COVID case counts? Total nonsense

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Congratulations to our public health masterminds for finally catching up with the reality that raw COVID case numbers are worse than useless as a metric. 

A new survey of adults in New York City suggests that our testing regime may have missed more than 1.3 million cases between January and March of this year. The numbers also suggest that an astonishing 27% of the city’s adults may have been infected during that time. 

This massive statistical whiff also means that the official positivity rate — the number by which entire sectors of our economy lived and died for two years, the number that shut schools and sent paroxysms of terror through the media — was near-meaningless as a measurement.

And that, from the start, and particularly since the time vaccines were rolled out, we should have been paying more attention to actual bad outcomes from infection. 

That is, hospitalizations and deaths. Those are what matter.

If someone gets a mild flu and recovers in 24 hours, no one panics. But a few asymptomatic COVID cases in a city school were enough, for months, to shut classrooms and trigger insane quarantine protocols.

Covid mobile testing sites are stationed across New York City.
Covid mobile testing sites are stationed across New York City.
Steve Sanchez/Pacific Press/Shut

Even though no evidence ever indicated that schools were prime transmission vectors, and it’s been plain for well over a year that the reverse is true.  

Had we paid attention to the accurate measures of COVID’s severity, it would have become clearer far sooner that the disease is a big risk mainly to the elderly and immunocompromised, with about 980 US deaths of under 18s (out of around 988,000 total deaths) since January 2020. 

That our public health officials, electeds and others relied on anything else after the first, crazy months of the pandemic is clear malpractice. That they used these meaningless numbers to browbeat skeptics of their policies is beyond appalling. 

Don’t expect any apologies, though. The Centers for Disease Control bureaucrats could only tiptoe up to admitting what this new data seems to suggest when the CDC introduced its long-overdue new metric — so-called “community levels” — on masking rules, a metric that relies largely on hospitalizations to indicate trouble spots. 

And while these survey results should put the nail in the coffin as far as case counts and the positivity rate are concerned, they won’t. 

Our mayor still insists on masking under-5 kids due to rising case numbers. He still won’t kill the private-sector vax mandate (though he will make exceptions for the rich and famous). 

But it’s plain to see that rules based on these figures have not ever “followed the science.” 

They followed politics instead. And did immense, likely irrecoverable social damage along the way. 



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