Mailbox: Questions for PANDA’s Nick Hudson after eye-opening address on Covid-19 and lockdowns

A member of the BizNews audience shares his opinion with BizNews founder Alec Hogg about PANDA and its stance on the use of stringent lockdowns to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Stephen Price poses several questions to PANDA’s Nick Hudson after watching Hudson’s thought-provoking keynote address at the recent BizNews Investment Conference. Price, who is a retired Pathologist, has questions regarding masks, targeted protection, and vaccination. – Melani Nathan

By Stephen Price

Dear Alec,

You are clearly a strong advocate of PANDA policies. I thought Hudson’s presentation was well-argued and backed up with facts. However, I feel at times Hudson is his own worst enemy by seeming to emphasise what fools everyone else are. This does not seem to me to be a sensible approach to actually change things for the better. Hudson emphasises conquering fear…

However, actuaries look at populations rather than individuals. Individuals (and their doctors who might have to look after them) look at individuals. Fear, although it is infectious to groups and even populations, is at least initially a very individual thing. I believe PANDA will make no progress in conquering the fear Hudson is talking about until they begin to recognise that fact.

I am also troubled that PANDA’s line always looks at criticising what HAS happened and is never couched in terms of a coherent replacement policy, comprehensively looking at the issues, practically. It is one thing to criticise policy but part of taking responsibility for this would surely be to take the theoretical responsibility of a policymaker.

Accordingly, I have some questions and observations to make on the presentation. Possibly this has been addressed in a previous interview (individual points almost certainly have) which I have missed, but I would welcome a fleshing out of what PANDA proposes and possibly some of the things I have raised might help with that.

A targeted approach obviously makes more sense. However, from this flows the glaring omissions in Hudson’s presentation:

  • Exactly WHAT does targeted protection of the vulnerable entail? Forced isolation for the targeted? Vaccines? Do the targeted wear masks? Do vaccines work in the targeted group?
  • Is he categorical that the targeted do NOT catch the disease from the non-targeted? Non-targeted might include asymptomatic individuals which the presentation pooh-poohs as sources of infection, but also individuals unrecognised as having Covid-19, with minimal symptoms, who presumably could transmit infection. If they do, how does one separate the targeted from the non-targeted who seem free to do what they like? I would say, without the prolonged emphasis on everyone taking precautions, the targeted would be absolute sitting ducks unless they were in the most stringent isolation like the worst kind of lockdown.

If the young were free to mix socially in all ways, it is very unlikely they would respect the vulnerability of the targeted as there is a general disrespect of the elderly in any event. The elderly tend to be out of sight and out of mind. An expendable population, if you like.

Without the belief that the disease might endanger populations, the pressure to develop vaccines simply would not have been there.

Politicians who dictate policy would almost certainly not be influenced by a targeted minority. This is the bugbear of all rare diseases; the individuals concerned don’t influence elections.

  • How would a targeted policy handle other situations of the juxtaposition of targeted with non-targeted:  schools and families. Would the rights of the targeted be respected with regard to the availability of sanitiser, ventilation, or social spacing in venues?
  • If masks are totally useless, why wear masks and protective clothing in the ICU?
  • Waves tend to overwhelm hospitals unless precautions are taken. How would PANDA plan for possible overwhelming of health facilities? I have heard criticism from PANDA that there was much pre-emptive overspending. Is there a direct statistical model available to address hospital policy?

What has PANDA to say about restrictions on travel?

What is PANDA’s policy on crowds? Do you give unrestricted access to sporting events? What about other gatherings – religious services and entertainment venues?

If the PCR and antibody tests (or a theoretical T cell immunity test – only a few I am familiar with, such as HIV, give an easily measurable effect on T cell populations) are not good indicators of Covid-19, and if medical information based purely on symptoms and signs is notoriously unreliable – not least because there is so much overlap between symptom complexes and different disease aetiologies – how would PANDA advocate getting the data for its population studies?

Lastly, the best advert for PANDA policies would be transparency of the behaviour of PANDA INDIVIDUALS to the public health policies they are advocating. Can PANDA and its associates give statistically significant examples of their own behaviour since the beginning of Covid-19? This in itself might strengthen their influence.

A good example of not putting your money where your mouth is is the behaviour of socialist politicians over socialised schooling and health facilities; for example, there are socialist politicians sending their kids to the most expensive private schools and using expensive private health facilities and not the socialised schooling or health facilities they advocate for everyone else.

I am sure there are other practical issues that I haven’t included.

I would welcome a comprehensive article on the PANDA targeted policy for Covid-19. I also don’t believe a reference to a website somewhere is good enough. PANDA should be pumping out its alternative policy the whole time. For example, in South Africa right now, what are PANDA’s recommendations for handling the Easter weekend and the apparent impending wave in South Africa? What is PANDA’s policy for vaccination? Which vaccines would it favour (presumably for the targeted only)? What should South Africa be doing about vaccine procurement? What would  PANDA policy mean for the economy of the country right now?

I am a retired pathologist, aged 73 with a few comorbidities.


Stephen Price

Watch Nick Hudson’s address here:

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