There is a lot of bleak news about Covid in the news these days.
Cases are up.
Tests are also up.
This chart shows that cases are largely following the trend in tests. However, you can see that the summer months undoubtedly inhibited the transmission of the virus. All respiratory viruses are seasonal and as we enter the winter months this undoubtedly has a lot to do with this wave in the virus.
Adjusted for testing increases, this chart suggests that the current wave is still less severe than what we saw last Spring at this point.
In fact, more Covid tests were done in the last five days than were done for the flu in the last five years.
We are now approaching 2 million tests being administered each day.
This chart gives you some context to show how testing in the United States compares to some other major countries. The U.S. and U.K. are testing far more per capita than almost anywhere else in the world. That carries additional emphasis in the U.S. since the U.S. population is so much larger and geographically diverse than the U.K.
|Tests per 1,000 population|
Bear in mind that Joe Biden and his experts claim that the main solution to the problem is "more testing" needs to be done.
Deaths have also risen with the recent wave but they still are not at the level we saw last April even though about 6 times the number of confirmed cases are being reported as there were last Spring.
All of this bleak Covid case data has resulted in another round of bleak news regarding economic lockdowns, further quarantine orders and school closures.
Some of the measures seem to be particularly bleak in the message they send.
In Oregon, the Governor wants residents to call the police to report neighbors who may be violating her order that no more than six people can gather in a single household. This is the same governor who has been sympathetic in the people in her state who want to defund the police.
In Nevada, you now need a reservation to go to a fast food restaurant.
In New Mexico, they have actually shut down grocery stores for two weeks who have had more than four rapid response positive tests within a 14-day period.
It is bleak indeed.
However, the bleakest news the last couple of weeks has been for the experts who claimed that all of these measures we have had to take were due to the "science".
Let's look at some interesting developments in that regard that have been published in scientific papers I have come across in the last couple of weeks.
Let's consider deaths first. Every day we hear the count of Covid deaths.
You can't get away from it. However, keep in mind that between 50,000 and 70,000 people die in the United States every week. Deaths also increase every year in the winter months. Before 2020 even started, it was projected that somewhere over 2.8 million people would die in the United States this year. That means that even with an expansive definition of Covid deaths they will represent less than 10% of all deaths in the United States this year.
A recent paper that was published by Genevieve Briand, who is assistant program director of the Applied Economics master's degree program at Johns Hopkins University, takes a detailed look at the CDC death statistics. That study indicates that there have been no overall increases in deaths in the United States since the Covid pandemic began nor has there been any change in the percentage of deaths of any age group.
(Go to this archived link if the article in the Johns Hopkins Newsletter no longer exists. After writing this, I found that JHU may have taken this article down. I wonder why?)
The narrative you hear in the news would suggest that we would be showing an increasing percentage of deaths particularly in those who are older. However, that is not shown in the CDC data according to Briand.
Deaths in all age groups have been relatively steady in all age groups both pre and post Covid.
Surprisingly, the deaths of older people stayed the same before and after COVID-19. Since COVID-19 mainly affects the elderly, experts expected an increase in the percentage of deaths in older age groups. However, this increase is not seen from the CDC data. In fact, the percentages of deaths among all age groups remain relatively the same.
“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,” Briand said.
Briand also noted that 50,000 to 70,000 deaths are seen both before and after COVID-19, indicating that this number of deaths was normal long before COVID-19 emerged. Therefore, according to Briand, not only has COVID-19 had no effect on the percentage of deaths of older people, but it has also not increased the total number of deaths.
These data analyses suggest that in contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.
How could there be relatively no effect on overall deaths in the United States if we are told we have tens of thousands of Covid deaths?
It appears that as Covid deaths went up other deaths decreased by almost identical amounts.
For example, look at this chart that shows the period in April when Covid deaths were the highest.
|Credit: Genevieve Briand|
Notice how as Covid deaths increased that deaths due to other causes dropped (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, flu etc) on a week to week basis.
Is it a pandemic if overall deaths over the course of the year remained essentially unchanged?
Another interesting study was recently released that undercuts the narrative that much of the spread of the virus is being caused by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic cases.
A peer-reviewed study in The Lancet indicates that it is unlikely that Covid-19 is being spread in asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals.
It also calls into question PCR testing as an effective method in identifying infectious disease. The length of time that viable virus is present in an individual for it to be transmitted to another person is also short-lived (5-9 days) although testing may pick up the virus for longer periods of time. In no case did the study find live virus present beyond 9 days even in cases with high viral loads.
Our study shows that despite evidence of prolonged SARS-CoV-2 RNA shedding in respiratory and stool samples, viable virus appears to be short-lived. Therefore, RNA detection cannot be used to infer infectiousness.
Our study shows that isolation practices should be commenced with the start of first symptoms, which can include mild and atypical symptoms, preceding typical symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough and fever.
In other words, asymptomatic cases are not spreading the virus or are those who are pre-symptomatic. The study indicates that some symptoms (although they may be mild) have to be present in order for the virus to be infectious.
If that is the case then we are back where we were in January where Michael Osterholm, one of the experts on Joe Biden's Covid task force, made the statement below. This was in response to early reports that Covid could be spread by asymptomatic carriers.