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Saturday 17 October 2020

Mail Covid Denialism BUSTED

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.

Truth about the claims scaring us all to death: Soaring infections, teeming hospital wards, and terrifying death rates... but do the numbers justifying crippling new lockdowns REALLY stand up to scrutiny?is the headline, and the author is one Ross Clark. Clark is on the libertarian fringe, so his agenda-driven copy should not come as a surprise.

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.

And he then does it again, with “Claim: The current wave of infection will tear through the elderly” (which no-one has said), and “Reality: We are far better prepared this time around”. Better prepared for what? More funerals? In any case, you guessed it, his response does not address the posited “Claim”, which hasn’t been made in any case.

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.

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Stephen said...

I reckon they really composed the declaration in Little Barrington, but then went half a mile down the road to Great Barrington for the publicity stuff. The Little Barrington Declaration would not be cited anything like as much.

Stephen said...

Damn, wrong Great Barrington.

Steve Woods said...

"Truth about the claims scaring us all to death: Soaring infections, teeming hospital wards, and terrifying death rates... but do the numbers justifying crippling new lockdowns REALLY stand up to scrutiny?"

If its headlines get any longer, the Mail is going to have to start serialising them.

Anonymous said...

Some serious journalism is really needed.
How many beds in Liverpool are taken up compared to the last twenty years average?
There was a similar story about Blackpool Victoria Hospital, it was stated that the hospital was full, it was the Covid-19 beds that were full, not the 700 plus beds the hospital has.
We need critical thinking on both sides.
Its the only way to come out of this on the other side.

Anonymous said...

Tobes otherwise known on certain petitions as Dr. P. Enis