Brief Note: It is a well known principle in statistics that all tests will have some biologic false positives that unfortunately label individuals as being diseased but who are not afflicted. The corona viral dna tests have a reported 4% false positive rate that, when applied to the nearly 50 million tests done so far result in 2 million falsely labelled as having COVID-19.
For some weeks I have been watching the COVID-19 scene with some distress. Brian Joondeph, a physician and one of the smartest people that I read vaguely hinted at the solution yesterday but didn't really nail it. So, I'm going to make my addition to this article here:
All tests in medicine have a certain number of false positives, meaning that the test is positive but that the patient does not have the disease. I found only one published false positive rate for the COVID-19 PCR test. Four percent of tests are thought to be positive but the patients do not have the virus. I find this number to be low but it will do.
COVID-19 News reports that 48.3 million tests have been done in the United States as of Monday. Four percent, or over 1.93 million are false positives. These patients are not infected. The same publication alleges that about 3.9 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19. They did not subtract the nearly 2 million false positives. Fewer than 2 million Americans have truly positive tests for COVID-19 (but it’s not always certain which ones.)
The scam starts when an one individual is tested and is found to be falsely positive. All of his contacts will then be traced and tested. If there are 25 contacts, one of them is likely to be falsely positive as will, in turn, one of his 25 contacts.The entire chain is actually negative but this kind of creative and unwarranted testing does swell the numbers. This is playing out as a manufactured epidemic in rural United States where a new population of COVID-19 cases has arisen in the last 2 months; Many of the new cases are in younger healthy individuals tested as part of contact tracing. To invent a meme; It's not the same COVID-19 that we knew in the old days.
A better gauge of COVID-19 disease levels is the death rate. This is dropping. Michigan, as an example, reports one or two new deaths per day but on many days also reports a half dozen deaths retrieved in chart reviews of cases from February or March. This gives the false impression of a high mortality. The virus has burned itself out.
Some final notes; 1) We need to re-evaluate the positives that have been generated as a result of our misunderstanding of basic statistical principles. 2) This is a money maker for the labs and newly trained, well paid profession of contact tracer. These constituencies will fight against correcting this fluke in statistics. 3) I would not expect politicians or journalists to understand the problem of false positives but experts at the CDC, NIH and at the various universities who squawk loudly about the “pandemic” and how “we must destroy the economy” can be mocked for not understanding basic statistics and Bayesian Theory. And that should be fun.
Erwin Haas is a retired infectious diseases doctor, former Kentwood City commissioner and flight surgeon in Vietnam.