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Drowning in Sorrow, with a Chaser of Research

By May 30, 2020Commentary

A few short months ago, we were riding high, a vibrant economy lifting everyone’s quality of life, now, nothing but disaster, and we are doing it to ourselves.  Nonetheless, I will press forward attempting to shed as much light as I can on the epidemic.

Here is more evidence of an obvious fact that our supposedly data and science loving Governor keeps ignoring, along with multitude of other politicians.  Children get infected at very low rates and aren’t a vector for transmission.  This study is from Ireland.  (Ireland Study)   Three adult cases and three cases in children who were in a school setting were tracked and it was found that in each case, the school was not the source of the infection.  1025 contacts of these cases were tested and in not one case was there an infection.  As the article notes, this is consistent with the strong evidence from other studies finding that children really haven’t played a role in the infection process.  The authors conclude that schools should be reopened, citing the greater risks to children, especially poor children, of not being in school.

I wrote before about the non-science behind 6 foot social distancing and mask wearing.  Here is the New England Journal of Medicine is an article that makes it clear that universal mask wearing makes little sense.  (NEJM Article)   The article is about masking in hospitals, but in the first paragraph the authors make it clear that “wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.”

And here is a piece of research that can best be described as sloppy.  It purports to show that in four states hospitalization rates dropped after lockdown orders were issued.  (JAMA Article)   They lagged the analysis to account for the about 5 day incubation period for coronavirus symptoms to develop.  Too bad that time from infection to hospitalization is on average much longer.   Too bad also that they were relying on a model to project hospitalizations in the absence of a shutdown, a model that like all the others is completely flawed and over-estimates cases and sequelae substantially.  Even more fundamental is the error that people keep making in assuming that the epidemic is evenly distributed in whom it attacks.  It isn’t.  The most susceptible are getting sick first and having the most serious illness, so you would expect as the epidemic wears on that you get fewer hospitalizations, lockdown or no lockdown.  The authors also note that the decline from the model actually started before the lockdown orders went into effect.  One hilarious comment they made was that hospitalizations may have decreased because people were losing jobs and health insurance.  Okay, so someone who is so sick from coronavirus didn’t get to a hospital because they didn’t have insurance.  I would like to see one case of that.  Like I said, sloppy at best.

Everything I have written about coronavirus is based on publicly available research and data that is available to anyone.  When I started doing this and talking about economic suicide, which would lead to far greater health harms than from the disease itself, that was based on past research.  And it is coming to pass.  Here is another article making the same point.  (BBC Article)   We did this to ourselves, through panicked, hysterical, unjustified shutdowns.  And I am very serious when I say that the public health experts, media and politicians who spread the hype and blatantly ignored obvious data and facts, must face an accounting.  Given the damage that has been done, people should go to jail.

Here is more of the same, a county in Texas reports a 30% increase in people dying at home, because they have been terrorized into not seeking medical care for fear of getting infected.  (Texas Story)   I am sickened by these reports and by the stubborn refusal of politicians to reassure people that they have very little risk.

Want something a little closer to home?  Opioid deaths are way up in Duluth.  (Duluth Story)  But again, I don’t know why we bother with this, everyone knows the only death to be concerned about is one from coronavirus.

We aren’t the only ones with screwed-up models.  Israel actually relied on models build by physicists which treated the virus like a particle of matter and grotesquely over-exaggerated potential deaths.  The lockdown was lifted and cases fell.  (Israel Story)

And finally, an article from the UK that exposes the myth that the country initially was ignoring the advice of scientists and revealing instead that the initial strategy of limited mitigation measures was exactly what the government was being advised to do.  (UK Story)  The story also notes that the Imperial College model did not call for a full lockdown.  The lockdown in that country is portrayed as a purely political decision, one for which the country is paying dearly in lost jobs and more non-coronavirus deaths.



Join the discussion One Comment

  • Archelle Georgiou says:

    Kevin, I have stopped responding to your posts but feel compelled to correct you on your review of the JAMA article since I am an author. I am happy to offer you a private tutorial on the methodology that you have so grossly misinterpreted.

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