Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Where Does "The Science" Take Us Next?

From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic we have been told to follow "the science."

Unfortunately, "the science" seems to change day by day. 

Consider just a few of the contradictions we have seen since the pandemic began about "the science."

As late as January 12 the World Health Organization (WHO) was stating that there was "no clear evidence of human to human transmission" regarding the virus. 

On February 3, in response to the travel ban that President Trump initiated with China on January 31, the WHO stated "there is no need to restrict travel in order to slow the spread."

That also was supposedly the best "science" at the time.

Masks were first stated to not be helpful in controlling the virus with the general public. Now they are said to be absolutely essential to stopping the spread. Of course, there is scant evidence to support that "science" today. However, there was plenty of science which stated they were not helpful for general public usage to combat viruses before the pandemic.

If you are interested in all of the facts about masks I suggest you read this compilation about the research and studies on masks. You might be surprised at what the science actually is on masks compared to what you are being told.

We were told that asymptomatic spread was a major transmission source when the pandemic first started. Now that seems to be much less a concern because those who are asymptomatic have very low viral loads. However, those who are pre-symptomatic (the day or so before symptoms present) may be the most contagious because viral loads are highest at that time.

We were warned in March that that virus could be spread widely on infected surfaces . It was later stated that this occurs rarely and the virus was almost always transmitted by airborne particles. Recently it has been argued that the virus might spread most easily in aerosol form.

Thousands of ventilators were supposedly necessary to treat Covid-19 patients and the federal government built them like there was no tomorrow in March and April. All of those new ventilators now sit idle as they have proven to do little in helping patients recover.

In the latest reversal involving "the science", the WHO came out this week and stated that economic lockdowns should not be used as a primary tool to combat Covid-19. All the lockdowns have done is to have made "poor people an awful lot poorer".


The UK’s envoy to the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) has condemned mass coronavirus lockdowns, slamming the “ghastly global catastrophe” caused by crashing the world economy.

Dr. David Nabarro from the W.H.O. appealed to world leaders on Saturday, telling them to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the coronavirus.

He claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved.

What I find incredible is that it took over seven months for the WHO to come to that conclusion when some of us were saying that at the end of March.

I stated from the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in China as far back as January that it was prudent to take the virus seriously.

It was clear early on that the virus was very contagious and that older people and those with more vulnerable health conditions needed to be particularly careful.

However, much more harm was going to be done in the end if the cure was worse than the disease.

Nothing even close to what has been done insofar as the economic and school closings had ever been contemplated before for the simple reason that it simply could not be done. The technology simply did not exist to consider remote work or remote learning as alternatives. 

People throughout history had to learn to live and adapt to previous pandemics much like what was done in Sweden. There was no other choice if life was going to continue for society.

The situation with this virus was made worse by the 24-hour news cycle and the endless news about daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths. This served to promote much more fear, concern and panic than was warranted.

To better understand what I am talking about let's take a look at the Covid-19 numbers from San Francisco.

123 people have died from Covid in San Francisco this year. That is in a city of almost 1 million people. During the same period of time 468 people have died of drug overdoses in the city--that is approaching four times the number of Covid deaths.

San Francisco and California have had some of the strictest lockdown measures in the country.

Some might argue that is the reason that deaths have been low.

However, let's consider some of the economic costs that have resulted from the lockdown decisions.

For example, this chart shows the change in sales tax collections in San Francisco comparing the 2nd quarter, 2019 and the second quarter, 2020.

The economic toll is almost unfathomable.

Tax revenues have crashed (except online sales) because there are no sales to tax.

It does not stop there.

Rents in San Francisco have already fallen 31%.

New York City is headed in the same direction.

How do these cities recover? How long will it take? How many other horrible after-effects are to follow?

Let's return to the subject of masks since it seems that the public health experts are now (as opposed to in March, April and May) telling everyone that masks are the answer.

In fact, CDC Director Robert Redfield even testified before Congress a month ago that face masks might actually provide more protection than a vaccine.

Of course, Redfield is also the same guy who in July said that Covid-19 could be controlled in 1-2 months if people wear masks.

That was three months ago.

How many people do you see when you go to the grocery store, mall, school, doctor's office etc) who are not wearing a mask?

If you are like me, it is very, very few for the primary reason that most places won't let you in without a mask.

My observation seems to be supported by a recent CDC study which did an observational study during July involving everyone who was an outpatient at 11 academic health care centers who received a Covid-19 test.

The study then separated those who tested positive and negative based on various characteristics.

One of characteristics studied was the reported use of face masks by the patients during the 14 days before illness onset.

Almost 90% of all patients (positive and negative) reported wearing a mask often or always.

Less than 4% reported that they never wore a mask.

However, the study showed that there was no real difference in catching the virus whether the patient had worn the mask always or never. There was almost no difference in the percentage of cases between those with positive test results and the control group who tested negative.

If masks work so well why do we see cases continue to increase even with mandatory mask rules in place?

For example, here is a chart comparing cases per 1M between Sweden and Los Angeles that also includes the important dates that the various mask mandates and other mitigation efforts that LA has imposed.

Source: https://rationalground.com/mask-charts/

Joe Biden has stated over and over again that he is going to follow "the science" in establishing his Covid-19 policies

He has stated in the past that he is strongly in favor of a national mask mandate.

He has also hinted that he would not hesitate to use further economic lockdowns to curtail the virus. Whether he still believes that after the recent WHO backflip is uncertain. 

However, what is certain is that other Democrats are still "all in" on using economic lockdowns.

New York City Mayor DeBlasio signaled he is seeking additional lockdown measures in nine zips codes in Brooklyn and Queens. He is particularly focused on shutting down Jewish religious services in these neighborhoods.

It appears that some of the fervor for draconian actions against Covid is driven by the attitudes of many Democrat voters.

It is striking to see the differences in the attitudes of Democrat and Republican voters as it relates to Covid-19 that were revealed in this recent Gallup poll. 

80% of Democrat women are worried about getting Covid compared to 29% of Republican women.

70% of Democrat men avoid going to public places compared to 30% for Republican men.

Only 5% of Democrat men and 3% of Democrat women are ready to return to normal activities now compared to 64% of Republican men and 54% of Republican women.

This is why we may be told that we have to follow "the science" for more lockdowns if Biden wins. Make no mistake, it will not be "the science" that dictates it. His supporters want it and he is unlikely to counter their wishes.

Of course, it is much easier to want that if you have a government or teaching job that is going to continue to pay you no matter what. Or you are on welfare or unemployment. Or you have the luxury or working from home and still have a paycheck. It is not as easy if you are on the other side of the economy and your livelihood and life savings have been sacrificed in the process.

I continue to find one of the more interesting statistics in all of this the comparison of how Covid-19 has affected the Americas and Europe compared to the rest of the world.

We are humans. A virus is going to be a virus. We are told that a virus does not discriminate. That is supposed to be "the science".

If that is the case, how do we explain this chart?

13% of the total world population lives in Western Europe, North and South America but 70% of all Covid deaths are in these regions. These regions also have some of the most advanced health care systems in the world.

85% of the world population has seen minimal deaths in regions such as Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Oceania.

It is simply not credible to argue that the United States, Western Europe and South America totally messed this up and everyone else got it right.

It most likely is something else.

Is it the age of the populations?

Is it related to cultural differences?

Is it related to underlying health conditions and obesity rates?

Is it how we have counted Covid deaths? 

Is it hydroxychloroquine?

Is it because the countries in these regions tested so extensively?

The United States is now doing over 1 million tests per day. For context, this is more Covid tests in one day than we typically test for seasonal flu in an entire year.

Is it something else altogether?

I am still struck at the numbers released by China where all of this started.

China has 1.4 billion people.

China is currently reporting that it has had a grand total of 86,000 cases and 4,634 deaths from Covid-19 since the virus first start circulating in that country a year ago.

New York and New Jersey alone are reporting almost 750,000 cases to date and almost 50,000 deaths from a combined population of 28 million.

New Jersey's death rate is 1,836 per 1 million. China is reporting 3 per million. That is THREE.

Is this believable?

Are we really going to trust Joe Biden to hold China to account in all of this?

He is telling us he is going to follow "the science"?

My advice to you is that if anyone starts to tell you that they are going to follow "the science" you would be well advised to find out what science they are talking about.

What I am most interested to see is how true scientists are going to evaluate all of this as we look back in time.

My guess is that those scientists will shake their heads in wonder as to how so many people could have been so wrong about so much.

For those of you who are younger it might not be too early to start thinking about what you will tell your grandchildren in explaining where your mind was in 2020.

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