Some Covid Links

by Don Boudreaux on December 31, 2021

in Current Affairs, Legal Issues, Risk and Safety, Science, Seen and Unseen, Video

George Mason University law professor Eugene Kontorovich, writing in the Wall Street Journal, exposes the lie that the New York State government’s Covid restrictions are based on ‘the science.’ Two slices:

New York’s policy makes confinement in quarantine turn substantially on economic or political considerations. That isn’t science; it’s central planning.

If a shorter period is medically acceptable, it should be the default, not a government-bestowed privilege. Public-health agencies have no expertise in making determinations about what makes the economy tick. To the extent quarantine decisions are demonstrably influenced by nonscientific factors, the protective bubble that constitutional doctrine has placed around them should be weaker.

The jobs New York deems “critical” go far beyond those necessary to sustain human life. Bartenders, movers and law professors may return to work after five days under New York’s new guidance. People providing services to “government owned or leased buildings” are essential—but those doing the same for private buildings aren’t.

…..

The New York quarantine guidance is another step toward general governmental authority to determine who gets to work and who doesn’t. The process began during the lockdown phases of the pandemic, when states across the country issued lists of exempted “essential” jobs—with no intelligible principle determining what made something essential. (New York had such exemptions from its quarantine policy for interstate travelers, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted in April 2021.) Gossip columnists were “essential” in many states. So were marijuana dispensaries, illegal under federal law.

In response to BJC Health and Washington University School of Medicine adding fluvoxamine as treatment for COVID-19, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine professor Marty Makary tweets:

If Dr. Fauci, with his platform, would have ever mentioned this treatment once, many hospitalizations could have been prevented.

2 favorable trials reported in JAMA & Lancet in the spring & fall (one showing a 91% reduction in Covid deaths). No study to the contrary.

A headline (shared with me by Tim Townsend) in the Miami Herald: “Children’s hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID patients. Most are being sent home.” A slice:

As COVID-19 cases soared to new highs in Florida and the nation on Wednesday, South Florida children’s hospitals reported record numbers of pediatric patients visiting emergency rooms and urgent care centers — with the vast majority of those children being sent home with mild to moderate symptoms, doctors say.

The surge in cases, much of it driven by the highly contagious omicron variant, is producing a rise in hospitalizations among children and adults. A total of 3,836 people, including 109 pediatric inpatients, were in a Florida hospital with COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning, according to hospital capacity data reported by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Few of those inpatients are severely ill or progressing to the intensive care unit, and many are finding out that they’re positive for COVID-19 after being admitted to the hospital for other medical reasons, such as appendicitis or a broken bone, doctors say.

Yet despite what appears to be less severe illness, there has been a crush of pediatric patients at emergency rooms, accompanied by parents who want their children to be screened for COVID-19. The demand is stretching hospitals thin and leading physicians to plead with the community to stop going to the ER to get tested.

(DBx: A grave danger is Covid hysteria itself. To everyone who tolerates draconian Covid restrictions as a means of reducing the risk of hospital overcrowding – or who think nothing of failing to accurately report the risk, and risk profile, of Covid – I ask: What should we do about prominent “public health” officials, such as Anthony Fauci, whose actions arguably also raise this risk?)

The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal reports the happy results of some new studies that find that vaccines promote immunity by stimulating T-cells. A slice:

We hope this isn’t forbidden to report by the public-health pessimists, but there’s some good news about the vaccine defense against the Omicron variant. A pair of separate studies—from the Netherlands and South Africa—have found that T cells mobilized by vaccination reduce the severity of the disease.

The vaccines generate antibodies against Covid, but those defenses have been found to be less effective over time. T cells, a type of white blood cell, are a second line of defense that have held up better. The Dutch study found that while antibody responses fade against Omicron, the T cell response remains robust.

Here’s a video of talks (which I had the pleasure of attending live) given earlier this month, one by GMU law prof Todd Zywicki, and the other by the New Civil Liberties Alliance’s Jenin Younes.

Vinay Prasad makes the case against vaccine mandates for domestic commercial flights. Here’s his conclusion:

On balance, vaccine passports for domestic travel will have limited upside, and serious and unpredictable downsides. The policy may result in net harm to some fliers (young men compelled to receive second or third doses in short course). There is no way to know the gains will exceed downsides. This policy likely represents a failing attempt to ignore the truth: the virus is endemic, all people will be infected, and reinfected many times in their lives.

John Podhoretz applauds the CDC for finally recognizing “the costs of its top-down dictates.” A slice:

And what about children under 5, who cannot get vaccinated? Even COVID hawks like Dr. Paul Offit are not seeing an increase in the threat level: “We test anybody who’s admitted to the hospital for whatever reason . . . and we’re definitely seeing an increase in cases. However, we’re really not seeing an increase in children who are hospitalized for COVID or in the intensive care unit for COVID.”

Because we have vaccines to save us from the worst of COVID, because we’re weeks away from a pill that will treat COVID and because Omicron is both more contagious and less harmful, there is no longer any case to be made for avoidance as a public-policy approach.

Nuno Castel-Branco, writing in the Wall Street Journal of the experience of Galileo under lockdown, warns that “a major change in work habits under a stressful situation — and prolonged physical isolation from collaborators — will always have unforeseen consequences.”

Christopher Bedford is correct: “COVID means fear, control, and lockdowns because we’ve allowed people to make it mean fear, control, and lockdowns.” A slice:

To read a Tuesday headline at NBC, for example, is to learn that “Child Covid hospitalizations are up, especially in 5 states.”

To read eight paragraphs down, however, is to learn doctors are, “really not seeing an increase in children who are hospitalized for Covid or in the intensive care unit for Covid.”

Further, to read the D.C. Public Schools website is to learn they expect to once again close schools to in-person learning.

To read the Centers for Disease Control website is to learn that those with symptomless cases – or simply declining symptoms and no fever within 24 hours – need quarantine only five days.

To turn once more to the D.C. Public Schools, is to learn they no longer respect the science: “Students,” a Wednesday email reads, “who test positive must isolate for a minimum of ten (10) days from the onset of symptoms or their positive test result if asymptomatic.”

And just what, again, separates this new variant from any other winter illness? Beyond fear, control, and lockdowns? Beyond Anthony Fauci’s floating head blathering on about this emergency measure or that emergency measure on TV news all day? Nothing.

Michael P Senger tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Psychologically, it’s extremely difficult for public health to admit COVID isn’t that dangerous because they have tons of excess deaths to account for—and if they can’t attribute them to COVID, then they have nothing to attribute them to except their own lockdowns and mandates.

Toby Green tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

https://theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/30/uk-covid-case-numbers-hit-another-record-high-at-more-than-189000…

189,000 cases/day.

So not 2 million cases a day in the UK by New Year, then, as SAGE predicted on Dec 18 without further curbs: https://theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/18/uk-scientists-curbs-covid-infections-omicron-deaths-restrictions-sage….

Serious question: why is anyone still even listening to their models?

Karol Sikora, M.D., writing in the Telegraph, warns of the consequences of the mindless embrace of the practice of testing and isolation. A slice:

Omicron, with its transformative consequences on this pandemic, has only heightened the stakes. We know how fast it spreads, the numbers speak for themselves, but we also know that the severity of the symptoms appear to be significantly milder. Consequently, the much lower demand on global healthcare systems may be a pathway for the virus to become endemic. The specifics are yet to be determined, but what is clear as day is that the way we are currently dealing with the virus is having devastating consequences, self-isolation rules being among the most egregious examples of this.

If all we cared about was slowing the spread of the virus, we would lock people up for a month. This would certainly reduce case numbers, but obviously also cause far more damage than it prevents.

Over the pandemic, we’ve moved from fourteen days of isolation to seven. What will be the next step? The Centre for Disease Control in the US have boldly settled on five days, with precautions required, to alleviate pressure on the economy and society. To me, that seems like a conversation we need to have now. At some stage, the number must reach zero.

As things stand, the most immediate threat to the NHS is not the number of Covid patients, it’s the number of health staff being forced to isolate. Reducing the self-isolation period would free up thousands of people to carry out their life-saving work. Removing two days would mean countless hours back into the system. Would that allow the virus to spread more? Perhaps, but we must find a balance. How many lives would be saved or prolonged by those extra staff being available to the NHS?

Across our Rutherford private healthcare network, we’ve had oncologists, radiographers, technicians and even me sitting at home unable to work, despite feeling perfectly healthy. With the cancer backlog as devastating as it is, can we honestly say that’s the best use of time? And it’s not just healthcare. Just look at HGV drivers, teachers, refuse collectors, pilots, engineers and the police, to name a few. The damage of significantly reducing these services is immeasurable.

Glenn Reynolds insists that “we must make public-health authorities accountable for their lies.”

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