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A Pandemic of Covid Myths

For reporting on an example of just how pathetically sloppy are not only the media but also scientists themselves when it comes to Covid-19, see this Facebook post by Phil Magness. Here’s the text that Phil has in his post (but do click on the link to see the entire post, which features the killer sentence from the JAMA paper):

On Dec. 16 the Journal of the American Medical Association published a headline-grabbing article that claimed COVID deaths among people under age 45 were severely underreported, and could be determined by comparing this year’s excess death totals to the same age group in 2018, using the latter as a baseline to exclude opioid deaths. The NY Times & dozens of other media outlets ran with stories about how COVID was a grave danger to young people, contrary to what we’re seeing in the actual fatality statistics.

Although it was barely noticed, JAMA article contained a startling concession in a single line at the end: it was possible that opioid deaths were also up for reasons related to COVID (e.g. depression caused by the lockdowns), in which case the main claim of the article fell apart. The authors did not investigate this possibility any further, nor did the JAMA make them address what appears to be a highly consequential complication to their study.

Two days later the CDC released a report on opioid and other substance abuse deaths, the main chart of which is reproduced below. Guess what shot way up during COVID: opioid and other substance abuse deaths, thereby negating the headline-grabbing JAMA article.