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Some Covid Links

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As Jacob Sullum notes, not everyone in government whose job is to follow the science follows the science [2]. A slice:

After Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was criticized [3] for grossly exaggerating the risk of outdoor COVID-19 transmission, she said she was relying on a study published in “one of our top infectious disease journals.” But as I noted a couple of weeks ago, Walensky misrepresented [4] that study, which was published [5] by The Journal of Infectious Diseases in February, in several significant ways. Today New York Times columnist David Leonhardt, who first called attention [6] to Walensky’s hyperbole, reports [7] that a co-author of the study agrees the CDC director’s gloss was misleading.

TANSTAFPFC (There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Protection from Covid.) [8]

According to Matt Ridley, “[t]he Covid lab leak theory is looking increasingly plausible.” [9] A slice:

Even Dr Anthony Fauci, the US President’s chief medical advisor, now says he is ‘not convinced’ the virus emerged naturally. This month a letter in Science magazine from 18 senior virologists and other experts — including a close collaborator of the Wuhan lab at the centre of the debate, Ralph Baric — demanded that such a hypothesis be taken seriously. Suddenly, too, journalists have woken up and begun writing articles admitting they might have been hasty in dismissing a lab leak as a Trumpian conspiracy theory last year. CNN reported this week that the Biden administration shut down the State Department’s investigation into this.

The turning point, ironically, was the ‘press conference’ on 9 February in Wuhan where a team of western scientists representing the World Health Organisation sat meekly through a three-hour propaganda session at the end of a 12-day study tour. Strictly chaperoned throughout, the western scientists (approved by the Chinese government) had mainly listened to presentations by their Chinese colleagues during their visit and done no research themselves. Yet the result was presented to the world as if it was the WHO’s conclusion.

Fraser Nelson exposes fallacies in Dominic Cummings’s case for earlier and harsher lockdowns in Britain [10]. A slice:

So it’s not quite as simple as a story of a deranged Prime Minister listening to fringe figures and rejecting sensible, balanced advice. He was rejecting an uncosted case for lockdown, based on claims that turned out to be wildly exaggerated. This infuriated Cummings, who now sees this as a “disastrous” decision that killed “tens of thousands”. It’s quite a claim. But one that’s pretty hard to back up.

Here’s Annabel Fenwick Elliott on the Covid-hysteric Cummings [11]:

Surely there has to be a more nefarious threat that isn’t being made public; a better reason for keeping families apart and an entire industry bent over a barrel. And yet, there almost certainly isn’t. Had there been, Dominic Cummings would have spilled the beans with great relish yesterday. Instead, while his seven-hour Boris-bashing bonanza made for scintillating viewing, the only ‘bombshells’ that surprised me were his own admissions.

I didn’t know Cummings was pro-dictatorships, for example, or that he wanted to copy China’s approach and close the borders all the way back in January 2020. I don’t find it shocking that the Prime Minister, ever the libertarian at heart, pushed back on that plan, nor that he uses blustering rhetoric while strategising, nor indeed, that working with him is like trying to steer an errant shopping trolley. It definitely doesn’t surprise me that from early on, Boris wanted to be like ‘the mayor in Jaws’ who kept the beaches open despite the presence of a great white shark.

Even in hindsight, the data proves he wasn’t wrong. By the time Covid-19 had become endemic, there was little point in sealing off borders – we know that because, as the refreshingly rational Lord Sumption pointed out yesterday [12], there is no correlation between lockdown policies and deaths. On the contrary, the likes of Sweden and Switzerland, which had the lightest restrictions in Europe, had far fewer excess mortalities per capita than Spain and Belgium, where lockdowns were extreme.

Yep – a straw man is once again stomping in a country that so many people praised for the wisdom of its government’s earlier draconian efforts to eliminate the need for such a straw man to stomp in that country [13].

Liz Wolfe reports that the ubiquitous plexiglass barriers are likely useless for reducing the spread of the coronavirus and perhaps are even counterproductive [14]. A slice:

It would be one thing if this form of hygiene theater was limited to restaurants. But school [15] districts across [16] the country [17] have forced [18] children to try to learn [19] while encased [20] in plexiglass [16] desk dividers—that is, if they’ve allowed [21] kids to return to full-time in-person schooling at all.

Not only does this make it harder for children to connect with their friends and teachers, but forcing them to learn this way may lead them to speak up louder to be heard—an act that increases aerosol production and is more likely to spread COVID than speaking at a quieter volume. Given the incredibly low risk of death to children posed by COVID, and the mounting evidence that Plexiglass barriers do not make people safer, it’s past time to remove them; a kindergarten classroom shouldn’t be filled with thick, see-through partitions like a convenience store in a bad part of town.

Some might counter that if they make people feel safer, that ought to be reason enough to keep plexiglass barriers in place. But this is misguided. Hygiene theater gives people a false understanding of how this virus actually works and which preventative measures to take. Pervasive COVID anxiety should not be used to justify silly rituals, especially when there’s good evidence a ritual may hurt us in the end.

Tristan Justice justifiably endorses Scott Atlas’s description of Anthony Fauci as a “political animal.” [22] A slice:

In October, a trio of elite academics from Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford universities unveiled The Great Barrington Declaration [23] to promote an alternative pandemic strategy to the experimental lockdowns Fauci pushed ceaselessly. The document proposed a strategy of “focused protection,” or of lifting social restrictions on the general population while implementing targeted measures to protect the most vulnerable.

The three signers wrote they were compelled to propose the declaration after observing the severe consequences of lockdown measures. The lockdowns, they observed, presented costs that far outweighed the benefits, including lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings, and deteriorating mental health. The absence of kids in schools, they noted, was “a grave injustice,” yet endorsed by Fauci.

Within two days the document drew [24] more than 3,500 signatures including an impressive array of scientists whose voices had been ignored or dismissed. By May 2021, the declaration featured signatures from more than 50,000 doctors, epidemiologists, and scientists, along with nearly 800,000 lay people.

Yet Fauci shot the Great Barrington Declaration down, running to the friendly press to dispel criticism of his pandemic prescriptions, any concession from which offered Fauci nothing to gain and everything to lose.

“Quite frankly, that is nonsense,” Fauci said [25] of the document’s proposal, calling his peers in the scientific community stupid for their disagreement. “Anybody who knows anything about epidemiology will tell you that that is nonsense and very dangerous.”

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at Stanford, was one of the document’s principal authors Fauci declared ignorant.

“Fauci propagandized against a reasonable alternative strategy,” Bhattacharya told The Federalist, “which absolutely shocked me.”

Speaking over the phone, Bhattacharya explained that his former admiration for the now-80-year-old doctor, whose textbook on internal medicine even sits on Bhattacharya’s shelf, has deteriorated with abject politicization.

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