Nothing ordinary in Covid
Mr Rostron (Chronicle, September 29) is wrong in his analysis, his calculations, and in his conclusions.
Unlike "ordinary flu", Covid-19 kills, but also seriously injures some of those it does not kill. It is too early to make a full assessment, but it is already clear that some survivors will experience long term or permanent respiratory damage. Covid-19 is also identified as a cause of cardiac injury, and of muscle weakness and fatigue affecting a person's ability to care for themselves and work. It has been linked credibly to brain injury, and to mental illness including delirium.
In any economic assessment of benefit against cost, it is false to make his calculation that "we have not hesitated to spend $35 million per life saved". The number of lives we have saved is unknown, so the calculation is impossible. His attempt to guesstimate 2800 deaths from Swedish statistics is no more feasible than use of UK (or Australian) rates. Only over the full period of the pandemic, with variable impacts at different times, could even an approximation be made.
Very importantly, we have saved a vast cost for ongoing injury to the living.
An incidental effect of the environmental measures taken, and the 'flu vaccination programme, is that we have low infection rates for influenza this year. This is a positive financial gain.
Having for decades balanced my working life against a long-term respiratory disability, I can assure Mr Rostron I am very relieved to be part of a country which puts the life and health of all its citizens first.
HUGH RENNIE QC
Diana Mellor did not read my last letter with a great deal of comprehension. Nowhere did I mention Einstein or relativity. Starting in the nineties I became an orchardist, after a lifetime in engineering. I bought a conventional kiwi and avocado orchard and converted it to an organic orchard. I gained certification with BioGro and continued for 25 years as sole operator of a certified organic orchard. So I know a little about "green". At the same time I studied physics at the University of Waikato for four years. In my final year I was asked to oversee new students in the advanced experimental physics lab.
One of the reasons for writing the letter was to try to point out the shocking lack of knowledge among the general population of the chemistry and physics of the real world, and the misplaced belief in mysticism.
The scientific method is still the best way to describe how things work. The scientific method works as follows: you observe some phenomenon, i.e. an apple falls on your head. You think, why did that happen? You make a guess as to why. Then you construct an experiment to prove or disprove your theory. Theory proven - or not. If not, come up with a better theory. Repeat.
Scientific theories are generally considered to be "falsifiable"; that is, even after hundreds of experiments being positive the next one could be negative. So science edges ever closer to an absolute truth. Mysticism has no such mechanism, it just asks for faith.
Relativity and gravitation are both considered to be theories, but thousands of experiments confirm the very accurate predictions of these theories.