A review of Expired: Covid the untold story by Dr. Clare Craig.
I sincerely hope Clare Craig feels better after writing this book. Frankly, I felt worse. I was left angrier about what had happened to us over 2020 and 2021 and more depressed about the possibility that those responsible will ever be brought to account. All without the guarantee that what happened in 2021 will not happen again. In that sense, the book is brilliant; it did its job.
I was sceptical about Covid from the outset. I was based in Wuhan when it all kicked off and in almost continual contact with colleagues there on return. I knew that people were not dropping dead in the street. In fact, nobody I knew in Wuhan had caught Covid by the end of 2020. So, I have long been on the same side of the ditch as Clare but that has not immunised me from the disappointment I experience when, yet again, I scan the Covid skyline and realise we were right-royally and collectively taken to the epidemiological cleaners in 2020. Even those amongst us who were sceptics.
Dr. Claire Craig is a consultant pathologist and Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists. I wish I could say that alone means she ought to be taken seriously. But when I think how many of her fellow professionals (and mine) mobbed, pilloried and cancelled me on Twitter in early 2020 I realise that medical qualifications and fellowships alone are no protection against abject stupidity and foul-mouthed invective. After all, the author herself fell for the Covid narrative, initially. One wonders how that is possible, until it is recalled the propaganda, fear and peer pressure generated in early 2020.
After all, a degree in biochemistry and a fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh did not prevent me from seeing the dangers that lurked behind injecting an experimental therapy which made use of the central dogma of genetics to send antigenic spike proteins to the furthest regions of our bodies. I never advocated the vaccines but, then again, for most of late 2020 and early 2021 I never criticised them. The anti-vaxxers and virus sceptics amongst my friends have never forgiven me. Given the vicious treatment meted out to the likes of Dr. John Campbell, Andrew Bridgen, Toby Young and Dr. Aseem Malhotra by comedian and leading Covid commentator Abi Roberts and her ilk, I don’t suppose Clare will ever be forgiven either.
Clare Craig writes with an obvious passion and that passion made this a page turner for me. Forgive the cliché, but it was a journey; a journey through the author’s mind at times and the major impression I got was one of sincerity.
Somewhat smugly, I thought I would have little to learn from Expired. I was wrong. In my own intense reading and writing on face masks I had not encountered so clearly, and in such detail, an explanation of why they don’t work. Covid, like many respiratory viruses, is spread by aerosol, extremely small airborne particles with an almost infinite capacity for spread. These are found atop high mountains and, essentially, anywhere there is atmosphere. Where there is air there are viruses. There is, in fact, very little we can do to combat them and the aerosol theory — with considerable evidence to support it — means all our efforts were in vain: lockdowns, social distancing and face masks.
We were just as likely to catch Covid from the person locked down across the road, with his or her windows wide open as per Government advice, if our windows were likewise open than we were from our spouse. Thus, people locked down in cruise ships and quarantine hotels who never made physical contact or came within proximity spread and caught Covid, seemingly inexplicably. Then, when vaccines, with an absolute risk reduction of approximately 1% proved to be useless, Covid continued to spread. That said, apart from passing and oblique reference to compulsory vaccine mandates, Expired is not about Covid vaccines. That will have to wait.
Having dealt with aerosol spread, naturally the issue of face masks is covered, and it is nothing short of comical to reflect on those heady days of 2020 and further into the prolonged masking on international flights. The author makes frequent reference to ‘Cloud-Covid-Land’, and that just about sums the situation in those days perfectly. It seemed weird enough at the time but, on reflection, it was nothing short of absurd.
The issue of ethics, the ‘inversion of ethical principles’ features in Expired whereby the protection of older people was prioritised over children who, demonstrably, have suffered terribly during Covid restrictions. I was moved to tears at times when I became aware of the effect lockdown and school closures were having on my grandchildren and the pressures it was putting on their parents, one of whom had pre-existing serious mental health problems. Thank you very much Boris Johnson, I will never forgive you, unless you apologise to the British people.
It is crystal clear from Dr. Craig’s book how, on the one hand, the management of Covid was theatre and, on the other hand, how it was utterly incompetent. Craig answered the call to help with the Covid response — and who would not want a consultant pathologist. She heard nothing. Furthermore, there was nobody with her qualifications anywhere across the spectrum of SAGE committees. The emphasis was on epidemiologists whose record of poor modelling and wild catastrophising was plain from previous ‘pandemics’ such as BSE, swine flu and foot and mouth disease. Speaking of epidemiology, I learned something else that should have been obvious: initial estimates of case fatality rates will always exaggerate the severity of an infection as we routinely underestimate the number of infections. We don’t know where all the cases are and that lowers the denominator. Arithmetic!
When it to comes to testing, Claire Craig is on home territory, and she explains clearly why the PCR tests were next to useless due to their hypersensitivity; on the other hand, the LFTs suffered from extreme specificity. One test (PCR) provides false positives (and how!) and the other (LFT) produces false negatives. Neither situation is ideal; they are reciprocal, and anyone remotely involved in developing screening tests understands this well. But both tests were sold as definitive, suggesting that it is possible to believe two contradictory notions simultaneously. Also, note, they were screening tests; like any screening test, they were not diagnostic – they were not clinically determinative of being ill or infected. Yet, somehow, they were considered diagnostic. All this is nothing less than psychometric insanity, but we were living in insane times.
I highlighted so much on my Kindle that it would take a review of many thousand words to include all the cogent points in Expired. But it is more noble to allow others to find these gems themselves. Before the penultimate chapter there is an admission by the author that she fell for the initial Covid narrative and an apology; I found this quite moving. The penultimate chapter is a letter to her children. Having read Mark Woolhouse’s letter of apology to his daughter at the end of his book The Year the World Went Mad I was prepared to be underwhelmed. I became particularly angry with Woolhouse as, despite what he saw in front of his eyes, he was part of what happened to us and bowed to the pressure to conform, at least initially. None of this from Craig who writes to her children with openness and the sincerity that is the trademark of her style. The message could be distilled as: “Kids, don’t fall for any bullshit, stand up for what is right, play your part in righting wrongs.”
This book deserves to be widely read and copies should be in the hands of every Government cabinet member, SAGE member and all the members of the ongoing COVID-19 Inquiry. The book ends with a summary of some main points and refers, as she does elsewhere, to Craig’s forthcoming book Spiked: a shot in the Covid dark.
Expired: Covid the untold story by Clare Craig (2023) is available on Amazon.
Dr. Roger Watson is Academic Dean of Nursing at Southwest Medical University, China. He has a PhD in biochemistry. He writes in a personal capacity.