Some Covid Links

by Don Boudreaux on June 23, 2021

in Country Problems, Current Affairs, Risk and Safety

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, medical professors Joseph Ladapo (of UCLA) and Harvey Risch (of Yale) argue that the risks to young people of Covid-19 vaccinations might well be greater than are the risks to young people of Covid-19 itself. A slice:

The implication is that the risks of a Covid-19 vaccine may outweigh the benefits for certain low-risk populations, such as children, young adults and people who have recovered from Covid-19. This is especially true in regions with low levels of community spread, since the likelihood of illness depends on exposure risk.

And while you would never know it from listening to public-health officials, not a single published study has demonstrated that patients with a prior infection benefit from Covid-19 vaccination. That this isn’t readily acknowledged by the CDC or Anthony Fauci is an indication of how deeply entangled pandemic politics is in science.

Matt Ridley argues that “flawed modelling” – especially that of the reckless Neil Ferguson and his fellow ‘scientists’ at Imperial College – “is condemning Britain to lockdown.” Two slices:

Britain leads the pack on vaccination, but lags far behind America, Germany and France on liberation. A big reason is that our Government remains in thrall to a profession that has performed uniquely badly during the pandemic: modellers. The Government’s reliance on Sage experts’ computer modelling to predict what would happen with or without various interventions has proved about as useful as the ancient Roman habit of consulting trained experts in “haruspicy” – interpreting the entrails of chickens.

As Sarah Knapton has revealed in these pages, the brutal postponement of Freedom Day coincided with the release of a bunch of alarmist models predicting a huge new wave of deaths. The most pessimistic, inevitably from Imperial College, estimated at the extreme end of its range of scenarios 203,824 deaths over the next year. It did so by assuming a range of possible percentage reductions in hospitalisations following two vaccinations. Imperial’s data on vaccine efficacy assumed 87% for AstraZeneca, 90% for Pfizer or in a worse case scenario just 77 per cent for Astra Zeneca and 84% for Pfizer. The real world data published after the Imperial modelling shows two vaccinations to be between 92 per cent (AstaZeneca) and 96 per cent (Pfizer) effective in preventing hospitalisation. That would cut the Imperial forecast of deaths by a gob smacking 90 per cent to 26,854.

This keeps happening. In April the modellers assumed a 30 per cent effectiveness for the vaccine at preventing the spread of the virus. This was described as “a pessimistic view – but it is plausible, it’s not extreme”, by Professor Graham Medley, chairman of the SPI-M sub-group of Sage. It turns out it was far from plausible. At the end of March the BBC’s favourite modeller, Imperial College’s Neil Ferguson, was forecasting that by June 21, even with “optimistic” assumptions, less than half of Britain would be protected against severe disease by vaccination. The true figure is over 80 per cent of those aged 18 and over that have been vaccinated at least once.

This is the same Professor Ferguson who told us in the 1990s that thousands might die of mad-cow disease. The correct number, as it turned out, was 178.

…..

Again and again, worst-case scenarios are presented with absurd precision, sometimes deliberately to frighten us into compliance.

Allison Pearson reports from Great Britain on the continuing grip there of hypocritical Covidocrats. A slice:

It was Freedom Day on Monday, except our June 21 liberation was cancelled after the Brothers Grim peered into the tea leaves, sorry, models, in the Sage canteen and decided it was safer to keep the British people under restrictions until we all get flu in October and promptly expire because our immune systems haven’t mingled since March 2020. I think I’ve got that right.

In the US, meanwhile, most states have lifted all restrictions. Bruce Springsteen performed to a packed, ecstatic, maskless audience at Madison Square Gardens. My American friends are struggling to understand why they are Dancing in the Dark while Brits aren’t allowed to dance at all. In May, Covid was the 24th highest cause of death in the UK. You are currently more likely to perish in a paddling-pool-related incident performing an I Hate Hancock unmasked tableau. Or maybe that’s just me.

A perplexed New York Times asked why the UK was “worrying more than any other country”. It’s embarrassing, it really is. Embarrassing and unsettling, although not everyone is subject to the same rules. You may have noticed a big divide opening up between the Have Freedom and the Have Nots. Even those who have quietly gone along with the restrictions so far will have been staggered to hear that the Government has caved in to demands from Uefa and will allow thousands of football fat cats to attend the Euro 2020 semi-finals and finals at Wembley without quarantining as mere mortals must.

This WHO official is spreading Covid Derangement Syndrome.

Philip Johnston decries the British people’s “irrational fear of Covid.” Here’s his conclusion:

Five years after the Brexit vote, the pandemic response has suffocated the boosterism that was one of the driving forces behind the Leave campaign. On our own, freed of the EU straitjacket, we would flourish by demonstrating a quintessentially British can-do spirit. Instead, we are still exhorted to cower behind the national sofa by leaders terrified of what the future might bring.

The straw man will continue to stomp through Scotland until at least August 9th.

Here’s the abstract of a new paper by Virat Agrawal, Jonathan Cantor, Neeraj Sood, and Christopher Whaley (emphasis added):

As a way of slowing COVID-19 transmission, many countries and U.S. states implemented shelter-in-place (SIP) policies. However, the effects of SIP policies on public health are a priori ambiguous as they might have unintended adverse effects on health. The effect of SIP policies on COVID-19 transmission and physical mobility is mixed. To understand the net effects of SIP policies, we measure the change in excess deaths following the implementation of SIP policies in 43 countries and all U.S. states. We use an event study framework to quantify changes in the number of excess deaths after the implementation of a SIP policy. We find that following the implementation of SIP policies, excess mortality increases. The increase in excess mortality is statistically significant in the immediate weeks following SIP implementation for the international comparison only and occurs despite the fact that there was a decline in the number of excess deaths prior to the implementation of the policy. At the U.S. state-level, excess mortality increases in the immediate weeks following SIP introduction and then trends below zero following 20 weeks of SIP implementation. We failed to find that countries or U.S. states that implemented SIP policies earlier, and in which SIP policies had longer to operate, had lower excess deaths than countries/U.S. states that were slower to implement SIP policies. We also failed to observe differences in excess death trends before and after the implementation of SIP policies based on pre-SIP COVID-19 death rates.

Here’s a slice from a recent editorial in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star:

The second lesson was that the information given to the public by the CDC was deeply flawed. “The CDC data was nearly useless,” [Shane] Chalke noted. “The worst was the frequent characterization of historical revisions as current surges. We also saw many jurisdictions double count cases by inferring that each COVID test was a unique individual. I hope that the CDC develops reporting and definitional standards now for anything that might happen in the future.”

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