Please note: The current Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic is fast moving, and reactions to it seem to update not just day-by-day but minute-by-minute. Obviously, this site was not designed to bring you the very latest developments in a ‘breaking news’ story such as this. Instead, this site will continue to include news and opinions relating to major events, policy changes, and so on.
My plan for today was to take a break from the pandemic which has dominated the news, to look at other matters related to MS and disability, but some things just cannot be ignored. So …
Much made of so-called ‘breaking news’
A story that was last week sensationalised as ‘breaking news’ by an online news programme was nothing of the sort. Instead, the Highwire with Del Bigtree was quoting, without first checking the facts, a story that had appeared on the Daily Wire. This is an American right-wing, conservative news and opinion website founded in 2015 by political commentator Ben Shapiro, who is the site’s editor-in-chief.
Here, it should be noted that the Daily Wire has been rated as “Right Biased based on story selection and editorial positions that align with the conservative right. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to several failed fact checks.” Further, the rating site says the founder and editor-in-chief, Ben Shapiro, “has made a false claim as well.”
Not exactly a good starting point.
Anyway, the story alleged that an epidemiologist, whose forecasts had been used by governments in planning their response to the pandemic, had suddenly and drastically reduced his figures.
When the ‘news’ appeared on social media, it was greeted by the response “It’s over’. Sadly, it isn`t. The coronavirus pandemic continues.
In fact, the epidemiologist, Professor Neil Ferguson, was speaking by video link to MPs on a parliamentary select committee. He said that the current UK lockdown could keep the coronavirus outbreak at manageable levels.
He explained that while there was still some uncertainty, if current measures work as expected, then intensive care demand would ‘peak in approximately two to three weeks and then decline thereafter’.
He told the committee current predictions were that the NHS (National Health Service) would be able to cope if strict measures continued to be followed.
Professor tweets true facts
More than a little concerned by how he had been misreported, Ferguson took to Twitter.
He tweeted: “I think it would be helpful if I cleared up some confusion that has emerged in recent days. Some have interpreted my evidence to a UK parliamentary committee as indicating we have substantially revised our assessments of the potential mortality impact of COVID-19.
“This is not the case. Indeed, if anything, our latest estimates suggest that the virus is slightly more transmissible than we previously thought. Our lethality estimates remain unchanged.
“My evidence to parliament referred to the deaths we assess might occur in the UK in the presence of the very intensive social distancing and other public health interventions now in place.
“Without those controls, our assessment remains that the UK would see the scale of deaths reported in our study (namely, up to approximately 500 thousand).”
The force and speed of Prof Ferguson’s words has since prompted the Daily Wire to issue a correction. It reads: “The original title of this article incorrectly suggested that Neil Ferguson stated his initial model was wrong. The article has been revised to make clear that he provided a downgraded projection given the new data and current mitigation steps. This article has also been updated to include Ferguson’s clarifying statement posted on Twitter on Thursday.”
Perhaps Mr Bigtree and his Highwire team will check the facts for themselves in future. Better that than to rely on the accuracy, honesty, and integrity of others!
Now, from US websites to a UK radio station
Crazy Chris Call lights up social media
Stupid, ignorant, selfish, irresponsible. Those were some of the most polite, and printable, descriptions on social media of Chris, a UK woman (sorry, I cannot call her a lady) who phoned into a local radio station. There is no need for me to tell you what she said, click here to listen for yourself.
Once the 2 mins 17 secs clip reached Facebook and so on, it provoked outrage. To say people were shocked would be to put it mildly. More realistically, they were astounded, horrified, even flabbergasted.
The call was made to BBC Radio Solent’s mid-morning show on Tuesday, March 24. That was the morning after prime minister Boris Johnson made his nationwide televised statement announcing the introduction of the country’s police-enforced lockdown.
Chris called the government “stupid” and described Johnson as an “idiot”. But she completely missed one vital point. If it wasn’t for her, and people like her, flouting the advisory restrictions perhaps a mandatory lockdown would not have been necessary.
Can’t deal with any more
The presenter who received the call was Pat Sissons, an experienced and popular broadcaster who has worked extensively in local radio stations on England’s south coast.
He finished the conversation with “Bye Chris” before saying to listeners “Sorry but I can’t deal with any more of that.”
He continued: “I’m sorry that I got a bit emotional there but that to me is absolute madness. It’s very easy to say, ‘I’ve had my life. I don’t mind if I get it and die.’ Well the person you pass it to might not have had theirs and really that shouldn’t be your decision. Sorry I got a bit cross there, I will calm down.
“I think that’s the most angry I’ve ever been in a radio studio.”
Emotional? Angry? Just as well that cool-headed Pat took the call. If it were me, I would have ‘lost it’.
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Please note that being born in the UK, all my posts, are written using British English spelling.
Centre not center (except in names, Centers of Disease Control) Colour not color Diarrhoea not diarrhea Haematology not hematology Haematopoietic not hematopoietic
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. More recently, he was a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.
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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Ian is not a doctor, so cannot and does not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely his own unless otherwise stated.