Melbourne doctor slams coronavirus conspiracy spreading on Facebook
There are two extreme claims below and each is right in its own way. The key statistic at issue is the number of people who have died with the virus in them but no other known problems. Such people are very few but are they the only ones who have been killed by the virus?
The answer in that we do not know, The truth is undoubtedly somewhere in between. The incidence of comorbidities is high so it is unquestionable that the virus did not cause all the deaths attributed to it — but even the most extensive autopsies would not always be able to sort out the cause of death in the patient. Was it the virus or was it the comorbidity?
THe high percentage of those who have died with a comorbidity strongly suggests that it was mostly the comorbidity that caused death, not the virus — but the exact percentage will never be known.
The important grain of truth that does emerge, however, is that the virus does not usually kill by itself. So it is true that the official count of cases is greatly overstated. But by exactly how much we cannot tell
Note that what is written on a death certificate is not always maximally well informed. It is therefore possible that NOBODY died of the virus alone
COVID-19 conspiracy theories are rife. While some people question its origins, others outright deny that it exists.
A top doctor has lashed out at a conspiracy theory spreading like wildfire on social media, picking apart the main arguments behind the theory.
Dr Sara Hassan from Melbourne shared a graphic being spread on Facebook by coronavirus deniers, which claimed that only 6 per cent of the COVID-19 related deaths reported in the US were actually caused by COVID-19.
The US has been ravaged by coronavirus, so far reporting more than 183,000 deaths out of over six million confirmed cases.
“I’m getting on this early because this type of misinformation and outright deliberate mischaracterisation of the facts is already making the rounds amongst conspiracy theorists hellbent on twisting facts to suit their agenda,” Dr Hassan said in a Facebook post.
“Those who spread these mistruths have one intention: To attempt to throw doubt about COVID deaths, minimise the seriousness of the pandemic, and ultimately encourage people to revolt against any mitigation put in place to prevent further deaths.”
Dr Hassan said the claims had come from a chiropractor in the US “who has obviously never completed a death certificate in her life”.
The claims are a screenshot from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing COVID-19 related deaths in the country since the beginning of the pandemic.
“By focusing on the breakdown of deaths by comorbidity, this chiropractor has concluded that given only six per cent of COVID deaths had no other comorbidity listed on their death certificate (and) that this somehow means that ONLY six per cent of the COVID death tally is attributed to COVID, and the remaining 94 per cent of deaths are not,” Dr Hassan said.
“Such outrageous, ignorant and patently false claims are now spreading through social media by bored conspiracy theorists with a serious case of Stuckhome Syndrome,” she said.
“We know as a fact that people with underlying comorbidities are more susceptible to dying of COVID than those without pre-existing health issues.
“We know that COVID infection in those with underlying cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, obesity, diabetes, immunosuppression and chronic neurological conditions results in worse disease outcomes.
“This is clearly evident in epidemiological data coming out of COVID-affected nations,” she said.
Australian data showed 67 per cent of pandemic-related deaths had at least one comorbidity, she said.
However, Dr Hassan said while conspiracy theorists are sharing the screenshot to validate their “false belief that COVID deaths are criminally over-inflated,” she said as a doctor able to interpret the statistics correctly, they show something more frightening.
“The fact that six per cent of COVID victims had absolutely no underlying pre-existing condition is terrifying,” she said.
“They were relatively healthy individuals and they still succumbed to this wildly infectious and unpredictable disease.”
Dr Hassan shared another post from Dr Sara Marzouk on how death certificates are written, saying she was concerned about laypeople misinterpreting information being shared on social media.
“For those whose only interest is to argue with indisputable fact, spread misinformation, encourage life-threatening complacency and erode confidence in our public health authorities/ health care workers/scientists, then please don’t bother commenting as you’ll be automatically blocked,” she wrote.
Dr Hassan’s post has gone viral, attracting more than 1200 reactions and being shared more than 1700 times.
“Thank you Dr! The more real information out there, the better it is for everyone,” one person commented with a heart emoji.
“Just thank you for taking the time to be a voice of reason when those, with a serious case of #stuckathome-itis who are no doubt afraid but horribly misinformed, seemed to be the loudest,” one woman commented on the post.
“This information merely confirms the warning the (World Health Organisation) stipulated at the start of the pandemic, that the elderly and those with comorbidities were at risk,” one man commented on the post. “Well hello! So they were right.”
Victorian doctors pen desperate letter to Premier Dan Andrews about controversial State of Emergency Bill
Senior doctors across Melbourne are urging politicians not to support a state of emergency extension, saying the move threatens to “destroy” the health and wellbeing of fed-up Victorians.
In a letter to Premier Daniel Andrews, seen by NCA NewsWire, 13 medical practitioners outlined their concerns about the State Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They say it is “vital” stage four restrictions are lifted on September 13, believe “an alternative medical response” is required and highlight key data they think is being “excluded”.
During question time in parliament on Tuesday afternoon Opposition Upper House leader David Davis demanded the Premier and Health Minister Jenny Mikakos meet the doctors who penned the letter. “I ask that the Minister for Health with the Premier meet with all 13 doctors to listen to their views,” he said.
In the letter the doctors wrote: “It is our professional opinion that the stage 4 lockdown policy has caused unprecedented negative economic and social outcomes in people, which in themselves are having negative health outcomes.”
Speaking to NCA NewsWire, Box Hill Hospital urologist Dr Geoff Wells said he hoped the letter would convince the government to lift harsh stage four restrictions on September 13.
“When I see my patients and ask them how they’re coping, the number one response is the sadness at not being able to see their grandchildren for three, four or five months and the ones who live on their own are extremely isolated,” he said.
“The mood of the population has changed dramatically in the past two weeks – there seems to be one half that is getting angrier and angrier and the other half which has just lost all hope – these policies are effecting the general psyche of the community. “We just want to have significant input into this response instead of a blanket approach that is harming the general population.”
The letter – a combined effort from urologists, psychiatrists and surgeons – sent to the Premier’s office on Monday compared coronavirus data with other serious medical concerns.
Well-known Royal Melbourne Hospital transplant surgeon Dr Bob Millar, Monash Hospital orthopaedic surgeon Dr Jon Bare and Nossell Institute for Global Health public health physician Nathan Grills were among the contributors.
Professors John Murtagh, Haydn Walters and Kuruvilla George, Dr Peter Denton, Dr William Edwards, Dr Andrew Taylor, Dr Michael Knight, Dr John Mathai and Dr Eamonn Mathieson also had their say.
In the letter, the doctors said specialist referrals from GPs had fallen dramatically as a result of patients fearing they would get sick if they went out.
“As a direct consequence of this delay, many will have poorer prognoses. This has especially been the case with three consultants who treat cancer,” they wrote. “We now know that whilst COVID-19 is highly contagious, it is of limited virulence.”
Virulence is a technical term for the severity of a disease.
“We are told that since March 2020, 565 Victorian patients have died either with or from the virus (31st August numbers). This compares with annual Victorian deaths of approximately 10,000 patients with cardiovascular disease and 11,000 with cancer.
“Accordingly, the COVID-19 deaths are a relatively small proportion of the 114 deaths per day that are normally seen in Victoria. In comparison, since the start of March COVID-19 has been associated with 3 of the 114 deaths per day.
“Most of the 565 deaths have occurred in nursing homes which according to doctors currently working in this environment have described causal factors related not only to the virus but to other care related issues, including isolation, loneliness, and related diminished nutritional intake.”
The doctors go on to write about how Victoria has seen 541 fewer flu deaths this July than last year. “In Australia last year, 2019, in the month of July alone we had 71,000 new laboratory-confirmed cases. And a total of 313,000 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza for the year.
“This is only a fraction of the actual total cases of influenza, as many cases go untested. In August 2017 we had 99,000 new laboratory confirmed cases of Influenza and a total of over 250,000 cases for the year.
“Since June 2020, the death rate has risen sharply in aged care facilities where the risk of transmission of COVID-19 has been unacceptably high. However, the government, and the doctors advising it, have not reviewed their policy in order to focus on this vulnerable segment of the population. Instead, stage 3-4 lockdowns for the whole community have continued for no apparent scientific reason.”
The doctors recommended the state of emergency not be continued past September 13, with an agreement made for parliament to be allowed to “openly discuss and debate appropriate medical plans”.
The doctors want a panel of non-politically aligned medical and health-related experts be selected by a bipartisan parliamentary group to provide the transparent and active role of informing and advising government decisions and responses to the epidemic, as well as adequate measures, testing, and protection of the vulnerable, especially those in Aged Residential Care environments and their families and carers.
Victorian parliament will vote on the Premier’s controversial bill to extend Victoria’s state of emergency by another 12 months today.
Migrants must have a basic grasp of English
Learning a new language in adulthood is very difficult even for very bright people so many migrants are never going to be able to make it. That is an argument for selective immigration but the refugee intake undermines that
IT’S a billion dollar federal government program which having failed to achieve its objectives, will have another mountain of money shovelled its way.
It’s the Adult Migrant English Program which will now benefit from that long-cherished government solution to a poor policy outcome which is to throw more money at it in the faint hope that it will somehow disappear.
The underlying problem is that there are lot of people in Australia who can’t speak English and who on the evidence, aren’t particularly interested in learning how to do so.
If they were, then they’d be taking advantage of the 510 hours of free English language tuition provided over five years for which we pick up the tab. Less than one in five of those who currently enrol in the course finish with what is regarded as “functional” English.
According to Acting Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge there are about one million residents, or one in every 25 Australians, who cannot communicate effectively in English.
In 2006 this figure was 560,000 so it’s not difficult to see the direction in which it is trending.
To overcome this, Acting Minister Tudge will now expand the failed program so that there are no caps on the hours of tuition provided nor on the number of years within which the course must be completed.
The reasoning here is that someone who couldn’t complete 510 hours of free tuition over five years, which works out to a commitment to learning the language of your adopted country of about two hours a week, will now suddenly be overcome with the urge to learn to speak it.
Let’s face it – if you can’t crack it in five years, you’re not trying too hard.
The government admits that this failure to embrace English can be a threat to national security, saying that “malign information or propaganda can be spread through multicultural media, including foreign language media controlled or funded by state players.
“This can be particularly influential if local residents’ English is poor and hence they are more reliant on foreign language sources,” it says.
“State players”, of course, is political-speak for the Communist Party government of China and its insidious infiltration of our society.
The government has also been forced to concede that the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria was in part facilitated by the inability of some ethnic groups to grasp the import of what they were being told.
Acting Minister Tudge said the coronavirus pandemic showed it had been difficult to communicate with multicultural Australians through mainstream channels, in spite of distributing information in 63 languages.
Obviously, if people spoke and understood English this would not be a problem.
Data taken from the latest census indicates that around half of Australian residents who were born overseas and who arrived in this country with no English skills still can’t speak the language well – or at all – after living here for 15 years.
In some suburbs up to one in three people cannot speak the national language well or at all.
Stating the blindingly obvious Mr Tudge said that without English language skills, migrants were less likely to integrate, participate in Australia’s democracy or get a job.
“This is not to blame anyone whose English language proficiency is poor, but clearly full participation in the community is difficult when there are language barriers,” he said.
He dare not blame them for fear of being accused of racism but if it’s not their fault, then where does the blame lie?
What is the mindset of someone who migrates to a country with no intention of becoming part of it?
There is no way you are ever going to become an Australian and embrace our values if you can’t understand what anyone is saying so what are their intentions?
To remain closeted in an ethnic group, cocooned from society’s mainstream?
The government has announced that it is going to revisit the questions that will be asked of people who are applying for citizenship.
“The stronger focus on Australian values in citizenship testing will be an important part of helping protect our social cohesion into the future,” Mr Tudge said.
Perhaps but if the questions are asked in English, and I don’t see how they can be asked in Hindi, Mandarin or Arabic with making a mockery of the process, then there are at least a million people out there who won’t have the faintest idea what they mean.
Politicians can wax poetic about the wonders and virtues of our great nation at citizenship ceremonies but if a significant proportion of the population doesn’t speak the language then it’s just so much theatre.
Insisting on competent language skills for immigrants isn’t racist.
Rather, it is giving them a chance to truly be a part of our nation, to get a job and mix on an equal footing with their fellow Australians.
It’s what we call a fair go – for everyone.
Facebook, Instagram threaten to ban all news stories in Australia if it has to pay for the news it uses
This is a hollow threat. There are many sources of news. You do not have to get your news via social media
The world’s biggest tech giants are threatening to remove all news content and reduce their services in Australia in a battle over a proposed new law.
Facebook’s threat to ban news from its platform in Australia to avoid paying for journalism has been labelled “ill-timed and misconceived” by the competition watchdog.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took aim today, saying it hoped “all parties will engage in constructive discussions”.
“The draft media bargaining code aims to ensure Australian news businesses, including independent, community and regional media, can get a seat at the table for fair negotiations with Facebook and Google,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
“Facebook already pays some media for news content. The code simply aims to bring fairness and transparency to Facebook and Google’s relationships with Australian news media businesses.”
Earlier, it emerged Facebook and Google could be forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties if they refuse to pay for news content they use in Australia.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Australia did not respond to “coercion or heavy-handed threats” after the multibillion-dollar social network today issued a threat to remove all news content from its platforms in Australia rather than share some of its revenue with local news outlets.
“Australia makes laws that advance our national interest,” Mr Frydenberg said. “We don’t respond to coercion or heavy-handed threats wherever they come from. Our reforms to digital platforms are world-leading and following a groundbreaking 18-month inquiry by the [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission].”
Mr Frydenberg said “substantial penalties” could ultimately stretch into hundreds of millions of dollars if they failed to adhere to the policy.
The fallout follows moves by the ACCC to force Facebook and Google to compensate Australian media outlets for the use of their content — a move that would set a worldwide precedent and one that Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said would establish a “more level playing field”.
Instagram, which is part of Facebook, will also be part of the company’s proposed news ban.
Both Facebook and Instagram issued alerts to their users today saying from October 1, 2020, their Terms of Service would change to include: “We also can remove or restrict access to your content, services or information if we determine that doing so is reasonably necessary to avoid or mitigate adverse legal or regulatory impacts to Facebook.”
This step would allow Facebook and Instagram to remove their users’ content to avoid paying for news.
Facebook issued its news threat this morning, with Australia and New Zealand managing director Will Easton saying it would ban all news content from being seen by Australian users if the news code was introduced.
“Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram,” he said in a statement.
“This is not our first choice — it is our last. But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news and media sector.”
Mr Easton said Facebook objected most strongly to the “perplexing” argument that Facebook should “pay news organisations for content” while ignoring “the financial value we bring publishers”.
The multibillion-dollar tech giant also reiterated its earlier argument that news was not a big money-spinner for the platform.
“The ACCC presumes that Facebook benefits most in its relationship with publishers, when in fact the reverse is true,” he said.
“News represents a fraction of what people see in their News Feed and is not a significant source of revenue for us.”
The move follows an aggressive campaign by Google in Australia, which saw the trillion-dollar firm add warnings to its search page and pop-up messages on YouTube about the proposed law, claiming its free services would be put “at risk” in the country.
But ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the campaign contained “misinformation” as Google would not be required “to charge Australians for the use of its free services” under the draft law, or “share any additional user data”.
“The draft code will allow Australian news businesses to negotiate for fair payment for their journalists’ work that is included on Google services,” he said.
“This will address a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook.”
Swinburne University social media senior lecturer Dr Belinda Barnet said Facebook’s threat could have a “significant impact on their traffic in Australia” and was akin to “cutting off their nose to spite their face”.
“People will not be able to discuss what’s happening in the world and in their own country under this change,” she said.
“More importantly, this will impact Facebook’s own business.
“They have enormous reach in Australia for news — much more than any other platform — so they’re shutting down a sizeable chunk of their own business in terms of extracting data about users’ preferences and advertising revenue from that eyeball time.”
Dr Barnet said the move was Facebook’s “trump card” and a clear effort to avoid having to pay for the news it used both in Australia and other countries.
“Obviously, the stakes are high for Facebook,” she said.
NED-2036-Major digital platforms in Australia – 0
“If Australia succeeds at getting Facebook to pay for news content, the global precedent will be set and other countries will look on.”
Australia’s draft news bargaining code laws followed an 18-month investigation by the ACCC into the impact of digital platforms on news and advertising in Australia.
While the code was initially designed to be voluntary, Mr Frydenberg made it mandatory earlier this year, saying the tech giants “weren’t making progress on that critical issue of payment for content”.
He said the news code was designed to create a level playing field between Australian publishers, both small and large, and multinational tech firms.
“It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection, and a sustainable media landscape,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“Nothing less than the future of the Australian media landscape is at stake with these changes.”
While countries including Spain, Germany and France have attempted to force tech giants to pay for news before, they have argued the case on copyright grounds.
By comparison, the ACCC made its case on the basis of competition and market dominance, arguing both Facebook and Google had become “unavoidable trading partners” for Australian media organisations even though they did not share revenue generated from using content created and funded by the publishers.
Submissions about the ACCC’s draft news bargaining code closed last Friday.
When a final code is passed into law, the two tech giants and news outlets — including Nine Entertainment, Seven West Media and News Corp — will have three months to negotiate over payment for news before entering a final arbitration process.
The news code could be in place by the end of the year.
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