John Ioannidis

99.9987% of Under-20s Survive Covid, Study Finds – And 97.1% of the Elderly Do As Well

How deadly is COVID-19? Early last year renowned epidemiologist Professor John Ioannidis published an analysis of seroprevalence (antibody) studies from 2020 which concluded the infection fatality rate (IFR) of COVID-19 – the proportion of those infected who die – was around 0.15% globally. It varied significantly by region, up to 0.3%-0.4% in Europe and the Americas and down to 0.05% in Africa and Asia.

Prof. Ioannidis has now published an update, using additional seroprevalence studies, though still based on 2020 data, as “IFRs in 2021 may be further affected by wide implementation of vaccinations that may substantially decrease fatality risk and by other changes (new variants and better treatment)”. The new study has a special focus on the IFR in the elderly, but also includes estimates for all age groups, though not a new overall estimate.

From analysis of 25 seroprevalence surveys across 14 countries, Prof. Ioannidis and his colleague found the IFR varied from 0.0013% in the under-20s (around one in 100,000) to 0.65% in those in their 60s. For those above 70 not in a care home it was 2.9%, rising to 4.9% for all over-70s. This means that even for the elderly, more than 95% of those infected survive – 97.1% when considering those not in a care home. For younger people the mortality risk is orders of magnitude less, with 99.9987% of under-20s surviving a bout of the virus. These survival rates include people with underlying health conditions, so for the healthy the rates will be higher again (and the fatality rates lower).

The authors note that if you allow for antibody waning of 5% per month in the elderly then the IFR reduces to 2.4% for non-care home residents and 4% for all elderly. They add that IFR varies between countries, and this variation correlates with the proportion of the elderly who are over 85, suggesting much of the difference may be accounted for by the age of the population.

Why Does Wikipedia Claim a Fifth of Covid Infections Are ‘Severe’?

There’s been a lot of worry about ‘misinformation’ around COVID-19, with numerous calls to suppress anything that doesn’t agree with the WHO’s current line, and news and social media companies all too happy to oblige.

Sometimes, though, the worst offenders are the mainstream sources themselves.

Take Wikipedia. On its main COVID-19 page – a page which cannot be edited by mere mortals as it is “protected to prevent vandalism” – it states the following in the second paragraph:

Of those people who develop noticeable symptoms, most (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspneahypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging), and 5% suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failureshock, or multiorgan dysfunction).

This is claiming that almost a fifth of symptomatic COVID-19 infections are severe, and 1 in 20 are critical. If these are the statistics that people are reading then no wonder they’re scared.

Wikipedia is many people’s first port of call when looking up a subject, and often comes out near the top of internet searches. So the fact that it grossly exaggerates the seriousness of COVID-19 should be concerning. Even more concerning is why it does so.

Where did Wikipedia get its stats from? Alarmingly, the reference is to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In its latest clinical guidance, in a section headed “Illness Severity”, the U.S. federal health agency states:

A large cohort that included more than 44,000 people with COVID-19 from China, showed that illness severity can range from mild to critical:

– Mild to moderate (mild symptoms up to mild pneumonia): 81%

– Severe (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging): 14%

– Critical (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan system dysfunction): 5%

In this study, all deaths occurred among patients with critical illness, and the overall case fatality ratio (CFR) was 2.3%.

These statistics come straight from an early study on the first 44,000 Covid patients in China, published on February 24th 2020. The study does not mention hospital admissions and it appears that all of these cases were in fact hospital patients. At any rate, the figures suggest a sample heavily skewed towards serious illness.

A more accurate estimate of severity comes from the ONS. In the December peak, the ONS estimated around 2% of the population of England were infected with COVID-19 and around 0.04% of the population were being admitted to hospital each week with the virus. This means about 2% of infections were leading to hospital admission, or 1% if we allow for the estimated half of serious infections caught in hospital. This is about 20 times lower than the nearly 20% serious infections in the Chinese study.

Why is the CDC still using this early study as its main source of statistics on the severity of COVID-19 when we’ve found out so much more about the illness since February 2020? Why is Wikipedia featuring these figures at the top of its COVID-19 page? Don’t they realise how misleading and unnecessarily frightening they are?

The Land of the Free Shows it’s Time to Lose the Lockdowns

No surge as schools open in the UK, no surge as Texas throws off restrictions, free states like Florida and Georgia doing no worse than lockdown states – is anyone in Government watching the real world or are they too busy gawping at the curves of Neil Ferguson’s latest model?

Jeffrey A. Tucker at AIER has gathered together some of the alarmist predictions made about Texas that have, so far, not come to pass:

  • California Governor Gavin Newsom said that opening Texas was “absolutely reckless.”
  • Vanity Fair went over the top with this headline: “Republican Governors Celebrate COVID Anniversary With Bold Plan to Kill Another 500,000 Americans.”
  • There was the inevitable Dr. Fauci: “It just is inexplicable why you would want to pull back now.”
  • Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke of Texas revealed himself to be a full-blown lockdowner: It’s a “big mistake,” he said. “It’s hard to escape the conclusion that it’s also a cult of death.” He accused the Governor of “sacrificing the lives of our fellow Texans… for political gain.”
  • James Hamblin, a doctor and writer for the Atlanticsaid in a Tweet liked by 20K people: “Ending precautions now is like entering the last miles of a marathon and taking off your shoes and eating several hot dogs.”
  • Bestselling author Kurt Eichenwald flipped out: “Goddamn. Texas already has FIVE variants that have turned up: Britain, South Africa, Brazil, New York & CA. The NY and CA variants could weaken vaccine effectiveness. And now idiot @GregAbbott_TX throws open the state.” He further called the Government “murderous.” 
  • Epidemiologist Whitney Robinson wrote: “I feel genuinely sad. There are people who are going to get sick and die bc of avoidable infections they get in the next few weeks. It’s demoralising.”
  • Virus guru Michael Osterholm told CNN: “We’re walking into the mouth of the monster. We simply are.”
  • Joe Biden famously said that the Texas decision to open reflected “Neanderthal thinking”.
  • The chairman of the state’s Democratic Party said: “What Abbott is doing is extraordinarily dangerous. This will kill Texans. Our country’s infectious-disease specialists have warned that we should not put our guard down, even as we make progress towards vaccinations. Abbott doesn’t care.”
  • The CDC’s Rochelle Walensky didn’t mince words: “Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained. I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19.”

Are any of these experts and commentators now reconsidering their fundamental assumptions and examining the data? What do you think?

The coronavirus has certainly surprised many of us in the past year, defying expectations by being more deadly in Europe and North and South America than it was in South East Asia, while in Africa and India it surprised by its mildness.

The lazy mainstream assumption that the differences between countries are explained primarily by their restrictions or interventions has not been borne out by any of the studies that have examined the real world data rather than relying on models that bake-in assumptions of lockdown efficacy.

One of those studies, by eminent Stanford scientists Jay Bhattacharya (co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration), John Ioannidis and colleagues, published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation, has come under criticism since it was published at the start of January. The authors have now responded to that criticism, defending their paper in the journal.

It includes some great quotations from these two pillars of the sceptic movement.