It was never about “Science”

The post, signed by 1,200 public health specialists, advocating for public demonstrations in spite of the threat of COVID-19, has effectively put the stake in the heart of the idea that the lockdowns were about public health.  Strolling through the credentials, there are plenty of Professors, Epidemiologists, and other medical doctors who’ve suddenly discovered that the threat of white supremacy outweighs the threat of the virus.

This of course, is pretty much a confirmation of what I and many others suspected, that it was never about science.  So if you’ve been yapping about “science” being the reason for the lockdowns for the past few months, give it a rest, you’ve been found out.

So no to church, yes to rioting, because science.

Consider some of the credentialed scientists who are extolling their newfound woke science.

And who is Dr Nuzzo?  According to her Wikipedia bio:

“Jennifer Nuzzo (born August 27, 1977) is an American epidemiologist, an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Nuzzo co-lead the development of the Global Health Security Index, an assessment of global health security capabilities in 195 countries, performed by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security together with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). She is the director and principal investigator of the Outbreak Observatory, a research project working to document infectious disease outbreaks and how governments respond to them. Nuzzo serves as an associate editor of the Health Security journal.

Nuzzo has often appeared in the media discussing how health systems to respond to outbreaks. She has helped bring attention to dangers of delaying vaccination,the spread of the ebola virus, and the 2019–2020 coronavirus pandemic.”

Frankly, she sounds like she is qualified and credentialed out the ass, and is still an idiot. After this, why should I ever listen to her?  Woke Science isn’t science; it’s just wokeness with credentials.

Of course, I can scarcely imagine the anger of someone who was denied the right to attend a loved one’s funeral, or spend their last moments with them as they lay dying.  Would any of those people ever trust public health officials again?

Next up of course, are the evil twins to the two faced public health officials,  the two faced politician.  New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy gives a great twitter example of this kind of hypocrisy (thanks to lefty journalist Glenn Greenwald for pointing these out).

But guided by data, not emotion is so last month.  Now mass gatherings are great!

…and at the same time, we continue the Potemkin village of public health.

This of course blends right into the Face Mask madness I wrote about a few weeks ago.  From the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine:

As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to explode, hospital systems are scrambling to intensify their measures for protecting patients and health care workers from the virus. An increasing number of frontline providers are wondering whether this effort should include universal use of masks by all health care workers. Universal masking is already standard practice in Hong Kong, Singapore, and other parts of Asia and has recently been adopted by a handful of U.S. hospitals.

We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.

Aww, so it was just to make us feel better!

Is there anything we’ve been told that’s true?

In a way, this is a return to what we went through in 1968-1969 with the Hong Kong Flu.  As I wrote about last month, we went through a pandemic during the same time period that we went through “the Prague Spring, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the White Album was released, and of course, man landing on the moon and Woodstock.”

And Vietnam of course.

I suppose Pandemic hysteria is what you freak out about when nothing else is going on.  Well now there is a lot more going on.

How Did we ever survive the Hong Kong Flu?

The NY Post had a story of life during the pandemic; the 1968-69 Hong Kong Flu Pandemic.  That was one that featured over 100,000 deaths in the US, but if you check the history books, there doesn’t seem to be much about it.  It was a thing, and public health was concerned, but there was nothing like the mindless hysteria that swept across the US and the world this year for a very similar virus.  Of course historically, 1968 and 1969 were extremely busy years.  The Prague Spring, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the White Album was released, and of course, man landing on the moon and Woodstock.

Woodstock was actually what the Post story was about.

Why American life went on as normal during the killer pandemic of 1969

Patti Mulhearn Lydon, 68, doesn’t have rose-colored memories of attending Woodstock in August 1969. The rock festival, which took place over four days in Bethel, NY, mostly reminds her of being covered in mud and daydreaming about a hot shower.

…And all of this happened during a global pandemic in which over 1 million people died.  H3N2 (or the “Hong Kong flu,” as it was more popularly known) was an influenza strain that the New York Times described as “one of the worst in the nation’s history.” The first case of H3N2, which evolved from the H2N2 influenza strain that caused the 1957 pandemic, was reported in mid-July 1968 in Hong Kong. By September, it had infected Marines returning to the States from the Vietnam War. By mid-December, the Hong Kong flu had arrived in all 50 states.

But schools were not shut down nationwide, other than a few dozen because of too many sick teachers. Face masks weren’t required or even common. Though Woodstock was not held during the peak months of the H3N2 pandemic (the first wave ended by early March 1969, and it didn’t flare up again until November of that year), the festival went ahead when the virus was still active and had no known cure.

Sounds like a bunch of selfish punks trying to enjoy Spring Break.  At least that’s how they would be viewed now.  But the past is a different country, and the United States was a different country.

“Life continued as normal,” said Jeffrey Tucker, the editorial director for the American Institute for Economic Research. “But as with now, no one knew for certain how deadly [the pandemic] would turn out to be. Regardless, people went on with their lives.”

Which, he said, isn’t all that surprising. “That generation approached viruses with calm, rationality and intelligence,” he said. “We left disease mitigation to medical professionals, individuals and families, rather than politics, politicians and government.”

But Corona is different because reasons!

Aside from the different reactions to H3N2 and COVID-19, the similarities between them are striking. Both viruses spread quickly and cause upper respiratory symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. They infect mostly adults over 65 or those with underlying medical conditions, but could strike people of any age. 

Both pandemics didn’t spare the rich and famous — Hitchcock actress Tallulah Bankhead and former CIA Director Allen Dulles succumbed to H3N2, while COVID-19 has taken the lives of singer-songwriter John Prine and playwright Terrence McNally, among others. President Lyndon Johnson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey both fell ill from H3N2 and recovered, as did UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson from COVID-19 last month.

Even more similarities abound.

During both pandemics, horror stories abounded — from the bodies stored in refrigerated trucks in New York last month to corpses stored in subway tunnels in Germany during the H3N2 outbreak. 

Those who had H3N2 and survived describe a health battle that sounds eerily similar to COVID. “The coughing and difficulty breathing were the worst but it was the lethargy that kept me in bed,” said Jim Poling Sr., the author of “Killer Flu: The World on the Brink of a Pandemic,” who caught the virus while studying at Columbia University. “X-rays after recovery showed scarring at the bottom of my left lung.”

But still, the country moved on, got up, went to work, and did what it had to do.  Millennial-Nation on the other hand, wants everything to STOP until there is absolutely positively, no more risk.

The average person used to be smart enough to understand that every day walking out the front door was a risk, as was deciding to not walk out the door. Apparently we’re a much dumber country now, so going forward one can only wonder how we’ll deal with seasonal flu since we now regard normal risk as something only a crazy person would entertain.

Brave Dumb World.

Face Mask Madness

My favorite morning show has usually started off the opening of each show with a litany of “so what did you do last night” openers; the type of conversation starter used to kick off large cast morning shows for years.  That usually leads to some story highlighting drinking or some other stupidity to last until for the first commercial break.

But that was in the before times.

Now, the daily opening topic of conversation revolves around “I went to [fill in the blank] last night and so many dum dums were not wearing masks!”  Usually followed by a “hrrmph,” or “my word.”  The Karen’s in the Morning are only a symptom of how quickly the science and social convention have flipped on face masks.

Let’s step back into the wayback machine to that long ago era of less than two months ago.  It seems like a different age, but at that time the Surgeon General, back on March 2nd said:

“You can increase your risk of getting it by wearing a mask if you are not a health care provider,” Adams said. “Folks who don’t know how to wear them properly tend to touch their faces a lot and actually can increase the spread of coronavirus,” he added.

Adams’ comments Monday reiterate his blaring tweet from the weekend, urging people to “STOP BUYING MASKS.” He said that they were “NOT effective” to the general public and noted that the increased demand in masks puts medical professionals at risk.”

Besides the Surgeon General, the CDC agreed with the boo masks policy.

“The CDC said last month it doesn’t recommend people use face masks, making the announcement on the same day that first case of person-to-person transmission of coronavirus was reported in the U.S.”

So that was the state of SCIENCE (PBUH) just a few weeks ago.  Masks were for dum dums.

But that was then…

Now of course, we live in a different age, in which to mask or not to mask has great social and legal significance. In Philadelphia the cops dragged a man off a bus for not wearing a mask, and there have been several fights over to mask or unmask.  At this stupid point of societal change, the face mask is a social statement.  The good people wear masks, and the ne’er-do-wells have none.

Mask shaming has elevated the nation’s Karen’s, who a mere two months ago were a mocked and derided group, into America’s version of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, seemingly authorized to wave their fingers in the face of any unmasked person and of course, waving the threat to call the manager.

I’d like to say that it takes a nation of Karen’s to keep me down, but in the past week I’ve twice had to go to places that required the mask, and…I wore the mask, fully aware that I was participating in a weird sort of face mask theater, where my wearing the mask was a social marker of approval more than any medical one.  I just find it bizarre how public attitudes can turn on a dime. Who knew it was so easy to manipulate human behavior?

Well they know now.

 

New York Was Always the Problem

I’ll give credit to The New York Times for outing their home town as the major source of COVID-19 infections in the United States.

Travel From New York City Seeded Wave of U.S. Outbreaks

“The coronavirus outbreak in New York City became the primary source of infections around the United States, researchers have found. 

New York City’s coronavirus outbreak grew so large by early March that the city became the primary source of new infections in the United States, new research reveals, as thousands of infected people traveled from the city and seeded outbreaks around the country.”

Thanks New York.

Just reading that, this leads to the obvious conclusion that Trump’s European travel ban was the right decision, however not so fast say the Times.  We can’t give Trump credit for nuthin’!

“During crucial weeks in March, New York’s political leaders waited to take aggressive action, even after identifying hundreds of cases, giving the virus a head start. And by mid-March, when President Trump restricted travel from Europe, the restrictions were essentially pointless, the data suggest, as the disease was already spreading widely within the country.  Acting earlier would most likely have blunted the virus’s march across the country, researchers say.”

Hear that?  Trump enacted the ban too late.  It seems like everyone has forgotten who opposed the ban in the first place.  As Breitbart reported:

House and Senate Democrats are responding to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States by supporting measures to effectively strip President Trump of his authority to impose travel bans to protect American citizens.

While Trump has implemented travel bans on China and Iran — two of the most coronavirus-affected nations in the world — House Democrats are looking to roll back the president’s authority to enact travel bans from regions of the world.

The “No Ban Act,” introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and co-sponsored by 219 House Democrats, would have prevented Trump from immediately implementing a travel ban on China once the outbreak of the coronavirus spread past its origins of Wuhan.

I don’t expect much action on the “No Ban Act” now, but it’s a good reflection on what sort of response we could have expected from the Democrats if they had been in charge.

The Incredibly Shrinking COVID-19 Fatality Rate

Almost all of our knowledge of this virus initially came from Chinese data, which we’ve simultaneously accepted uncritically as accurate and at the same time, suspected as a fake Chinese disinformation campaign.  Back in February we were thinking (again based on Chinese Data) that the case fatality rate was 2.3%

Instead as we’ve gathered real data in our own country, we’ve learned this:

The recent Stanford University antibody study now estimates that the fatality rate if infected is likely 0.1 to 0.2 percent, a risk far lower than previous World Health Organization estimates that were 20 to 30 times higher and that motivated isolation policies. 

In New York City, an epicenter of the pandemic with more than one-third of all U.S. deaths, the rate of death for people 18 to 45 years old is 0.01 percent, or 10 per 100,000 in the population. On the other hand, people aged 75 and over have a death rate 80 times that. For people under 18 years old, the rate of death is zero per 100,000.

A COVID-19 case fatality rate of 0.1 to 0.2 percent is far lower than the fatality rates that frightened us into shutting down our entire economy.  Meanwhile the WHO still estimates a CFR of 3.4%; definitely it’s far lower than a Case Fatality Rate of 17% for SARS, or a whopping 34% for MERS.

By comparison, the case fatality rate of the annual flu is estimated to be around 0.1%.  So based on the Stanford antibody study, the COVID-19 case fatality rate is pretty close to that.  So…still not the flu, but not that far off.

Of course the Stanford study isn’t the only antibody test being conducted.  There was the LA County Study which got similar results; a far higher penetration of COVID-19 than previously thought, with most of the cases being mild symptoms or asymptomatic.

There are more antibody studies underway and no doubt we’ll see more results like this over the next few weeks.  So what can we conclude from this?

  1. COVID-19 is far more infectious than previously thought, with possibly millions of people who may have already had the infection and never knew it.
  2. It’s a lot less fatal than previously thought, with far fewer fatalities per capita than initially estimated.

More Fudging the Numbers

Since I wrote about The New York Times article which highlighted that New York City was adding 3,700 extra deaths to their COVID-19 death count from deaths that didn’t have a positive Coronavirus positive test, I’ve come across several other reports of COVID fudging to increase the numbers.  I guess having invested so much credibility in promising the Apocalypse, government agencies seem determined to deliver one, even if it’s a statistical mirage.

The Powerline Blog alerted me to a story that ran on local TV news in which showed how the Minnesota Department of Health was fudging the numbers:

Dr. Scott Jensen is both a physician and a Minnesota state senator. Yesterday he was interviewed by a local television station and dropped a bombshell: he, and presumably all other Minnesota doctors, got a seven-page letter from the Minnesota Department of Health that gave guidance on how to classify COVID-19 deaths. The letter said that if a patient died of, e.g., pneumonia, and was believed to have been exposed to COVID-19, the death certificate should say that COVID-19 was the cause of death even though the patient was never tested, or never tested positive, for that disease.

Here is the link to the story that ran on station KVLY here.

Ohio is also adopting a much broader definition of COVID-19 deaths:

Ohio has adopted an expanded federal definition for counting coronavirus cases, but the reported numbers still will miss the vast majority of actual infections, said Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health.

Starting Friday, the state’s Covid-19 website lists “probable” cases alongside those confirmed by tests.

The good news is…

For now, Ohio will report that sum but also present presumed numbers separately from confirmed.

So there is hope that sometime in the future, after the hysteria has abated, we can separate the real numbers from the shady ones, at least in Ohio.

Of course this nonsense couldn’t go on without the CDC giving its blessing, and sure enough…

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. tally of coronavirus cases and deaths could soon jump because federal health officials will now count illnesses that are not confirmed by lab testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told states Tuesday to include probable COVID-19 cases in their reports to the agency. Previously, most states reported only lab-confirmed cases and deaths.

The change hasn’t caused U.S. counts to rise much faster than they had been, but officials in some states said they were just learning about the change. Pennsylvania, for example, has begun to follow the CDC and expand its reporting, Dr. Rachel Levine, the state’s secretary of health, said in a Wednesday call with reporters.

So there you have it, inaccurate numbers, dictated from the top.  If only we had a responsible press corps to ask about this during those daily Coronavirus briefings.

 

Fudging the Covid-19 Death Rate

On my last post, just when I was starting to get a little cocky on my prediction of the COVID-19 death rates being a lot closer to reality than virtually any of the models and dire predictions of the “experts,” some politicians and public health departments decided to stir the pot a bit and see if they could juice those numbers. From The New York Times:

“New York City, already a world epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, sharply increased its death toll by more than 3,700 victims on Tuesday, after officials said they were now including people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died of it.

The new figures, released by the city’s Health Department, drove up the number of people killed in New York City to more than 10,000, and appeared to increase the overall United States death count by 17 percent to more than 26,000.”

Now you are probably wondering, what could possibly be the criteria for including 3,700 extra deaths with no positive COVID-19 test?  Well there is an answer of sorts:

And in a city reeling from the overt danger posed by the virus, top health officials said they had identified another grim reality: The outbreak is likely to have also led indirectly to a spike in deaths of New Yorkers who may never have been infected.

Three thousand more people died in New York City between March 11 and April 13 than would have been expected during the same time period in an ordinary year, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the commissioner of the city Health Department, said in an interview. While these so-called excess deaths were not explicitly linked to the virus, they might not have happened had the outbreak not occurred, in part because it overwhelmed the normal health care system.

“This is yet another part of the impact of Covid,” she said, adding that more study was needed. Similar analysis is commonly done after heat waves and was performed in the wake of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

There is a lot to unpack there, but it boils down to, “more people died in the city this year than last year so….eh…corona.”

This is bullshit.

I wrote about the Hurricane Maria fake statistical analysis commissioned by Puerto Rico’s government two years ago as a means to do a federal money grab by juicing the numbers.  Not satisfied with the actual death rates from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico paid for a study that would ignore reality and produce, yes a statistical analysis that compared death rates with the previous year and any discrepancy was suddenly considered a hurricane death.

“New York City is among a handful of places in the country, including Connecticut, Ohio and Delaware, that are beginning to disclose cases where infection is presumed but not confirmed.

In California and Washington — locations of early cases in the American outbreak — officials said they included deaths as connected to Covid-19 only when the disease was confirmed by testing. Louisiana and Chicago followed the same protocol. “

Hmm…that would explain the lower than expected number of cases in California; they are only reporting actual cases!

Well thank goodness the CDC, an agency made up of actual doctors and scientists, would never tolerate this sort of slipshod nonsense.

“The C.D.C., in its guidance to local governments, has recommended that cases of “assumed” coronavirus infection be noted on death certificates since before New York City recorded its first death on March 14.“

Oh boy…

I get that the long trail of federal dollars associated with the coronavirus is a powerful incentive for state and local governments to cheat and goose the numbers up, but I admit I’m a bit shocked at how blatant the fraud is.  The New York Times article presented the story as just a fact of life that it was perfectly normal that the New York City Health Department felt that artificially inflating the death rates from COVID-19 was just a normal process of government.

I guess fraud is a normal process of government.

 

Coronavirus Predictions and Projections

All models are approximations. Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful. However, the approximate nature of the model must always be borne in mind. Statisticians, like artists, have the bad habit of falling in love with their models.

-George E. P. Box

The collapse of the COVID-19 models crashing against the shores of reality wasn’t unexpected for anyone used to the outlandish global warming model predictions, or actually any other model that’s used for public policy purposes. It’s just hard to model a simulation of reality. Forgetting to input one little thread of cause and effect can render your model useless for purposes of predicting the future behavior of…whatever it is you are trying to model.

Just for fun, recall that The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicted that the number of hospital beds, “On April 2, IHME predicted 262,092; on April 5, that was reduced to 140,823.”  And then it was wrong of course about April 5th: “The IHME projected on April 5 that hard hit New York would need about 24,000 hospital beds, including about 6,000 for ICU patients at that point; of course, April 5 has already happened, and New York announced that it had 16,479 people being hospitalized, including 4,376 ICU patients — i.e., the model was about a third off on the day it was published.”

Of course hospital beds are all well and good, but the money shot for all of these models is the death rate.  Mother Jones published a graphic on March 17th showing the Imperial College projections.

Notice (because this part has been left out in defense of these models) that these predictions include mitigation such as shut downs and social distancing. So where are we at now?  According to Bloomberg

“One of President Donald Trump’s top medical advisers slashed projections for U.S. coronavirus deaths on Thursday, saying that about 60,000 people may die — almost half as many as the White House estimated a week ago.”

60,000 people eh?  For reference, on March 24th I wrote this:

“If Covid-19 deaths fail to exceed annual flu deaths, than I was right, the hysteria was overblown, and I can return to my usual state of smugness.”

As a reminder of annual flu death numbers, for the 2017-2018 flu season the CDC estimate was 61,099 flu deaths.  For this season, the 2019-2020 flu season; the tentative estimates range 24,000-62,000 dead.

Frankly I’m feeling a little smug right now, but to fair, not too smug since this isn’t over and the current model’s 60,000 projection?

It’s just a model.

 

More on the Counting of COVID-19 Deaths

Since I wrote last week about the lack of consistency in recording or determining what counts as a Coronavirus caused death, others are noticing the same thing.  I caught an article at American Greatness which made similar points that I did, only from a more domestic viewpoint.  In Are COVID-19 Deaths Being Overreported? The author makes the point that the CDC doesn’t exactly have a rigid guideline for determining COVID-19 deaths.

“In cases where a definite diagnosis of COVID–19 cannot be made, but it is suspected or likely (e.g., the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty), it is acceptable to report COVID–19 on a death certificate as ‘probable’ or ‘presumed’,” the agency advises. “In these instances, certifiers should use their best clinical judgment in determining if a COVID–19 infection was likely.” That clinical judgment, alarmingly, does not require administering a test to confirm the presence of the virus.

So although I wasn’t surprised by last week’s research that Europe was slipshod in their statistics, I was disappointed that the CDC was just as loose.  I had assumed, and I suspect most American’s assumed, that a determination of death by COVID-19 would include an actual positive test for…COVID-19.

Again, as I noted last week, it sure would be nice if some reporters asked some real questions about these numbers and the criteria surrounding them at these Coronavirus press conferences instead of trying to troll Trump by slipping Red Chinese mouthpieces into the press conference.