But when the virus was surging in the South this summer, media figures took a different tone. Covid could be stopped, they insisted, if only those rubes would behave correctly. Florida was a particular target because its governor had ended lockdowns and mandates early and was pushing for schools to stop requiring masks. A typical piece, by CNN’s Chris Cillizza, was titled “ Ron DeSantis ’ priorities on Covid-19 are all screwed up.” A chastened Mr. Cillizza tweeted last Friday that he had learned the vaccine “can never do what I had hoped: Ensure no one I loved will become infected,” and that “I realize I am way behind lots of other people in doing that.”
That’s for sure. A lot of the information that media types finally seem ready to accept has been available for some time. The World Health Organization said in September that the virus will continue to mutate like the flu. “People have said we’re going to eliminate or eradicate the virus,” said Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies program. “No we’re not—very, very unlikely.”
The U.S. continues to fight a phantom version of Covid-19—the Covid of superstition, not science. Example: The Los Angeles Times last week insisted on a “1% to 2% death rate that’s prevailed across much of the pandemic.” An Associated Press columnist claimed the “virus still has a death rate of 1.6% in the U.S.—roughly 16 times greater than the flu.”
If so, in a pandemic the CDC says has infected  nearly half of Americans, then 2.5 million have died, which obviously they haven’t.
Now, in a kind of pandemic bookend, the canaries of our collective self-gaslighting are again the professional sports leagues, which were central two years ago to our initial response to the then-new coronavirus. The leagues are canceling games, forcing teams to play with absurdly shrunken rosters, all because of positive Covid tests by players who are vaccinated and boosted, who in many cases also have natural immunity, and who have no symptoms— i.e., who feel fine.
Does this make any sense? No. But then, in two years, many of us have learned nothing except virus=bad, vaccine=good and how to virtue-signal reflexively around things like masks. Witness the coverage this week of Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, who tested positive one day after testifying that mask-wearing did little to stop spread aboard an aircraft. No, his case isn’t punishment for mask blasphemy but a predictable consequence of being human and participating in the world.
When you see your preferred press outlet still citing 50 million “confirmed” infections as the measure of the pandemic that has likely reached four times  as many Americans, you aren’t in the presence of intelligence.
The U.S. government is pushing Covid-19 vaccine boosters for 16- and 17-year-olds without supporting clinical data. A large Israeli population study , published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month, found that the risk of Covid death in people under 30 with two vaccine shots was zero.
Booster mandates for healthy young people, which some colleges are imposing, will cause medical harm for the sake of transient reductions in mild and asymptomatic infections. In a study  of 438,511 males 16 to 24, 56 developed myocarditis after their second Pfizer dose (or 1 in 7,830, at least seven times the usual rate). True, most cases were mild, but in the broader group of 136 people (including older and female patients) who developed myocarditis after the vaccine, seven had a “complicated course,” and one 22-year-old died. Moderna’s vaccine carries an even higher rate of heart complications, which is why some European countries have restricted it for people under 30. But in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indiscriminately push for boosters for all young people.
We’ve seen medical bandwagon thinking hurt the country before. The false assumption that Covid spreads by surface transmission still has Americans engaging in futile disinfection rituals. We’ve suffered from barbaric policies that prohibited people from saying goodbye to, or holding hands with, loved ones who were dying. Children were shut out of school for a less contagious variant. Our public health leaders are making critical mistakes and affirming each other with groupthink, while journalists forfeit their duty to ask key questions.
“Omicron Hospitalization Risk Two-Thirds Lower than Delta Infection, Says Scottish Study ” – so reports Ron Bailey.
John Stossel talks with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) about Fauci . A slice:
I ask Paul what he thought about Fauci’s flat dismissal of anyone who criticizes him.
“That’s an incredibly arrogant attitude,” replied Paul. “Reminiscent of the medieval church [where] the government representative decided what was science….Any time you have government dogma saying they are science, or government bureaucrats who claim that ‘this is the one and perfect truth’…we should run headlong away.”
Today our government wants to mandate vaccines in private workplaces. The administration claims that’s necessary because not enough people are vaccinated.
Paul calls that a “big lie.”
What concerns me about the NIH director’s email and his interview on television is that he appeared unwilling to have this dialogue. Collins’s day job does not make him arbiter of scientific truth, the Pope for all scientists. On questions of unprecedented pandemic policy, he is surely entitled to his opinion — as we all are — but his is just one opinion of many.
The Covid modellers at Imperial College have begun to back down. About time too. Over the past few weeks, they have made extreme claims about the omicron variant that cannot be fully justified by fundamental science, let alone by clinical observation.
Academic etiquette restrains direct criticism, but immunologists say privately that Professor Neil Ferguson and his team  breached a cardinal rule by inferring rates of hospitalisation, severe disease, and death from waning antibodies, and by extrapolating from infections that break through the first line of vaccine defence.
The rest are entitled to question whether they can legitimately do this. And we may certainly question whether they should be putting out terrifying claims of up to 5,000 deaths a day based on antibody counts.
“It is bad science and I think they’re being irresponsible. They have a duty to reflect the true risks but this is just headline grabbing,” said Dr Clive Dix, former chairman of the UK Vaccine Task Force.
How the left loves trying to establish the narrative that we have a Government of charlatans pitched against the collected wisdom of scientists. Yet the real schism lies within science, between the modellers  and those who prefer to read real world evidence. With hospitalisations failing to rise at anything like the rate feared a few days ago, and with the UK Health Security Agency poised to announce that yes, omicron does indeed cause milder disease than earlier variants, it feels as if we are heading for the denouement, the gunfight at the OK Corrall, at which one side will win the decisive battle and the other side be humbled.
When omicron first emerged in South Africa a month ago two things seemed immediately apparent: firstly that this variant was a lot more transmissible than earlier variants, and secondly, that it was causing milder illness. Indeed, it was the unexpected mildness of the symptoms which first drew doctors’ attention to the possibility that this could be a new variant – something which was then rapidly confirmed by the country’s excellent facilities for sequencing the virus.
Jay Bhattacharya tweets :
On second thought, I would rather be ruled by people who think the earth is flat than by people who are blind to trade offs in pandemic policy. The latter are likely to do far harm. Spherical earthers with a wise approach to tradeoffs would be best, of course.