Roger Ver, the prominent Bitcoin Cash (BCH) advocate and former CEO of Bitcoin.com, appears to think that the world’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionate.
In a tweet published on March 29, Ver tweeted a screenshot of statistics ostensibly comparing the global COVID-19 death toll with that of other illnesses — including seasonal flu, malaria and traffic fatalities — between Jan. 1 and March 25, 2020.
The screenshot was accompanied by Ver’s remark that “if YOU are worried about the coronavirus, YOU should self isolate. Leave the rest of us alone.”
Ver notably did not disclose the source of the statistics, which appear to indicate that deaths from traffic fatalities (313,903), malaria (228,095) and suicides (249,904) eclipsed those from COVID-19 (21,297) by a factor of more than 10 as of March 25; deaths from seasonal flu (113,034) ostensibly exceeded those from the virus by a factor of more than 5.
HIV/AIDS was the most lethal disease included in Ver’s screenshot, causing an ostensible 390,908 deaths in the same period.
As of press time, on March 30, the cumulative global death toll from COVID-19 is officially recorded as being close to 34,000.
While some countries continue to buck the trend, an estimated one-third of the world’s population was under state-enforced lockdown as of Wednesday last week, as governments struggle to suppress the virus’ transmission and reduce the burden on public health systems.
The debate over the efficacy and implementation of these interventionist measures — unprecedented in peacetime — continues to unfold within the scientific and political communities.
Ver, a self-identified libertarian, did not explain his objections to self-isolation measures, which some claim curtail civil liberties, or are a detriment to the economy.
The World Health Organization’s official recommendations on containment of the COVID-19 pandemic include widespread testing, quarantine of confirmed cases, contact tracing, and social distancing measures. Countries such as South Korea have been able to avoid lockdowns by implementing mass testing, contact tracing and focused quarantining early on in the outbreak.
A cautionary note on the data
The integrity of all statistics currently being used to track the pandemic remains a vexed issue, with analysts repeatedly emphasizing their incompleteness due to inadequate testing and the non-admission of initially mild cases to public health facilities.
Multiple reports worldwide have contended that many victims are likely not to have been diagnosed at the time of death, or that governments have chosen to under-represent mortality rates for political reasons. The inconsistency between different countries’ approaches to determining direct causality on death certificates further obscures the picture.
Ver, who faced a backlash on social media for his stance, has found common ground with at least one fellow arch-libertarian in the crypto space. On March 26, John McAfee, also used a comparison of fatality statistics to apparently support his claim that people are “being manipulated” and should “wake up.”