Misguided Panic 2.0

Tuesday, 27 April 2021 00:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Oregon high school runner Maggie Williams collapsed at the finish line of her 800-meter race. Why? She was deprived of oxygen, having been forced to wear a mask outdoors! Insanity. But it shows the problem


We’ve seen a resurgence of “positive tests” in Lanka, and lo the doomsayers are at it again.

One citation provided comes from Lancet, indicated to be the world’s foremost medical journal. Well, it publishes leading research from others. And the research here referred to in our press, argues that C-19 is primarily airborne and not transmitted via droplets, which has been heretofore the WHO position. As a comparison case, airborne viruses like measles also have tended to be far more infectious than COVID.

We are then told therefore “double masking” must be at the forefront of new measures to protect the public. Ah, the muzzle brigade! Before though, we tilt at any new public health windmills, it’s important to read the actual article, and take in its wisdom and take on and challenge patently dubious premises.

First, having now been a researcher in this field for over a year, I can verify that many leading scientists have felt “direct contact” could not possibly account for the far-flung and ongoing outbreak of this one virus or several related viruses being bundled under the canopy of COVID-19 around the world. So, this will not be “breaking news” to them. 

This article though, more than anything, primarily argues for ‘limiting the amount of time spent indoors’ as its primary prescription, along with better ventilation, and avoiding excessive crowding. The “indoor” mask wearing suggestion is mentioned, as reinforcement. There are medical issues with that recommendation, compelling as the rest of it is.

Interestingly, two bits of research that tally with these overall conclusions have recently emerged. First, the US CDC has confirmed that the chance of getting infected from touching a surface is about “one in ten thousand.” Ergo, our manic sanitising and re-sanitising has largely been totemic. We couldn’t have known initially, and it was prudent, but evidence has stockpiled that this is now more superstition than science. The CDC findings are readily available to all and have been affirmed by other jurisdictions.

MIT, one of the world’s top universities, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States earlier this month the fascinating conclusion that there isn’t much benefit to distancing six feet apart. They agree touching surfaces is emphatically not the primary means of any such transmission.

Whether the transmission is via droplets from talking, sneezing and coughing, or by viral particles alighting and wafting airborne, Professor Martin Bazant from MIT had this to say about the distancing rule: “…really has no physical basis because the air a person is breathing while wearing a mask tends to rise and comes down elsewhere in the room so you’re more exposed to the average background than to a person…” Over time, with ambient air, that is true, mask or not, unless you stay plastered to someone, “invading” their private space.

Bazant and MIT applied mathematics professor John Bush created a model to calculate exposure risk to COVID-19 in an indoor setting based on amount of time indoors, air filtration, immunisations, variants and respiratory activities like breathing. They found the most important factor (in synch on this aspect with the Lancet findings) was “amount of time spent indoors” rather than “how far apart people stand from one another.”

They conclude many shut down spaces needn’t be, if large enough with proper ventilation, the amount of time spent in those spaces is such that they can be safely operated “even at full capacity” and please note as per the MIT report, “the scientific support for reduced capacity in those spaces is really not very good.”

Beware the mask charade

An Oregon high school runner collapsed at the finish line of her 800-meter race. Why? She was deprived of oxygen, having been forced to wear a mask outdoors! Insanity. But it shows the problem. 

One mask, much less two, over time, deprives us of oxygen. And for what do we inflict this trauma? A virus with a 99.6% recovery rate for the overwhelming majority of people. Let me say “insanity” yet again and suggest disproportionate sustained madness. 

Texas removed all mask mandates a month ago, infections and deaths have plummeted. The same happened earlier in Florida, and South Dakota. We see the same in Belarus. Sweden leaving it up to people with guidance, still does at least as well, and looked at over time, better than the compulsively “masked” UK, France, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands and many others. Pakistan and Bangladesh with erratic mask wearing, have less deaths, despite their populations, than virtually anywhere in Europe. So they work or they don’t. It can’t be “selective.”

Two masks may stop more particles, but does anyone recall, these are breathing organisms, being forced to inhale their own “waste” over extended periods of time?

Simple mathematical analysis recently published indicated that with 2% of mask area open, at least 80% of the particles under 2.5 microns (virtually all related to the virus) will escape. Therefore, the study concludes that masks will be 100% ineffective in blocking any particles that small when the open area reaches 3.2%. Typical mask is 7.5 inches long x 2.5 inches wide or a perimeter of 20 inches. So, the moment we have 0.6 inches, that will render it ineffective. The two gaps between nose and cheek, plus creasing on the cheek, plus eyes, plus the likelihood that most of the particles of that infitesimally minute size aren’t arrested anyway, renders it “game over” on that front. 

In crowded indoor areas, with poor ventilation, let’s wear them to get whatever protection they afford. But not in relaxed spaces, certainly not outdoors…we are then just practicing “sleight of mind”, not practicing prudent medicine. As someone said “a piece of cloth cannot stop a .06 micron virus particle, my university science degree taught me that.”

Outdoors in particular, not just athletic events, we need to move on.  Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at McMaster University pointed out that in North America, last summer’s outdoor gatherings coincided with all-time low infections in key cities, which we’ve known from virological seasonality forever and a day. Sunshine with Vitamin D is lethal to viruses. Oxygen enriched air, ditto. Anything you exhale, says Chagla, will be diluted very quickly, particularly if you’re moving around. Now if you hover near someone and spit on them, that’s different, but that’s surely a different pathology! 

If you and someone else infected or with a growing viral load are inhaling and exhaling at the just the right moment and exchanging enough particles to seed a further infection as you pass by each other, it may be possible, but statistically we’re in the realm of being struck by lightning now.

Current manic panic

Lockdowns don’t stop viral spread. Eventually it has to spread, and our immune systems will ride to the rescue, particularly for all those under 70 without serious comorbidities who globally we know are essentially at nominal risk (there is no global demonstration of young people at risk “from” C-19, no variant has been demonstrated that leads to undue “mortality” as of today, “infection” yes, but that is long overdue, as recovery provides the best immunity).

Our vaccines have issues, side effects, controversies, and should probably be focused on the above 70. Thirty-three studies show no improvement from “lockdown”, all widely available. And as we know, we should maximise time spent outdoors, which is why the regions of the world with abundant year-round sunshine have, in mortality terms, done exponentially better. So “locking down” is self-defeating, plus economically we misapplied that remedy for too long too early here, and simply cannot afford it, we will be “killing” people with far more certainty than COVID does, and literally. And the country’s fragile economic movement towards recovery will just implode.

A few weeks of 800-1000 “positive tests” a day (which are not all cases with notoriously unreliable PCR tests, which we have to pray are following WHO guidelines in terms of amplification settings below 30), would be a complete non-event by any rational global standard.

And if mortality, overwhelmingly in Lanka to date “with” C-19 and not “from” as a primary cause of death continues as is, then there is no excess mortality to speak of, and we are dealing with a non-crisis, except that we may have a brief surge of those needing ICU attention. Then, we had best take on board earlier stage treatments as well as ancillary hospital treatments that have clearly been demonstrated to work, and which reduce not only mortality, but hospitalisation by large percentages. It would be fascinating to read the Sri Lankan experience with these (published studies on clearly established efficacy are available around the world for HCQ, Ivermectin, Bromhexine, Vitamin D and zinc, and many more). 

But then not “locking down” and telling people to stay home cancels each other out. What benefit is it for businesses to be able to stay open if no one comes out? And coming out is not the danger as these studies are clearly testifying to. Barricading borders cannot work indefinitely either. So why don’t we tell people the opposite? Head out but avoid large crowds. Avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces. Travel by all means. Share custom with each other, help keep your neighbours solvent. Ply your trade. Children are least at risk, so let’s “risk” virtually nothing and avoid the escalating catastrophe of disrupted education and lives and capabilities and social and emotional development. Mother Nature calls the shots eventually, and we have to “risk” living within the boundaries she sets. 

We can “delay” to get ready (the original rationale for “flattening the curve”), but we cannot keep dancing at the shallow end of the pool indefinitely, we have to swim, and take acceptable risks, and use all the preventive care we can, get healthier, and protect the vulnerable, not bankrupt everyone so we all sink together. You will not eradicate a virus, and extending this, only allows for more mutations. If the whole world is seen through the lens of one virus, then C-19 has taken over our entire life narrative. 

Not even during the plagues of old, was all life suspended so indiscriminately. And those pathogens wiped out the young, and large percentages of the global population. We have had similar excess deaths in 2008 in many parts of the world to 2020, without stopping the planet, and this pathogen tracks normal mortality!

Look at the mortality needle, that’s it. Who cares about “positive tests”?  And stop chasing the “asymptomatic” as that is an uncorroborated mythology, and that it is false is the only way to explain Texas, Florida, Belarus, swathes of Asia and Africa.

Tears for tiers

We’ve also had a renewed outbreak of regulations premised on Sri Lanka being in “tier” or “level 3” defined as “multiple clusters” but shy of “community transmission.” If level 2 is a primary identified cluster, then since Peliyagoda, we have been in Level 3 anyway, for about six months now. Ever since November/December, cases or “positive tests” have been sprouting up in different parts of the island, clearly definitionally “multiple” clusters if you will, or “hives” of positive tests or some such.

So, what provokes this sudden reinstatement of mothballed restrictions after unfettered New Year’s celebrations? More positive tests are all that’s changed, most are confessed to be “asymptomatic” which begs the question again of false positives, and the clear statement by WHO that “asymptomatic transmission” is not the main source of spread. They had to dilute their initial statement that it was not a variable due to utter political hysteria, but only amended it to say they were “unaware of evidence for it,” and it did not feature in the research they were doing, and they knew there were “models” that claimed otherwise. 

Given the devastating inaccuracy of all the primary models (still looking for the 80,000 dead in Sweden, the post-Super Bowl apocalypse in Florida and non-existent variant led mortality explosion, or why despite virtually no vaccination, South Africa’s death stats and decline in cases and infections rival and are actually better than Israel’s), perhaps we can skip the fluff, and stick with their primary conclusion. 

So, we’ve been in this tier for ages, and until we allow enough immunity to develop naturally or via vaccine, there we will stay. So it’s not “news” and we have real social and economic challenges galore ahead which need our attention and energy and imagination.

Plummeting IFR

Remember it’s “death” that matters and we have to realise 60 million perish every year, 12,000 each month in Lanka, 27,000 each day in India, and any new “threat” has to be assessed against such benchmarks.

Stanford Professor John Ioannidis suggested from data and the floating “case study” of The Diamond Princess Cruise Ship way back in March 2020 that the “infection fatality rate” (which is the real measure not “case fatality rate” which comes down to the most ill being tested and hospitalised far more) would be 0.27%. With fresh seroprevalence studies and looking at antibodies from multiple populations, in October 2020, he revised that to 0.2%. His most recent study on behalf of WHO brings us to 0.15%, in line with the “disappearing” seasonal influenza. This is also peer reviewed, and in synch with WHO’s perhaps accidental admission last October that roughly “10%” of the planet had likely already been infected. If so, then globally the IFR would be 0.14%, just on the outskirts of what Professor Ioannidis just reported. 

And this despite the ludicrous way “COVID deaths” are reported. The UK was calling anyone who died who had tested positive within 28 days a “COVID death”, Italy indicated that their spring 2020 tragic death toll upon review, as per the adviser to Italy’s Minister of Health, Professor Walter Ricciardi, revealed only 12% of C-19 deaths listing COVID as the primary cause! It was a bystander in the other cases.

We know there are true contrarians who point out we have no evidence of the virus having been fully isolated or shown to cause the disease called “COVID-19”, which could be a confection of viral respiratory illnesses with family ties. But let’s leave those debates aside. It’s moot. At this IFR, it doesn’t really matter, as we begin to approach the risk of just being alive! 

So as we consider further economic paralysis and deferring more medical treatment, or destroying more educational potential and capabilities, or chasing after experimental gene-therapy “vaccines” whose safety trials won’t be completed for two more years and which were never tested on humans before, let’s remember as we gloat over our “mastery”, we had only a 99.85% chance of survival without all this self-destructive hoopla. Rationality, anyone?

New narrative needed

Once upon a time we had a life, and COVID was one challenging aspect of it. Now we have COVID, and life is something we grudgingly consider, believing in indefinite economic survival via printing presses. No one can admit what we’ve done. So we have to rescue something from it.

Lanka overall is winning. Mild mortality, by global standards, mild “positive cases”. But unfortunately, global levels of panic, disproportionate to any facts. Our leaders have been more and more steadfast and measured, and I salute their immunity from large chunks of the panic porn.

Sri Lanka needs to avoid the Covidian cult. Let those with catastrophic “deaths” (Brazil has a lower IFR than many jurisdictions, including “poster child” Peru despite mushrooming “positive tests”) get deranged. We should safeguard our liberties as we have been by and large over this period, avoid the most absurd elements of the “mask and distance” rituals, especially as more studies emerge giving the lie to them. Let’s ask people to be empowered, rather than to sit cowering, slavishly looking at mindless “case numbers” as some pathetic testimony to the viability and vitality of their existence. Life went on through polio, Ebola, AIDS, 9/11, tsunamis, civil war and terrorism, and we are infantilised by an influenza varietal?

Let’s ignore the solicitations of the menagerie of “experts” intoning poppycock from the playbooks of the countries with the most disastrous results in the world. Let’s hear all debate for sure, facts, data, but then let’s open it up to all viewpoints and stop being terrorised by eminent scientists and medical specialists, then ignoring them, assuming bureaucracies know better what is good for us.

“Trust the science” is sadly only intoned by people who if you have the effrontery to actually “discuss” science with them, get aggressive, and jabber heart wrenching tales of woe to shut you up, as if you were saying there were no tragedies, and no one to weep for, or empathise with. But we also want to empathise for those with shuttered and shattered businesses, weep for those who didn’t get vaccinated for known diseases we were routing, to cry for children whose lives are being foreclosed, and those whose desperately critical medical care was swatted away for this one irrationally hyped contagion. Whole lives put on hold, dreams devastated on shoddy science, and none of that matters? The vulnerable could have been protected, and those not at risk should have built immunity, the way humans have survived every viral scourge before.

Let Sri Lanka lead with rationality, sanity, and robust vision, to safeguard the future for its people, and not join the panic brigade over “untested” tests, and viruses far less lethal than driving on Sri Lankan roads (literally and statistically!). We can save our lives in many ways. But we have to be actively and purposefully “living” to do so.

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