The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Cases and Masks

The media is trying super hard to increase the level of pandemic porn in the week before the election. The obvious intent is sow fear, uncertainty and doubt and in so doing, encourage people to vote for their candidate, Joe Biden, who promises to make the virus magically go away—'cause Joe's got a "plan." 

To accomplish their objective, the media's trained hamsters are reveling in "cases." OMG, they intone breathlessly, there were 70,000 "cases" reported today, implying that we're all gonna die!!!

The moral and intellectual bankruptcy of their despicable strategy is apparent because the trained hamsters never provide any granularity about the "cases" they report.

  • How many cases are asymptomatic?
  • How many cases require medical treatment of any kind? 
  • How many cases require hospitalization, and of those, how many patients had other health conditions that were exacerbated by the virus?
  • Of the daily case count from two weeks ago, what percentage were hospitalized?
  • Of the daily case count from four weeks ago, how many died?What is the overall age distribution of "cases"?
  • What's the average age of a person with a "case," and statistically, what is the likelihood that a person of that age will die of the illness?
  • Are hospitalizations increasing? (They are not.)
  • Are deaths increasing? (They are going down.)

These are but a few of the questions that should be addressed.  Every. Single. Day. 

But the answers would dramatically reduce fear, uncertainty and doubt, and we can't have that, can we?

And then we get to masks. 

For Team Apocalypse, masks aren't so much intended to protect them, but rather everyone else who, the virtue signaling mask wearers tell us, they care so, so much about. And besides, masks absolutely, positively, unequivocally "stop the spread." 

Anyone who questions the efficacy of masks is branded a heretic. After all, Joe Biden, his brilliant intellect shining through his incoherent babble, tells us that if he were president, masks would be mandatory—indoors and outdoors—everywhere, all the time. Couple that with another lockdown until the virus is "under control,"and the virus will be vanquished. That's the ticket!  He's following the SCIENCE, he tells us.

Hmmm. There's a problem. Irish writer, John McGuirk comments:

Across Europe, the picture is the same: Near universal mask wearing, and near universal record-setting in terms of the number of new cases.

As a simple matter of observation, if mask wearing was supposed to reduce the number of Coronavirus cases, it has not worked.

So what argument for masks remains?

The instinctive response will be to say that without facemasks, the current crisis would be ten times worse. But is that really accurate? Here are the case numbers for Europe as a whole over the past few weeks. What does ten times worse even look like?

Forget all the stuff about the “casedemic”, or the number of people in ICU or hospital. That’s irrelevant when considering facemasks. The point of masks is not to reduce the severity of the virus, but to limit its transmission in the first place.

And yet we now have far more cases than we had in the spring, when the official consensus from Governments was that facemasks are bad.

McGuirk goes on to remind the reader that in the Spring of 2020, most public health professionals (including the sainted Dr. Fauci in the USA) argued against the use of masks, suggesting that "mask-wearing by people with no symptoms could create unnecessary cost and create 'a false sense of security'."

So we return to the only wisdom that really matters. SARS-Cov-2 is a natural phenomenon.* Trying to stop its spread is a lot like trying to stop a hurricane or a tsunami, it's futile. The virus is gonna virus. 

Personally, I have nothing against masks. Wear them if you'd like. But when petty political tyrants at the local, state, and federal level demand that you wear them under penalty of law, they better have unequivocal proof that masks work. That proof does NOT exist when COVID-19 is considered and the mask wearers are not medical professionals.**

In fact, Danish medical researchers who recently conducted the most comprehensive, randomized study on the efficacy of masks (described here), are having trouble finding a medical journal to publish their results. When asked when it would be published, the lead investigator responded this way, "... as soon as a journal is brave enough."

There's an implication there, I think.


*   Even that simple statement is open to debate. There is compelling evidence that the virus was modified in a virology lab in Wuhan, China and then released by mistake.

** In fact, if masks are as effective as Team Apocalypse keeps telling us they are, why weren't they mandatory during a bad flu season. After all, flu is also airborne, and in a bad season (say, 2018), 100,000 people died with the flu. Yeah, I know, that's half the number of COVID deaths, but are you telling me that 100,000 is somehow acceptable and doesn't require masks where 200,000 is an absolute catastrophe that demands mandatory masks? For that matter, why didn't Joe Biden insist on mandatory masks during the viral pandemic of 2009, when he was VP and according to the CDC, between 40 and 60 million "cases" were reported?

UPDATE (10-26-2020):

Finally, a mainstream media publication makes note of the Great Barrington Declaration which I've mentioned a number of times (e.g., here) over the past month. 

The Covid rebels make an unlikely pair. Jay Bhattacharya was born in Kolkata, an Indian city that pulsates with people. Martin Kulldorff is from Umeå, Sweden, population 90,000. Yet they have much in common. “I almost view Martin like a brother,” says the talkative Dr. Bhattacharya, 52, who moved to the U.S. with his Bengali parents when he was 4. “I mean, we complete each other’s sentences, as you can see.” The feeling is “mutual,” confirms the more phlegmatic Mr. Kulldorff, 58.

Dr. Bhattacharya, a physician and economist, and Mr. Kulldorf, a biostatistician—who study epidemiology at the medical schools at Stanford and Harvard, respectively—are, in the eyes of their critics, dangerous contrarians for opposing Covid-19 lockdowns. Some of the criticism borders on hysteria: A colleague accused Mr. Kulldorff of practicing “Trumpian epidemiology” after he gave an interview to the far-left Jacobin magazine in which he called for a “radically different” approach to pandemic management.

Most pertinently, the two men are the authors—with Sunetra Gupta, a professor of epidemiology at Oxford—of the Great Barrington Declaration. Published on Oct. 4, the declaration is a cri de coeur against lockdowns and other economic restrictions that have hobbled swaths of the world. It asked instead for “focused protection”—a policy of allowing “those at minimal risk of death” to resume their lives while societies concentrate on “better protecting those who are at highest risk.”

... Lockdown policies are not only “regressive,” with their disparate impact on the poor and minorities; they reflect, Dr. Bhattacharya says, a “sort of monomania.” The world “panicked in March, and the focus came to just be on Covid control and nothing else.” People saw pictures from Wuhan, China, and Bergamo, Italy, and concluded that they had to do “something very, very drastic in order to address this drastic thing that’s happening.” There was “an action bias that led to the adoption of lockdowns as a form of contagion itself.” (There is an academic paper that models the lockdown-contagion idea, titled “Explaining the homogenous diffusion of Covid-19 nonpharmaceutical interventions across heterogeneous countries.”)

Mr. Kulldorff says the Covid-19 restrictions violate two cardinal principles of public health. First, “you can’t just look at Covid, you have to look holistically at health and consider the collateral damage.” Among the damage: a worsening incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer and an alarming decline in immunization. “People aren’t going to the doctor,” he says. Dr. Bhattacharya also points to the suspension of tuberculosis programs in India and of malaria-eradication programs elsewhere.

Mr. Kulldorff’s second principle: “You can’t just look short-term.” Dr. Bhattacharya says we will “be counting the health harms from these lockdowns for a very long time.” He says anti-Covid efforts are sowing the seeds of other epidemics: “Pertussis—whooping cough—will come back. Polio will come back because of the cessation of vaccination campaigns. All these diseases that we’ve made substantial progress in will start to come back.” 

 In the meantime, we have Saint Fauci, quoted ad nauseum by Team Apocalypse the mainstream media hamsters. Fauci's catastrophist position has been both irresponsible and at times, dead wrong. It seems that Dr. Fauci refuses to accept the simple reality that lockdowns do as much harm as good, maybe a lot more harm that good. Fauci violates both "principles" noted by Mr. Kulldorff. He seems to ignore growing evidence that masks are more about feeling safe than making anyone safe. But whatever. 

I'll stick with Dr. Bhattacharya and Mr. Kulldorf, men of science and mathematics who may not be members of the glitterati, but have just as much (or more) to contribute than Anthony Fauci.