Is the cure worse than the disease? This esteemed epidemiologist thinks so.
Professor Johan Giesecke is one of the world’s most senior epidemiologists. He worked with AIDS patients before turning his attention to the epidemiology of infectious diseases. From 1995-2005 he was the State Epidemiologist for Sweden, then from 2005 through 2014, he was the Chief Scientist of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Professor Giesecke has literally written a textbook on infectious disease epidemiology and is a professor emeritus who teaches on the subject at Karolinska Institute Medical University in Stockholm. He is currently an advisor to the (infamous) Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Professor Giesecke was recently interviewed by Freddie Sayers on UnHerd and he had some pretty interesting things to say about the Wuhan Coronavirus that aren’t exactly in line with his WHO colleagues.
Here are several very interesting points that Professor Giesecke made during the interview:
- Sweden is using an “evidence-based” approach to dealing with the coronavirus.
- The evidence-based measures in Sweden include: encouraging frequent handwashing and the banning of groups of people larger than 50 are banned. In addition, secondary and universities are closed, but primary and elementary schools are open. Nursing homes are closed to visitors.
- The early UK policy was called the “herd immunity” strategy until a new model, the Imperial College report, came out and predicted over 510,000 deaths unless stricter measures of social distancing were adopted. The government was put under pressure to change tactics, and the country made a U-turn. Professor Giesecke said that the policies before the U-turn were better.
- Models for infectious diseases are good for teaching but seldom tell you the truth. Models rest on assumptions. No model predicted that Italy would be the center of the outbreak of the pandemic in Europe.
- The Imperial College report was not published or peer-reviewed and was overly pessimistic.
- The model also presumes that hospital capacity is static, but many jurisdictions have boosted capacity during the pandemic.
- The “flattening of the curve” has occurred because many of the most vulnerable have died from the coronavirus. Many of these people would have died in the next few months anyway.
- Professor Gieseke says what he “really thinks”–that Covid-19 is a “mild disease” and similar to the flu, and it was the novelty of the disease that scared people.
- The actual fatality rate of the coronavirus is similar to that of a bad flu season perhaps as high as 0.1%.
- Professor Gieseke believes that millions of people have already been infected without knowing it which would be shown if mass ant-body testing occurs. He believes this could be at least 50% of the population of both Sweden and the U.K.
- He also believes that the lockdowns have created more harm than good with the “dictatorial trends” that are occurring.
- Lockdowns are going to be very difficult to reverse.
- Perhaps the world witnessing China’s heavy-handed response to the virus has normalized that as the proper response.
- One very big difference between the flu and COVID-19 is that children are the drivers of influenza but they are not getting sick from the coronavirus.
When asked what young people should do, Professor Gieseke said that they should be concerned about infecting the elderly or those that are at risk. Just like with the flu, sometimes people that are not at risk will get severely ill and die, but we cannot continue to lock down everything until the risk for everyone is zero because that’s just not going to happen.
So, what should countries be doing? Find a way to end the lockdowns for the sake of democracy.
- Open up schools for younger children so that adults can go back to work.
- Open up workplaces for those who have antibodies.
- Find ways to return to a semblance of normalcy by following some moderate social distancing. Allow bars and restaurants to open up with new rules and reduced capacity until a feasible treatment is found.
It certainly doesn’t sound like Professor Gieseke is spouting Chinese propaganda like the Director-General of the WHO.