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Some Covid Links

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Yesterday, October 4th, 2021, was the one-year anniversary of the release of the superb Great Barrington Declaration – a declaration that, for its sin of advising that the public-health response to Covid-19 adhere to the long-established principles of public health, was loudly denounced, incessantly misinterpreted, continually misrepresented, and tragically ignored. The Brownstone Institute commemorates this anniversary [2]. A slice:

The Great Barrington Declaration (GBD), authored by Sunetra Gupta, University of Oxford, Martin Kulldorff, Harvard University, and Prof. Jay Bhattacharya, Stanford Medical School, is marking its one-year anniversary this week.

The Declaration is built around the concept of focused protection – using resources to protect people in the society most at-risk from COVID while avoiding the large-scale social and economic consequences of “one-size-fits-all” lockdowns.

J.D. Tuccille argues persuasively that “Vaccine hesitancy can, in part, be laid at the feet of experts who betrayed the public’s trust. [3]” Another slice:

To large numbers of Americans, it’s obvious that many of the people issuing public health dictates base their proclamations not on science but on their personal biases. Those seeking actual medical guidance, or who entertain different values, might feel perfectly justified in ignoring public health officials who reveal themselves as just another class of activists.

COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths Fell Significantly in September [4].”

Anthony Fauci’s verbal emissions are a dangerous virus. When will a vaccine protect us from this scourge? [5] See Jay Bhattacharya on Twitter [6]:

In Tony Fauci’s zero-COVID fantasy land, it is always winter but never Christmas.

Is long Covid being overblown? [7] A slice:

But could such a broad array of symptoms indicate instead that many youngsters are showing signs not of long Covid, but of psychological distress?

Dr Michael Absoud, a reader in the Department of Women & Children’s Health at King’s College London, says that a “most striking” finding from the CLoCk study is that children who had contracted Covid had the same levels of fatigue scores as children who had tested negative for the virus.

As well as fatigue, both groups of children shared another thing in common, high levels of emotional symptoms, with 40 per cent saying they felt worried, sad or unhappy, regardless of whether they had been infected or not.

Here’s yet another disheartening report from dystopian Australia [8]. A slice:

Much like George Orwell’s Big Brother, Chairman Dan [Andrews] also uses fear and intimidation to enforce compliance.  The virus is described as a deadly beast, any criticism is condemned as selfish and dangerous and Victorians are forced to live under a constant state of emergency where freedom no longer exists.

Neighbours, families and friends are pressured to dob one another in for any offence, no matter how trivial, police have to power to invade your home and much like communist-dominated Hong Kong riot police fire rubber bullets and use truncheons and tear gas against protestors.

Ramesh Thakur continues to protest against the terrible tyranny that now reigns in Australia [9]. A slice:

The weekend papers included what looks like a ‘sponsored content’ special report on vaccination rollout. The lead article was by Lt.-Gen. John Frewen, coordinator general of Operation Covid Shield. I have the highest respect for the military profession but I am troubled by the increasing militarisation of Australian public life, including successive former generals as Governor-General. Judging by Frewen’s article, the military academies may be mistakenly prescribing Orwell’s 1984 as a training manual. In order to regain our freedoms – to eat out, go to a hairdresser, see a family member (this is his order of listing them) – so we can return to pre-Covid normal, Frewen instructs us, with no hint of irony and self-awareness, we must all get jabbed. Other articles in the special report foreshadow multiples apps to show our immunisation status to different governments and airlines as part of the new ‘ask, tell and fly’ Covid normal that violates all pre-Covid strictures against accessing private medical history. Professor Margie Danchin speaks in cliched generalities that for kids, ‘we think that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the small risks’. She quantifies the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis in 12-24-year-old boys as 30-70 per million but not the mortality risk from Covid. A Stanford University team calculated the mortality rates by age groups in a WHO-peer reviewed study published in July that gave an estimate of 27-140 deaths per million for 0-29 year olds. In the US a major study last month found that ‘teenage boys are six times more likely to suffer from heart problems from the vaccine than be hospitalised from Covid-19’.

Responding to this New York Times report [10] on New Zealand’s abandonment of its deranged pursuit of “zero Covid,” Phil Magness writes on Facebook [11]:

We are about to see first hand that when the ZeroCovid fanatics touted Australia and New Zealand as “success stories” in taming the virus, what they really meant to say was China – and China-style lockdown totalitarianism.

A few of them such as Sam Bowman occasionally let that slip through, and then got really mad at anyone who pointed that out. But now that Australia and New Zealand have let their own totalitarian impulses lead for the last several months, all for naught at controlling covid, the number of remaining “success stories” is dwindling down to totalitarian states like China that also conveniently happen to manipulate their own health statistics.

Noah Carl concludes, justifiably, that ideology, not science, plays the dominant role in forming individuals’ perceptions of the risks posed by Covid [12]. Three slices:

Yesterday I noted [13] that, 18 months after the start of the pandemic, a sizeable chunk of Americans stilldramatically overestimate the risks of COVID. In a recent poll, more than one third said the risk of being hospitalised if you’re not vaccinated is at least 50%.

Of course, you’d expect some people to get the answer wrong just because we’re dealing with a small quantity, and there’s always going to be some degree of overestimation. But many people were off by a factor more than 10. What accounts for this?

Interestingly, Democrat voters’ guesses were much higher than Republican voters’ – about twice as many Democrats said the risk of being hospitalised if you’re not vaccinated is at least 50%. This suggests a role for ideology.

…..

Democrat voters, who’ve spent the pandemic consuming media like MSNBC, CNN and NPR, will recall numerous incidents of pundits saying that COVID is extremely dangerous, and we have to do whatever we can to stop the spread.

They will also recall that they were locked down for months, that their kids’ schools were closed, and that they had to wear a mask whenever they went to the grocery store.

Putting all this information together, they will tend to assume that the risk of being hospitalised from COVID is extremely high. ‘Why else,’ they might ask, ‘would there have been so many restrictions?’

Note: Republicans also overestimated the risk of being hospitalised from COVID, albeit to a lesser extent than Democrats. This indicates that people’s skewed risk perceptions cannot be blamed solely on the content of left-wing media (or the policies implemented in ‘blue’ states).

The psychological quirk that may account for people’s skewed risk perceptions has a name in psychology: the availability heuristic. As Steven Pinker notes [14], “people estimate the probability of an event or the frequency of a kind of thing by the ease with which instances come to mind”.

…..

We can agree it’s bad if people underestimate the risks. But it’s also bad if they overestimate the risks. We want them to have the right risk perceptions. That way, they can make informed decisions.