Commentary

With or of?

And so at last the pandemic comes full circle.

Only this time it is doctors pushing the idea that the pandemic is over and many people should now be declared dead “with Covid-19” rather than “of Covid-19” because it is clear the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing the disease is going to be with humankind forever forward.

Some were saying at the start this difference should be recognized, but they were shouted down by those who wanted to up the fear quotient given that fear is the greatest of political tools. It’s hard to motivate a democracy to go to war without fear.

See the invasion of Iraq fueled by “weapons of mass destruction,” the spread of terrorism, and the subsequent outpouring of propaganda in which the U.S. media, led by the New York Times, was complicit.

The latter were no less complicit in the political push, backed by the Beltway bureaucracy and adopted by then-President Donald Trump, for the American public to go to war against SARS-CoV-2. And these interests believed they needed people fearful in order to get them to comply with masking and other so-called non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) and the vaccines to follow.

Now, however, it seems, the medical community had decided it’s not a good idea to live in fear forever because  living in fear causes all sorts of other problems, starting with the psychological “stress” which now seems to be a driving force in what is being called long Covid.

Thus it is time to declare the war over, tamp down the fear, and admit that since the start of the pandemic Covid-19 has been doing what nature does.

It is not for nothing that the ruling force in the natural world has been described as “survival of the fittest.”

So it has been since the beginning of the pandemic, no matter what nonsense the mainstream media might have tried to feed Americans about how Covid-19 could kill “anyone.” The reality is that Covid-19 has been mainly killing old people already suffering from fading immunosenescence, or those already struggling with chronic illnesses or what we’ve come to call “co-morbidities.”

Dr. Jeremy Faust, editor-in-chief of MedPage Today, argues that this reality has now changed, but it really doesn’t look like there has been much of a change.

“At the worst of Omicron, for example, in the United States, we had a 37 percent increase in all-cause mortality in January of 2022. That means that we had 37 percent more deaths of all-causes than we were supposed to have,” he writes. ” I December of 2020, for example, right before the vaccines came on, nationwide 43 percent more deaths of all-causes than usual. Very, very bad.”

Very, very bad? Let’s be real here..

Forty-three is 16 percent bigger than 37. Sixteen percent is a significant increase, but let’s think about this for a moment. The opposite of very, very bad is very, very good, and it’s hard to believe that anyone would argue a 16 percent drop in excess deaths is very, very good when people are still dying at a rate 37 percent higher than what would normally be expected.

Thirty-seven percent more dead versus 43 percent more dead doesn’t seem like a very, very good anything. About all that can be said is that it is what it is, and things are getting better, and that the situation, in general, is tracking very nicely with the history of the Spanish flu, which was very, very bad and slowly over time got better as the virus and the human species adapted to each other.

The history of the flu/American Journal of Public Health, Peter Doshi

Scopes monkey trial

This is nature at work.

Some doctors, being the smartest people in the world, and big pharma, for obvious financial reasons, would like to believe our species has risen above the laws of nature. But if this were even remotely true, we would have managed to quickly stem the worldwide rise in excess deaths coupled with Covid-19, and Sweden would be looking like the poster child for human stupidity.

To describe the Swedish approach to the pandemic as nonchalant would be an overstatement, but it was a lot more relaxed than the response in most U.S. states or much of the rest of the western world, and Sweden is today looking well served by that approach.

Excess mortality in Sweden went up only 9 percent from 2019 to 2020, which would qualify as good compared to the 43 percent rise in the U.S. But as a team of researchers from Norway has pointed out, even the 9 percent rise in Sweden isn’t as bad as it looks because some of it was to be expected due to factors other than Covid-19.

“In Sweden, all-cause mortality was stable from 2015 to 2018 but lower in 2019,” they reported in the peer-reviewed Scandanavian Journal of Health earlier this year. The unusually low mortality in 2019 would lead to an expected increase in 2020 deaths even without Covid-19.

When the researchers factored that in, they concluded “all-cause mortality in the pandemic year was 3 percent higher due to the lower rate in 2019. (And) excess mortality was confined to people aged older than 70 years in Sweden compared with previous years.”

Three percent excess mortality compared to the 43 percent in the U.S. would appear to qualify as not only  good but very, very good – the opposite of “very, very bad.”

The data website Statista now puts the 2021 number of Swedes dead of all causes at 91,958, which can be considered statistically the same as the 92,185 deaths of 2019. Though 2021 saw 227 fewer deaths than 2019, the 0.2 percent difference between the two is well within the margin of natural variation.

Excess mortality in Sweden continues to be low for this year, according to Eurostat, which notes that “in 2021, only Sweden and Belgium had an annual excess mortality rate below 5 percent.”  Some other Scandanavian countries did report lower death rates for Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021, but the virus now seems to be catching up with some of them.

The excess death rate in Finland, for instance, rose more than 17 percent in September. But the country is publicly playing the “with Covid” card versus the “of Covid” card.

“Covid-19 infections are still spreading at hospitals in the Helsinki region, especially among elderly patients,” Finnish National Radio reported last week. “In Helsinki hospital wards, Covid infections were recorded as a direct or contributing cause of death on 30 death certificates in October, but not as the main cause of death in a single case.

“…Epidemic conditions had been declared in six out of the 25 wards of Helsinki City Hospital. Coronavirus transmissions have also occurred between patients living in different rooms.”

This spread of infections between rooms is linked to airborne Covid-19, something U.S. Covid-czar Anthony Fauci , the nation’s smartest doctor in the view of some, downplayed for months at the start of the pandemic despite a Chinese study in early 2020 indicating the virus could be spread by air-conditioning systems. 

The dangerous, airborne spread of the disease was slow to gain official acceptance, but it has now been shown that airborne spread is even possible through walls.

Researchers investigating a cluster of Covid-19 cases in a Taiwan quarantine hotel found air moving through the walls of the building and concluded “aerosol transmission through structural defects in floors and walls in this poorly ventilated hotel was the most likely route of virus transmission. This event demonstrates the high transmissibility of Omicron variants, even across rooms and floors, through structural defects. Our findings emphasize the importance of ventilation and integrity of building structure in quarantine facilities.”

Their peer-reviewed work is set for publication in the December issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases but is already online at the CDC.

To date, little has been done to fix the ventilation problems in U.S. buildings. President Joe Biden called “on all building owners and operators, schools, colleges and universities, and organizations of all kinds to adopt key strategies to improve indoor air quality in their buildings and reduce the spread of COVID-19,” but there are no requirements they do so.

And though the White House reported that “the Biden Administration and Congress have provided hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds that can be used in schools, public buildings, and other settings to improve indoor air quality,” the spending came with no stipulations to fix ventilation.

Of the $122 billion for schools that the White House said “could be used to support making ventilation and filtration upgrades, an “analysis of school district spending” a year after the funding was approved found 60 percent of the money was being spent on school staffing with less than $10 billion of the $122 billion earmarked “for improvements to HVAC and ventilation.”

Meanwhile, nothing has been done to fix the ventilation in bars and restaurants, which the CDC identified as hotbeds for the spread of Covid-19, and other airborne viruses as far back as September 2020, reporting then that adults infected with the disease were “approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative SARS-CoV-2 test results.”

Americans were instead advised to wear masks for protection, although it is hard to eat or drink with a mask on. And as late as June of last year, the U.S. Department of  Health and Social Services was downplaying the risk of airborne transmission in its “guidelines” for bars and restaurants.

“Restaurants can increase air ventilation and encourage frequent hand hygiene and cleaning of frequently touched surfaces to help prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” the agency said. “Although most SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs through respiratory droplets from close person-to-person exposures, there are reports of COVID-19 cases due to presumed airborne transmission in indoor spaces with inadequate ventilation.”

Nature

Luckily, adaptation is a part of the natural world, and the laws of natural selection have seen the SARS-CoV-2 virus adapting to a host that is worthless if dead.

Dead people are of little use in spreading the virus. Live people walking around infected and not knowing it, those described as “asymptomatic,” are much more effective carriers.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) last year found an asymptomatic infection rate of “40.50 percent among the confirmed population. The high percentage of asymptomatic infections highlights the potential transmission risk of asymptomatic infections in communities.”

Meanwhile, questions have been raised as to whether vaccines do anything to alleviate the problem of people who don’t know they are sick spreading SARS-CoV-2 to others who then get sick. 

Thankfully, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been getting less deadly over time as some of the world’s top virologists predicted in a paper published in Nature more than a year ago. 

The most likely scenario, they wrote there, “is the transition to an epidemic seasonal disease such as influenza. Effective therapies that prevent progression of COVID-19 disease (for example, monoclonal antibodies that reduce hospitalization and death by 70–85 percent) may bring the burden of SARS-CoV-2 infection to levels that are equivalent or even lower than influenza.

This was historically the case with many other viruses including the rhinoviruses and coronaviruses responsible for the “common cold”, and the various influenza viruses which have now visited our species as bird flu variants, Type A(H1N1), A(H3N2) and others; swine flu variants,  (tr) H1N1, trH3N2, trH1N2 and others; the good, old human variant of Type A(H1N1) which caused the deadly Spanish flu before evolving into a less deadly pathogen; the homo-sapian-only type B, which in some ways mimics the Covid-19 variant now called “omicron,” and Type C, which is more like the common cold viruses.

“People generally do not become very ill from the influenza type C viruses,” notes the website WebMD. “Type C flu viruses do not cause epidemics,” let alone pandemics.

“Influenza A viruses are the only influenza viruses known to cause flu pandemics, i.e., global epidemics of flu disease,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The milder Type B is limited to localized epidemics, or  as the World Health Organization (WHO) puts it, “both influenza A and B viruses are important respiratory pathogens, although influenza A viruses are the main cause of large epidemics with high mortality.” 

A global systemic review of influenza A and B and Covid-19 published in Reviews in Medical Virology last year reported the fatality rate for flu Type B was half that of for Type A. The peer-reviewed examination analyzed 251 studies of Type A, 47 studies of Type B and 157 studies of Covid-19 that tracked a total of about 200,000 hospitalized patients.

The study found Covid-19 the deadliest of the viruses, but not by all that much. And it further noted the risks of the flu varied widely by type.

“Our analysis showed that the mortality rates of COVID‐19, influenza types A and B are 6.5 percent, 6 percent and 3 percent, respectively (among hospitalized patients),” reported the team of researchers from Canada, the U.S. and Iran. “Based on WHO reports on 26 April 2020, out of 2,804,796 COVID‐19 confirmed cases…193,710 cases died (6.9 percent) around the world, which is similar to our result.

“Among influenza type A, the mortality rates in subtypes H5N1 (42 percent) and H7N9 (30 percent) were higher than subtypes H1N1 (5.5 percent), H3N2 (1.7 percent) and non‐H1N1 (2 percent). The influenza mortality rate was associated with different age groups, in which a higher mortality rate is shown in people with greater than or equal to 50‐year‐old ages (12 percent) in comparison to other age groups. These results indicated that older people are at risk of death from the flu. However, subtype H5N1 is fatal and life-threatening for all age ranges.”

Old people, those beyond the age of 65, are always at greater risk of death than younger people. It’s all part of the naturally terminal problem called AGE.

 

19 replies »

  1. If an old, fat guy with diabetes, a fatty liver, and arthritis is run over when crossing the street, is it important to cite that he was killed with age and obesity related maladies? Should anybody care if he was run over by an electric powered vehicle, a diesel bus, a 1960’s era muscle car, or a reintroduced herd of bison? Should we be informed of his sexual preferences and ethnicity in order to properly catagorize our reaction? Must we be told of the climate’s role in the story? It’s getting to the point where most really don’t care anymore, and simply move on to the next propaganda story with the wonder of what psychological insult is coming next.

  2. Looking back a few years into this latest novel virus sure is interesting. Lot’s of things that some folks claimed didn’t happen and some things that some folks claimed would happen did. Most of it was easy to see at the time which way it would go, if we applied common sense and used history as a guide. Humanity marches on, according to those in the know we just crossed 8 billion humans. In 2010 we had 7 billion, in 1998 it was 6 billion, in 1986 it was 5 billion, in 1974 it was 4 billion, in 1960 it was 3 billion…anyone else noticing a trend? Of course if we keep going further back we hit 2 billion around 1927 and 1 billion in the early 1800’s and half a billion in the 1600’s. It took about 200 years to double humanities numbers from 1600 to 1800, then 127 years to double again, then 37 years to double again, and now 48 years to once again double. Obviously science or at least running water, modern plumbing, and basic hygiene had a huge impact on population growth through the 1900’s. As we grow in number and cluster ever closer these communal diseases will also continue to grow in number.

  3. “……..It is not for nothing that the ruling force in the natural world has been described as “survival of the fittest.”……..”
    Do you still believe that Covid was naturally caused?

    • Reggie: I thought at the beginning a lab leak was a possibility, and I still think a lab leak was a possibility. But it could be natural as well. There are certainly now a shit-ton of variants that are natural, and the virus has shown it can jump from people to animals and back again. All of that argues that it could be natural, or that some bad Chinese scientists trying to create a superbug achieved their wildest fantasy.

  4. March 2020 a doctor at John’s Hopkins said “by April we will have reached herd immunity” (going by memory). The FDA finally admitted this week Ivermectin is indeed a valuable tool in the fight against Covid. Think of the doctors who decided to watch patients die instead of administering this time tested, life saving drig – Ivermectin? A disgrace to the medical community. Remember when Trump was ridiculed for even uttering vermectin or Hydrochoriquine (sp)?
    Those “doctors” at the FDA, CDC, AMA, Fauci, and locally, should all be sued to their last penny and then tried and punished for crimes against humanity. In other words, get a rope. None of those Covid “Nazi’s” should escape punishment.

  5. Before we put Covid in the rear-view mirror, here is something I had not heard of before. FEMA will help pay for the funeral if someones death is “attributed” to Covid. As of Nov. 1, 2022, Alaskans had collected nearly $2 million is such funds. US wide FEMA has paid out $2.8 billion in that time frame. Two thoughts:
    1. Seems to set up a reason for family members to lobby for the death of a loved one to be “attributed” to Covid.
    2. I’m not aware of any other death where FEMA helps with funeral costs. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease etc……tough luck.
    Just adds to the reasons to believe Covid was in many ways a racket promulgated by the government.
    https://www.fema.gov/disaster/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance

  6. In the fall/winter of 1966, I was a draftee at Fort Dix, NJ. We were in the midst of a deadly Upper Respiratory Infection outbreak. We were trapped and our superiors had to deal with it to keep the cannon fodder supply train moving.

    The two most important things they did was to open windows in the two story, 50 men to a floor, buildings. Next, we made a barrier out of a tent pole and our shelter half (1/2 of a pup tent) at the head of our bunks. Although I’ve worked in -50 degree weather, I’ve never felt colder than the damp, NJ weather when we were out in the field, so opening the windows was a big deal.

    The only medicine we received if we got a sore throat, headache, or fever, was aspirin and small bottle of “GI Gin” a combo of alcohol and codeine. I don’t know if it helped, but it did give you a good glow and an even better buzz.

    We finished basic with no ill effects. To this day, I feel that the military was well versed to handle the situation as it wasn’t their first rodeo.

  7. Simple solution.
    Odd days of the week should be about climate change and windows should be closed tight.
    Even days of the week should be about covid and windows should be open wide.

  8. Everyone has seemed to forget about using UVC to sanitize volumes of air moving past the light source. Easy fix. Relatively cheap. Requires no filtration. Would work great in any room with a high ceiling and ceiling fans. UVC is used by airlines, railroads, hospitals, and barber shops to sterilize surfaces suspected of being contaminated. Cheers –

  9. Facts: Life expectancy is the USA was 79 in 2019, 77 in 2020, 76 is in 2021 and on track to drop more in 2022. Yes old people die, but the new “normal” is for them to die at a younger age. When will life expectancy in the USA return to pre-2020 levels?

    • Well, if the Spanish flu is any indication, it might not take that long. U.S. life expectancy before that pandemic was 54.2 in 1916. By 1918, it was down to 47.2, a 13 percent drop compared to our 4 percent drop. But it was back up to 55.3 by 1919. https://ourworldindata.org/spanish-flu-largest-influenza-pandemic-in-history

      That said, the over-50 folks living at the time of Spanish flu were probably in better physiological health than a lot of folks over that age in this country today. Americans appear to retire and take up sitting, which is not good for the immune system. This might explain whyw why American life expectancy plateaued before the pandemic. It has basically been flat for a decade.

      It hit 78.64 in 2011 and what followed was 78.74, 78.74, 78.84, 78.69, 78.54, 78.54, 78.64, and 78.79 in the lead up to the first year of the Covid. The mean there is 78.68, which is 0.04 years better than 2011 and 0.10 years worse than 2016 and 2017. https://www.statista.com/statistics/263724/life-expectancy-in-the-united-states/

      Despite all of our sophisticated medicine, we appeared to have hit the limit and were just oscillating around the mean, although other countries were doing better. Sweden and Norway were already over 82, and still climbing. And Spain and Switzerland were over 83.

  10. Hindsight is 20-20….and it is far easier to criticize past performance than to deal with current crisis conditions…..Fascinating to look back on, but not really useful for future freaky unique situations.
    ‘Survival of the fittest’ ended with the invention of eye glasses, when the less-sighted could see danger sooner, and therefore more easily avoid extinction. That was a long long tome ago.

    • Totally agree. But hindsight, or what might in the professional world be called a “debrief,” is how we learn. And there are lessons here that would be highly useful for future freaky situations.

      Most notably what we’ve learned about the value of T cells in battling new and foreign viruses, and all the things we’ve done to speed the age-related decline in those cells. The truth is that our political leaders still haven’t learned the biggest lesson that should have been learned from the pandemic.

      And it’s pretty simple.

      • What about the politics of medicine? Are we serving the greater good of the planet and all its inhabitants by ‘fighting’ sickness with man-made shortcuts? It took millions of years and many yes/no decisions to arrive where everything is now. It seems to me that every ‘revolutionary discovery breeds more challenges than solutions….and our continued pursuit of ‘improvements’ to the ‘natural’ order of things is ever increasing the chances of our annihilation.

      • Harry: You raise the issue modern medicine and big pharma don’t seem to want to confront: We are an organism shaped by several hundred thousand years of evolution. We are species that evolved to move and breathe the air. It is full of viruses. Some of them are good for us. More than we know might be good for us. Blocking them even slightly, if you believe masks do even that, might have something to do with a loss of resistance to influenza and RSV thus fueling the present boom in infections by those diseases.

        The reality is medicine’s knowledge of the workings of the immune system is still in its infancy, and the money in medicine is in medicating. Thus there is a big focus on shortcuts while the evolutionary realities are ignored. It’s been almost a decade now since the first meta-analysis of the consequences of sitting too much and exercising too little.

        We were warned then. The study reported 34 percent higher mortality risk for adults sitting 10-hours per day. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3827429/ Thirty-four percent is a pretty big number.

        Clearly inactivity is bad for your T-cells. It’s the old conundrum of use it or lose it, and a whole bunch of people in this country don’t want to use it because America has become the definition of lazy. And then along came Covid….

        Now a lot of people who retired and looked forward to sitting around the house are dead. Someone should have warned them that “when you retire, don’t sit around. It’s a good time to start training for something.” That advice might have saved more lives than the vaccines.

      • Well said. Health through medication rather than exercise is the current way for many of us. Now with the transformation of our activity to ‘on-line’ living it will only get worse, much worse.

  11. Funny how everyone has forgotten how easy (and cheap) it is to open a window. Hospitals, hotels, old folks homes, schools, restaurants, homes all shut up tighter than a drum with bacteria growing in clumps down the the walls of the air ducts bringing “fresh air” that’s used stale bacteria and mold laden. Just open the d%&m window folks and save 20 billion

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