Commentary

Sick nation

The dying victim of an infectious disease circa 1946/Wikimedia Commons

As a child of post-war America, I grew up witness to the growth of a nation of largesse writ large. Nature is now making us pay the price.

Nowhere has the SARS-CoV-2 virus hit harder than in the comfortable Western world, and it is hard to avoid the reality that this is in part because of health issues related to the comfortable, sedentary lives we’ve learned to enjoy.

Consider what John Hopkins University Dr. Martin Makary told MedPage Today about the comparatively few fit people he and his colleagues found dead of COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, when they combed the rolls of millions of U.S. Medicare beneficiaries in an effort to assess the disease’s danger to the elderly.

“In our study, we identified 2,500 patients in the non-Medicare Advantage population who have been without comorbidities, using the chronic condition warehouse definition of comorbidities, and died of COVID. Two-thousand-five-hundred Medicare beneficiaries out of the entire Medicare population. I think that can help us inform some of our messaging because we knew that mortality was skewed towards those with advanced age and comorbidities, but we didn’t realize it was skewed this much.”

Of the more than 38,000 Medicare recipients who died, the study found about 95 percent had significant medical problems before they came down with COVID-19.

Big pool

There are today, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 59.9 million Americans on Medicare, the insurance program created in 1965 to provide health insurance to older and disabled citizens.

Just under 20 million of them are in the Medicare Advantage program, according to KFF, a non-governmental organization that monitors and advocates for better health and better health-care in the U.S.

About 40 million people are on what KFF calls “original Medicare,” or what Makary referred to as the non-Medicaid Advantage group. It provided Makary and colleagues at John Hopkins University a big pool for study.

What they found in the pool were 534,023 original Medicare enrollees over the age of 65 – or about 17 percent of beneficiaries – diagnosed with COVID-19 between April 1 and August 31.

Of these more than 534,000 people, the study reported 148,151 (27.7 percent )…were hospitalized and 38,066 (7.1 percent) died in a hospital.”

Of the dead, only 5 percent were people who would have been considered fully healthy before contracting COVID-19. The rest suffered from – alone or in combination – sickle cell disease, chronic kidney disease, leukemias and lymphomas, heart disease, diabetes, cerebral palsy, obesity, lung cancer and a handful of other diseases.

Some of these diseases, sadly, just happen, but others are tied directly to lifestyle. Some interact to create new co-morbidities.

For instance, diabetes, high-blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, smoking and obesity are among the causes linked to chronic kidney disease. 

Diabetes itself – along with cardiovascular disease, obesity and some cancers – are among what are now considered “lifestyle diseases.” Lung cancer is one of the cancers on the list because of its link to smoking.

Diabetes, which some health authorities were calling an epidemic in the years leading up to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, has been driven in the U.S. by the so-called “sedentary lifestyle.”

“More than half of all Americans may develop diabetes or prediabetes by 2020, unless prevention strategies aimed at weight loss and increased physical activity are widely implemented,” WebMD warned a decade ago.

Similar warnings have been issued about obesity itself. And dozens of studies have now identified it as a major risk factor for death from COVID-19. The Harvard School of Public Health labeled obesity another epidemic in the years before the pandemic hit.

“In 1990, obese adults made up less than 15 percent of the population in most U.S. states,” it warned. “By 2010, 36 states had obesity rates of 25 percent or higher, and 12 of those had obesity rates of 30 percent or higher.

“Today, nationwide, roughly two out of three U.S. adults are overweight or obese (69 percent) and one out of three is obese (36 percent).”

Harvard emphasized the direct link between obesity, heart disease and type-2 diabetes, or what was formerly called adult-onset diabetes.

Denial

The U.S. response was to worry more about the “Shame of Fat Shaming,” as the New York Times put it than the health problems associated with obesity.

“Donald Trump brought the issue of fat shaming to the fore during and after last week’s (Presidential) debate when he disparaged a former Miss Universe winner who gained weight and when he said the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails might have been done by ‘somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds,'” the Times reported in 2016.

Ironically, president-elect Joe Biden – the man who defeated Trump in this year’s election – has been similarly criticized for fat-shaming.

“Joe Biden’s fat-shaming is nothing to laugh off,” the New York Daily News headlined last year. Biden’s crime was to suggest a critic was oversize because he spent too much time sitting down watching TV. 

This is not to suggest anyone should be publicly berated for their appearance, be it due to weight or anything else. The author is among the many Americans judged “overweight” and now under doctor’s orders to lose 15 or 20 pounds.

When this is mentioned to friends, however, the common reaction is “you’re not fat,” which can only be attributed to the fact we are today a society where obesity has become such a norm that people have to look seriously fat before they are considered overweight.

And now it is among the factors helping to kill us.

A meta-analysis of 75 studies examining the link between obesity and COVID‐19 found the obese had a 46 percent greater chance of developing the disease, a 113 percent higher chance of being hospitalized, a 74 percent greater chance of ending up in an intensive-care unit, and a 48 percent greater chance of dying. The study was published at the end of August in the peer-reviewed “Obesity Reviews.”

No one has calculated how many lives would have been saved if the country’s obesity epidemic had been dealt with before the SARS-CoV-2 virus materialized, but the number is sure to be significant given that 245,600 Americans are dead of COVID-19 as of this writing, according to the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data counter. 

Considering that the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn’t look to be disappearing anytime soon, there are steps you can take now to minimize your risk. You can eat better and less to get your weight down. You can start a socially distanced fitness program to increase your physiological health.

The options, of course, are better if you are young and thus already somewhat protected from the disease, old people, in general, being much more susceptible than young people. But it doesn’t hurt for younger Americans to start living healthier now to be prepared for the next pandemic.

And if you’re 65 or older, particularly if you’re old and suffering so-called comorbidities, you can go to the “COVID-19 Mortality Prediction” at predictcovidrisk.com developed by Makary and colleagues at John Hopkins to get a handle on just how much danger you are in. 

It will gauge the risk you face because of your age and health issues. The higher the number, the more important it becomes that you stay away from others as much as possible.

No one knows exactly how much protection masks provide. It may be considerable; it may be little. What is known is that people who put themselves in environments where they are likely to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 come down with COVID-19 whether everyone is masked or not.

Bars and restaurants are particular hotspots, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), but they are not the only danger zones.

A study of grocery store workers in Massachusetts, where masking is mandatory, found 20 percent of them had been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in a community where the general prevalence of infection was 0.9 to 1.3 percent.

The study was published in the BMJ Journals Occupational and Environmental Medicine. It noted that 90 percent of the grocery workers with COVID-19 “had a position with significant direct exposure to customers” and warned that given the evidence showing “probable transmission from asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic carriers, these workers as a cluster carry significant risk to their customers, colleagues and families. Our findings further strengthen the retail cluster transmission observed in a previous study from China, which involved supermarket employees.”

If you are in a high-risk category, you might give that some thought and consider having groceries delivered to your house or into the bed of your pickup truck outside the store while you stay in the enclosed cab.

 

 

34 replies »

  1. I’ll take his word for it…

    “Hodkinson remarked that “social distancing is useless because COVID is spread by aerosols which travel 30 meters or so before landing,” as he called for society to be re-opened immediately to prevent the debilitating damage being caused by lockdowns.

    Hodkinson also slammed mandatory mask mandates as completely pointless.

    “Masks are utterly useless. There is no evidence base for their effectiveness whatsoever,” he said.

    “Paper masks and fabric masks are simply virtue signalling. They’re not even worn effectively most of the time. It’s utterly ridiculous.”

    https://summit.news/2020/11/18/top-pathologist-claims-coronavirus-is-the-greatest-hoax-ever-perpetrated-on-an-unsuspecting-public/

    • for those unaware – and you can confirm on the CDC website – they are counting things such as suicide and drug overdose as “comorbidities” for covid deaths. anybody who goes into the hospital or dies for just about any reason and happens to test positive for covid gets counted towards the covid death total.  you can check the CDC website covid data for a list of comorbidities permitted for this counting. you could do the same thing for the common flu, test everybody for the common flu, including everybody who goes into the hospital, and if anybody dies you label them as a flu death than the amount of cases and deaths from the common flu would “skyrocket”. its pure fear-mongering. meanwhile people shoving their faces with food, not exercising, and dying from drug overdoses and car accidents in the millions. COVID is a real virus, but the numbers are cooked for political purposes.

      • Bryan,

        I’ve looked at the cdc site a bit and haven’t found any of the data you speak of, of course their site isn’t very easily navigated. Could you please provide a link to all of what you said above. The excess deaths or excess mortality number is up but I haven’t seen where they attribute those deaths directly to covid.

      • There is quite a bit of data I have reviewed, so forgive me if I missed some pinpoint CDC data locations.. of course I speak in generalizations as well.

        Discussion section.
        https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6942e2.htm

        https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/covid-19.htm

        “COVID-19 deaths are identified using a new ICD–10 code. When COVID-19 is reported as a cause of death – or when it is listed as a “probable” or “presumed” cause — the death is coded as U07.1. This can include cases with or without laboratory confirmation.”

      • Steve -O,
        its a bit like the voter fraud allegations.Catches eyeballs, but very hard to find any there, there

      • Steve-O, I tried responding to your question, but since I added 2 links which it trapped my response in “waiting on moderation”.

      • Steve-O,
        Touche’ well done.
        So let me tighten it up abit.”Wide spread” voter fraud that would allow the democratic candidate a chance to overwhelmingly steal this most currant presidential election.
        Strange how that case went dormant or withered on the vine.
        Perhaps i missed a conclusion

      • Bryan,

        I didn’t see anything about what you were saying on the links you provided. This line stood out though in the second link “COVID-19 should not be reported on the death certificate if it did not cause or contribute to the death.”

        Maybe I missed it, can you quote where they are counting deaths in the manner you suggest they are just to help clarify the issue. As it stands it looks like the CDC was pretty clear that “COVID-19 should not be reported on the death certificate if it did not cause or contribute to the death.” That is very much different than “anybody who goes into the hospital or dies for just about any reason and happens to test positive for covid gets counted towards the covid death total”.

        It seems fairly easy to figure out, if the person would be alive today if it were not for covid, then their death was caused by covid. That looks like what the CDC is saying also.

      • Dave,

        I think that case is still in court, try as they might they haven’t come to a conclusion just yet.

    • AG, I posted this here several weeks back..an eye openner. Even more reason to believe this scamdemic ranks up there with the phony Russian impeachment hoax.. Not all lies, but mostly.

  2. One aspect of our aging population that no one seems to talk about is our age! I’m in my 80’s and I am over a decade older than my father when he passed away and he was older than his father when he passed away by almost 20 years! When I started working for a large corporation in 1960 when the standard retirement age was 65, the average pension payout per retiree was only for 2 and 1/2 years! Today it is a decade or more longer.

    Why this increase in lifespan? It’s because a few key medical factors significantly contributing to mortality were found and treated over the past 70 to 80 years that have made a dramatic increase in lifespan. Examples are early detection and treatment of high blood pressure (especially in my families’ case), early detection and treatment of diabetes, choresterol reduction drugs, the introduction of antibiotics to treat serious infections like pneumonia, and many others. People don’t drop dead of a heart attack or succumb to pneumonia in middle age as they did in my grandfather’s time.

    Craig’s point of poor living choices are well taken, but as we grow older, all our systems deteriorate and we are going to die from something at some point! It’s not surprising that most people classified as elderly these days die from virus induced infections!

  3. Craig, your reporting on this COVID piece is just like all the other journalists; obscured or obfuscated by a bunch of different groups and numbers that cannot be processed in a truly related understanding. You normally write much better than this.

    How about this simple fact; 245,600 deaths divided by 330,000,000 Americans = .000744 or .074% chance of dying overall as an American on average. That is just over 7/100ths of 1% chance of dying from COVID-19.

    And you end your article by saying those at risk should stay home? Yes, of course, rather than shutting down the entire country. But you start out your article by talking about this as though COVID-19 is something so terrible. So why do all “journalism” stories about COVID do this same thing?

    Rambling on about this statistic or that statistic, so that readers can’t really process anything meaningful out of it. Yes, we all know about all the comorbidities. 95% of COVID deaths were the severely ill already. Why does nobody seem to see the ridiculousness of this fake “pandemic”?

    How about another simple fact: 2.4 million to 2.8 million Americans die every year. And the “spiking” that we are hearing about right now? Curiously timed with the absolute theft of the presidency by the stroke victim-criminal-pedophile Joe Biden.

    • Winner, winner, chicken dinner.. Larry hit it right on the head.. I posted below about the “Great Reset”. This virus, as Jane Fonda said is a “gift to leftists (Commie scum within)”.

      • Bryan, reading the Breitbart article now. That Klaus Schuab guy and Guterres from the UN are dangerous. My buddy calls electric cars “coal burners” to the owners’ faces so they go, “huh” and then he explains to them that coal must be burnt to create the electricity to run those cars.

      • Sing it Larry..We witness Obama/Biden sell us out to UN Globalists and we will witness it again from Biden if he gets in. The problem is the Democrat base. They claim to be the “educated” party, which merely means they were indoctrinated on campuses. I mean, what real educated person would keep pushing failed systems like “Marxism/Socialism/Communism time after failed time?? Dangerously stupid.
        Funny though we not a word about Obama/Biden’s FAILED response to H1N1 (Swine flu). Imagine that, but the charlatan is going to save us from Covid..What a joke.

    • Larry: Go back and read what you wrote. It’s clearly not “fake” for people with comorbidities, and there are a shit ton of those people in this country.

      And that 95 percent isn’t for the seriously ill, but for the chronically ill. There is a key difference. The former know they are sick; a lot of the latter take their meds every day and get used to thinking they’re NOT sick.

      A lot of them are. I can remember when doctors involved with the Framingham study joked that heart disease was so out of control in that community that the economically most efficient thing to do might be to put heart meds in the water system.

      A compromise cardiovascular system puts you in that 95 percent.

      • Craig, it is amazing to me how someone as smart as you doesn’t seem to see that all the media talks about is COVID. Over 2 and a 1/2 million people die in the country every year. You very likely do not know anyone personally that has died from this disease. But that is not the point. Look up the states with the least COVID mandates and calculate the deaths to population ratio and then do the same for the states with the most stringent lockdown mandates. A negligible difference. It is about .0006 to .0008. And for this we destroy the country’s economy? Simple solution; those with serious illnesses and their caregivers should be the only people following these ridiculous mandates. Unless you have other motives? Like trying to place the blame of this “epidemic” on the president? Are you one of them?

    • Larry,
      Again like so many,your sole focus outcome is small chance ofdeath.
      There are other outcomes,most of which mean missing work.
      Personally im not worried about the death option.
      Its the missing work option that id rather avoid.And I can afford to be sidelined,but i dont like going backwards.
      And that means i need yours and others help.
      And I’ll do my best to that end for you and others(even bryan).
      Its called responsibility

  4. I saw an article earlier this morning stating that scientists are puzzled as to the source of Covid infections, which seems to be other than (or in addition to) human contacts. When I looked for the article again, I got a brief glimpse and then it disappeared, not to be found again,by me at least- who admittedly has limited IT skills. But I think that’s an interesting question to pursue.
    I find it interesting that when distressing events occur – global warming, decreased salmon runs, pandemics-the primary response is that they are caused by human behavior. I’m not denying that human behavior is a contributing factor, but on further investigation, it is usually discovered by honest investigators that there are other factors involved that are not related to human behavior.
    I hope this matter will be pursued in regard to Covid-19, and that the results will be made public.

    • Charlotte..
      Screen shots, and screen snap shots are a must these days for purposely buried or deleted information.

      There was a story back in April on PBS that did Not go along with the current agenda and it disappeared. I searched and searched for it everywhere and on their site just shortly after reading it and it was nowhere to be found. There’s been way more instances like this as well.

      It’s best to screen shot it, as to have proof it existed, because they’ll make it disappear or bury it so deep in a search. Not sure what to do with the proof, or who to show it to, but at least you know you’re Not going completely crazy.

  5. ” given that 245,600 Americans are dead of COVID-19 as of this writing”
    I think it more accurate to say 245,600 have died with COVID-19 in their system.
    What percentage of those victims would have died of their other comorbidities, in the same time frame, without COVID-19 is unknown.
    Given the age and comorbidities of most of the deceased, that percentage could be large.

    That doesn’t change the need to take precautions until therapeutics and/or vaccines succeed. I just don’t think overstating things helps anyone.
    One important component of maintaining a useful perspective on any issue is accurate description.

    Washington state still lists one person as a COVID-19 death because he tested positive in the hospital while being unsuccessfully treated for fatal injuries suffered in a car crash.

    • Ken,

      If all those folks who died “with covid” wouldn’t have died had they not had covid what then? If I die from a heart attack with a hangnail but the heart attack wouldn’t have killed me except for the hangnail did I die from the the heart attack, the hangnail, or did I die from a heart attack with the hangnail? In other words, if all those who who died “with covid” wouldn’t have otherwise died had they not had covid, then attributing their deaths to covid isn’t misplaced by any means.

    • It actually is a known. It is very easy to calculate
      excess deaths related to covid by comparing long-term
      death state. The life expectancy of Americans is
      around 1995 levels in 2020.

    • Bryan,
      Just got word that TESLA is accepted into the S&P…
      So much for your prediction of that stock crashing as it just shot up 10% after hours with the news.
      I predict it will be at 525 by Christmas:)

      • Steve, amen brother. I made some decent chedda off TSLA and sold when their # didn’t impress in China, not to mention competition. I bet on the S&P last time around and didnt expect it right now. Good deal, hope you are drinking some Don tonight..Cheers!

      • S.S,
        the most valuable auto mnfgr company in the world(at this point in time),the 10th biggest S&P 500 component, ahead of Johnson & Johnson.
        Got Crude anyone?

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