The idiotic Sky News host Rowan Dean has been the source of hilarity here before, because of his inability to understand science, and particularly climate science1,2, to the point of being so gullible that he will believe all sorts of pseudoscience3. In addition to believing he understands climate science, he also seems to believe he is an epidemiologist4.
Unfortunately, nobody has disabused Dean of his ludicrous belief that he understands epidemiology, because in late August he reiterated his assertion that the federal government should have let Covid-19 rip through the population5, presumably in an attempt to obtain some sort of herd immunity. Like so many incompetent Murdoch hacks, he has the misguided belief that the reaction to Covid-19 was choice between saving lives or saving the economy. In fact, economic modelling demonstrates that elimination of the virus is the most effective strategy for protecting the economy4. This has now been clearly demonstrated in the real world by the arrival of a devastating second wave of Covid-19 in many countries, and the necessity to go into lockdown again. Perhaps the best illustration of this is the basket case that is the United Kingdom. During the first wave, they were getting an average maximum of just over 5,000 new cases daily. In this second wave, they are getting well over 20,000 a day. Deaths, which lag new cases by 2-3 weeks, are also starting to rise and currently are well over 250 a day. The UK has now gone into a second lockdown.
In his August bleating, Dean states that the failure of Australia’s political class to take the Swedish Covid-19 example seriously is something for which our children and grandchildren will pay a “very heavy price”5. The Swedish example of which Dean is so fond, comprises voluntary social distancing, common sense restrictions on the size of crowds, no lockdown and ‘keeping the economy intact’. Now, Sweden is also experiencing a second wave. In their first wave, they were getting a maximum of about 1,200 cases per day. In this second wave, they are getting up to 3,000 cases a day. In the first wave they were getting a maximum of about 100 deaths per day. In the second wave deaths are starting to rise again6. It would be interesting to see what Dean says now that Victoria seems to have all but eliminated the virus (four days in a row of zero cases, while still having about 20,000 tests a day7,8)
When Dean’s hero, Donald Trump, wants to put forward his most recent brain-fart he begins the relevant sentences with ‘I have been hearing…’ or ‘people tell me…’. Dean uses the same technique. He says ‘Some emerging reports seem to endorse the herd immunity strategy’ of Sweden, but there is no detail of what reports or where they can be found. Like Trump, he uses a bogus comparison with the UK, which is in deep poo with a second wave (see above). He asserts that Sweden has now recorded far fewer deaths per capita than the United Kingdom while maintaining basic freedoms and a far milder recession. However, the difference is not that great. Sweden has had 587 deaths per million population6, while the UK has had 687 deaths per million9. Australia is currently at 35 deaths per million10. Taiwan, which has perhaps been the most successful of nations in preventing the spread of Covid-19, has had 0.3 deaths per million population11. This ‘protecting the economy’ is also a furphy. A recent analysis by the UK’s Financial Times has shown that, generally, the fewer deaths you have as a proportion of your population, the less economic damage is done to your economy. They concluded: “Leaders have vacillated between reopening to protect the economy and locking back down to protect citizens. Yet recent analysis suggests that this may well be a false trade-off”12. This erroneous assumption that it is a trade-off between lives and the economy has been fatal for many thousands of people.
Dean is one of the worst of the idiots on Sky News and is so ignorant and so gullible that it is astonishing that he could be paid by Rupert Murdoch to spout such drivel. It simply demonstrates the ludicrous lengths to which Murdoch will go to rail against reality. He needs to be stopped, because his support for Covid-19 denialism and climate change denialism is killing many people and with the latter, those deaths may run into many millions.