French Letter

Today, the English language magazine in France French Local published these Covid stats from government sources:

‘Currently one person is hospitalised with Covid-19 every 30 seconds, and one person with the virus admitted into intensive care every 3 minutes. One in four deaths in France at present is from Covid-19’

They don’t make any sense at all, so let’s deconstruct them one by one.

  1. One hospitalisation every 30 seconds would add up to 2,880 patients a day. The average percentage of cases with serious symptoms right now is 0.8%. So that means 19 beds per day should be occupied by Covid 19 infected patients. There are almost exactly 300,000 public and non-profit beds in the Assurance Maladie system in France. So currently, roughly 1 aditional bed in 7,500 per day is occupied by a suspected Coronavirus patient. If that is a health crisis, then France has a problem much bigger than Covid19.
  2. When it comes to ICU take-up, things really do get silly bordering on surreal. Think about this: one person allegedly suffering from C19 going into ICU every three minutes should’ve meant 480 people. But yesterday in France, 0.8% of cases would’ve meant only 264 total admissions to hospital in total. So do the stats: are we saying that nearly 200% who go into hospital then go into ICU? I sincerely hope not*.
  3. And finally to the ‘1 in 4 deaths are from Covid 19’. I don’t know where to start with this one, but let’s plough ahead and see what develops. Firstly, the obvious: bitter experience has taught every thinking person who interrogates the numbers that ‘from’ is emerging as one of the great lies of the 21st century – the word should be, usually, ‘involved’. That aside, the main cause of death on our planet is old age. Some 84.5% of all Covid19 involved deaths are among people aged over 75. Each year in France, around 600,000 people die; so far this year, 43,000 have died from deaths that allegedly involved Coronavirus. With almost 11.4 out of 12 months gone, if you can make that add up to 25%, you are a better man than I.

*[In reality, based on yesterday and the day before’s Worldometer stats, just 4 and 3 people respectively should’ve gone into ICU.]

My beef here is not at all with French Local. It has amiable and competent staff and, as a starting point, it is an invaluable service for Brits who think the madness stops at Dover.

What we’re looking at here, however, is the same syndrome I have found over and over when examining what we’re told about this virus: almost every last number to do with it either

  • turns out to have been plucked from the air, or
  • tells only half the story, or
  • is placed within a farcically inappropriate context.

To put just a little flesh on that, it’s either a brazen lie, a raw number with no percentages, or a comparative that sounds and feels impressive.

But it is always designed to inflate the danger and thus evoke fear. Whether it conflates through malign motive or incompetence is, as ever, a tricky thing to discern.

I close tonight with three points I would like the French President, his new attack-dog Prime Minister, the BBC, France24, Dr Anthony Fauci, Chris Whitty and Boris Johnson to answer four direct questions that (I suggest) everyone should now focus on:

  1. Is the dire economic damage in any way worth it, and if so how?
  2. Is the severe damage to other vital public health services justified by one virus that kills 64 people per hundred thousand?
  3. Can the anthropological social damage done to a naturally convivial species by lockdown be justified?
  4. Why is it that everything ‘rock solid’ the State and its allies say on this subject crumbles, on interrogation, into informally arranged Rice Krispies?

John Ward spent 35 years crunching research numbers and conducting focus groups in order to guide mass communications to consumers. He worked with government agencies during the AIDS crisis, and was married for twenty years into a medical family that still regards Covid19 as Much Ado About Nothing. He is of generally good health and sound mind, but tends to vomit when exposed to either BBCNews or CNN.