Fred Bohasu’s Top 10 Corona Questions Answered

'@FredBohasu sent us a list of questions via Twitter - here are PANDA's answers.

1. Is there evidence a mandatory mouth-nose mask is safe for individuals with pre-existing conditions, due to hypo-oxygenation?

We are not aware of any evidence relating to the safety of masks, but we have heard of people who are forced to work in masks complaining of headaches.

2. Is it important for government to educate people about boosting immunity and why?

We’d rather they did than they didn’t, but relying upon the state to do anything well is a bad idea. Boosting immunity thorough healthy lifestyle choices and stress reduction is important for overall health, far beyond Covid-19, as our innate immune system is called upon daily to keep the body in balance from outside assaults. We are surrounded by viruses and bacteria.

3. Does social isolation destroy the immune system and why?

We are aware of research relating to social isolation and loneliness being associated with a shortened lifespan, suppressed immune system and higher risk of falling prey to a variety of other physical and metal conditions. Social animals suffer from isolation.

4. What is the mortality rate in SA due to lockdown (and not Covid)

This is an area of current controversy. The SAMRC’s mortality investigation suggests there are significant excess deaths. Elsewhere in the world, many such deaths have been demonstrated to have been a result of untreated heart attacks and such, which could be lockdown-related. The modellers and team lockdown want to argue that these excess deaths are unreported Covid deaths. No doubt there are some of these, BUT:

  • The models’ purpose was to estimate health system resource demand, not deaths. They were generally out by an order of magnitude on this. “Finding” more Covid deaths is not redemptive.
  • Empty hospitals, cancelled elective surgeries and postponed TB and HIV care must increase non-Covid mortality, unless you believe that hospitals and healthcare workers don’t normally save people. It is noteworthy that TB clinic attendance and case diagnoses are significantly down over lockdown.
  • Reported Covid deaths seem to include many “deaths with” in certain locations. These should be compensated for to avoid overestimating Covid mortality. We suspect that where governments failed to correct exaggerated public perceptions of the threat posed by Covid, or even acted to inflame them, non-Covid deaths will have been exacerbated. Surveys suggest that South Africans carry massively overwrought conceptions of the risk posed by Covid.

Because of the low quality of South Africa’s death reporting, we may never know the precise answer to this, in which case the best explanation will be obtained from referencing other countries’ experience, which overall suggests that lockdowns cause a great many deaths.

It may be years before we get a grip on the total consequences of lockdown, because poverty-related mortality may be with us for many years.

5. Could life expectancy in South Africa decrease due to people’s loss of income?

PANDA wrote a paper predicting that it will, and that the total years of life lost to lockdown would exceed those lost to Covid by a factor of at least 30.

6. Is there any evidence that cloth masks work against Covid in the real world?covi

A few observations:

  • We have seen only one randomized control study on cloth mask-wearing, and it failed to detect any benefit.
  • The use of surgical masks by trained professionals has been studied, but the question of whether even they are effective seems to be unresolved.
  • We cannot see any statistically robust sign of a change in death curves following introduction of mandatory cloth mask-wearing.

The WHO changed its mind on their effectiveness a few weeks ago without citing evidence.

7. Is it only a vaccine that can save humans from the current virus and why?

The main thing that saves humans is our innate immune system.

The fact that Covid-19 deaths have already declined to very low levels in so many countries, regardless of whether they are locked down or not, is evidence that functional “herd immunity” has been attained. This is thought to be because the majority of humans have solid cellular immune responses to Covid-19 owing to prior exposure to other coronaviruses.

8. What is the current mortality rate for children under the age of 12 to Covid-19 for April to August compared to the flu in 2019 for the same period?

We do not have accurate flu mortality for children for last year. However, Covid-19 presents absolutely negligible risk to children. The same cannot be said for influenza.

9. Why are people who died from non-Covid causes, while testing positive for Covid-19, counted as Covid-19 deaths?

We do not know the extent to which this is a factor in South Africa, but have heard many, many anecdotes. In other countries, this issue can be quite extreme.

10. According to data what is the survival rate in percentage after being infected with Covid?

It is important to note that “confirmed cases” represent quite a small subset of infections. Therefore the infection mortality rate is much lower than the case mortality rate.

The survival rate is too high to measure in round percentages. For every 1,000 people infected by Covid, about 999 will survive. Because age is the main factor in determining risk, the odds of surviving are much higher for the young and healthy and risk is significantly higher for older people with comorbidities. It is extremely rare for healthy children to die from Covid, even though they are quite regularly infected.

Most people who are infected will not even realize that they have been, either because their bodies will mount a quick and effective cellular immune response or because they will have very mild symptoms that they don’t really attribute to being ill.



Publisher’s note: The opinions and findings expressed in articles, reports and interviews on this website are not necessarily the opinions of PANDA, its directors or associates.

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