EXPERT ADVISORY

Fake news and misinformation kill: How can you trust what you are told about Covid-19?

By The Scientists Collective 22 November 2020

Be sceptical of any information that does not come from a credible scientific source. (Photo: thesouthafrican.com/Wikipedia)

In the past 10 months, as Covid-19 has swept the globe, the internet and media have also been ablaze with stories, reports and ever-changing guidelines on how to stay safe in a world that appears to be out of control. But what should we believe and what can we trust? As importantly, how do we spot ‘fake news’ and misinformation? In this special advisory, a collective of over 20 of SA’s leading doctors and scientists offer their advice.

Living in a digital world means that we have access to the latest information on just about any subject. While this can be powerful and empowering, it can also be harmful. Access to information online is empowering because we can stay abreast of the latest knowledge about Covid-19 and can share useful data that, in the interests of public health, can help people change their behaviour and stay safe.

However, it’s increasingly difficult to know how to sift out the truth from the masses of lies, misinformation and myths that are also all over the internet and social media, in an environment where the phrase “fake news” is applied to anything someone does not agree with, and truth is a political and ideological tool.

As scientists and clinicians, we are in a challenging position with Covid-19.  We are discovering how to approach this novel virus in real time, just as it creates chaos and devastates communities all over the world. We still don’t know enough about why the virus manifests so severely in some people and not others; whether some people can be infected more than once, and what the lasting impacts of Covid-19 are on the body.

Scientific and medical advice around Covid-19 has changed since we first began our steep learning curve in early 2020. To begin with, public health advice focused on physical distancing and hand hygiene. As the peer-reviewed, evidence-based, scientifically sound research emerged, we also began recommending that people wear masks, with South Africa one of the first countries to recommend universal mask-wearing outside of Asia.

The practice was already common in many east Asian countries, so was more easily adopted there.

Evidence is clear that the Covid bundle works

This bundle is a collection of practices such as increasing ventilation by opening windows, physical distancing, wearing a mask in crowded spaces and sanitising your hands, which reduces the number of viral particles you might inhale.

Debates and disagreements are usual in the world of scientific and medical research. We welcome debate among colleagues, and we have rigorous processes like peer review, ethics committees, regulatory oversight, safety boards and double-blind research methods that help to inform our discoveries and ensure that any biases are brought to light.

These processes are not always perfect – the sciences are not immune to fraudsters, media-hungry charlatans, and reckless outsized egos – but agreement on what we know tends to be a self-correcting, iterative process.  And, in general, debate and dissent are not suppressed or controlled.

Over the last few months however, while frontline health workers have been risking their lives (and many healthcare workers have died in South Africa, as have some of their family members) to treat people ill with Covid-19, we have been dismayed at the spread of accusations that we “know nothing about this virus”.

This is simply untrue; a huge amount of new knowledge has emerged since January 2020, and this has built on substantial prior knowledge about this class of virus, as well as the novel coronaviruses responsible for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). This improved knowledge has had positive effects: For example, the survival rate of people with Covid-19 has improved.

We are even more dismayed at the extraordinary claims that some researchers have falsified evidence or misled public health officials around the best ways to handle this pandemic.The scientists and clinicians in this advisory group live in a world where we exchange data, new research, hypotheses, disagreement, controversy and wild ideas every day.

In fact, research thrives on these debates and disagreements. We have active discussion groups on WhatsApp, where we discuss and critique everything from the government’s approach to lockdown to new understandings of immunology. We represent a wide array of disciplines, which stimulates interesting and challenging discussions, and our research and other collaborations means we are wired into scientific debates from every corner of the globe.

We do not suppress evidence-based dissent. We have seen this during the Covid-19 pandemic already – some substandard or even fraudulent “research results” were published but soon called out and corrected or withdrawn.

There is a strong incentive for scientists to not remain quiet when they encounter poor research. Apart from scientific ethics, one can gain a lot (recognition, research grants, promotion) from publishing valid evidence to the contrary.

When scientific consensus supports a measure such as mask wearing, this is not based on suppressing dissent, but simply expresses the fact that the best available scientific data indicates that wearing masks in public spaces, especially when indoors and when gathering in groups, helps to slow transmission of Covid-19 and protects people who may be particularly vulnerable to infection.

This is not controversial; it is established science and it is best practice.

It is not up for debate.

It is not only pointless to set up debates about this, but it is also an actively harmful fake controversy. We advocate wearing masks, not because we want to make life difficult for the public, but because we are doing our best to save lives and ensure that the virus is contained in the absence of biomedical preventive measures, including prophylaxis and vaccines.

Truth and fiction

There is a famous adage that journalism students are taught: if you have one person telling you it’s raining and one person telling you it’s sunny, you do not just quote them both. Instead, you look out the window and find out for yourself which person is telling the truth.

In this digital age, there are many people claiming it is raining outside when all the scientific and medical evidence tells us it’s sunny. Ordinary people don’t know who to believe, especially when some of those promoting the lies are people with resources and power and hidden agendas. Rumours and misinformation spread quickly on platforms like Facebook or in WhatsApp message groups.

We, as scientific and medical professionals, have a duty to ensure that we communicate scientific fact properly and make this information as widely accessible as possible for all to see. We are bound by professional ethics to make sure that anything we communicate can be defended by evidence, and we try to be transparent about this.

When we don’t know something, we are honour-bound to admit it. And when we do know, we have a responsibility to ensure that we disseminate these findings far and wide in a way that is easily digestible to a wide array of audiences.

This is the essence of public health; to use our knowledge to communicate to the populace and to develop strategies and behaviours to keep people safe and well.

We also have a duty to speak truth to power

Where a government makes poor choices or lapses into secrecy and does not communicate the reasons behind decisions, professionals must call these behaviours out. Where senior media personalities or advocacy groups put us all in danger with misinformation, they must be held to account.

Control of this virus, in some ways more than ever before, demands a collective sense of responsible community – this means we must be critical of those hiding behind cries of “groupthink”, conspiracy theories, or reckless and inexpert interpretation of data.

Scientists who collude with governments to legitimise unscientific approaches have been a feature of many country responses across the globe and need to be challenged.

Tips on how to counter misinformation

We urge the South African public to take this mandate to end “fake news” as seriously as we do. To this end, we encourage every single person to become critically aware of misinformation and fake news, and we recommend the following tips to help:

  1. Check the source. Be sceptical of any information that does not come from a credible scientific source. Any scientific research worth its salt will contain references to research conducted by universities and reputable research bodies. If you aren’t sure, check if the source is listed in one of these databases here or here.
  2. Ask yourself who is publishing this information and what their agenda might be. Be very cautious of anything that promises “ground-breaking” new developments unless it is being widely shared by well-established and reputable channels. By this, we mean journalists working for established media organisations where they will do fact-checking and have good editors in place. Or journals that have been in publication for a long time, and that provide peer-reviewed scientific articles. There are many websites out there that look credible and have lots of information on them, and that even promise this information is evidence-based, but it only takes a little investigation to show that these are not legitimate and not backed up by honest scientific endeavour.
  3. Search engines are your friend. If you have any doubts, enter the name of the person you’re seeing spreading this information or look up the article online. See what comes up, follow the links to the names of those involved and test their veracity. Real medical experts are easy to find online because they participate in publicly available research; they attend conferences with their peers, and they work for credible scientific organisations like universities or public hospitals. Try googling the names of the people who wrote this article.
  4. Use the services of established fact-checkers. In South Africa, we have an excellent organisation called Africa Check – their only purpose is to very carefully and thoroughly investigate information in the media and in the public domain to assess whether or not it’s true. They’re doing a great job on Covid-19 too. Find them here. The World Health Organisation offers a WhatsApp service (+41798931892) for updates on fake news.
  5. Be alert to emotion. If you receive a video that makes you feel angry, scared or anxious, be very cautious. Evidence-based science might have significant implications but, in most instances, it won’t seek to make you fearful. Be careful to avoid those pundits who whip up emotion in order to make people afraid to follow their doctor’s advice.
  6. Just because they wear a white coat, have certificates on a wall or have graphs or statistics doesn’t mean they are a doctor or a scientist.  Just because they speak with calm authority, have lots of papers on their desk and books on shelves behind them, does not mean they are an expert. There are too many people out there claiming to be scientists and some of them are very sophisticated in using props to create an image of scientific integrity.

Use your critical mind to ask yourself the following questions: who is this person? Are they properly trained and accredited? Are they trying to sell a “quack” remedy that makes them a lot of money? Is their message supported by other scientists or professionals that are trustworthy?

A single person spouting a lot of information about Covid-19 that’s not backed up by lots of other credible sources should make your fake news antennae quiver.

  1. If a friend or relative, co-worker or community group sends you something about Covid-19 (or any other health condition), ask them where they got it. If they can’t or won’t give you a recognisable source, then it might be fake news. And “my brother’s friend’s cousin” is not a reputable source.
  2. Similarly, if you’ve found something interesting online, consider checking its validity before sharing it uncritically with others in your circle. Don’t become an unwitting accomplice to the distribution of unreliable and unhelpful fake news, but rather take a conscious stand in support of evidence-based, reliable public health information. Each of us has a responsibility to take Covid-19 seriously, and it’s only through every citizen actively playing his or her part that we will overcome this pandemic.
  3. When considering whether you might be supporting a conspiracy theory, ask yourself how many people would have to be lying or covering up for this claim to be true, and how plausible it really is that this is happening. Even if you think it is plausible that one government could create a fake pandemic for political purposes, is it really plausible that governments all round the world, including democratic and not democratic, libertarian capitalist oriented and social welfare oriented, Western and non-Western, high and low income, could all be promoting a hoax pandemic? Is it really plausible that most scientists in Europe, Asia, Africa and elsewhere are sheeple, subject to group-think, while one person or a small number of people have seen the truth?

Some of the more common myths about Covid-19

Covid-19 is a scam and there is no virus.”

There is no evidence to support this claim.

The information communicated by the World Health Organisation, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, and the national department of health, as well as from other stakeholders, is reliable and credible.

The new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is totally real.

At the time of writing, there are just under 50 million people globally who have been confirmed to have been infected with SARS-CoV-2. More than 1.2 million people have died of Covid-19.

While comorbidities may present an additional risk to some affected persons, this does not negate the existence or direct impact that Covid-19 has had on the health and lifespan of millions around the world. Some of us are clinicians who have first-hand experience of this virus in the last few months.

We promise it’s real and can be severe and scary – not because we saw it on YouTube, but because we have seen it in our hospitals and clinics, among our colleagues, friends and families.

“Doctors write Covid as cause of death if someone has tested positive, no matter what they die of, whether it is cancer or a car accident, with Covid massively over-reported.”

Absolutely not.

South Africa has one of the world’s best mechanisms for reporting deaths.

There are currently delays (related to lockdown’s impact on paperwork), and cause of death without an autopsy is dependent on the judgement of the health worker filling in the form.

However, in our experience, the cause of death is usually reported with the most obvious cause. In fact, if someone dies due to cancer or in a car accident, where Covid precipitated that death, it is likely Covid is not reported unless very clearly diagnosed, and hence is likely to be under-reported.

Therefore, looking at the numbers of “excess mortality’’ is really important to get a sense of this under-reporting. Check out the MRC’s weekly reports here.

“The World Health Organisation was created by people like the Rockefeller or Gates families to control global health policy.”

No. The World Health Organisation is a specialised agency of the United Nations and was created by the member states of the United Nations. Those driving the Covid-19 response are scientists and public health experts.

The funding of the WHO is completely transparent, although it is under-resourced for its vital public health mandate. Member states contribute to the funding of the WHO. Private charities, such as Rotary International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are also major donors.

Some countries – like the United States – have refused to pay their UN dues, which undermines the work of the WHO.

The WHO employs thousands of well-trained, experienced staff from all over the world. Many of the people on this advisory are part of WHO processes, as volunteers. It makes recommendations based on scientific evidence and has been known to revise its recommendations when new evidence comes to light. There is absolutely no evidence we have seen of any conspiracy in the way the WHO operates.

“The virus (SARS-CoV-2) which causes Covid-19 hasn’t actually been isolated in South Africa.”

Not true. A collaborative effort between the University of the Western Cape and Stellenbosch University obtained the first-known laboratory isolate of SARS-CoV-2 in South Africa on 1 April 2020 (see reports here and here).

“The SARS-CoV-2 virus was created in a Chinese laboratory (or by the CIA or the Russians).”

No. We have no evidence of this. We do, however, have evidence that this virus came through infection in animals, a process we have seen before with coronaviruses and others. The facts show us that the virus “jumped” from an animal species into the human population. This virus was not deliberately created in any laboratory. See explanations here and here.

“Covid is no more dangerous than the flu and it is crazy to worry about a disease that is more than 99% survivable.”

How likely you are to die from it is evolving, with a complex interaction of factors including your own health, the health care you have access to and possibly how high the infectious dose was. Some people claim Covid is less dangerous than the common flu and claims of a 99.9 percent survivability rate are promoted by those who think it is grossly exaggerated.

The CDC currently estimates that Covid in the US has a 0.65% infection fatality rate (deaths per person infected); that is six times the flu infection fatality rate of 0.1%. And 0.65% of the South African population is 390,000 people, nearly eight times our current excess deaths in the past months and nearly 20 times our official Covid deaths.

If we took the worst case scenario and assumed everyone in South Africa had COVID, 0.65% IFR would translate into 390 000 peopledeaths, nearly 8 times our current excess deaths in the past months and nearly 20 times our official covid deaths . But we know not our whole population is infected and if we take our current cases, using the CDC IFR this would amount to 50 630 deaths. This is a lot more deaths than we would expect from flu.

Also, comparing your frail granny to a healthy 14-year-old is silly. Your granny’s chance of getting severely ill and dying is far, far higher. If a 14-year-old falls down the stairs, she is likely to be okay, bar a few bruises. Granny is way more likely to get hurt or die. Aggregating their risk does not help anyone.

And this is only considering deaths; we are learning more every day about long-term effects of Covid (explained in our Advisory here) which can be very serious and debilitating, so of course the fatality rate is not the only concern.

“Mask-wearing is controversial.”

Aspects of mask-wearing (for example, the precise degree of protection they provide from getting the virus or stopping transmission) may be a debate, or which kind of mask is the best, but no one reputable now debates whether masks should be a major part of our response (for more advice and science on masks, see here, here, here).

“The vaccines are just a money-making scheme, and are a way to track you/collude with 5G networks.”

This is one of the most pernicious and dangerous falsehoods.

You can trust (see here, here and here) that there are huge checks and balances in place before a vaccine gets on to the market, including from sceptical regulators and scientists reviewing the data on both efficacy and safety. If a vaccine gets offered to you, it means it has been subjected to meticulous scrutiny, and if you read the package insert, you should get a good sense of how effective and safe it is.

Fears that it is linked to tracking mechanisms and weird associations with 5G are false. Worry about your cellphone, your search history, your bank password, and your FaceBook public profile – not about a Gates Foundation-linked microchip in a vaccine.

“Fogging/deep-cleansing/mouthwash (insert your favourite intervention here) will save you.”

These myths crop up everywhere, often promoted by commercial interests trying to make quick money from your fear, or by those who inexplicably enjoy drumming up controversy. The Scientists Collective offers practical guidance here.

We applaud when governments, news outlets and social media fact-check and at times penalise people who spread misinformation, or at least flag that the media being posted is dodgy and that their fact-checking suggests it should be viewed with scepticism.

This is not “gagging’’ or groupthink or censorship – they can tell their stories on endless blogs and social platforms – it is responsible information sharing.

When you have an uncle who thinks UFOs are controlling the world, you may roll your eyes at his Facebook posts but you don’t help him to share his weird theories.

In this time of coronavirus uncertainty, myths and misinformation can be especially disempowering. You can beat that by playing detective – follow the tips we have suggested if you see something that makes you feel uneasy; if it sounds too good to be true, or if it seems to be whipping up emotions in a destructive manner.

Then, if you want to do something about it, report it to Real411.org, an excellent local online resource that can sift truth from fiction. That way, not only will you be helping to combat disinformation, but you will also be helping ensure others are less likely to fall for it. Every little bit helps.

And, in the meantime, please do wear your mask, keep a physical distance and practise regular hand hygiene.

There are, of course, a range of useful sites that we can recommend people visit to check on myths, including:

  • SA government here
  • The National Institute for Communicable Diseases here
  • WHO here
  • John Hopkins University here
  • Centre for Disease Control (CDC) here
  • And, according to the BBC, even Twitter (see here) DM/MC

We thank William Bird of the Media Monitoring Project and editor Nicola Spurr for their guidance with the writing of this advisory. The Scientists Collective who collaborated on this piece are: 

  • Dr Nomathemba Chandiwana, Dr Simiso Sokhela, Dr Samanta Lalla-Edwards, Dr Bronwyn Bosch, Nkuli Mashabane, Dr Roxanne Govender, Celicia Serenata, Professor Francois Venter, all at Ezintsha, University of the Witwatersrand.
  • Andy Gray, Division of Pharmacology, Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Dr Ndiviwe Mphothulo, primary care specialist
  • Professor Shabir Madhi, Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand.
  • Professor Lucy Allais, University of the Witwatersrand.
  • Professor Wolfgang Preiser, University of Stellenbosch.
  • Dr Elijah Nkosi, private practice.
  • Professor Shaheen Mehtar, University of Stellenbosch.
  • Dr Jeremy Nel, University of the Witwatersrand.
  • Professor Yunus Moosa, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Professor Wendy Stevens, University of the Witwatersrand.
  • Professor Lucille Blumberg, University of Stellenbosch.
  • Professor Glenda Gray, University of the Witwatersrand and Medical Research Council.
  • Dr Jantjie Taljaard, Tygerberg Hospital and Stellenbosch University.
  • Dr Francesca Conradie, University of the Witwatersrand.
  • Professor Marc Mendelson, University of Cape Town.
  • Professor Morgan Chetty, Visiting Prof Health Sciences, Durban University of Technology.
  • Dr Aslam Dasoo, Progressive Health Forum.
  • Professor Eric Decloedt, Stellenbosch University.
  • Professor Alex Van Den Heever, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Professor James McIntyre, Anova.
  • Adrienne Wulfsohn, Emergency Medicine Physician, UKZN
  • Dr Regina Osih, infectious disease specialist.  
  • Dr Angelique Coetzee, South African Medical Association

 

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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All Comments 16

  • A person must be foolish or insane to add a comment to such an excellent article by such distinguished mostly medical experts. Few dispute that SARS-CoV-2 virus is real, that it kills and maims, and needs control.
    Many however believe that more of our society should determine the level of restrictions taking into account the relative harm caused by those restrictions. Those that advise those who decide should include economists, industry, retail and other services, charities, education, even politicians, with the advice of the entire medical profession, not only those who have experienced the trauma of treating the virus. Some past decisions were mistaken, damaging the economy, causing massive unemployment and hunger, civil unrest, the control of other diseases, children’s health and education, loss of freedoms, increasing racial tensions and so much more.
    These unquestioned and mistaken decisions have encouraged a loss of trust in our leaders and experts. How could so many have got it so wrong? Many now look to others for guidance and news from their community, which for many is Twitter, Facebook or YouTube where the sources are often doubtful and contradictory.
    Our knowledge on this disease is growing exponentially, but who do we believe? The WHO website still quotes: “In an analysis of 75,465 COVID-19 cases in China, airborne transmission was not reported.” On the CDC website, you will find “These particles can be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs and cause infection. This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads” and “Spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”. While a report in a recent NY Times “Scientists who initially warned about contaminated surfaces now say that the virus spreads primarily through inhaled droplets and that there is little to no evidence that deep cleaning mitigates the threat indoors.” This advisory still recommends sanitising your hands as a primary prevention.
    HELP! I am going insane!

  • Your comments may be scientific and factual however healthy perspective is severely lacking. Why quote the US fatality rate when SA fatality rate is nowhere near that? Last year globally 1.5 million people died of TB, why no masks? Last year 90 000 South Africans died of diabetes – only one news article. Imagine the impact on health if every time we turn on the radio or open our news feed that we heard tips on how to stay happy and healthy rather than why we should live in fear.
    Children are threatened with death if they remove their masks at school – how is this promoting health and well being? Children are being kept out of school when this is not even their disease. Simply criminal to be doing this!
    Thousands of elderly people have recovered from Covid 19 including my 90 year old dad who has high BP. Only a fraction of people with severe comorbidities are dying but we focus on them rather than the majority that are absolutely fine post infection. North of us malaria is killing way more people than covid could ever dream of.
    The people making the rules have bank balances to see them through these tough times. The businesses that have died or busy dying, the restaurants, arts and culture and entertainment industries suffering badly which means all the people they employ are in dire dire straights. I suspect that whether any of us wear a mask or not is neither here nor there in the bigger scheme of things. All very tragic and sad and we will for sure look back one day in the not too distant future and say “What on earth were we thinking?!” #endthemadness

    • Hi Belinda,
      That is my objection to the decisions made. Decisions made not by those who went broke, lost loved ones due to suicide, will lose many due to missed medical checkups, those that are now unemployed and hungry, those that will never go back to school, and a South Africa that will not recover financially in decades or more.
      We silently lose over 60,000 lives a year to TB but cry “PLAGUE” and we cower in terror behind masks, obsessively sterilising our hands, with our grandchildren refusing to hug grandma because it will kill her. Take care, take precautions, but please be reasonable.

    • Large collective of scientists and clinicians on face masks: “This is not controversial; it is established science and it is best practice” Belinda Roxburgh, qualified by way of a family anecdote: “I suspect that whether any of us wear a mask or not is neither here nor there in the bigger scheme of things.” Now who should we believe?

      • Dear Charles, I think you have missed the point of my comment i.e. the issue of masks pales into insignificance when considering the mass destruction of people’s lives, livelihoods, mental and physical health caused by our overreaction to this virus. I have most compassion for the children who are the biggest losers and that is where our focus should be.

  • Thank you for the article and the many links to explore. I do agree with the former comments and also still do not understand why there are lock downs and children not going to school. etc.
    Could we also the information about the 2 vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) and why it is necessary to use mRNA in the vaccines. It seems to have never before been used in a vaccine. What else is included in such a vaccine?

  • Frankly I think the South African government has handled the pandemic really well particularly when all the challenges are taking into account. What does intrigue me however, is why do we have such a high recovery rate. No-one has explained that adequately enough as yet?

    • I think we have a high recovery rate as we have a much larger proportion f young people in our population thn in North America and Europe.
      In general two things stand out for me in regard to Covid-Firstly one NEVER sees scenes such as those witnessed in and around Hospitals in Northern Italy and New York with morgues overflowing and bodies piling up in containers. This is the stuff of real deadly diseases. Second-masks have been worn in the far east among the populations at large but also in Hospitals and clinics the world over. this is not a new phenomenon in the medical world- masks protect-directly and indirectly. The balance of evidence is clear and overwhelming.

  • “It’s not up for debate”. This appears to sum up the intention of the article, to close down debate on many issues which are not settled. Apply your mind to the Biznews debate between Prof Alan Whiteside and Nick Hudson that took place today which should appear on on the Biznews website or YouTube later today. It also references this article.

  • Please elucidate, if the CDC IFR is estimated at 0.65%. And then you state 0.65% of the South African population is 390,000 people, nearly eight times our current excess deaths in the past months and nearly 20 times our official Covid deaths. I understand IFR to be the infection fatality rate, so I must conclude that the collective of scientists is convinced that EVERY South African will in fact be infected and we do a neat little segue straight back to the SACEMA model? Is the august collective seriously re-asserting a position that is demonstrably falsified by the data in the same article that describes the dangers of fear mongering? Indeed, the question of who to believe remains salient.

  • “It is not up for debate” must surely link / point to a myriad of peer reviewed papers that have demonstrably proved the wearing of masks by the general public to be a harbinger of flattening the curve and other such welcomed outcomes. If the collective could point me (and others) to these there would be a tremendous gratitude, I have no doubt.

  • It boggles the mind how we have been put in a spirit of fear. Similar to your house being robbed and turned out onto the floor. If you do not become angry at the outrage, you remain a victim. We are still victims here. One of the first cheap-shot reductions was the so-called choice between the economy and death. What census was taken in the hullabaloo on CoViD-19 being the outright cause of hardship and death? None! So, how could the best brains even get close to making a precise judgement on all things related? Now we sit with this. Besides this article is little too late. These doctors should have taken the lead in talking to the public at large. DM should have done something, for that matter! The science may be all well, good and true, but perceptions mess up the most pristine facts. The Internet is no worse, or better, than the farm party line where Auntie Cassie can listen in on all the gossip and private conversations over the telephone line. So, being warned by this august body, I will take their word under advisement as well. There are just too many issues unexplained. Like the FDA web page on the N95 mask clearly stating that it cannot protect against contagious diseases. Or was that fake too? So, how can a cloth mask protect you?

    • Agreed Chris. The question that seems to evade all media. Is this true? I do not use the word fake. Fake news is the oldest means of misinforming people and has been around long before the internet was even a thought. We need explanations on “false positives” and “asymptomatic” Until that is explained we are still in the dark and should question everything especially if it comes from people in power, “power supercedes the necessity to tell the truth” , no matter how distinguished.

      • There was a comment or a question on another site in the sense of how can you be sick without symptoms? This to me explains the asymptomatic bit. Smells of very finely tuned oblique skullduggery. Something like; “It’s not up for debate”. While they welcome criticism and counter research? I ask you! They really should get a spin doctor to at least get the English right. Remember what you said two or three paragraphs before this one. I think it is called reading comprehension, but they’re only scientists, good at that for sure, yet not linguists. Well, then again, what more do you want to utterly destroy your own street cred? False positives go something like dying with CoVd-19, not of it. Scientists are horrified at what they found in the Microbiome Project resulting from Dr Craig Venter’s Human Genome Project. You are a symbiotic system. Only 50 trillion Selvan microbes in you, the other 300 trillion are all sorts. Louis Pasteur’s germ theory was arrant nonsense. We live in an ocean of “germs”, most of them inside of us. The human race faced and survived enormous pestilences and plagues and we are still here. So what kept us healthy or surviving? Natural herd immunity! What else? Penicillin came on the market only ten years or so after WWII. There was nothing in that area!! Herd immunity from a vaccine is just a hi-jack. Now someone says; “You’ll die”! and we all turn into a collective gibbering wreck. The current virus is serious, definitely, no jokes. Fact, yet we have to get up again and face life and get on with it. The current psychological feelings thing in vogue is a mess. Feelings won’t win you any wars. Oh yes and just another thing, since we are on checking, get your radar tracking when you hear something like; “Oh, that is just a (plug in applicable)whatever theory”. Signature for a guy (check that word in a dictionary) with a hidden agenda. à lá Zuma, Myeni and cohorts, attacking the judge. No, the government did not handle this well. They missed the fact of the Internet having torn the whole thing open to all and sundry. No place to hide! Auntie Cassie’s global party line indeed.

  • Interesting – I note that a part of the article has been changed since originally published. Obviously reacting to some of the comments below, the paragraph – “But we know not our whole population is infected and if we take our current cases, using the CDC IFR this would amount to 50 630 deaths. This is a lot more deaths than we would expect from flu.”
    It seems the Scientist Collective are not very good at basic maths – 0.65% of 780 000-odd cases is 5 063 deaths, and not 50 630 deaths. This is a lot less that our annual flu deaths. So an error in reasoning is now compounded by an error in mathematics – what does this then say about the arguments put forward the authors?

  • MAVERICK CITIZEN

    UK HIV funding tap closes: Big and ‘shameful’ blow to Africa

    By Ufrieda Ho