VOPDOC

Imagine how different the global response to COVID would have been, and would be, if the media, politicians and public health officials referred to the affliction not as COVID but as VOPDOC: Very Old People Dying of a Cough.

This, of course, would not be entirely accurate, because it’s not exactly a “cough” (not for everyone), and many people who are *not* very old have died of the disease. But it would be far more accurate than the hysterical nonsense that has been endlessly peddled by our institutions for nine months, striking useless, debilitating fear into the hearts of the elderly and the young alike, wrecking countless lives and reducing most social interactions to looking at stuff on a screen.

VOPDOC would certainly be far more accurate than calling COVID a “plague,” less misleading than calling it a “once-in-a-century pandemic” (the 1957-58 Asian flu says otherwise), and less idiotic than comparing COVID to the Spanish Flu, in which the average age of death was 28 years old.

Let’s take a look at the latest COVID numbers for Connecticut, which I would note has a population of 3.5 million and is adjacent to New York City, as we head into this terrifying plague’s winter wave:

  • Dec. 23 current hospitalizations: 1,155
  • Dec. 15 current hospitalizations (90-day peak): 1,269
  • Dec. 23 new deaths: 33
  • Oct. 1 new deaths: 3
  • Total deaths (cumulative): 5,736
  • Total deaths in long-term care (cumulative): 3,736

Like I said. Very Old People Dying of a Cough. QED.

A wee table

From the CDC (figures as of Sept. 10. 2020):

AgeInfection Fatality Ratio (Current Best Estimate)
0-19 years 0.003%
20-49 years0.02%
50-69 years0.5%
70+ years5.4%

You read that correctly. People under the age of 50 have a 0.02% (zero point zero two percent, or two hundredths of one percent) or less chance of dying from a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Remember, this is why we shut down the world, rather than, say, allowing old people to self-isolate for a bit.

COVID theater (bug spray edition)

One of the first hints that something was not quite right with China’s COVID narrative during the pathogen’s confusing debut in January and February was the strange photos and videos emerging from all over the country of workers, trucks and even drones grimly carpeting the urban landscape with a mysterious misty substance described as “disinfectant.”

What was it, exactly? Nobody seemed to know:

But what the heck? I am at a loss to say what this stuff might be. I asked the same question on Twitter, and the answers were mostly variants on my own thought, that it’s basically “safety theater”. The problem is, there are such things as aerosol spray insecticides. And there are aerosol spray general antimicrobials (although I have trouble believing that you could get much good out of them deployed in the fashion shown, on city streets). But there are, to my knowledge, no open-spray viricides. I mean, viruses aren’t alive, for one thing, and the sorts of things that are used for viral contamination depend on broad denaturing chemical activity (think bleach) or physical wiping/sequestration (cleaning surfaces off).

I’m not seeing anything like that here that makes any sense. Honestly, I have to wonder if I’m looking at nothing more than fog machine mixture (usually glycerine/water or something of the sort). Maybe there’s something in the mix that someone thinks will do some good against coronavirus particles – I doubt if they’re correct, if so – or maybe the whole thing is just meant to show that the Authorities Are Doing Something.

The value of the bogus bug spray obviously had nothing to do with its supposed ability to combat a respiratory virus, and everything to do with its propaganda value as a signal that the virus is Being Taken Seriously. And also, perhaps, to induce terror in China and worldwide over a virus that is essentially of no concern to people who are not very old or (already) very sick, thence to grab more power. By March, many other countries had adopted the medically futile but politically useful procedure.

My favorite comment on the psychotic squirting comes from no less an authority than Johan Giesecke, former state epidemiologist of Sweden, as quoted in the outstanding book Corona False Alarm?:

Politicians want to demonstrate their capacity to act, the capacity for decision making and most of all their strength. My best example for this is that in Asian countries the sidewalks are sprayed with chlorine. This is completely useless but it shows that the state and the authorities are doing something, and that is very important to politicians.

They did something, all right. Let it never be said that they didn’t.

NYC collapse update

On August 16, I wrote:

New York City isn’t going to recover from this. The sad truth is that the city completely destroyed itself in a spasm of hubris, cowardice and folly and you don’t come back from that, not for a long time and not without painful introspection and remorse. There is no evidence that that is going to happen, so the death spiral continues. New Yorkers either actively support or passively acquiesce to the madness that has wrecked their city. Or they flee.

Four months later, I see no reason to revise that judgment. In the news today:

As vaccines began being put into arms in New York City and indoor dining was shut down again Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that additional restrictions could be coming — potentially including a return to a full shutdown.

“There’s the potential of having to do a full pause, a full shutdown, in the coming weeks, because we can’t let this kind of momentum go,” de Blasio said on CNN when asked about comments made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week, in which the state’s top executive said a fuller shutdown could be in the offing this winter.

The fact that this sort of thing is tolerated anyone, as we approach the end of 2020, strikes me as proof that it’s over for the Big Apple. Why is everyone cool with these draconian restrictions? Where are the mass demonstrations and civil disobedience? Where are the attempts to get a law passed allowing the recall of the governor and mayor, followed swiftly by their recall? Why does everyone seem to be in a dazed stupor all the time, as thousands of businesses are destroyed and their city implodes around them? I wish I understood.

Goodbye, New York. You were fun while you lasted.

UPDATE: On the other, I may have underestimated the resilience and creativity of the average business owner in New York. As the tweet below illustrates, restaurants have begun adapting to the city’s psychotic and ever-changing restrictions by offering indoor dining… outdoors!

He’s got a fever…

And the only prescription is… MOAR LOCKDOWN:

Andy Slavitt, who led the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama, says the U.S. is always about four to six weeks away from eliminating the coronavirus — if we throw the kitchen sink at the problem. […]

Eradicating the virus in the U.S. will involve a very simple formula — “we just have to decide if we want to do it,” Slavitt says.

“It really involves a little bit of discipline and a little bit of sacrifice,” he says. “It’s all about very simply not breathing near one another in crowded places. In the scheme of viruses, that’s a pretty easy formula, considering that there are viruses that are much more contagious. So we can do this with a series of actions that have been demonstrated around the world.”

But of course fighting the virus involves “discipline” and “sacrifice” – in other words, isolation, atomization and emotional deprivation – because that is a perfectly rational response to a respiratory virus and is always what we do during a severe flu season – right? In any case, mass house arrest has always been the global establishment’s go-to strategy for addressing the ‘rona ever since those awful videos emerged of Wuhan residents chanting jiayou from their balconies. Discipline! Sacrifice! We’re all in this together! Viruses hate that.

Don’t worry, we’d only have to sacrifice for six weeks. Just wait six weeks!

In terms of shutting down the economy again and asking people to stay home, Slavitt says we have to do more than we did in the spring. Back in March and April, only about 50% of the U.S. population stayed home — this time it needs to be closer to 90%. That means keeping more people home, including some essential workers.

Say what? I’m sure that forcing 300 million people to stay home for a month and a half wouldn’t lead to social and economic collapse. And even if it did, it would be worth it. Because nothing in the world matters more than fighting the virus. By the way, doesn’t the virus spread most efficiently through prolonged, indoor contact? And wouldn’t it still be circulating after the six-week lockdown ended, leading to a resurgence as people not yet immune “let their guard down” and resume normal life?

How silly of me. Normal life is over – and that’s a good thing, according to CNN:

Perhaps it’s nostalgia for the world of January, a place where daily life more closely resembled our past decades. Perhaps it’s a bid to show control, to revert to a time when change was not so universally imposed upon us.

But January is long gone, and it’s not coming back. And, psychologists will tell you, that’s only bad if you can’t come to terms with it.

We are slowly learning if this year’s changes are permanent. If work — for the lucky among us — will remain from home. If we will visit the grocery store less but spend more. If we will find wearing a mask on the metro to be just part of life. If shaking hands and embracing will become less common. If most of your daily interactions will occur via video conference (rather than in person).

“Imposed” is the operative word here. The changes were imposed – but not by the virus.

Canceling Thanksgiving

The officially sanctioned atomization of society continues in the name of slowing the spread of a virus that is no more dangerous than the flu except for the elderly and/or infirm:

(Note: “those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” according to the CDC, includes people in their 50s and older. On the Holiday Celebrations page, follow the link under “People at increased risk for severe illness,” which brings you to the People at Increased Risk page, then click the link to the Older Adults page, which explains: “As you get older, your risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases. For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older.”)

More from Dr. Doom:

“I mean, it’s such a beautiful tradition, Thanksgiving, of getting family together,” he continued. “I think we just need to realize that things might be different this year, particularly if you want to have people who are going to be flying in from a place that has a lot of infection — you’re going to an airport that might be crowded, you’re on a plane, and then to come in — unless you absolutely know that you’re not infected, there are many people who are not going to want to take that risk.”

Dr. Fauci made similar comments on CBS News Wednesday, saying many families will have to keep their distance this year if they want to avoid getting sick.

“You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected — either they’ve been very recently tested or they’re living a lifestyle in which they don’t have any interaction with anybody except you and your family. Then it’s OK,” he said.

Widespread immunity

The global response to the microbe was predicated on the assumption that nobody would be immune to the “novel” virus. Like so much else that we were told, this was nonsense. From the BMJ in September (emphasis added):

It seemed a truth universally acknowledged that the human population had no pre-existing immunity to SARS-CoV-2, but is that actually the case? Peter Doshi explores the emerging research on immunological responses. […]

At least six studies have reported T cell reactivity against SARS-CoV-2 in 20% to 50% of people with no known exposure to the virus. […]

Another group led by Sunetra Gupta at the University of Oxford has arrived at similar conclusions of lower herd immunity thresholds by considering the issue of pre-existing immunity in the population. When a population has people with pre-existing immunity, as the T cell studies may be indicating is the case, the herd immunity threshold based on an R0 of 2.5 can be reduced from 60% of a population getting infected right down to 10%, depending on the quantity and distribution of pre-existing immunity among people, Gupta’s group calculated.

New York’s suicide

I have had a bad feeling about New York City for a while, but even I am a bit surprised at the scale and speed of Gotham’s collapse. Because that is what it is. Not a collapse in the zombie-apocalypse, I Am Legend sense, but a psychological and cultural collapse, and an ongoing, early-stage political, economic and social collapse. Do you doubt it? Have you noticed that Midtown is an absolute ghost town? Apparently everyone is waiting for a vaccine to resume some semblance of normal urban life, because the virus is still out there, on the prowl, and it wants nothing more than to make you drown in your own lung juice! It’s mean and spiteful like that. Meanwhile, on Friday there were 5 reported COVID-19 deaths in all of New York State, including 3 in New York City. Total COVID hospitalizations in this state of 20 million people are down to 523. The epidemic is over.

That might come as news to Governor Cuomo, who refuses to lift the insane restrictions that are keeping the city’s malls, museums and concert venues closed and restaurants limited to outdoor seating (impossible in Midtown). Now it is estimated that up to one-third of the city’s 230,000 small businesses will close forever. Cuomo is also setting up “quarantine checkpoints” for inbound travelers, a useless but invasive measure that symbolically disconnects the city from the rest of the country – perhaps as the prelude to a real cordon sanitaire such I warned about back in March.

New York City isn’t going to recover from this. The sad truth is that the city completely destroyed itself in a spasm of hubris, cowardice and folly and you don’t come back from that, not for a long time and not without painful introspection and remorse. There is no evidence that that is going to happen, so the death spiral continues. New Yorkers either actively support or passively acquiesce to the madness that has wrecked their city. Or they flee.

Entrepreneur and angel investor James Altucher, author of Choose Yourself, has taken his own book’s advice by heading for the exit:

In early March, many people (not me), left NYC when they felt it would provide safety from the virus and they no longer needed to go to work and all the restaurants were closed. People figured, “I’ll get out for a month or two and then come back.”

They are all still gone.

And then in June, during rioting and looting, a second wave of NYCers (this time including me) left. I have kids. Nothing was wrong with the protests but I was a little nervous when I saw videos of rioters after curfew trying to break into my building.

Many people left temporarily but there were also people leaving permanently. Friends of mine moved to Nashville, Miami, Austin, Denver, Salt Lake City, Dallas, etc.

Now a third wave of people is leaving. But they might be too late. Prices are down 30–50% on both rentals and sales no matter what real estate people tell you. And rentals are soaring in the second- and third-tier cities.

I’m temporarily, although maybe permanently, in South Florida now. I also got my place sight unseen. […]

Broadway is closed until at least the spring. The Lincoln Center is closed. All the museums are closed.

Forget about the tens of thousands of jobs lost in these cultural centers. Forget even about the millions of dollars of tourist-generated revenues lost by the closing of these centers.

There are thousands of performers, producers, artists, and the entire ecosystem of art, theater, production, curation, that surrounds these cultural centers.

Most New Yorkers blame this catastrophe on the “pandemic.” And will continue to do so. But it wasn’t the pandemic that did this; again, look at the recent numbers and ask yourself why everything is still closed. The truth is that New Yorkers didn’t care enough to keep their city alive, and so it died.


UPDATE: A couple of counterpoints to this grim perspective are in order.

(1)

(2)

Pandemic guidance from the world B.C. (Before Covid)

Surely the politicians were just following the guidance of the World Health Organization when they decided to SHUT IT ALL DOWN in March? Ok, perhaps we can agree that they panicked and over-reacted; but surely the stay-at-home orders, business closures and banning of gatherings, affecting billions of people around the planet, were just standard procedure during a pandemic of unknown severity?

Well, interesting that you should ask, because the WHO’s guidance on these matters is freely available on its website, and it’s not exactly what we’ve been led to believe. Here is a document from October 2019 that should be of interest:

Available for download on the WHO site, and I’ve also uploaded it here (PDF).

Chapter 6: Social Distancing Measures has the goods. After recommending that mildly sick people stay home (“voluntary isolation at home of sick individuals with uncomplicated illness”) during a flu epidemic or pandemic, the chapter addresses the issue of quarantining “exposed individuals”:

RECOMMENDATION:

Home quarantine of exposed individuals to reduce transmission is not recommended because there is no obvious rationale for this measure, and there would be considerable difficulties in implementing it.

Population: People who have had contact with infected cases

When to apply: N/A (p. 47)

Seems pretty straightforward! So, stay-at-home orders applied to the general population are out.

But what does the WHO’s document say about school closures? Here the recommendation is more subtle:

RECOMMENDATION:

School measures (e.g. stricter exclusion policies for ill children, increasing desk spacing, reducing mixing between classes, and staggering recesses and lunchbreaks) are conditionally recommended, with gradation of interventions based on severity. Coordinated proactive school closures or class dismissals are suggested during a severe epidemic or pandemic. In such cases, the adverse effects on the community should be fully considered (e.g. family burden and economic considerations), and the timing and duration should be limited to a period that is judged to be optimal.

Population: Students and staff in childcare facilities and schools

When to apply: Gradation of interventions based on severity; school closure can be
considered in severe epidemics and pandemics (p. 52)

On workplace closures (emphasis added):

RECOMMENDATION:

Recommendation: Workplace measures (e.g. encouraging teleworking from home, staggering shifts, and loosening policies for sick leave and paid leave) are conditionally recommended, with gradation of interventions based on severity. Extreme measures such as workplace closures can be considered in extraordinarily severe pandemics in order to reduce transmission.

Population: Selected workplaces

When to apply: Gradation of interventions based on severity. Workplace closure should be a last step that is only considered in extraordinarily severe epidemics and pandemics

Here’s what the WHO had to say about religious gatherings. Does this sound like a blank check for governments to ban or severely limit all religious gatherings for a long period of time – such in the state of New Jersey, where religious gatherings are STILL (as of August 3) limited to 25% of capacity or 100 people, whichever number is lower?*

RECOMMENDATION:

Avoiding crowding during moderate and severe epidemics and pandemics is conditionally recommended, with gradation of strategies linked with severity in order to increase the distance and reduce the density among populations.

Population: People who gather in crowded areas (e.g. large meetings, religious pilgrimages, national events and transportation hub locations).

When to apply: Moderate and severe epidemics and pandemics. (p. 59)

Moreover:

Ethical considerations

Avoiding crowding may have cultural or religious implications (209). Gatherings are important places to share information during influenza, which can comfort people and reduce fear. The abolition of religious gatherings may violate the devout faith of the participants and make them feel morally guilty. The guideline development group suggested that it would not be possible to cancel some events (e.g. the Hajj). (p. 59)

But I thought that going to church was the moral equivalent of “killing people”? Guess the WHO disagrees!

Bonus recommendation on contact tracing:

RECOMMENDATION:

Active contact tracing is not recommended in general because there is no obvious rationale for it in most Member States. This intervention could be considered in some locations and circumstances to collect information on the characteristics of the disease and to identify cases, or to delay widespread transmission in the very early stages of a pandemic in isolated communities.

Population: Individuals who have come into contact with an infected person

When to apply: N/A (p. 38)

*Note – some facts about the Garden State:

Total reported COVID-19 deaths in New Jersey as of Aug 15: 14,071

Share of deaths that were of residents 80 or older (as of June 4): 47%

Share of deaths that were in long-term care facilities, such as nursing and veterans homes (as of June 4): 43%

Lockdowns kill

As was extremely obvious from day one, “lockdowns” – the government-enforced suspension of normal human life – kill lots of people. This was ignored in the general panic over the virus, but the truth cannot be suppressed any longer, as a study out of the UK suggests:

Almost 2,700 people a week have died because of the effects of the coronavirus lockdown, analysis of official data suggests.

A study by economists and academics from Sheffield and Loughborough universities suggests that more than 21,000 people have died as a result of the measures, which were introduced in March.

The analysis examines Office for National Statistics (ONS) data in the eight weeks that followed the national lockdown.

Researchers said the findings show that “lockdown has killed 21,000 people” because the policy has had “significant unintended consequences” such as lack of access to critical healthcare and a collapse in Accident and Emergency attendances.

Back on March 19, I wrote (regarding the US):

A nationwide shutdown that lasts 15 days is perhaps survivable. One that continues for, say, five months probably is not. Having the entire country hunker down at home for a prolonged period of time will slaughter the economy and hurt millions of Americans, perhaps killing a large number of them through knock-on effects: stress, drink, drugs, suicide, vitamin D deficiency… At a certain point you begin to wonder whether the cure won’t be orders of magnitude worse than the disease.

The UK study seems to focus on the effects of reduced health care access, including cancer screening and referrals, which I did not consider, but that will certainly prove to be a huge issue in the US as well:

A model created by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) predicts that tens of thousands of excess cancer deaths will occur over the next decade as a result of missed screenings, delays in diagnosis, and reductions in oncology care caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remember that non-COVID excess deaths aren’t caused by the “pandemic”; they are caused by the misguided reaction to it, on the part of both health care providers and panicked patients:

A recent survey suggests more than a third of Americans have missed scheduled cancer screenings because of COVID-19, concerning health experts who warn this could be another fatal consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prevent Cancer Foundation released survey results of more than 1,000 respondents that found about 35% of Americans have missed routine cancer screenings due to COVID-19 fears. Additionally, 43% of Americans have missed medical appointments.