Politics Influences the Science of COVID-19

Many of us are still shell-shocked by the changes in our lives that have been imposed this spring. We’re reacting to each unexpected event as it comes. But to anyone who has stepped back to make sense of this web of contradictory messages that pour out of our newsfeeds, it is clear that the government agencies and corporate news media are slanting their message toward fear. I am particularly concerned when they do this at the expense of honesty. This is a moment for the scientific community to be engaging in spirited dialog among diverse voices. Only with open debatei can we hope to shed light to guide the momentous public policy decisions that are being made, directing our culture and global economy into unexplored territory. But instead of robust debate, what I see is a monolithic message, and censorship of the few brave scientists who dissent from that message. I’m ashamed to say that the scientific community has been part of the problem.


I’m writing here about two issues: 

(1) Numbers reported by CDC have been gamed to make it appear that America is in the second wave of a pandemic. Instead of reporting COVID deaths, they began reported COVID cases. Then they conflated recovered individuals (who test positive for antibodies) with current cases (who test positive for the active virus). No wonder numbers are rising!

(2) A new report featured prominently in Nature purports to show that lockdowns have stemmed the spread of the virus and have saved lives. The article is by the same team whose flawed models produced apocalyptic predictions last March that justified lockdowns in Europe and the US. The new computer model assumes from the start that the number of COVID deaths would have expanded exponentially from their March levels, and that social distancing is the only factor responsible for lower death rates. That is, it assumes exactly what it purports to prove. Where is accountability? Why is this perspective promoted in the world’s most prestigious journal, while reasonable doubts are swept aside?


Part One—CDC reporting

The global death rate from COVID-19 is down to about 4,000 per day. It is not even among the top ten causes. COVID is lower than traffic deaths, lower than diarrhea. Even compared to other respiratory infections, COVID is now a minority.

In the US, daily COVID deaths peaked in April, and are now down to 1/10 the peak rate, at about 400/day. COVID is now the sixth leading cause of death in America, but it no longer registers as a bump in total mortality.

But the headlines claim we are in the midst of a “second wave”, based on reported numbers of cases.

Deaths from COVID are being over-reported. Hospitals are incentivized to diagnose COVID with Medicare reimbursement rates that are higher than other diseases, and guaranteed coverage from every major insurer. Doctors are being instructed to report COVID as a cause of death when no testing is done, and when chronic illnesses contributed to the outcome. And with all this, the number of deaths continues to fall, even as the reported number of cases is rising. Why is this?

In part, the lower fatality rate is real. Doctors are learning from experience how to treat the disease. More chloroquine and zinc, less intubation. Like all viruses, this one is evolving toward greater contagion and lower lethality. But the most important explanation is an artifact in the way COVID cases are being reported. Before May 18, the “case count” was based on tests for the live virus, and counted only sick people. Then the definition was changed to count both people who tested positive for the virus and for antibodies to the virus. The latter group is mostly people who have recovered from COVID, or who developed antibodies with exposure. As the number of recovered patients increases, of course the rate of positive tests will increase.

Part Two—Models that “prove” lockdown has saved lives

In the past, Neil Ferguson’s group at Imperial College of London has produced scary computer models that overestimated the epidemics of Mad Cow Disease, Avian Flu, Swine Flu, and the 2003 SARS outbreak. In March, his group’s computer model was justification for England, Europe and America to shut down economies, prevent people talking and meeting, prohibit concerts and theater and church and every kind of public gathering, throw tens of millions of people out of work, deny the rights to freedom of assembly that are fundamental to democratic governance. His manuscript was not even peer reviewed, but only posted on a university server. Even before its details and assumptions were made known, the integrity of the model was assailed by other experts, including Stephen Eubank (UVA Biocomplexity Institute) and Yaneer Bar-Yam (New England Complex Systems Inst). After details of the assumptions were revealed at the end of April, the model was widely scorned by real experts (e.g. Andrew Gelman) and self-appointed pundits (Elon Musk).

I have enough experience with computer models to know that results are often highly leveraged with respect to details of the input. Sensitivity analysis is essential for interpreting results, but is almost never done. Too often, the output is reported without the qualification that small changes to the input produce very different results.

Against this background, the high-profile publication in Nature of Ferguson’s recent work is suspicious. I would have thought he had no credibility left among serious modelers of epidemiology, but I have ceased to be surprised when politics trumps competence for access to the most prestigious publication venues.

The Ferguson Article Vindicating Lockdown

They analyze spread of COVID in 11 Eurpoean countries this Spring, averaging over different countries but not contrasting the different local strategies. They take death counts as surrogate for case counts because reports of case counts are even more unreliable than death counts. But (one of several crucial failures) they don’t apply a time lag between death counts and case counts.

They take as input for each country the dates on which each of three different isolation strategies was implemented. They assume that the virus would have spread exponentially but for these measures, and credit the isolation measures with the entire difference between reported death rates and the theoretical exponential curve.

They conclude that Europe has dodged a bullet, that less than 4% of people had been infected, and by implication the lockdown has saved the other 96%. They imply but don’t state explicitly that there would have been about 4 million deaths in Europe instead of ~150,000 reported when the paper was written.

It is obvious that lockdown and social isolation slow the spread of the disease, but not obvious that they affect the eventual reach of the disease. Thus it is an open question whether the public policy prevented or only delayed deaths from COVID. This question can be addressed most directly by comparing regions that were locked down with regions that remained open. Instead of doing this, the Ferguson group lumped all regions together and compared their results with an unrealistic scenario in which the exponential curve would have expanded to infect every susceptible person in Europe.

Two schools of thought

There are fundamentally two hypotheses about the epidemiological events of this spring: Either the number of people exposed has been high and the fatality rate low, or else the number of people exposed has been low and the fatality rate higher. People in the first camp argue that the exposed population is over 50% in Europe and America, approaching or exceeding herd immunity, and the population death rate is in the range 0.0005. In the second camp, people estimate the population exposure about ten times lower (5%) and the fatality rate correspondingly higher (0.005).

The story told by people in the first camp is that social distancing slowed but did not prevent transmission of the disease through the population. By now, the presence of the virus is waning because people in many places have already been exposed.

The story of Ferguson and others in the second camp is that social distancing actually stopped spread of the virus, so that most people in Europe and American have never been exposed. It follows that if we ease restrictions, there is another wave of infections ahead, potentially 20 times larger than the first wave.

The deep flaw of the recent Ferguson paper is that his team does not consider the first scenario at all. Built into their model, they assume that population level immunity is negligible, and the only thing that has slowed spread of the virus has been social distancing. This is where they put the rabbit in the hat.

If they had considered the alternative hypothesis, how would it have compared?

To choose between the two hypotheses, we might compare a region before and after lockdown, or we might compare regions that locked down with regions that didn’t.

In a preprint response to Ferguson, Homburg and Kuhbandner do a good job with the first approach. They take Ferguson to task for not considering the immunity that spreads through the population along with the disease. They show that exponential expansion had already slowed in England before the effect of the lockdown on mortality data could have been felt.

Lockdown went into effect in Britain on March 23. If lockdown had a benefit, it would be in preventing new cases, and its effect on the death rate would show up about 23 days later (April 14), because 23 days is the median time to fatality for those patients who die of COVID. In the graph, we see that the death rate had already leveled off by April 14.

On this log graph, an exponential increase would appear as a straight line sloping upward. It’s clear that the exponential expansion phase ended long before the lockdown could have had any effect. Not only weren’t the numbers expanding exponentially, but the death rate had already started to decline before April 14, when the effect of lockdown was expected to kick in. The authors state they performed the same analysis for 10 other countries in the Ferguson study with similar results, though they show the graph for Great Britain alone.

“We demonstrate that the United Kingdom’s lockdown was both superfluous and ineffective.”
[Homburg and Kuhbandner]

Here in the US, there was a natural experiment when people emerged into the streets to protest racism and police brutality at the end of May. Social distancing in this environment has been impossible. Allowing for a 23-day lag, we should have seen a surge in US mortality starting mid-June. In the plot below, there appears to be a leveling off of the death rate since mid-June, but no new disaster. This alone is strong evidence that US has substantial herd immunity, and that most of the population has already been exposed to the virus.

A second way to distinguish between the two hypotheses is to compare regions that locked down with regions that didn’t. One of their 11 European countries was Sweden, where the economy was kept open and quarantine was limited to people who were symptomatic with COVID. It is a glaring defect in the Nature paper that Sweden is lumped in with the other ten countries when it should have been contrasted. In fact, the mortality curve for Sweden was typical for the other ten countries, even as commercial and cultural institutions in Sweden continued normal operations. Sweden has had a higher death rate than Austria, Germany, France, and Denmark, but lower than Belgium, Italy, Spain, or UK. There is no evidence that Sweden’s COVID mortality was higher for having bucked the trend to remain open, but some indication that Germany and Austria had particularly effective containment policies.

We can ask the same question of the different states in the USA. Comparing death rates from COVID in the 42 states that locked down with 8 states that did not lock down, this article finds that the death rates in locked down states was 4 times higher. (Caveat: there was no correction for urban vs rural or for demographic differences.) The author concludes, “With the evidence coming in that the lockdowns were neither economically nor medically effective, it is going to be increasingly difficult for lockdown partisans to marshal the evidence to convince the public that isolating people, destroying businesses, and destroying social institutions was worth it.”

I’ve prepared a comparison of all states ranked by COVID mortality which you can view here.

The Politics of COVID

In 1933, Roosevelt told America we had nothing to fear but fear itself. It is common for government leaders to dispel panic because they know that a nation can better thrive when people feel confident and secure. Even G.W. Bush responded to the terror attacks of 9/11 by telling the American people, “keep shopping.” On the other side, despots sow fear in their subjects when they want to consolidate autocratic power, and when they want to stir up fervor for war.

It is clear from messaging in the corporate media that the COVID pandemic is being hyped to create more fear than is warranted.

  • The fatality rate was vastly overestimated initially, and even now is probably overestimated at 0.002 to 0.005
  • Doctors were told to report deaths from COVID without proof that COVID was the cause
  • Reimbursement incentives for hospitals to diagnose COVID
  • Repeated warnings of a second wave, etc, which has not materialized.
  • Suppression of tests for well-studied, cheap treatments (chloroquine) while jumping into large-scale tests of vaccines that have not yet been tested on animals.
  • No mention of vitamin D, which is a simple, cheap, and effective way people can lower their risk. [refrefref]. Our own CDC is silent, while the British equivalent agency actively discourages vitamin D for COVID prevention.
  • The biggest scandal of all is that lockdown has been authorized in the US and elsewhere based on hypothetical safety benefits with no consideration of costs. Our health is affected by our communities, our cultural lives, our social lives, and our livelihoods. [Yale epidemiologist David Katz politely makes this point.]

Shamefully, the scientific community has been complicit in the campaign of fear. A handful of courageous doctors and epidemiologists have been outspoken. In addition to Katz, John Ioannidis and Knut Wittkowski are best known to me. But the most trusted journals continue to publish articles that are based on politics rather than sound science.

Who is benefiting from the international panic? Who is behind the media campaign and the distortion of science, and what is their intention?

I invite people who are more politically astute than I to speculate on these questions.

89 thoughts on “Politics Influences the Science of COVID-19

  1. In my opinion there are many who might benefit from the doom:

    Vaccine and drug makers

    Politicians trying to get or keep power

    The media is compensated based on clicks

    Fear by those in positions of power to be shown as “not doing enough” or “you didn’t warn us”

    “One death is too many” overreaction without considering excessive caution causes harm too

    China benefits most from a weakened US

    Business overcautiousness due to fear of potential future litigation

    Corrupt scientists and doctors

    Anyone who benefits from chaos or reduced economic activity

    Anyone who benefits from a consolidation of businesses. Big retailers remained open while the mom and pops got killed.

    • I forgot a big one:

      Government workers still get paid during the lockdown. Easy for them to dish out mandates that don’t hurt them.

      • Yes, that is a big one. Politicians that put out mandates should have to abide by them . They are non essential workers after all.

  2. NIce article Josh…and it turns out even Amazon is in on the cospiracy….I had reentlty published my new ebook and it was going great 13 reviews up quickly all 5 stars! Then after 2 weeks they banned the book! BLOCKED for no other reason than it doesn’t meet our guidelines! I peppered Jeff Bezos’s email accounts with a complaint so they are now reviewing the matter..Should be back up in 5 days if lucky>>>

    16 Fascinating Covid-19 & Spanish Flu Mysteries Solved…
    By Jeff T. Bowles
    Kindle eBook BLOCKED
    Last modified on July 6, 2020
    $2.99 USD
    ASIN: B08BS2VXM8
    KINDLE EBOOK ACTIONS


    Paperback
    BLOCKED
    Last modified on July 6, 2020
    $9.99 USD
    PAPERBACK ACTIONS
    Continue setup

    . in the meantime anyone who wants the First 2 chapters as a sample and a link to get the pdf free here is the link>>>

    https://jefftbowles.com/16-fascinating-covid-19-spanish-flu-mysteries-how-to-easily-prevent-the-next-pandemic/

  3. Here is my leter sent to Jeff Bezos’s office that got a response..has some intersting info about the CDC and what they are up to>>>

    My Censorship Problem with Amazon
    “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking” ……Sir John Reynolds
    This is my third and final attempt to self-publish this book about Covid-19 through Amazon. Even though I have written and published all my books through Amazon and enrolled every one of them exclusively in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited book Club, even a best seller that sold more than 300,000 copies worldwide, Amazon still bans my latest book on Covid-19:

    I doubt Amazon has the stones to finally allow my book to be published, it just makes them look so bad and petty and thoughtless, but I am giving it this one last try….This will likely be my first book published elsewhere unless Amazon finally musters up some courage. I’m pretty sure this won’t happen. I will probably just give it away for free to everyone who wants it. I have already given away 200+ free pdf copies to readers all over the world which I am sure will start to spread to bigger numbers.
    So how did Amazon, which used to be a bastion of free speech, get to the point where they are now banning all new Covid-19 books and referring information-hungry people to the CDC website?
    I think there is someone there at Amazon in a decision-making capacity who thought they were acting virtuously by preventing misinformation about a deadly pandemic getting out to the public through Amazon’s self-publishing arm.
    But this person, rather than having Amazon employees attempt to judge each book submitted about Covid-19 based on its arguments, facts presented, and logic, did what many do in this busy and complex world and took that age-old shortcut, and decided to just rely on the “experts” and censor information coming from anyone else. And in this Amazon employee’s mind who were the experts? Of course, those smart looking doctors that we saw on the TV every night during the nightly Covid-19 briefing – the esteemed Drs. Fauci and Birx at the CDC!
    This well-meaning employee apparently was unfamiliar with the article in Smithsonian Magazine titled…
    Why Experts are Almost Always Wrong
    No one, not even the experts, really knows what’s about to happen By Rose Eveleth SMITHSONIANMAG.COM JULY 31, 2012
    HERE’S AN EXCERPT>>>
    “Every time there’s a national disaster, a gigantic event, a shooting, a breakthrough, really any news at all, you can rely on television news to find an expert. Some of them know quite a lot about what happened, what will happen, and why. But when it comes to a lot of experts, they really have no idea what they’re talking about.
    When they’re wrong, they’re rarely held accountable, and they rarely admit it, either. They insist that they were just off on timing, or blindsided by an improbable event, or almost right, or wrong for the right reasons. They have the same repertoire of self-justifications that everyone has, and are no more inclined than anyone else to revise their beliefs about the way the world works, or ought to work, just because they made a mistake.”
    So some Amazon employee at a relatively high level decided to hitch Amazon’s wagon to the star of the CDC when it came to Covid-19 and to hell with everyone else, even their most faithful, best-selling, health /science authors- CENSORED!! I will soon show you how inept and dishonest the CDC has been. It’s the government for crying out loud! The government almost never does anything right! Amazon it’s time for some other voices to be heard!!
    Currently, there are very few books and almost no serious books about Covid-19 available for sale at Amazon.com. But on June 4th,, 2020, Elon Musk tweeted that Amazon is a monopoly that needs to be broken up!
    Why? Because he felt they unfairly BANNED a book about Covid-19 by a former New York Times reporter, Alex Berenson, that was critical of the CDC’s accuracy for its reporting of deaths attributed to Covid-19.
    “This is insane” Elon tweeted.
    Within hours, the first serious book to question what the CDC has been feeding the public about Covid-19 was allowed to break through Amazon’s censorship filter and make it out to the information hungry public. How does this happen? I hear it occurs when Jeff Bezos emails an (?) to the person in charge of the gaffe….It immediately shot up to #1 on the best sellers list of ALL Amazon books for sale- showing just how hungry the people were for alternative information about Covid-19 than what was coming out of the CDC.
    Can you blame them? What has the CDC been saying? They started off with “do not wear masks they only help health care professionals and actually could increase your risk of getting Covid-19”! And then about a month later changed it to “everyone should wear a mask “.
    And now a number of State and County and City governments require, BY LAW, everyone to wear a mask when in public! States such as Pennsylvania, Hawaii (where there is almost no virus problem, so it is especially ridiculous), Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey require masks in public. Also, many counties throughout California require masks by law: Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara, Alameda, Sacramento, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and San Mateo, require mask wearing in public. While California is one of the states with the least problems with the virus as you shall soon see.
    And now, the World Health Organization (an ally of the CDC) has just warned that people should NOT wear masks while exercising!
    So, pardon anyone who might be a little skeptical about anything coming out of the CDC.
    But someone at Amazon puts the CDC way up on a pedestal!? Does this CDC worship come from an intimate knowledge of how efficient and smart the CDC is or js it just a lazy reliance upon “experts” because it negates the need for one to spend time reading and thinking for one’s self? Is someone at Amazon so lazy that they would prefer to deny the information-hungry public alternative but excellent information about Coivid-19 by deferring to the “experts” just so they can save some time reviewing and thinking about the various books being submitted to Amazon on the topic? Maybe someone at Amazon is not doing their job!
    Also, it was late February during the early days of the outbreak in the US the CDC told us “Americans don’t need to change their behavior patterns, but this might change depending on the course of the outbreak”. At the same time as this statement was made China was busy stacking bodies up in make-shift morgues, had been running crematoriums day and night for a whole month, and was building dozens of new hospitals around the country. It was all over the news even in early February. So eventually the CDC had to do an about face, but not just a 180 degree about face, more like an 1,800 degree change in policy!
    The CDC then panicked and relied upon the ridiculous models from the epidemic alarmist, and notoriously, wildly, inaccurate epidemic “expert” Neal Ferguson to predict that Americans would suffer 2.2 million deaths unless draconian actions were not taken like a legally enforced nationwide lockdown!
    Why did the CDC trust Ferguson’s apocalyptic death projections when he had cried wolf twice previously about Ebola and the Avian flu? The CDC bought his outrageous estimates hook, line and sinker and began quoting them with Donald Trump at their daily Covid-19 briefings on the national news. Then week by week the estimates started coming down, down, down, and down, eventually dropping to as low as 60,000 overall deaths. 60,000? That is less than the death total from the 2017 flu season which most people hardly even noticed!
    These panic driven numbers were unnecessary! It would have been a simple matter to look south of the equator and see that where they were just done with their hot summer in March they only had 50 Covid-19 deaths total, while the Northern Hemisphere had 11,500 and climbing during its winter. It was obviously a seasonal virus like the flu!
    And Amazon wants to silence everyone but the CDC about Covid-19! Isn’t that amazing???

    And unfortunately for Trump, he fell for it too! He was probably an easy mark given that the first patriarch of the Trump business dynasty, his grandfather, Friedrich Trump, was one of the very first people to succumb to the Spanish Flu in Queens New York in 1918. It is said he suddenly felt sick while walking down the street with his son and died the very next day. Surely this made a deep impression on Trump at an early age.
    Trump had a lot of company in imposing nationwide lockdowns as almost all European governments locked down their people as well. This was a huge mistake in the short run, but because the US economy had record low unemployment when the lockdown occurred, it led to many marginal businesses closing permanently. The longer-term silver lining of this dark cloud could be that it just might have freed up workers and resources to be used more efficiently when the economy recovers.

    All this is occurring while the country of Sweden had no lockdown ever, and today is no worse off than many European nations with a death per million rate of 499. For comparison deaths per million in the US are 363, France 453, Italy 570, Spain 580, and the UK 621.
    The CDC now counts the deaths from Covid-19 and wants us to believe that although the US has only 4% of the world’s population and the world’s best health care, we somehow have incurred 28% of the world’s deaths from Covid-19! If we were like the rest of the world our deaths from Covid-19 would be less than 20,000! And that might be closer to the truth than the current death number of about 120,000 being bandied about by the CDC.
    So Amazon wants to silence anyone pointing these things out and simply refer people to the CDC’s website to get more of this crazy information!?
    Even Dr. Birx one of the top two doctors at the CDC says she cannot trust any numbers coming out of the CDC!
    • The White House’s coronavirus task force response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, said in a recent meeting that “there is nothing from the CDC that I can trust,” The Washington Post reported on Saturday.
    • Birx and others reportedly feared that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data-tracking system was inflating coronavirus statistics like death rates and case numbers.
    Acting from CDC guidelines doctors around the country are attributing Covid-19 as cause of death to huge numbers of deaths. The CDC directive basically tells doctors that when in doubt for any reason about cause of death, attribute it to Covid-19 even without any test for the virus. Now we even have gunshot deaths in Washington state being counted as Covid-19 deaths!
    And Amazon wants you to get your information only from this outfit!!?? Yes, like Elon Musk says, “this is insane”!!
    Why does that person at Amazon trust the CDC so much?
    Every article in Wikipedia and every Google search is plastered with a message that tells us to trust the CDC. The head of Youtube goes on the air to explain why anyone who disagrees with the WHO must have their videos removed!
    THIS IS INSANE!!!!

    And as of the date of this writing, June 23, 2020, the CDC is giving us more alarming information about the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases popping up in various states that have lifted the lockdowns and suggesting that we might be headed for 200,000+ deaths by September!? What they are neglecting to tell us is that anyone who tests positive, even if they are not sick, and never will get sick, are counted as cases. They also leave out the vital information that can be easily gleaned from the World Meter Covid-19 website- the number of new deaths in the US. Which if you extend the downward trajectory of the following chart you will see it is suggesting the US will hit ZERO new Covid-19 deaths sometime around July 22nd! The solution to the 16 mysteries in this book explains why this is likely to be the case.

    And one more thing, the CDC is omitting from its news briefings the fact that in younger people the rate of asymptomatic carriers can be quite high. In fact, an excellent example of how high infection without illness can be, can be seen in the case of Triumph Foods of Missouri. It is a pork processing plant where 412 of its workers tested positive for the virus, which would add 412 cases to the state’s case total of around 18,000. How many of them were asymptomatic? It was originally 100%, (but now they are saying 90%)! Any deaths? One, a man in his 40’s who had underlying health conditions died. The “case” number from Triumph has since been bumped up to 490, almost all asymptomatic, after additional testing.
    And what is so bad about asymptomatic infections? Every asymptomatic infection results in basically one more person immune for life (usually) from the virus. This brings us one step closer to achieving herd immunity. Once herd immunity is achieved, there will be no more epidemics of this virus. Also, the immunity provided from actual infection is better than that from vaccination. The only downside of this would be there might be a week or so where the asymptomatic carrier can unknowingly spread the virus. And a downside for mainstream medicine is that Big Pharma might sell fewer vaccines and have fewer profits with which to conduct research!

    Okay, now the book you are about to read is a significantly diminished version of the original version of the book that I uploaded to Amazon KDP self-publishing in May of 2020. After working night and day for months on the book I uploaded it and immediately got a notice back from Amazon that my book was BANNED for no other reason that it did not meet their “guidelines”. And the book isn’t even about the scandals at the CDC it is actually a journey through 16 fascinating current and historical Covid-19 and Spanish Flu mysteries
    One email from a nameless, faceless Censor at Amazon suggested I not use the term COVID-19 anywhere in the book- that was the only advice they would give me. I wrote back email after email to the nameless faceless Censor explaining why it would be a good idea to allow my book to be published and to please give me a reason why they would not. And their advice was even more unenlightening, they would reply “we have reviewed your book again and have come to the same conclusion that it does not meet our guidelines.”
    They would then refer me to their guidelines page which discussed books they found objectionable like those dealing with child pornography, or glorifying real life murderers. Nothing about health or disease books. NOTHING!!

    Then I realized that if you were searching under books and you typed in Covid-19 you would get almost nothing in the way of books and just a little link that pops up at the top of the page that says if you are looking for Covid-19 information please refer to the CDC’s website!!
    Amazon is the major eBook publisher in the US with a monopolistic 83% of the market share that makes them more like a public utility for authors than a small publishing house that can pick and choose books they want to publish and censor what they don’t like.
    When Amazon is censoring anyone who argues against the US government’s line about such an important topic as Covid-19 it really does seem to argue for some sort of break up or regulation of the company. Courts have ruled that Amazon is not liable for things published by its self-published authors. Under the Communications Decency Act Amazon is deemed to be a provider of interactive computer services only, and not a publisher, because Amazon is not the information content provider.
    By becoming an active and unreasonable Censor of content – Amazon is now one BIG step closer to losing that valuable exemption.

  4. This seems like a Plandemic-style response to Covid-19. An argument implying an enormous conspiracy at the heart of the matter, of eminent doctors and scientists suddenly falling into incompetence or planning global evil rings of paranoia to me. I get that the virus is new. I get that the federal response to it, were it not so malevolently ignorant, could otherwise be described as farcical. But Occam’s Razor disabuses me of any sense of conspiracy when a failure of leadership to understand, , to even be interested in understanding, to respond, and to adjust to a complex disease we are still learning about — and instead seize on the disease as a means to further widen our cultural/political divide — suffices.

    • Jill – I try to stick to science in this forum and not speculate on who is behind this or what might be their motivation. I don’t understand how “Occam’s Razor” helps us distinguish whether our leaders are incompetent or malevolent. Looking at the science behind the recent Lancet paper (which I wrote about last month) and the Nature paper reviewed here, I don’t see legitimate mistakes, but rather a foregone conclusion for which a scientific support was attempted. I tried to explain why in both columns.

  5. Great job Josh. Lee pretty much summed up all of the actors involved and what they have to gain.

    Most of this is a massive attempt by almost all of the major media to get Trump out of office. So they deceive and sensationalize more than even the tabloids. At first they were opposed to mask wearing when they were pushing for total lockdowns, now that Trump isn’t wearing a mask, they’re all for mandated mask wearing. Trump was a racist when he stopped travel from China, and then was accused of not acting quickly enough. Hydroxychloroquine was all political. A recent study showed a 50% decrease in hospital mortality rates when it was administered early in the course, even without zinc, and this got very little press coverage. There were no cardiac arrhythmias.

    Even his most recent push to reopen schools, which is supported by the Pediatric association, was met by this Washington Post headline:
    “Coronavirus cases pass 3 million AS White House pushes for schools to reopen.”

    I belong to neither political party, but the media bias in reporting about this virus has been absolutely intolerable and has created an enormous amount of fear and even panic. It’s all about politics.

  6. So you saw, see, what happens when social distancing rules are not held to, there is significant increase in cases. As you show the death rate is going down, but that’s exactly what you’d expect as treatments improve with time. So, the longer the disease is delayed, the better your chances are. What would you suggest instead?

    • Agree. That’s what the math was telling me back in April when cases were severely under reported, and yet the death rate based on the estimated higher case rate was decreasing as would be expected due to treatment improvements. Social distancing does not equate perfectly with shutting down. I speculate that some of the countries with the best success had higher rates of personal social responsibility and discipline in voluntarily practicing social distancing and hygiene. Some had better testing and contact tracing. And in some countries there was also the aspect of a greater threat of punishment for non-compliance. There’s a lot of middle ground between the 2 extremes presented to consider the effect of these other factors. Bottom line, using social distancing to stretch out the curve seems a reasonable strategy to buy time to learn more and then adjust. However I do agree with the premise that the scientific community has not responded well to the political and media chaos, with way too many just going along with the leadership consensus.

      • Please, keep in mind that “better treatments” only work to mitigate deaths as long as the health care system still has capacities left to handle the severe cases. Once that is overwhelmed, most severe cases will die. Which is what we observe happening in the US right now, though in slow motion.

  7. I am a little disturbed that a man of science, which you propose yourself to be, is taking a paranoid view of what is essentially a moving target regarding this virus and the systems that are attempting to understand it and treat it.
    No one knows what the mortality rate is for this disease as it is an evolving situation. It is merely being reported as a screen shot in time. Mortality is a complex issue, and the rate of mortality hinges on the co-morbidities of the population that has disease and what the socioeconomic factors, including access to care are in that area or group. Mortality rates change in the middle of a pandemic.
    Doctors assign cause of death routinely using clinical knowledge and guess work. Do you actually believe that all the death certificates that assign heart disease as the cause of death have proof that heart disease was the cause of death? If so, you are incredibly naive or uninformed. Doctors do not often know the exact cause of death, but make educated guesses based on clinical presentation and patient history. Since there is a severe lack of testing ability in the entire country, they assign cause of death for Covid-19 as they do for other diseases.
    Reimbursement issues with regard to Covid-19 were not put into place to fool the public or make money for hospitals. They were put into place to reimburse hospitals that are over run with patients and out of resources to continue to treat them. Whether or not this is fiscally sound is questionable, but it is not part of a great conspiracy. It may be political, but it’s not a healthcare conspiracy. There will always be people who take advantage of every situation, but they are not in the majority.
    The second wave was predicted as a possibility for the fall as a warning to let the public know that the disease was not in retreat. No one made a definitive prediction of when it would occur, and they did not predict that it would occur during the summer. The possibility was based on historical data of pandemics, and that is all we have to go on at this point.
    Over 35% of the patients available for human trials are enrolled in chloroquine trials. I would think that hardly qualifies as suppression. The pharmaceutical companies will make a lot of money on a vaccine and its development, but they won’t make any money on chloroquine. Of course they are ready to jump into big human trials for vaccines! Pharmaceutical companies have always steered their efforts toward those drugs which make lots of money.
    Extreme vitamin D deficiency has been cited as a risk for more severe disease, but routine consumption of vitamin D has not been proven to reduce incidence of the disease. Your assertion that it needs to be promoted as such is not substantiated in the the literature that I have found.
    Lock downs do work, and they were imposed as much to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed as preventing disease. If you are one of the patients that needs hospital care, you want to be able to access it. If a vast majority of the population needs hospitalization and critical resources simultaneously, then the mortality will certainly go up. Lock downs help avoid that situation as well as overtaxing medical personnel when case number begin to rise in discrete geographical areas.
    I find your arguments to be the flip side of the coin that you are ranting against in this post. Rather than being afraid of the disease, you want your readers to be afraid of the great conspiracy to mislead and misguide us. That seems as dangerous to me as what you are asserting is happening. The media reports the information that they are given. Whether or not they are using good sources or inflating the information is another issue, but that has always been the case with all big stories in this country with a long trajectory. People need to pick their sources carefully for this type of information, but they often do not. Facebook is not a good source for scientific reporting, but a huge proportion of the population relies on it.
    I truly believe that all our problems are due to a lack of leadership and organization in response to this virus. Ineptitude, not conspiracy. Information about this new virus is evolving. Recommendations for how to respond must evolve as well.

          • Becky:

            It has been news, if you search for it.

            Still, it did not get the legacy media coverage, that the flawed Veterans administration test recieved, 24/7.

        • “At the root of the conflict is the fundamental principle that the FDA uses to evaluate drugs. Decisions are based almost entirely on what is known as a randomized controlled trial, in which patients are randomly assigned to receive a treatment or not. Other types of studies have, again and again, failed to deliver accurate information about medicines’ benefits and risks, and are used sparingly in making medical decisions. Three randomized studies have now shown no benefit for hydroxychloroquine in hospitalized patients.

          The study that sparked the latest controversy was anything but randomized. Not only was it not randomized, outside experts noted, but patients who received hydroxychloroquine were also more likely to get steroids, which appear to help very sick patients with Covid-19. That is likely to have influenced the central finding of the Henry Ford study: that death rates were 50% lower among patients in hospitals treated with hydroxychloroquine”.

          https://www.statnews.com/2020/07/08/a-flawed-covid-19-study-gets-the-white-houses-attention-and-the-fda-may-pay-the-price/

    • Yes, what Becky said. In addition…
      – Ending lockdown has produced an explosion of new cases in Southern US, and good contact tracing in places like China and S. Korea clearly reveals the value of social distancing and mask-wearing.
      – Enough random antibody testing has been done to confirm that only a few percent of Western populations have been infected. Suggesting that we’ve already attained some sort herd immunity is irresponsible.
      – It’s the long-term complications of coronavirus that one should be worried about, not whether it’s going to kill you right away. We really don’t understand this disease well enough to be so complacent about its possible long-term effects or our ability to control its spread.

    • Becky

      All views should be considered. All questions pondered.

      What is the point of the language used in the first paragraph of your post, except as a way to attempt to belittle someone into silence because they deigned to express a particular point of view?

      It would have been just as easy to make your points without including that first paragraph, which includes comments obviously meant to denigrate.

    • Josh your article didn’t even mention Australia, NZ or Greece, South Korea, Taiwan et al where lockdowns have been spectacularly successful and economic activity has been largely resumed. It’s also now known that the virus doesn’t survive long outside in conditions exposed to heat, UV light, humidity and airflow. Lack of an increase in cases after the protests is likely more attributable to this than your scenario that the virus is not so bad and herd immunity has been achieved.

      • Australia has been used as example numerous times to show how the pandemic should have been handled in the USA. I would like to see a discussion on this topic. I am certain it is an apple vs oranges situation.

    • Great clearly written and reasoned post. Thanks. I agree with most of what you’ve said, although I think it is true that the media has been guilty of some exaggeration, partly due to political bias and partly because bad news is a bigger story and good for their business… and, of course, politicians of all stripes have been trying to spin things to their own advantage. Regarding vitamin D, I think there is quite a bit of evidence that supplementation reduces the general risk of respiratory illness, so a simple strategy that might help a bit.

  8. Rapidly

    Probably Josh, what you do not understand is that nobody fully understands what is going on. And so there is no monolithic opinion.

    The short answer to your question: is: there is no distortion of science, but things we do not know. And there are scientists and organizations and institutions trying to stop the pandemic without knowing precisely how to stop it. And doing this because the life of weak, sick and people is perceived as more precious now than ever before (and this is good news). And also, there is kind of an “imitation” in many countries, not because of a complot, but once again, because we do not know how to react, so people and organizations more or less follow others, but with erratic moves.

    And your conviction that there is some organization behind is a complot theory. The almost funny thing is that you admit that you cannot even give a reasonable explanation concerning the “complotists”. The not funny thing is that you implicitly pretend that scientists are also part of the complot: “the scientific community has been part of the problem.”

    As a side note, it is clear to most that:
    =there is no herd immunity at the moment,
    =even where there was no lockdown (like in Sweden), people were taking measures to avoid contamination.

    • Didier – I agree that there is much we don’t know.
      Perhaps, writing from Belgium, you are unaware just how tightly the narrative has been controlled in the American press. In Europe generally it is easier for most people to read a variety of different viewpoints.

      • I am not sure what part of the EU you are referring to, but try to find a narrative even mildly diverging from the official one in Hungary. Frankly claiming that the press tightly controls pandemic information in a country whose President incessantly pushes proven-to-do-harm hydroxychloroquine as well as injections of Domestos as a cure makes you sound like lacking in perspective, which is something I never thought I would say.

    • Seems unclear to me that herd immunity as we understand it with this virus is indeed being (or has been) achieved at this point. Any other assessment is giving the undue weight to [reported] cases vs deaths.

      • What does herd immunity even mean in this context? Why is the median age of death in the UK 81.5 years with children and young people with no specific antibodies not even getting symptoms (and likely don’t even pass on the disease)?

        It seems reasonable that social distancing (with or without a complete lock-down of the economy) can delay or maybe even prevent deaths – the real question is whether or not it is worth the cost.

        This pandemic is far from unprecedented – there have been many over he past 100 years or so, but non came with an enormous destruction of the economy that will likely cost more lost years in life than the disease itself.

        I do not subscribe to the view that any deaths are too many – not if the cost of saving those lives results in more deaths overall. The fact of the matter is that the developed world by and large has locked down not because of the seriousness of the disease but because we are RICH.

  9. Josh,

    As you mention in the second part with respect to lockdowns, there is a “lag” in the reporting of deaths vs. new cases (per your data, 23 days). Does this not imply it is very much too soon to conclude there is not yet a “second wave”? In fact yesterday saw the highest daily death total since June 9th (994). While it is possible there has been over-counting of deaths due to miscategorization (or poor incentives), this has likely been the case for some time. It is therefore possible to compare the present numbers against earlier numbers, despite the potential for over-counting. Surely, we will soon see whether or not the spikes in cases across the southern United States result in increased mortality.

    I would also like to address a point you made with respect to “new case” reporting:

    “Before May 18, the “case count” was based on tests for the live virus, and counted only sick people. Then the definition was changed to count both people who tested positive for the virus and for antibodies to the virus. The latter group is mostly people who have recovered from COVID, or who developed antibodies with exposure. As the number of recovered patients increases, of course the rate of positive tests will increase.”

    Unless people are being counted twice (possible, but unlikely), this will really just affect the date of infection which is already somewhat of an issue. In general, we want to know both how many people have been infected in total, but also how many people are *currently* infected (and therefore able to spread the disease to others). Cumulative counts are useful in the case of the former, but not in the latter. Antibody test results should be included in the cumulative count, but not the “active” count, but I am unaware of any reporting agency attempting to calculate a realistic “active case” count, perhaps because it is very difficult to do?

    Good news should be welcomed by all. 1. The case fatality rate (as with almost every epidemic/pandemic preceding this one) has dropped as more cases have been identified, 2. Advancements in treatment and understanding, 3. the potential (and somewhat expected) “weakening” of the virus

    Lastly, I would like to address your criticism of lockdowns. I concur that lockdowns were largely ineffective and unnecessary, but for different reasons. By now it has been well demonstrated that before lockdown measures were put place people naturally curbed their social activities. Call it a “self-lockdown” if you will. The reason the leveling and drop in UK mortality happened before the official UK lockdown is because people effectively locked themselves down. Mind you this is not conjecture on my part. If you’d like I can provide you with data.

    I consume data and analysis on COVID-19 voraciously, yours included. I do not mean to take anything away from your careful analysis and critical eye, but I also do not think the fear we have witnessed is based solely in a media complex gone out of control.

    Thanks!

    –jon

    • Jon

      You make some very good points. On antibody testing, the tests for IgM, IgG, and IgA are all unreliable in areas where the prevalence of disease is relatively low and the specificity of the test isn’t almost 100% . Most of the areas in the US are about 5% prevalence and most tests don’t exceed 95% accuracy.
      Also, the antibody response isn’t reliable unless the covid symptoms were fairly severe. Asymptomatics and mild disease are giving either no antibodies or a very transient response. So that test is practically useless.

      Fauci and the CDC are treated by the media as almost godlike and infallible. Actually, despite over 28 studies which were available in January, they continued to lie about the importance of mask wearing. They were joined by WHO and the surgeon general saying that not only were masks useless, but that they were dangerous and made it worse.

      I agree that with so many asymptomatics being identified that the infection fatality rate is dropping like a rock. Treatments are modest for remdesivir, pretty good for steroids when the patient exhibits hypoxia ( useless otherwise). A decent vaccine may be ready by November and the virulence of the virus may indeed weaken. They seem to be seeing this in Italy.

      Lockdowns were meant to flatten the hospitalization curves. This was achieved but politicians and the media moved the goalposts to ostensibly prevent recurrence of cases. Obviously, when you stop with strict lockdowns cases will go up, but that wasn’t the goal. We now know that enclosed areas like bars and nightclubs are the culprits, wearing masks and distancing works, outdoors are safe. We don’t need further lockdowns and there is no reason to keep schools closed. Now it’s just all political.

      • ” Actually, despite over 28 studies which were available in January, they continued to lie about the importance of mask wearing.”

        And yet we have a President determined to hold large indoor rallies without people wearing masks. I guess the President must be in on the plot too.

        • James
          It’s all about expectations. I didn’t expect our public health experts to blatantly lie about face masks. They reduce transmission of respiratory viruses by between 80-90%. Think of the lives that could have been saved if that simple measure had been instituted immediately, like it was in most Asian countries and the Czech Republic BTW.

          • I agree that was a big mistake initially but we need to keep in mind that the President and many of his followers have been resistant to mask wearing even up to recently. Whether that has weakened slightly in the last few days we shall see. Just a few days ago he held a big event at Mount Rushmore with few masks among those in the audience. At least that was outdoors as opposed to the Tulsa rally.

            But if we want to talk about politicization… well, the mask issue and the opening up with few of the prerequisites was all about wanting to establish a sense of normalcy before the 2020 election and trying to get the economy back on its feet for primarily political reasons. Those are worthy goals but trying to get to them prematurely is probably going to cost thousands of lives.

            At any rate, there hasn’t been any emphatic declaration from the White House about wearing masks, although a few weak nods to it from Pence and the advisors that are occasionally let out, I even understand some of the respirator masks needed by health care workers are again in short supply so we may again be having PPE shortage issues..

            I think the lock down would have worked if it had been followed with mandatory mask wearing, adequate testing, contact tracing, and restrictions on crowd size. We in the US would be looking a lot more like Europe than Brazil.

          • I agree Paul.

            I could not believe early on that Fauci was discouraging mask wearing. Claiming at one point that it was actually problematic.

            Advising people to wear some sort of face covering was an easy way to keep infection rates down.

            When I was in China, five years ago, people, were wearing masks to prevent the flu.

            At The time there was no government mandate to do so. The people simply wore the mask as a way to prevent infection. It was socially acceptable

            When I returned home, I often wished it was socially acceptable in the US to wear a face mask during flu season without appearing to be obsessive compulsive.

        • Lockdowns will only delay infection rates. It will also prevent and delay herd immunity.

          Of course infection rates will rise once a lockdown is ended. That is to be expected. Still herd immunity will eventually increase.

          The fact is that we can not stay locked down forever.

          Most of the people who die from Covid19 appear to be already unhealthy in some way. This includes the overweight, those with undiagnosed diabetes, heart disease or other health issues.

          Even the healthy elderly appear to be able to recover from Covid d19.

          Perhaps protecting the vulnerable people, while allowing the healthy to resume normal life is a prudent approach.

    • Thanks, Jon. You make good points, and I agree that we can expect to see some increase in COVID deaths as the country opens up. Perhaps we will learn whether we’re halfway to herd immunity or only 5% of the way.

      If I had to guess, I’d say New York City is well over halfway to herd immunity but New Zealand hasn’t begun.
      – Josh

    • >> A decent vaccine may be ready by November.

      The time-consuming part isnt creating a vaccine, it’s testing the vaccine. We know now that every vaccine affects the immune system in general. Vaccine against virus A can affect the immune response to viruses B, C, and D. Some of these cross-pathogen effects are positive and some are negative.

      So every vaccine must be evaluated on the full spectrum of its effects. Does it prevent more disease than it causes? We cannot know this until at least 5,000 volunteer subjects have been tracked for a minimum of 2 years.

      Fortunately, there are honest and responsible vaccine developers who know this, and who have pursued the long haul proces in the past, investing up to 10 years to establish safety and effectiveness for each vaccine. Unfortunately, these responsible labs are excluded from a “warp-speed” procurement process.

  10. The intention is to scare us, and disrupt our lives, so much that we’ll go along with the mandatory vaccine.

    Alan Dershowitz said if people refuse the vaccine, they will be forcibly taken and will have the needle plunged into their arms. Look for the video of him saying that.

    Masks, shutdowns, the vaccine that will have a chip in it so we will be tracked wherever we go…Vaccines are laced with cancer-causing agents as well as agents that cause many other ailments. These cancer-causing vaccines have been around since vaccines were invented.
    The same group behind Monsanto is behind vaccines (as well as media, WHO, Hollywood, and our govt as well as many other governments).

    Henry Kissinger is part the depopulation agenda. So is Bill Gates. And it has nothing to do with “saving the planet” or any other nonsense they may claim.

    Look into Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine. People were getting cancer and it was discovered that up to 30% of the polio vax were laced with cancer.
    It’s being done on purpose.

    When researching, use swisscow rather than google. It’ll be easier to find info (google buries stuff to make it harder to find).

    When they make the corona vaccine mandatory, people will be dying in huge numbers. People will just think they randomly got cancer (or ALS, or an actual severe form of corona, or other illnesses). But they will have gotten it from the vaccine.

    This is their plan. Depopulation. 90% of people will be killed.
    UN Agenda 21. Agenda 2030. Agenda 2050.
    Look for what Agenda 21, 2030, 2050 really are (not the “official” version) and decide for yourself if it lines up with what’s going on all around us.

    • Bill Gates and George Soros must be working with extraterrestrials who brought the virus to Earth to enslave humanity and create a NWO. When the pandemic reaches its peak, they dump massive quantities of hydroxychloroquine into the water supply. I think I saw this on Ancient Aliens.

  11. Josh,
    Am usually an avid follower and will continue to do so. I am 85yrs old and have no desire to risk a cytokine storm in my lungs however slight the chance may be. If you were my age perhaps you would currently have a different bias.

    When I was a fighter pilot in the Air Force someone would inevitably ask if “x” happen what were the “y%” chances that it would be fatal. Simple answer, 100% or 0%. for most of our operations. To rail against excess caution and see a nefarious plot everywhere is not a very wise public health tactic. That is why we had parachutes and ejection seats and I used one. Otherwise I would have been 100% dead and not needing your blog for anti-aging.

    SaberJim

  12. About conspiracy theories:
    I try to talk about the science, and it seems to me that it’s not just incompetent but corrupted. I agree that this raises the question, who is doing the corrupting? How far does their reach extend? Can it be that journalists, corporate billionaires, scientists, and politicians have conspired to tell us big lie?

    These questions are just as uncomfortable for me as they are for you. But I’m not willing to say they’re off the table.

    I know little about how politics works, but I have faith in the scientific community, and here is a case where I am calling on scientists to come together in support of the principle of open dialog, no censorship. I don’t use the term “fraud” lightly, but I am sure it applies to the Lancet article on chloroquine, and I suspect that it applies to the Nature article that I discuss here.

    We all have an interest in keeping our journals free of political influence.

    • Despite the solid structure of their tenets, scientists as as given to human failings as politicians. I try to bypass the voices of “scientists” who are caught up in the emotion (and the politics) of the season.

      Really, I find conspiracy theories to be the domain of the lazy, generally speaking. But even I am pondering whether there might well be some unspoken conspiracy to do everything possible to remove Trump from office—and keeping the virus aligned with him in the public’s mind is a key weapon. What else explains such a political gulf in the assessment of Covid19?

      Again, I seek the scientists—immunologists, virologists, epidemiologists, engineers—who have been crunching numbers, studying this virus, and who have managed not to fall prey to panic or politics.

      You’re one of them, Josh. Thanks again

    • Josh, I’m in Saberjims age group, at 83, and I thank you for this excellent article. I have forwarded it to family and friends. I feel certain that I had this virus back in March. I hadn’t been sick for years, and then all of a sudden came down with all the symptoms of COVIS-19. However, since I have taken daily doses of 12,000 mg of vitamin C since age 25, maintain correct weight, make it a point to get plenty of direct sun, walk every day and otherwise practice good health, it passed in less than two weeks with the help of extra vitamin C, Quercetin, and elderberry juice. I believe this mask business is foolishness and does far more harm than good. I have never been hospitalized, never been operated on, and never had a flu shot. And I cut an acre of grass using a push lawnmower every few days in 90 degree weather.

  13. I always look forward to your postings, Josh.
    You did not disappoint again.
    I have no answers or comments to make save for one:
    Here in Australia we have had lockdown imposed in all states and territories and the infection rate (about 8,000?) and death rate (about 105) seem quite low. The state of Victoria eased its lockdown, only to find the infection rate rapidly climb to a point now that the 2nd wave has exceeded the first.
    So I would say that lockdown here has prevented (or delayed?) people catching the virus but at enormous economic cost. In fact, the country is now in recession and many businesses are bankrupt.

  14. Thanks for another thorough article, Josh. I shared your previous one on the Suppression of Chloroquine on Twitter (where you do not hang out, evidently). I encourage you to tap into a few smart threads there including @boriquagato (el gato malo), @ElonBachman (Bachman), @skysira (Sky), @EthicalSkeptic (Ethical Skeptic) and @FatEmperor (Ivor Cummins) among others.

    I’ve been a lifelong Democrat, but have now left the party (am officially “no party affiliation”). I simply cannot subscribe to the kind of politics of fear that I believe they hold much of the responsibility.

    keep up your fine work!

    Paul

  15. Granted, statistical analysis has well served the scientific era; however, what’s the relevance when ignoring the issue of “garbage in”? Particularly, when the clinical diagnosis of death from COVID-19 is questionable? Possibly attributed to one of twenty or more comorbidities; exsanguination from gun shot wounds; or asphyxiation from carotid compression. Further confounding this analysis the subsidization by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of the Ferguson Team (stated to be five million yearly for x number of years), The World Health Organization, Dr..Fauci of NIH notoriety, and Johns Hopkins University.
    To further confound statistical analysis is the newly established diagnosis of “probable COVID-19′, accepted now by seven or eight states, whereby no clinical testing, except for one patient, is required for the establishment of the COVID-19 diagnosis; of note, that one case by some wizardly statistical or epidemiological manipulation becomes equivalent to sixteen or more positive cases.
    Why these issues are not more openly addressed is baffling!

  16. Thank you for posting this article. Politics / media / journals have embraced fear and normal people don’t hear about the actual facts. It’s tragic and wrong.

  17. All of this fear mongering is driven by the Democratic Party. You will be amazed how fast it disappears if, God forbid, Joe Biden is elected in November.

    • Fear mongering?

      Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that “additional measures are going to be necessary” and the state will have to take “tougher actions” if daily coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to climb at current rates into July.

      “The way hospitalizations are spiking, the way that daily new cases are spiking — surely the public can understand that if those spikes continue, additional measures are going to be necessary to make sure we maintain the health and safety of the people of the state of Texas,” Abbott responded when asked whether he would consider rolling back some of the state’s reopening guidelines.

    • You think the rest of the world cares about what the US democratic party says? What the whole of Europe did (I will leave out the UK as they are on their own planet exceptionalism) preceded what the democrats suggested. Once you look beyond your borders you’ll see that politics has little to do with coffins.

  18. Good article in the Atlantic about the lag in deaths. Five possible reasons

    Number 1

    Deaths lag cases—and that might explain almost everything.

    You can’t have a serious discussion about case and death numbers without noting that people die of diseases after they get sick. It follows that there should be a lag between a surge in cases and a surge in deaths. More subtly, there can also be a lag between the date a person dies and the date the death certificate is issued, and another lag before that death is reported to the state and the federal government. As this chart from the COVID Tracking Project shows, the official reporting of a COVID-19 death can lag COVID-19 exposure by up to a month. This suggests that the surge in deaths is coming.

    In Arizona, Florida, and Texas, the death surge is already happening. Since June 7, the seven-day average of deaths in those hot-spot states has increased 69 percent, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/07/why-covid-death-rate-down/613945/

  19. While downplaying the count of C19 deaths as overcounted, the writer ignores the many 1000s of “excess deaths”, esp in Confederate states, that have been, are attributed to the flu, when quite obviously, in mid-pandemic, the excess deaths are most probably C19 deaths.

    About 130K C19 “official” deaths so? Add in mis-attributed excess deaths to arrive at about 160K+_ C19 deaths

    And underlying, but non-mortal, comorbidities should be the cause of death, when C19 infection pushed them over the edge into the grave?

  20. I won’t pile on where some of your better-informed readers have already done ably, but I wanted to mention that it seems your argument rests on two (2) sources, unless in my haste to file this under ‘things that I wasn’t expecting from J.M.’ I overlooked some others? The sources are, the CDC numbers and the Ferguson article.

    I’m going to assume you are correct and give you the benefit of the doubt, as I do with most of the scientific research that you report upon, but the sparseness of the evidence for your thesis is glaring, and certainly isn’t comparable to your anti-senescence postings.

    Not that quantity of evidence is alone convincing, and perhaps these two are enough to make the case that establishment journalism is failing the masses; it certainly seems that way in all other news media. However you made at least one strong claim that isn’t backed up with sufficient data – that Sweden hasn’t been harmed by its policy. What we are hearing is that it has, but maybe new data will contradict this. I’m not aware of any yet.

    And yes, the public messaging during the outbreak has been appallingly contradictory and confusing, with leadership lacking in all sectors, but then again, that’s hardly surprising since nearly a century elapsed since we were last in this situation. Occam’s razor might not be useful to distinguish malice from stupidity but then maybe Hanlon’s razor will. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor

    For now I’m going to isolate as much as possible, wear a mask and wait for the data to trickle out, if it ever does, since the harm that might be caused by this abundance of caution seems to me likely to be less than to assume there is no danger.

  21. I’m confused as to why the two figures showing the CDC’s tally for leading causes of death IN 2016 are included in this article. The article text does not refer to them. More relevant would have been to include data for 2020, which the CDC does not readily supply. These figures as included tend to discount the credibility of your article, which may well be otherwise accurate.

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  23. Pingback: covid politics influence – Covid 19 Information

  24. Certainly there has been a lot of politicking about Covid-19, by both the right and the left. Amusingly, left and right essentially swapped their positions at some point, apparently with never a thought on either side about how ridiculous our political antics really are. Right started off yelling we weren’t doing enough and promoting all kinds of extreme measures, but eventually switched to their current claims that the danger is overblown or even a complete hoax. Left started off saying stay calm and don’t overreact, but has now switched to doctrinaire belief in a terrifying plague and demands an apparently endless response. What odd creatures we humans are.

    • It’s crowd madness. The world has gone bipolar. Or we are on the cusp of a dystopia. Everyone feels repressed including the president of USA. How did we get here?

      • The internet has made it easy and fast to know what the masses think which has never been possible before. Groupthink on steroids.

        • Edward O. Wilson sums up today’s situation pretty well. “Humanity today is like a waking dreamer, caught between the fantasies of sleep and the chaos of the real world. The mind seeks but cannot find the precise place and hour. We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology.”
          We used to think leaders of the world don’t confuse emotions with facts. Or if they do, their advisors would nudge them back to the right path. It turns out not to be so. Now people are afraid to speak out not just about Covid 19, but about everything. I live a semi-recluse life. It’s the first time I have ever heard about blackfishing. You mean you are not allowed to experiment with your makeup for fear of being called blackfishing. Can dark haired women dye their hair blond? Would they be accused of blondfishing? I think both the left and the right have gone too far. Why are we so focused on retribution? Where is peace, love and forgiveness? Sorry for the rant. If considered inappropriate, delete it.

          • Cassia:

            A few years ago, I was walking through Manhattan with an African American Co-worker, when we passed a woman who had a seemingly African hair style with braids and beads.

            The co-worker, a man, suddenly became enraged and started ranting about how the woman, had a nerve to steal the hairstyle of a “sister.” Sister being his word.

            I was flabbergasted. I mean, seriously, it’s just a hair style.

            The woman was light skinned and appeared caucasian but she could have been of mixed raced.

            I pointed that possibility out to him and asked: Even if she were fully caucasian, don’t the “sisters” as you call them, very often straighten their hair?

            When they do, are they stealing a hair style from another race? I don’t think so, do you?

            He had no answer. He simply changed the subject.

            Something very odd going on.

  25. Pingback: The "Second Wave": Politics Influences the "Science" of COVID-19. Flawed Data, Flawed Models - Global Research - GEORIVISTA

  26. Since the beginning i could not make sense of what i see with that how it is acted.
    I initially could not explain myself how everyone on the globe seems to push forward this lockdown, despite the low numbers.
    But i really knew something is up when i simply checked the official expalantion, what the difference between Covid19 and the flu is and there is none, except that there is no vaccine for Covid.
    But by looking more and more into it, the vaccine isnt the only reason, politics and the lobby behind them are pushing this narrative.
    Its also about the destruction of the economy, where few profit and governments *tax payers money* spend billions on so called rescue packages. Of course not the small businesses get helped out, but those that profit anyway.
    A gigantic global raid to fill in the pockets of the rich even more and make the poor even poorer.

  27. FDA is suppressing intravenous vitamin C as another cheap, probably effective treatment for COVID. It is a distortion of scientific judgment to imagine that vaccines, still in early stages of development, are a more promising treatment for a real and present epidemic than treatments like IVC and zinc and chloroquine with which there is already extensive experience.

    https://www.change.org/p/explore-high-dose-iv-vitamin-c-for-coronavirus-patients-approveivc/u/27245998

  28. From Dr. Gregory Fahy’s May piece:
    “Virus-specific T cell responses have been shown to be present in 100% of individuals who recover from COVID-19.”
    ref: “Targets of T Cell Responses to SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus in Humans with COVID-19 Disease and Unexposed Individuals” which stated:
    “Importantly, we detected SARS-CoV-2-reactive CD4+T cells in ~40%–60% of unexposed individuals, suggesting cross-reactive T cell recognition between circulating ‘common cold’ coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2.”
    https://www.aging-us.com/article/103636/text

    • “We have similar data here in the US: several surveys of IgG antibodies show single-digit seroconversion. You could conclude that we have large numbers of people who have never been exposed – and indeed, the recent upswing in infections in many regions argues that there are plenty of such people out there. But we need to know more. We could have people who look vulnerable but aren’t – perhaps they show no antibodies, but still have a protective T-cell response. Or we could have people who look like they might be protected, but aren’t – perhaps they showed an antibody response many weeks ago that has now declined, and they don’t have protective levels of T-cells to back them up. Across the population, you can use the limited data we have and our limited understanding of it to argue for a uselessly broad range of outcomes. Things could be better than we thought, or worse, getting better or deteriorating in front of our eyes. We just don’t know, and we have to do better at figuring it out.”

      https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2020/07/07/more-on-t-cells-antibody-levels-and-our-ignorance

      • The other interesting thing is that Sweden appears to be showing signs of herd immunity at only 20%, rather than the expected 60%. It could be that T cells from prior exposures to coronavirus are responsible and don’t show up on the antibody tests. This 20% number also happened on some cruise ships.

        • Yeah, Paul, herd immunity might be a lot more complicated than just number of people with antibodies. But if there are actually signs of herd immunity at 20% that might mean that 40-50% have some sort of T cell memory. That would be great but if the number turns out to be 25-30% rather than 40-50% that could mean there is still a long ways to go with the pandemic. I think for the moment this is particularly appropriate:

          “Across the population, you can use the limited data we have and our limited understanding of it to argue for a uselessly broad range of outcomes. Things could be better than we thought, or worse, getting better or deteriorating in front of our eyes. We just don’t know, and we have to do better at figuring it out.”

          • Yeah. This is very confusing. Some population groups , like prisons, are showing 65% with antibodies. It’s all seemingly contradictory but it could be a whole mixture of genetics, blood type, coronavirus exposure, vitamin d status and even history of vaccinations like MMR and BCG.

            Blagosklonny makes a good argument that it’s a disease of aging. Look at the most vulnerable groups: the old, males ( age more rapidly than females), and those with age related diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and heart disease. Children really aren’t dying from it ( very, very rare).

  29. Josh, I agree with you that –
    1. The government in the UK has consistently and systematically suppressed information about the effectiveness of Vit D, and other safe and tested medicines against Covid

    2. The government has sought to censor alternate views
    3. The government has acted in an unnecessarily destructive way towards our economy
    4. The government has undermined our rights and freedoms
    5. The government pushes for an untested vaccine that may prove harmful

    Conclusion
    It is not Covid that we should be afraid of – rather it is the government and what they do next.

  30. From your “Suppression of Chloroquine is Scandalous” post:

    “Could it be that the same powerful forces benefiting from the lockdown and social control have power to censor both the scientific establishment and the popular press? These may seem wild speculations, but perhaps they are justified by wild events.”

    Yes, it’s those who founded Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg Meetings, and the Trilateral Commission that control the propaganda machine: https://cfrmedia.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/cfr-media-hd.png

    and also control the medical field and dominate big pharma:

    http://www.blissfulvisions.com/articles/Rockefeller-Carnegie-Big-Pharma-Scam.html
    https://naturalsociety.com/what-the-term-medical-mafia-means/

  31. Interesting story by Harvey A. Risch, professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health.

    “Since publication of my May 27 article, seven more studies have demonstrated similar benefit. In a lengthy follow-up letter, also published by AJE, I discuss these seven studies and renew my call for the immediate early use of hydroxychloroquine in high-risk patients. These seven studies include: an additional 400 high-risk patients treated by Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, with zero deaths; four studies totaling almost 500 high-risk patients treated in nursing homes and clinics across the U.S., with no deaths; a controlled trial of more than 700 high-risk patients in Brazil, with significantly reduced risk of hospitalization and two deaths among 334 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine; and another study of 398 matched patients in France, also with significantly reduced hospitalization risk.”

    See: https://apple.news/Arad2ajwrQgy4XP6vP6t4rw

    Link to paper: https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/doi/10.1093/aje/kwaa093/5847586

    I am personally at a loss to explain the behavior of ‘The Establishment’ to the Covid-19 situation. It’s the clearest example I’ve ever seen of Politics completely trumping (pun intended) science.

  32. Reading many of these posts, the virus I see most worth worrying about is viral misinformation. I fully expect to see a reference to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion next. I sometimes despair for the human race, especially when elements of it seem bent on a regrettable extinction event: the end of truth.

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