Boeknotities: Unreported Truths about COVID-19 door Alex Berenson

wo, 30/06/2021 - 17:56
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Alex Berendson is één van de zeldzame journalisten - wereldwijd - met een meer nuchtere kijk op corona. Wat volgt zijn de notities uit de vier delen die hij tot nu toe geschreven heeft.

Deel 1: Lockdowns

  • De paniekzaaierij van de media begon al bijzonder snel:
    But I couldn’t stop reading about the virus – officially called SARS-COV-2. On conventional and social media, the news worsened by the day. Hospitals in the 10-million-person Chinese city of Wuhan were overrun. Videos on Twitter showed people dropping dead in the street and hospitals filled with body bags. Epidemiologists and scientists predicted the coronavirus would ravage other Chinese megacities. In mid-February, the crisis seemed to pause. But by the end of the month, the coffins were stacking up in northern Italy, and the lockdowns beginning. Meanwhile, the United States reported its first deaths, at a nursing home in Seattle.
  • Het beruchte rapport van Imperial College:
    Then, on Monday, March 16, Imperial College publicly released its now-infamous research report (https:// www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19- NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf) predicting coronavirus might kill a half-million Britons and two million Americans if governments didn’t act immediately to close schools and businesses. Worse, the report forecast 1.1 million Americans and 250,000 people in the United Kingdom could die even with months of efforts to reduce the damage. Only long-term “suppression” of society – possibly until a vaccine was invented – could lower those figures meaningfully, the researchers wrote. The Imperial College researchers weren’t just any academics. They worked directly with the World Health Organization. Their forecast terrified politicians across Europe and the United States and spurred what became a near-worldwide lockdown. Yet, ironically, the Imperial College report marked the beginning of my understanding of the realities of COVID-19. It planted the seeds of my skepticism about the lockdowns and our response to the coronavirus since.
    When I read the report that Monday night, I noticed a chart on page 5 showing the likelihood of death in different age ranges. The chart showed coronavirus was more than 100 times as likely to kill people over 80 than under 50. Yes, 100 times. People under 30 were at very low risk. The information stunned me. I knew coronavirus was more dangerous to older people, of course – but I assumed young people would also face serious risks. After all, any really deadly virus could hardly spare the young or middle-aged. A century ago, the Spanish flu killed children and young adults along with the elderly.
  • Maar terwijl paniek Europa, de V.S. en de rest van de wereld veroverde, bleven de Chinezen zelf er echter relatief rustig bij:
    I found myself thinking of China. Not about what had happened in Wuhan, but about what hadn’t happened everywhere else. Shanghai and Beijing and other huge cities had avoided catastrophe. In early February, epidemiologists warned the Chinese lockdowns had come too late to matter. Instead, China was already tentatively reopening, restarting factories and dropping quarantines. If the virus was so deadly, how come the Chinese – who at that point had seen it more closely than anyone else – weren’t more frightened?
  • Over Ferguson die plots met heel andere voorspellingen kwam dan zijn rapport::
    Ferguson calls himself an epidemiologist, though he is not a physician and his doctorate is in theoretical physics.
    But British newspapers reported that Ferguson had dramatically changed his predictions. He now said his new best estimate was 20,000 Britons would die from the virus even with just weeks of quarantines. Further, because the virus is far more dangerous to the elderly and people with severe health problems, more than half of those 20,000 people would probably have died in 2020 in any case, he said.
    For the second time in just over a week, I found myself stunned. Instead of 500,000 British deaths, 20,000? Without months or years of lockdowns? In the absence of a vaccine or effective treatment? Had Ferguson just cut the Imperial College estimate by 96 percent (or 92 percent, if one used the 250,000-person death estimate)? What facts could have changed so much in just a few days? What did the change say about the accuracy of either the old or the new estimate? And, again, why hadn’t the New York Times and other American media outlets – after giving the earlier estimate so much attention – given equal prominence to the new number?
  • Ook de andere studie die van de universiteit van Washington in Seattle was er flagrant naast, zelfs in de hardst getroffen gebieden zoals New Yor::
    Suddenly I found myself as one of the few people with any journalistic standing challenging the apocalyptic reporting that dominated media outlets like the Times. Over the next few days, I pointed out on Twitter that a model from the University of Washington used to predict hospitalizations and intensive care needs was proving hugely wrong in its forecasts – even in New York, where the problems were worst.
    But as the days passed, the fact that the models were profoundly overestimating the number of people who would need to be hospitalized with SARS-COV-2 became self-evident. Despite repeated revisions, the model from the University of Washington continued to fail – not after months or even weeks, but on a daily basis.
  • New York kreeg de meeste aandacht maar was niet te vergelijken met de rest van de V.S.:
    What had happened in New York City in March was not generalizable to the rest of the United States. Hospitals outside New York were mostly empty and furloughing workers. Worse, in some cases they were shutting down because they had so few patients – a bizarre paradox in what was supposed to be the worst epidemic since the Spanish Flu a century before.
  • Ook in New York zelf zaten de voorspellingen er naast en nog geen klein beetje:
    Even in New York, the health-care system was never close to being overrun. Field hospitals built at a cost of tens of millions of dollars were dismantled; some had never seen a single patient. Navy hospital ships departed the harbor, searching in vain for new coronavirus hotspots. In late March, New York governor Andrew Cuomo had said the state might need 140,000 hospital beds and up to 40,000 ventilators. “Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, but I don’t operate here on opinion. I operate on facts and on data and on numbers and on projections,” Cuomo said. https://www.syracuse.com/coronavirus/2020/03/cuomo-refutes-trump-insists-nyneeds-up-to-40000-ventilators-i-operate-on-facts.html 
    In the end, New York never had more than 4,000 coronavirus patients on ventilators – making Cuomo’s facts and data and numbers and projections off by about tenfol
    d.
  • Kortom:
    By mid-April, it was obvious to me – and anyone who was paying attention – that the coronavirus epidemic simply was not going to be anywhere near as bad as the early predictions, and that the lockdowns were an extreme overreaction.
  • Onbeantwoorde vragen over de falende modellen:
    The failure of the models should have raised an even more crucial question: setting aside the massive economic and societal harms they’d caused, had the lockdowns even helped control the spread of the coronavirus at all? But through April and May, major media outlets resolutely failed to ask that question. Instead, they focused nearly all their attention on COVID death counts, which rose slowly but steadily, eventually surpassing the total of 60,000 deaths initially estimated for the 2017-18 flu season.
  • Met of door?
    Third, and most importantly, the topline death figure does not account for the fact that the deaths will be heavily concentrated among the very old and sick. More than half would likely have died within weeks or months in any case, as Neil Ferguson said in his British testimony. From any practical point of view, those deaths are unpreventable. Their timing is a function of the coronavirus, but their cause is underlying conditions such as cancer or heart disease or dementia.

Deel 2: Lockdowns als strategie

  • De jeugd betaalt de prijs:
    California has about 40 million people. Since the epidemic began almost five months ago, the state has had about 9,000 deaths from the virus, none in anyone under 18. That’s correct: Not one person under the age of 18 has died in the largest American state from Sars-Cov-2. Yet California’s economy and society remain crippled.
  • Risico zeer zeer klein voor jonge & gezonde mensen (maar de media vertellen u dat niet):
    First, the media has hidden the reality that anyone who is not extremely elderly or sick has a miniscule risk of dying from the coronavirus. In Part 1, I offered the real numbers and risks, based on the best government data. And since Part 1 was published, even more studies have emerged. A new Swedish government report puts the risk of death from Sars-Cov-2 at 1 in 10,000 for everyone under 50 – including those who have chronic conditions. And in a talk on July 14, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, put the risk of deaths in children under 18 at 1 in 1 million. https://www.buckinstitute.org/covid-webinar-seriestranscript- robert-redfield-md/ Major media outlets simply ignore this data. But the media’s other distortions are arguably even more important. Beginning in March, news outlets demanded lockdowns and lauded the public health experts who pressed for them. The few governors who resisted faced enormous pressure. A typical New York Times article from early April was headlined, “Holdout States Resist Calls for Stay-at-Home Orders: ‘What Are You Waiting For?’” (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/03/us/coronavirus-states-without-stayhome.html)
  • Gezondheidsautoriteiten hebben lockdowns decennialang verworpen:
    What went all-but-unnoticed in the push for lockdowns was the fact that major public health organizations had for decades rejected them as a potential solution to epidemics. In just the last three years, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have published new epidemic planning manuals with specific recommendations about what to do if respiratory viruses hit.
    The CDC published its guide in 2017, while the WHO’s is even more recent and detailed. (https://www.cdc.gov/ mmwr/volumes/66/rr/rr6601a1.htm) (https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/329438/9789241516839- eng.pdf?ua=1) Dozens of scientists and physicians worked on the WHO’s guidelines, reviewing laboratory studies, clinical trials, and real-world evidence. The manual runs 91 pages, plus a 125-page annex with the details of the “literature reviews” used to make the recommendations. (https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/ 10665/329439/WHO-WHE-IHM-GIP-2019.1-eng.pdf?ua=1) The CDC and WHO manuals don’t mention Sars- Cov-2, of course. It didn’t exist when they were written. They focus on influenza epidemics. But the flu and the coronavirus are both respiratory viruses, and they are similarly infectious. So the recommendations in them should apply broadly to Sars-Cov-2. (The coronavirus is somewhat more lethal than the average flu strain but less lethal than some strains the WHO report anticipates.) What’s so striking about the manuals is how little they find effective. Even when they make recommendations – for handwashing, say, or “respiratory etiquette” (a fancy way to say “coughing into your elbow”) – they acknowledge little evidence supports them. The endorsements are often made on the basis that interventions are “acceptable,” “feasible,” and have few “resource implications.”
  • Aanbevelingen en maatregelen tot en met de simpelste hebben dus geen of weinig bewijzen achter zich. Ze worden enkel geïmplementeerd omdat mensen aangeleerd kan worden ze na te leven. Wat lockdowns betreft, sloegen ze plot hun eigen aanbevelingenin de wind, zonder aantoonbare reden:
    In other words, people can be taught to cough into their elbows and will do so without complaining. So let them try. It can’t hurt. This theory extends at least partway to masks. (I’ll come back to masks in a future booklet. Despite the lack of evidence for them, they have become uniquely important symbolically as a way for the media and politicians to shame people who challenge the official narrative that Sars-Cov-2 is an extraordinarily dangerous disease.) What about lockdowns? Both the CDC and WHO found little reason to recommend them. The 2017 CDC planner did not even mention widespread workplace closings. It discussed school closings only as a temporary measure during “severe, very severe, or extreme pandemics.” Meanwhile, the WHO report also highlighted concerns about the costs of lockdowns, noting, in language only a bureaucrat could love, that “workplace measures and closures could affect the economy and productivity of a society.” It “conditionally” recommended minor measures such as “staggering shifts, and loosening policies for sick leave.” It added that “workplace closure should be a last step only considered in extraordinarily severe epidemics and pandemics” – such as Spanish flu-style outbreaks that might kill “millions” of people. In other words, not the coronavirus. Yet when Sars-Cov-2 arrived in force in Europe and the United States in March, public health authorities ignored their own cautious advice. They played a frenzied tune that the media amplified loudly enough to drown out any competing voices. In a matter of days, dozens of countries that supposedly valued individual rights and democratic freedoms had jumped into an experiment in state control unlike any since at least World War 2.
  • Ook Berendson slaagt er soms niet in om de evidente lessen te trekken uit feiten die hij zelf boven haalt. Zo sterk is de machtsgreep van de pseudo-wetenschaps die "virologie" heet. De logische conclusie van onderstaande studie is gewoon dat verkoudheid niet door een virus wordt veroorzaakt (alternatief: de poriën werken minder goed in de winter. Afvalstoffen geraken niet afgescheiden waardoor het slijmvlies ontstoken geraakt. Gevolg: druipnuis, niezen, hoesten..een verkoudheid dus. Net wat deze geïsoleerse mensen hadden. Geen virus nodig. Maar Berendson ziet het niet. Het denkt dat het virus koude temperaturen overleeft. Maar waar komt dat virus vandaan dan? Wat een onzin!
    In 1969, six researchers at the base developed moderate to severe cold symptoms. What made the incident so fascinating was that they got sick in the middle of the Antarctic winter, after they had been isolated from all human contact for 17 weeks straight. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2130424/?page=10) “The symptoms occurring in six of 12 men were totally unexpected,” scientists wrote in a 1973 paper in what at the time was called The Journal of Hygiene (today it is known as Epidemiology and Infection, a name change that neatly captures the importance of cleanliness in slowing disease). If viruses can survive winter in Antarctica, what chance does even the strictest lockdown have?
  • CDC was tot 2020 tegen lockdowns:
    The reality was different. The 2007 CDC paper ran 108 pages and included descriptions of many possible ways to reduce transmission, from “voluntary isolation of ill adults” to “reducing density in public transit.” (https:// stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/11425) Crucially, it also contained a “Pandemic Severity Index” that included five categories. On the low end, Category 1 represented a normal seasonal flu season, which still might kill up to 90,000 Americans. On the high end, a Category 5 pandemic, like the Spanish flu, would kill at least 1.8 million Americans. Based on the CDC’s scale, Sars-Cov-2 almost certainly should be classified as Category 2 epidemic, meaning it will cause between 90,000 and 450,000 deaths. For Category 2 or 3 epidemics, the CDC merely said governments should consider school closures of less than four weeks, along with moderate efforts to reduce contacts among adults, such as encouraging telecommuting.
    The prospect of closing all retail stores or offices is not even mentioned in the paper – not even during a Category 5 epidemic killing millions of people. (The CDC’s 2017 guidance, which superseded the 2007 paper, is less detailed but follows similar broad outlines. Crucially, the updated guidance lacked the “Pandemic Severity Index,” ultimately giving public health officials and politicians more leeway to impose extraordinary measures.) Yet the Times glossed over these distinctions in its article. It wrote instead “the (Bush) administration ultimately sided with the proponents of social distancing and shutdowns” and claimed the coronavirus response came directly from the original CDC report. “Then the coronavirus came, and the plan was put to work across the country for the first time.”
    Among the most vocal critics of lockdowns was Dr. Donald Henderson. Henderson, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, led the successful effort to eradicate smallpox. In December 2006, Henderson and three others wrote an 11-page paper called “Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza.” After outlining potential lockdown measures, they wrote, “We must ask whether any or all of the proposed measures are epidemiologically sound… [and] consider possible secondary social and economic impacts.”

    Efforts in past epidemics to slow – much less stop – the spread of the flu had largely failed, the authors wrote. They attacked quarantines, travel bans, and school closings of more than two weeks as likely counterproductive. They did not even mention full lockdowns, presumably because they viewed those as so unlikely.
    Among Donald Henderson’s co-authors on the 2006 paper was Dr. Thomas Inglesby, an infectious disease specialist and director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University. Inglesby didn’t seem to change his views on lockdowns much over the next 14 years. On January 23, 2020, even as the coronavirus broke out in Hubei province, he tweeted his fear that “large scale quarantine for nCoV [the novel coronavirus] will be ineffective and could have big negative consequences.” (https://twitter.com/t_inglesby/status/ 1220335490374742017) Then, suddenly, he made a 180-degree turn. By April 6, he told Scientific American that the newly imposed lockdowns in the United States should not be lifted without “declines in new cases, widespread testing… and the use of nonmedical masks by the public.” (https://www.scientificamerican.com/ article/when-can-we-lift-the-coronavirus-pandemic-restrictions-not-before-taking-these-steps/) I emailed and tweeted at Inglesby to ask if he saw any contradiction between the 2006 paper and his current stance, and if so how he explained the change in his views.

    He did not respond. But Inglesby was not alone in his sudden change of heart. As The New York Times reported in an April article about the British response to the coronavirus, top British scientists – including Neil Ferguson and the government’s chief scientific advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance – had believed the United Kingdom would not need a lockdown. “Then, confronted with new numbers that projected hospitals would be overwhelmed with patients and that the death toll would skyrocket, they pivoted to a suppression strategy.” (https:// www.nytimes.com/2020/04/23/world/europe/uk-coronavirus-sage-secret.html) The early March reports of overwhelmed hospitals in northern Italy – and Italy’s aggressive response – no doubt played a role. On March 9, Italy began a hard national lockdown, becoming the first country to close its entire territory. All non-essential travel was banned. Stores and government offices were shut. Police began checking more than 100,000 people a day, and thousands were fined. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/18/italy-charges-morethan- 40000-people-violating-lockdown-coronavirus) Lost in the panic was the fact that Italy has had several recent severe flu epidemics. In both the 2014-15 and 2016-17 flu seasons, so-called influenza-like-illnesses killed more than 40,000 Italians – the equivalent of nearly a quarter-million Americans. Northern Italy appears to be particularly susceptible to respiratory viruses because it has a very elderly population and high levels of air pollution. (Alex toch! Nee dat wil zeggen dat ze vatbaar zijn voor een verkoudheid, want het lichaam probeert van die vervuiling af te geraken, en dat lukt niet - geen virus nodig) (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749120320601?via%3Dihub) As the epidemic accelerated across Europe, Spain became the next major country to announce a lockdown, on Friday March 13. At that point, Imperial College still had not yet publicly released its paper projecting millions of deaths. But it had already been shown to politicians and policymakers in the United States and Europe. “
  • Waarom dan toch een lockdown (ik ga niet akkoord met de uitleg)?
    But the most likely explanation is the simplest. Faced with a risk of hundreds of thousands or millions of deaths, the public health experts who for decades had counseled patience and caution flinched. They found they could not live with acknowledging how little control they or any of us had over the spread of an easily transmissible respiratory virus. They had to do something – even if they had been warning for decades that what they were about to do would not work and might have terrible secondary consequences.
  • IHME: something rotten in de state of Washington:
    IHME’s forecasts predicted a terrifying future, with a sharp and unstoppable rise in cases. Within three weeks, the United States would need nearly 250,000 hospital beds for coronavirus patients, as well as more than 30,000 intensive care beds – far more than were available in many states. Crucially, IHME released its model after most states had begun lockdowns, and the model assumed the shutdowns would continue until the epidemic was over. In fact, IHME assumed that even states which had not yet locked down would do so
    This forecast only made sense if lockdowns worked to reduce transmission, quickly and certainly. Like the Imperial College model, the IHME model assumed the epidemic would spread uncontrolled before hard lockdowns but rapidly shrink thereafter, as R – the transmission rate – fell below 1.
    Overnight, the IHME model became the crucial forecasting tool for state and federal governments. On April 8, the Washington Post called it “America’s Most Influential Coronavirus Model.” (Any criticism came mostly from epidemiologists who believed its forecasts were too rosy.)
    In the 10 days after the institute released the model, it repeatedly revised upwards its forecasts for hospitalizations and ventilator use. For example, on April 5, the revised IHME model projected that New York would need 69,000 hospital beds and almost 10,000 ventilators that day. What no one in the media or at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation seemed to care about – or even notice – was that the model had failed completely. It was failing not just to predict the future but accurately measure of what was happening in real time. On April 5, New York actually had about 16,500 people in hospitals – fewer than one-quarter the number the model claimed were hospitalized that day. Of those, about 4,000 patients, not 10,000, were on ventilators. (https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/why-some-doctors-are-moving-away-ventilatorsvirus- patients-n1179986) Why did the IHME model fail just days after it was released? Why did it and the other models so badly overestimate the number of patients who would be hospitalized with the coronavirus? The institute and its director, Dr. Christopher Murray, did not return emails for comment.