By Kevin Roche
Another big picture, what have we learned, summarization. And let us start with an interview in which charter member of the Axis of Evil, Andy Slavitt, now advising our president on CV-19 matters, which seems appropriate, when asked to explain California doing worse than non-lockdown Florida, stumbled around and then said, there is so much we don’t know about this virus. (Here is the clip.) No, Andy, there is so much you don’t know about it, and apparently the Governor of Florida knows a lot more than you do. This guy increasingly reveals himself to be a dimwitted attention-seeker. If you honestly think there is a lot you don’t understand about the epidemic, which is a very legitimate position, then stop telling people what they have to do based on your ignorance. And maybe pay more attention to people who have been more accurate about the epidemic, instead of just talking to Osterheimlich, and Faux Fauci.
One big thing I have re-learned and had reinforced during the epidemic is most experts are idiots. They rest on their laurels, they don’t keep up, they resist innovative thinking and they love the spotlight. They are the last people I trust. Zero self-awareness or self-critical ability. I am talking about you Fauci. And you Osterholm. These guys saw this epidemic as the opportunity for indulging in the adulation of the media, and a lot of self-adulation as well.
Always adopt a very, very healthy skepticism. Get the facts for yourself, think for yourself, challenge your thinking, read everything you can, learn basic disciplines like statistics and experimental design. Don’t be a slave to expert opinion. And if this helps, remember that 50% of doctors graduated in the bottom half of their class, and that applies to any other profession. Your own brain works great; use it.
So here is what I believe we know, but test it with your own thinking.
- CV-19 is a serious public health problem, it causes a lot of serious disease and deaths. Is it as bad as portrayed in the media? No. Cases and deaths are counted in an unprecedented way. If we did the same thing with influenza, I think the two pathogens would look pretty similar. And CV-19 appears to be very substitutive of influenza; it kills a lot of people who otherwise would die of influenza.
- CV-19 is one of a series of coronaviruses, more are likely to arise, this one is likely to become endemic. We better figure out how to adapt to it without destroying our lives. It is going to be around, no matter what we do.
- Like most respiratory viruses, this one is pretty infectious, fairly easily transmitted–in certain conditions. Wish we could tell what those conditions are, but the formula is pretty complex. The conditions are clearly best at certain times of the year in certain geographies. There are likely meteorological factors at work, which interact with other factors, like age, population density, pre-existing immune status and so on. The formula, if there is one, is multi-factorial.
- Like most respiratory viruses, this one mutates a fair amount and as you would expect, mutations that increase infectiousness are favored. All a virus cares about is replicating; that is its only goal. Whatever furthers that goal, gets selected. Mutations may help evade an existing immune response, but those responses are still likely to minimize disease and limit spread. There is some risk that with a virus that is already widely spread, trying too hard to suppress it could lead to a truly ugly variant. One that, say, had a much more stable lipid envelope and survived on surfaces or in the air indefinitely. A little bit of live and let live wouldn’t be the worst approach. So far, none of the CV-19 variants seems particularly worrisome.
- There is immense heterogeneity among the population in susceptibility to infection, in infectiousness, and in the nature of disease, if any, resulting from infection. The dose needed to cause an infection in a person likely has enormous variation. This heterogeneity likely is largely due to existing immune status variation. How strong and how diverse is a persons innate and trained immune system, does the person have cross-reactive coronavirus adaptive immunity that in some way controls infection or infectiousness. There is an enormous difference in impact of CV-19 among the young and among the frail elderly.
- We don’t know how many CV-19 infections there have been because there are so many asymptomatic or mild cases. Serious illness occurs in well under 1% of cases. I suspect the true fatality rate is around one to two-tenths of a percent. In the general, non-long-term care population, the fatality rate is miniscule. This pathogen, for almost the entire population, has a very low burden of illness.
- The response to this epidemic has been unprecedented as well–unprecedentedly stupid. It was based on poor data from China, poor modeling from England and everywhere else, and me-tooism among political leaders. Rank panic, hysteria and mass delusion. I think China’s leaders said “we can do whatever we want to our population, let’s see if Western leaders are stupid enough to do the same things in their countries”. Never before have we attempted to lockdown societies, close schools, close businesses. Pure insanity.
- The modeling of the epidemic used by governments has been pathetic. No accounting for seasonality, no accounting for that variability in susceptibility or infectiousness, overweighting the value of attempts to suppress. The virus laughs at our models.
- No intervention has made a significant difference, beyond what voluntary human behavior would have done. We know this by looking at case curves. We might momentarily slow transmission, but it doesn’t last. But governments are too pig-headed to admit that they made a mistake and change course. Instead, they have implemented a campaign of terror to convince the population how dangerous CV-19 is and how necessary those futile suppression efforts are. Masks are the worst example of this, as data and science has been twisted and distorted to try to demonstrate an effect that doesn’t exist.
- What the interventions have done is significantly weaken democratic societies, through the use of non-democratic decision-making by mini-dictators. This should horrify people, but has been meekly accepted by most of the population.
- The interventions have ruined businesses, caused the loss of good jobs, worsened other health outcomes, irreparably damaged the lives of most children, led to further domestic and child abuse, worsened government finances and so on, with no noticeable effect on the progress of the epidemic. The costs of these interventions will far outweigh any damage done by the virus for years, possibly decades.
How cheerful is that!!