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Anti-lockdown ideologues’ “science” is now as bad as antivaccine “science”

Anti-lockdown ideologues are now falling prey to the ecological fallacy in their bad epidemiological studies in the same way antivaxxers have been doing for years. Cranks gonna crank, I guess.

One of the most notable things about the COVID-19 pandemic has been how fast two science denialist movements made common cause and, in essence, fused to become one movement. I’m referring, of course, to the antivaccine cranks/grifters and COVID-19 deniers/minimizers/antimaskers/cranks/grifters, who rapidly formed an unholy alliance that ultimately added QAnon conspiracy theorists to the mix to form one of the most toxic groups of conspiracy theorists ever seen. I note that by “toxic,” I don’t just mean toxic personalities, but I also mean toxic to science, medicine, public health, and the politics of trying to respond to the pandemic, with antivaxxers frequently augmenting COVID-19 deniers at various rallies and events, all the while crying “censorship,” infusing the COVID-19 denialist movement with antivaccine pseudoscience and conspiracy theories, and even launching a pre-emptive disinformation war against COVID-19 vaccines. Just two examples, antivax leader and propagandist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has gone all-in on COVID-19 minimization/denial, and Del Bigtree, who made the antivaccine propaganda film VAXXED with Andrew Wakefield, has urged his listeners to “catch this cold” in order to build up herd immunity among the “healthy,” because, to him, COVID-19 is not dangerous except to those who deserve to be endangered, specifically those with chronic conditions due to overeating, lack of exercise, excess drink, and the like. It was blaming the victim at its most blatant, very typical of antivaccine activists, typical of antivaccine nonsense. That’s not the only antivaccine tactic that COVID-19 denialist/minimizers have adopted, however; they’ve also started abusing the ecological fallacy, the same way antivaxxers have been doing for at least 12 years, which is the first time I noticed it, this time in the context of claiming that lockdowns don’t work.

I came to this realization when I saw this Tweet about a new study claiming that “lockdowns don’t work” to slow the spread of COVID-19. Of course, a lot of this claim depends on what you mean by “lockdown,” as anti-“lockdown” advocates love to portray almost any public health restriction designed to spread the slow of COVID-19, such as the closure of churches, gyms, and the like, as well as the banning of indoor dining at restaurants and the requirement that people not leave their houses except for “essential” business and that people who can work at home do so as “lockdowns” akin to what the authoritarian Chinese government did in Wuhan in January, in which people were not allowed to leave, with police arresting people who did. In any event, I saw this Tweet about one such study claiming that “lockdowns don’t work” because, if you believe the study he cites, lockdown stringency doesn’t correlate with COVID-19 mortality at the level of the nation:

Let’s just say that Peter Hitchens does not share his late brother Christopher’s critical thinking faculties, as of late he’s been very much in the COVID-19 minimization camp. Be that as it may, his Tweet rapidly led to this takedown of the study concluding that “lockdowns don’t work” and don’t impact COVID-19 mortality:

I’ve quoted him before in the context of taking on claims about a study that antimaskers have represented as concluding that “masks don’t work.” (Hint: They do, albeit imperfectly.) In this case, I fully recommend reading his entire Twitter thread, which explains why the study in question is such crap. When someone takes down a bad study as well as was done in this case, I sometimes wonder if there’s anything else for me to add. In this case, there is, because, as I read this Twitter thread, memories came back to me of studies I’ve deconstructed before, and it occurred to me: This antilockdown study is very much like an antivaccine study that I deconstructed nine years ago, so much so that I knew what I had to write. I had to provide context, a little history lesson, to show how anti-lockdown COVID-19 pseudoscientists are now using the same misapplication of scientific methods that antivaxxers have been using for decades, in this case, falling prey to the ecological fallacy, either through incompetence, ideology, grift, or any combination of these. How better to do this than to compare the study in question about “lockdowns” with the antivaccine study I discussed so long ago?

Before I dig in, let’s see if, from this description in the next couple of Tweets, any longtime readers recognize which antivaccine study this anti-lockdown study reminded me of:

Any guesses?

Yes, I’m referring to a study from 2011 by the not-so-dynamic antivax duo of Neil Z. Miller and Gary S. Goldman that, as I described in my rather Insolent takedown, used the ecological fallacy (plus cherry picking of data sources) to find a correlation between the number of vaccines in a country’s recommended childhood vaccination schedule and the infant mortality rate of that country. At the time, I pointed out that the investigators had significant ties with the antivaccine movement. For example, National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) donated $2,500 and Michael Belkin donated $500 (in memory of his daughter, Lyla) for open access to the journal article. The NVIC, as you recall, was founded by Barbara Loe Fisher and is one of the oldest and most influential anti-vaccine groups in the U.S., reinvigorated over the last decade by a torrent of cash from über-quack Joe Mercola. Michael Belkin, longtime readers might also recall, is the man responsible for The Refusers, a one man anti-vaccine rock act best known for execrably bad songs with risible titles like Vaccine Gestapo and Get Your Mandates Out of My Body. (Rage Against the Machine or The Clash, he ain’t.) At the time, Miller had a long history of anti-vaccine activism, having previously written books with titles like Vaccine Roulette: Gambling With Your Child’s Life, Immunization Theory vs Reality: Expose on Vaccinations, and Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective?, among others. He was also the director of the ThinkTwice Global Vaccine Institute. His partner in pseudoscience Gary S. Goldman was the President and Founder of Medical Veritas, a rabidly anti-vaccine “journal” that was (and is) into HIV/AIDS denialism. In other words, these were ideologues and activists, not scientists.

What about the investigators who published this anti-lockdown study? I had never heard of them before seeing this study, but their credentials appear reasonable—superficially, at least—with institutions including the University of Toulouse, the Institute for Research in bioMedicine and Epidemiology of Sport, and Hôtel-Dieu, Assistance Publique—Hôpitaux de Paris. The departments are off, though, including the Centre de Recherche sur la Cognition Animale (Research Center on Animal Cognition) at the University of Toulouse and the Institute for Research in bioMedicine and Epidemiology of Sport. OK, that latter has epidemiology in the title, but clearly pandemics are not going to be a strength of this institute, which is dedicated to sports medicine. So, basically, they’re not as bad as Miller and Goldman and, as far as I can tell, but at least some of them are ideologues. For instance, the corresponding author, Jean-François Toussaint, has been known to play fast and loose with COVID-19 statistics to “prove” that COVID-19 is becoming less deadly and to deny that public health science-based restrictions can slow the spread of the virus.

It occurred to me as I wrote this that using the Health Nerd’s Tweets pointing out the study’s flaws would be an excellent way for me to guide you through the similarities between Miller and Goldman’s study and this antimask study. So let’s do it! Here we go, first:

And:

I immediately took notice of that part about the CIA Factbook, because that’s exactly where Goldman and Miller got their data from regarding infant mortality, and, as was the case with this anti-lockdown study, the data used didn’t really match up very well with the years examined. In fact, Larochelambert et al should be really embarrassed, because arguably Goldman and Miller did a better job matching time periods than they did! No, seriously. Goldman and Miller used data from The World Factbook that were as recent as a couple of years before their paper, while most of the data used by Larochelambert et al were six years old or older. I guess they age of the data matches more closely for obesity rates, given that the World Health Organization’s (WHO) data repository was last updated in 2018.

What else? Basically, both papers seek to demonstrate a “dose-response” correlation between the “independent” variable being studied as a predictor of outcomes. (I use the “scare quotes” because these variables in these papers are not truly “independent” in that they are correlated with a number of other factors.) In the case of Goldman and Miller’s crapfest of an article, the “dose” variable was the number of vaccines in each country’s recommended childhood vaccine schedule, which was then correlated with each country’s infant mortality rate. In Larochelambert et al, it’s the “stringency index” of the lockdowns in each country that is being correlated to each country’s COVID-19 mortality rate. So let’s look at what the Health Nerd says about the way Toussaint and his fellow anti-lockdown authors cover “stringency”:

You can see from this succinct summary why the ecological fallacy is a problem in epidemiology: You can’t infer the properties of individuals from the properties of the group, which means that looking for correlations between various risk factors and groups is inherently perilous from a scientific standpoint. As the Health Nerd puts it, the average of a group isn’t always representative of the individuals, or, as the EpiWonk (whose blog is missed) defined the ecological fallacy: Thinking that relationships observed for groups necessarily hold for individuals.

Although I’m not an epidemiologist, I’ve noted that relationships observed for group-level data are also not always representative of much smaller groups within the larger groups. Indeed, antivaxxers fall prey to the ecological fallacy all the time in a less formalized way than publishing bad epidemiological studies when they point to high overall vaccine uptake in a large area (say, the State of California) to try to argue that vaccines don’t work when outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases occur. And, yes, in the case of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease it’s often true that the average overall vaccine rate for a large state like California is high. However, that argument ignores the fact that, even in the middle of an area with a high vaccine uptake, smaller areas with low vaccine uptake will be vulnerable to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases due to diminished community immunity (formerly—and sometimes still—known as herd immunity). As these authors count countries with small areas with high stringency lockdowns and much larger areas with looser restrictions, the average of which ends up being high stringency index lockdown, “high stringency index” countries, antivaxxers use states or countries with high overall vaccine uptake but small areas of low vaccine uptake to represent the state or country as a “high vaccine uptake.” As is the case with this lockdown paper, averaging over a large area political unit (be it country or state) pulls the average in the direction the authors want, thanks to small areas within the unit analyzed that are very different from the overall unit.

I will say that Miller and Goldman did go one beyond in that they were a bit—shall we say?—creative in how they assigned their independent variable to countries. What I mean is that the way they counted the number of vaccines in the recommended schedules for each country was designed to maximize the apparent number of vaccines, as described here (remember, though, that this study is over nine years old when considering the specific numbers discussed and that vaccine schedules change):

There are a number of things wrong with this procedure – first of all, the way Miller and Goldman are counting vaccines is completely arbitrary and riddled with mistakes.

Arbitrary: they count number of vaccines in US bins (DTaP is one, hib is separate) and non-specific designations (some “polio” is still given as OPV in Singapore), rather than antigens. If they did that, Japan, still giving the live bacterial vaccine BCG, would immediately go to the top of the list. That wouldn’t fit the agenda, of course. But if you go by “shot” rather than by antigen, why are DTaP, IPV, hepB and hib counted as 4 shots for example in Austria, when they are given as Infanrix hexa, in one syringe?

Mistakes: The German childhood vaccination schedule recommends DTaP, hib, IPV AND hepB, as well as PCV at 2, 3 and 4 months, putting them squarely into the 21 – 23 bin. The fourth round of shots is recommended at 11 to 14 months, and MenC, MMR and Varicella are recommended with a lower age limit of 11 months, too, which means that a number of German kids will fall into the highest bin, at least as long as you count the Miller/Goldman way.

There was less opportunity for the authors of this anti-lockdown paper to game the independent variable than there were for Miller and Goldstein to game their independent variable of number of vaccines.

Another similarity leapt out at me. Miller and Goldman graphed infant mortality as a function of the number of vaccines received, while Toussaint’s group graphed COVID-19 mortality as a function of the “lockdown stringency index.” Miller and Goldman used linear regression to analyze for a correlation while Toussaint’s group used the more sophisticated logistic regression. In both cases, the researchers (if you can call them that) assumed that there was a specific mathematical relationship between the independent and dependent variable without a plausible mechanism to explain why they chose that mathematical relationship. True, it was more risible that Miller and Goldman assumed that there had to be a linear relationship between the number of vaccines and infant mortality, but, really, when you come right down to it, it wasn’t a whole lot less risible that Larochelambert et al assumed that a non-symmetrical logistic regression would find a curve “fit.” Sure, it sounds a lot more statistic-y and science-y than a linear regression.

Then there’s this:

What is endogeneity? Briefly, endogeneity occurs when variable, observed or unobserved, that is not included in a model, is related to a variable that is incorporated in our model. For example, in the case of Miller and Goldman, as I pointed out, so many more variables impact infant mortality than just potentially vaccines, and some of these variables could well be related to vaccine uptake. Moreover, Miller and Goldman also cherry picked the countries they examined, carefully excluding potential outliers that would interfere with their preconceived results. As for Larochelambert et al, there are indeed other factors that were not considered:

And:

In any event, so many more variables might correlate with COVID-19 deaths, some of which are almost certainly also going to correlate with the “stringency index.”

Then, of course, there’s timing:

I could go on and on and on and on, obviously. Larochelambert et al have published a truly crappy and uninformative epidemiological study of lockdowns as a predictor of nationwide COVID-19 mortality using methods very similar to, albeit more statistically sophisticated than, those used by antivaxxers. However, the higher degree of mathematical sophistication doesn’t change the fact that what we are looking at here is ecological fallacy, nothing more, a research technique “pioneered” by antivaxxers years and years and years ago by antivaxxers as incompetent as Mark and David Geier (whose 2008 paper provided me much fodder). The bottom line is that COVID-19 pandemic deniers/minimizers are now using the same sort of bad science that antivaxxers have been using for a very long time.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

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51 replies on “Anti-lockdown ideologues’ “science” is now as bad as antivaccine “science””

I had forgotten the authors, but the infant mortality study did come to mind.

Age is certainly a big factor. It has been cited as a partial reason why the U.S. case fatality rate is lower than back in April (as well as more knowledge about managing the illness, some useful treatments, and hospitals not being overwhelmed). It may be a factor in places like Africa as well.

And if lockdowns didn’t work, how did Italy and Spain for instance get their initial outbreaks under control?

And besides being politically loaded, the term lockdown is not well defined. I saw one mention of five different levels of lockdown with wearing masks, social distancing and reduced customer numbers in businesses being the lowest.

Here in the U.S. we have 50 sub-ecologies. And I have watched the case numbers decline in response to lockdown measures.

For the U.S. overall, just a couple weeks ago the New York Times was reporting 14 day growth rates of 70-80% while now we are “down” to only 23%.
https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/13/politics/asa-hutchison-arkansas-coronavirus/index.html

And just out of curiosity, I looked for a list of the seven states that were the last to impose stay-at-home orders back in April.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/13/politics/asa-hutchison-arkansas-coronavirus/index.html

Those states were Arkansas, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming.

Three of those (North Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming) are in the top four for cumulative cases per capita. Iowa, Utah and South Dakota are also in the top 15.

Arkansas currently has a lower growth rate than New Mexico, which had a horrific rise in late October and November and still shows 62% growth.
But New Mexico’s total cases 4282 per 100K are a bit less than Arkansas’s 5057. And New Mexico’s cases are actually down about 50% from a week ago while Arkansas’ cases are still rising.

Lockdowns are a real pain. But we need to keep them going long enough to reduce the case numbers, save lives and hold on until we can vaccinate enough people to mitigate the spread of the virus.

The NY area locked down in mid-March and rates fell enough to start a slow re-opening in May ( NJ Covid Information Hub/ NY similar no graphs;) showing an actual U curve as rates began to rise again leading to more surgical shutdowns.

About the anti-vaxxer/ anti-mask/ anti-shutdown / Covid denialist / Q Anon correspondence:
whilst I can’t say that each misinformer I follow checks all the boxes- they vary but hold diverse odd beliefs
that Covid is not really deadly/ it only kills those already dying or that shut downs kill more people or masks hurt or don’t help/ help against other microbes only or there are great drugs/ supplements or boosting immunity is everything**
BUT none of them presents realistic information or guidance about the illness or how to prevent it. They often skewer Drs Fauci ,Hotez and other experts

** selling supplements/ super foods

Limbaugh had a guest host on the 25’th. He says he approaches topics through the lens of data analysis from his days at Microsoft (proud to be the most “diverse” as he was the only one there that dropped out of college when the others were ivy league) — Todd Herman. The most grating, obnoxious, low effort Trump poopifying amplifyer of them all. For instance, back in august he was challenging a caller on the notion of a ‘second wave’… “why do you say that? where do you get your information? media? what media?” and so on {Hell, we never got out of the first; more like a tsunami with superimposed wavelets of increasing amplitude}.

Anywho, It was all there within the hour I heard — vote fraud, Great Barrington, the 6%, the “unassailable” Danish mask study, Inslee is corrupt, using “gaslighting” while he is gaslighting, and bragging over and over how good he is at interpreting data and “pattern recognition.”

The time is set to his execrable explanation of how the definition of ‘cases’ {before, there were symptoms then a test for a possible case. Now they test without symptoms, he laments. (asymptomatic spread, anyone?)} has changed to inflate the numbers because taxpayer “extra billions” go to the unscrupulous doctors that way. If he ever brought up increased hospitalizations to then try to spin* that then I missed it:

https://youtu.be/aKbLVEkwXvs?t=2164

I’m not even sure that what he does can be called “spin”. I don’t think the laws of physics permit such a rate given Planck Length and such. I think “lying” is a better word.

The first graph on this page from The Age newspaper (Melbourne, Australia) marks intervention points against new cases per day for the state of Victoria, from 0 new cases on 9 July, to nearly 800 new cases on 5 August, and back down to 0 cases on 26 October. There have been no new cases of COVID-19 reported in Victoria since 31 October (there were a small number of new cases between 26 Oct and 31 Oct). NB: dates in the graph are day/month. “Stage four” on 2 August was start of the most stringent lockdown level applied in Victoria.

It’s not proof that lockdown works in all cases (and for all values of “lockdown” and “works”), but it would seem hard to argue that that lockdown wasn’t effective in Victoria (and also similar lockdowns and restrictions for the first wave of COVID-19 in Australia).

The general effectiveness of the COVID-19 response in Australia (see, for example, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s COVID stats page for Australia) also shows that a federal form of government isn’t necessarily a major impediment to effective responses to COVID.

I won’t get into the failings of that response that got Victoria into the second wave in the first place: it’s subject to an ongoing Board of Inquiry.

well for the ones who have little or no under standing of lock downs & or boarder closing…u need to look how well australia has handle it from a bad start to now … it is not easy but it works …gee u folks in trouble there..hope u turn the corner soon …cheers ..happy bob from oz ..8

Astra-Zeneca is here to save the day… or not? https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/25/business/coronavirus-vaccine-astrazeneca-oxford.html

Maybe Nathan Allebach can help AZ with their PR problem. I guess cancel culture doesn’t apply to multinational chemical, I mean pharmaceutical companies. And the flock wonders why there are trust issues, smh, shutting down any dissent with your labels. I miss the real science that’s been replaced with corporate-funded, biased garbage. Good day and good luck. You’re gonna need it. https://www.corp-research.org/astrazeneca

“cancel culture”

Since there isn’t a “cancel culture” except in the weak minds of the conspiracy minded your comment only does one thing: continues your history of asinine and unsupportable statements.

…and we have an example of why there is so much testing and review for vaccines and Astra Zeneca did a bad showing the system you so ignorantly say doesn’t work actually does work and you still won’t believe a word we say about vaccines. Other than coming here to be a jerk, what purpose are you serving since you clearly don’t give a shit about this pandemic of the people dying from it.

It is possible that the 90% effectiveness may not be real as it was early in the program and only those 18-55 received the ‘mistake’ but, if real, that’s sort of interesting.

Others have speculated that starting with a strong dose—as in the two-full-dose regimen— may have foiled efficacy because of the way AZD1222 is designed. The vaccine uses a weakened adenovirus as packaging to deliver to the immune system the genetic code for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. But starting out with a strong first dose may prime the immune system to focus on attacking the adenovirus, rather than the packaged coronavirus component

https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/11/astrazenecas-best-covid-vaccine-result-was-a-fluke-experts-have-questions/

Wh, wha, what? Pfizer was kicked off the Dow in August replaced by AMGEN. Stockholders are more positive due to “excitement over the company’s Covid-19 vaccine, which could be the first in the crop of Western-developed vaccines to offer pivotal data later this fall, has boosted the stock and drawn enormous attention to the company and its partner, the German biotech BioNTech (BNTX).” Yay! https://www.barrons.com/articles/pfizer-amgen-dow-jones-industrial-average-apple-51598367813

As an proponent of equal opportunity shaming, I present Pfizers rap sheet.

https://www.corp-research.org/pfizer

Umm, Scott, there is no ”week 40 of the flu season”.

”Flu season” is an imprecise term referring to the period between when influenza cases begin to ramp up each year (typically around late fall) and when they start waning again (early spring). This period lasts somewhere around 13 weeks on average.

The severity of the 2019-2020 flu season has been noted to be fairly average. The CDC has estimated about 22,000 deaths for the period.

The current flu season hasn’t been going on for very long, so whatever figures one uses are not very meaningful. The “only 319 people have had the flu” number you pulled out of your posterior is even less useful.

I’d expect that masking, social distancing and other anti-Covid measures will cut down on influenza cases, but we’ll have to see how that works out.

And I’m not sure how it is elswhere, but in The Netherlands, more people are vaccinated agains the flu.

Dangerous Bacon had you actually read the link to the CDC website they identify the week of September 27 as week 40. I just use their identification of weeks in my post. And by comparision in past years, by week 47 the CDC would have identified 15,000 to 25,000 people as having the flu.The number 319 is also from the CDC website, so I didn’t just pull it out of thin air and is located under the title “U.S. Virological Surveillance”
The CDC identifies 52 weeks in a year. and they start the flu season on week 40 (this year is starts on the 27th of September (of a 52 week year). thus they don’t identify the start of flu season as week one but identify it by the week in the year.

I just find that odd that we only have 319 cases.

the next oddity is this from the CDC on guidence on how to list people who died with Covid.

“COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death.”

I mean don’t you think it odd that a medical report (death certificate) would stated “assumed to have caused” in it. Defense attorneys and civil lawsuits are going to have a field day with those words.

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvss/coronavirus/Alert-2-New-ICD-code-introduced-for-COVID-19-deaths.pdf

The Australian 2020 flu season has come and gone, and has shown a large drop in both number of cases and number of influenza deaths.

The linked news article (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) says:

The latest national statistics, obtained by the ABC, reveal from January to June 2020, there were just 36 deaths from the flu.

That compares to 430 deaths in the same period for 2019.”

The reasons they give are (Prof Barr is identified earlier in the article as deputy director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza):

Closing schools, maintaining physical distancing and boosting hand hygiene have all contributed to the massive decline in flu diagnoses and deaths.

“The main reasons are due to social distancing, as influenza is spread just like COVID-19 is,” Professor Barr said.

“And the closure of schools probably also has a big part in the transmission of the flu in a normal season.”

The closure of Australian borders to international travellers also provided far fewer opportunities for people to bring the flu into the country from overseas.

Vaccination rates have also jumped, according to data from the federal health department, which showed from March to mid-July this year, 8.8 million doses of influenza vaccines were dispensed.

That is 2 million doses more than were administered in the same period last year.

So, basically, the reduction in numbers is due to a higher level of influenza vaccines than normal, and the fact that anti-COVID measures were also effective against influenza.

There was a Government campaign to encourage flu vaccines leading into the Australian flu season, to reduce the likelihood of people getting both diseases at once, and to try to reduce the load on hospitals from avoidable influenza infections.

Unfortunately that article is from late July, but I couldn’t find a more recent one with more up-to-date information.

I mean don’t you think it odd that a medical report (death certificate) would stated “assumed to have caused” in it. Defense attorneys and civil lawsuits are going to have a field day with those words.

What, the virus is going to sue for defamation?

@Narad

All Scott is pointing out is that “they would probably have died ‘soon’ (for some values of soon) anyways.”

First link is an average COVID 19 is not that bad paper. Proximate cause mentioned in the death certificate may not be COVID, but for instance heart problem. Cause of heart problem would be COVID, though.
CDC records flu deaths:
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm
Death toll of 2018-2019 (without COVID) and 2019-2020 (with COVID) flu seasons are very similar. No cure of flu here.

And what about deaths from spring of 2020, from the same report. They were very similar that ones from 2019. Why COVID did not cure flu during the spring ?

To Narad.
1. If a person who has Covid and is murdered and they test postivie for covid according to CDC rules “is assumed to have caused or contributed to death”
there were at least 6 cases in the State of Washington of people who were shot and died that were later found to have covid, and were classfied as Covid “contributed to death”
the defense attorney will use that to mitigate the charge.

The up coming class action lawsuit in New York state because “Cumo” granted nursing home immunity to take in Covid paitents and thus the state accepted responsiblity for those patients , thus effectively spreading the virus . 100’s of those deaths had no test or a negative test but were still listed at “is assumed to have caused”

Their are cases where a person died in a vehicle accident who later tested postive and the medical examiner wrote Covid “contributed to death.” The county attorney/DA can’t file charges against the other driver because of that little phrase.

To Aarno
I really have no answer, as I am not a virologist my area of expertise is computers/systems and statistics, I could speculate many things, like maybe the flu was the first thing doctors tested for in the spring or the flu infections were dropping off (as they usually do that time of year) or the covid has killed many people who would have caught the flu in this season and died from covid that other wise would have died from in this flu this season.
My whole point was that it was ODD that we have had so few flu cases. As I pointed out in years past we would have had 15,000 to 25,000 cases by this time (starting in september) but we only have 319. It’s not because we are test so many fewer people the postiive rate is between 0.2 and 0.3% that would, in a normal year the number would be as high as 5% to 10%.

I am open to suggestion or answers to that oddity, pri had some possible explaination but the data was only thru july (for Australian) and in the US we’ve had a normal flu vaccine distribution in 2020.

there were at least 6 cases in the State of Washington of people who were shot and died that were later found to have covid, and were classfied as Covid “contributed to death”

Oh, come on. Citation please.

the defense attorney will use that to mitigate the charge.

Now that’s bound to be an interesting line of defense. Will they claim the murderer(s) divined thanks to their psychic powers that the victims were covid-infected?
That makes me want all the more to get the context and details.

Also, is it the odd case or is it the prevalent one?

In all human behaviors, it is to be expected to have 2 to 5% of confused, deluded or plain scoundrels gaming the system.
Not enough to explain a marked absence of flu.
You claim it’s widespread to the point of being near-universal.

Athaie. Even if they change the cause of death to gunshot, the whole autopsy report then becomes suspect and can and will be challenged and sow doubt in the minds of a jury. And these deaths were early on it has only gotten worse

https://komonews.com/news/local/state-epidemiologists-covid-19-related-deaths-likely-being-undercounted-in-wa

https://www.newsweek.com/florida-man-killed-crash-listed-covid-19-death-raising-doubts-over-health-data-1518994

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/12714515/coronavirus-death-toll-overcounting/

I could go on and on with the citations.

Again you missed the point, “Why are the flu cases way down this year?”

@ scott

Again you missed the point, “Why are the flu cases way down this year?”

Nope.
People have already answered you on this, and I asked you to provide evidence that these Covid19 misclassifications could cover-up the regular flu deaths.

But it’s OK. Believe whatever you want, that little Grey men are controlling the world, and that this covid19 virus doesn’t exist.

You people are really irking me right now. Like you, I desperately WANT to go out and have something like a social life. However tiny and pathetic a social life I usually have.

But because of you m0r0ns spreading fear and misinformation, finding the flimsiest excuses not to mask, not to stop moving around, not wanting to vaccinate, and generally cheating and having private parties and, in short, spreading the freleling virus, we are going to keep having this epidemics in our countries for one more year. Whereas countries whose inhabitants and governments were a lot more serious and prepared at isolating themselves and tracking cases are now going back to a more normal life.

Yes Bacon has issues with reading and didn’t understand the CDC use of weeks of the year or when the CDC considers the start of the flu season.

If PRL’s post (29th november) is correct (and I have no reason to doubt the article) on the Austrailian numbers of Flu cases and deaths and reasons for the low numbers of masking, closing borders, close schools, etc.

Does that foretell the US’s response in the future flu seasons, that we all wear masks, close borders, close schools, etc. (the normal flu kills 25,000 to 53,000) during the flu season ? Is that the new normal?

@Scott,

The CDC’s labeling can be confusing since the flu season overlaps two years.

But your previous post stated it was week 40 of the flu season, not the calendar year.

There is good reason to think that physical protective measures that protect against one airborne respiratory virus will protect against another. Flu incidence in the U.S. dropped way down when widespread mask wearing was instituted in April.

I doubt if we’ll need to close borders or even schools for future flu seasons. But wearing masks, physical distancing, washing hands are relatively cheap and simple. So if they can save thousands of lives, why not?

You disappoint me, Orac.

You should listen to steak-umm

https://twitter.com/steak_umm/status/1248276759507853312?s=20

Just because youre an oncologist, doesnt make you an expert in say, masks, lockdowns or even jade crystals for that matter. How many RCTs have you led involving them? How many expert conferences on masks, lockdowns and jade crystals have you actually attended? Zero? sounds about right.

Yet you claim to know the truth and your mindless followers agree with your lockdowns and masks, completely ignoring the elephant in the room. Which is what you didnt write about. Exactly, a real scientist waits for conclusive evidence from RCTs that prove something works, Thats why orange man was not scientific with HCQ. Funny, you copy his style.

Actually it doesnt surprise me, considering you let your mindless groupies slander the genius BiPoC Bility, making fun of his non-western name and calling him the C-word (offensive hate speech, mind you, why arent you censoring this hate speech if youre pro-censorship?), but you are not publishing any lockdown or mask RCTs that are in favor. Reaching the conclusion before the research is done?

Are you even a real scientist, Orac???

Its so easy to look at this thing from millions of angles as a neutral unbiased observer. Theres an issue with long-haulers, all-cause mortality, and the cure possibly being worse than the disease.
https://twitter.com/Rapatauxx/status/1312417246808072192?s=19
But I guess millions of brown ppl dieing in a hunger pandemic means nothing to you…
https://www.news.com.au/technology/world-could-face-hunger-pandemic-in-2021-world-food-programe-warns/news-story/f314d1447fb33c3375bad2cf0f6bbc09
nor the impact of the extra medical waste on the plastic pandemic…
https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/health-coronavirus-plastic-recycling/
I guess plastic one-use masks dont contribute to climate change, since its a hoax created by China!?! I know how orange man thinks and his followers. I know how you think, Orac.

SAD!!!

the link mentions Austria as a country with very few excess deaths. But their were no comparison lines for the countries cited. So I went to an independent source and found this.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/excess-mortality-p-scores?tab=chart&stackMode=absolute&time=2020-01-05..2020-11-15&country=ESP~England%20%26%20Wales~DEU~AUT~SWE~USA&region=World

Austria had a relatively modest 15% excess deaths in April compared with over 40% in the US and even worse in Spain and England, for instance. Austria had relatively few deaths in the summer when the US was suffering over 20% excess deaths from the summer surge. But Austria is now running over 40% excess deaths. Due to reporting delays, the US numbers don’t show the effects of the latest surge.

You really believe that jade amulets work or that climate change is hoax created by China ? Now that is sad.
Nobody has made fun Billity’s name or used C-word. Critiquing antimask studies is not censorship. There is a promask study for you:
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.31.20166116v1
Problem is low compliance.
You could go Google Scholar and look for papers of DH Gorski. Definitely scientific input,I would say.
Brown people are not dying in millions because of pandemic or because of lockdown. There would be quite a noise if this really happened

“Actually it doesnt surprise me, considering you let your mindless groupies slander the genius BiPoC Bility, making fun of his non-western name and calling him the C-word (offensive hate speech, mind you”

The C-word? Quackademic is spelled with a Q.

And how did Moses Turkle Bility get to be “BiPoC” Bility?

Truly there have been serious perturbations in the Earth’s geophysical and geologic fields. I’m donning my nephrite-jade amulet right away. 🙁

Being a surgeon/ oncologist doesn’t make a person an ‘expert’ on masks, locks downs or jade crystals and that’s not why Orac is able to deconstruct ridiculous pseudoscience although he gained skills in critical thinking over his educational and medical career. There are doctors who believe in incredibly stupid crap as we’ve learned through Orac’s work.

With exceptions, education is a powerful antidote to an unrealistic worldview . Amongst Orac’s “groupies” though, not everyone is medically trained or working in that field. yet they manage to understand what is required when confronting medical nonsense- at least a few excellent debunkers studied entirely non-medical science ( engineering, computers, physics) and do very well regarding research in life sciences because they understand the scientific method- how research is done, how to assess sources for citations, statistics, some BASIC FACTS ( in physics, chemistry, biology, human psychology.) and reading comprehension. Conversely, one may have a quite decent education and still flounder amongst the weeds in the swampy realm of denialism. We see it all the time. amongst professional as well as amateur woo-providers.

Because I purvey the lower depths of these brain dead marshes, I can show how their denizens often stray from reality:
— they pursue their interests whilst neglecting the rest of field and consensus- which may hold important data for what they want to express-
— they imagine themselves to be bold mavericks about to change the history of science with a single discovery or study
— they seek the attention of followers in their quest to be the new Galileos ( Gallilei?) leading to ostentatious statements and outlandish claims about paradigm shifting thus they parade around in the trappings of science without the methodology / subject matter of science in cargo cult fashion.

I surmise that many of the chief offenders do not possess basics that would allow them to become serous students because they jump to conclusions with little data, mistake correlation for causation and sometimes misread/ misinterpret the sources they include in their cites. PLUS some are outright charlatans.. ,

@ Denice

Galileos (Galilei?)

Eh, as his full name was Galileo Galilei (Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de’ Galilei, for the completist), the second one is surprisingly a correct word. Although maybe not the word you were looking for.

Also, that sent me back down memory lane, when Mephistopheles O’Brien rifled on the famous “I knew Kennedy”, except with Galileo.
I learned a lot with the regulars here, and not just in science.

Oh,I know his full name and what it actually means so I couldn’t resist!
( Galileo + plural of same) Also, believe it or not ,I sometimes study Italian: my childhood friend’s family spoke Italian at home, my family took me to operas, it fits with other languages I know, there is a posh ristorante next door, and local overpriced specialty stores run by native Italians etc. so I hear Italian.

The general gist -lockdown stringency is unrelated to mortality outcomes- is completely correct. Italy and Peru had harsh lockdowns and it didn’t get them anywhere but recession. By contrast, Hong Kong and South Korea are relatively low stringency and have had fairly good mortality outcomes. Serious countries isolate the infected, not destroy their economies while allowing the virus to spread.

Italy and Peru had harsh lockdowns

Dunno about Peru, but for Italy, the fox was already in the henhouse when they lockdowned.
May have helped with the recession bit.

Serious countries isolate the infected

Yeah. But to know who is infected, as there is a silent phase, one needs to have an accurate enough test, in sufficient numbers, with competent personnel to administer it.
Short of that,..

Speaking of charlatans –

There’s a new guest article on one familiar charlatan’s website by a certain Diane Doucet*, wailing about discrimination against people who refuse to wear masks. Apparently we are supposed to assume that all of them avoid masks because of legit medical conditions and not because they are ignorant and inconsiderate morons.

Doucet thinks the term “anti-masker” is a nasty, marginalizing label much like “anti-vaxxer”. She may have a point there, which is why I think of the anti-mask contingent as maskholes.

*she’s an antivaxer, unsurprisingly. The cross-fertilization between anti-vaccine ideologues and Covid deniers/conspiracy theorists is a wonder to behold.

@Dangerous Bacon–I read that article on JLWs dumpster fire blog yesterday. It’s a despicable and dangerous piece of crap. Today JLW is commending Judy Wilyman PhD (it’s an anti-vaccine, anti-science PhD she should never have been given) article he’s published in his phony-assed journal after “rounds of peer review.” Article is how we haven’t set the bar high enough for vaccine safety testing. For anti-vaxxers, of course you can’t ever convince them any vaccine is safe so it’s all bullshit. But now I deeply worry that the fake science/medicine/academic cog of the anti-vax machine is in place and spinning up thanks to bastards like Paul Thomas, Lying-Wailer, Doucet and Wilyman. And at the worst feckin’ time. They are going to kill people who they will scare into not taking coronavirus vaccines.

Here is how much of a crock of sheet the Wilyman article is (from the introduction):

Further, the WHO and national governments have never tested vaccines, even the vaccines with a long history of use, in formal controlled clinical trials to demonstrate with empirical evidence that the vaccine can prevent the vaccine-targeted disease [5]. This is significant because governments routinely use the term ‘vaccine-preventable diseases’ to imply that vaccines can prevent disease.

Clearly there was no peer review, especially as ref [5] is listed as Public Assessment Report. Scientific Discussion. Afluria, suspension for injection, Influenza vaccine (split virion, inactivated). Mutual Recognition Procedure which can in no way validate her false claim on vaccines having never been show to prevent disease.

….but to way too many vaccine-hesitant non-scientific adults/parents, this propaganda will accomplish the goal of the anti-vax machine.

The bill also would require federal courts to expunge prior marijuana convictions, tax weed to help communities hardest hit by the war on drugs, fund job training, and provide loans to minority-owned small businesses seeking to enter the cannabis industry.

https://www.nj.com/marijuana/2020/11/us-house-to-vote-on-ending-federal-ban-on-marijuana.html

This is brilliant. It will pass the house and go to the senate to die on Bitch McConnell’s desk. Now that people are paying attention, and all those bipartisan smokers, and those who have had their family members locked up, separated, destroyed their lives that never knew the mechanics before but now see it on reddit and everywhere else will go “wait, what?” “Maybe I should figure out what ‘vote my interests’ actually means.” There is a lot of stoners in GA. There are lots of generations separated in prisons over a joint. Bring it on Dec 5’th, Dump. But you brought it after the people realized what is at stake. And I think they will then see you for the loser you are and cement the opposition, even amongst your ‘own’.

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