The pandemic denial squad have been getting terribly excited overnight after reading an article in the Daily Mail. Those commenting favourably upon it include the loathsome Toby Young, and the world’s most unappealing pundit Carole Malone. What their applause masks is that the article concerned does not stand up to the most basic scrutiny.
He puts forward several instances of “Claim” and rebuts them under the heading “Reality”. But the latter does not always answer the former. Take his first one. “Claim: ICU beds in Liverpool are already 95 per cent full”, which he answers with “Reality: Fewer ICU beds are occupied than last year”. That does not address the “Claim”. Next!
“Claim: The Covid-19 death rate is actually high” is answered by “Reality: It really isn’t”. Here, the “Claim” is grossly misleading: it comes from a calculation back in March, so “is” should have been “was”. And it still doesn’t address the point that Covid-19 is potentially deadly. Get the idea? His next one is a real Lulu.
“Claim: A second spike could cause twice as many deaths” is rebutted by “Reality: Far fewer people are dying now”. His response does not address the “Claim”, which talks about what COULD possibly happen over the Winter. We know that fewer deaths are being recorded than at the height of the first wave in March. This is seriously misleading.
Then comes another claim which has not been made, this one being “Claim: Hospitals are less prepared than this time in March”, to which he counters “Reality: Doctors are far better equipped to fight the virus”. Again, his response does not address his first claim, which in turn is not supported by his evidence, which is a single source to boot.
Further along comes “Claim: We will never get to herd immunity”, countered by “Reality: We shouldn't rule it out”. But we won’t achieve herd immunity without a vaccine. Ah, but Clark has two eminent sources to back him up. Two of the three who put their names to the Great Barrington Declaration. Which has been totally discredited.
And the pièce de résistance. “Claim: Only a 'circuit breaker' will stop virus”. No. Just no. That has not been claimed. Buying time, suppressing the virus (not “stop”) and giving the NHS a chance of being able to cope this side of a vaccine coming on stream. That’s Clark’s article in a nutshell: putting up a succession of variously exaggerated and misleading straw men, then waving them away to reassure the denialists.
This is appallingly irresponsible journalism. But it meets the Mail’s agenda and gives the “It’s not really happening” fringe something for their next TV slot, so that’s all right, then.