These six flights help to explain why the entire world was gripped by fear, with consequences that we’ll be living with for many years to come.
Thread. In 2020, the world became convinced that a deadly coronavirus was plaguing the human race.
A virus that could kill nearly 1 out of every 100 people it infected, or so we were told.
Come with me, and I’ll show you where that belief came from. Remember that in March, Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London predicted 510,000 Covid-19 deaths in Britain and 2.2 million Covid-19 deaths in the US. Healthcare systems would be overwhelmed.
This could only be avoided by “non-pharmaceutical interventions” (lockdown, etc.)
In early May, Boris Johnson insisted it was a “fact” that half a million lives were saved by lockdown, compared to the “reasonable worst case scenario”.
The source for this belief was “an analysis of a subset of cases from China”.
Let’s go down the rabbit hole…
But it was originally conceived by Neil Ferguson (“NMF”), who also contributed to the study.
Covid-19 was “a major global health threat” that would overwhelm “even the most advanced healthcare systems”.
They had a number for how many people died of Covid-19 in China (mostly Wuhan) as of Feb 11th (1,023 deaths).
That’s the numerator in the IFR calculation.
What they needed was an estimate for the total number of people had who been infected.
They came up with a solution for Wuhan: count how many people escaping the city by plane tested positive for the virus.
To match up with the timing of the death data, they used passenger test results from flights that took place over two days in late Jan/early Feb.
How many flights, you might ask?
Out of 689 passengers, only six people tested positive for Covid.
These six people were crucial for estimating disease prevalence, the IFR, and ultimately forecasting death all around the world.
As we live through the consequences of economic depression and the (hopefully temporary) destruction of our way of life, remember that it all comes back to the belief that finding six people with Covid on six flights was a good way to estimate how many people had the disease. I could end the thread now, having highlighted the flimsy basis on which the entire house of cards was built, but there’s more.
They admitted that their conclusions were inconsistent with events at the Diamond Princess cruise ship – the best real-world Covid-19 experiment.
They assumed the near-perfect recording of Covid-19 cases outside of Wuhan for everyone between the ages of 30 and 59.
Finally, for those of you who wear tin foil hats instead of face masks, you’ll appreciate the acknowledgement by Ferguson that he works for the Vaccine Alliance, a pharma company which is now making Covid-19 vaccines, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.