Throughout the Wuhan Flu adventure we’ve been bombarded with the idea that any “non-essential” activities should be banned until every person is completely protected from infection by SARS CoV-2. Several ideas are buried in this narrative, all of them false. Unfortunately, in the incessant clamor that President Trump “must listen to the science,” he has been led like a lamb to the slaughter by “scientists.” They profess to be trying to keep us safe, but the facts lead us to wonder if they have ulterior motives.
Initially we were told not to panic. But out of “an abundance of caution,” President Trump banned travel from China on January 31, one day after the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency. We already knew that five million people had already been allowed to travel from Wuhan to the four points of the compass, each potentially carrying the virus. Like the Alaskan Air Force (mosquitoes), the bug was everywhere, and it was going to bite people. Everywhere. It could not be stopped. It was already “in the wild.”
The problem was simple. The threat was an infectious disease. The President naturally sought counsel from the Centers for Disease Control. Sounds great! The agency sent the President’s inquiry to the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a bureaucrat named Fauci. The Lone Ranger saddled up Silver, and went “Hi, ho, and away!” with Tonto Birx at his side. The fact that the virus was in the wild should have changed the narrative, but that could not be allowed.
Doctors Fauci and Birx both earned MD degrees but left patient care to became researchers. As time passed, they ceased to be physicians and became bureaucrats. They labored in relative obscurity until this marvelous opportunity arrived for their fifteen minutes of fame. They could fulfill the prime directive of the Law of the Bureaucrat. They rode in to solve the problem no one else could solve. They were suddenly the smartest people in the room.
Of course, if they actually solved the problem, Fauci and Birx would be sent back to their dusty corner of bureaucratic Purgatory, there to continue cleaning the Aegean Stables in perpetuity. To forestall this fate, it was imperative that the problem continue for an extended period, at least until a vaccine could be created in a year or three. Because if there is no problem to solve, there’s no need for the bureaucrat. With this sort of incentive, one must wonder if the choices presented by the basketball player and the scarf queen were entirely based on good epidemiology.
F&B painted a picture in stark black and white. 2.4 million Americans were about to die from a murderous alien infection that was unstoppable unless the most extreme measures were taken. Even then, the slightest contact was likely to be lethal. Just ask New York Governor Cuomo! No precaution was too radical to allow us to avoid this horrible fate. The model that gave us the panic came from the Imperial College in England.
F&B already knew that the IC model was based on bug-ridden antique software that couldn’t even reproduce its own results. That’s right. If you put the same numbers in twice, you got radically different results. This isn’t “garbage in, garbage out,” it’s “anything in, garbage out.” They also knew that the IMHE model (University of Washington) was only predicting a tenth of deaths that the IC model did. That would be bad, but nowhere near enough to justify extreme measures or their presence in front of the cameras.
The five million carried Wuhan Flu to the entire world. There were nearly immediate outbreaks in Thailand, South Korea, Sweden, Italy, and Spain. This alone should have made it clear that the virus was in the wild and utterly impossible to contain. The fact that South Korea rapidly documented the presence of large numbers of asymptomatic carriers (since confirmed by Stanford and USC) was further proof that the horse had left the barn. The only containment measures with any possibility of success had to do with individual rather than population protection. The elderly and infirm would benefit individually from protective measures, as would those persons caring for them. The acutely ill should restrict their activities to avoid becoming super-spreaders. This is Epidemiology 101.
But F&B invented a radically different approach. The healthy would be isolated to keep them from getting sick. All “non-essential” jobs and businesses would be shut down. All contact between people would be sterilized with masks, gloves, elbow bumps, and hand sanitizer duels at six feet. Bureaucrats like F&B would define “essential.” Supposedly this reduction in traffic would stop the swarm of locusts in its tracks.
But since the virus is in the wild, it’s impossible – repeat, impossible – to keep people from getting sick.. In fact, you can’t even keep it away from the elderly and infirm. Someone has to bring them food and help with various daily activities. So they will get exposed. If they are locked up in closed spaces with poor ventilation, their exposure will be magnified. The result is New York Governor Cuomo’s “shocking” announcement that 66% of all COVID-19 deaths in New York came from “non-essential” people who were locked down. Actually, it should have been expected. When the Diamond Princess kept almost four thousand people in a closed space with central air circulation, almost 20% got the virus.
In NYC, like Lombardy (Italy), large at-risk populations were forced into high risk situations by F&B’s misguided recommendations. Instead of recommending that everyone at risk get out in the fresh air where solar ultraviolet radiation would kill viruses, all “non-essential” people were forced out of productive jobs and into disease incubators. Closed spaces with restricted exterior air exchange multiply the risk of infection by as much as eighteen times. In fact, every outbreak has originated indoors.
Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs, Deadliest Catch), points out that all jobs are truly essential. When jobs are eliminated, workers can’t pay rent or feed their families. “Non-emergency” medical care like cancer screening, wellness checks, and stress tests get missed, leading to many thousands dying. Suicides increase. With over 20% of workers idled right now, we have to ask what might have been done.
Because the bare life sustaining necessities of life involve huge numbers of personal interactions, trying to define “essential” in the context of virology is a fool’s errand. Is a marijuana dispensary essential when school is not? Is World Wrestling Entertainment essential when landscaping is not? Put bluntly, it is not possible to define “essential.” That means any such designation is arbitrary and capricious (legal implications intended). And most of those “non-essential” businesses are actually very safe to operate.
Anything outdoors is safe. Period. Florida Governor DeSantis commented last week that not one case of COVID-19 in Florida can be traced to an outdoors contact. This is no surprise, since solar UV is nature’s disinfectant. Hospitals use it to disinfect rooms, and Amazon is starting to use it to sterilize their warehouses. Indoor activities can also be made safe either by increasing fresh air flow from outdoors (like auto shops and dry cleaners), or by artificially introducing far UV-C light, which sterilizes but doesn’t even penetrate the tear layer on your cornea. If your favorite restaurant were to install such lights, it would be safer than your home.
F&B have been claiming victory, saying that they have been “flattening the curve.” Supposedly their measures have reduced the peak load on hospitals. But this claim is denied by experience in South Korea, Taiwan, Sweden, and South Dakota. These places remained open for business, but employed the standard track and trace methods to reduce hot spots. They have not been overwhelmed.
New York City, even though it became a disease incubator, was not overwhelmed. The Javits Center field hospital was never used, and the Navy Hospital ship saw only a few patients. The vast number of ventilators demanded were far in excess of what was actually needed.
Rather than performing a lethal social experiment on America (and through imitation, the rest of the world), well established epidemiologic methods were fully capable of handling this new virus. The only workplaces that would be affected would be those that either had an outbreak (like Smithfield Foods) or that simply could not provide sufficient ventilation or UV-C. In other words, a very small segment of our population would have been affected. The economy would continue to boom.
Why, then did the Pros from Dover prescribe arsenic for America? They knew it violated every tenet of good medical and epidemiologic practice. To suggest that they were completely blind to the health threats of economic collapse boggles the imagination. Was the lure of the camera and adulation of the press too much? Or is there something more sinister behind all this?
There is no need for a staged re-opening of America. Every stage preserves part of a bad prescription. At this point we know that COVID-19 isn’t nearly as deadly as feared. In fact, it’s in the same league as seasonal flu, and all we do there is tell sick people to stay home until they recover. The only restrictions that might reasonably be retained are on businesses that are demonstrably hazardous. And those are few and far between.
But won’t we see a spike in Wuhan Flu? Maybe. But since it’s in the wild, that isn’t all that likely. And we will keep seeing frequent cases until we get herd immunity. Period. Whether we get them from exposure or vaccination makes no difference. Most people will get a mild illness or none at all. Younger people will almost certainly recover, and will be a large part of preventing future epidemics.
Check out the NEW NOQ Report Podcast.