Category Archives: Coronavirus

Trump, Covid and Reason

I say again: Why isn’t “anyone” listening to the scientists – that MSM and the “control politicians” keep saying have “all truth”??

WSJ. 10/6/2020

President Trump’s tweet Monday “Don’t be afraid of Covid” has invited more criticism that he’s again downplaying the virus. Mr. Trump doesn’t do nuance, and he and his team have often acted recklessly, most prominently at the Rose Garden ceremony announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination. But scientists generally agree with his fundamental point that Americans need to learn to live with the virus.

That’s also the message of a new declaration from scientists that the media are ignoring. Organized by Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff, Sunetra Gupta of Oxford and Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya, the Great Barrington Declaration recommends that people be allowed to live normally while protecting the vulnerable. The authors are infectious-disease experts, and the statement by our deadline had been signed by more than 2,300 medical and health scientists and 2,500 practitioners, and counting.

 

They describe their approach as “Focused Protection,” but it’s essentially what Sweden has done and even the World Health Organization is now recommending. Many European leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron are also slowly embracing it, though it still remains heresy on America’s left.

The collateral damage from government lockdowns “include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health—leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice,” the declaration says. “Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.”

 

Reams of public-health data and medical literature agree. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there have been 93,814 non-Covid “excess deaths” this year, including 42,427 from cardiovascular conditions, 10,686 from diabetes and 3,646 from cancer. Many are due to government shutdowns of non-essential medical care.

Public-health surveys also show depression levels, substance abuse and drug overdoses have spiked amid rising unemployment. A quarter of 18- to 24-year-olds in June said they had increased substance use to cope with the pandemic.

Pediatricians have reported a worrying rise in child abuse and accidental injuries from school closures, which have also resulted in stunted learning and emotional growth. A new Stanford study finds that students across 19 states in the spring lost from 57 to 183 days of learning in reading and 136 to 232 days of learning in math.

As the Great Barrington authors explain, “vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.” Sixty-seven children under age 15 in the U.S have died from Covid-19.

“Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity,” they write. That means protecting the elderly and high-risk individuals—for instance, frequent testing of nursing-home staff—but also reopening schools, colleges, restaurants and businesses with reasonable precautions.

The virus isn’t going away even if Joe Biden wins the election and perhaps not even with a vaccine. Better treatments and protocols have improved outcomes enormously for high-risk individuals—of which Mr. Trump may turn out to be a textbook case.

The shame is that Covid has become so politicized that the calm reasoning of the Great Barrington scientists is drowned out by the fear and loathing of those who want to blame Donald Trump for every new infection. But it is the best advice for how we should cope with Covid.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-covid-and-reason-11602026102

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How about covid explained using all the data?

WSJ 10/6/2020.   By Holman W J

When the vice-presidential candidates meet in Wednesday night’s debate, Subject One will be the coronavirus. President Trump tested positive and was hospitalized. Vice President Mike Pence has, since Feb. 26, chaired an administration task force. Here’s my wish. Let this be an opportunity for the country to remove its blinders.

Some 7.4 million Americans have been infected with the virus. Or is it 74 million? According to Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the agency that the country relies on for such data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our testing as of late June was picking up perhaps 10% of cases. When we say 40,000 new infections are occurring daily, we might really mean 400,000 infections. When we imply that 2.2% of Americans have been infected, we may really mean 22%.

Astonishingly, the American people are inundated daily with a perspective on the virus that may be off by an order of magnitude. In January, when the Wuhan clampdown was just beginning, we could assert, without qualification or fear of contradiction, that the observed fatality rate was dramatically overstated. The Chinese were missing many mild cases; the disease is more widespread than we realize. Even then we recognized asymptomatic spread. It’s now believed that 40% of carriers are asymptomatic. This alone guarantees a large amount of undetected spread, which, if ignored, completely distorts our understanding of the challenge and how it should be faced.

The Economist magazine addressed exactly this question in a recent issue. Germany, a country celebrated for its testing regime, may be missing 82% of cases. The British, one of the first top-tier nations to face an outbreak, are identifying perhaps 1 infection in 12. Globally, the ratio of undetected to detected cases, says the Economist, may be around 20 to 1.

In my emails from readers, in Bob Woodward’s book, in the general perceptions of Americans, the effects are becoming bizarre from not leveling with ourselves about the disease’s true spread. When the president comes down with the virus, it is deeply concerning but not deeply shocking. We’re talking about a disease that has likely spread through 710 million people, nearly one-tenth of mankind, in nine months.

If we are missing 90% of cases in the U.S. and 95% in the world, this has obvious implications for the death risk from Covid—it is flu-like. And yet responsible news organizations and institutions like Johns Hopkins continue to invite their audiences to compare Covid’s death tally against a “confirmed” case count devoid of systematic meaning. This is the statistical equivalent of sampling subjects at the morgue and in kindergartens to estimate the fatality rate of people involved in car accidents. You will certainly find individuals who survived and didn’t survive car accidents, but your computed rate will be nonsense. I have news for Americans: All of our data about the prevalence and deadliness of the flu are estimates, except for pediatric deaths, which are actually counted. If, as we do with Covid, we relied on “confirmed” flu tests for how many are infected and what percentage die, we would be wildly and catastrophically misinformed about the flu’s real prevalence and its real deadliness.

Our country would have been better off if the reality principle had been drummed into its head from the start. An easily transmitted respiratory disease, with a longish incubation period and symptomless spread, is exceedingly likely to go world-wide before we even know it exists. That’s been the case with Covid. Of course politics makes it mandatory and unavoidable for politicians to be seen waving their arms to protect us from such a disease, but most of what they do will be ancillary in effect. The informed actions we take as individuals are the overwhelming factor in how rapidly the disease spreads, and whether the most vulnerable are shielded, buying time for vaccine makers and treatment developers.

At the same time—fasten your seat belts, media people, because we are introducing a second consideration—it would be irresponsible to subordinate all other human values and needs to avoiding Covid.

Dumping on Mr. Pence for a societal preference for denial and tomfoolery would not be fair. Still, I come back to a symbolically pivotal moment when, on March 27, he presented himself on CNBC, a news network where intelligent questions are asked. When the CDC was frankly but too quietly guiding the American people that most of us could expect to encounter the virus, when Angela Merkel was saying 70% of Germans could be infected, when New Jersey’s health commissioner was telling residents that she expected to be infected and so should they, Mr. Pence ducked a simple and straightforward question: Should most Americans expect to get the disease? That was a missed chance to start the country down the road to realism about the new coronavirus.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/job-one-for-the-veep-explain-covid-11602025818?mod=opinion_featst_pos2

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The Obama-Biden Virus Response

Easier and easier to forget when as you age. mrossol 

WSJ 8/22/2020 by Kimberly Strassel

Is it reasonable to blame a single politician for the spread of a highly infectious virus, especially in a free country with 50 states and 330 million people? Joe Biden is lucky that wasn’t the standard a decade ago.

If the Democratic convention produced one theme it’s that Donald Trump is personally at fault for every coronavirus death. The message is that crazy, that blunt. Kamala Harris: “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives.” Barack Obama: “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe: 170,000 Americans dead.”

Democrats even claim Mr. Biden saved lives in 2014. Michelle Obama: “Our leaders had worked hand in hand with scientists to help prevent an Ebola outbreak from becoming a global pandemic.” Ms. Harris last week: “Remember that pandemic? Barack Obama and Joe Biden did their job. Only two people died in the United States.”

Ebola is a terrifying disease, but outbreaks tend to happen only in very poor nations, and if caught early the virus is difficult to transmit outside hospitals. Anthony Fauci said in 2014 that a U.S. outbreak was “very, very, very unlikely.” Mr. Obama told Americans to chill out: “Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch. It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu.”

The Ebola example is designed to divert attention from a more relevant comparison: the H1N1 swine-flu outbreak of 2009-10. Democrats don’t like to talk about H1N1, because it didn’t go well. If it had been as deadly as Covid-19, the toll would have been catastrophic. The history is a powerful reminder that governments can’t stop a virus—although they can make epidemics worse.

H1N1 began much like corona, with panicked stories in late April 2009 about a novel “hybrid” flu strain in Mexico that was popping up in the U.S. It was even more alarming, in that it especially affected children. Yet the new administration began with a muddled message. Mr. Obama encouraged calm, while Mr. Biden rambled a warning about staying off airplanes and public transport—prompting backlash. “Biden’s flu gaffe a headache for Obama,” read one headline.

Within days, some 30 states had suspected cases, and by April 27 the U.S. had its first death, a 23-month-old child. Other countries started shutting facilities, telling citizens to stay home, quarantining visitors. The Obama administration still had no idea how deadly the disease was, though the World Health Organization called the outbreak a threat to “all humanity,” and health experts predicted hospitals would be overloaded.

The administration nonetheless took a resigned approach to its spread. Mr. Obama didn’t close the Mexican border, saying that would “be akin to closing the barn doors after the horses are out.” His officials did declare a health emergency (Mr. Obama was golfing that day) and distributed the national stockpile (which they never replenished). The administration recommended schools “consider” closing if experiencing an outbreak, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief said this might not help with spread and warned about taking kids out of classrooms. No one considered a national lockdown, especially not an administration focused on a fragile economic recovery. Mr. Obama promised to “control” the “impact” of the virus—not the virus itself. He asked Congress for all of $1.5 billion.

Authorities grew more optimistic as H1N1 turned out to be less deadly than had been feared, but they still faced the risk of an uglier strain in the fall. Team Obama promised 100 million doses of vaccine by mid-October. (A flu vaccine is easier to produce than a coronavirus vaccine). But government setbacks in production, manufacturing and dosing protocols resulted in only 11 million doses, prompting national outrage. By that point, the CDC estimated 22 million Americans had been infected, 36,000 children hospitalized, and 540 kids had died.

Before Covid-19, Democrats were willing to admit they’d dodged a bullet. Former Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said at Texas A&M in 2019: “We did every possible thing wrong. Sixty million Americans got H1N1 in that period of time, and it is just purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass-casualty events in American history. [It] had nothing to do with us doing anything right; just had to do with luck. If anyone thinks that can’t happen again, they don’t have to go back to 1918. Just go back to 2009, 2010. Imagine a virus with a different lethality, and you can just do the math.”

Yes, let’s do the math. The U.S. has some five million reported cases of coronavirus and 170,000 deaths. A virus with the spread of H1N1 and fatality rate of Covid-19 could produce a death toll approaching two million. The Trump administration response has been flawed—in particular its initial testing delays. But let’s acknowledge (as Democrats once did) that there is only so much government can do to “control” a germ. As for distributing equipment, providing antivirals and developing a vaccine, the current response has so far met or exceeded 2009-10. Mr. Biden is free to argue he’s a better man for the White House; he shouldn’t get to rewrite history, or virology.

Write to kim@wsj.com.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-obama-biden-virus-response-11597966209

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