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Some Covid Links

My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan – writing at his new blog, Bet On It – reviews Covid arithmetic for parents. Two slices:

7. By way of comparison, a child’s annual risk of death in an auto accident is about 1 in 50,000. That’s 100 times higher than the non-masking risk. Honestly, if you’re worried about your kids’ safety, it would make vastly more sense to just drive less. Most obviously, you could withdraw your kids from sports, scouting, dance, and travel.

8. If you protest, “That’s a crazy overreaction; I want my kid to actually enjoy his life, not just stay alive,” I agree. And that is a great argument against masking as well. After all, masks aren’t merely inconvenient. They are dehumanizing. There is a reason even mask hard-liners unmask around immediate family members. Namely: Covering your face emotionally cuts you off from other human beings. If masking reduced kids’ risk of death by 1 in 100, you could reasonably respond, “Tragically, this dehumanization is worth the price.” But not if masking reduces the risk by 1 in 100,000, much less 1 in 5,000,000.

9. I’ve focused on death, but what about other Covid-related harms? Key point: Almost everything that kills can also maim. Car accidents are once again the go-to example. We have much better data on deaths, but car crashes also cause paralysis, loss of limbs, brain damage, and more. If that isn’t enough to make you sharply cut back on driving, fear of long Covid shouldn’t sway you much, either. If anything, you should be more worried about non-death dangers of driving, because a large share of “long Covid” symptoms seem to be psychosomatic. In the age of Covid, we tend to blame mysterious health troubles on Covid.


15. Yes, the risk to adults is much higher than the risk to kids; as I said, every ten years of age roughly triples the danger. But when you multiply a microscopic risk a hundred-fold, you still end up with a minor risk. Yes, you could accept a dehumanized existence to minimize your disease risk, but you would be foolish to do so.

16. The most “adult” thing for parents and teachers to do on this March 1 is walk kids through the Covid math. Even third-graders should be able to follow it. And if you really want to show your maturity, you should confess that for the last two years, most adults have been acting like children. Life gave us a math project, yet we acted like it was a poetry assignment. Our kids deserve better. Let’s start giving it to them!

In California, the Covid-hysteria-driven battering of freedom of expression in general, and of scientific debate in particular, is accelerating. This development is truly dystopian. (HT el gato malo) A slice:

These aren’t the only efforts to combat misinformation on the statewide level.

One proposed legislative bill would require Facebook and other online platforms to be more transparent in how their algorithm’s push information to users.

Another bill would hold doctors responsible for promoting what state medical experts consider to be inaccurate medical information, which could potentially lead to disciplinary action from the California Medical Board.

“So many people are being influenced by things that are objectively false, and it’s costing people their lives,” said San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair, Nathan Fletcher.

Earlier, San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors voted to declare COVID misinformation a public health crisis, adopting ways to actively combat it.

Here’s a new piece by Joel Zinberg on Covid policy. A slice:

The Biden administration has released a new National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that — surprise, surprise — calls for billions in new spending. The initiative is unnecessary, wasteful and will spark additional inflation.

Why in the middle of plunging COVID case, hospitalization and death rates do we need additional spending? New cases have fallen by 90% from their Jan. 15 peak and are back to some of the lowest levels seen in the pandemic. New COVID hospital admissions have fallen by 80% since mid-January to levels not seen in over a year. Deaths — a lagging indicator — have been falling steadily since the beginning of February.

The White House claims more money is needed to vaccinate Americans, including children under 5. But the FDA has delayed approval of vaccines in that young age group and the CDC has not recommended it. It is not clear that either agency ever will. Seventy-five percent of those 18 and older, including 89% of the most vulnerable who are 65 and older, are already fully vaccinated and about half the country has natural immunity from previous infections. COVID poses little risk of serious illness to those below age 18.

Sheena Meredith asks: “Why Are We Ignoring Infection-Acquired Immunity?” Here’s her conclusion:

Yet, the protection afforded by natural immunity is still not acknowledged in policy responses, and NHS staff opposing the mandate have described its dismissal as “irrational”.

It also raises ethical questions over and above those of mandates and certifications generally. Is it justified to pressure people with pre-existing infection-acquired immunity to take a vaccine they neither want nor need? How can such individuals give proper informed consent, especially when they may be also at a higher than average risk of side-effects? Is it equitable to give unnecessary doses when vaccines have yet to be equally shared on a global level?

Moreover, the Government has repeatedly invoked ‘the science’ to reinforce coronavirus measures. Is inconvenient scientific evidence now being side-lined? Marty Makary, professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University told the BMJ in an interview last September: “Public health officials… talk about the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. If we want to be scientific, we should talk about the immune and the non-immune.”

So, should we at least give recognition to the equivalent and possibly superior status of natural immunity by giving those who have been infected an exemption from vaccine requirements? And if not, why not?

Wow, the CDC is powerful against Covid!

The Telegraph‘s Science Editor Sarah Knapton reports on testimony of a major British ‘modeler.’ (DBx: Each reader can judge for himself or herself the wisdom of crafting government policy according to the predictions of such modelers.) A slice:

Modelling cannot “accurately predict the numbers”, the chairman of the Government’s modelling taskforce admitted as he was questioned by MPs on why experts had got omicron projections so wrong.

Prof Graham Medley, of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), said that the models had not sufficiently accounted for voluntary behavioural changes by the public even without restrictions.

Speaking to the Commons science and health select committee, which is scrutinising the pandemic response, Prof Medley said: “The modelling is there to understand the process and what’s going on. We know we can’t accurately predict the numbers, but we can give insight into the processes that determine the outcomes.”

Scenarios released in models before Christmas estimated that up to 6,000 people a day could die at the peak of the omicron wave, with tens of thousands of daily hospitalisations, leading to calls for a national lockdown.

However, deaths peaked at 306 on Jan 21, while daily admissions never rose beyond 2,615.

Prof Medley said: “At the time of the beginning of December, everything we knew about omicron was not good.

“What happened subsequently is that everything turned out well. But that doesn’t mean to say it was going to happen. Our job is to lay out the landscape in terms of the possibilities to Sage. And so inevitably, our worst case is always going to look worse than reality. Hopefully, the lower case looks better than reality. But in this case, it didn’t.”

Greg Clark, the chairman of the committee, pointed out that policymakers had been “left in the lurch” by not having probabilities ascribed to the forecasts, which could have helped them understand which was more likely to happen.

Prof Medley said: “We could guess, and our guesses might be 10 per cent more accurate than other people’s, but they are still guesses and I think it would be wrong for policy decisions to be made on the basis of guesswork.”

Phil Magness reports, on Facebook, this reality:

“Zero Covid”-land New Zealand just passed the all time per-capita case total for both the United States and European Union.