COVID-19: Bad Science, Bad Metrics, Lies, And Manipulations

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Please be kind enough to read, detached from emotion and biasses. I do care what is happening in the world, our country, my state, and my community. Who am I to talk about such things? I’m no one. But I can read data. And so can you. I am by no means an expert, but I can rely on experts as I research. I’ve relied on experts from Oxford. And ANYONE can look at the metrics. I recommend this data source, since it is free from emoting commentary.

I cite references below. A scholarly article/review which cites several RCT studies, and a recent video of Oxford epidemiologists, and a few quotes. My motivation is not to personally attack ANYONE. My motivation was prompted by the repeated claims that mask mandates “are based on the science.” My motivation is to present an important perspective that I feel is largely un heard and misrepresented.

I’m not anti mask, I’m anti-bad-science. I want my state, and the country to re-open. Although I cannot wear face masks due to non-SARS-CoV-2 health issues, if the science supported it, I would be encouraging EVERYONE to wear masks. But the science does not support large-scale use of masks by the public.

To date, there have been zero studies which have been peer reviewed and use a randomized controlled trial (RCT) which prove wide scale use of masks by the public is effective at preventing the spread of SARS/respiratory viruses. Zero. None exists.

There have, however, been many peer reviewed studies which use RCT’s which present scientific evidence they do not work. These studies, up until after this pandemic began, were used and referenced by the CDC to discourage large-scale mask use by the public. So what changed? Well, it certainly wasn’t the science.

For whatever reason, it seems that the CDC has thrown out the long ago learned laws of virology, have thrown out the studies which present scientific evidence, and then changed its guidelines (with little specifics), with no peer reviewed study which utilized RCT’s, to support this change. This is NOT science. To cite experiments which show promise, while dismissing already established studies which prove otherwise, is NOT science.

The studies previously used by the CDC to discourage face masks already take in account the aerosol debate. I’ve been told, “Every little bit helps.” Actually the already established studies previously used by the CDC say the opposite. And no study (with already mentioned prerequisites) prove otherwise.

What about all the reports of the science which say masks work? Work for what? To dam a certain percentage of spittle from being sprayed from your mouth? Well, they do. I can’t argue against that point. And that point had already been addressed by the established studies prior to this pandemic. And the studies found this point (aerosol spread) to be irrelevant in limiting the spread of infections (mentioned in the links below).

“Okay, wearing a mask MIGHT work, and wearing it doesn’t hurt me, or you, or the public.” Well, that isn’t entirely true either (discussed in the links below).

Why would some scientists be pushing for face mask use if they didn’t think it would work?I don’t know for sure. We can only guess. But in order to do so, they have to completely dismiss the already established studies that say otherwise.

I think part of it may be hubris. Scientists are mortal and not immune to human nature and biases. They want to think what they are doing is working. They have to dismiss already established contrarian evidence to hold on to this hope. They want to be the hero. They, like the rest of us, feel under great pressure due to the state of our country and world. This pressure creates biasses, emotions, and blinders, all of which hinder scientific study and methods. This is why RCT’s (randomized-controlled trials) are so critical for scientific evidence. They remove certain biases.

“But, in a pandemic, we don’t always have time to do an RCT and proper studies. We learn as the pandemic rolls on.” That’s true. And it applies mostly to treatment. We’ve learned a lot as to how to treat those hospitalized as a result from COVID-19 complications. Again, whether we are talking about treatments, or spread prevention, we can’t simply toss out everything we had learned prior to this pandemic. But that is what several experts have done. Dismissing studies which show evidence that large-scale mask use by the public is not effective, and can cause the situation to become worse.

Since the mask debate has become so political and emotional, I don’t trust any report about masks which have been published in recent weeks. And even if I did trust them, there are still none with the prerequisites already mentioned, free of biases.

Mask mandates are not based on scientific evidence. I have yet to see a mask mandate which cites a peer reviewed study which uses RCT’s. Most mask mandates don’t cite any study. If they cite anything, it is usually only “experts” or “doctors” or a similar variant. This is NOT science. It is anecdotal. Mask mandates are not based on scientific evidence. At best, they are based on scientific hope, and at worst they are based on junk science. Scientific hope or junk science is a bad parameter to use while creating public policy which will affect many and cause many ripples.

“Doesn’t New York prove the mask mandates work?” No it doesn’t. Because with that standard you could point to California as evidence that mask mandates DON’T work. “But not everyone in California obeyed the mask mandate.” The same can be said about New York, so one statement proves the other to be faulty. Also, I could point to Hong Kong’s strict mask mandate. It was hailed worldwide as a model to follow to crush the virus. They have now shut things down again due to a third wave. I can make a similar point about Israel. All anecdotal. Not scientific.

“We have to do SOMETHING though.” I understand this feeling. When we see the large increase in case numbers, it’s hard not to feel helpless. But case numbers alone can blind you to certain realities. Experts who cite case numbers alone are practicing improper science. I can say the same thing about a daily death toll. The case fatality rate (CFR) is declining. And so are the hospitalization rates. “That’s not true, more and more people are being admitted to the hospital.” That is a separate metric than hospitalization rates. See my comment below for more. “But a bunch of people died today.” I know. And it is tragic. We need to realize that a daily death toll is a separate metric than CFR. See my comment below for more.

The virus is not as deadly as it once was (see linked video of Oxford epidemiologists below).

We are being lied to and manipulated. Here is one specific example. A majority of people only read headlines, and those who actually click on the link, only read the first few paragraphs. The media knows this. A headline read, Claremont 13-Year-Old Dies After Experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms. But in the article, halfway through, it says he did not have SARS-CoV-2. This is probably the most disgusting example of panic porn to date.

Here’s another headline. Doctor who survived COVID-19 bewildered by public disregard. Doctor who survived… as if it is a rare thing to survived COVID-19. Death rate is incredibly low..

And here’s another. I think this is one of the worst panic porn headlines from my local media here in south-west Idaho. Is 500-plus daily COVID-19 cases the new normal in Idaho? This headline was published as the CFR and hospitalization rates for Idaho were declining (still are declining). But they focused only on one metric, case numbers. Improper science, and irresponsible. It presented the question, cited no one asking it, and cited no response or answer from ANYONE. Panic porn. Manipulate fear.

The media largely only focuses on case numbers. Sometimes a daily death toll. And experts who do this are either completely ignorant, full of hubris or fear, or are out-and-out lying or manipulating. Don’t listen to these “experts.” Truth is NOT their agenda. Don’t consume the media reports which only focus on case numbers or a daily death toll. Epidemiologists must look at many metrics, and two primary metrics are CFR and hospitalization rates. And as the epidemiologists from Oxford say in the linked video below, the CFR shows that the virus is weakening.

National CFR is 3.5% and declining. It is significantly lower for those under 70. For my home state of Idaho, the CFR has declined nearly to .8%, and still going down. Practically 0 for those under 70. This virus is no longer the killer it was in the beginning. “Yeah, but it is a novel virus, which means anything could happen.” Yep, that’s true. That is an emotional argument, and not entirely scientifically accurate. As pandemics roll on, we learn more and more about the virus in question. We’ve learned how to treat the symptoms. Over the ages, we’ve learned that pandemics follow a certain pattern. Timelines differ, but patterns remain largely similar. This virus is holding true to the patterns. Deadly at first, but less deadly as it spreads and evolves. “Experts” who throw out the long ago learned laws of virology should be ignored.

I have little evidence which supports this, but I wonder if the mask mandates are about optics and politics. The data is showing that the shut downs did nothing. Economies were neutered for nothing. Schools were shut down for nothing. People’s livelihoods were destroyed for nothing. That puts incredible pressure on politicians. So they try something else, even if science doesn’t actually support it. It is a shot in the dark, and I believe they know it. If case numbers go down, they can claim the mask mandates worked. If case numbers don’t go down, they can blame those who didn’t obey. Mask mandates are a political cover. And for businesses, I don’t see their mask mandates as anything other than a corporate cover-your-butt policy to prevent litigation. Congress needs to pass a law which protects businesses from such litigation.

I’ve seen many reports and have seen the studies which discuss the evidence that shows large-scale mask use by the public does not work. I found one though, published in June, which cite many of the studies and reports. Here are just a few quotes of importance from it:

There have been extensive randomized controlled trial (RCT) studies, and meta-analysis reviews of RCT studies, which all show that masks and respirators do not work to prevent respiratory influenza-like illnesses, or respiratory illnesses believed to be transmitted by droplets and aerosol particles.

 

…no study exists that shows a benefit from a broad policy to wear masks in public

 

…the distributed psychological, economic, and environmental harm from a broad recommendation to wear masks is significant, not to mention the unknown potential harm from concentration and distribution of pathogens on and from used masks. In this case, public authorities would be turning the precautionary principle on its head.

Masks Don’t Work: A Review of Science Relevant to COVID-19 Social Policy

“But that was published in June. I thought you said you don’t trust anything published since this pandemic began.” Yep, I did write that, but as I said, this report compiles a bunch of RCT studies done prior to the pandemic.

“But haven’t we learned so much more about this virus since June?” Already discussed this argument. Need something more current?

Here is a recent video of epidemiologists from Oxford (you know, that podunk university that anyone can get into and is attended by troglodytic hillbillies who can’t even turn on a computer). They condemn the shut down narrative. They condemn the mask narrative. They condemn the media narrative of “Holy crap, case numbers are increasing!”

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10 thoughts on “COVID-19: Bad Science, Bad Metrics, Lies, And Manipulations”

  1. Hospitalization rate is NOT the percentage of beds occupied. Hospitalization rate is the total cumulative number of those souls who have been hospitalized since the tracking began divided by the total cumulative confirmed cases. So, for now in Idaho, 600 / 14,873 = 4%.

    Case Fatality Rate (CFR) is calculated the same with total cumulative deaths replacing total cumulative hospitalizations.

    These calculations speak only to the strength and lethality of the virus. As I said previously, these Numbers show us, and the CDC, that the virus is weakening. This is reason to be hopeful for the long haul.

    What hospitalization rates and CFR do not tell us is the current toll on the medical infrastructure. It is absolutely possible to have an increase of occupied beds, and have a decline in hospitalization rates. Let’s use some ridiculously simple numbers to illustrate. NOTE: these same mathematical principles also apply to CFR and a daily death toll.

    There are 100 available beds in the state. 50 people come down with the virus and are confirmed to have it. All 50 need hospitalized. 50 of 100 beds are occupied. The hospitalization rate is not 50%. It is 100% because there are 50 confirmed cases and 50 of those are in the hospital. The next day, there are 150 new confirmed cases, bringing the total confirmed cases to 200. None of the new confirmations need hospitalized. 200 cases, 50 hospitalized. The hospitalization rate drops to 25%. The next day, the 50 are released and go home. 0 in the hospital. That same day, there are 300 new cases, bringing the total to 500. 500 cases, 50 have had to be hospitalized. The hospitalization rate is now 10%. The next day, there is a huge influx of cases. An additional 2,000 confirmed cases, bringing the total to 2,500. 100 people need hospitalized. All 100 beds occupied. Went from 0% occupancy to 100% occupancy in one day. Yikes! Yet, the hospitalization rate drops from 10% to 6%. 150 total hospitalizations divided by 2,500 cases. 6%.

    Occupancy percentage is the percentage of available beds occupied. But, there are little to no contextual metrics available to us (for Idaho), as I noted in my initial post. There have been a few (non angry) health care workers who have contacted me, which are imploring the public that they are worried about bed occupancy percentages. We need to take these seriously, but the system of metrics is HORRIBLE. Absolutely HORRIBLE.
    We cannot dismiss the worry outright, but I also think it is not a good parameter to make broad public policy based only on anecdotal evidence. Something must be done about the system of reporting hospital metrics during a pandemic. We need to be fair to the health care infrastructure, but we also need to be fair to the public. If public policy is to be made that will affect MANY, we need better numbers for the public to see.

    If a hospital CEO is sounding the alarm about bed occupancy, just remember, their job is primarily to focus on their hospital. Their alarm speaks NOTHING to the strength or lethality of the virus itself. To make broad public policy decisions that will affect many based solely on such an alarm is a bad parameter for public policy decisions. I’m not saying that bed occupancy numbers are irrelevant, I’m merely saying that they don’t determine lethality, and there are other metrics involved with bed occupancy that the media rarely report. “Bed Occupancy is increasing.” Okay, how much? What percentage of beds are occupied? What percentage of those are there specifically for SARS-CoV-2? What was the occupancy number this time a week ago? A month ago? A year ago? “What does a year ago have to do with anything?” Because some hospitals are near or at capacity year round. Predictions about occupancy in a month is exactly that, a prediction, and they rarely if ever say how they reach the prediction. Such predictions only stir emotion and provide no contextual or relevant data to determine sound public policy.

    It is also important to note that several hospitals have plans in place on how to quickly expand, and adjust, for such a pandemic. They know what to do. And just because a hospital is converting rooms into ICU rooms, doesn’t mean they are needed at the time. They could merely be getting prepped for a worst case scenario occurring, and end up never needng the makeshift ICU rooms.

    I think we need to be a bit more kind in our discourse as well. There are many who can’t fully understand the metrics that show the virus is weakening, especially when they see the reports of more being hospitalized. Some people react to fear stimuli different than you do. It doesn’t make one better than the other. It’s just different is all.
    Edit or delete this
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    Here is a link from where I get daily metrics. Free from emotional commentary from the horse-pucky media; https://covidtracking.com

  2. Don’t forget to mention the CDC announcing a few weeks ago, positive anti-body tests have been placed in the confirmed cases category.

  3. I agree that we have been lied to and that the media is pushing a fear based agenda. I also believe that the virus is not as deadly. There isn’t enough evidence to support mask laws. But what are we to do? Just wait for a vaccine? And what about the new reports which say antibodies disappear quickly?

    1. What reports? Those that have been debunked already? Or the one from China which no one can verify? I trust medical studies from China as much as I trust Fauci to have an unchanging opinion. Such reports fly in the face of long known laws of virology, and experts were very irresponsible to spread those bad studies. “Oh, that’s interesting. It doesn’t jive with what we know about viruses, but let’s spread it all over the place anyways.”

      To date, there have been zero safe and effective vaccines for viruses in the coronavirus family. Zero. Not for lack of trying. The nature of such viruses make it very difficult. And so far, it has been impossible. I’m not advocating that we don’t try for one, but I think it is completely foolhardy to pin hopes on one. And we certainly should not be creating any public policy based on the hope. It is a unicorn.

      We can’t say for sure, but researchers from Oxford believe HIT, herd immunity threshold, is closer to 10-20%, much lower than we initially thought. Too premature of a study to start celebrating though. If we would have listened to the experts at Oxford from the beginning, instead of the ridiculous “experts” from Imperial College, who predicted all sorts of gloom and doom death numbers (deaths in the millions), we would not have shut down. We should have done what we have always done in a pandemic. Protect the vulnerable, help them when needed, and let the healthy go on with their lives, exposing the virus to their superior immune system, and reach herd immunity.

  4. The CDC has changed so much in the past three months. And I don’t understand it. Changed so many guidelines that had been used forever.

  5. it selfish to not use mask!!!! all the new science says so!!!!!! this webpage is john birch bull****!!!!

  6. Indeed the media are trying to make the people fearful and anxious. It will all go away after the election.

  7. Now Trump is saying it is patriotic to wear a mask. Doesn’t bring up science at all. That is creepy to me, and I can’t bring it to words as to why. Seems a little too China like? Too autocratic? I can’t put my finger on it. It sure seems political though.

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