Lisbon
© AP/Armando Franca
Lisbon, Portugal • January, 2021
Our family spent some time with Swedish friends yesterday, showing them around Sintra. As we would move from car to building, I would have to remind to have masks handy. See, in Sweden, they aren't required to use masks. Our guests are not habituated to mask-wearing like the rest of us in the western world. There were guidelines implemented to reduce risks, some folks were asked to work from home, and general precautions were given, but it was nowhere near the heavy-handed approach most of the western world implemented. Official data shows Sweden had FEWER deaths than Portugal, despite the lockdowns Portugal implemented. Listening to our friends speak about the differences between Portugal and Sweden's COVID response was fascinating and infuriating.

But things took a decidedly darker twist when a friend from Canada sent a report about Portugal. The report links to a Judicial ruling stating that only 152 death certificates in Portugal list COVID as the cause of death. You heard correctly. 152 COVID deaths in Portugal from January 1, 2020, to April 18, 2021, not 15,000, as is popularly understood. If you're like me, you're not going to take this statement at face value. So here's a link to the Judicial ruling. Section III.1, Item 4 is the damning bit of the report.

So who's behind the report? A pulmonary disease doctor named Andre Dias. You can read his open letter to the Portuguese President asking for Portugal to review its COVID stance. If you're not fluent in Portuguese, Google Translate makes a nice browser extension that allows you to translate any language to English automatically. It's also hard to overemphasize just how conservative Portugal is compared to the USA. Doctors like Andre really don't stick their necks out without feeling a moral imperative. And reaching for political power is almost totally absent in my experience. Getting on with one another is more important.

In his letter, Dr. Dias quotes that the best data available shows COVID has a .36% fatality rate. In other words, that's 36 out of 10,000 people who contract COVID will die. But, BUT, Dr. Dias's open letter was written before the ruling by the judge reducing the death factor by 100 from 15,000 to 150. That puts the official fatality rate in Portugal at .017%. It's hard for me to imagine Portugal was alone in their over-reporting of deaths.

But here's the real issue that Dr. Andre Dias nails:
"However, I am aware that, in addition to the health problem, we now have a psychological problem: the citizens are afraid. Even if the perceived danger of the virus is illusory, the fear that is installed is real and makes it difficult to rationally interpret current data."
The data is increasingly difficult to interpret the wrong way. Setting the recent Judicial ruling on COVID death's aside, the popularly reported death rates between Portugal and Sweden show NO DIFFERENCE in mortality rates from lockdowns versus no lockdowns. At this point, if you're living in fear of COVID, know that your fear response has taken over your rational faculties. No problem there. It happens to all of us from time to time.

But by the living saints, if you're not going to take responsibility for your fear, then isolate yourself from those of us not living in fear. Better yet, dig into the data and see if I'm lying. Maybe you'll come out of your fearful daze. And if you do, know that your fear will likely morph into a wall of anger at the institutional betrayal we've all experienced. Really, I would like to be proven wrong so I can stop thinking this entire situation is one big psyops operation to scare the global population into giving up liberties to their governments. Seriously — someone, please find me some tangible data so I don't think the world is going insane from an invisible virus we should have named FEAR instead of COVID.