Category Archives: Coronavirus

The Slow Birth of Covid Realism

If the censorship doesn’t get totally out of control, it will be a fascinating tale of just what caused this event, this virus, to literally turn the political forces on their heads.  mrossol

WSJ 12/29/2020

Italy, last seen trying to prosecute government scientists for failing to forecast an earthquake, is now pioneering the use of criminal prosecutors to examine the country’s Covid-19 response. Italy as a country ranks low on every index of efficient, accountable governments and effective legal systems. Criminalizing policy disappointments and managerial errors is a symptom of this failure, not its cure.

Still, the particulars of the indictment being sought by relatives of early victims will ring bells for many Americans: the shipping of infected persons to nursing homes, failure to test patients who couldn’t be connected to China, failing to order lockdowns sooner, worrying about the potential impact on businesses.

The U.S. remains in a similar phase of denial, with every failure related to testing, mask promotion, etc., spun as a missed chance to extinguish Covid altogether. When the reality principle intrudes, here’s suspecting the greatest failure will be the one we are least willing to acknowledge or even understand: It began with our strange reticence to acknowledge the reality of mild (and, as it turned out, asymptomatic) Covid.

Any alert person knew from the get-go that, amid the exigencies of Wuhan, Chinese doctors were failing to detect mild cases, and that thousands of these cases were likely being exported to the world. Whatever the horrors in Wuhan’s hospitals, they happened not because Covid-19 is an extravagantly deadly respiratory infection. They happened because a flu-like disease had been allowed to spread unrecognized for months in an urban population unprotected by any prior immunity or vaccine.

Yet it instantly became a U.S. journalistic trope to accuse anyone mentioning the flu of “downplaying” the new disease—downplaying anything being the worst sin in journalism.

Inexplicably, authorities, including the World Health Organization, insisted on promoting a fatality rate they knew was exaggerated because of the failure to account for mild infections. To this day, U.S. officialdom and the media dwell on a nearly meaningless “confirmed” case count, knowing full well that doing so is innumerate and unstatistical. It’s a mystery and my only explanation is that they are afraid to stop because it portrays the disease as more deadly than it is (supporting the case for urgency) and also less prevalent than it is (supporting the case that it can somehow be contained).

A parade of conclusive contrary indicators is not so much unreported as simply unintegrated into the picture sold to the American public. To give the latest example, a Johns Hopkins study finds that in late spring in Maryland, when “confirmed” cases were less than 1% of the state’s population, 10% of autopsies showed evidence of Covid infection—a rate that applied equally to auto-accident victims and people who died of natural causes.

As the pandemic has unfolded, only deeper has become media revilement of anyone who pointed out that the death risk was being exaggerated, that the lockdowns were not sustainable due to the costs they imposed on people who were at low risk, that our efforts would be better invested in shielding those at high risk of a bad medical outcome.

The hostility is even greater now that these views have been adopted implicitly and unavowedly almost everywhere in obedience to the reality principle. The lockdowns were unsustainable. Low-risk people were unwilling to maintain energetic social distancing through the summer and fall. Vaccines are being rolled out now expressly to protect the most vulnerable first.

For all their talk that no cost is too great to save a life, the actual behavior of our elected officials has made clear that the one thing they believe their careers can’t tolerate is a breakdown in hospital care for Covid patients and others.

I’ve informally adopted Brown University’s Ashish Jha as my metric for realism’s gradual unfurling. In his latest media appearances, he invariably now stresses unseen spread, the impracticality of the lockdown solution, a role for herd immunity in supplementing vaccination to end the pandemic—even if he also occasionally utters imprecations against these opinion pages for making the same arguments months ago.

When it’s over, countries like Germany and Sweden, which have hardly been spared Covid’s ravages, I suspect will be seen as the least-bad models. And for reasons American leaders will be loath to admit: They treated their people like adults. They leveled with their citizens about Covid’s inevitable spread. They skimped on the baby talk, virtue signaling, or any resort (especially prevalent in the U.S.) to trying to mislead a supposedly infantile public for its own good.

These countries worked no public-health miracles nor any miracles of the self-isolating sort that appealed in the antipodes. Where they succeeded was in eliciting the intelligence of their peopletheir intelligent adaptations, to make the Covid trial as bearable as possible.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-slow-birth-of-covid-realism-11609284003?mod=hp_opin_pos_3

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A Pandemic of Misinformation – WSJ

WSJ 12-21-20  By Scott W. Atlas

“Believe the Science”.  Yet there is more and more confirmation that “science” is much more politicized that ever before.  The “population” as a whole is probably more likely to make better overall decisions than “the scientists”.    (Oh, and yes, I did get two BS degrees and and a MS degree. So ‘science’ is not foreign to me.). mrossol 

America has been paralyzed by death and fear for nearly a year, and the politicization of the pandemic has made things worse by adding misinformation and vitriol to the mix. With vaccines finally being administered, we should be entering a joyous phase. Instead we endure still more inflammatory rhetoric and media distortion.

Americans need to understand three realities. First, all 50 states independently directed and implemented their own pandemic policies. In every case, governors and local officials were responsible for on-the-ground choices—every business limit, school closing, shelter-in-place order and mask requirement. No policy on any of these issues was set by the federal government, except those involving federal property and employees.

Second, nearly all states used the same draconian policies that people now insist on hardening, even though the number of positive cases increased while people’s movements were constrained, business activities were strictly limited, and schools were closed. Governors in all but a few states—Florida and South Dakota are notable exceptions—imposed curfews, quarantines, directives on group gatherings, and mask mandates.

Mobility tracking verifies that people restricted their movement. Gallup and YouGov data show that 80% to 90% of Americans have been wearing masks since early August. Lockdown policies had baleful effects on local economies, families and children, and the virus spread anyway. If one advocates more lockdowns because of bad outcomes so far, why don’t the results of those lockdowns matter?

Third, the federal government’s role in the pandemic has been grossly mischaracterized by the media and their Democratic allies. That distortion has obscured several significant successes, while undermining the confidence of ordinary Americans. Federal financial support and directives enabled the development of a massive, state-of-the-art testing capacity and produced billions of dollars of personal protective equipment. Federal agencies met all requests for supplemental medical personnel and hospital-bed capacity. Officials in the Health and Human Services Department have told me there are no unmet requests for extra resources.

The federal government also increased the protection of the elderly during late summer and fall. This effort included an intensive testing strategy for nursing-home staff and residents based on community activity, new proactive warnings to the highest-risk elderly living independently, millions of point-of-care tests and extra personal protective equipment for senior living facilities, and new alliances and financial incentives to improve nursing home infection control.

The federal government also expedited development and delivery of lifesaving drugs, such as novel antibody treatments that reduce hospitalizations of high-risk elderly by more than 70%. According to HHS, more than 200,000 doses of these monoclonal-antibody drugs have been delivered to hospitals in all 50 states. Under Operation Warp Speed, the federal government took nearly all the risk away from private pharmaceutical companies and delivered highly effective vaccines, hitting all promised timelines.

In this season when respiratory virus illnesses become more common and people move indoors to keep warm, many states are turning to more severe restrictions on businesses and outdoor activities. Yet empirical data from the U.S., Europe and Japan show that lockdowns don’t eliminate the virus and don’t stop the virus from spreading. They do, however, create extremely harmful health and social problems beyond a dramatic drop in learning, including a tripling of reported depression, skyrocketing suicidal ideation, unreported child abuse, skipped visits for cancer and other medical care.

It adds up to a future health disaster. “For younger people, the lockdowns are so harmful, so deadly, there’s really no good justification,” says Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya, especially when considering their extremely low risk from Covid-19.

States and cities that keep their economies locked down after highly vulnerable populations have been vaccinated will be doubling down on failed policies that are destroying families and sacrificing children, particularly among the working class and poor.

The media has done its best to misinform the public with political attacks about who is to blame for this pain and misery even as it diminishes the great achievement of the new vaccines. The decline of objectivity in journalism has been evident for years. Now we see that even respected scientific journals, which are supposed to vet and publish the best objective research, have been contaminated by politics. Social media has become the arbiter of allowable discussion, while universities intimidate and suppress the free exchange of ideas necessary to uncover scientific truths.

It is not at all clear that American society with its cherished freedoms will survive, regardless of our success in defeating the pandemic threat.

Dr. Atlas served from August through November as a special adviser to the president.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-pandemic-of-misinformation-11608570640?mod=opinion_lead_pos5

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Research does not support the lie.

This article HAD to be removed; it didn’t support the lie.  I’ve been saying this for six months:  Let’s look at the total death counts after 6 or 12 or 24 or 36 months, and the total deaths will not be statistically different than normal. Many who would have died from heart attacks died of COVID, etc.  mrossol

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https://justthenews.com/politics-policy/coronavirus/johns-hopkins-published-then-deleted-study-questioning-us-coronavirus

Last week, Johns Hopkins University published a now-deleted article explaining a study examining the effects of the novel coronavirus on United States death totals using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Genevieve Briand, the assistant program director of the Applied Economics master’s degree program at Johns Hopkins, determined, in the study, that there have been 1.7 million deaths in the U.S. between March 2020 and September 2020, 12% (or roughly 200,000) of which have been coronavirus-related.

Briand posits that the only way to understand the significance of the U.S. coronavirus death rate is by comparing it to the number of total deaths in the country.

According to Briand, who compared the total deaths per age category from both before and after the onset of the global pandemic, the death rate of older people stayed the same before and after coronavirus.

“The reason we have a higher number of reported COVID-19 deaths among older individuals than younger individuals is simply because every day in the U.S. older individuals die in higher numbers than younger individuals,” wrote Briand.

She also noted that between 50,000 and 70,000 deaths are seen both before and after the emergence of the virus, meaning that, according to her analysis, coronavirus has had no effect on the percentage of total deaths of older people, nor has it increased the total number of deaths in the category.

These results contradict the way most people see the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which disproportionately affects the elderly population.

Briand believes, after reviewing the numbers, that coronavirus deaths are being over-exaggerated. After seeing that in 2020, coronavirus-related deaths exceeded deaths from heart disease — the leading cause of death in the U.S. for many years prior — Briand began to suspect that the coronavirus death toll figure may be misleading.

Briand found that “the total decrease in deaths by other causes almost exactly equals the increase in deaths by COVID-19,” according to the original JHU newsletter.

“If [the COVID-19 death toll] was not misleading at all, what we should have observed is an increased number of heart attacks and increased COVID-19 numbers. But a decreased number of heart attacks and all the other death causes doesn’t give us a choice but to point to some misclassification,” said Briand.

“If [the COVID-19 death toll] was not misleading at all, what we should have observed is an increased number of heart attacks and increased COVID-19 numbers. But a decreased number of heart attacks and all the other death causes doesn’t give us a choice but to point to some misclassification,” said Briand.

“All of this points to no evidence that COVID-19 created any excess deaths. Total death numbers are not above normal death numbers. We found no evidence to the contrary,” she continued.

Several days after removing the article, Johns Hopkins University tweeted that the article, “A closer look at U.S. deaths to COVID-19,” was deleted because “the article was being used to support false and dangerous inaccuracies about the impact of the pandemic.”

“We regret that this article may have contributed to the spread of misinformation about COVID-19,” tweeted the institution.

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A Sensible and Compassionate Anti-COVID Strategy – Imprimis

All the talk about “science is science”, but a declaration signed by over 43,000 scientists and health officials world-wide, is ignored?  (See a list of co-signers, etc.—online at www.gbdeclaration.org.)

This is a very short, very informative article and should be read by all decision makers.  mrossol.

Source: A Sensible and Compassionate Anti-COVID Strategy – Imprimis

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