Coronavirus globe graphic
© BioWorld MedTech
Fully referenced facts about Covid-19, provided by experts in the field, to help our readers make a realistic risk assessment. (Regular updates below)
"The only means to fight the plague is honesty." Albert Camus, The Plague (1947)
Overview
  1. According to data from the best-studied countries such as South Korea, Iceland, Germany and Denmark, the overall lethality of Covid19 is in the lower per mille range and thus up to twenty times lower than initially assumed by the WHO.
  2. A study in Nature Medicine comes to a similar conclusion even for the Chinese city of Wuhan. The initially significantly higher values for Wuhan were obtained because a many people with mild or no symptoms were not recorded.
  3. 50% to 80% of test-positive individuals remain symptom-free. Even among the 70 to 79 year old persons about 60% remain symptom-free, many more show only mild symptoms.
  4. The median age of the deceased in most countries (including Italy) is over 80 years and only about 1% of the deceased had no serious previous illnesses. The age and risk profile of deaths thus essentially corresponds to normal mortality.
  5. Many media reports of young and healthy people dying from Covid19 have proven to be false upon closer inspection. Many of these people either did not die from Covid19 or they in fact had serious preconditions (such as undiagnosed leukaemia).
  6. Normal overall mortality in the US is about 8000 people per day, in Germany about 2600 people and in Italy about 1800 people per day. Influenza mortality in the US is up to 80,000, in Germany and Italy up to 25,000, and in Switzerland up to 1500 people per winter.
  1. Strongly increased death rates, as in northern Italy, can be influenced by additional risk factors such as very high air pollution and legionella contamination, as well as a collapse in the care of the elderly and sick due to infections, mass panic and lockdown.
  2. In countries such as Italy and Spain, and to some extent Great Britain and the US, a serious overload of hospitals, notably by the flu, is not unusual. In addition, up to 15% of doctors and nurses currently have to self-quarantine, even if they develop no symptoms.
  3. An important distinction concerns the question of whether people die with or indeed from coronaviruses. Autopsies show that in many cases the previous illnesses were an important or decisive factor, but the official figures usually do not reflect this.
  4. Thus in order to assess the danger of the disease, the key indicator is not the often mentioned number of test-positive persons and deceased, but the number of persons who actually and unexpectedly develop or die of pneumonia.
  5. The often shown exponential curves of "corona cases" are misleading, since the number of tests also increases exponentially. In most countries, the ratio of positive tests to total tests either remains constant between 5% to 15% or increases only very slowly.
  6. Countries without lockdowns and contact bans, such as Japan, South Korea and Sweden, have not experienced a more negative course of events than other countries. This might call into question the effectiveness of such far-reaching measures.
  7. According to leading lung specialists, invasive ventilation of Covid19 patients is often counterproductive and causes additional damage to the lungs. The invasive ventilation of Covid19 patients is partly done out of fear of spreading the virus through aerosols.
  8. Contrary to original assumptions, however, the WHO determined at the end of March that there is no evidence of aerosol dispersal of the virus. A leading German virologist also found no aerosol and no smear infections in a pilot study.
  9. Many clinics in Europe and the US have been lacking patients and some have had to introduce short-time work. Numerous operations and therapies were cancelled by clinics, even emergency patients sometimes stay at home out of fear of the virus.
  10. Several media have been caught trying to dramatize the situation in clinics, sometimes even with manipulative pictures and videos. In general, many media outlets do not question even doubtful official statements and figures.
  11. The virus test kits used internationally are prone to errors. Several studies have shown that even normal corona viruses can give a false positive result. Moreover, the virus test currently in use has not been clinically validated due to time pressure.
  12. Numerous internationally renowned experts from the fields of virology, immunology and epidemiology consider the measures taken to be counterproductive and recommend a rapid natural immunisation of the general population while protecting risk groups.
  13. The number of people suffering from unemployment, psychological problems and domestic violence as a result of the measures taken has exploded in the US and worldwide. Several experts believe that the measures may claim more lives than the virus itself.
  14. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that the corona crisis is used for the massive and permanent expansion of global surveillance. 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".
See also: The Open Letter by Professor Bhakdi to German Chancellor Merkel.

Below you will find regular, but not daily, updates on medical and political developments.

April 12, 2020

New studies
  • Stanford professor of medicine John Ioannidis concludes in a new study that the risk of death from Covid19 for people under 65 years of age, even in global "hotspots", is equivalent to the risk of a fatal car accident for daily commuters driving between 9 and 400 miles.
  • In a serological pilot study, the German virologist Hendrick Streeck comes to the interim result that the lethality of Covid19 is at 0.37% and the mortality (based on the total population) at 0.06%. These values are about ten times lower than those of the WHO and about five times lower than those of Johns Hopkins University.
  • A Danish study with 1500 blood donors found that the lethality of Covid19 is only 1.6 per thousand, i.e. more than 20 times lower than originally assumed by the WHO and thus in the range of a strong (pandemic) influenza. At the same time Denmark has decided to reopen schools and kindergartens next week.
  • A serological study in the US state of Colorado comes to the preliminary conclusion that the lethality of Covid19 has been overestimated by a factor of 5 to a factor of 20 and is likely to be in the range between normal and pandemic influenza.
  • A study conducted by the Medical University of Vienna concluded that the age and risk profile of Covid19 deaths is similar to normal mortality.
  • A study in the Journal of Medical Virology concludes that the internationally used coronavirus test is unreliable: In addition to the already known problem of false positive results, there is also a "potentially high" rate of false negative results, i.e. the test does not respond even in symptomatic individuals, while in other patients it does respond once and then again not. This makes it more difficult to exclude other flu-like illnesses.
  • A Swiss biophysicist has for the first time evaluated and graphically displayed the rate of positive tests in the US, Germany and Switzerland. The result shows that the positive rate in these countries is increasing only slightly and not exponentially.
  • Dr. Daniel Jeanmonod, emeritus Swiss professor of physiology and neurosurgery, recommends in an analysis: "Think deep, do good science, and do not panic!"
  • US researchers conclude that local air pollution greatly increases the risk of death from Covid19. This confirms earlier studies from Italy and China.
  • The WHO concluded at the end of March that, contrary to earlier assumptions, Covid19 is not transmitted by aerosols ("through the air"). Transmission mainly takes place through direct contact or by droplet infection (coughing, sneezing).
  • The German-American epidemiology professor Knut Wittkowski argues in a new interview that the Covid19 epidemic is already declining or even "already over" in many countries. The curfews had come too late and had been counterproductive, Wittkowski argues.
European Mortality Monitoring

European mortality monitoring now shows a clear projected excess mortality in the over-65 age group in several European countries. In some countries, however, including Germany and Austria, mortality in this age group is still in the normal range (or even below).

The question remains open as to whether the partially increased mortality is due to the coronavirus alone or also due to the sometimes drastic measures taken (e.g. isolation, stress, cancelled operations, etc.), and whether mortality will still be increased in the annual view.

Among the age groups under 65 years, so far only in England there is a projected increase in mortality beyond earlier waves of influenza. The median age of test-positive deceased is 80 in Italy, 83 in Germany and 84 in Switzerland.

Switzerland
  • According to the latest report of the Federal Office of Public Health, the median age of test-positive deceased is now 84 years. The number of hospitalised patients remains constant.
  • A study by ETH Zurich found that the infection rate in Switzerland fell to a stable value of 1 several days before the "lockdown", presumably due to general hygiene and everyday measures. If this result is correct, it would fundamentally question the sense of a "lockdown". (About the study)
  • The Swiss magazine Infosperber criticizes the information policy of authorities and the media: "Instead of informing, authorities conduct a PR campaign". Misleading figures and graphics are used to spread at least partly unjustified fear.
  • The Swiss consumer protection magazine Ktipp also criticises the information policy and media reporting: "Authorities provide misleading information".
  • A Swiss researcher has analysed the latest Covid19 report of the Federal Office of Public Health and comes to a very critical conclusion: the report is "scientifically unbalanced, patronising and misleading". In consideration of the facts, the measures taken by authorities are "irresponsible and inducing fear".
  • In an open letter to the Swiss Minister of Health, Swiss doctors speak of a "discrepancy between the threat scenario, which has been fuelled above all by the media, and our reality. The Covid19 cases observed in the general population were few and mostly mild, but "anxiety disorders and panic attacks" are on the increase in the population and many patients no longer dare to come to important examination appointments. "And this in connection with a virus whose dangerous­ness, according to our perception, exists in Switzerland only in the media and in our heads."
  • Due to the very low patient workload, several clinics in Switzerland and Germany have now had to announce short-time work. The decrease in patients is up to 80%.
  • The Swiss physician Dr. Paul Robert Vogt has written a highly shared article on Covid19. He criticizes a "sensationalistic press", but also warns that this is not an "ordinary flu". However, the physician is wrong in some points: lethality rate and median age are very much key variables, differentiation between with/by coronavirus is essential, respiratory masks and respirators are unsuitable in many cases (see below), and curfews are a questionable and possibly counterproductive measure.
Germany and Austria
  • In a new paper, German health experts criticise the crisis policy of the Federal Government. They speak of long-term damage to the population caused by the partial shutdown. The figures published by the RKI were "only of limited significance".
  • In a statement, the Federal Association of German Pathologists demands that there must be autopsies of "corona deaths" (in order to determine the true cause of death) and thus explicitly contradicts "the recommendation of the Robert Koch Institute", which spoke out against autopsies, allegedly because they were too dangerous.
  • Dr. Martin Sprenger resigned his position in the Corona Expert Council of the Austrian Ministry of Health in order to "regain his civil and scientific freedom of opinion". Dr. Sprenger previously criticized, among other things, that the government did not sufficiently differentiate the risk of the virus for different population groups and took too sweeping measures: "We must be careful that the loss of healthy life years due to inadequate care for other acute and chronic diseases is not a factor of 10 times higher than the loss of healthy life years caused by COVID-19".
  • In a German nursing home, an 84-year-old man tested positive for Covid19, after which the entire home was quarantined and mass tests were conducted. The initial test result later turned out to be false, however.
Scandinavia
  • The Norwegian Medical Association writes in an open letter to the Minister of Health that they are concerned that the measures taken could be more dangerous than the virus, as normal patients are no longer being examined and treated.
  • A Swedish author explains in the British Spectator: "It is not Sweden that is conducting a mass experiment. It is all other countries that are doing it."
  • Professor Ansgar Lohse, Director at the Hamburg University Hospital, explains in an interview: "In my opinion, the Swedish measures are the most rational in the world. Of course, the question arises whether this can be kept up psychologically. Initially, the Swedes have to reckon with significantly more deaths, but in the medium to long term these will then be significantly reduced. The bill will be paid in a year - if the Swedes can hold out. Unfortunately, the fear of the virus often forces politicians to take actions that are not necessarily reasonable. Politics is driven also by the images in the media."
  • According to Swedish chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, Stockholm may now have reached a "plateau" with regard to Covid infections. (More news about Sweden)
US and Asia
  • In the US, the authorities now also recommend that all test-positive deaths and even suspect cases without a positive test result be registered as "Covid deaths". An American physician and state senator from Minnesota declared that this was tantamount to manipulation. Furthermore, there would be financial incentives for hospitals to declare patients as Covid19 patients. (Some humour on this topic).
  • A Covid19 field hospital near Seattle in Washington State was closed after only three days without admitting any patients. This is reminiscent of the hospitals built at short notice near Wuhan, which were also mostly under-utilized or even empty and were then dismantled after a short time.
  • Numerous media reported on alleged "corona mass graves" on Hart Island near New York. These reports are misleading in two respects: firstly, Hart Island has long been one of the best-known "cemeteries of the poor" in the US, and secondly the mayor of New York declared that no mass graves are planned, but that "unclaimed" deceased (i.e. without relatives) are to be buried on Hart Island.
  • One of the leading Indian epidemiologists said that "We cannot run away to the moon". He recommends the rapid development of a natural immunity in the population.
Northern Italy

Regarding northern Italy, several potential risk factors have recently been discussed.

It is true that two major vaccination campaigns against influenza and meningococcus were carried out in Lombardy in the months immediately preceding the outbreak of Covid19, notably in the later hotspots of Bergamo and Brescia. Although it is theoretically possible that such vaccinations could interact with coronavirus infections, such a possibility has not been established at present.

It is also true that a high asbestos exposure was present in northern Italy in the past, which increases the risk of cancerous lung disease. But here again, there is no direct connection with Covid19.

Nevertheless, in general it is true that the lung health of the population in northern Italy has been affected for a long time by high levels of air pollution and other detrimental factors, making it particularly susceptible to respiratory diseases.

Winter smog Northern Italy

Winter smog (NO2) in Northern Italy in February 2020 (ESA)


Swiss chief physician Pietro Vernazza


The Swiss chief physician of Infectiology, Professor Pietro Vernazza, has published four new articles on studies concerning Covid19.
  • The first article is about the fact that there has never been medical evidence for the efficacy of school closures, as children in general do not develop the Covid disease nor are they among the vectors of the virus (unlike with influenza).
  • The second article is about the fact that respiratory masks generally have no detectable effect, with one exception: sick people with symptoms (notably coughing) can reduce the spread of the virus. Otherwise the masks are rather symbolic or a "media hype".
  • The third article deals with the question of mass testing. The conclusion of Professor Vernazza: "Anyone who has symptoms of a respiratory disease stays at home. The same applies to the flu. There is no added value in testing."
  • The fourth article deals with the Covid19 risk groups. According to current knowledge, these include people with high blood pressure - it is suspected that the Covid19 virus uses cell receptors that are also responsible for regulating blood pressure. However, surprisingly, people with immunodeficiency and pregnant women (who naturally have a reduced immune system) are not at risk. On the contrary, the risk of Covid19 is often an overreaction of the immune system.
Intensive vs. palliative care

A German palliative physician explains in an interview that Covid19 is "not an intensive care disease", as the severely affected people are typically people of old age who have multiple pre-existing conditions. When these people get pneumonia, they "have always been given palliative care (i.e. accompanying death)". With a Covid19 diagnosis, however, this would now become an intensive care case, but "of course the patients still cannot be saved".

The expert describes the current actions of many decision-makers as "panic mode". At present, intensive care beds in Germany are still relatively empty. Respirators are free. For financial reasons, hospital managers may soon come up with the idea of admitting elderly people. "In 14 days, the wards will be full of unsalvageable, multi morbid old people. And once they are on the machines, the question arises as to who will switch them off again, as that would be a homicide." An "ethical catastrophe" from greed may ensue, warns the physician.

Ventilation with Covid19

There has been and still is a worldwide rush for ventilators for Covid19 patients. This site was one of the first in the world to draw attention to the fact that invasive ventilation (intubation) may be counterproductive in many cases and may cause additional harm to patients.

Invasive ventilation was originally recommended because low oxygen levels led to the false conclusion of acute respiratory (lung) failure, and there was a fear that with more gentle, non-invasive techniques the virus could spread through aerosols.

In the meantime, several leading pulmonologists and intensive care physicians from the US and Europe have spoken out against invasive ventilation and recommend more gentle methods or indeed oxygen therapy, as already successfully used by South Korea. Political developments
  • NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden warns in a new interview that governments are using the coronavirus to build an "architecture of oppression".
  • Apple and Google have announced that they will work with national authorities to incorporate a so-called "contact tracing" into their mobile operating systems, which will allow authorities to monitor contacts within the population.
  • German constitutional law expert Uwe Volkmann said on ARD that he knows "nobody" among his colleagues who considers the Corona measures to be in conformity with the constitution.
  • The Italian government has set up a "task force" to "eliminate" false reports about Covid on the Internet. However, freedom of expression remains "untouched", it was said.
  • France has extended, due to Covid, the permitted pre-trial detention and suspended the examination by a judge. Complaints by lawyers' associations were rejected.
  • Denmark introduced "unprecedentedly tough emergency laws" at the beginning of April: "The health authorities can now order compulsory tests, compulsory vaccinations and compulsory treatment, and use the military and private security services in addition to the police to enforce their orders."
  • The police in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia are testing drones in "corona missions", specifically to search for prohibited groups of people.
  • The German state of Saxony wants to put quarantine objectors in psychiatric hospitals.
  • A Swiss doctor has been arrested and sent to psychiatry for criticizing the corona measures and allegedly making threats against authorities.
  • In Germany, an attorney in medical law has filed a constitutional complaint against the Corona measures and published an open letter on the subject, in which she warns against slipping into a police state and called for demonstrations. The public prosecutor's office and the police then started investigations against the lawyer for "calling for a criminal offence", and the lawyer's website was temporarily shut down. The constitutional complaint has since been rejected.
  • In Austria, too, several lawyers have now lodged complaints against the Corona measures with the Constitutional Court. The lawyers argue that fundamental rights and separation of powers have been violated by the measures.
  • The mayor of Los Angeles promised a reward for "snitches" who report their neighbours to the authorities if they violate the curfews.
  • In the US, more than 16 million people are already unemployed due to the lockdown, which is about 10% of the working population. According to the International Labor Organization, 80% of the world's 3.3 billion workers are currently affected by the measures, and 1.25 billion workers could be affected by "drastic or catastrophic" consequences.
unemployment

Weekly new unemployment claims in the US.