Flat White

When is a pandemic not a pandemic

7 May 2021

3:24 PM

7 May 2021

3:24 PM

From 1914 to 1918 the world was immersed in a conflict without parallel. Whereas all previous wars had involved no more than a handful of nations at a time, the war that came to be known simply as The Great War engulfed most of the world, largely due to an intricate web of alliances that cascaded across the globe. 

When it was over, some 16 million people had been killed, a level of carnage that the world had never seen. Little did the world know, however, this was only a dress rehearsal, and the 18 months immediately after the Armistice would dwarf this figure, as the Spanish Flu swept across the world in three distinct waves. 

No one knows exactly how many people it killed, but estimates range between 20 and 100 million – between 1 and 5% of the entire global population. 

We know the mortality data (broadly speaking), but how many actual infections were there? Well, the simple fact is that we don’t know. Records of such things were not kept, because they laboured under the rather quaint notion that the severity of a disease outbreak, and therefore whether the word “pandemic” should be assigned to it, should be determined only by the number of people it killed.    

Somewhere over the last 100 years this definition apparently changed. The current “pandemic” is the first pandemic in history to be judged not by its mortality rate, but by its infection rate.  

But we don’t need to go back 100 years to find out when things changed – we only need to go back four. In 2017 the H2N2 flu virus swept across the world. In Australia a total of 220,000 cases were reported, with 1,255 deaths. This equates to about 1 in 175. The word “pandemic” didn’t cross the lips of our newsreaders once, and as for the impact it had, few people were simply unaware of these figures. 

But in 2021, Covid19 is now a pandemic in Australia, with about 30,000 cases and 900 deaths. Can we compare them? Covid19 has 900 deaths from 30,000, and the H2N2 was 1,255 from 220,000. That means it’s 3 times as deadly, right? Actually, no, for three reasons. 

Firstly, as most people that catch Covid19 are asymptomatic, we simply don’t know what the true infection rate is. 


Secondly, no distinction is made between “with” and “from” when it comes to cause of death for Covid19. It is now widely known that a death is attributed to Covid19 if the person has it when they died, independently of whatever other ailments they may have had.  

Thirdly, and most significantly, the average age at which people in Australia die with Covid19 is higher than normal life expectancy.  

In other words, if you live just as long with or without Covid19, then it meets no definition of “deadly” and any comparison with the H2N2 outbreak is meaningless. 

The difference between infections and deaths is elegantly represented in this graph:  

All previous pandemics were judged by the blue bit, and this “pandemic is judged by the orange bit. As will be seen, there is no observable increase in the overall mortality rate – the blue bit is contained within the purple bit. A question I have repeatedly asked whenever we hear statistics about Covid19 deaths, is whether these deaths are influencing the normal mortality rate. We now have the answer.  

But let’s return to the original question. How, in four years, did the definition of a pandemic change so dramatically? 

I’d suggest it’s pure Kafkaesque politics. 

The sabre-rattling Chinese came to understand something that most people in the West don’t – that the next World War won’t be fought with guns and tanks – it’ll be fought with politicians and economists. That is, their path to global conquest will not depend on military might, but on economic and political might. And in any struggle, whatever the medium, it is always a winning strategy to weaken your enemy. And they are doing it on two fronts: economic and cultural. 

Firstly, they knew how easily the Western media could be manipulated to create a fear campaign, and how much they would utilise emotional responses to induce a panic that would sell newspapers. Furthermore, they knew the power that the media had to influence political actions. 

Thus, when images beamed around the world of ambulances queuing to take away dead bodies, a perfect storm was created. Media organisations salaciously broadcast these images into our newsrooms, and governments responded in kind. And the governments of course secretly welcomed the panic. It is a simple political reality that any crisis works in the incumbent’s favour, as it gives them something to save the people from. 

We see this latter response writ large in Victoria and WA, where the respective state governments have extended their emergency powers into the foreseeable future.  

Secondly, we see two political movements prosecuting the Chinese agenda from within: the climate change movement and BLM. Neo-Marxism cannot be accused of not knowing how to dress – it wears different outfits to suit the occasion. These movements have one aim – to destroy the West from within.  

We, and the West in general, are now at war with China. WW3 has already started, but no one’s noticed.  

How do we fight back? It’s a difficult question to answer, as it is difficult to find an influential politician anywhere that operates by principle and not expediency. Conservative parties across the nation have adopted an apparently pragmatic approach of just being a little less left-wing than the ALP. But we saw the result of this catastrophically naïve approach at the last WA election. 

Thus, there is now a political vacuum on the right of politics. Nature hates a vacuum, so it is inevitable that someone will fill it; the only question now is who.

Dr Mark Imisides is a scientist and OH&S advisor. He Tweets at @DrMarkImisides.

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