Too speedy indeed
The Road Safety Directing Centre provided holiday accident statistics from around the country up to and including Saturday (published on Sunday, Jan 3). On closer inspection, however, the figures suggest they have been compiled with perhaps undue haste.
For example, if 88% of accidents involved motorcycles, pickups and private cars, what class of vehicles made up the remaining 12% (330 of total accidents)? I can only think of heavy trucks, coaches and mini-buses. For a sector driven by supposedly professional drivers, that would be an alarming figure. We learn also that drunk driving accounted for 30% of incidents, while speeding was responsible for 29%. Just how one separates those two figures is hard to fathom as they frequently go hand in hand.
It is also reported that a total of 75% of accidents occurred on highways and local roads. Where on earth did the other 25% happen?
Then we have the statistics on the time of day accidents took place and the age groups of those involved. With a bit of arithmetic, we deduce, though not stated, that 30% of accidents occurred overnight and that 42% of those killed or injured were under 30. I'm not quite sure what the significance of these figures is, however.
No doubt, further analysis will be forthcoming. I for one would like to know what percentage of casualties among motorcycle riders were wearing a helmet; how many roadside breath tests were done by the police; and did the increased speed limit play any part in the higher overall road toll compared with the previous year?
Distorting the truth
George N in his Jan 4 letter claims that the results of a published study of mass screening in Wuhan "undermines the need for lockdowns". His claim is not supported by the authors of the study.
The study found 300 asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 in a screening of around 10 million residents of Wuhan in late May, after the January-April lockdown, which was far more restrictive than most countries could contemplate. Tracing of those in close contact with these 300 cases found no infections.
George N and others have concluded that no asymptomatic case can be a source of infection and that therefore lockdowns are unnecessary.
This conclusion is rejected by, among others, Prof Fujian Song, of the Norwich Medical School of the University of East Anglia, who conducted the study in collaboration with the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan. The report notes that "no viable virus [was found] in the identified asymptomatic cases. This means that these people were not likely to infect anyone else". This is attributed to control measures, including lockdown.
But Dr Song warns that the results must not be interpreted [thus]. The cases in Wuhan were "truly asymptomatic", showing no signs of infection before or during the study. "But there is plenty of evidence elsewhere showing that people infected with Covid-19 may be temporarily asymptomatic and infectious before going on to develop symptoms."
The results of a meta-analysis by statisticians from University of Florida, Gainesville, University of Washington, Seattle, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle have been subject to a similar misinterpretation by opponents of lockdowns.
It should be warned that the spread of misinformation about Covid-19 can be as dangerous as the virus itself when it misleads the public into potentially dangerous activities, such as ignoring lockdown restrictions.
An arresting thought
If I say there is no gambling den in Thailand, people would look at me as if I'd said there is no Covid-19 in Thailand. But coming from Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon that should carry more credibility (BP, Jan 5). Or does he mean that no illegal dens got caught in Thailand by the authorities?
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