COLUMN/ THE WRITE LINE
December 2, 2022: The question of whether the SARS-Cov-2 virus evolved naturally, or was manufactured by humans in a lab has been asked ad nauseam – and we are yet to find a conclusive answer. While understanding the nuances of the argument requires a good grasp of virology, let’s explore a related question – was fear of Covid-19 natural or manufactured? It turns out this is a far easier question to address, requiring no more than primary school mathematics.
For nearly two and a half years, from April 2020 to about mid-2022, the foremost emotion felt by most people on the planet was fear. While many have lost their near and dear ones, do the numbers behind Covid-19 justify the all-pervading fear? Let us look at a couple of questions.
The following chart shows the total number of deaths from weeks 1-to-34 (until about the end of August) in the US. It shows this information for the three years 2020, 2021, and 2022, but the order of the years has been purposefully jumbled. The question is – which year corresponds to which mortality number? The chart is based on data from the US CDC.
A similar chart below shows the total of number of deaths from weeks 1-to-34 in the 27 countries under EuroMOMO. EuroMOMO, by the way, is a European mortality tracker that measures excess deaths related to seasonal flu, pandemics and other public health threats. As in the previous case, the data here is shown for years 2020, 2021, and 2022, but has been presented in a deliberately jumbled order. The question is the same – match the year with the mortality number.
Surely, the level of fear in September 2022 was almost non-existent, while the fear in September 2020 was apocalyptic. In fact, on September 18 this year, US President Joe Biden declared that the pandemic was over. Across much of Europe, Covid-related restrictions and fear were gone earlier than in the US. So, the above questions must be easy to answer. I encourage the reader to make a genuine attempt to answer before proceeding.
Surely, 2020 must stand out in terms of mortality numbers, compared to 2022. Right?
Wrong! In both the cases cited above, the year 2022 had more mortality than in 2020. In both the cases, the year 2020 is not the longest bar in the above charts. In the case of the US, the longest bar corresponds to 2021, while in Europe, the longest bar corresponds to this year. Here go the answers to the two questions: A=2020, C=2021, B=2022; Y=2020, X=2021, Z=2022.
How is it possible that in 2022, a year with more deaths, there is less fear? And in the year 2020, which had lesser mortality than this year, there was extreme fear and panic? Note that the above data is hardly a secret – it is publicly available and easy to comprehend.
So, this only means one thing. The extreme fear of Covid-19 was manufactured. This is not to deny the unfortunate deaths caused by the coronavirus, but to convey that there was no justification at all for mass panic. Also, there was no need for harsh restrictions, hard lockdowns ruining livelihoods, and lengthy school closures that damaged children’s education and mental health.
Which age groups were particularly at danger from Covid-19? A close look at age group-wise mortality data from Europe is revealing. The following table shows year-wise mortality data for four consecutive years from 2018 to 2021.
It is clear from the data that the danger was always for the oldest age groups, covering 65+ years. This is proof that the fear among the working-age population in 2020 and 2021 was manufactured due to excessive focus on Covid-19 without paying sufficient attention to data, which had all along been indicating something entirely different.
Did the lockdown save lives?
Was the lower mortality in 2020 due to strict lockdowns in the various European countries? To answer this, we have one country to study that did not impose a lockdown – Sweden. For not following the example of other European countries in March-April 2020, Sweden was vilified in the media. What price did Sweden pay for not locking down? I encourage the readers to answer the question for themselves by attempting to spot the worst three months of the pandemic in Sweden – April to June in 2020 – in the following graphic.
The correct answer can be found here. Regardless of the right answer, it is obvious that the three months of the pandemic in no-lockdown Sweden cannot be spotted in comparison to prior seasonal deaths, which attracted little or no attention. This is yet more proof that the apocalyptic fear in 2020 was not justified by data.
A question, however, remains – why are there more deaths in 2022 than in 2020? There are two possible explanations.
Possible explanation 1
People’s health situation has been overall drastically impacted by factors related to extreme lockdowns, such as lack of exercise, lack of sunlight, and constant fear and anxiety. Access to quality healthcare has also narrowed as people are now a whole lot poorer, again, due to harsh measures such as hard lockdowns.
Possible explanation 2
The second possibility is the mass roll-out of experimental Covid-19 vaccines, including for those at least risk of the disease – healthy young people and children. The vaccines have been administered even to those who have already recovered after exposure to the coronavirus. There is no science or data backing the need to vaccinate this group. Worse still, there has been extreme coercion and gross violation of the principle of informed consent when it came to vaccinating the public, a violation of the cornerstone of medical ethics.
An unbiased investigation is needed to identify how much role each reason discussed here is playing in the context of the higher number of deaths this year. Analysis is also needed for data from India, which is, unfortunately, not readily available publicly. Such analysis is crucial to avoid similar policy mistakes in the future.
(Bhaskaran Raman is a professor at IIT Bombay. A critic of various aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic’s narrative, he has written the contrarian book Math Murder in Media Manufactured Madness. The column reflects the author’s opinions).
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