William James once intoned (I’m paraphrasing) that most people think they are thinking, when they are actually just rearranging their prejudices.
We have had a “masterclass” in mass delusion and playing hopscotch with prejudices through the COVID cacophony and confusion.
A report stridently blares out, as pointed out by AIER, supermarkets are the primary location in which to catch COVID. Ye gads! Even there we’re not safe! Actually, it’s a blatant distortion brought about by “conflating.”
The UK’s Test and Trace App found that within an identified “six” (you read that right) days of November, of those who tested “positive” (which, yet again, is NOT the same as “catching COVID” given the glorious unreliability of the prevailing testing regime), a towering 18.3% had also visited a supermarket! I wonder what percentage used a commode or drank water?
Let us also cheerily remind ourselves that this is a resoundingly mild virus for 99.8% of the population, with an infection fatality rate of around 0.05% for those under 70. So, the relevance of all this “tracking” and “tracing” is somewhat elusive as well.
The once grand paper of record, The NY Times, is today on this among other topics, a veritable fount of misinformation. It blared forth that States with fewest restrictions now had the worst “outbreaks.” The last word needs attention, as they cutely (or not) shifted the metric from “deaths” (which in no way lends itself to this conclusion) to “cases” (or rather “positive tests”) a.k.a. now “outbreaks.” Then, if you do this, it’s important to realize the worst hit on the East Coast were hardly doing massive testing when bearing the initial brunt. Then tests became widely available, and we manically started testing the healthy! This then gives you high “positives” particularly among small populations.
The NY Times is particularly skilled at skewering the truth through bizarre headlines. Speaking of the Rapid Antigen Tests being promoted by outlier “quack” institutions — you know like Harvard and Yale — and endorsed by WHO and CDC, the headline sounds definitive,
“A Rapid Virus Test Falters in People Without Symptoms, Study Finds.”
Actually as you traipse through the piece you discover that the PCR test, which is expensive, has an extended turnaround time, is renowned for false positives, and prone to errors based on amplification settings, is being replaced for practical screening in various settings by Antigen tests which are less sensitive and pick up contagiousness in closer to real time. Hence if their results “always agreed” that would render the Antigen test a strange solution to purported PCR test distortions. And where they veered most widely apart was relative to asymptomatic people, where the level of contagiousness and viral load is far from settled science.
Otherwise, when re-testing, by adjusting the amplification settings to where globally most scientists, researchers and labs have advised, the results were almost harmonized, when the PCR test wasn’t amplifying such that it may pick up viral debris or strands that aren’t live. Moreover, in many of the discrepancy cases, it is likely that it is the PCR test that “faltered” not the other way around. In those cases, the researchers were also unable to grow the coronavirus out of samples from volunteers whose PCR tests had C.T. values above 27.
“If I don’t have live virus, I am not infectious at all,”
the lead doctor wrote.
The rebuttal from the paper? Another specialist who said that “was not definitive.” However, why not? In fact, to check the PCR test, as per one of the key nostrums of scientific verifiability (whether under the rubric of Koch’s Postulates or otherwise), that is precisely what you would do!
As per the “not definitive camp”, we have a test that is being challenged on the grounds of whether it accurately pegs the infectious, and when confronted by the inability of samples from those it says are “positive” to “infect” as a key corroborator, isn’t that fairly decisive?
We Dare Not Question
So called “leading” public journals have done revisionist hatchet jobs galore. Johns Hopkins via its student newspaper covered a lecture by Dr. Genevieve Briand, an applied Economics Assistant Program Director, who had the temerity, the outlandish gall, to review publicly available data, and actually “analyze” it!
In reviewing data re COVID-19 deaths as provided by the CDC, she found accounting aberrations, the most glaring being the reclassification of deaths from other diseases, say heart disease, because the individual also tested positive for C-19. Based on this and other oddities, for example mortality going up across all age brackets equally, in direct contradiction to all findings about the age specificity of COVID-19 mortality by an overwhelming percentage (above 65 with pre-existing conditions), she was unsure there actually was any excess mortality in 2020.
This heresy once it was discovered by notable sites who highlighted it, led to almost immediate “excommunication” (the article was taken down). The rationale given by JHU was a tissue of taffy. They claimed it was being
“used to support false and dangerous inaccuracies about the impact of the pandemic.”
Next up, they cast aspersions on Dr. Briand’s position as an economist rather than public health expert.
There is so much that is wrong here one scarcely knows where to begin. But very quickly, attacking a faculty member’s lecture with unsubstantiated assertions of how “dangerous” it is unfairly tarnishes a reputation, and puts whoever the “censor” is in the vainglorious position of ‘knowing’ what constitutes “danger” as opposed to “challenge” or “rigor” or “speaking truth to power,” all things we should value and cheer in a researcher or academic. Secondly, it was data analysis. What it is “used” for cannot be an indictment of the material. We know historical madmen who were drunk on Kantian metaphysics or swooned over Wagner, should Kant and Wagner be “delisted” on this basis?
What would JHU’s position have been in chastising a student bringing attention to once “scandalous” views on suffrage or civil rights legislation or the war in Vietnam or any of many heady, volatile discussion points, by which society moves forward?
Dr. Fauci, the WHO and others, the US Surgeon General, have done more vacillating, sheer policy calisthenics without alluding to any new science or findings or data to justify their metamorphosis (we’ve gone from no lockdown to lockdown, no masks to masks, no asymptomatic spread to “gee, I don’t know”), for anyone to just gape dewy eyed at the utterances of the so called “credentialed.”
The review of data is not outside the ken of an Economics specialist, surely. Frankly, a degree in astrophysics was not required, and anyway the “content” of someone’s thought is hardly invalidated on the basis of credentials. There is a rather famous patent clerk who was not a towering physics professor when he changed our understanding of the universe with Relativity. That is an extreme, but remains on point, though here, no such transcendent genius was required for the points being made to be worth attention. And others, scientists actually, have raised the same concerns.
Anyway, Dr. Briand can take some heart from the fact, that Dr. Sunetra Gupta, despite being objectively one of the world’s premier epidemiological experts and hailing from that other fairly well known university, Oxford, was savaged and pilloried for daring to be one of the driving and guiding forces behind The Great Barrington Declaration. The attacks were dripping with venom and puerile misunderstanding, frothing with outrage, over the suggestion that lockdowns are immoral and unsustainable and on the facts don’t work (verifiable); that the disease affects different demographics differently and we should endeavor to protect them, and let others keep the world and its economies functioning.
Surely we shudder! Dear God, eugenics can barely compare to the dastardly impertinence of this recommendation, expertise or no!
Truly, I josh…
The Actual Case for “Excess Deaths”
Okay, so let’s actually head onto where those proverbial and perhaps actual angels fear to tread.
It has been explicitly stated that the protocol in the US has been that if you die, and are also tested positive for COVID, you are classified as a “COVID death” whether or not that was the primary underlying cause of death. We know of instances, cited recently in New Jersey hospitals, where a large percentage of “deaths” affiliated with COVID among a pool of 1,380 people roughly, were ascribed to those who already had a “DNR” (Do Not Resuscitate) order! That this slightly skews perceptions goes without saying.
However, CDC data is somewhat more specific overall, mercifully. A Chemistry professor undertook to unravel the data confusion and as of September 2nd, the CDC was indicating 169,044 COVID-19 involved or “associated” deaths. More technically, these were deaths associated with “non-specific cold and flu systems.” Comorbidities however included things like car accidents, gunshot wounds and poisoning! A rather vast amphitheater of supporting villains it has to be admitted.
So, the progression we are told is SARS-CoV-2, the virus, causes in some instances the disease, COVID-19 which can manifest in those afore-said “nonspecific cold and flu symptoms.” In a minority of cases, in addition to the symptoms of fever, coughing, sore throat, dyspnea, muscle aches, this can graduate to a lower respiratory tract infection leading to pneumonia, and to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and ultimately death. Taking therefore a chorus of CDC and other expert testimony, the “canonical” death certificate for C-19 is COVID-19 as the underlying cause of pneumonia which is recorded as the intermediate cause of ARDS (the acute respiratory distress), which is recorded as the direct cause of death.
Fortunately, CDC reports statistics relating when ARDS is the primary cause of death. From February 2020 to September 2nd, the number of deaths directly so attributed were 22,745! Put another way, 13% of the “listed” as C-19 deaths conform to what you would expect where COVID made a primary contribution to that death.
This is shocking in itself, and if you ask, could COVID-19 not exacerbate other illnesses in a decisive way without any onset of ARDS, the answer is “possibly” but it is largely speculation. The only “research” we know of, in certain populations, shows at most a 10% presence of C-19 as a potential major contributor to fatality without some form of pneumonia also being engendered. Let us leave it as a currently open question begging for dispassionate further investigation.
The CDC separates deaths into five categories: respiratory diseases, circulatory diseases, malignant neoplasm, Alzheimer disease and dementia, and other “select causes.”
Relevant to malignant neoplasm, 2020 has been pretty standard. All the others had a spike between week 15 and 20, this corresponds to the so called “first wave” of April and May. They all, also show a relative decline from week 15 to week 25, and a second wave seemingly peaking around week 30 and week 35. What is bizarre, is how respiratory illnesses seem a real anomaly.
From weeks 18–22, respiratory disease deaths are LESS in 2020 than previous years. How can that possibly be so with the planetary scourge afoot? But we still blame it, for all other increase in deaths from other causes?
Most notable excess deaths after week 20 are from circulatory disease, which include hypertension, stroke, congestive heart failure, myocardia ischemia, etc. Now, C-19 “could” contribute, say, if you’re on a ventilator for 30 days and that triggers a heart attack. And it’s possible, someone responding to a “Code Blue” lists the heart attack without the history.
Equally, on the other side of the ledger, someone is brought in with a cardiac arrest, has a nasal swab done, and dies in the Emergency Department. Filling out a death certificate, as ordered, with a positive PCR test, this patient is listed as a COVID death.
However, there are financial incentives “against” the first error and financial incentives in the US (in terms of insurance payments and otherwise) “for” the second error. So, we can ask which one we think is more likely to occur.
But why would there be a potential excess of myocardial infarction? The lack of maintenance was glaring and urgent health care was vastly less available over lockdown periods and regimes, and taken together, that “could” be the at the least the partial culprit.
This becomes even clearer looking at Alzheimer’s and dementia. It is really hard to construe that C-19 could be the precipitating factor here. Except insofar as maintenance care, so often needed daily in this arena, declined precipitously over “lockdown” and doubtless that, and so only very indirectly — COVID having inspired a collective loss of sanity and judgment on an epic scale — was an indirect “cause.”
Yet during the April peak, excess deaths from dementia were greater than any “excess deaths” from all respiratory disease! As Dr. Gilbert Berdine, who conducted this primary analysis intones with pithy yet apt finality, “death by lockdown.”
Every Bloody, Blooming Thing Has Been Farcically Wrong!
So, what are we to make of mass absurdity, repeated so blatantly, so unrepentedly, as to seem “mainstream?” Because everything asserted from the outset of this tragicomedy has been wrong.
“One size fits all.”
It took Professor John Ionnidis and Dr. David Katz to bring our attention to the fact that vulnerability here re COVID-19 was overwhelmingly concentrated in those above 65 with pre-existing conditions. If this were repeatedly understood and focused on, then shutting down the planet at large, undermining our ability going forward to be economically viable enough to protect the vulnerable was simply insane. With the rest of the demographic profile having no more danger than we do with influenza or the flu, that being clarified and reaffirmed as it has been consistently, should have called off the mass panic and this whole vaccine pageant months ago.
“Tremble before the asymptomatic.”
When deaths were not forthcoming and “symptomatic” positive cases began to flounder, centuries of medical practice was uprooted in one fell swoop by asserting “asymptomatic contagiousness” on scant to no evidence, which remains the case, outside of a few isolated, unverified lab studies today. So, on the basis of this superstition, bolstered by “positive tests” detached from symptoms, the frameworks of society and civilization as we knew it, have been devastatingly compromised. This also then “justifies” mass masking and other totemic demonstrations of compliance.
“We have a test”
Well, actually we don’t. Peer review of the diagnostic application of a test (PCR) its inventor clearly said was never intended for diagnosis but for “detection” was rushed through at an unprecedented pace. A retraction is now being sought by leading specialists on evident grounds that range from acute sensitivity and amplification levels, the inability of the test to detect the difference between “live” virus and fragments or debris, and the inevitability of “false positives” increasing as prevalence goes down. And furthermore, as we started “proactively testing” and detached that from symptoms, then the carnival was in full force.
Because the mass testing of the symptom free, and basing the “results” of that on a non-diagnostic test (hence in the second “wave” the “positive tests” posing as “cases” have been so decoupled from any sustained corresponding increase in mortality) as the basis for compromising everything else on the planet: all other medical care, the survival of businesses, education, poverty, is so gratuitous and so grotesque as to defy apt characterization.
“Look at all the deaths.”
And more legerdemain! First when seroprevalence studies make it clear many more have been “infected” than we have “tested,” we realize we need the “infection fatality rate” not the “case fatality rate.” And once you make that switch and run the analysis on the basis of antibodies and other markers, the IFR (infection fatality rate) plummets to median influenza levels. In some parts of the world, it goes below that.
Sixty million die each year in the world from various causes. At the “hyped” COVID death numbers, 1.5 million if truly “excess” would be about 2.5%. But we cannot assert it is “excess” as deaths from other factors seem to have dropped off, either because they are not being counted, or they are being clustered as “COVID deaths” in many regimes, where the mere “presence” of C-19, as explained above, makes it a “COVID death.”
We have a “cure.”
We lock up the world, take your civil liberties, disable education for your children, bankrupt our economies, order your businesses to be shut, provide no exit plan, explain or justify none of the above, allow no public dissent or debate re cost/benefit and “acceptable risk.”
By destroying the livelihood and commercial vitality of the planet for a virus based on “modeling,” our “cure” is a penal infusion never used since the Middle Ages, trumpeted in a college paper based on extrapolations by those with zero public health experience. Our “cure” was not in any prior public health playbook, had been conceptually rejected by the WHO all through 2019. And then Wuhan, the optics of Lombardy, and panic begat panic. However, now we see, lockdown regimes did no better, and in fact quite a bit worse in many instances, than jurisdictions that either had no “lockdown” or a mild version, with targeted restrictions for very limited periods of time.
“Masks can mitigate.”
No, they don’t. Some physical distancing can help, being outdoors more often where transmissibility is virtually nil is even better. The aerosols and droplets by which an infected person infects someone else are too small to be seen, and cloth masks, particularly with a gap between mask and face, offer virtually no defense. This is easily verified in the medical literature by anyone interested.
Surgical masks are better, but again infectious disease specialists and surgeons are in accord: they catch at most 50% of such particles, and that is a generous assessment. And these are “fitted.” To really stop these minute viral particles, you need a respirator, fully fitted, and sealed. These are usually worn at most for a few hours at a time. The cloth mask regime is a mindless cult foisted upon us. Essentially, we touch the masks, infecting them, they catch God knows what on them and become a potential breeding ground if not frequently sanitized. Eyes are still exposed. And as we breathe out CO2, the quality of our oxygen supply is undermined to dangerous levels according to many experts who point out that the resulting quality of oxygen would be outlawed in European workplaces, and we are then essentially breathing our own waste.
Numerous studies show such masks make no difference re influenza and viral transmission. The studies may not be perfect, but they seem “almost” unanimous, including from Hong Kong, Vietnam (focused on cloth masks) and now Denmark (focused more on surgical masks).
So, all lies, or at least distortions. And don’t ever, ever ask this bloody obvious question
“What do we do next time?”
Does even the most ardent zealot think we can possibly afford this self-destructive playbook ever again? So, if we learn nothing, emerge with no better public health wisdom or knowledge but to have included ineffectual masks and Middle Age penal prescriptions, while detonating the equivalent of a civilizational neutron bomb, do we truly feel confident we are ready for whatever may come next?
One of the reasons the “modelers” were so incorrect about death toll we are being told is they assumed immunological “naivete” relative to C-19. As we now know, exposure to other coronaviruses, the possibility C-19 has been circulating for much longer, clearly provided some in-built immunity that has tempered its impact.
But now, as we are seeking to cordon off our immune systems, one has to fear that future varietals may not find us similarly “gifted” and the current vaccines may or may not provide requisite protection (as we see from needing a flu vaccine each year).
The Failure to Think
We bequeathed to celebrities’ gravitas they never earned, unable to separate out “stature” from “status.” This prepared us for the myopic gullibility of complying with whatever officialdom has told us, and the flashing media porn, detached from accountability has further reinforced this. As someone pointed out, education was about learning “how to think.” Today, our quite flimsy, assertion-heavy and rational critique-lite culture focuses on indoctrinating us on “what to think,” and then we gain our tribal stripes accordingly.
Since we don’t think about implications, of how hospitals are incentivized, how “positive test” numbers masquerade as “cases” and somehow “imply” impending deaths, we don’t seem to “mind” when it all shifts. Someone somewhere, the perennial “they” (as in “they are now saying,”) has our back.
Well, it’s all there if we wish to sieve it, review it, respond to it, and exercise those unalienable rights alluded to lo those centuries ago. And the author of those lines warned us democracy would fail without an educated electorate. And he didn’t mean “literate” or even “schooled” but willingly, meaningfully educated.
In a different vein, arguing for the right to teach Darwin in schools, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee have their protagonist (loosely modeled after Clarence Darrow) say in exasperation,
“Then, why did God plague us with the ability to think?”
He argues we have few other merits, when the butterfly is more beautiful, the mosquito more prolific, and even a simple sponge more durable. Other animals are faster and stronger. This ‘plague’ is our defining, distinguishing characteristic, and allows us also to ponder, to wonder, and thereby build a bridge to our emotions and spirit as well, if we allow for flow rather than dogmatic fortifications.
So, we are endowed with the privilege and the capacity to be able to think, and thereby equipped to sanely opine, and also to meaningfully feel. What “plagues” do we unleash when we refuse to do so?