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Even more curious: Over 60 is ‘old and frail’? September 23, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Good of the IT to now be trailing certain individuals contributions to the Covid-19 Committee ahead of time. As in this morning with the main piece on their website:

Coronavirus should be let spread amongst people below 60 in a controlled way, the Dáil’s Covid-19 committee will be told on Wednesday.

Sweden’s former chief epidemiologist Dr Johan Giesecke will recommend that the virus be let spread through the population alongside a programme that concentrates on the “old and frail” and that frequently tests staff and residents in care homes.

And another:

Furthermore, Ireland should also stop aiming for Covid-free status or even for levels as low as in July at the end of lockdown, the president of the Irish Society of Clinical Microbiology, Kirsten Schaffer, will tell the committee.

Of course the obvious problem being that pointed to by the UK government’s CMO yesterday. There is no guarantee of long-lasting immunity to Covid-19, people have caught it again, even if one puts aside the very real non-immediately lethal impacts of the disease on a cohort of those who catch it. Anyone who proposes a course of action that ignores that reality should be considered with some scepticism.

And there’s no clear way in multi-generational households and other settings to ensure that people are ‘protected’, indeed there’s more than one person I know who will find the idea that being ‘over 60’ somehow implies they are ‘old and frail’. Though the impacts on some of those in their 40s and 50s are no picnic either.

There really is a need for some serious push-back to this sort of stuff in the public discourse. And perhaps the IT could look at itself as well, or at least explain why it seems to keen to frame matters in this way.


1. EWI - September 23, 2020

The Irish Times is being utterly irresponsible in pushing this, and were *quite* clearly handed this product in advance of the presentations by characters with a clear motive. Prime suspicion must surely rest on whoever recruited these pair to appear in front of the committee?

Schaffer appears to have no direct link to public health policy as a microbioligist of six years, and the Swede is *this* emeritus guy:

Swedish Professor Johan Giesecke has given a follow-up interview to the main Swedish broadsheet, Svenska Dagbladet, in which he responds to Professor Neil Ferguson’s interview on UnHerd: “I know [Ferguson] a little and he is normally quite arrogant, but I have never seen him as tense and nervous as during that interview,” he said.

Giesecke stands by his fundamentally different assessment of the threat of the Covid-19 threat:

Ferguson modified quite a few of the straightforward statements [from his report], but still seems to think that the lethality is somewhere at just under one percent, while I think it is actually much lower, perhaps as low as 0.1%.

He flatly rejects Professor Ferguson’s prediction that deaths in Sweden will continue to rise.

No, on the contrary, I think the number will go down — although it may tick up slightly when we get an outbreak in West Götaland or Skåne [provinces of Sweden that have so far been less badly affected].

Challenged on the apparent success of New Zealand in eliminating the virus completely, with a highly interventionist approach, Professor Giesecke asked whether that will really look like success in the long term:

Yes, it seems they have [suppressed the virus completely]. But what are they going to do now? To keep the country virus free, they will have to keep their borders closed. Everyone travelling in must be quarantined for 14 days before being admitted to the country, and if no good vaccine arrives, New Zealand will have to keep that quarantine for a long time. A very long time…

(This was back in April)



WorldbyStorm - September 23, 2020

Thanks EWI for that digging. Absolutely telling this guy has been invited to address the committee. The head of which was over on RTÉ offering a remarkably laissez faire view of matters. Will anyone on the committee have the gumption to call all this out?

Btw the Swiss National task force on COVID 19 has dismissed the idea of controlled release for much the same reasons as noted above. I suspect we’d be waiting for reps from them, to be invited.


roddy - September 23, 2020

I have just asked Mrs Roddy to put a blanket over my knees and make me a cup of Horlicks.

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - September 23, 2020

I’m six years off myself. I’ll have the Complan please.


sonofstan - September 23, 2020

From ‘Where’s me Jumper?’ to ‘Where’s me Werther’s?’. Mind you, if you’re gonna be a grumpy old lad, Yorkshire is the place to be: they start practicing at about 35 around here.

Liked by 2 people

CL - September 23, 2020

“Meanwhile, the chairman of the Covid-19 committee has said that giving people choices rather than forcing lockdowns needs to be looked at as a more successful way to respond to the virus in the longer term.
Michael McNamara has said that measuring the success of a lockdown is difficult and it must be asked whether the aim of a lockdown is to temporarily suppress the virus or is done for another reason…..
Lockdowns are not inevitable, he said, adding that we need to consider is it possible to shield the vulnerable from the virus while allowing society to move and to operate more normally.

He said the committee would hear the views of other countries including Sweden today and said this is important so as not to risk being insular in our response to the virus.”

“What goes unsaid is that this strategy of shielding is distinctly western, and has not proven particularly effective at protecting these individuals.
The first vocal proponent of shielding was Boris Johnson, who announced in mid-March that the UK would keep its economy open and achieve “herd immunity”….
In contrast, east Asian governments have adopted policies focused almost exclusively on mass testing, tracing, and isolation of infectious individuals. In South Korea and Taiwan, governments made two face masks a week available to citizens and registered non-citizens across the country. The core objective in these countries was to drive the virus out and prevent both young and old people catching it….
multi-generational living complicates attempts at shielding. Elderly people who are shielding and living with family members under one roof are especially at risk as countries move to reopen their economies. This risk shouldn’t be understated. In the US, 13 million Americans over 65 live in multigenerational households. Some don’t have the space for their own room. For members of this group who are clinically extremely vulnerable, shielding isn’t really an option….

Many younger individuals live with key risk factors that put them into vulnerable groups, and some will be deemed clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. Earlier this month, the world’s largest patient study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Oxford University found that key factors relating to coronavirus deaths included uncontrolled diabetes, severe asthma, obesity, poverty and ethnic minority status.”


EWI - September 23, 2020

So it’s McNamara who brought this guy in, then? This cherrypicking of people outside the consensus is an old trick out of climate change and tobacco/cancer denialism in the US.

And they aren’t ‘the views of Sweden’, just one apparemt crank and his boosters. The Swedes have unique constitutional prohibitions on restricting the movements of citizens, which is vital context to understanding what has happened there and why.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - September 23, 2020

And just on Sweden, it’s not even as if it is quite as advertised. Yes, they took a lighter touch, but dig in as with even this near hagiographic interview with Anders Tegnell and it all looks a little more nuanced…

“I suggest to Tegnell that an alien landing in Sweden would have difficulty knowing there is a pandemic whereas in England or France, with face masks prevalent, they would realise immediately. He argues that while that might be true on the surface, especially with masks – which Sweden is one of the few countries not to recommend wearing in public – the differences elsewhere are exaggerated. Swedes have stopped travelling just as much as neighbours; hotels and restaurants may not have closed but have been severely affected.

He points to the markings in supermarkets showing people where to stand and detailed restrictions on restaurants in terms of how many people they can have and how they serve them.

“These types of restrictions don’t exist almost anywhere else than in Sweden. We have really tried to focus on places that we have known are going to be really dangerous, while going into a record shop and buying a record will not cause hundreds of people to get infected,” he says, adding: “It is there, but I think, as an alien, you need to be here a bit longer to see it.”

Irony of ironies, the very day RTÉ and the IT are coming out with the other stuff about the committee we see:


Isn’t it time that the political and media classes woke up to the fact there’s no quick fix in this and that any seeming ‘easy’ solution is likely to be anything but.

Liked by 1 person

2. Joe - September 23, 2020

I know it’s a bit soon to be changing it but we have a new strapline right there…. The Cedar Lounge Revolution – Old and Frail.

Liked by 2 people

3. crocodileshoes - September 23, 2020

Whenever you hear the phrase ‘older and more vulnerable’, substitute the phrase ‘economically unproductive’ and you’ll understand the motivations Of the speaker more clearly.

Liked by 2 people

4. CL - September 23, 2020

” “I think that the epidemic has largely come and is on its way out in this country “- Professor Sunetra Gupta, May, 2020

Gupta is the main source for the pro-herd immunity approach article in
Jacobin. She was on Prime Time last night debating Tomás Ryan.

“She believes that longer-term lockdown-style social distancing makes us more vulnerable, not less vulnerable, to infectious diseases, because it keeps people unprotected from pathogens”


WorldbyStorm - September 23, 2020

Wow, and yet she still believes she’s correct in the face of the fact that the epidemic has not gone away? Hmmm…


EWI - September 23, 2020

For some who have been cruelly denied the limelight by their professional fields, now is the time to shine with a new professional career path in hackery and contrarianism.

Liked by 2 people

CL - September 23, 2020

“SENIOR PUBLIC HEALTH figures have spoken out very strongly against Ireland adopting any strategy akin to “herd immunity” to tackle Covid-19 and made clear it’s not a strategy that will be adopted here.”


5. gypsybhoy69 - September 24, 2020

I did a search on this character and it seems he’s an alt-right poster boy if the search results are anything to go by. The one thing they bigged up was that he was promoted by the WHO. I don’t how true that is as I didn’t follow up as I felt sick enough doing that trawl.


WorldbyStorm - September 24, 2020

He was promoted as far as I can tell. But a lot would depend on what is his specialism, what areas he has under his charge etc. He could easily be a fantastic public health expert and still be getting this all wrong.

Re the alt-right, isn’t it fascinating how the actual health of actual people isn’t a concern to them? It’s just waved away.


CL - September 24, 2020

“One of the people behind Sweden’s “herd immunity” plan for managing the COVID-19 pandemic has been promoted by the World Health Organization. Johan Giesecke has been given a senior advisory position as vice-chair of the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards.

He was voted into this position, which was then confirmed by WHO. In this role, Giesecke will advise the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on pandemic response….
one email from Giesecke said: “I believe [that] the virus is going to sweep like a storm over Sweden and infect basically everyone in one or two months…I believe that thousands are already infected in Sweden… it will all come to an end when so many have been infected and become therefore immune that the virus has nowhere else to go (so-called herd immunity).”

“Speaking of the call for pursuing a policy of “herd immunity,” the veteran Irish epidemiologist, Dr. Mike Ryan, spokesman for the World Health Organization, said, “Humans are not herds. The term is relevant only to the field of animal husbandry, in which an individual animal in that sense doesn’t matter from the perspective of the brutal economics of those decisions. The use of the term can lead to very brutal arithmetic which does not put people and lives and suffering at the center of that equation….
Herd immunity is the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion are immune to the disease. That immunity can be conferred through a vaccine, as in the case of measles, polio, and other diseases that have been successfully curtailed through systematic public health campaigns.
In relation to coronavirus, however, where there is not yet a vaccine, herd immunity has no legitimate application.”


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