As the media whips up hysteria over India, it’s more important than ever for us to see Covid in proportion

I finally got my hair cut on Friday. Afterwards, I visited a nearby coffee shop, which was functioning as a takeaway because, unlike the barbers you see, it is still far too dangerous to set foot inside a cafe. Anyway, while I waited for my tea in an awkward, triangular queue on the roadside, I overheard a fellow customer say to another: “it’s terrible what’s happening with Covid in India, isn’t it?”

Clearly, the customer was referring to the sad news footage that has been beamed into our “safe” living rooms from Delhi and other places in India, of breathless patients dying in overwhelmed hospitals. Of course, it’s terrible, and if Britain can do anything to alleviate the suffering out there, then it should. But why is there such a fixation on India, of all the countries in the world that have been hit by Covid19? Is the current situation over there unprecedented enough to be described as a “catastrophe”, as Scottish despot Nicola Sturgeon did in a tweet vilifying anti-lockdown protestors?

The short answer is no, and India is being unfairly singled out. A week earlier, when Brazil was in the spotlight, the same customer in the same queue discussing the same subject would likely have said: “it’s terrible what’s going on in Brazil, isn’t it?”

It’s wise to be skeptical when faced with emotive journalism that expects readers and viewers to take what they see at face value. Images from Italy in March last year, of coffins piling up in churches and being transported by military vehicles through abandoned cities, sent the world into hysterics. It looked like something out of the pandemic thriller Contagion, but the reality was a lot less scary, if more infuriating. The disturbing scenes were simply the result of the Italian government’s decision to ban funerals, but the facts were redundant at this stage.

The global alarm in Spring 2020 was sustained further when aerial footage of the Hart Island public graveyard in New York City went viral, and was subsequently lapped up as a “mass grave” by many major broadcasters in the UK and US. It remains true that the graveyard was much busier than normal, but the whole truth was less scary, if much sadder. The site had been used by the city since 1869 as a burial place for deceased individuals who were either unclaimed or whose families didn’t plan funerals for them, and the increase in bodies arriving at Hart Island was largely due to a change in New York’s storage policy, which shortened the maximum amount of time a medical examiner could keep a body in storage.

Of course, Italy and New York (especially New York) were hit hard by Covid and alas, some hospitals were overwhelmed. But hospitals being overwhelmed, though awful and unacceptable, is known to happen (more on that later).

The British media, keen to show us cremations but reluctant to show us context, seems to decide what concerns people. It also decides what the public doesn’t know about that perhaps they should know about. This is proven by the simple fact that Hungary, not India, currently has the highest Covid19 death rate globally, yet there is no floundering panic or particular concern about Hungary on the airwaves.

At the time of writing (26th April 2021) the main story on the BBC News website’s Asia section, from India, is “Patients suffer at home as Covid chokes hospitals”. Attached is an image of a Covid patient wearing an oxygen mask. By contrast, the headline on BBC News’ Europe section, reads (again, at the time of writing): “EU hints at summer return for US travelers”. There are also stories about the loosening of Covid restrictions in Scotland and Ireland, The liberal elite’s favorite right-wing extremist Alexei Navalny, and a piece about a man who lived alone on an island for 32 years (fancy a swap?). But there is not a single mention of Hungary, even despite its unfashionable “populist” President, Viktor Orban, who by submitting to the pro lockdown consensus dodged the universal condemnation that has been directed at his equivalents in America and Brazil.

BBC News Asia, India currently has the 22nd highest Covid death rate in Asia (26/4/2021)
BBC News Europe: No mention of Hungary, which currently has the highest Covid death rate of any nation state in the world (26/4/2021)

The severity of the current situation in India is being measured not in excess deaths, but the number of official Covid deaths, largely exacerbated by a shortage of oxygen supplies, a technical issue. It is of course possible that India’s true death toll may be higher. But if we stick to the official numbers that all major news outlets are repeating, then India’s Covid death rate is not even among the worst 100 countries globally. Currently, their death rate ranks only 22nd worst in Asia, lower than in countries such as the Philippines, whose psychopathic leader called for lockdown flouters to be shot, but higher than Japan, which never put its citizens under house arrest at any point during the pandemic, even during their declared “state of emergency”.

It’s worth highlighting that India is a young nation and the average life expectancy there is 69.4. 88% of India’s Covid deaths are in the age group of 45 and above. When The Times of India examined 125 people who died from Covid in New Delhi, it found that the average age of death was 60, and that of the cases examined, 35% had one pre existing condition, 40% had two, and 17% had more than three. The German data company Statista states that the age group between 60 and 74 years had the highest share of Covid deaths, in line with findings from other countries.

The most recent figures show that India suffered an increase of roughly 2,800 new Covid deaths in the space of 24 hours, while Hungary has seen an increase of roughly 205 new Covid deaths in the same timespan. Yesterday’s figure for India was their highest daily death toll recorded so far, while Hungary’s deadliest day in Covid so far, 7th April 2021, saw 311 Covid deaths. The Covid death numbers from the last few days have been fairly consistent in both Hungary and India, over 200 and 2,500 respectively.

But, since the main stations forget to remind viewers, it is important to remember that India has a population of almost 1.4 billion (1,336,0000,000, according to 2019 estimates), while Hungary has a population just shy of 9.8 million people (2019 estimate). A death toll that reaches the thousands in a country that contains more than 17% of the world’s population is not surprising. In fact, given India’s vast population (not to mention extreme poverty), it’s remarkable how relatively low their recent daily death tolls are compared with the rest of the world, even if we assume there is a problem with undercounting. The death rate, i.e the number of deaths per million, is a more reliable measure of how bad the situation in a country truly is than a crude death toll without context, as it considers the number relative to the population.

If we are generous to the catastrophists and act as if India’s population hasn’t risen considerably in the last two years (which would make any death toll appear to claim a higher percentage of the population then it actually has, and might compensate for any Covid deaths that may not be accounted for), and even more generously assume that every one of these officially labeled Covid deaths was directly caused by Covid, not heart disease, old age, road collisions or gunshot wounds, then roughly 0.0002% of India’s population was lost to Covid yesterday. But Hungary’s 205 new Covid deaths account for 0.002% of their population, meaning 25th April was proportionally a deadlier day for Hungary than it was for India. And who’s to say the Hungarian death toll isn’t “likely higher“, as is very reasonably suspected to be the case in India?

Though the news of “2,800 deaths” sounds scarier to TV audiences than “205 deaths”, the latest number from India is roughly the equivalent of 120 Covid deaths in a day in England and Wales, which would not be regarded as a particularly grim milestone even by the doom-mongers in Whitehall, Holyrood, and Fleet Street.

Update (30th April 2021) ***John Burn Murdoch, a senior data-visualization journalist at the Financial Times, stated recently that “overall, numbers of Covid victims who have been cremated are 10x larger than official Covid death counts in same areas”.

Again, let’s be super generous and assume that India’s real Covid death toll is ten times the official number, which would be 2 million. 2 million Covid deaths, divided by 1.4 billion people, would be 0.14% of India’s population lost to the pandemic (0.15 if divided by 1.366 billion, India’s estimated 2019 population). The Hungarian death toll, which may be an underestimate, stands at 27,358, which is 0.28% of Hungary’s 9.8 million people. The current death toll in Peru, (which is strongly suspected to be a vast underestimate, as Peru has by far the highest excess death rate in the world) stands at 61,101. Divide that by Peru’s 32.5million people, and that’s 0.18% of their population lost to Covid.

So even if the true figure for India was ten times higher than what is being reported, Covid’s toll on India would still be proportionally less catastrophic than it is in many countries which we hear so little about.****

In the UK, the highest number of Covid deaths recorded in a single day was 1,820 on 20th January 2021, which is roughly 0.003% of the UK population (2019 estimate), a larger percentage of the British population than Hungary and India lost in any of the last seven days. And yes, Britain was in a state of grave panic at the time, enhanced by the Johnson government’s “look them in the eyes” campaign.

So now that we have established that Britain recently endured Covid mortality rates worse than what India is going through now, it’s time to ask how scared we ought to have been at the time of the second wave. If we can figure that out, then we can work out whether the frantic coverage of India is justified or alarmist.

Britain’s “deadliest day of the pandemic” happened in the week ending on 22nd January 2021, in which a total of 18,676 people passed away from all causes in England and Wales, roughly 0.03% (0.0312% more precisely) of the population of England and Wales. (I will now refer just to the population of England and Wales according to the ONS, not the estimated population of the entire United Kingdom in 2019).

The 18,676 deaths that occurred that week made it one of the highest tolls since the ONS began recording weekly deaths in 1993. But, importantly, it was a smaller total than the 20,566 deaths recorded in the week ending on 7th January 2000, when there was a bad flu outbreak and the 20,116 people who died a year before in the week ending on 8th January 1999, again during a bad flu season. When you adjust the population of England and Wales, which has risen by more than 7.6 million since 2000, the weekly all-cause death toll in the third week of this year was even smaller still.

In 1999, 20,116 deaths were roughly 0.04% of the population (0.0387% exactly), as were 20,566 deaths in January 2000 (0.0394% more precisely). The 22,351 people who died in the deadliest week of last year, ending on 17th April 2020, also comprised 0.04% (0.0373% to be exact) of people in England and Wales, making the total mortality peaks of the first and second waves of the pandemic slightly less deadly than the first weeks of January 1999 and January 2000.

To cut a long story short, the British people dutifully cowered at home when Covid did its worst in April 2020 and January 2021, but not during the 1999/2000 influenza outbreak, when the country experienced mortality levels that were ever so slightly proportionally worse than what we faced in the last year. The sensible and foolishly abandoned UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011 even noted the severity of the 1999/2000 outbreak, and pointed out that in spite of it, “day-to-day life for most people continued largely unaffected.

Interestingly, a BBC special report from 11th January 1999 called “The crises’ of Winters future” describes the 1998/1999 flu crisis, which at its peak was slightly worse than each wave of the Covid crisis, as “nowhere near pandemic levels.” The report also mentions the recognized global pandemics of 1918, 1957, and 1968, the latter two of which caused little disruption in day-to-day life.

In the midst of the Covid19 pandemic, England and Wales experienced lower overall mortality than they did during a relatively recent outbreak that didn’t qualify as a pandemic. Lockdown supporters assert that excess mortality would have been much higher had it not been for lockdown, but there is no evidence for this. Sweden (or should I say nature) flattened its curve at a similar rate to us without putting its citizens under house arrest or forcing its small businesses to close. Not only that, but their excess mortality has been lower than so many of the European countries that simultaneously locked down, such as Belgium, Spain, the Czech Republic, and of course, Britain, not to mention Hungary.

Coming back to India while admittedly, we do not yet know the total number of deaths. But it’s the media that is jumping to conclusions, and since they so cynically broadcast footage of overwhelmed hospitals, morgues, and crematoriums, prompting condemnation against those of us who “cry freedom” from influential celebrities like Sue Perkins, it is worth mentioning what the flu outbreaks at the end of the last millennium did to our NHS, while life for most people, including Sue Perkins, continued “largely unaffected”.

One BBC article from 8th January 2000, describes overflowing morgues as a “body jam”. It goes:

Last winter Norfolk and Norwich Hospital sparked outrage when it drafted in a refrigerated lorry to cope with a “body jam” as unprecedented demand was piled on its mortuary.

This year, largely without comment, the lorries have returned in numbers, with bodies being piled into trailers parked outside Eastbourne District General Hospital and Hastings Conquest Hospital in East Sussex.

January 1999: Influenza overwhelms the NHS

Another BBC article from the previous year reports that “as few as 20 intensive care beds across the whole of England were available” as the NHS struggles to “cope“, mentioning the storage lorries being used as temporary morgues.

Walsall Manor Hospital had to turn away emergencies for 90 minutes on Sunday, while other hospitals in the region were forced to cancel operations,” it reads.

Attached is an image of an influenza patient wearing an oxygen mask.

There is a lot of finger-pointing and political point-scoring in these valuable historical documents, but no one appears to consider mass house arrest or even mandatory mask-wearing. Lockdowns didn’t even occur to the Prime Minister at the time, himself now a cheerleader for lockdowns and health passports. He was more into bombing countries back then.

The media’s Covid catastrophism just doesn’t add up. Even the recent, sensationalist coverage of Brazil was less insulting to the intelligence than their exploitation of the sad scenes in India.

Yes, Nicola Sturgeon, we already know that Covid is not a hoax, it is very real, and it does kill people. No, Nicola Sturgeon, it does not justify the grotesque, absurd, and very dangerous measures you and your dud equivalents around the world have inflicted on your citizens.

Enough is enough.

2 thoughts on “As the media whips up hysteria over India, it’s more important than ever for us to see Covid in proportion

  1. An excellent post. As most of us who read alternative news and distrust MSM’s blatant lies know, this re-branded Flu is fooling too many people. It is real and people die from Flu but in India with its 1.4Billion population around 27K die normally every day. MSM doesn’t mention India’s Space Program much and it’s discriminatory Caste system that will no doubt leave the poor and lowly to die without any medical aid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Neil. Indeed, what conclusion are we left to draw other than the media is deliberately trying to terrify people? Someone said to me yesterday “if Boris hadn’t locked down we would be like India!” when our death rate is far worse than India. People in the West are so easily manipulated, it’s the horrid combination of a poorly educated general
      public and advanced media technology.

      Like

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