COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

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Cardinal Fang
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COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by Cardinal Fang » Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:12 pm

3 different people have emailed me links to this (via DoNotLink: http://www.donotlinkfb.com/skoo). Basically it's claiming that COVID is no more dangerous than flu, or could be caused by air pollution, or being used to justify totalitarianism. It's like one giant gish-gallop.

Anyone know anywhere that's providing a fact checking repository for COVID claims? Don't have the time to play whack-a-mole (unless the hive mind wants to help)?

CF
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Woodchopper
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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Jun 19, 2020 1:05 am

Yes, I’ve come across that one when arguing with denialists. It ticks all the pseudoscience boxes.

ETA Idon’t know of a comprehensive rebuttal. One problem is that the claims on the site keep changing.

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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by bolo » Fri Jun 19, 2020 1:05 am

Possibly not quite what you're looking for, but may be helpful:

https://www.dhs.gov/publication/st-mast ... t-covid-19

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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jimbob » Sun Jun 21, 2020 6:54 pm

Cardinal Fang wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:12 pm
3 different people have emailed me links to this (via DoNotLink: http://www.donotlinkfb.com/skoo). Basically it's claiming that COVID is no more dangerous than flu, or could be caused by air pollution, or being used to justify totalitarianism. It's like one giant gish-gallop.

Anyone know anywhere that's providing a fact checking repository for COVID claims? Don't have the time to play whack-a-mole (unless the hive mind wants to help)?

CF
Colmcq and I have had some similar discussions on Twitter with idiots posting very stupid, similar claims.

It is a bit of a Gish Gallop but I can discount the first few:
  1. According to the latest immunological and serological studies, the overall lethality of Covid-19 (IFR) is about 0.1% and thus in the range of a strong seasonal influenza (flu).
  2. In countries like the US, the UK, and also Sweden (without a lockdown), overall mortality since the beginning of the year is in the range of a strong influenza season; in countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland, overall mortality is in the range of a mild influenza season.
  3. Even in global “hotspots”, the risk of death for the general population of school and working age is typically in the range of a daily car ride to work. The risk was initially overestimated because many people with only mild or no symptoms were not taken into account.


    I looked at the ONS weekly death statistics for up to England and Wales up to week 22 (which was the latest data available). The Tweet to which I was initially replying was claiming that there was no difference from the bad flu season of 2017-2018. And that there was overcounting of COVID-19 deaths.

    So I plotted the weekly deaths from all causes and subtracted the 2018 5-year average. And also plotted those deaths with COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate.

    ONS wk22 2.PNG
    ONS wk22 2.PNG (53.45 KiB) Viewed 648 times
    The x-axis is the week number.

    So we can see the 2017-2018 winter spike, utterly swamped by the April-May numbers for 2020. And that at the peak, there were about 3 weeks undercounting by about 2000, and two undercounting by about 4000 per week.

    The IFR claim is utterly ridiculous. But not the worst I have seen.

    https://twitter.com/jmc4816/status/1269 ... 55617?s=20

    Yes I did point out that to make their numbers right, one would need 200-million people in the UK to have been infected...

  4. Up to 80% of all test-positive persons remain symptom-free. Even among 70-79 year olds, about 60% remain symptom-free. Over 95% of all persons develop at most moderate symptoms.
  5. Up to 60% of all persons may already have a certain cellular background immunity to Covid19 due to contact with previous coronaviruses (i.e. common cold viruses).
    The epidemiologists I follow on Twitter are not even sure how long SARS-COV-19 immunity lasts let alone any other coronaviruses - so that's utter rubbish
  6. The median or average age of the deceased in most countries (including Italy) is over 80 years and only about 4% of the deceased had no serious preconditions. The age and risk profile of deaths thus essentially corresponds to normal mortality.

    This week's episode of More or Less specifically looks at that - and debunks it

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000kdr6
  7. In many countries, up to two thirds of all extra deaths occurred in nursing homes, which do not benefit from a general lockdown. Moreover, in many cases it is not clear whether these people really died from Covid19 or from weeks of extreme stress and isolation.
  8. Up to 30% of all additional deaths may have been caused not by Covid19, but by the effects of the lockdown, panic and fear. For example, the treatment of heart attacks and strokes decreased by up to 60% because many patients no longer dared to go to hospital.
  9. Even in so-called “Covid19 deaths” it is often not clear whether they died from or with coronavirus (i.e. from underlying diseases) or if they were counted as “presumed cases” and not tested at all. However, official figures usually do not reflect this distinction.

    See the More or Less link above
  10. Many media reports of young and healthy people dying from Covid19 turned out to be false: many of these young people either did not die from Covid19, they had already been seriously ill (e.g. from undiagnosed leukaemia), or they were in fact 109 instead of 9 years old. The claimed increase in Kawasaki disease in children also turned out to be false.
  11. Strong increases in regional mortality can occur if there is a collapse in the care of the elderly and sick as a result of infection or panic, or if there are additional risk factors such as severe air pollution. Questionable regulations for dealing with the deceased sometimes led to additional bottlenecks in funeral or cremation services.
  12. In countries such as Italy and Spain, and to some extent the UK and the US, hospital overloads due to strong flu waves are not unusual. This year, up to 15% of doctors and health workers have been put into quarantine, even if they developed no symptoms.
  13. The often shown exponential curves of “corona cases” are misleading, as the number of tests also increased exponentially. In most countries, the ratio of positive tests to tests overall (i.e. the positive rate) remained constant at 5% to 25% or increased only slightly. In many countries, the peak of the spread was already reached well before the lockdown.

    I have seen this claim for the UK and it's very dubious. Based on some wishful thinking. The excess deaths curve also dioesn't support that
  14. Countries without curfews and contact bans, such as Japan, South Korea, Belarus or Sweden, have not experienced a more negative course of events than other countries. Sweden was even praised by the WHO and now benefits from higher immunity compared to lockdown countries.

    Really doesn't bear it out - and South Korea had one of the earliest and most effective track, trace and isolate programmes in the world
    https://www.wired.co.uk/article/sweden- ... d-immunity
  15. The fear of a shortage of ventilators was unjustified. According to lung specialists, the invasive ventilation (intubation) of Covid19 patients, which is partly done out of fear of spreading the virus, is in fact often counterproductive and damaging to the lungs.
  16. Contrary to original assumptions, various studies have shown that there is no evidence of the virus spreading through aerosols (i.e. tiny particles floating in the air) or through smear infections (e.g. on door handles or smartphones). The main modes of transmission are direct contact and droplets produced when coughing or sneezing.
  17. There is also no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of face masks in healthy or asymptomatic individuals. On the contrary, experts warn that such masks interfere with normal breathing and may become “germ carriers”. Leading doctors called them a “media hype” and “ridiculous”.

    16 and 17 contradict each other
  18. Many clinics in Europe and the US remained strongly underutilized or almost empty during the Covid19 peak and in some cases had to send staff home. Millions of surgeries and therapies were cancelled, including many cancer screenings and organ transplants.
  19. Several media were caught trying to dramatize the situation in hospitals, sometimes even with manipulative images and videos. In general, the unprofessional reporting of many media maximized fear and panic in the population.
  20. The virus test kits used internationally are prone to errors and can produce false positive and false negative results. Moreover, the official virus test was not clinically validated due to time pressure and may sometimes react positive to other coronaviruses.
  21. Numerous internationally renowned experts in the fields of virology, immunology and epidemiology consider the measures taken to be counterproductive and recommend rapid natural immunisation of the general population and protection of risk groups.
    Well I'm sure the article can name them then
  22. At no time was there a medical reason for the closure of schools, as the risk of disease and transmission in children is extremely low. There is also no medical reason for small classes, masks or ‘social distancing’ rules in schools.
  23. The claim that only (severe) Covid-19 but not influenza may cause venous thrombosis and pulmonary (lung) embolism is not true, as it has been known for 50 years that severe influenza greatly increases the risk of thrombosis and embolism, too.
    This is a non-sequitur
  24. Several medical experts described express coronavirus vaccines as unnecessary or even dangerous. Indeed, the vaccine against the so-called swine flu of 2009, for example, led to sometimes severe neurological damage and lawsuits in the millions. In the testing of new coronavirus vaccines, too, serious complications and failures have already occurred.
  25. A global influenza or corona pandemic can indeed extend over several seasons, but many studies of a “second wave” are based on very unrealistic assumptions, such as a constant risk of illness and death across all age groups.
    We are already seeing second waves in several US states, for example
  26. Several nurses, e.g. in New York City, described an oftentimes fatal medical mis­manage­ment of Covid patients due to questionable financial incentives or inappropriate medical protocols.
  27. The number of people suffering from unemployment, depressions and domestic violence as a result of the measures has reached historic record values. Several experts predict that the measures will claim far more lives than the virus itself. According to the UN 1.6 billion people around the world are at immediate risk of losing their livelihood.
  28. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that the “corona crisis” will be used for the massive and permanent expansion of global surveillance.

    Why should he know now that presumably, he no longer has access to classified data
  29. The renowned virologist Pablo Goldschmidt spoke of a “global media terror” and “totalitarian measures”. Leading British virologist professor John Oxford spoke of a “media epidemic”.
    All I can find for this claim is several conspiracy theory sites, nothing quoting him with any links attributed to him personally. It's also an argument from authority, Why should these people have any special knowledge about that anyway?
  30. More than 600 scientists have warned of an “unprecedented surveillance of society” through problematic apps for “contact tracing”. In some countries, such “contact tracing” is already carried out directly by the secret service. In several parts of the world, the population is already being monitored by drones and facing serious police overreach.
  31. A 2019 WHO study on public health measures against pandemic influenza found that from a medical perspective, “contact tracing” is “not recommended in any circumstances”. Nevertheless, contact tracing apps have already become partially mandatory in several countries.
I might go on, but when the first few claims are so obviously wrong - it's probably better just pointing out that they're making things up with no care for the truth.

If I tell 5 lies in a row, would you check the remaining 25 statements? Or put the onus onto me to show that I'm not lying about the rest?
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jdc » Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:26 pm

I think no. 4 might be adding together "mild" and "asymptomatic" under the heading "asymptomatic". There was a list of estimates of asymptomatic cases on CEBM: https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/covid-19- ... mptomatic/ and the estimates around 80%+ seem to be for asymptomatic+mild. Given they've quoted that figure and not mentioned any of the much-lower figures, I'd also be inclined to wonder if someone was cherry-picking. [There was one figure of 80% asymptomatic in that CEBM list but it pointedly says "Numbers quoted not verifiable" in the comment section.]

I think no. 5 comes from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32473127/ "Importantly, we detected SARS-CoV-2-reactive CD4+ T cells in ∼40%-60% of unexposed individuals, suggesting cross-reactive T cell recognition between circulating "common cold" coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2."

The reporting of this paper included things like "It is still unclear, though, whether the observed crossreactivity provides at least some level of preexisting immunity to SARS-CoV-2" and "authors Alessandro Sette and Shane Crotty, of La Jolla Institute for Immunology, cautioned that the research did not suggest the epidemic was running out of steam" and "Our study suggests that preexisting immunity might be one of the factors to be considered; but at this point is simply an hypothesis that needs to be addressed with further experiments."

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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jimbob » Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:20 pm

And this description of what "mild" means is also eye-opening if you think it's fine:

https://twitter.com/drphiliplee1/status ... 21184?s=20
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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jimbob » Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:23 pm

As for "No second wave" loads of countries in this tweet

https://twitter.com/Oht20media/status/1 ... 99264?s=20
EaxPmedU4AU4V5h.jpg
EaxPmedU4AU4V5h.jpg (381.39 KiB) Viewed 589 times
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Martin Y
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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by Martin Y » Mon Jun 22, 2020 9:11 am

I went right to the end of the list and had a quick Google.
31. A 2019 WHO study on public health measures against pandemic influenza found that from a medical perspective, “contact tracing” is “not recommended in any circumstances”. Nevertheless, contact tracing apps have already become partially mandatory in several countries.
Wasn't hard to find:
2019 WHO study on pandemic flu: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/han ... g.pdf?ua=1

The supposed quote “not recommended in any circumstances” appears to be a flat lie.
What the document actually says is that contact tracing is "not recommended in general" [but] "could be considered in some locations or circumstances".

Page 38 on contact tracing considers several criteria, for example saying the quality of the evidence to assess its effectiveness is poor and it would consume a lot of resources, but the one criterion which is more positive is "Balance of benefits and harms" which calls it "a potentially useful measure". How ironic then that the lying claimants seek to bolster their lie's authority by claiming that it is "from a medical perspective" since that is the one perspective from which contact tracing looks like a useful idea.

And I haven't even begun to dig into the problems of the last sentence where it claims tracing apps for a different disease are "partially mandatory" (whatever that means) in "several" unnamed countries.

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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jimbob » Tue Jun 23, 2020 6:13 pm

I've now managed to get weekly data for week31 of 1999 to the present for England and wales.

The ONS website put it in about ten different places and you have to download the figures for the graphs...

Basically Figure 6a and 6b from here

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulation ... o2018final

along with figure 4 in the 2012 dataset gets you close enough to use their provisional weekly data for the rest

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulation ... 2012-11-29

Anyway, to nobody's surprise, even that winter was better than April-May. And you can also see the 20-year variation in the data
ONS England and Wales 1999 + by week .PNG
ONS England and Wales 1999 + by week .PNG (110.31 KiB) Viewed 445 times
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Martin Y
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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by Martin Y » Tue Jun 23, 2020 6:21 pm

Which is that especially grim years end, 1999?

Maybe the millennium bug claimed more victims than we knew.

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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jdc » Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:31 pm

Martin Y wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 6:21 pm
Which is that especially grim years end, 1999?

Maybe the millennium bug claimed more victims than we knew.
Bad flu season. I know this because I saw a graph where someone had "moved Covid to winter to compare it to two recent flu years" and 99-00 was one they'd picked. This refers to the high levels of flu in 99-00 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulation ... 2015-11-25

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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jdc » Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:36 pm

This was the graph I'd seen:

Image

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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jimbob » Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:53 pm

jdc wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:36 pm
This was the graph I'd seen:

Image
yes, that was the graph I'd been responding to. I think he did a correction for population but not for wintertime. It's very hard to tie down what he is saying, except LOOK AT MY GRAPHS

And her's an earlier exchange where colmcq and I ended up pointing and laughing.

https://twitter.com/ParkinJim/status/12 ... 46341?s=20

Because he couldn't be bothered to label his axes correctly at first
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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jdc » Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:43 pm

I saw it on an obscure football forum with about half a dozen members. Reposted without comment. Those graphs must be getting into every nook and cranny of the internet.

I'm not sure exactly what I'm supposed to be getting from a graph comparing winter deaths with spring deaths, two different diseases, and various different preventative measures. Looks nice though.

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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jimbob » Tue Jun 23, 2020 9:05 pm

jdc wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:43 pm
I saw it on an obscure football forum with about half a dozen members. Reposted without comment. Those graphs must be getting into every nook and cranny of the internet.

I'm not sure exactly what I'm supposed to be getting from a graph comparing winter deaths with spring deaths, two different diseases, and various different preventative measures. Looks nice though.
He seems to have also increased the 1999 curve by 15% to account for an increase in population but not for the 20% increase in median winter deaths for December over April, but I am sure you would be shocked to hear that he's quite taciturn about his data sources. Or indeed his analyses.

Pretty graphs though.
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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jdc » Tue Jun 23, 2020 11:05 pm

Do you know what I like about your graph, jimbob? I can look up the figures for week 2, 2020 and check them against the little dot that shows week 2, 2020 on your chart. I can't do that with the prettier graph produced by your friend.

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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jimbob » Tue Jun 23, 2020 11:19 pm

jdc wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 11:05 pm
Do you know what I like about your graph, jimbob? I can look up the figures for week 2, 2020 and check them against the little dot that shows week 2, 2020 on your chart. I can't do that with the prettier graph produced by your friend.
I know, it's ace. It's almost as though I'm confident in the simplicity of my approach and the robustness of my data.
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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jimbob » Wed Jun 24, 2020 5:26 pm

jdc wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:36 pm
This was the graph I'd seen:

Image
Because it has been really bugging me, I have just taken their alleged own results (so ignoring the impact of winter) and time shifted the 2020 data to overlap the peaks.

I'm sorry to say that I *still* don't get anything like his graphs.
ons time shifted.PNG
ons time shifted.PNG (34.4 KiB) Viewed 310 times
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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jimbob » Wed Jun 24, 2020 5:55 pm

jimbob wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 5:26 pm
jdc wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:36 pm
This was the graph I'd seen:

Image
Because it has been really bugging me, I have just taken their alleged own results (so ignoring the impact of winter) and time shifted the 2020 data to overlap the peaks.

I'm sorry to say that I *still* don't get anything like his graphs.

ons time shifted.PNG
Oh, he's protected his tweets now...
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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jimbob » Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:28 pm

Well I've worked out WTAF he did.

Sort of.

He's basically substituted from 2019 week 46 onwards, the maximum data from 2020 wk 11 onwards
bad graph.PNG
bad graph.PNG (22.88 KiB) Viewed 221 times
Why people think that is remotely clever or reasonable, I'm not sure, but is certainly makes it look less bad
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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jdc » Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:07 am

Ah, well spotted jimbob.

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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by headshot » Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:33 am


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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by Lew Dolby » Fri Jun 26, 2020 8:55 am

as ever, pity there isn't a way to ensure that the dickheads, and only the dickheads, suffer.

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Re: COVID-19 conspiracy motherlode

Post by jimbob » Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:32 pm

Yet another anti-lockdown person misusing data

https://twitter.com/kerpen/status/1277578660665491456

And the bit he's retweeting approvingly:
On the "same as bad flu" - with a population fatality rate approx 0.04 to 0.05% (or ~500 in a million people) over the season - it is actually pretty much the de facto impact of a bad flu.
Argument against is: "the lockdown magicks kept it low" - but this is not evidence-based...
I did point out that that if the epidemic had finished, we'd need 200% of the UK population to get to that level.
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