Great Barrington Versus John Snow
A competition between intelligence and anti-reason is emerging slowly from the ruins of public discourse
One of the adorable characteristics of the twinkly sparkly young journalists at The Economist news magazine is the interval of time between them merely mouthing generic narratives along with the rest of the mass media and those same eager young things eventually waking up to the realization that the generic narrative they’ve been repeating is in fact specious.
With regards to the rise of populism/nationalism engendered by the 2008 financial meltdown, this interval, which we may perhaps term Economist Thought Lag (ETL) was several years. With the current mindless panic over SARS-CoV2, the ETL interval has been a mere nine months, although it may be several months more before these delightfully self-satisfied journalists truly grasp the magnitude of their early platitudinous error.
We must presumably count ourselves fortunate that the ETL seems to be diminishing, if we can trust a mere two datapoints for the purposes of extrapolation (hint: we should never, ever, trust two datapoints, but let’s pretend anyway).
The topic of SARS-CoV2 is controversial because it has become not a matter of science but a matter of politics and career. The early “experts” used utterly spurious linear extrapolations from a totally unrepresentative sample of patients to create projections of mass death. Furthermore, doctors artificially inflated the mortality rate by eagerly thrusting perfectly functional patients into induced coma in order to artificially ventilate them — a procedure known to be very risky even at the best of times. Patients thus died in their thousands while ordinary people applauded from their gardens and balconies in praise of the health professionals who were responsible for this slaughter. It’s a wonderful irony, unless you happen to be one of the thousands who was killed for no good reason except to enable doctors to feel that they were “doing something.” Those doctors are now estimated to have killed up to 80% of their patients, thus grotesquely inflating the apparent risk of mortality from contracting covid-19.
Now that doctors have finally (for the most part) stopped killing patients, the per capita mortality rate resulting from infection with covid-19 is actually very low indeed. But far more interesting is the fact that it’s also rather difficult to catch SARS-CoV2. Unfortunately ETL has so far prevented the beamish young journalists of The Economist from noticing this basic fact; we must hope a glimmer of consciousness begins to flicker into life sometime next year. But here is the data that supports the contention: every year during the flu season (a much briefer period of time than the twelve months we’ve been living with SARS-CoV2) between one billion and one and a half billion people contract flu. In the last year, a mere forty-one million have contracted covid-19.
That’s two orders of magnitude fewer people for covid-19 than for the common flu. And while it is certainly true that under-counting has occurred for covid-19 it is also equally true that such under-counting occurs for the flu. And let’s remember: that billion-plus infection rate is despite the fact more than half a billion people get vaccinated against flu each year.
We know that flu affects everyone and kills up to 650,000 people in a bad year. SARS-CoV2, meanwhile, almost exclusively is symptom-free unless one is very old, very frail, very sick, or obese. While everyone and their pet hamster is squealing excitedly about 200,000 deaths in the USA, we need to remember that 86% of US citizens are fat, an astonishing 40% are obese, and they are the most unhealthy population on the planet. Given these risk factors it is absolutely extraordinary that so few have died — yet another testimony for how difficult it is to contract and then die from SARS-CoV2.
Yes, gentle reader, this is not at all the generic narrative excitable news organizations would have us believe. It is certainly not the narrative US liberals have clutched to their hearts. These poor dears imagine that SARS-CoV2 is a political weapon by means of which they can bring down the infantile moron currently wiping his repulsive behind all over the US Constitution (amply aided and abetted by the neo-fascist Republican Party, which is now nothing more than a rabble of tiny-brained opportunists willing to do absolutely anything and everything in order to cling to the last vestiges of power as they pull the nation down around them).
But if we permit ourselves a momentary use of the grey matter in our frontal cortex we may note that news organizations are rarely reliable sources of information, and political bias is never a basis for good decision-making. All that matters, regardless of how much Political Correctness enthusiasts may claim to the contrary, are facts.
And the facts are very clear. SARS-CoV2 is not an existential threat, though we’ve done our best to turn it into one by indulging in massive self-harm. SARS-CoV2 is actually a very minor virus that leaves more than 99.9% of the population unscathed.
Astonishingly, we are now at the point where some reputable scientists from Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford universities are prepared to stand up to the tsunami of media scare-mongering and point out some awkward truths. As I’ve been saying these very same things for months now, I am of course gratified to be no longer seemingly a lone voice attempting to use facts and reason in a world of mindless fear and glib sound-bites.
Without further preamble, let’s see what the scientists who’ve signed the Great Barrington Declaration have to say.
They note that outside of the high-risk groups, SARS-CoV2 is generally symptom-free and thus presents no threat to health. They note that yo-yoing between lockdowns that destroy tens of millions of jobs and impose huge mental health burdens and brief periods of fear-tinged relaxation achieve nothing of value, because mortality simply gets deferred by a few weeks at hugely disproportionate cost. They recommend, therefore, that we simply let SARS-CoV2 spread freely among young people (even though it’s actually quite difficult to catch) in order to create herd immunity. Meanwhile we should focus our time, money, and efforts on protecting the small percentage of people who are genuinely at risk.
With this approach we get all the benefits of a vaccination program without having the cost and time delay, and we do more to protect those who are at risk because we’re not wasting our time and resources locking down those who are not at any risk at all.
The benefits of this strategy would be a return to normal life for the 99.9% of people who are not at risk of death from covid-19, a huge economic boost that would provide tax revenues to pay for protection for those who genuinely are at risk, and a massive reduction of the many mental and physical health problems we see resulting from making people self-isolate. As we are a group primate species, self-isolation is wholly unnatural. That’s why prisons use solitary confinement as a punishment of last resort.
So the Great Barrington proposals appear to make sense and are consistent with all available data.
Now let us examine the musings of those who have staked their careers on advice to the contrary, those who have signed the John Snow Memorandum.
According to these alternative worthies, we cannot assume that antibodies confer lasting resistance to SARS-CoV2. We must therefore “save lives” by putting everyone into permanent lockdown. This is, according to these scientists who appear delightfully insulated from real-world problems, the only safe course of action. Because even one life “saved” is worth hundreds of millions of people’s lives ruined forever, and hundreds of millions more starving to death but conveniently out-of-sight in poor nations far from Western television cameras.
Although all available data shows than far less than one-tenth of one percent of the population is at risk of mortality from covid-19, this can be ignored because our scientific friends have tied themselves to the mast of unreason. Their careers depend on them getting their way and continuing to give atrociously poor advice to dull-witted politicians who are terrified that unless they are seen to be “doing something” they will lose votes at the next election.
I find it rather sad that people who’ve presumably at one point in their lives had a sufficient number of active neurons to gain a PhD are now unable to rouse those same neurons from their long period of torpor. Even a very small and rather dull-witted child would find it a matter of trivial ease to dismantle all the arguments made by the John Snow group.
First of all, if antibodies can’t be relied on to provide sufficient immunity, why is the world racing to make vaccines? Because vaccines work by stimulating antibodies. So either we should simply abandon all the vaccine programs right now and accept that the future of humanity will be limited to “support bubbles” forever and ever without hope of respite, or we should accept the fact that all of life consists of weighing costs against benefits, risks against rewards.
The illusion of perfect safety is possible only for those so utterly removed from the practical realities of life thanks to comfortable academic tenure that they have lost any limited ability they once may have possessed to perform coherent thinking about the real world.
Secondly, the idea that we must forever remain in total isolation when WHO data clearly shows that between 91% and 93% of all those infected with SARS-CoV2 remain totally symptom-free is simply insane. That’s like saying we must all lock ourselves indoors in order to avoid being involved in an automobile accident. Yes, it would work as a preventive measure but the cost would be utterly disproportionate to the benefit.
I am far too old and far too familiar with the follies of humanity to imagine even for a moment that the Great Barrington Declaration will make much headway. When we humans stampede ourselves into mindless terror, the infection must burn itself out. This quite often takes a very long time, and a great deal of damage is done while the mental pandemic rages.
It took nearly a thousand years for the plague of Christianity to diminish to manageable proportions; the plague of far-lefty-trendy violent extremism consumed the 1960s and 1970s; the plague of Islamic extremism will likely rage on for at least another decade. With regard to coronapanic it is unlikely many will return to their senses before 2022 at the earliest.
But as the mindless terror slowly recedes, perhaps a few people will look back on the Great Barrington Declaration of October 4th 2020 and see it as the moment when, albeit almost imperceptibly, the tide began to turn.
I may be hoping for too much, but as they say in Russia: Надежда умирает последней.