Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Science of Covid

In contradistinction to Bill Gates, I have no qualifications in epidemiology or biochemistry or medical science. Thus, I offer this information in true humility. Gates, we have seen, is now a leading authority on the coronavirus-- which means that he has too much free time.

For those who really know something about science-- an ever-shrinking coterie-- the Swedish example should be considered a control experiment. 

This report comes from the Foundation for Economic Education:

Unlike most other European countries and nations around the world, Sweden declined to initiate a nationwide lockdown or mask mandates, opting instead for a policy that restricted large gatherings and relied on social responsibility to slow transmission of the virus.

For months, Sweden was criticized for its decision to forego an economic lockdown.

“Sweden becomes an example of how not to handle COVID-19,” CBS declared in its headline in a July article.

Sweden had become a “cautionary tale,” the New York Times declared the same month.

“They are leading us to catastrophe,” The Guardian warned in March.

Dozens of similar examples can be found. With every passing week, however, it’s becoming more clear that Sweden got the virus right. For starters, Swedish officials point out that even if lockdowns did save lives, they cannot long be endured.

"The measures that are being taken in Europe are not sustainable, we're trying to find a level that is steady and that keeps the spread down. We can't get rid of it, but we can keep it down at a reasonable level," Johan Carlson, the director general of Sweden's public health agency, said in an interview with public broadcaster SVT on Sunday.

It’s also worth pointing out that Sweden has avoided some of the economic carnage of its European neighbours experienced by implementing harsh lockdowns. In August, the BBC pointed out that Sweden’s economy experienced much less damage during the pandemic.

Both of these facts help explain why Sweden has not witnessed the widespread social unrest other nations have seen.

All those who said to listen to the science are happy to ignore the Swedish example. 

The report concludes:

With every passing week we’re seeing that the world’s lockdown experiment failed, and failed horribly—destroying millions of businesses, tens of millions of jobs, and causing widespread mental and physical health deterioration. (There’s a reason European leaders such as Boris Johnson are now consulting with Sweden’s top infectious disease expert, Anders Tegnell.)

As John Tierney recently explained in City Journal, the best that can be said of stay-at-home orders is that they may have made sense before we had solid data and little clue about the type of virus we were dealing with. We know better now. There is no correlation between lockdown stringency and COVID-19 deaths, while their harms are induspitable

This is why thousands of medical practitioners and public health scientists have signed a new declaration—the Great Barrington Declaration—expressing grave concerns over the adverse effects of lockdowns and calling for a more targeted approach.

In June, following publication of an NPR report that showed COVID-19 is not as dangerous as first believed, I suggested lockdowns could prove to be the biggest expert “fail” since the Iraq War.

Four months later, the evidence only looks stronger.

Would you believe, it's all about politics.

Here it is in visual form:


trigger warning said...

I keep hearing the Proglodyte mantra, "believe the science". But, as usual, they even get that simple 3-word sentence wrong. What they really mean is "believe the bureaucrats". Fully decoded, the Progs really mean "believe the credentialed bureaucrats who haven't done a lick of research in twenty years, if ever".

As I've noted from the beginning, useful - and sufficiently stable - scientific understanding won't be available for many months. Unlike Dustin Hoffman in "Outbreak", real science takes time (naturally, the citizens of our emerging Idiocracy could not know that). But even more important than a deep understanding of the virus is the establishment, largely through trial end error, of medical treatment protocols that work.

In my view as a retired physical scientist, it's not so much a lockdown problem per se, as I still believe the first phase to "flatten the curve" (that we were promised would a couple of weeks or so - at most) was worth trying in high-density, mass transportation dependent cities. But the unnecessary pain of even that experiment should have been staggeringly obvious from the data; i.e., the empty beds and vacant wards of hospital ships and jury-rigged hospitals. The real problem, the error we shall surely come to rue, the piper who will be paid, is the problem of the ever-receding lockdown goalposts. I wonder... will my city have independent restaurants when this is over? Or will it be a choice among the likes of McDonald's, Arby's, and Taco Bell?

And I remind you that Sweden is not the only control group, just the biggest. Here's another, closer to home:

Sam L. said...

Our media went "full panic mode". Have I mentioned before that I despise, detest, and distrust our media? I surely do!

Patrick said...

Any valid objective assessment requires accurate date to analyze and with the Covid Pandemic classifications should be who died directly from the disease, who did from other causes that were aggravated from Covid and who died with a Covid infection but it was not related to the cause of death. The press seems to have secondary gain by using statistics inflate the lethality of Covid to fuel panic.

Trigger warning makes a good point: "But even more important than a deep understanding of the virus is the establishment, largely through trial end error, of medical treatment protocols that work."

Early in the US pandemic treatments for reversing hypoxia without using a mechanical ventilator were discovered that showed promise but did not expand. An example is that there were 2 published case series demonstrating shorter recovery and lower mortality when a trial of hyperbaric oxygen therapy was used before placing a patient on a mechanical ventilator. Unfortunately some academic centers refused to expand this therapy for clinical trial because the FDA denied approval to use HBOT use with Covid related hypoxia.