8 July 2020
Starting on the 25th on June and ending on the 6th of July, every member of the Welsh parliament was sent a personalised letter pointing out the evidence (referenced) that the Welsh government’s continuing response to Covid19 is causing more deaths than saving lives.
A copy of the letter’s template is reproduced below.
Below the letter is an overview of the responses (or lack of them) received so far.
I write to you again as a Welsh citizen concerned about the Welsh government’s response to the new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 that can cause a disease known as Covid-19.
I’m sure you will agree with me that this is a national issue that transcends party politics or individual constituencies. We are all playing our part, and you even more so in your capacity as an elected representative.
Please review these well-documented facts below.
Covid-19 infection fatality rate:
You may already know that between 80% and 85% of people who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic. In other words they do not even know they ever had the virus. Most of the 15% who are symptomatic only experience mild symptoms and are not in need of treatment. A very small minority of this symptomatic 15% may require hospital treatment. An even smaller fraction of those people needing hospital treatment (usually the very old with one or more life-threatening illnesses) will need intensive care. A small fraction of this group will die, although even then it cannot always be ascertained whether SARS-CoV-2 was the main cause of death or merely a contributing factor or even a factor at all. These facts were confirmed by the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University and by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty on May 11th. SARS-CoV-2 has an infection fatality rate (IFR) similar to the common flu – between 0.1% and 0.36%. Where children are concerned, SARS-CoV-2 has an even lower IFR (virtually non-existent) than the common flu.
Inflated Covid-19 death figures:
In Italy, where the process of listing “Covid-19 deaths” is similar to the UK, a post-pandemic investigation discovered that only 12% of Covid-19 deaths could be reasonably assumed to be caused by SARS-CoV-2. The scientific adviser to Italy’s minister of health, Professor Walter Ricciardi, remarked:
“The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus. On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus.”
In response to SARS-CoV-2, the changes to the way causes of death are now reported in the UK has led one investigative reporter to label Covid-19 deaths as statistical nonsense .
Given the statistical fact that SARS-CoV-2 is no more deadly than the common flu, the Welsh government’s response has been disproportionate to say the least. The lockdown, the denial of NHS services for cancer and other conditions, the ‘do not resuscitate orders’ and the removal of untested elderly NHS patients into care homes are continuing to result in an excess of deaths far above what would have occurred if the government had done nothing at all. Most excess deaths in Welsh care homes cannot even be associated with SARS-CoV-2 despite the unprecedented new and dubious procedures to list deaths as “Covid-19).
There is also no strong scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of “social distancing” or the wearing of face coverings and non-medical face masks by members of the public (see here and here). Data has shown that SARS-CoV-2 is a virus that mainly spreads indoors, most notably in hospitals and care homes. On the contrary, both these measures are more likely to have negative physical and mental health repercussions.
The evidence that the Welsh government’s response to SARS-CoV-2 is harming our nation and causing an unnecessary spike in deaths is overwhelming. The longer term effects of a deeply wounded economy and increasing poverty brought on by the government’s response is almost too terrifying to contemplate.
Overreaction out of fear and panic:
It is now clear that many (but not all) governments throughout the West overreacted out of a sense of panic and insufficient data in the face of the arrival of SARS-CoV-2. The Norwegian Prime Minister has now admitted to that fact with the recognition that lockdown measures did not result in any positive effects overall.
Questions that need answers:
I wrote to you on 13th of April (letter attached) in your capacity as an elected representative on this topic. I only received an automated response of virtually no substance.
Given the gravity of the situation with the possibility of future in-depth inquires and criminal charges being placed on public figures when the dust settles, I feel it would be in both your and the public’s interest to clarify your current position given the evidence that has emerged.
As a democratically elected representative I would like you to respond to a few simple but pertinent questions:
1. Are you aware of any risk assessment taken by the Welsh government in regards to the mental, physical, and economic harm caused by the government’s response to SARS-CoV-2? (If yes, could you please provide me with details.)
2. Do you disagree with the well-referenced evidence as set out in this letter? (If yes, please state what you disagree with and provide the evidence to support your disagreement.)
3. Have you spoken out against the Welsh government’s response to SARS-CoV-2? (If yes, please provide evidence and the nature of your criticism.)
Your response will be important for the public record.
Responses (or lack of them) so far
No response whatsoever
[this will be amended if a any response received in the future]
Refused to respond
[this will be amended if a valid response received]
Rebecca.Evans@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
John.Griffiths@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Ann.Jones@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Jack.Sargeant@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
David.Rees@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Lesley.Griffiths@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Joyce.Watson@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Jeremy.Miles@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Hefin.David@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Lynne.Neagle@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
AndrewRT.Davies@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Angela.Burns@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Russell.George@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Vikki.Howells@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Dawn.Bowden@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
HelenMary.Jones@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Mike.Hedges@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Adam.Price@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Eluned.Morgan@senedd.wales Refused to respond to issues raised.
Nicholas.Ramsay@senedd.wales Refused due to “Senedd protocol”
Elin.Jones@senedd.wales Responded: “Your letter … needs to be addressed to your elected representative.”
[this will be amended if a meaningful response is received]
Mark.Drakeford@senedd.wales, Correspondence.FM@gov.wales Automated gobbledegook response only
‘Passing the buck’ responses
Rhianon.Passmore@senedd.wales Responded by proxy: “Rhianon Passmore MS agrees with the policies of the Welsh Government.”
Llyr.Gruffydd@senedd.wales Responded: “Decisions regarding the lock down are made by the First Minister Mark Drakeford and therefore there is no vote on this.”
Janet.FinchSaunders@senedd.wales Responded: “I, of course, welcome any plan to relieve lockdown, but there were issues that I felt needed raising.”
Vaughan.Gething@senedd.wales Responded: “You will receive a substantive response in due course. Our reference for this correspondence is TO/VG/04574/20.” [this will be amended if a response received]
huw.Irranca-Davies@senedd.wales Responded: “Thank you for your email. I will be in touch as soon as possible.” [this will be amended if response a received]
Dai.Lloyd@senedd.wales Responded: “The Health, Social Services and Sport Committee, of which I am Chair, is holding extensive reviews into the Welsh Government Covid-19 Pandemic response with detailed analysis, taking evidence from a large number of interested authorities.”
“Basically, I agree with the tenor of your criticisms nd I am well aware of the science and the facts. The purpose of lockdown was to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed. That has more than been achieved (the peak passed on 10th April) so Welsh lockdown needs to end now. Looking at the evidence, I have no concern whatever about lifting lockdown – the very vaccine trial is at risk because the people trying to get the virus can’t even catch it. People have already died from cancer, heart disease, suicide, domestic violence and much more during lockdown – these are excess deaths during lockdown, not from or with Covid-19.
Approximately 33,000 people die in Wales every year. The country has been paralysed by focusing on the relatively few confirmed Covid-19 deaths to date (most likely unavoidable, as happens with a novel virus) to the exclusion of all else. Before anyone tries to argue that lockdown has helped, they would do well to remember that the ultimate locked down populations (care homes) have been the most grievously harmed. Professor Karol Sikora – former director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Cancer Programme – cautioned early on in lockdown that excess cancer deaths alone (in the UK) could total 50,000.”
“Regarding your Q2 I generally agree with what you say. On Q1 I am not aware of any such risk assessment.
There will doubtless be an inquiry, or more than one. I would be surprised if any politicians are found guilty of criminal offences, given who these things work.
I do not agree with the approach the government is taking and I have voted against all five sets of Coronavirus Regulations.”
“SARS-CoV-2 is a new and relatively unknown virus. We do not yet know its true infection fatality rate and therefore cannot compare it to seasonal flu. We also do not have any treatments or vaccines, both of which exist for influenza.
We do know that SARS-CoV2 is highly infectious and particularly deadly to those with compromised respiratory pathways and the elderly. Had we not taken measures to limit infection rates the death toll would be so much higher.
While we wont know the true death rate for some time, we do know that there are many countries who are not reporting their true death rates. Regardless of that, I will continue to do all I can to stop preventable deaths. These are not lines on a spreadsheet, these are human beings.
I support easing lockdown measures now because of the indirect harms they are having on peoples lives. But make no mistake, I do not agree with you that these measures were unnecessary.
You cite scientific evidence which is not peer reviewed nor supported by the majority of epidemiologists. The two studies in Santa Clara and Los Angeles have been widely refuted. The testing methodology was flawed. Its worth noting that a lot of the antibody testing kits used are only 20% accurate and produce many false positives.
Because the world went into lockdown, the vast majority of the populace have not been exposed to this virus. We cannot keep everyone locked up until we have a vaccine however. We now need to shift efforts to isolating the sick, not quarantining the healthy.
While I initially supported the Welsh Governments approach, that was because we did not have the ability to isolate the sick. We do now, so we need to open up. That doesn’t mean abandoning social distancing right away or hand hygiene as I am only too aware that Covid19 is a serious disease for many people. In younger people the death rate might be so much lower but the disease is leaving those people with life changing condition. Covid19 can do terrible damage to the lungs.
I will continue to follow a peer-reviewed scientific approach to this pandemic in order to save lives. Otherwise I truly believe that this pandemic could rival the 1918 flu outbreak.”
“Although lockdown has been imperfect in many ways, many more people would have died and the NHS would have come under unbearable pressure had there not been a lockdown. In fact, there is strong evidence that an earlier lockdown would have allowed us to return to a new kind of normalisty sooner.”
“Bethan Sayed is on maternity leave at the moment, so I’m responding on her behalf. I’ve had a chance to look at your correspondence on behalf of Ms Sayed. I’m afraid I disagree with much of this.
Statistics show that the death rate for Covid-19 is higher than flu https://coronavirusexplained.ukri.org/en/article/cad0002/ – Anyone that has any disease or virus or illness will often have their health complicated by pre-existing conditions. My mother is 52, and had a heart attack last year and has mild COPD. If she were to catch Covid-19, it may well be one of these conditions that could put her at greater risk, but that would be because it would leave her weaker to deal with the virus. So there is no point in my view, in making any sort of argument that seeks to use pre-existing conditions and someone’s wider health concerns as a rationale to downplay the severity of the virus.
I’m afraid there is strong scientific evidence which shows that social distancing reduces the spread of the virus. With all due respect, It’s also common sense. If this is a virus spread primarily person to person, by people coming into contact with those that have it or into contact with surfaces where it is present, then the most reasonable way to prevent spread is to limit contacts. This has been proven in the United States where mandated ‘lockdowns’ were ended early in many states or were ignored or not enforced once the number of new cases started to decline. Now the USA is in a prolonged spike where many states such as Florida are recording record breaking numbers of new cases. The Governor of Texas, seeing an explosion of new cases in his state, recently mandated the wearing of face coverings and urged people to stay at home, due to hospitals being overwhelmed with new cases. His state was one of the earliest to cease lockdown and social distancing requirements and guidance.
In terms of the other questions you’ve asked, I agree to an extent on the handling of the virus by the Welsh and UK Governments. There has been severe problems in care homes, a situation so poorly handled it may have caused considerable numbers of excess deaths. We’ve been contacting care homes throughout our region for several months, asking how they have coped and how their relationship with authorities has been. We share your concerns around wellbeing and mental health. We’ve also raised concerns about the health and wellbeing of new mothers and those in lockdown situations where they potentially face domestic abuse. We’ve also raised concerns on the impact on universities and students, schools and childcare and general mental health. For example, we’ve recently finished a survey for parents on their views on re-opening schools. Plaid Cymru has also consistently argued for better planning regarding these and many other issues. However, we have not demanded an early exit of lockdown and social gathering restrictions. We believe that should be led by scientists and health professionals. We do believe more should be done to support people in a vulnerable position and an expanded furlough scheme to assist the economy.
In terms of how effective this has been – I believe that this is an ongoing situation. Some world leaders may well have questioned the efficacy of lockdown measures and restrictions. But with all due respect to them, we have knowledge of what has happened in countries which have not introduced any social restrictions or lockdowns. I feel evidence from the United States and indeed from this country, which was very slow and late in introducing effective measures, has shown us what can happen.
I’m sorry if this is not what you hoped to hear but we clearly come from very different perspectives on this. If you would like to see the statements and some of the work we have done on these issues over the last few months, then please follow our Facebook page at Bethan Sayed MS, or Twitter at Team Bethan Sayed.
Regards, Chad Rickard
Researcher and communications officer for Bethan Sayed MS”
Note: the one referenced link in the letter above regarding the infection fertality rate (IFR) of Covid-19 was from March 25 before significant data was compiled showing the IFR to be comparable to flu.