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Thank goodness these guys are speaking out!

The following from Plan B…

Stuff today presents a story claiming to finally give the low down on how likely you are to die from Covid19. After a year of hyping up the predictions and danger, the only article it has ever run trying to present the situation clearly, doesn’t give a straightforward answer.

It cites the false 3.4% prediction multiple times at the top of the article (remember how firmly and unconditionally this number was stated at the start of 2020 and repeated by media without qualification).

Now that the actual rate is much lower, it’s fascinating that Stuff has decided to list the types of qualifications they ignored when the number was bigger.

The article cites conditions where the rate is at its highest, such as elderly, and not conditions where it is lowest, such as all healthy people under 50.

When it finally gets to a new IFR it selects a single study, in December, that concluded a rate of 0.64%. We know of course that IFRs have continuously dropped and have been estimated at even less than half that 0.64% rate. The article ignores all the data available elsewhere that cites a lower number, even the easily understandable tables and estimates released by the CDC.

But okay, let’s go with 0.64%. The article doesn’t try to contextualise that risk – in fact, it tries to make it appear worse than it is. It notes that this is two-fold greater than the risk of dying in a car accident. This is an interesting comparison because there’s plenty of estimates that the risk is much less than dying in a car accident. It’s certainly less than many other death-risks we face each day. The article does not rank covid19 against those risks.

Then the article predictably drafts in Siouxsie Wiles to say that a low IFR isn’t important because what matters is that lots of people die. While Wiles has been consistent on this point, it isn’t the purpose of the article – which is how likely is each of us to die, not whether deaths are acceptable.

It concludes with an incorrect and misleading comparison with Spanish Flu (2.13 vs 2.5 deaths per 100 cases). The comparison is not correct, nor reliable. But even if it was, it excludes is that the average age of the 2.13 people dying is 82. The average age of 2.5 dying of Spanish Flu was 28. Which one was the worse pandemic?

There’s no sense of self-reflection about why it has taken so long to attempt such an article.

There’s no apology for publishing claims by experts, including those in NZ, that cited estimates which it now accepts were wrong.

There’s no apology to experts, including those in NZ, for refusing to publish estimates they made or quotes which Stuff now accepts were correct.

The article doesn’t give a clear risk assessment and does its best to leave readers thinking it’s still just as dangerous as the 3.4% prediction last year.

That’s a massive disservice to readers, and a stain against its own charter of fairness, balance and accuracy.


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