it isn’t, and while I think it’s sensible and reasonable to take steps to minimise the death and destruction that could be wreaked by Covid-19, I don’t understand the hysteria surrounding this particular virus that has been lacking in the past with more serious viruses and illnesses. I remain of the view that the mid/long-term damage caused by the Government’s actions will exceed any benefits obtained.

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  2. Mark, thanks for commenting.

    Even the BBC admits that Covid deaths are still very low.

    “Coronavirus contributed to 1% of all deaths in England and Wales in the second week of this month.

    That’s among the lowest figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) since March when the pandemic took hold.

    It’s feared this will rise following recent increases in cases and hospitalisations.”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54248150

    The fear is that the ‘cases’ will translate into hospitalisations and deaths. There’s a small increase in ‘Covid hospitalisations’ but please bear in mind that NHS England defines a Covid hospitalisation as ANY patient admitted to hospital who has tested positive for CV19 in the 14 days prior to admission.

    Also, positive tests per 100,000 tested is nowehere near what it was back in April, at the peak of the epidemic, not forgetting that a huge percentage of pillar 2 tests are likely false positives and even those true positives may not be live infections because of the very high cycle threshold on PCR tests.

    Please see graphs above for UK Covid deaths and England hospitalisations. Doesn’t look that scary to me and nothing like the first wave. The government is relying exclusively on unreliable PCR positive tests (a ‘casedemic’) combined with scary projections of a lethal second wave, for which there is very little scientific or empirical evidence

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  3. Jaime, I don’t think we disagree too much, just around the details, I suppose. I remain bemused and irritated (or should that be angered) at the behaviour of a Government that allows people to continue going abroad in large numbers in aeroplanes, only potentially to re-import Covid-19 into the country when they return, whilst not allowing people to spend time with friends in the UK. It’s apparently fine to sit in a Spanish bar at all times of the day and night, then return home, but not to sit in an English bar after 10pm: yet more Government policies damaging UK businesses while helping businesses abroad.

    I’m very much in the sceptical camp regarding the Government’s behaviour, but I do keep a weather eye on the Covid-19 statistics and – assuming we can trust them – I am concerned that the trend is going the wrong way currently. I can’t help thinking, though, that the rise in cases/hospitalisations/deaths is probably the inevitable result of opening up foreign travel and the start of the school/university year. Why these increases should come as a shock to Government and Government advisers is therefore a mystery to me.

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  4. Mark, it’s the details that very much matter. On the subject of arrivals from abroad, it doesn’t appear to me to matter that much whether an infected person got infected in this country or abroad, what matters is whether we can or indeed should be shutting down the economy and social interactions in order to stop the spread of infections in the wider community. I think there is little doubt that SAR-CoV-2 is still ‘doing the rounds’ but the debate is whether infections are spreading exponentially across the country and, if so, whether those infections will result in a massive increase in hospitalisations and deaths. There is virtually no evidence for the latter and, as regards the former, W & V’s absurd graph of exponential growth in infections is already looking like it’s a busted flush – see ‘Cases as % of Tests’ graph added above.

    If you look at Hancock’s tweet today, it is very revealing. The message has already changed. They’re not trying to prevent an imaginary second wave, what they are in fact doing is going for total suppression of SARS-CoV-2, a so-called #ZeroCovid policy until such time as they can institute a regime of mass testing and/or mass vaccination. This is profoundly disturbing. It means they are willing to sacrifice the economy and people’s lives to achieve something which is not epidemiologically feasible or socially and economically practical as a solution to what is, for 99.74% of the population, a mild or asymptomatic disease.

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  5. Well, I do agree that the messaging from the Government has been hopelessly inconsistent. I have a very clear recollection of watching one of the very first daily press briefings, from which it was clear that the policy was to take the pressure off the NHS until the Nightingale Hospitals were up and running, then they were going to ease lockdown, let cases rise, lockdown again, ease lockdown and let cases rise again and so on, the idea being that each subsequent wave would be less serious than the first, and that we would achieve herd immunity, while having got much of the worst of Covid-19 out of the way before the winter ‘flu season was on us once more. I don’t know what happened to that, but it clearly isn’t the policy any more.

    If they really do intend to “suppress” the virus, then they’re mad. They can’t achieve that without destroying the economy – and meaningful life as we know it – and if they don’t stop foreign travel it’ll just keep coming back in to the country.

    You’re quite right that the details do matter, and it’s the inconsistency in so many of the detailed policies that I find deeply frustrating – that, plus the illogicality of destroying the economy to protect a tiny vulnerable minority. Jeremy Bentham and the utilitarians would not be impressed – the Government seems determined to cause the greatest harm to the greatest number!

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    1. They are mad Mark. I don’t honestly think they have the slightest intention of letting go of this and returning the country to normal. But there are a few rays of hope. Belgium is pulling back on its very strict mask mandate and now looking more at hospitalisations than ‘cases’ to monitor the spread. The UK’s fanatical Zero Covid policy might soon be an outlier in Europe and Anders Tegnell is apparently briefing Downing Street, so maybe he can knock some sense into Johnson. The chairman of the 1922 committee is not at all happy with the government, so who knows. Meanwhile, the fanatics at SAGE keep baying for a tougher lockdown to prevent the exponential rise in cases which Hancock knows ‘leads to more hospitalisations and deaths’. The country is just staring down a black hole and I have never felt so full of despair at what has become of this place I was once proud to call home. I seriously just want to emigrate now.

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  6. But where would you emigrate to? Much of the world is going down the same road to nowhere but economic and envrionmental destruction, in so many respects, whether in connection with climate hysteria, political correctness or the response to Covid-19. The few that aren’t (China, Belarus etc) aren’t places where I’d want to live!

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      1. Everywhere has down-sides, even Poland. The language is pretty difficult to get to grips with, for one. Last time we were in Poland, I was roundly abused by an old woman who spat at me and wandered off muttering. I couldn’t work out what was wrong with her, or what I’d done to upset her, until my wife pointed out that I was (being a gentleman, I like to think) carrying her travel bag for her. It’s pink (chosen to stand out on airport carousels). The old woman had, I guess, assumed I was gay, and that gave her free rein to vent her spleen on me, it seems. I fear there are quite a few people like her in Poland. She wasn’t that bright – I don’t know she thought my wife was!

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  7. Jaime, thanks for the update.

    Whilst remaining concerned (not alarmed) about the cases, hospitalisations and deaths, which have apparently been rising, it is encouraging to see cases of infections falling for 3 days in a row and deaths falling for 4 days in a row. It’s far too early to see if the trend has again reversed, but one thing’s for sure, it’s definitely too early for the Government to claim credit for it and suggest that it’s the result of Government measures.

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  8. Well, the trends haven’t reversed, as I’d hoped, but they haven’t accelerated either. Still cause for some concern, but not for alarm, I’d say.

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  9. Well, here we are, in mid October. How has Whitty and Vallance’s ‘not a prediction’ turned out?

    Way off. Remember, no national lockdown was imposed at that time, as W & V were suggesting, in order to prevent this catastrophic exponential rise in infections. So we have a real time experiment which proves that, even though the government has gone out of its way to increase unreliable random PCR testing of asymptomatic individuals to reveal a supposed ‘second wave’ of ‘infections’, they still can’t generate anywhere near the number of ‘cases’ needed to keep up with W & V’s delibeartely alarmist speculations.

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