Pandemics Data & Analytics questioned the projections of the Covid-19 epidemiology models on which government based its lockdown decisions. Nechama Brodie wrongfully tries to dismiss it as a ‘narrow interest group’ that is ‘dishonest’ and ‘revisionist’.

In early May, I wrote a column highlighting the flaws, bugs and gross overestimates in Neil ‘Professor Lockdown’ Ferguson’s pandemic models developed at Imperial College, London, and wondered why South Africa’s epidemiological models were not subjected to academic peer review and public scrutiny.

Some time earlier (and unbeknownst to me at the time), a group of actuaries, data analysts, statisticians, medical doctors and economists formed a research group named PANDA, or Pandemics Data & Analytics.

On 4 May, they wrote to president Cyril Ramaphosa, warning him that life-years lost to the economic fallout of lockdown would likely dwarf the life-years saved from Covid-19 by the lockdown. Their full report was published a week later, estimating that South Africa’s lockdown will cause a loss of life-years 30 times greater than the loss of life-years it stands to prevent. The group subsequently published an open letter calling for the models used to arrive at Covid-19 death projections to be made public.

In mid-April, the government predicted that a two-week extension of the initial hard lockdown would ‘shift the peak to September instead of June or July, as was expected earlier’.

That has not happened. The peak, both of the number of cases and of Covid-19 deaths, occurred in mid-July. If the lockdown made any impact on the timing of the peak, it wasn’t much at all, even though that was a primary purpose of shutting down the economy and throwing millions out of work and into penury.

By mid-May, the government projected that compliance with lockdown regulations could push the peak out from early June to at worst mid-July, or perhaps to late-August. If you ignore the fact that still projecting a peak of early June, seven weeks into lockdown, is tantamount to an admission that those seven weeks achieved nothing at all.

Saying, with hindsight, that the peak did occur in mid-July hardly vindicates the government’s projections, which were all over the place. Reality was not inconsistent with the government’s early estimate of when a no-lockdown peak would occur.

The original death toll projections of between 87 900 and 351 000 deaths was quickly revised to between 120 000 and 150 000 deaths, and then to a lower bound of 45 000. The president from mid-April right up until the July peak maintained that between 40 000 and 50 000 would die by the end of the year.

Curiously, three months’ worth of new data, as infections, hospitalisations and deaths actually started to roll in, did nothing to budge the projected death toll.

With three months to go until the end of the year, and well over two months after the peak, the documented death figures stand at a third of that projection. It would require another one and a half times the number of deaths we have had in the first six months of the pandemic to reach even the lower bound of 40 000 deaths by the end of the year.

PANDA initially estimated that deaths were unlikely to exceed 10 000, and soon produced a projection of between 10 000 and 20 000 deaths. They criticised the government’s models for ‘grossly overestimating’ the likely impact of the pandemic.

Throughout, the real-world data followed PANDA’s projections far more closely than it followed the government’s projections.

Papers, please!

The fact that PANDA’s critique of the government’s statistics appear to have been correct irked Nechama Brodie, prompting her to pen a ponderous, 35-minute read entitled 2020, hindsight, which comes in at a hefty 8 600 words.

Brodie is a journalist who frequently touts her Ph.D. in journalism and media studies, and identifies herself as ‘Dr. N. Brodie’ on social media, even though it isn’t customary to do so outside an academic setting unless you’re a medical doctor. Her doctoral dissertation formed the basis for one of her books, Femicide in South Africa.

I mention all this to establish her credentials to be writing about Covid-19 and the epidemiological models upon which the government based its lockdown policy. That is, she has none. She is just another journalist.

And I mention that, because she makes a terribly big deal of the credentials of members of the PANDA group, which includes three actuaries, a statistician, a big data analyst, two medical doctors, a data scientist, a lawyer, an economist, an engineer, a geophysicist, and an expert in fundamental analysis and machine learning.

None of these fields, Brodie argues, qualifies them to critique the work of the real experts, who work for the government building models that are wrong.

Epidemiology, of course, is largely the application of mathematical methods of analysis to data. What the underlying data represents is neither here nor there. The methods of analysis and the techniques for constructing mathematical models are the same.

I would imagine actuaries, statisticians economists and data scientists are eminently suited to critique such models. Models are their bread and butter. It’s what they do.

But no, Brodie wants us to bow to the ‘experts’, and those experts apparently exclude anyone who is not a professional epidemiologist and working for the government.

Given that her deference is to government-selected experts, whose work was long shrouded in secrecy, hers is a particularly obsequious instance of the appeal to authority fallacy. While she is correct to say it is advisable to take the opinions of experts seriously, it doesn’t seem to occur to her that merely being an ‘expert’ does not place everything a person says above questioning by mere mortals.

Experts frequently disagree, and that is certainly the case here.

Expert opinion

Her only substantial claim to support the validity of government’s models is that some substantial share of the 42 000 excess deaths reported between early May and the start of September must have been attributable to Covid-19. She notes the correlation between Covid-19 infections and the excess mortality curve, without recognising that an equally suggestive correlation exists between excess mortality and lockdown.

In her expert opinion, it is implausible that these deaths could be attributable to any other cause, such as people being afraid to seek medical attention for non-Covid-related illnesses, or plain ol’ starvation.

Therefore, by claiming as fact something which is only highly speculative, she confidently concludes that the government projections were right all along.

The irony of this conclusion is all the more pointed given that she spends an inordinate amount of time on explaining why Covid-19 data is not reliable in the first place.

She launches into lengthy explanations of matters that are not ‘remotely new or surprising to anyone who has ever worked with mortality data’, as if she herself is an expert. Which, we have established, she is most certainly not.

Given her reverence for experts, perhaps she would be interested in the view of Professor Shabir Mahdi, former head of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, who has a world-class CV as long as my arm.

Contrary to Brodie’s view that the early models were merely hamstrung by a lack of information, in late April he declared them ‘flawed’, ‘back-of-the-envelope calculations’, ‘based on wild assumptions’. According to Katharine Child, a journalist with an excellent reputation for critical thought and a skeptical approach to official propaganda, he noted that nobody was modelling  the collateral damage of the lockdown, and the impact of the economic meltdown on disease and death.

The fragility of white male opinions

Brodie also makes much of the fact that the most prominent social media voices criticising lockdown policies are, in her opinion, ‘middle-class white males’ with ‘poorly informed and self-important opinions’, and that PANDA consists of ‘mostly white males’.

Why someone’s race or gender has any bearing at all upon the validity of their work is a mystery to me. Imagine if I told you to ignore Brodie’s article not because it is has no substance, but because she is a woman or a Jew. Imagine if I critiqued the National Coronavirus Command Council not on the grounds that it was authoritarian and based irrational decisions on questionable data, but because its members were ‘mostly black’.

There would be outrage. I’d never work again.

Somehow, naked racism is okay when it is directed at white males. In academic circles, they call that ‘anti-racism’. When the Democratic Alliance embraces non-racialism, journalists of Brodie’s ilk call it ‘racism’.

No, judging someone’s work by the colour of their skin is racism, plain and simple. Judging their work by their gender is sexism. Brodie reveals herself as both a sexist and a racist, and in the same breath betrays that there is little of substance to her criticism of PANDA.

Self-contradiction

Brodie writes: ‘What do we know or learn from [revised government projections]? That the initial estimate or model outcome was changed because it was based on limited information – which was updated and amended once newer and better information became available. This is how estimates and modelling work, and there is nothing inherently ominous about a projection being updated or revised.’

When PANDA updates an early guesstimate of at most 10 000 deaths to a more properly modelled 10,000 to 20 000, however, Brodie considers this to be not just ‘revisionist’, but ‘dishonest’.

This is a self-contradiction. When one group revises their estimates based on newer, better data, there’s nothing to see, but when another does so, it’s dishonest. Really?

She points to the government’s mid-May hopes of pushing an early-June peak to between mid-July and late-August as evidence that the lockdown worked, but while accusing PANDA of cherry-picking, pointedly ignores the government’s mid-April hopes of pushing a June-July peak out to September, which suggests the lockdown achieved nothing.

Her headline about ‘2020 hindsight’, and her claim that ‘[w]e have already forgotten how bad it was’, is aimed at PANDA, as if they are only now making the claim that the government’s projections were exaggerated and the lockdown cure would be worse than the disease, instead of having been at it since the start of May, at least.

For Brodie to claim that PANDA’s projections amount to 20/20 hindsight is, not to put too fine a point on it, dishonest. So is her claim that PANDA calls the pandemic ‘some kind of hoax,’ or is somehow acting in bad faith.

Brodie claims that ‘it is important that people are allowed to criticise the government,’ but spends 8 000-plus words explaining why nobody other than the experts who work for the government have any credibility.

Presumably she’ll concede, then, that her own piece is just partisan rhetoric, that it is little more than a prejudiced smear against people who are trying to hold government accountable, and that she does not have ‘truth’ or even the ‘facts’ on her side.

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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40 COMMENTS

  1. I love it when government apologists get thoroughly trashed to the extent that they are revealed as racist morons. Do they hide themselves in shame? Noo they get promoted
    Fact is lockdown caused more deaths than covid as evidenced by “excess mortality” never mind millions of people being dumped into penury
    We are ruled by arrogant idiots
    Great article Ivo

  2. Thank you so much Ivo for yet again a superb article that thoroughly demolishes the fawning Cultural Marxist sycophants (or maybe that should be psycho-phants?!). It is tough to be sane in this insane world, and without a shadow of a doubt Ms/Dr Brodie is borderline insane. Either that, or she is an agent provocateur. Either way, she should be assessed for suitability to stand trial for accessory to murder, because the government’s actions (supported by her) are literally murdering people and causing thousands upon thousands of deaths and suffering. Her delusions of grandeur about her qualifications and her ability to criticise the highly qualified PANDA group of people, is simply breath-taking.

    You didn’t mention if Ms Brodie actually interviewed the PANDA group (or a representative of PANDA) and asked them to substantiate their data and arguments. Ah but silly me! The Cultural Marxist “journalists” don’t do things like that!!

    I hope that she will be the first to take the dangerous, unsafe and untested, DNA-altering vaccine. Once taken, there will be no going back – you won’t be able to detox or reverse the damage. And there will be damage. Let’s encourage all the Cultural Marxists to take their shots. When they start squealing that it’s dangerous and then Big Pharma says “oh but it’s just a coincidence”, we will all be able to say “I told you so”. Vaccine injury is real and not rare. but I guess Ms/Dr Brodie will not believe it. Until it happens to her.

    • For the record, I strongly disagree with you about the supposed dangers of vaccines. I will gladly take a Covid vaccine, just like I get a flu shot every year. I don’t want to debate this, but in my very well-researched view, vaccines do far, far more good than harm, and they do far, far less harm than the diseases against which they protect.

      • Fair enough, but as far as I know the fastest vaccine takes about 5 years, usually many, many more.

        respiratory viruses are especially fraught apparently.

        I simply wouldn’t trust a vaccine developed in 6 months. 6 years maybe, but not 6 months.

          • True, but THIS vaccine is being pushed for political, rather than medical purposes. Personally, I’ll wait a few years…

          • Arguably, the annual flu-vaccine changes would amount to a minor tweaking of an established formula. While COVID is superficially a flu-like infection, it is sufficiently novel to need a new approach.
            Have I missed a report somewhere to support the assertion that the COVID vaccine is somehow DNA-modifying?

  3. Excellent article Ivo. Brodie is among that group of journalists given to sweeping generalizations, diminishing her non-fiction work to fiction.

  4. Years ago after an incident with Steve Hofmeyr, a well known blogger exposed this “Progressive” agent provocateur of AfricaCheck as being an numerically illiterate buffoon.
    In the following years she has been exposed by other individuals as just another radical SJW Leftist hack who should rather concentrate her efforts on her non-existent music career. “Journalism”, truth, fact, figures and statistics was not her forte
    Apparently she is a slow learner as well

  5. When these leftwing idiots starts with “white males” I just ignore them. The whole of modern society (with a few exceptions) were created by white men with the backing of their women (note: women not shrieking shrews). You can look around and see what happened once those white males allowed control to slip…

  6. If one feels the need to spell out your academic qualifications and other credentials, you most probably do not have sound facts upon which you base your assumptions and opinions. With her academic background, one would expect her to take to heart principles such as proper researched and unbiased reporting. No?

  7. Thank you Ivo for your well-written, well-thought out response to Nechama Brodie’s criticisms of PANDA. Now the ball is back in her court but I doubt she’s got the balls to respond.

  8. It is clear from the MRC excess deaths data that well over 40 000 people have died from Covid. We do not have evidence of mass starvation and so by far the most logical conclusion is that there were about 3 times more Covid deaths than officially reported. We can’t dismiss this lightly.

    • We obviously need to know the causes of the excess deaths. Some of them are undoubtedly unreported Covid deaths. However, we cannot assume anything about them without evidence. There is plenty anecdotal evidence of people with chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, TB and HIV failing to collect medicine from clinics. There is plenty anecdotal evidence of doctors seeing a massive dropoff in cancer screenings, heart disease patients and stroke patients. There is plenty anecdotal evidence of hunger and malnutrition, which if not directly leading to death could leave people vulnerable to death by other diseases. Any number of these could have resulted in deaths within months, contrary to Brodie’s spurious claim that no other causes could have caused deaths that correlate with Covid infections.

      We know nothing about those 42,000 excess deaths. Until we do, any claims about them are speculative, and they cannot be used to prove the government models correct. Even if a majority do turn out to be Covid deaths, whether that supports the government models depends on the parameters of those models. If they were based on the numbers of people who presented for medical care, for example, they could not project unreporelted Covid deaths.

      We can’t lightly dismiss them, but we also cannot draw firm conclusions from them.

      • Thanks for engaging Ivo. I think the strong circumstantial evidence for me is that people do not die from TB, diabetes, cancer, HIV etc in a matter of days and weeks. And the excess deaths correlate with the Covid numbers – climbing rapidly and then declining equally as rapidly. If the majority of excess deaths were not Covid, we should have seen the spike in excess deaths continue. To my mind, this is strong evidence that the overwhelming majority of excess deaths are due to Covid. This in no way gives support for the lockdown. It just means that the lockdown did not work anyway.

        • It was actually a matter of months. People couldn’t go anywhere – there were no taxis, buses, trains running. The drop off in excess deaths as Lockdown has been lifted, ie. that patients can now access medical help, strongly supports Ivo’s contentions.

  9. Ivo, very good article.

    This C-19 thing is exposing many things. One is how dishonest mainstream media is, and also that many journalists have nothing much of substance to say except race this and gender that. Its exposing how dishonest government is and what it will do to grab more control.

    I am hoping massive distrust in big government and big media is the outcome of C-19.

    On the “excess deaths” (a euphemism as odd as calling Holocaust victims “bathroom accidents”), I think this is probably capable of being categorised as a democide – see University of Hawaii for the definition. Let me know if you agree with it?

    • I don’t, because there is no evidence to support that (yet). I did fear, right from the start, that lockdown would cause more harm than Covid ever could, and perhaps the excess deaths are indicative of this, but at this stage one can only speculate.

      • The tip of iceberg of “excess deaths” hasn’t been reached yet. That will happen mostly during next year with cancer patents etc.

        Just because it is exceptionally horrific, observe how we’ve lost so much in just a few short months; how freedoms and liberties have vanished across the globe and supposedly democratic governments have become authoritarian overnight. The concept of democide is not far away. Consider its elements:

        “In detail, democide is any actions by government:

        (1) designed to kill or cause the death of people
        (1.1) because of their religion, race, language, ethnicity, national origin, class, politics, speech, actions construed as opposing the government or wrecking social policy, or by virtue of their relationship to such people;
        (1.2) in order to fulfill a quota or requisition system;
        (1.3) in furtherance of a system of forced labor or enslavement;
        (1.4) by massacre;
        (1.5) through imposition of lethal living conditions;
        (1.6) by directly targeting noncombatants during a war or violent conflict.
        (2) that cause death by virtue of an intentionally or knowingly reckless and depraved disregard for life (which constitutes practical intentionality), as in

        (2.1) deadly prison, concentration camp, forced labor, prisoner of war, or recruit camp conditions;
        (2.2) killing medical or scientific experiments on humans;
        (2.3) torture or beatings;
        (2.4) encouraged or condoned murder, or rape, looting, and pillage during which people are killed;
        (2.5) a famine or epidemic during which government authorities withhold aid, or knowingly act in a way to make it more deadly;
        (2.6) forced deportations and expulsions causing deaths.”

        1.5 and 2.5 are not that far away, if not already here or in many countries around the world

      • The NCCC (National Coronavirus Command Council) started out making the fundamental error of claiming that there is a contest between lives and livelihoods. Seeing as the NCCC expert team viewed it as a purely medical issue, it is not surprising that they focussed on minimising viral infection deaths virtually to the exclusion of all else. After all, in the eyes of the medical fraternity lives are precious, so what chance does a mere economy have against the infinitely greater good of preserving lives? This has been a fatal error, since even in the realm of human life, far more deaths are likely to arise from the lockdown (the “cure”) than from the virus!
        The economic impact is the very big elephant munching quietly in the corner. The lives vs livelihood mantra may be valid for wealthy North American and European nations, since they have enough financial resources to bear quite a big reduction in economic output without significantly reducing life expectancy. We, and many other poor nations, do not have this luxury. Too many of our people, as unskilled or semi-skilled labourers, are already unemployed. Many others, although enjoying a much higher standard of living, are highly dependent on their salaries and have been unable to build up a cushion of savings. Loss of their jobs and the subsequent erosion of their meagre savings will rapidly plunge them and their dependents over the edge to poverty where they and their dependents will soon swell the ranks of the poor living on and under the bread line. For these the “lives vs livelihood” mantra is a hollow fallacy. The real comparison is between “lives vs lives”. The fantasy of ignoring the link between economic output and lives is easy to dispel. If there is no production for any length of time, all stored food and other resources will be consumed and everyone will die. All that matters is how much food (and other resources) is stored and how long the lockdown lasts. There is also the matter of distribution. People with limited resources will run out and start dying first.
        Basically first world nations have enough stored resources to still provide the basic needs of their citizens. We do not. So it was a disastrous mistake to take WHO’s recommendations for first world countries regarding lockdown and myopically paste them onto a society drowning in debt with an already massive unemployment rate that impoverishes well over half of our population. (Don’t forget that nearly all of the unemployed also have dependents who are in the same poverty trap.)
        The vast majority of the million or more newly unemployed, plus their dependents, are drawn from the lowest echelons of the workforce who are the most vulnerable since they do not have savings to draw on, much of which would have been spent to stay alive during the protracted harsh lockdown. They have little prospect of finding employment again since they will now be at the back of the queue, continually being displaced by new cohorts of better educated school graduates coming into the now much more constrained employment market. The longer they are unemployed the worse their prospects, until they stop trying. Moreover, many of those who have lost their jobs during 2020 are relatively young, as are most of our population. According to the actuarial modelling, which is generally reliable enough to satisfy the exacting demands of insurance companies that use their projections confidently, the average curtailed life expectancy of the newly unemployed is about 26 years. Think of it, 26 years of bitterness, grinding poverty, starvation and disease, followed by an untimely death for them and their dependents. By contrast, not wishing in any way to minimise their suffering and the grief of their loved ones, those dying of COVID-19 infection are mostly elderly with relatively short lives ahead of them and their suffering is confined to a few short weeks on a respirator under sedation.
        And there are far fewer of them. For example, back on the evening of 14 April, less than a week after the extended two weeks of lockdown was announced, I saw Professor Karim’s TV presentation. On seeing his plot showing daily infections I was shocked to realise that two glaring modelling errors had been made by these otherwise very smart professionals. First, the decisions had been founded almost entirely on minimising COVID-19 deaths with no recognition of the effect of the resulting lockdown deaths. The second major error was overlooking the lag effect (the incubation period in this instance) in the key decisions that were made. I will deal with the lag error in the next reply.
        With regard to the first blunder, I spent about half an hour getting annual GDP and South African life expectancy data from credible Stats SA and SARS websites. (Bear in mind that for South Africa average life expectancy and GDP are closely related.) I then made the first-order assumption that the hard-won end of 2019 life expectancy of 64 years would be reduced by 5 years by the lockdown, which would bring us back to where we were a little over 8 years ago. Based on a population of about 60 million, these two simple assumptions imply 79400 (60/59-50/64 million) extra deaths attributable to the economic damage of the lockdown during the first year. Assuming a linear improvement back to where we should have been over the next ten years gave a total of 397000 poverty-related deaths. I had no way of proving the veracity the two driving assumptions made in this 5-minute back of cigarette box type calculation to the satisfaction of sceptics. However, the 5-year regress in life expectancy seemed rather conservative compared with the expected gravity of wiping out nearly all economic activity for five weeks, plus more to follow as the lockdown levels were painfully slowly relaxed. The linear improvement over ten years was consistent with economic expectations at the time, although there have been more optimistic hopes for a faster recovery
        Completely independently on 5 May PANDA published their more defensible work. I was gratified to find that based on their figures, my first order estimate of economic deaths resulting from the lockdown was close to the mark and if anything was an under-estimate. Hence, in their blinkered approach the NCCC had ignored by far the most important cause of deaths. They had made the fundamental error of seeking to minimise only the number of direct COVID-19 infection deaths, instead of minimising the TOTAL number of deaths, which includes the cost (in deaths) of the “cure” that they proposed. The awful result is that they have put our nation onto a conveyor belt that will result in many more deaths over the coming years (30 times more that the number of COVID-19 viral infection deaths to date). This short-sighted policy will also ensure that the quality of life (livelihoods) for all 60 million of us will be seriously impaired. The worst suffering will be amongst the swollen ranks of the unemployed poor.
        In the second half of the harshly imposed Level 5 lockdown the docile elephant in the corner started to become restless, trumpet and flap its ears and start breaking things. This caused the NCCC to panic and start easing the lockdown noose, but still painfully slowly incurring yet more economic damage. All this time the NCCC continued to insist that the conflict is between lives and livelihoods and stubbornly refused to acknowledge that their hard lockdown remedy will cost far more lives than it has saved. No doubt the objective of this denialism is to justify themselves personally in the eyes of their peers and the government in the eyes of the electorate.
        A rather ugly thing to emerge from the NCCC is it’s not so covert attempt to boost cherished but bad political aspirations to get their hands on every lever of power with the aim of creating a one party national-socialist state where the ANC and the government become synonymous and unchangeable. But perhaps this discredited attempt is not such a bad thing, seeing as the patent power-hungry arrogance of the NCCC, the clownish stupidity of the edicts that they tried to enforce and their cavalier ham-fistedness in destroying both livelihoods and lives might just mellow their fast unravelling Big Brother ideology, or edge them closer to the political abyss that they have been digging for the last couple of decades.
        P.S. I was somewhat surprised to find that only medical doctors are assumed to have the right to display their title? I make no apology for identifying myself as a well-qualified professional engineer. Especially so in the context of this issue, since I have over 40 years of experience in the fields of hydrological and water quality model development and practical application. This work has saved South Africa scores of billions of rands, but it has taken the NCCC only a few months to squander R830 billion (excluding corruption). It makes you think, doesn’t it? These are highly relevant skills that appear to have been sadly lacking in the NCCC’s selected modelling team. (Or if they were in the team, no-one bothered to listen to them, which amounts to the same thing.)

  10. Very good article, Mr. Vegter, one hell of an absorbing read. I’m not a mathematician, epidemiologist, virologist, doctor (medical or otherwise), statistician or anything like that. Nevertheless, right from the beginning I did not think the lockdown was going to work, and after the government messed up the initial three weeks I told anybody who asked me that government was going to shut down the country until late August or September, or even November because they were trying to make themselves appear as “the saviours of the people.” From what I’ve felt on my own skin and saw the people around me endure, I’d say the lockdown caused far more harm than the disease it was trying to eliminate (the emptying out of hospitals and people’s loss of access to detection and treatment for other diseases was just one of the deadly major screw ups, especially in the Eastern Cape) because the government’s projections were waaay off and the decisions it took were utterly disastrous overreactions when they weren’t outright stupid. In my mind, anyone with two brain cells to rub together would not be try to defend the government and hide its litany of failures under ponderous bravo sierra arguments like the journalist you mentioned, but there have been so many incidents of confluence between government and journalists that sadly I long ago gave up on believing much of what they say.

  11. I personally know a man who had a massive heart attack in late August. He has no medical aid and had to go to the state hospital. There his heart attack was confirmed and he was admitted twice and monitored for a few days and then sent home with a stack of pills. They agree he definitely needs an angiogram but “state hospital theatres are closed until 1 October” and the earliest appointment they can give him is 15 October! He is so weak and drugged up he cannot work and has subsequently lost his job. If he survives until 15 October it will be a miracle. I’m sure he’s not the only one in this predicament and one can easily understand the excess deaths in light of this?

  12. Another excellently written piece, Ivo. It’s unfortunate that some commentators get sidetracked into a discussion of “excess deaths”. (One can find all sorts of correlations if you want; it also seems to have an inverse correlation with average daily temperature.) The main issue is the one you started with: the PRIMARY requirement for any scientific work, including modelling, is peer review. If it isn’t peer reviewed then it isn’t science, period. Although governments always have knee-jerk reactions to keep everything secret there was and still is simply no justification at all for doing it with the Covid19 statistics and models. Making it available to the very large number of qualified people in the country to evaluate could only have improved it, irrespective of how expert the government panel was. Which raises the ultimate question: what on earth was the reason why they absolutely refused to do so?

  13. Good critique and contribution Mr Vegter. You are indeed a fighter for endangered logic represented by species like the PANDA. Sadly neither Ms Brodie nor your articles are often consumed or understood by the people most directly or indirectly affected by the SA (and other) governments’ responses to the Covid-19 and other pandemics. Forecasting is not an exact science and can only be based upon well-sourced and scientifically analysed data resulting in a range of probabilities. On the face of it SA has, from a purely medical point of view, come through this Covid-19 pandemic tolerably well, so far, at a case mortality rate of about 2,4 against a global average of 3,1. However the short and long term socio economic impact of the way in which SA has responded has been devastating and it will take many years, if not decades, to bring the SA economy to the point where it will make meaningful inroads into the current levels of unemployment, poverty and other socio-economic maladies that beset our society.

  14. Sorry everyone, just one more comment on “excess” deaths: these people are dead, also buried or cremated, so they are gone. There is now no way of post-testing so we will never know for sure if they died of COVID as well as their listed cause of death – anything said about them is therefor pure speculation and should be labelled as such. I personally would conclude that these unfortunates died as a result of lockdown regulations because that was about the second greatest environmental variation at the time in question, so there appears to be a correlation. But as with all correlations, it is an hypothesis until shown to be valid. Hopefully none of us is around long enough for the validation to be made through another significant amount of lockdown situations.

  15. Modelling is, of limited value when there hasn’t been a similar pandemic for which there is data. Also, people changed their behaviour in unpredictable ways ranging from giving charity, starting their own businesses, decreasing debt – all of which have an economic impact. Can’t we just accept that the government did the best it could, given the information they had, aimed at saving as many lives as possible while trying to limit the economic damage? Also, the pandemic is not over yet.

  16. Brodie is ‘n dom kind.
    In South Africa, more than 10 million mild, 128,000 severe non-fatal and 6 to 11,000 fatal influenza‐associated illness episodes are estimated to occur annually.
    And this upset nobody, is part of life.
    The 16000 this year just makes it a somewhat more severe flu, an outlier. So what.
    The extra few thousand covid deaths are not noticeable in a country with 480 000 deaths annually, but the far higher extra lockdown deaths and destroyed lives are.
    The wholesale destruction of the economy was so intensely stupid, there is no word for it.
    The same nonsensical overreaction by government and journalist incompetents is taking place in matters climate. Absolutely nothing is the matter but they call it a crisis.

  17. It will be interesting to see when figures are compiled and a comparison is done hopefully by PANDA comparing summer and winter data and then comparing winter All-cause mortality for both during during the last say 5 years and compared to this year.

    IMHO the Covid19 Deaths are politically loaded in any event and served as a justification of a political decision foisted onto the ever compliant ANC by the UN – WHO and those who lurk in the shadows and control the UN

  18. Necham Brodie has a PhD in journalism. She is literally as qualified as any of her much maligned pale, white males who are not qualified to opine on epidemiology either. To throw (insert pronoun of choice here) a bone, this places (he/she/it) in the same camp as another pale, white male who frequently opines on topics he (an assumption, but he’s old school I”m sure he can manage) is not qualified in at all and who may be a hero: Noam Chomsky. More tersely, Dr Brodie should be taken as seriously on epidemiology as Dr Chomsky should be taken on any topic outside of linguistics. And neither of these doctors are the kind you should consult when you’re dealing with a life threatening illness.

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