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Coronamonomania Thrives in Darkness, Part 35

By March 29, 2021Commentary

You  can tell from watching the news, which I rarely do, and reading the papers, that people just want this to be over, and are increasingly going to act like it is over.  The CDC director gave a truly ludicrous performance begging people to still act completely fearful and stay in their basements until CDC gives the all-clear ten years from now.  That is fine if you are Joe Biden, nap 20 hours a day anyway, and have a panoply of servants to wait on your every need.  Most of us have to have a real life.

And speaking of the puppet president, somebody gave him a script to read off a teleprompter and he read “states should stop opening up and put their mask mandates back in place.”  Since the states that dropped their mask mandates and reopened have seen declines in cases, I can only assume that for some bizarre reason he wants cases to increase.  Maybe Hunter is getting a payoff from some country if that happens.

The CDC publishes a study that also shows good real-world vaccine efficacy.  There was around a 90% drop in infections due to vaccination at a point 14 days after the second dose.  Even after the first dose there was an 80% reduction.  (CDC Study)   But, folks, I say again, the virus is not going to disappear.  We have to learn to live with it.  Vaccination obviously will help with that.

Here is another study attempting to identify how frequently asymptomatic transmission actually occurs.  The research comes from China.  (Medrxiv Paper)   Using contact tracing, the authors compared transmission by asymptomatic, presymptomatic and symptomatic persons.  The secondary attack rate was 4% for symptomatic persons and 1.1% for asymptomatic ones.  What that means is that 80% of cases would be due to transmission by symptomatic persons.  Furthermore, an asymptomatic person who did transmit was much less likely to transmit an infection that would become symptomatic.  So not only do asymptomatic people transmit much less frequently, they transmit far fewer serious cases.  Some of the transmission by symptomatic persons, however, may have occurred before they developed symptoms.

A couple of bad news for lockdown proponents (i.e. Slavitt and Osterholm) studies.  The first, from the National Academy of Sciences Proceedings, so a very reputable group, looked at the effectiveness of stay-at-home orders.  (PNAS Article)   Ooops, didn’t work for shit to stop transmission.  The research eviscerates prior studies claiming lockdown benefits.  It finds no effect on transmission, little effect on behavior and a small adverse economic effect.  The primary reason is that people had already voluntarily changed their behavior.  Maybe you can rely on people to make their own good judgments.

And another study to similar effect, noted, as did the prior one, that bad modeling is partly responsible for supposed impacts found in earlier studies.  Remember that I have repeatedly tried to point out that a model only tells you what you tell it to tell you.  (JCE Article)  The authors here evaluate a variety of “non-pharmaceutical interventions” and find that poor model specifications led some researchers to conclude that there was a benefit to these tactics but there really wasn’t. After attempting to address the modeling issues it appears that lockdowns had little effect, which we all know by now just from watching real world events.

Dr. John Ionnidis early on decried bad modeling, bad data and bad estimates of outcomes and therefore earned the wrath of the panic purveyors.  He has a new study, peer reviewed, that evaluates various estimates of infection fatality rates and reviews a number of studies.  He concludes that the global IFR is probably around.15%.  That is far too low for those who want this to be the worst public health disaster ever, so he has been dumped on, but he can’t be far off if the study got through peer review.  And note that this is the global IFR; in a lot of countries with a lot of infections, all of Africa for example, cases may be high, but deaths are very low.  So the IFR in the US, with an old and unhealthy population, could be quite a bit higher than that .15% estimate.  (IFR Study)

Using mechanical ventilation is a bad thing and should be a measure of last resort.  Unfortunately it was a far too common treatment early in the epidemic and probably was responsible for many deaths.  A study from Germany compared use of mechanical ventilation early in the epidemic versus later.  (Medrxiv Paper)   Mechanical ventilation was used about half as frequently in the second wave.  Median hospital stay dropped, although mortality rates remained the same.

Personally I am beginning to think we should ban traditional PCR testing and move to all antigen testing.  Here is another study finding that antigen tests do a much better job than PCR testing at identifying those persons with higher viral loads, who are symptomatic and likely actually infectious.  (Medrxiv Paper)

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