Musings On Covid-19
By Dr. Andrew Combs 4/23/2020
Everyone should take a look at this (somewhat scary and hopefully over-the-top) article by Joel Gilbert published in “The American Thinker” — Is Maoist America Here to Stay?
In a “what the heck just happened?” piece (though not in jest), Gilbert describes what is going on all around us in the US – a nation catapulted into a shutdown of our society resulting in widespread violations of fundamental civil liberties, carried out by many throughout government and society at large who seem to feel entitled to arbitrary and unlawful tyrannies.
And, all of this happened out of fear of a virus. By believing in the advice from medical experts such as Drs. Fauci and Birx and those from the CDC, based on models yielding erroneous apocalyptic predictions (due to reliance on unreliable data), I believe President Trump has blundered into a very dangerous place. It is because in the US we have followed the Chinese totalitarian model of “forced mitigation.” This method defers infections (thus deaths) in the near term while it avoids solving the virus problem (inevitable infections from a highly contagious respiratory pathogen) in the long term. Its purpose was to avoid overwhelming the health system (and buy time to develop a good vaccine), but it has cost us our civil liberties as a side-effect – relative health safety at the price of transient totalitarianism.
The forced mitigation model stands in stark contrast to the more benign Swedish model which is based on the guidance of their chief epidemiologist Anders Tengell, an approach echoed in a NY Times Op-Ed by Dr. David Katz of Yale University. Mitigation in this model is “surgical”, not the “scorched-earth” policy we have in place. It focuses on allowing the disease to spread while protecting the vulnerable, who seem to be largely confined to the elderly and those with existing poor health.
Most importantly, it deals head-on with the problem we need to solve – to eliminate the virus from the population. It does so by the natural process of establishing herd immunity (where 60-80% of the population gains antibodies so the virus can’t easily infect the next). This is done by keeping society open: commerce and business proceeds mostly as normal, children go to school, people are out and about enjoying life.
The Sweden model incurs suffering, sure – people get sick, many have died; but it also promotes infection at a slowed pace. The deaths per capita are not much different than in the US – Sweden is at 0.014%, the US at 0.011%. Indeed, Sweden is doing better than other European nations with forced mitigation, and many of our states that have sheltered in place with the totalitarian model.
And it is curious – Dr. Fauci said the death rate predicted by models is going down because “mitigation is working” – but the statistics show mitigation does not seem to produce much of a difference in the rate of infection. And rates of infection dictate deaths as long as the health-care system remains stable. It seems the model errors were large because the parameters that went into the predictions were so bad – based on guesses and less reliable data. As the data became clearer over time, the models were adjusted and became more accurate. But troublingly, the early predictions that the advised the President were in the millions of deaths in the US. As data became better over the ensuing weeks, estimates were lowered to 100 to 240 thousand, then to 90 thousand, now to 60 thousand. Would the President have supported locking down the nation if covid-19 would kill the same amount of people as a bad flu season? I think not.
And it turns out the virus is not nearly as deadly as originally thought. Random tests were performed in cars passing by in Santa Clara, CA, and it showed the confirmed case rate underestimated the actual infection rate by a factor of between 50 and 85. That means the mortality is not 3%, it is 50 to 85 times lower – 0.06% to 0.04% – much less than than the seasonal flu (about 0.1%)! Similar results were found in New York City and Los Angeles.
As covid-19 is novel, there is no immunity so it will spread. It is too contagious – we won’t get rid of it through “mitigation.” The number of deaths is dictated by the mortality rate and the population size infected. That number is determined by herd immunity. I am increasingly convinced the health experts Trump has listened to are wrong, and it caused him to (with all good intentions – though we know how that often pans out) push mitigation following Fauci’s and Birx’s guidance which has been disastrous to civil liberties and our republic, to say nothing of people out of work.
To establish herd immunity we now will have to go through waves of the virus, and mitigation simply delays the inevitable enabling the virus to potentially mutate to complicate any vaccination efforts in the future.
And now, thanks to our commitment to forced mitigation, we are enjoying a taste of what a Maoist society is like. We see the ravages of central control with the worst of human nature coming to the fore in petty tyrants running amok all over society – from the governors, to the mayors, police and police chiefs, to heads of businesses down to the local “police” who keep people spaced “properly” and maintain the lines at Costco, Target and Safeway.
We now have long lines at stores, increasingly empty shelves not getting re-stocked (increased hording, causing the supply chain to falter), unconstitutional unlawful crackdowns on assembly, religious practice (to the point of non-legislative criminalization by executive fiat punishable by fines or 14-day imprisonment by house arrest) and gun purchasing (even “lawn item” purchasing in Michigan) by self-appointed autocrats who have decided what is essential and what is not … We are seeing drones being used to track people with their temperature, heart and breathing rates. We may soon get “papers” to determine if we can be free to go back to work or not (based on established immunity) and likely, who will be able to travel and to where. Some government executives have encouraged citizens to report those they think are violating distancing or stay-at-home orders (a practice perfected by the Nazi Gestapo) which instills fear of one’s neighbor and thus an overall atmosphere of fear …
This is horrible for our Republic. It must end. People must rise up and demand the restoration of freedoms and the accountability of governors to their oaths of office – to uphold the Constitution and laws of the land, not be laws unto themselves. Experts should’ve advised our leaders, especially our President, better. That they didn’t advise him and others clearly of all options (including the Swedish model) has cost us dearly and will continue to cost us if we don’t wake up to the efficacy of the Swedish model.
I would demote Fauci and Birx, and put Sweden model experts in charge. And in the future, I would be highly skeptical of models results that are not well grounded in reliable facts.