Experts, media, and the left do us wrong
Recently Twila Brase of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom suggested two videos to me concerning the problems with the lockdown “solution” to COVID-19. One video features the Nobel Prize winner, Professor Michael Levitt. He discusses the fallacies of epidemiology, the not yet understood properties of the virus, and the comparative success of various national approaches to combatting the virus. The other video features Karol Sikora, a highly credentialed professor of medicine. Professor Sikora presents similar objections to current policies as does Professor Levitt.
The professors doubt the epidemiological models that tend to predict exponential growth of the virus because typically the rate of growth rapidly falls below exponential and then rapidly turns negative. They doubt claims that the decline is mostly evidence of lockdown success.
Predictions of a virus spike from the rapid opening of the economy in some states have generally not come true -- yet another failure of epidemiology. The percentage of people recovered from the virus and showing antibodies varies from few percent in most states to about 20% in New York City. In most places, this is far from the level needed for herd immunity, yet infections are either not growing or are collapsing.
The immune system has two broadly defined responses to infection, innate immunity and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity is immediate and includes things like fever and inflammation in the throat and lungs to limit infection. Adaptive immunity takes a week or two and is characterized by developing antibodies that attach themselves to the invaders tagging them for destruction. Vaccines work by causing the body to generate the antibodies in response to non-infectious material that mimics the real virus to the immune system. People that reject the virus using the innate immune system don’t necessarily ever develop antibodies.
Genetic variation may be responsible for a significant portion of the population being naturally resistant to the virus. For example, a small percentage of the population has natural immunity to HIV due to a genetic mutation. Something similar may be going on with Covid-19. If this is true, herd immunity may require a much small percentage of antibody immunity in the population.
Pronouncements from academic experts predicting medical or ecological catastrophes, often involving computer models, enjoy undeserved credibility. The experts hitch a ride on the credibility of science. That borrowed prestige makes speculative predictions about the future seem more solid than they actually are. When dissenters question speculative science, they are often persecuted mercilessly. An example is the cruel and merciless persecution of Dr. James Enstrom, ironically an epidemiologist, by UCLA.
The evidence is weak that lockdowns are substantially more effective than economically less disastrous ways of inhibiting spread of the virus. Yet, we see the lockdowns being prolonged in left-leaning states. The governors have often become obsessive concerning the need to prevent deaths and blind to the vast economic disaster created by lockdowns.
We can hope that the mysteries of the COVID-19 virus will be exposed in the next few months. Trump’s delegation of authority to the states is masterful because it allows different approaches to be tested and aids in exposing ineffective or draconian solutions. If we depended on epidemiologists for a one-size-fits-all solution, we would be burdened with an oppressive, if not disastrous approach.
Norman Rogers writes often about junk science. He has a website.