‘The lockdown is causing so many deaths’

Dr Malcolm Kendrick on the disastrous response to Covid-19.

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Few would disagree that the UK’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been a shambles. We are now in the 14th week of a three-week lockdown and excess deaths are among the highest in Europe. But while the received wisdom is that lives could only have been saved by locking down harder, earlier and for longer, the benefits of lockdown remain unproven, while the costs of lockdown are starting to mount. Dr Malcolm Kendrick is a GP and author of Doctoring Data: How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense. spiked caught up with him to get his take from the frontline.

spiked: Do you think the Covid statistics are accurate?

Malcolm Kendrick: It is very difficult to tell. It is clear that different countries are recording deaths differently. Death certification is not a precise science. Normally, when someone dies, you have got a reasonably good idea what they died from. But if a person who is 85 drops dead, what do you put on the certificate? I do this, so I know it is not very accurate. GPs were advised to put Covid-19 on the certificate if they suspected somebody had it, even if there was no test done. We are in a strange situation where we are probably both over-recording Covid-19 and simultaneously under-recording it. Will we ever know what the real statistics were?

We are over-recording it because elderly people die quite often, and we may say they have died of Covid-19 but not know that was the case. Therefore there will have been a number of people who died of other things who have been recorded as dying of Covid-19. Equally, there will be people who died of Covid-19 but the GP did not know, so did not put it on the certificate. It really depends on how people decide to record the death.

The really concerning thing is that if all the deaths taking place during lockdown are put down as Covid-19 deaths, we are going to miss the fact that the lockdown policies have caused an increase in deaths from many other things. There has been a 50 per cent reduction in people turning up to A&E. It is clear that people just do not want to bother the doctors. And a number of these people will be dying. If we muddle the Covid-19 statistics in with the other statistics, we might think the lockdown has prevented a certain number of deaths, when it has actually caused a large number of deaths.

spiked: Was there any danger of hospitals becoming overwhelmed from Covid?

Kendrick: The clarion call was to clear the hospitals of patients. There was a point when my local hospital was a quarter full. Staff were wandering around with nothing to do. You hear this idea that all NHS staff have been working 20 times as hard as they have ever done. This is complete nonsense. An awful lot of people have been standing around wondering what the hell to do with themselves. A&E has never been so quiet.

This initial response was understandable, but it quite rapidly became clear that it was an overreaction. The problem then was that it was essentially decided that wherever beds could be found, patients would be put in them, whether tested or not tested, positive or negative. They basically just started throwing people out into the intermediate care sector.

The average age of death from Covid-19 in the UK is around 82, and most of those people have comorbidities. I said to our managers that we had to test people and could not just be throwing them into nursing homes. But that is what they did. Homes were virtually ordered to take elderly patients. We had one nursing home that ended up with 12 deaths in a week.

The health service treated elderly, vulnerable people as figures on a piece of paper. The lack of any brain power being applied to this was amazing. They had one objective – to clear the hospitals – and everything else was subordinate to that. Of course, they will never say this is what happened. But that is precisely what did happen.

spiked: You’ve described our policy as an ‘anti-lockdown’. What do you mean by that?

Kendrick: How many people aged 15 or under have died of Covid-19? Four. The chance of dying from a lightning strike is one in 700,000. The chance of dying of Covid-19 in that age group is one in 3.5million. And we locked them all down. Even among the 15- to 44-year-olds, the death rate is very low and the vast majority of deaths have been people who had significant underlying health conditions. We locked them down as well. We locked down the population that had virtually zero risk of getting any serious problems from the disease, and then spread it wildly among the highly vulnerable age group. If you had written a plan for making a complete bollocks of things you would have come up with this one.

spiked: Was there a reluctance to confront the potential damage caused by lockdown?

Kendrick: You cannot just spend all the money in the world on something, because that money needs to pay for other things. NICE has a cut-off point for expenditure. They are willing to spend £30,000 to achieve one extra year of high-quality life. This has been the policy for 20 years. The last figure on how much this will cost the UK government was over £300 billion. Even if you divide that by 500,000, which is the total number it was initially suggested might die, you still end up with a figure that is about £600,000 per death. You cannot dissociate money and health.

We are spending as much on Covid-19 as we would spend on the NHS in three normal years. You have got to ask the question of what we are going to get from that. Refusing to engage that question is political cowardice. Politicians have just said they did what everyone else did and so we cannot blame them for anything that has happened. It was only Sweden that did not go down that route, and Japan, too, which has had very few deaths.

I have looked at the impact of social upheaval in the post-Soviet Union countries in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Russia had five million excess deaths in that period due to economic problems. That is how powerful the effects can be. We are going to see the downsides of lockdown policies around the world.

It will probably be okay for Britain – we will be a bit worse-off for a while. But some countries in Africa, South Asia and South America are just going to obliterate themselves trying to model their response to Covid-19 on a lockdown they just cannot afford. South Africa is already bursting at the seams. We have to look at this with a global perspective. This is going to be extremely costly and destructive of huge sections of the population.

Even just the health costs are huge. We had a patient who had lung cancer. He was very unwell and was being treated with chemotherapy, but they just stopped treating him. He died. His life expectancy was not great, but in my mind it is absolutely a case of cause and effect – the stopping of his chemotherapy meant he gave up hope, despaired and died. That is going to be a theme.

These figures are hard to measure, because it is difficult to say with certainty that an individual did not contact the doctor because of Covid-19, and that is why they died. But this is happening.

This has cost us at least £300 billion. It is going to destroy the health of a lot of people. And for what? All of these factors are of considerable importance, and I know they are just going to be swept under the carpet. If you are not willing to accept that you might have done more harm than good, you cannot look at the situation accurately or objectively.

If you are someone who says, ‘this is bollocks’, you are dismissed as not caring about people, as wanting people to die. Dare question the orthodoxy and you face a full broadside. People want to be seen as caring. But the economy is pretty important. If you do not have an economy, you do not have a health service. If you do not have a health service, everyone dies.

spiked: We were pushed into lockdown by modelling. What did you make of those models?

Kendrick: Epidemiologists would rather overestimate a threat by 100 times than underestimate it by 10 per cent. These models will always hugely overestimate risk. Everyone has to say things will be really serious because they would look terrible if they said things would be all right and they were not. If they are proved wrong, they can say it was just as well to warn people because it could have been terrible even though it did not end up being so. This approach is taken without any cognisance of the damage that the advice they have given has caused.

Take the Imperial College modelling. It said 80 per cent of people might get infected. That has never happened with a virus. It was also predicated on the idea that everybody was equally likely to get the virus and nobody had any internal immunity against it. This also turned out to be nonsense. It also assumed a death rate of 0.9 per cent. This figure might be right for people with symptoms, but not for the wider population. The modelling was based on the worst possible scenario. And unfortunately, Imperial College seems to have an immense influence.

spiked: What other questions are not being asked at the moment?

Kendrick: One issue is how long immunity lasts for this virus. If immunity only lasts for a short time, it cannot work. This does not seem to be being discussed. If the vaccine raises antibodies, it will have an effect. But if the virus mutates or we lose our immunity, we are in trouble. It is not clear that getting the virus actually makes you immune to it in the future, and it is not clear a vaccine would either. What then? Has anyone thought that through?

We are probably all going to get Covid-19 and we are all going to keep getting it. The only purpose of lockdown was to protect the health service from being overwhelmed, which did not happen. The end result is that lockdown was a waste of time. It cannot be continued forever.

They have been trying to get a vaccine for HIV for the last 30 years and they have not managed it yet. There is a reason for that, and it is probably the same reason why they will not get a vaccine for this.

Malcolm Kendrick was talking to Fraser Myers.

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Comments

Eric Lauder

6th July 2020 at 8:13 pm

This is a dangerous charlatan: he don’t have even an hint about lethality rate.
He’s not even good in his specific field:

Malcolm Kendrick is a fringe figure who agues(sic) against the lipid hypothesis. He denies that blood cholesterol levels are responsible for heart disease and in opposition to the medical community advocates a high-fat high-cholesterol diet as healthy. Problem is there is a lack of reliable sources that discuss his ideas. His book The Great Cholesterol Con was not reviewed in any science journals. Kendrick is involved with the International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics, I suggest deleting his article and redirecting his name to that. Skeptic from Britain (talk) 20:29, 2 December 2018 (UTC)

Arthur Daley

2nd July 2020 at 5:01 pm

The General Medical Council will probably remove this charlatan from its Register soon.

Jolly Roger

2nd July 2020 at 7:40 pm

Explain your stupid comment.
His views align perfectly with Oxford Universoitoes Epidemiologists and their Professor of Evidence based Science, Dr Carl Hennighan.
Furhrmore, this Docotr’s views are fully supported by the Civitas report on Covid 19 and the UKs response to it, published last week by the think tank Civitas.
So enlighten us all and take this Doctor’s assertions and facts apart. Go on – have a go – muppet.

Arthur Daley

6th July 2020 at 12:18 pm

YOU are a “muppet”, not I.
I have practised Medicine as a Consultant Physician for more years than I care to remember and am sure I know rather more about this subject than either you, or the self-publicising and self-important Kendrick who is well known for his attempts to be “sensational”. The GMC takes a dim view of doctors who behave like this and will do so in his case.
As for you, your rudeness is equalled only by your ignorance.

Eric Lauder

6th July 2020 at 8:15 pm

Kendrick is the moron advocating a high-fat high-cholesterol diet as healthy, without any scientifical proof.

Russell Willmoth

28th June 2020 at 6:24 am

The doctor states the chances of dying of lightening strike are 1 in 700,000. In the UK on average two people per year die of lightening strike, giving a 1 in 33 million chance of death.
He has exaggerated his case by about 50 times.

Jam Spandex

28th June 2020 at 6:04 am

Also, thanks Vivian Darkbloom, that NHS spread sheet is very interesting, but your claim that only “1334” people have died from coronavirus must be a mistake – you must have been looking at the deaths from a single day or something.

In the spreadsheet they report deaths from people who have died who tested positive for coronavirus, and those “where coronavirus was mentioned” separately. For those testing positive, the maximum was 900 people dying per day, between the 6th and 9th April, and at the moment we are down to around 30 deaths per day, for people *testing positive*. So including only one day either side of this maximum day already nearly doubles your unbelievable total of 1334.

But let’s look at the age profile, yes indeed very young people are much less likely to die – well good for them – but if they get it, they will still be infectious, so letting young people go around as normal is just allowing them to act as little coronavirus spreaders, infecting the more vulnerable. Or are we supposed to have the children living in groups by themselves, and never interacting with any adults ? I can see that working out well.

Vivian Darkbloom

28th June 2020 at 10:19 am

Jam Spandex: the figures for those who have died of Covid-19 are to be found in the weekly tables.

Go to https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-daily-deaths/ and then look for the weekly tables. Look for “COVID-19 deaths by age group and pre-existing condition” within the weekly tables and there you will find the data. These stats are presented as Excel spreadsheets and updated weekly.

Here are the figures up to 23 June

0-19: 4
20-39: 33
40-59: 261
60-79: 561
80+: 496

Total: 1,355

This shows a rise of 19 deaths since the 9th of June – the figures shown in my initial post. The 1,355 figure is the entirety of those who have died of the virus.

For those who have died with Covid-19 the figures are:

0-19: 16
20-39: 175
40-59: 1,954
60-79: 10,243
80+: 14,691

Total: 27,079

Stephen McLean

28th June 2020 at 11:59 pm

Vivian you are quoting correct data but mislabelling it, whether purposefully or not I do not know. It only applies to deaths in hospitals and only England. The yes/no refers to underlying condition and then the age brackets below.

Yes No Total
27,079 1,355 28,434

16 4 20
175 33 208
1,954 261 2,215
10,243 561 10,804
14,691 496 15,187

Stephen McLean

29th June 2020 at 12:01 am

Oh dear that’s not come out well! Nevermind..

Vivian Darkbloom

29th June 2020 at 5:25 pm

Stephen: it’s quite clear. I have simply reproduced the statistics given by NHS England. The website address which I’ve provided begins http://www.england.nhs etc. NHS England is the healthcare provider for England and is responsible for the administration of hospitals under its aegis.

I didn’t think I’d need to clarify what is already clear on the website. Nothing has been mislabelled because it doesn’t need to be. From the website there are two sets of stats which differentiate between those who have died OF Covid-19 and those who have died WITH Covid-19. Just above your comment you can view the two sets of data which I have separated out and presented in a readable format.

Jolly Roger

2nd July 2020 at 7:43 pm

Actually the evidence is mostly pointing to young people not being super spreaders and their having more of a chance of catching it themselves from an older adult.

Jam Spandex

28th June 2020 at 5:52 am

This guy seems to be an idiot. As a medical “professional” presumably he should know something about health, and as a GP he should have some idea of the number of people who die from flu every year, is probably around 1000. So far in the UK we are at over 40000 deaths from coronavirus. How can ANYONE believe such nonsense as claiming that this is all due to over reporting. I am at a loss as to understand what is actually being proposed by this guy – that we do *nothing* and just let tens, or hundreds of thousands of people die ? Well that sounds like a good idea. Herd immunity is a bit of red herring – even if we were to just allow people to die so we could develop this magical “herd immunity”, how do you know that next year, it’s not just going to mutate and come back and do it all again ? Just like the different flu strains ?
Locking down SOONER, and HARDER does indeed save lives ! so perhaps we will need to lock down regionally much sooner and much harder in the future, rather than do nothing until it has infected the entire country and screws up the entire economy. Properly lock down a town, or a city, and let the rest of the country carry on. This is clearly what will have to be done next time. Letting it get out of hand like this is nonsense. If you HAVE to lock down, the SOONER you do it, the better, as you will have fewer cases, and it won’t have as much chance to spread.

Arthur Daley

28th June 2020 at 2:50 pm

I agree—he really is a dangerous “fake news” peddler. I think the General Medical Council will be rather displeased when this is brought to its attention.

Ken Gardner

28th June 2020 at 6:10 pm

Jam Spandex Before you call the doctor an idiot, you should perhaps check your own figures. You seem to suggest annual flu deaths are around a thousand? In fact average deaths from flu in the past 5 years are 17,000pa in England alone. In the bad winter of 2017/18 there were around 30,000 deaths in UK attributed to flu. Excess winter deaths were around 50,000 for the same period.

John Aspray

27th June 2020 at 6:53 pm

The register for deaths in England and Wales has a separate category for COVID-19 deaths. I downloaded the spreadsheet which covered 29th Feb to 8th May, it’s huge ! The file lists all authorities and splits the registered deaths by location, eg hospital, care home, home, and so on.
It does this for two categories, ‘All Causes’ and ‘COVID-19’. There were ZERO deaths from the virus, but they must have been expecting them to put the category in.

A friend of mine’s mother (94) died in a care home. She had been bed-ridden for about 15 years following a major stroke. She could see, and use her right arm. The doctor who completed the death certificate had never seen her, or her medical records, she died of Parkinsons and coronavirus. I have had a new word accepted by the Urban Dictionary……..Shipmancide.

Jack Sprat

27th June 2020 at 3:36 pm

A flaw in the article re huge “cost” of deaths from other causes due to not being treated cos of Covid priority. As pointed out nearly all Covid and non Covid deaths have costly pre existing conditions and vast majority retired not contributing to the economy. Hence gov cull policy re ejection of oldies to care homes to spread Coro and die and cease spending on those with other costly illnesses. Represents a big economic benefit not a cost.

Linda Payne

27th June 2020 at 12:37 pm

The government, NHS and local council managers, govt scientists and other beurocrats couldn’t have done a worse job of this if they tried; thousands of elderly dead, freedoms trashed, the economy trashed, selective demos going ahead but demonisation of day trippers to the beach, and still it goes on, and on and on. Will those responsible see their day of reckoning? Or will they receive even higher salaries and OBE’s Knighthoods etc for services to er what exactly?

Richard GIBBONS

27th June 2020 at 2:25 pm

Flights from virus hotspots not stopped. Now we hear that half of the imported coronavirus has come from Pakistan due to dual passport Pakistanis come back to the UK. Why are these flights not stopped ?

Arthur Daley

26th June 2020 at 9:06 pm

Interesting that you choose a GP to support your case. GPs are hardly experts in epidemics or virology. You probably did not want to ask an epidemiologist or virologist as neither would agree with the slant you want to put on this.
Incidentally, as a consultant physician, I disagree with the thrust of this article and your GP.

Arthur Daley

26th June 2020 at 9:25 pm

By the way, Dr. Kendrick is a well known sceptic who peddles his views to whoever will listen, but his “expertise” is certainly not in virology. No doubt he’s an expert on the common cold, but clearly not on Covid-19.
He suggests there will never be a vaccine for Covid, because there isn’t one for HIV, but there are highly effective vaccines for Poliomyelitis, influenza, measles and the vaccine for smallpox has completely eradicated it throughout the world.
In short, everything he writes must be taken with a bucket of salt.

James Conner

27th June 2020 at 7:57 am

“… but there are highly effective vaccines for Poliomyelitis, influenza, measles and the vaccine for smallpox has completely eradicated it throughout the world.”

None of those you mention are coronaviruses. A vaccine has never been created for any coronavirus. The common cold is a coronavirus and scientists have been trying for decades to find a vaccine. But the best they’ve come up with is Lem Sip.

PAUL ROGERS

26th June 2020 at 11:32 pm

Well said. The first line of the article says it all.

“Few would disagree that the UK’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been a shambles. ”
Er. No, plenty would not agree with this, especially the hyperbole.

James Conner

27th June 2020 at 7:52 am

Arthur, which points specifically do you disagree with, and why?

Paul Beattie

27th June 2020 at 11:59 am

“You probably did not want to ask an epidemiologist or virologist as neither would agree with the slant you want to put on this.” In fact there are eminent epidemiologists who agree with this slant, for example Professor Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University.

John Pretty

26th June 2020 at 8:32 pm

Great. I completely agree. But it’s that corpulent cretin in 10 Downing Street that needs to hear this not me.

It’s a pretty shit virus if it couldn’t finish that clown off in my book. It could have done us all a favour! Instead the country is going down the toilet.

Jane 70

26th June 2020 at 7:55 pm

My small town is dying: today I saw a row of newly vacated shops, and the numbers are increasing.

Many shops here were struggling before we all went mad and now they’ve gone under.

More people are out and about though, but job losses are mounting, virtually all in the private sector.,which is where support and investment are needed.

I never thought to witness the UK’s descent into the mess we now see manifesting: riots on beaches and at noisy urban raves; stabbings; BLM running amok as they fight the statue wars; mask mania- people donning bank robber face coverings; crazy government instructions: pubs can open but punters must book by phone beforehand; gymns cannot open; cops taking the knee; bluster and U turns by politicians; illegals arriving at south coast ports escorted to safety while the bulk of the population is still under semi house arrest.

This cannot happen again; humans have lived with viruses for thousands of years and will undoubtedly encounter many more alarming pathogens.

Arthur Daley

26th June 2020 at 9:13 pm

Wrong. This virus is highly infectious and deadly as you would quickly discover should you be unlucky enough to contract it.
The thing that makes this virus so harmful is that it does not kill everyone it affects—if it did, it would rapidly die out along with its victims. No, this particular virus kills only a proportion of those it infects but is extremely infectious. It has already killed huge numbers of people and your insouciance would rapidly disappear if you were infected.
The reason “lockdown” is so necessary is that viruses need to live in a host’s cells and quickly die outside—-so they pass from person to person. Stop people meeting and you stop the spread.

Vivian Darkbloom

26th June 2020 at 10:54 pm

Arthur, try to get a grip on reality. “It has already killed huge numbers of people…” No rational people with access to the readily available date are saying that. I haven’t looked recently but here are the NHS figures for those who have died of Covid-19 up to the 9th of June, sorted by age:

0-19: 3
20-39: 32
40-59: 259
60-79: 555
80+: 485

Total: 1,334

You can easily follow the stats as they are updated on the NHS site:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-daily-deaths/

Arthur Daley

28th June 2020 at 2:55 pm

Vivian, more than 43,000 people have died in Britain according to “official” figures, but it’s probably double that. Your figure of 1.334 is utter tripe. Deaths globally continue to rocket.
YOU need to “get a grip” .

Vivian Darkbloom

28th June 2020 at 3:42 pm

Apologies Arthur, I was using outdated figures. The most recent from the NHS website cited states 1,355
have died of Covid-19 up to June . I didn’t make up this figure; I’m simply repeating what NHS England say. Look under the weekly tables and then “COVID-19 deaths by age group and pre-existing condition”.

Vivian Darkbloom

28th June 2020 at 3:43 pm

That should read: 1,355 have died of Covid-19 up to June 23rd.

Stephen McLean

28th June 2020 at 11:46 pm

Those are the numbers for deaths with no underlying conditions.

Vivian Darkbloom

29th June 2020 at 5:27 pm

Stephen: you are entirely correct. To clarify, these figures refer to decedents in England as stated.

Jolly Roger

2nd July 2020 at 7:45 pm

Average age of deaths is around 80. So really it’s only very dangerous for the over 75s. You must ive your life in abject terror, like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, but not as bright…

James Knight

26th June 2020 at 7:10 pm

Perhaps the worst thing is this likely sets the precedent for every new viral outbreak.

D G

26th June 2020 at 8:10 pm

No, this wrecking of our society, freedoms, and economy is one-time-only.
When the next virus arrives, as it will, there just won’t be the resources to do this again.
An impoverished country can’t put anyone on furlough for months.

Paul Williams

3rd August 2020 at 9:48 am

Hi D G – my apologies, I feel I am a little late to the party. I have a more balanced view – whilst I agree with some measures that were taken, I do think the virus is reported in a very unbalanced way by the media. Unfortunately for Dr Kendrick it appears anyone who does not agree with the government figures is a liar or being sensationalist. I would argue that many breakthroughs in human science have been made by people being sensational (not suggesting this guy will be the next Einstein / however sometimes those running the opposite direction may have a point!). I don’t know about the spread on the virus – I know 2 people that lived in the same house as an infected person (standard house not some huge 10,000 room property) and neither got it – including one with an immune issue!

Now on to my poo t about paying for this – you are obviously aware that the government typically borrows money from the Bank Of England (which, though now since the 1940’s only has one shareholder, the government, however still technically a private company). In the UK (as most of the western world) we operate on what is called a fiat currency (from the Latin, “let it be”? – perhaps a learned type will correct me). Now, what does this mean to us mere mortals – well it means essentially the Bank of England creates money which is essentially an I O U. Government sells a gilt or government bond (which is, essentially, an I O U) to the Bank of England in exchange for their I O U). The Bank of England then allows (through commercial banks) that IOU to be lent into the economy. Why is this important – well, under this system, money is not a finite resource. Life, however is finite. You can see a more local effect if you consider a loan from your bank. It works in the same way, in effect the bank does not ‘lend’ you anything. Technically, they ‘create’ money which they credit to your account. You then go out and spend that money! Paying it back is the hard part. Anyhow, why is this relevant to D G’s comment… in effect any country can pay for whatever they like – providing the population is willing to risk their homes and real assets in order to borrow money… the UK can just simply keep on generating money, the only limits really to this are inflation (which in effect devalues the money) and the willingness of people to borrow…

Side note – anyone who still thinks the banks lend out savers money, and someone in HSBC hurriedly runs around all the savers piggy banks taking a pound for everyone each time someone takes out a mortgage – I have an interesting link if you still think I made this Up – email me 😉

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