The 1% Math Mistake That Caused Panic and Unnecessary Lockdowns

By Malcolm Kendrick: doctor and author who works as a GP in the National Health Service in England. His blog can be read here and his book, ‘Doctoring Data – How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense,’ is available here.

In February, US COVID guru Anthony Fauci predicted the virus was ‘akin to severe flu’ and would therefore kill around 0.1 percent of people. Then fatality rate predictions were somehow mixed up to make it look ten times WORSE.

When you strip everything else out, the reason for lockdown comes from a single figure: one percent. This was the prediction that COVID if left unchecked, would kill around one percent of us.

You may not think that percentage is enormous, but one percent of the population of the world is 70 million people – and that’s a lot. It would mean 3.2 million Americans dead, and 670,000 Britons.

But where did this one percent figure come from? You may find this hard to believe, but this figure emerged by mistake. A pretty major thing to make a mistake about, but that’s what happened.

Such things occur. On September 23, 1998, NASA permanently lost contact with the Mars Climate Orbiter. It was supposed to go round and round the planet looking at the weather, but instead, it hit Mars at around 5,000 mph, exploding into tiny fragments. It didn’t measure the weather; it became the weather – for a few seconds anyway.

An investigation later found that the disaster happened because engineers had used the wrong units. They didn’t convert pound seconds into Newton seconds when doing their calculations. Imperial, not metric. This, remember, was NASA. An organization that is not completely full of numbskulls.

Now you and I probably have no idea of the difference between a pound second and a Newton second (it’s 0.67 – I looked it up). But you would kind-of hope NASA would. In fact, I am sure they do, but they didn’t notice, so the figures came out wrong. The initial mistake was made and was baked into the figures.


With COVID, a similar mistake happened. One type of fatality rate was substituted for another. The wrong rate was then used to predict the likely death rate – and, as with NASA, no-one picked up the error.

In order to understand what happened, you have to understand the difference between two medical terms that sound the same – but are completely different. Rather like a pound second or a Newton second.

Which fatality rate, did you say?

First, there’s the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR). This is the total number of people who are infected by a disease and the number of them who die. This figure includes those who have no symptoms at all, or only very mild symptoms – those who stayed at home, coughed a bit, and watched Outbreak.

Then there’s the Case Fatality Rate (CFR). This is the number of people suffering serious symptoms, who are probably ill enough to be in a hospital. Clearly, people who are seriously ill – the “cases” – are going to have a higher mortality rate than those who are infected, many of whom don’t have symptoms. Put simply – all cases are infections, but not all infections are cases.

Which means that the CFR will always be far higher than the IFR. With influenza, the CFR is around ten times as high as the IFR. COVID seems to have a similar proportion.

Now, clearly, you do not want to get these figures mixed up. By doing so you would either wildly overestimate, or wildly underestimate, the impact of COVID. But mix these figures up, they did.

The error started in America but didn’t end there. In healthcare, the US is very much the dog that wags the tail. The figures they come up with are used globally.

On February 28, 2020, an editorial was released by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the editorial stated: “… the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of severe seasonal influenza.”

They added that influenza has a CFR of approximately 0.1 percent. One person in a thousand who gets it badly dies.

But that quoted CFR for influenza was ten times too low – they meant to say the IFR, the Infection Fatality Rate, for influenza was 0.1 percent. This was their fatal – quite literally – mistake.

The mistake was compounded. On March 11, the same experts testified to Congress, stating that Covid’s CFR was likely to be about one percent, so one person dying from a hundred who fell seriously ill. Which, as time has passed, has proved to be pretty accurate.

At this meeting, they compared the likely impact of COVID to flu. But they used the wrong CFR for influenza, the one stated in the previous NEJM editorial. 0.1 percent, or one in a thousand. The one that was ten times too low.

Flu toll 1,000 – COVID toll 10,000

So, they matched up the one percent CFR of COVID with the incorrect 0.1 percent CFR of flu. Suddenly, COVID was going to be ten times as deadly.

If influenza killed 50, COVID was going to kill 500. If influenza killed a million, COVID was going to get 10 million. No wonder Congress, then the world, panicked. Because they were told COVID was going to be ten times worse than influenza. They could see three million deaths in the US alone and 70 million around the world.

I don’t expect you or I to get this sort of thing right. But I bloody well expect the experts to do so. They didn’t. They got their IFR and CFR mixed up and multiplied the likely impact of COVID by a factor of ten.

Here’s what the paper, “Public health lessons learned from biases in coronavirus mortality overestimation” says: “On March 11, 2020,… based on the data available at the time, Congress was informed that the estimated mortality rate for the coronavirus was ten times higher than for seasonal influenza, which helped launch a campaign of social distancing, organizational and business lockdowns, and shelter-in-place orders.”

On February 28 it was estimated that COVID was going to have about the same impact as a bad influenza season – almost certainly correct. Eleven days later, the same group of experts predicted that the mortality rate was going to be ten times as high. This was horribly, catastrophically, running-into-Mars-at-5,000-miles-an-hour wrong.

Enter the Mad Modellers of Lockdown

In the UK, the group I call the Mad Modellers of lockdown, the Imperial College experts, created the same panic. On March 16, they used an estimated IFR of 0.9 percent to predict that, without lockdown, COVID would kill around 500,000 in the UK.

Is this prediction anywhere close?

So far, the UK has had around 40,000 COVID deaths. Significantly less than 0.1 percent, but not that far off. Of course, people will say… “We had lockdown… without it so many more would have died. Most people have not been infected…” etc.

To answer this, we need to know the true IFR. Is it 0.1 percent, or one percent? If it is one percent, we have more than 400,000 deaths to go. If it is 0.1 percent, this epidemic has run its course. For this year, at least.

With swine flu, remember that the IFR started at around two percent. In the end, it was 0.02 percent, which was five times lower than the lowest estimate during the outbreak. The more you test, the lower the IFR will fall.

So where can we look to get the current figures on the IFR? The best place to look is in the country that has tested more people than anywhere else as a proportion of their population: Iceland.

As of last week, Iceland’s IFR stood at 0.16 percent. It cannot go up from here. It can only fall. People can’t start dying of a disease they haven’t got.

This means that we’ll probably end up with an IFR of about 0.1 percent, maybe less. Not the 0.02 percent of Swine Flu – somewhere between the two, perhaps. In short, the 0.1 percent prophecy has proved to be pretty much bang on.

Which means that we’ve had all the deaths we were ever going to get. And which also means that lockdown achieved, almost precisely nothing with regard to COVID. No deaths were prevented.

Mangled beyond recognition

Yes, we are testing and testing, and finding more so-called cases. As you will. But the hospitals and ICUs are virtually empty. Almost no-one is dying of COVID anymore, and most of those who do were otherwise very ill.

Instead of celebrating that, we’ve artificially created a whole new thing to scare ourselves with. We now call a positive test a COVID “case.” This is not medicine. A “case” is someone who has symptoms. A case is not someone carrying tiny amounts of virus in their nose.

Now, however, you test positive, and you’re a “case.” Never in history has medical terminology been so badly mangled. Never have statistics been so badly mangled.

When researchers look back at this pandemic, they’ll have absolutely no idea who died because of COVID, or who died –coincidentally– with it. Everything’s been mashed together in a determined effort to make the virus look as deadly as possible.

Lockdown happened because we were told that Coivid could kill one percent. But COVID was never going to kill more than about 0.1 percent – max.

That’s the figure estimated back in February, by the major players in viral epidemiology. A figure that has turned out to be remarkably accurate. Bright guys… bad mistake.

We’ve killed tens of thousands – for nothing

But because we panicked, we’ve added hugely to the toll. Excess mortality between March and May was around 70,000, not the 40,000 who died of/with COVID. Which means 30,000 may have died directly as a result of the actions we took.

We protected the young, the children, who are at a zero-risk from COVID. But we threw our elderly and vulnerable under a bus. The very group who should have been shielded. Instead, we caused 20,000 excess deaths in care homes.

It was government policy to clear out hospitals, and stuff care homes with patients carrying COVID or discharge them back to their own homes, to infect their nearest and dearest. Or any community care staff who visited them.

We threw – to use health secretary Matt Hancock’s ridiculous phrase – a ring of steel around care homes. As it turned out, this was not to protect them, but to trap the residents, as we turned their buildings into COVID incubators. Anyone working in care homes, as I do, knows why we got 20,000 excess deaths. Government policy did this.

That is far from all the damage. On top of care homes, the ONS estimates that 16,000 excess deaths were caused by the lockdown. The heart attacks and strokes that were not treated. The empty, echoing hospitals and A&E units. The cancer treatments stopped entirely.

This means that at least as many people have died as a result of the draconian actions taken to combat COVID, as have been killed by the virus itself. This has been a slow-motion stampede, where the elderly – in particular – were trampled to death.

We locked down in fear. We killed tens of thousands unnecessarily, in fear. We crippled the economy and left millions in fear of their livelihoods. We have trapped abused women and children at home with their abusers. We have wiped out scores of companies, and crushed entire industries.

We stripped out the NHS, and left millions in prolonged pain and suffering, on ever-lengthening waiting lists, which have doubled. There have also been tens of thousands of delayed cancer diagnoses – the effects of which are yet to be seen, but the Lancet has estimated at least sixty thousand years of life will be lost.

Lockdown can be seen as a complete and utter disaster. And it was all based on nonsense, a claim that COVID was going to kill one percent. A claim that can now be seen to be utterly and completely wrong. Sweden, which did not lockdown, has had a death rate of 0.0058 percent.

It takes a very big person to admit they have made a horrible, terrible mistake. But a horrible, terrible mistake has been made. Let’s end this ridiculous nonsense now. And vow never to let such monumental stupidity happen ever again.

The statements, views, and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author. I agree with them totally but wonder if the math error was truly a mistake.

California’s Tiered System For Reopening Is A Scam

California Governor Gavin Newsom started with flattening the curve, which happened reasonably fast, and are now under a bizarre tiered plan for reopening businesses that will make it impossible to achieve in a reasonable timeframe.

Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler has been quite vocal about Gavin Newsom’s approach to COVID-19, which has essentially been a shutdown of the California economy. In the video below, he explains why it will be next to impossible for counties to fully reopen under this rigged system.

The 4-Tier Color-Coded System Explained

While the past system identified counties with high rates of infections and hospitalizations, the new one is based on a county’s rate of new cases per 100,000 residents per day (based on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag) and the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests.

Under the new plan, each county is designated as either PURPLE” (widespread), “RED” (substantial) “ORANGE” (moderate), or “YELLOW” (minimal) that indicates the spread of COVID-19 and dictates what types of businesses and activities are allowed to open in each county.

Here’s a description for each tier:

Purple Tier: County risk level is “widespread”

  • More than seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents, or test positivity greater than 8%.
  • Most non-essential indoor business operations are closed, but indoor hair salons and barbershops can reopen effective immediately.
  • Newsom stated that this tier replaced the previous watch list.

Red Tier: County risk level is “substantial”

  • Four to seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents, or test positivity between 5% and 8%
  • Some non-essential indoor business operations (office spaces, card rooms) are closed, but gyms, movie theaters, and indoor dining can reopen with modifications.
  • Schools can open two weeks after a county moves from purple to red.

Orange Tier: County risk is “moderate”

  • One to four daily new cases per 100,000 residents, or test positivity between 2% and 5%
  • Some indoor business operations are open with modifications.

Yellow Tier: County risk is “minimal”

  • Less than 1 new daily case per 100,000 residents, or test positivity less than 2%
  • Most indoor business operations are open with modifications.

Each county will be assigned its tier every Tuesday, and a county must remain in a tier for 21 consecutive days before moving to the next one.

To move forward, a county must meet the next tier’s criteria for 14 consecutive days.

A county can move backward by failing to meet the criteria for two consecutive weeks, or if state officials see a rapid rise in hospitalizations.

The California Department of Public Health stated that the case rates will not include prisoner cases, and will “include an adjustment factor for counties that are testing above the state average.”

Additional Information About Schools And The System Change

Q. If a school opens while its county is rated red, then the county moves back up to purple, does it have to close?

A. No. Schools that open while their county is rated red, but then move back up to purple may remain open but must increase Covid-19 testing for staff. According to reopening guidance released July 17, “schools should begin testing staff, or increase the frequency of staff testing but are not required to close” if cases or positivity rates increase countywide.

The state recommends that all schools that are open for in-person instruction test staff once every two months, or 25% of staff every two weeks. A school in a county that moves back into the purple tier should exceed this.

All schools are required to close when at least 5% of staff and students test positive for Covid-19 within 14 days. School districts must close if one-quarter of schools in the districts are closed due to Covid-19 cases. Schools can usually reopen within 14 days after campuses have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, public health contact tracing is completed and the county public health department has given its approval.

Q. Can elementary schools in counties rated purple apply for waivers to open in person?

A. Yes. Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of Health and Human Service, said on Aug. 28 that schools in counties with daily case rates of 7 to 14 per 100,000 residents can apply for elementary school waivers for students in grades K-6. Schools and districts must consult with employee unions, parents, and the community before applying for the waiver, which must be approved by the county public health department in consultation with the state Department of Public Health.

Q. Why did the state change its county monitoring system?

A. The state decided to simplify its previous complex county monitoring system by reducing the number of metrics it was calculating (from six to two metrics) and, instead, creating a four-tiered system. Also, it will change the status of counties every seven days instead of daily. All of this is intended to create a more predictable, easily understandable way to determine when businesses and schools can reopen, Governor Newsom said, when he introduced the new system on August 28th.

The previous county monitoring list also included data related to the total number of tests administered daily, the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19, the number of patients admitted to intensive care units due to Covid-19, and the number of respirators available. But Ghaly said those are “lagging indicators” and the state wanted to focus on the earliest indicators that show what is happening currently in communities, so they chose case rates.

Focusing on test positivity rates also allows the state to remind the public about the ways to avoid becoming infected, he said, such as by washing hands frequently, wearing masks, maintaining physical distances of 6 feet, and avoiding mixing with people outside of households, when possible.

However, both Ghaly and Newsom said the state can take an “emergency break” from reopenings if hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions begin to overwhelm county healthcare systems.

For their current status, click on the map below to select different areas.


California faces backlash over Governor Newsom’s new tiered system for reopening businesses amid COVID-19

How ‘Flatten the Curve’ Turned into ‘Shut Down Forever’ in California

California Attorney Says Governor Newsom is Deliberately Using Bad Data to Keep State in Lockdown

Some Straight Talk About COVID-19

Patrick McHale is the president and chief executive officer of Graco, a large and successful manufacturer with their corporate headquarters are located in Minneapolis.

Their company website explains some of the things they do: “We pump peanut butter into your jar, and the oil in your car. We glue the soles of your shoes, the glass in your windows, and pump the ink onto your bills. We spray the finish on your vehicle, coatings on your pills, the paint on your house, and texture on your walls. We’ve been a part of your daily life for more than 90 years.”

Mr. McHale comments on the experience of the company with the COVID-19 epidemic, on the relevant data, and on the shifting public health advice in the current company video and can view below.

He captures the attitude of the authorities in the refrain: “Shut up and put on your mask.” He restates in concise form many of the themes that we have pursued as we have followed the course of the epidemic. His concision extends all the way through to his conclusion: “My closing line this week is: Wake up!”

Quotable quote: “For almost six months now most of our politicians have been putting in place mandates that have had tremendous negative consequences on people’s lives. They’ve told us they’re listening to the medical experts. The media has worked 24/7 to scare people. They’re pushing a single narrative, focusing on those medical experts that are the biggest fear mongers, the “sky is falling” group of medical experts. Dissenting medical opinions are not allowed. Shut up and put on your mask.”