#herdimmunity

Free market a far better manager of coronavirus than the political class

From The Straits Times Archives: Past 'mass hysteria' cases in ...

As states across America were coming to grips with ‘flattening the curve‘ of COVID-19 through punitive mandated lockdowns, who knew that coronavirus cases would surge after protestors assembled after the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020?

New Cases

The same goes for the state of Victoria in Australia. While Premier Dan Andrews openly punished and heavily fined those who dared to play golf, sail or walk in a park, he turned a blind eye to public protests where little social distancing could be practised. Now he is reaping what he sowed. As much as we dislike the deeply socialist policies pushed by Andrews, the reaction is none-the-less absurd.

20.5% of all Victorians have been tested. 0.44% of those tested have returned positive to COVID19! That means 99.56% of those tested are fine. How does the media rationally look at the data? The headlines read “New Record Hit.” So what? Could it be that telling the public 99.56% of those tested are returning negative results won’t drive ad revenue? Best focus on the minuscule and blow it out of proportion.

Should we cynically view editors as expediently casting aside all the lessons on journalistic ethics and integrity in order to push clickbait that fits a narrative, regardless of who is affected?

Worse, politicians – who live in fear of the 24-7 news cycle – cower behind medical experts who have given nothing but wildly inaccurate forecasts to the detriment of the economy. Now that a ‘second wave’ is imminent, lawmakers are only too eager to double down on all of the mistakes made at the beginning.

When are we going to grow a collective pair and stand up to this nonsense? It is not hard to work out that the more we test, the more we detect.

Why aren’t politicians just making it clear that the pandemic will outlast the economy if we choose to let it? Why doesn’t the government conduct daily press briefings on suicide, motor vehicle accidents or the flu? In the US, twice as many people die each year from medical errors than have died so far from COVID. Where are the daily updates? Where are the media reporting these updates?

There is absolutely no attempt to be balanced. Of the 3.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, this is still around 6% of the 60 million who contracted H1N1 swine flu under the previous administration. Orange man bad. Let’s jettison context and perspective.

19 Jul COVID deaths

In the chart above we tally a list of COVID-19 deaths in Australia and the US by state.

NY has the highest number by a factor of two. Even though NY Gov Cuomo thinks he has been the most effective at handling the crisis. Never mind the number of deaths that resulted from his direct policy to put infected patients into nursing homes.

Pop Tested Corona

Let’s look at some more data – 13% of Americans have been tested as of July 20th. Of that, only 9% have tested positive to coronavirus. New York has tested a quarter of its residents and returned 8.5%.

Infection as % test

Yet death rates are far from scary in the US. New Jersey has the worst rate of 0.17683% deaths vs the state population. New York is marginally lower at 0.16549%. That means 99.8% of those living in these states haven’t died from it. In Hawaii, 99.998% haven’t succumbed.

Come to think of it, why haven’t the Australian mainstream media bashed Tasmania for having more deaths per head of population than Victoria? Where is the narrative shaming Taswegians?

deathsbtstate

The infections data in NY are at 2%. So 98% of people aren’t knowingly infected. 99% of South Dakotans aren’t infected either.

infect

We know we are well off finding a vaccine. So the more panic porn the media indulges in, the worse it will ultimately be for them too. They will be killing the golden goose. The economy can’t survive with well over half the workforce being subsidized by the government. Prudent risk management is the order of the day.

Politicians need to step up and push back. Reintroducing lockdown laws and pulling up the draw bridge at the border are kneejerk, one-size-fits-all approaches which only expose how hopelessly equipped the political class are at handling crises.

Premier Andrews has demanded that people must wear masks. He openly encouraged people to make their own if need be. Wear a tea cosy? Essentially what he is saying is that mask efficacy is utterly irrelevant. Only the gesture is required. So what is the point?

Perhaps we just need to reflect on our own behaviours. Sure most of us squirt some sanitizer if we see it and politely keep our distance by standing on dots stuck to the floor but it is dawning on many of us that the risk/reward ratio is getting ridiculous. Anyone with half a brain could see that BLM protests would cause a spike in cases.

Remember when people became panicked about flying after 9-11? It was only when cheap airfares were offered that the free market was able to coax travellers to risk their lives for $25 return to WhoopWhoop.

Therein lies the answer. The free market will be a far better manager of coronavirus than the political class. Let stores decide on mask policies or seating arrangements. If customers don’t show up they must innovate in ways to attract them. Necessity is the mother of invention, not incompetent elected officials telling us they know better. They simply don’t.

Experts inside YouTube ride roughshod over medical opinion

Erickson

The video of Bakersfield-based microbiology experts, Drs Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, discussing a contrarian view on COVID19 that YouTube took down is still available on this link.

In what world are we living where a video channel prioritises a groupthink generated political opinion that overrides medical experts who have based their findings on available hard data, not wildly inaccurate models? The video was taken down for a ‘violation of community standards.’ You can read the YouTube statement here.

We would understand this if the doctors had no medical training and were pushing wild conspiracy theories. They simply weren’t. All that happened was a sensible presentation of data coupled with opinions based on their background as microbiologists. They think the fears have been overblown.

If you listen to the dialogue, the hard data confirms what we had been saying about the statistics of the pandemic. The doctors compared the data of an open Sweden vs a closed Norway and concluded the data discrepancies of COVID19 were statistically insignificant.

Many of our readers know we are contrarians by nature. We are more curious about what we might be missing rather than just accepting what is commonly reported. When opinions support the data, it isn’t an exercise in confirmation bias. We are genuinely interested as to whether the arguments sound convincing enough to validate them. We are even more concerned when the other side of the debate seek to shut it down rather than expose the flaws in Erickson and Massihi’s thinking.

Is the dissenting view more widespread than the media given credit for? After all the data is a moving feast. We are learning about COVID19 on a daily basis so sticking to the thinking of 2 months ago may not be relevant if the course shifts. Why are governments setting fixed future dates? Why not open up when the data supports it? Hardly any science in politically driven decision making.

An ER doctor in Wisconsin confirmed Drs Erickson and Massihi’s view that it isn’t about science. He wondered why someone in a hazmat suit was taking his temperature when there were next to no patients inside, something that is borne out by the data with so many beds available. Should we fear politics more than the pandemic?

Are governments following a herd mentality which uses poorly interpreted data as opposed to considering herd immunity based on medical science? The economic fallout will likely be way worse than any impacts of the virus itself. As we wrote earlier this week, governments carry zero responsibility for their actions because they can hide behind telling us it was for our own good. We bear the lot in terms of consequences. A terrible equation.

We believe that groupthink is the more dangerous pathogen in society. Whether financial crises or topics such as climate change, dissenting voices have repeatedly been terminated, especially by media outlets. Surely if the data sits with the prevailing sentiment, why not pick the bones out of Erickson and Massihi’s statement and debunk it with more prescient facts? In what world does it help to suppress information? Defeat data with data. This is why we remain contrarians.

The medical discussion surrounding the live clinical data of Erickson and Massihi makes plausible sense. We have all grown up learning that a baby gnawing a dog lead helps its body work out how to fight future infections. The doctors argue that keeping people locked down decreases one’s immunity to fight against COVID19.

The Bakersfield doctors believe that preventing the body from being able to combat coronavirus by not being exposed to it could have the opposite of the intended effect when people start to mingle again. Many people may not even know they have it. So when those people who caught it in a supermarket could restart the process. Does the government return to lockdown again and restart the negative loop?

These doctors claimed to have done the majority of testing for Kern County, California. The data backs up what is being experienced around the world positive test rates for infection are far higher than what is being reported but the death rates are way lower. Having said that, these two owners of seven clinics noted (some might argue somewhat selfishly) that the amount of people getting tested is way lower than their installed capacity. Irrational fear has been keeping people away. Then we are surprised when the natives get restless?

The two doctors recommend putting kids back into school. Slowly reopen other businesses and eventually sporting venues. The doctors questioned how it is OK to go to Costco but not a small cafe. It is reverse logic. There is a far higher exposure in a large business than a local cafe.

The adverse economic impacts don’t match the behaviour of the coronavirus in their opinion. Until a vaccine is found, the human body has the best chance of defeating it. Erickson and Massihi argued that 94% of the people recorded as dying from coronavirus had comorbidities – heart failure, immunodeficiencies, HIV etc. The death toll related to COVID19 alone is a speck.

The doctors added that there has been a sharp rise in domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, depression or mental health issues during the stay home orders. The campaign of fear exacerbated by the media is viewed as a far bigger problem than the coronavirus itself. Massihi suggested that people are becoming afraid to see the doctor for completely non-virus related reasons for fear of catching COVID19 by going to seek medical help. He argued that someone with symptoms of appendicitis avoiding the doctor for fear of contracting coronavirus may die of sepsis.

We don’t pretend to be doctors for a second. We offer no medical opinions here. We merely question why a social media channel decides it knows better than medical experts?

We understand a private business has the freedom to act in ways it sees as best for shareholders, but this seems far more sinister –  using its power to shut down free speech. Perhaps the doctors should sue YouTube for violating their first amendment rights. If there was ever a need for control over media censorship, this makes a great test case.