Professor Michael Baker’s recent Stuff comments appeared desperate and certainly revealing.
First, the desperate. He labelled the UK’s possible move from Covid-19 restrictions to freedom a “barbaric experiment”.
Let that sink in.
Returning to normal is a "barbaric experiment". But not locking people up, making them wear masks, not letting them hug nana, subjecting them to alert systems, track and trace, closing businesses, schools and playgrounds, etcetera. The restrictions themselves are not experimental or barbaric. But letting people go about their business is.
Professor Baker seemingly has no awareness of how messed up that sounds.
The UK Professor Lockdowns have gone further declaring more freedom “criminal”. There’s no science in any of this. There is no outline of the costs and consequences of alternative courses of action. There is only fear-inducing political hyperbole.
The Professors are ramping up because people are growing weary and putting politicians under pressure.
Hence the desperation. Political leaders are now looking past the dictates of Public Health experts.
Professor Baker's comments are also revealing.
“I think we just have to look at what we regard as normal.” We never again can be free. Covid means we must surrender our rights as citizens that our forebears fought and died for.
The “flatten the curve” has morphed into a perpetual state of affairs.
Prof Baker then compares covid to the ’flu.
He declared it shocking that we accept that hundreds die every winter from the ’flu. He described it like the Grim Reaper going through and collecting its harvest. The implication is that we should be instituting covid-like public health measures for the ’flu.
I am sure I get just as upset as Prof Baker when friends and family die. But I accept that all of us eventually will die and that when we are old and sick it is often the ’flu that carries us off.
Indeed, the ’flu/pneumonia was once called the “old man’s friend”. That’s because it would take the elderly and infirm relatively peacefully much to the relief of family and friends who didn’t want their loved ones to suffer further.
The one New Zealand covid death with which I am familiar was a blessing for the deceased and friends and family. The gentleman was very old, very frail, very sick and very demented. And yet the news presented his death on the front page as a tragedy.
It was not.
It was a very old man, who had had a very long and full life, passing away. His was not the tragic death of a young man with his entire life ahead of him.
To see through scare-mongering headlines requires comparing the numbers dying last year with the years before.
That is what actuaries do. And they are very good at it. They have big money riding on the accuracy of their work.
There has been headline after headline of the high death toll from covid in the UK. But how many of them were like the death that I know of? Quite a lot it would seem.
The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries have taken the deaths for England and Wales each year, adjusted for age and population size, to show the last ten years to be the least deadly in history with last year (the year of the pandemic) not as bad as 2009 or any year prior. The death rate last year was better than 2008 and every year before that.
And this year is running below even the ten year average.
That should be all we need to know. The actuarial work cuts through reported covid deaths to show the numbers actually dying compared to other years. Last year was not that bad and this year is set to be very good.
I would have thought the numbers would be front page news. But no.
I don’t know why that is. I suspect because the facts run so counter to the story that has run for months day-in and day-out. It could be a very bad case of cognitive dissonance.
It’s the basic questions that never get asked. Journalists now are gullible, not sceptical. They can’t seem to think and reason. They are susceptible to experts.
There’s also money involved. The government has just handed Stuff half-a-million dollars to “counter covid misinformation”. That’s right, the government is paying Stuff to report directly from the Podium of Truth.
Let that sink in.
Postscript: Boris Johnson has cancelled plans for a “Churchillian” launch of Freedom Day. There’s been a surge in infections. It’s like Churchill on 4 June 1940 declaring, “Oh my gosh, Hitler has more planes and tanks than I thought. Run!”