Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The CDC Discovers Natural Immunity

And just like that, new guidelines treat vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.

Kids are already back to school in some areas of the country, and the rest are right around the corner. So it’s interesting that the CDC just released new guidelines for COVID that greatly affect schools. The teachers unions previously “helped” write those guidelines. We can only wonder what role they played in some drastic changes this time. The guidelines are more than interesting, however — in a way, they’re infuriating. More on that in a minute.

Many of us have largely ignored the CDC’s COVID guidelines for a long time already because they’ve been so thoroughly politicized and distant from believable science. The real protocol? Get sick, stay home. Wash your hands. Don’t cough on people. Wear a mask or get vaccinated if you choose to do so; don’t if you choose not to. Basic stuff in a free country.

Of course, there are many for whom extra caution is necessary due to various medical considerations and risks. From the beginning, COVID policy should have been geared toward protecting these people, not hammering everyone with a one-size-fits-all policy of shutdowns and mandates.

And then there are the true believers. Will that last group ease up now that the CDC has reduced a lot of restrictions? Don’t hold your breath.

The CDC dropped quarantine recommendations for exposure, as well as social distancing at six feet. Significantly for schools, the CDC ended recommendations known as “test to stay” — the practice that students exposed to COVID should keep testing negative in order to remain at school instead of quarantining.

But the change that really jumped out to us was that there’s no longer any distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Read that again.

The novel vaccine was an exciting achievement and it brought hope of ending the pandemic. That did not, of course, actually happen. First, it wasn’t as effective at preventing infection or transmission as advertised. Second, the Left not only wholeheartedly leapt on the bandwagon but lectured, harassed, condemned, mandated, censored, and fired anyone who disagreed. It was an appalling descent into tyranny capped by Joe Biden’s mandates and firings.

Now the CDC tells us there’s no difference? Oops, we were wrong all along, the CDC now says. Where do the unvaccinated folks who lost their jobs go for recompense? Where do kids go to get those lost years of education? Where do all of us go to get back the money and sanity lost to economic devastation caused by shutdowns and government-induced inflation?

“We know that COVID-19 is here to stay,” said CDC epidemiologist Greta Massetti Thursday. The new guidelines she authored are possible because “high levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection, and the many tools that we have available to protect people from severe illness and death, have put us in a different place” [emphasis added].

She ought to be censored on social media for such dangerous right-wing misinformation.

The Associated Press reports, “An estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity, either from being vaccinated or infected” [emphasis added].

And just like that, we’re all immune to COVID.

According to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, “While COVID continues to evolve, so has our understanding of the science.” He’s right, but man is this whole Leftmedia-labeled “strategic shift” convenient for Democrats just ahead of the 2022 midterms. A little humility would have gone a long way in 2020, but Democrats had a Bad Orange Man to defeat. It would have gone a long way in 2021 also, but Democrats had just taken the White House and they couldn’t let up when there was more power to seize.

Now that Joe Biden has survived a double case of COVID — which he caught despite having every available booster after promising “you’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations” — it appears that he finally kept his pledge to “shut down the virus.” After all, Democrats need voters to think they’ve achieved this progress, which means we can work toward normal again. Politics is as politics does.


New CDC COVID-19 Guidance Is Agency ‘Admitting It Was Wrong’: Epidemiologist

The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidance is the agency acknowledging it was wrong in the past to downplay natural immunity and promote unprecedented policies like asymptomatic testing, a California epidemiologist says.

The new guidance, released on Aug. 11, rescinds and alters a number of key recommendations, including treating unvaccinated and vaccinated people differently for many purposes, explicitly stating that people with previous infection have protection against severe illness, and removing six-foot social distancing advice.

“The CDC is admitting it was wrong here, although they won’t put it in those words,” Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, told The Epoch Times.

“What they’ll say is that, well, ‘the population is more immunized now, has more natural immunity now, and now is the time—the science has changed.'”

But a large percentage of the U.S. population has had natural immunity, or protection from prior infection, Bhattacharya noted, while over 80 percent of the elderly population had protection from severe disease from COVID-19 vaccines, previous infection, or both, since 2021.

“This is two years too late, but it’s a good step,” Bhattacharya added.

CDC Statement

The CDC, which did not respond to a request for comment, portrayed the change as streamlining previous guidance, with the adjustments stemming from more people being vaccinated and more COVID-19 treatments available.

“We’re in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools—like vaccination, boosters, and treatments—to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19,” Greta Massetti, the CDC author of the new guidance, said in a statement. “We also have a better understanding of how to protect people from being exposed to the virus, like wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation. This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”

Dr. Jerome Adams, the surgeon general during the Trump administration, echoed the line of thinking.

“The fact that @CDCgov is changing guidance shouldn’t be taken as proof that they were necessarily ‘wrong,’ on a particular issue. The virus has changed, our tools and immunity have changed, and our knowledge has changed. So too must our guidance. That’s how science works,” Adams wrote on Twitter.

Vaccination numbers have fallen off in recent months, with little change among adults and little update among children, even after the vaccines were authorized and recommended for kids as young as 6 months old.

No new treatments have been authorized since December 2021, and a number of the treatments have been shown as less effective against newer strains of the virus that causes COVID-19, as have the vaccines and, in some cases, natural immunity.

Nearly half of the 20 papers and briefs cited by the CDC in support of the adjusted guidance were published in 2020 or 2021, while a number of others were released in early 2022.

No Mandates Rescinded Yet

Among the most significant changes in the guidance: a rollback of recommendations for asymptomatic testing for individuals exposed to COVID-19, loosening guidance related to tracing contacts of COVID-19 cases, and ending quarantine recommendations for people exposed to a positive case.

Some rules are stricter for high-risk settings such as nursing homes.

Masking is also recommended for 10 days for people who were exposed to COVID-19, including when a person is at home around others.

Bhattacharya, who co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration in 2020, a document that called for focused protection on the elderly and fewer restrictions on others, said that the guidance is closely aligned with the principles outlined in the declaration.

Based on the new guidance, the CDC should immediately rescind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for foreign travelers entering The United States, a policy imposed in November 2021, the professor added.

The CDC’s webpage describing the mandate says that the agency “is reviewing this page to align with updated guidance.” The U.S. government has not adjusted or rescinded any of its vaccine mandates since the guidance was changed.


Nurses Who Left the Health Care System to Focus on Early Treatment Describe ‘Brutal’ COVID-19 Treatment Protocols

Nurses who witnessed “brutal” hospital COVID-19 treatment protocols kill patients paint a bleak picture of what is taking place in state and federally funded health care systems.

“They’re horrific, and they’re all in lockstep,” Staci Kay, a nurse practitioner with the North Carolina Physicians for Freedom who left the hospital system to start her own early treatment private practice, told The Epoch Times. “They will not consider protocols outside of what’s given to them by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the NIH (National Institute of Health). And nobody is asking why.”

Fueled by cognitive dissonance amid an array of red flags, Kay said hospital staff is ignoring blatantly problematic treatments that performed poorly in clinical trials, such as remdesivir, and protocols such as keeping the patient isolated, just to adhere to the federal canon.

“I’ve seen people die with their family watching via iPad on Facetime,” Kay said. “It was brutal.”

As a former nurse in intensive care, Kay said she had seen her share of tragedy, but how she saw COVID patients being treated “had me waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with chest pains.”

“I hated my job,” Kay said. “I hated going to work. I was stressed in a way I’ve never been before in my entire life.”

Keeping families isolated was especially difficult, she said, because people couldn’t come to say goodbye to their loved ones.

‘We Can Do Better’

Kay was looking for other options when she found an inpatient protocol designed Dr. Paul Marik, founding member of Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, which purported to have a 94 percent success rate.

However, after Kay pitched it to the head of the pulmonary critical care department, she was dismissed, and the physician boasted that the hospital had a 66 percent survival rate at the time.

“I told him, ‘I feel like we can do better,’ but I was very quickly shut down,” Kay said. “I became very angry because I’m watching people die and I knew we could have been doing better.”

It was as if formerly smart people had become brainwashed, “and then just dumb,” Kay said, lacking the mental wherewithal to discern true from false.

This led Kay to begin treating patients in the outpatient setting to prevent their admission into the hospital system, which is now her full-time job after being fired for not submitting to what she described as illogical testing requirements for those who weren’t vaccinated.

At her telemedicine business, Kay said she’s seeing multiple cases of people suffering from COVID-19 vaccine injuries.

“I saw things on the inpatient side, too, that I suspected were vaccine injuries that went unacknowledged by our physicians,” Kay said. “I saw brain bleeds, seizures out of nowhere, cancer that just spread like wildfire, ischemic strokes, and I saw one person die horrifically from myocarditis.”

On the outpatient side, she said she’s seen conditions resulting from the COVID-19 vaccine such as brain fog, cognitive decline, joint pain, gastrointestinal dysfunctions, and neuropathy, which is numbness and tingling in hands, feet, and extremities.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)


Monday, August 15, 2022

A Surprising Risk Factor of Coronary Heart Disease. And no, it's not smoking or high blood pressure


I am afraid that I am rather amused by the article by or about Dr Dong that I have reproduced in part below. It is a very long and rather repetetitious article so I have reproduced only the beginning of it. But I think the excerpt is sufficient to give a good idea of the whole

Put simply, Dr Dong clearly has only a glancing familiarity with the research literature on his suibject. His mention of the A-B personality concept as a predictor of coronary heart disease is particularly regrettable. Its customary measure was a scale called the JAS, which was really woeful from a psychometric point of view. It was a confused jumble of many ideas and already by the 1980s had been repeatedly shown NOT to predict CHD. Any mention of the claims concerning it at this juncture is quite simply embarrassing from a scholarly viewpoint.

I summarize here some of the research literature pointing to the irrelevance of A-B -- including in passing some of my own research on the subject

How many times have we heard the “smoking, drinking, and being overweight” warning in relation to heart disease? Yet, one of the longest-running studies contradicts this.
A much bigger risk factor is stress—particularly the kind of stress found in a specific personality type that processes anger in a particular way.

The Framingham project is the quintessential epidemiological population study, of more than 14,000 people across three generations. And a key piece of lifestyle advice is hidden in the 1980 analysis of the final cohort.

Do you feel guilty if you use free time to relax? Ask yourself these “Type A” identifier questions, and check whether you also process stress in these same ways—this stress management protocol is a key driver of coronary heart disease.

Physically, anger leads to catecholamine release, which has a host of cardiovascular repercussions. In “fight mode,” the liver synthesizes triglycerides in a boost of energy, which in turn contributes to lipid disorders.

If this is you, there’s still no need to be fatalistic. These are behavior patterns that we can train and change, and changes start small. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One in five Americans died from heart disease in 2020, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide, cardiovascular disease is also the leading cause of death year after year.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 383,000 Americans in 2020. Scientists and the medical community are investing much time and money into the study of what keeps the heart healthy and what can stop it from beating.

Many risk factors have been suggested for CHD. Among these, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking have been assumed to be leading causes. Doctors wear themselves out by repeating the same warnings that CHD could be much reduced if people would reduce their bad cholesterol levels by eating healthy food and becoming active. People need to quit dangerous habits that further raise blood pressure such as the three best-known ones: smoking, being overweight, and drinking too much alcohol.

Stress on the heart is terribly bad for you, but it rarely makes the headlines. We all know stress remains unhealthy for both our body and mind, but do we listen? More importantly, do we take action to prevent stress from causing disease in our bodies?

Despite decades of studies, we like to point fingers at the usual subjects. Smoking has the worst reputation of all. How many times have you tried to convince a loved one that smoking may take their life one day? They tell you they do it to calm their nerves, right? You beg them to take a walk instead; you suggest exercise classes and fishing at the lake. You may have printed out studies to show them what those commercially-made cigarettes and nightly booze binges will do to them. Maybe you are helping them avoid the dreaded black lungs we’ve seen in health class photos.

Yet, hold on. We’re talking about heart disease here.

Smoking is bad for your health, and often times fatal in terms of lung disease. But one of the longest running studies on heart disease contradicts what we all assumed about smoking and CHD. In the study, smokers developed fewer cases of CHD than non-smokers.

A much bigger risk factor is not smoking, but stress—the kind of stress found in a particular personality type—and when left unchecked, the manifestation of it can be worse on the heart than smoking.

According to Dr. Yuhong Dong, medical doctor and Ph.D. in infectious diseases, there are many biological and energetic mechanisms occurring concurrently in CHD, but the Type A personality’s unhealthy expression of anger is what makes a larger imprint on our hearts and minds.

A Surprising Risk Factor of Coronary Heart Diseases (CHD)

A counterintuitive twist on smoking’s effect on CHD brings to mind the story of Batuli Lamichhane, one of the oldest women in the world, who told news reporters on her 112th birthday that the secret to a long life is smoking, as she had puffed away on 30 cigarettes a day since she was 17 years old. If her story was just an isolated story that would be one thing, but it’s not. There are stories about many of the oldest people in the world who smoke, drink, and eat to their hearts’ content.

The Framingham project, which began in 1948, is the quintessential epidemiological and largest population study of more than 14,000 people across three generations. The project ultimately found evidence that formed the textbook warning we hear at doctor visits: high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol are major risk factors for CHD. However, we have learned something else from the well-known Framingham Heart Study.

The key lifestyle advice is hidden in the 1980s analysis of the final cohort.

When researchers looked at the long-term patterns in the cardiovascular health of more than 5,000 male and female smokers and non-smokers, consisting of 2,282 men and 2,845 women aged 29 through 62 years (and free from CHD at the initial examination), they found little evidence that smoking is a risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD).

“In these monumental studies and analysis, smokers and non-smokers showed no differences at all,” said Dr. Dong. “CHD is the product of many risk factors acting synergistically. There is no doubt that smoking is one of many risk factors, but its effects, acting by itself, have been exaggerated.”

Dong said there may be even more to the Framingham Study. Evidence now shows that psychosocial factors, including having a stressed-wired personality, or Type A personality, are more predictive for heart disease than smoking. Even more predictive of CHD is how the Type A personality copes with stress. If Type A’s constantly cope with stress in angry, aggressive, and hostile ways, their odds for getting CHD increase exponentially.

Do You Have Traits of a Type A personality?

Do you feel guilty if you use free time to relax? Do you need to win in order to enjoy games and sports? Do you eat, walk, and move rapidly? Do you try to do more than one thing at a time? Have your loved ones and co-workers told you more than a few times that you need to calm down, mellow out, or take it easy?

You may be a “Type A” personality, or have a Type A behavior pattern (TABP). As much as you get things done and people can count on you to work hard, your health might suffer if you take your high achievement, competitiveness, and impatience too far. Some people can take on multiple projects and carry the weight of the world with grace, but most Type A’s do not.


The FBI Has Become Dangerous to Americans

Victor Davis Hanson

The FBI is dissolving before our eyes into a rogue security service akin to those in Eastern Europe during the Cold War.

Take the FBI’s deliberately asymmetrical application of the law. This week the bureau surprise-raided the home of former President Donald Trump—an historical first.

A massive phalanx of FBI agents swooped into the Trump residence while he was not home, to confiscate his personal property, safe, and records. All of this was over an archival dispute of presidential papers common to many former presidents. Agents swarmed the entire house, including the wardrobe closet of the former first lady.

Note we are less than 90 days out from a midterm election, and this was not just a raid, but a political act.

The Democratic Party is anticipated to suffer historical losses. Trump was on the verge of announcing his 2024 presidential candidacy. In many polls, he remains the Republican front-runner for the nomination—and well ahead of incumbent President Joe Biden in a putative 2024 rematch.

In 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey announced that candidate Hillary Clinton was guilty of destroying subpoenaed emails—a likely felony pertaining to her tenure as secretary of state. Yet he all but pledged that she would not be prosecuted given her status as a presidential candidate.

As far as targeting presidential candidates, Trump was impeached in 2020 ostensibly for delaying military aid to Ukraine by asking Ukrainian officials to investigate more fully the clearly corrupt Biden family—given Joe Biden at the time was a likely possible presidential opponent in 2020.

The FBI has devolved into a personal retrieval service for the incorrigible Biden family. It suppressed, for political purposes, information surrounding Hunter Biden’s missing laptop on the eve of the 2020 election.

Previously, the FBI never pursued Hunter’s fraudulently registered firearm, his mysterious foreign income, his felonious crack cocaine use, or his regular employment of foreign prostitutes.

Yet in a pre-dawn raid just before the 2020 election, the FBI targeted the home of journalist James O’Keefe on grounds that someone had passed to him the lost and lurid diary of Ashley Biden, Biden’s wayward daughter.

At various times, in Stasi-style the FBI has publicly shackled Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro, swarmed the office of Trump legal counsel Rudy Giuliani, and sent a SWAT team to surround the house of Trump ally Roger Stone. Meanwhile, terrorists and cartels walk with impunity across an open border.

FBI Director Christopher Wray last week cut short his evasive testimony before Congress. He claimed he had to leave for a critical appointment—only to use his FBI Gulfstream luxury jet to fly to his favorite vacation spot in the Adirondacks.

Wray took over from disgraced interim FBI Director Andrew McCabe. The latter admitted lying repeatedly to federal investigators and signed off on a fraudulent FBI FISA application. He faced zero legal consequences.

McCabe, remember, was also the point man in the softball Hillary Clinton email investigation—while his wife was a political candidate and recipient of thousands of dollars from a political action committee with close ties to the Clinton family.

McCabe took over from disgraced FBI Director James Comey. On 245 occasions, Comey claimed under oath before the House Intelligence Committee that he had no memory or knowledge of key questions concerning his tenure. With impunity, he leaked confidential FBI memos to the media.

Comey took over from Director Robert Mueller. Implausibly, Mueller swore under oath that he had no knowledge either of the Steele dossier or of Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned Christopher Steele to compile the dossier. But those were the very twin catalysts that had prompted his entire special investigation into the Russian collusion hoax.

FBI legal counsel Kevin Clinesmith was convicted of a felony for altering an FBI warrant request to spy on an innocent Carter Page.

The FBI, by Comey’s own public boasts, bragged how it caught national security adviser-designate Gen. Michael Flynn in its Crossfire Hurricane Russian collusion hoax.

As special counsel, Mueller then fired two of his top investigators—Lisa Page and Peter Strzok—for improper personal and professional behavior. He then staggered their releases to mask their collaborative wrongdoing.

Mueller’s team deleted critical cellphone evidence under subpoena that might well have revealed systemic FBI-related bias.

The FBI interferes with and warps national elections. It hires complete frauds as informants who are far worse than its targets. It humiliates or exempts government and elected officials based on their politics. It violates the civil liberties of individual American citizens.

The FBI’s highest officials now routinely mislead Congress. They have erased or altered court and subpoenaed evidence. They illegally leak confidential material to the media. And they have lied under oath to federal investigators.

The agency has become dangerous to Americans and an existential threat to their democracy and rule of law. The FBI should be dispersing its investigatory responsibilities to other government investigative agencies that have not yet lost the public’s trust.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)


Sunday, August 14, 2022

29 Percent of Young Pfizer COVID Vaccine Recipients Suffered Heart Effects: Study

Nearly three in 10 children who received Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine experienced heart effects afterwards, according to a new study.

Researchers studied 301 students across two schools in Thailand. The students were aged 13 to 18 and had received a dose of Pfizer’s vaccine without a serious adverse event. Most had no underlying disease, while 44 had conditions such as asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Researchers conducted laboratory tests to establish a baseline and followed up at three days, seven days, and 14 days after the students received a second dose of the vaccine.

Researchers found that 29 percent of the youth experienced cardiovascular effects, including heart palpitations, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Fifty-four had abnormal electrocardiogram results. Six experienced mitral valve prolapse, which the Mayo Clinic describes as a heart valve disease; six had high blood pressure, and seven were diagnosed with heart inflammation.

Two of the children were hospitalized, with one being admitted to intensive care.

Limitations of the study, published ahead of peer review and funded by Mahidol University, included requiring parental permission for blood testing, which could have impacted participation.

Nearly 100 percent of the vaccine recipients recovered within two weeks, researchers said. Still, due to the detection of heart effects, young people receiving any of the vaccines based on messenger RNA technology—both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are—”should be monitored for side effects,” the authors said.

Pfizer did not respond to a request for comment.


Several cardiologists, after reviewing the new paper, said it adds to the body of evidence that the risks of the vaccines may outweigh the benefits, especially for young people.

“Any form of heart damage in young persons is concerning since the long-term risks of heart failure and sudden death with exercise are unknown,” Dr. Peter McCullough, the chief medical adviser for the Truth for Health Foundation, told The Epoch Times in an email.

“This is one of ~200 published papers demonstrating the risks of COVID-19 vaccination far outweigh any theoretical benefit,” he added.

U.S. authorities have acknowledged a link between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and heart inflammation, but maintain that the benefits of the shots outweigh the risks for all age groups beyond six months old. According to reports to the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System through May 26, males aged 5 to 49, and females aged 12 to 29, had higher-than-background rates of myocarditis following a second Pfizer dose. The highest rate was 76 per million within seven days of a second dose among males 16 or 17 years old.

Dr. Anish Koka, a cardiologist in Philadelphia, said the new study results “are not reassuring.” While the study authors said most patients recovered, some of the conditions they experienced are far from mild, Koka wrote in a blog post.

“The Thai study helps fill in some of the data void so parents and their doctors can be better informed when discussing the risks and benefits of the vaccines,” he said.


Game-changing new test and treatment for Long Covid

Australian scientists are a step closer to a test and treatment for long Covid, after determining it causes the same biological impairments as chronic fatigue syndrome.

The ground breaking findings, by Griffith University researchers, could significantly help the 500,000 Australians estimated to be battling the condition.

Long Covid is a collection of symptoms including extreme fatigue (tiredness), shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness that continue more than 12 weeks after a Covid infection, and can be severe enough to prevent a person working or living normal life.

Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik, who is behind the research which will be published the Journal of Molecular Medicine on Thursday, has already developed a diagnostic test for chronic fatigue syndrome and identified potential treatments.

“The receptors that we have identified previously as being faulty or dysfunctional in ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) patients have the same dysfunction in those long Covid patients we’ve examined,” she said.

“Patients with long Covid report neurocognitive, immunologic, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular manifestations, which are also symptoms of ME/CFS,” Professor Marshall-Gradisnik said.

Her research team has been working on chronic fatigue syndrome for more than a decade and has identified a family of receptors that are dysfunctional in patients suffering ME/CFS.

They found patients with the syndrome had lower levels of calcium coming into their cells, and that their cells stored less calcium, and this was the basis of their illness.

“These channels allow ions such as calcium to flow in and out of cells, and thereby control many different biological processes,” she said.

“Patients can experience different symptoms depending on which cells in the body are affected – from brain fog and muscle fatigue to possible organ failure.”

Blood tests performed in Professor Marshall-Gradisnik’s laboratory show people with long Covid have the same damage to these receptors as patients with ME/CFS.

“Calcium is like the Goldilocks molecule. It is like the most important molecule you can have. It causes muscle contraction and causes brain activity. It’s very much critical in all cell functions,” she said.

A significant proportion of people who develop ME/CFS do so following a virus so it is thought these receptors are activated by viruses and, of course, patients that have long Covid had a viral assault, Professor Marshall-Gradisnik said.

Her team has already developed a diagnostic blood test for the ME/CFS that also has the potential to be used in long Covid patients. It is being refined so it can be done in hours, not days.

The team is also testing a range of available medical treatments that worked on calcium channels to see if they may be a possible treatment.

They found the drug Naltrexone at a very low dose of 0.5 milligrams to five milligrams stopped the obstruction of the opioid receptor on the calcium channel, allowing it to function again.

Professor Marshall-Gradisnik said taking calcium supplements was not of any use.

“It’s not what you ingest, it is how calcium gets processed and gets into the cell that matters,” she said.

There have been more than 9.5 million cases of Covid reported in Australia and five per cent, or around 475,000, of these patients are expected to be left with long-term illness.


CDC Admits It Gave False Information About COVID-19 Vaccine Surveillance

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is admitting it gave false information about COVID-19 vaccine surveillance, including inaccurately saying it conducted a certain type of analysis over one year before it actually did.

The false information was conveyed in responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the results of surveillance, and after the CDC claimed COVID-19 vaccines are being monitored “by the most intense safety monitoring efforts in U.S. history.”

“CDC has revisited several FOIA requests and as a result of its review CDC is issuing corrections for the following information,” a CDC spokeswoman told The Epoch Times in an email.

No CDC employees intentionally provided false information and none of the false responses were given to avoid FOIA reporting requirements, the spokeswoman said.

Heart Inflammation

The Epoch Times in July submitted a FOIA, or a request for non-public information, to the CDC for all reports from a team that was formed to study post-vaccination heart inflammation by analyzing reports submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a system run by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The CDC not only said that the team did not conduct any abstractions or reports through October 2021, but that “an association between myocarditis and mRNA COVID-19 vaccination was not known at that time.”

That statement was false.

Clinical trials of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines detected neither myocarditis nor pericarditis, two types of heart inflammation. But by April 2021, the U.S. military was raising the alarm about post-vaccination heart inflammation, and by June 2021, the CDC was publicly acknowledging a link.

The CDC previously corrected the false statement but did not say whether its teams had ever analyzed VAERS reports.

“In reference to myocarditis abstraction from VAERS reports—this process began in May 2021 and continues to this date,” the CDC spokeswoman said in an email.

The CDC has still not released the results of analyses.

Data Mining

The CDC promised in January 2021 that it would perform a specific type of data mining analysis on VAERS reports called Proportional Reporting Ratio (PRR). But when Children’s Health Defense, a nonprofit, asked for the results, the CDC said that “no PRRs were conducted by the CDC” and that data mining “is outside of th[e] agency’s purview.”

Asked for clarification, Dr. John Su, who heads the CDC’s VAERS team, told The Epoch Times in an email that the CDC started performing PRRs in February 2021, “and continues to do so to date.”

The CDC is now saying that both the original response and Su’s statement were false.

The agency didn’t start performing PRRs until March 25, 2022, the CDC spokeswoman said. The agency stopped performing them on July 31, 2022.

The spokeswoman said it “misinterpreted” both Children’s Health Defense and The Epoch Times.

Children’s Health Defense had asked for the PRRs the CDC had performed from Feb. 1, 2021, through Sept. 30, 2021. The Epoch Times asked if the response to the request was correct.

The spokeswoman said the CDC thought “data mining” referred only to Empirical Bayesian (EB) data mining, a different type of analysis that the Food and Drug Administration has promised to perform on VAERS data.

“The notion that the CDC did not realize we were asking about PRRs but only data mining in general is simply not credible, since our FOIA request specifically mentioned PRRs and their response also mentioned that they did not do PRRs. They did not say ‘data mining in general,'” Josh Guetzkow, a senior lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem who has been working with Children’s Health Defense, told The Epoch Times via email.

“There is also no credible reason why they waited until March 25, 2022, to calculate PRRs, unless it was in response to our initial FOIA filed in December 2021, which was rejected on March 25, 2022—shortly after they say they began their calculations. It means the CDC was not analyzing VAERS for early warning safety signals for well over a year after the vaccination campaign began—which still counts as a significant failure,” he added.

The CDC has also not released the results of the PRRs. “PRR results were generally consistent with EB data mining, revealing no additional unexpected safety signals. Given it is a more robust data mining technique, CDC will continue relying upon EB data mining at this time,” the agency spokeswoman said.

The FDA has told The Epoch Times it conducted EB data mining but the agency has declined to share the results.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)


Friday, August 12, 2022

The Corruption of Medicine by political correctness

The post-George Floyd racial reckoning has hit the field of medicine like an earthquake. Medical education, medical research, and standards of competence have been upended by two related hypotheses: that systemic racism is responsible both for racial disparities in the demographics of the medical profession and for racial disparities in health outcomes. Questioning those hypotheses is professionally suicidal. Vast sums of public and private research funding are being redirected from basic science to political projects aimed at dismantling white supremacy. The result will be declining quality of medical care and a curtailment of scientific progress.

Virtually every major medical organization-from the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) to the American Association of Pediatrics-has embraced the idea that medicine is an inequity-producing enterprise. The AMA's 2021 Organizational Strategic Plan to Embed Racial Justice and Advance Health Equity is virtually indistinguishable from a black studies department's mission statement. The plan's anonymous authors seem aware of how radically its rhetoric differs from medicine's traditional concerns. The preamble notes that "just as the general parlance of a business document varies from that of a physics document, so too is the case for an equity document." (Such shaky command of usage and grammar characterizes the entire 86-page tome, making the preamble's boast that "the field of equity has developed a parlance which conveys both [sic] authenticity, precision, and meaning" particularly ironic.)

Thus forewarned, the reader plunges into a thicket of social-justice maxims: physicians must "confront inequities and dismantle white supremacy, racism, and other forms of exclusion and structured oppression, as well as embed racial justice and advance equity within and across all aspects of health systems." The country needs to pivot "from euphemisms to explicit conversations about power, racism, gender and class oppression, forms of discrimination and exclusion." (The reader may puzzle over how much more "explicit" current "conversations" about racism can be.) We need to discard "America's stronghold of false notions of hierarchy of value based on gender, skin color, religion, ability and country of origin, as well as other forms of privilege."

A key solution to this alleged oppression is identity-based preferences throughout the medical profession. The AMA strategic plan calls for the "just representation of Black, Indigenous and Latinx people in medical school admissions as well as . . . leadership ranks." The lack of "just representation," according to the AMA, is due to deliberate "exclusion," which will end only when we have "prioritize[d] and integrate[d] the voices and ideas of people and communities experiencing great injustice and historically excluded, exploited, and deprived of needed resources such as people of color, women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, and those in rural and urban communities alike."

According to medical and STEM leaders, to be white is to be per se racist; apologies and reparations for that offending trait are now de rigueur. In June 2020, Nature identified itself as one of the culpably "white institutions that is responsible for bias in research and scholarship." In January 2021, the editor-in-chief of Health Affairs lamented that "our own staff and leadership are overwhelmingly white." The AMA's strategic plan blames "white male lawmakers" for America's systemic racism.

And so medical schools and medical societies are discarding traditional standards of merit in order to alter the demographic characteristics of their profession. That demolition of standards rests on an a priori truth: that there is no academic skills gap between whites and Asians, on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics, on the other. No proof is needed for this proposition; it is the starting point for any discussion of racial disparities in medical personnel. Therefore, any test or evaluation on which blacks and Hispanics score worse than whites and Asians is biased and should be eliminated.

The U.S. Medical Licensing Exam is a prime offender. At the end of their second year of medical school, students take Step One of the USMLE, which measures knowledge of the body's anatomical parts, their functioning, and their malfunctioning; topics include biochemistry, physiology, cell biology, pharmacology, and the cardiovascular system. High scores on Step One predict success in a residency; highly sought-after residency programs, such as neurosurgery and radiology, use Step One scores to help select applicants.

Black students are not admitted into competitive residencies at the same rate as whites because their average Step One test scores are a standard deviation below those of whites. Step One has already been modified to try to shrink that gap; it now includes nonscience components such as "communication and interpersonal skills." But the standard deviation in scores has persisted. In the world of antiracism, that persistence means only one thing: the test is to blame. It is Step One that, in the language of antiracism, "disadvantages" underrepresented minorities, not any lesser degree of medical knowledge.

The Step One exam has a further mark against it. The pressure to score well inhibits minority students from what has become a core component of medical education: antiracism advocacy. A fourth-year Yale medical student describes how the specter of Step One affected his priorities. In his first two years of medical school, the student had "immersed" himself, as he describes it, in a student-led committee focused on diversity, inclusion, and social justice. The student ran a podcast about health disparities. All that political work was made possible by Yale's pass-fail grading system, which meant that he didn't feel compelled to put studying ahead of diversity concerns. Then, as he tells it, Step One "reared its ugly head." Getting an actual grade on an exam might prove to "whoever might have thought it before that I didn't deserve a seat at Yale as a Black medical student," the student worried.

The solution to such academic pressure was obvious: abolish Step One grades. Since January 2022, Step One has been graded on a pass-fail basis. The fourth-year Yale student can now go back to his diversity activism, without worrying about what a graded exam might reveal. Whether his future patients will appreciate his chosen focus is unclear.

Every other measure of academic mastery has a disparate impact on blacks and thus is in the crosshairs.

In the third year of medical school, professors grade students on their clinical knowledge in what is known as a Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE). The MSPE uses qualitative categories like Outstanding, Excellent, Very Good, and Good. White students at the University of Washington School of Medicine received higher MSPE ratings than underrepresented minority students from 2010 to 2015, according to a 2019 analysis. The disparity in MSPEs tracked the disparity in Step One scores.

The parallel between MSPE and Step One evaluations might suggest that what is being measured in both cases is real. But the a priori truth holds that no academic skills gap exists. Accordingly, the researchers proposed a national study of medical school grades to identify the actual causes of that racial disparity. The conclusion is foregone: faculty bias. As a Harvard medical student put it in Stat News: "biases are baked into the evaluations of students from marginalized backgrounds."

A 2022 study of clinical performance scores anticipated that foregone conclusion. Professors from Emory University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the University of California at San Francisco, among other institutions, analyzed faculty evaluations of internal medicine residents in such areas as medical knowledge and professionalism. On every assessment, black and Hispanic residents were rated lower than white and Asian residents. The researchers hypothesized three possible explanations: bias in faculty assessment, effects of a noninclusive learning environment, or structural inequities in assessment. University of Pennsylvania professor of medicine Stanley Goldfarb tweeted out a fourth possibility: "Could it be [that the minority students] were just less good at being residents?"

Goldfarb had violated the a priori truth. Punishment was immediate. Predictable tweets called him, inter alia, possibly "the most garbage human being I've seen with my own eyes," and Michael S. Parmacek, chair of the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Medicine, sent a schoolwide e-mail addressing Goldfarb's "racist statements." Those statements had evoked "deep pain and anger," Parmacek wrote. Accordingly, the school would be making its "entire leadership team" available to "support you," he said. Parmacek took the occasion to reaffirm that doctors must acknowledge "structural racism."

That same day, the executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and the senior vice dean for medical education at the University of Pennsylvania medical school reassured faculty, staff, and students via e-mail that Goldfarb was no longer an active faculty member but rather emeritus. The EVP and the SVD affirmed Penn's efforts to "foster an anti-racist curriculum" and to promote "inclusive excellence."

Despite the allegations of faculty racism, disparities in academic performance are the predictable outcome of admissions preferences. In 2021, the average score for white applicants on the Medical College Admission Test was in the 71st percentile, meaning that it was equal to or better than 71 percent of all average scores. The average score for black applicants was in the 35th percentile-a full standard deviation below the average white score. The MCATs have already been redesigned to try to reduce this gap; a quarter of the questions now focus on social issues and psychology.

Yet the gap persists. So medical schools use wildly different standards for admitting black and white applicants. From 2013 to 2016, only 8 percent of white college seniors with below-average undergraduate GPAs and below-average MCAT scores were offered a seat in medical school; less than 6 percent of Asian college seniors with those qualifications were offered a seat, according to an analysis by economist Mark Perry. Medical schools regarded those below-average scores as all but disqualifying-except when presented by blacks and Hispanics. Over 56 percent of black college seniors with below-average undergraduate GPAs and below-average MCATs and 31 percent of Hispanic students with those scores were admitted, making a black student in that range more than seven times as likely as a similarly situated white college senior to be admitted to medical school and more than nine times as likely to be admitted as a similarly situated Asian senior.

Such disparate rates of admission hold in every combination and range of GPA and MCAT scores. Contrary to the AMA's Organizational Strategic Plan to Embed Racial Justice and Advance Health Equity, blacks are not being "excluded" from medical training; they are being catapulted ahead of their less valued white and Asian peers.

Though mediocre MCAT scores keep out few black students, some activists seek to eliminate the MCATs entirely. Admitting less-qualified students to Ph.D. programs in the life sciences will lower the caliber of future researchers and slow scientific advances. But the stakes are higher in medical training, where insufficient knowledge can endanger a life in the here and now.

More here:


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)


Thursday, August 11, 2022

The authoritarian impulse

Anthony Fauci has regrets.

In an interview Monday, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that if he could go back and change anything about the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be to press for "much, much more stringent restrictions" than the ones that were imposed in the spring of 2020.

More stringent. More than the abrupt shutdown of the US economy, which destroyed 21 million jobs in a matter of weeks and drove the unemployment rate to nearly 15 percent. More than the unprecedented closure of every public school in the country, which inflicted a staggering degree of learning loss and emotional turmoil on American children. More than the sweeping shelter-in-place limitations, which did little to reduce the spread of COVID but severely exacerbated harms ranging from domestic violence to mental health to untreated medical conditions. More than the top-down orders - issued with no chance for public or legislative input - that unilaterally prevented Americans from traveling, attending church, holding weddings, or comforting the dying.

The response to the pandemic was an extraordinary diminution of Americans' freedom to make choices for themselves and a corresponding enlargement of the power of government officials to rule by decree. And Fauci is chagrined that it didn't go far enough.

To be fair, he is hardly alone in thinking this way. When it comes to COVID or almost any other significant public concern, the authoritarian impulse - a preference for achieving policy goals through coercion rather than the untidy give-and-take of democratic negotiation - now seems to be the default.

As a candidate in 2020, Joe Biden rightly insisted that political legitimacy is acquired through compromise and patience. He rebuked progressives who wanted him to enact their wish list singlehandedly. "You can't [govern] by executive order unless you're a dictator," he said before the election. "We're a democracy; we need consensus."

Yet once in the White House, Biden began issuing edicts with record-busting frequency. He signed more executive decrees on his first day as president than Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush did on their first days - combined. Within a week of his inauguration, even The New York Times editorial board was imploring him to "Ease Up on the Executive Actions, Joe." Yet since then he has been generating such orders at a faster clip than any of his six immediate predecessors.

No longer does Biden stress the importance of working through the legislative branch. "Since Congress is not acting on the climate emergency, I will," he tweeted recently. "In the coming weeks my Administration will begin to announce executive actions to combat this emergency."

Far from bristling at the president's encroachment into the purview of the legislative branch, Democrats in Congress are encouraging it. "It's very important for the executive to act if we cannot get legislative action immediately," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in March. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which comprises 98 House members, prepared a list of executive order recommendations, urging Biden to unilaterally lower health costs, overhaul policing, and cancel all federal student loan debt, among other actions. Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip, noted that the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order and pressed Biden to be more like Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln? Seriously?

There is a vast difference between orders issued by a president who is performing his role as commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces and those issued by a president seeking an end run around Congress. The Constitution expects presidents to act decisively on matters of war, peace, and diplomacy and grants them the widest possible latitude in the conduct of foreign and military affairs. The Constitution also specifies that presidents "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed," which gives the White House considerable scope for direct action in areas where the law is clear but is not being upheld or where Congress has explicitly authorized the president to act.

A classic example is President Eisenhower's executive order to federalize the Arkansas National Guard and enforce desegregation in Little Rock. Another was President Johnson's 1965 order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating "on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." Executive orders have been appropriately issued for numerous purposes - to recognize foreign governments, to bring (or waive) criminal indictments, to deploy or withdraw troops, to grant pardons, to designate federal lands as national monuments, to proclaim national holidays, or to set tariffs.

But the Constitution does not permit presidents to unilaterally order a policy change that neither the Constitution nor Congress has sanctioned. A notorious instance was President Truman's 1952 order nationalizing the US steel industry - a dictatorial act for which there was absolutely no legal basis. Another was FDR's executive order to relocate 100,000 Japanese Americans to government-run internment camps. More recent was Biden's nationwide moratorium on evictions, an order he issued even after acknowledging that it had no legal basis.

Sometimes the courts shoot down unlawful executive orders (as with Truman's steel takeover and Biden's moratorium); sometimes they fail to do so (as with FDR's internment camps). Either way, the illiberal desire to formulate public policies through authoritarian means keeps growing stronger. More than ever, it needs resisting.

This is hardly a problem only among Democrats. The Trump White House repeatedly resorted to executive orders to bypass or undermine Capitol Hill. In 2019, for example, after Congress refused to fund a massive wall on the Mexican border, Trump declared that a national emergency empowered him to spend the money and build one regardless. "We're going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we're going to do it one way or the other," he announced.

And while many on the progressive left have embraced a by-any-means-necessary approach to getting their way on climate change, abortion, or the pandemic, a growing movement on the right is equally enamored of top-down control. Would-be authoritarians promoting what they describe as "common-good conservatism" want to use the power of government to advance their right-wing vision. In a widely noted Atlantic essay in 2020, Harvard Law professor Adrian Vermeule called for a "robust" legal approach based on the belief that government must "direct persons, associations, and society generally toward the common good, and that strong rule in the interest of attaining the common good is entirely legitimate."

The authoritarian impulse exists in every society. There are always those who would rather resort to autocratic means to accomplish desired ends. Today, fewer and fewer leaders champion the necessity of debate, persuasion, and finding common ground. More and more find coercion more appealing than cooperation. When Benjamin Franklin was asked in 1787 what the delegates in Independence Hall had concocted, he memorably replied: "A republic, if you can keep it." We have managed to keep it for two and a quarter centuries, but the prognosis isn't encouraging.


10 Percent of Americans Regret Taking COVID Vaccine, 15 Percent Have a New Medical Condition After It: Poll

Ten percent of Americans who received the COVID-19 vaccine regret having done so, according to a recent poll.

In addition, 15 percent of the 1,038 adults that took the survey said that they have been diagnosed with a new condition by a medical practitioner, weeks or months after taking the vaccine.

Children's Health Defense (CHD) commissioned the poll two years after the inception of Operation Warp Speed in order to find out about people's position on the COVID vaccines and their health.

The poll, conducted by Zogby Analytics, states that the margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points.

"The fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 232 million Americans ages 18-65 have taken at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 15 percent of those surveyed report a newly diagnosed condition is concerning and needs further study," said Laura Bono, CHD's executive director.

"The mRNA vaccine technology is new and clinical trials naturally have no long-term data. CHD believes this survey points to the need for further study."

Sixty-seven percent of the respondents got one or more shots, while the rest were unvaccinated.

Among those who took the COVID vaccines, 6 percent took one dose, while the rest took 2-4 shots.

Of the newly diagnosed medical conditions, the most common ones were blood clots (21 percent), heart attack (19 percent), liver damage (18 percent), leg and lung clots (17 percent), and stroke (15 percent).

Sixty-seven percent of participants said that getting the vaccine was a good decision, while 24 percent were neutral.

Another poll conducted at the same time surveyed 829 American adults ages 18-49, and the results show that 22 percent of them reported a new condition within weeks or months after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The top conditions were autoimmune problems, blood clots, stroke/lung clots, liver damage/leg clots/heart attack, and disrupted menstrual cycle. Ten percent of these conditions were severe.

Fourteen percent of the participants regretted taking the vaccine, while 58 percent thought it was a good decision, and the rest were neutral.

Previous Reports

In May, a cardiologist told The Epoch Times that he has seen a spike in cases of heart inflammation. Although the media has given more attention to COVID vaccine blood clot issues, there have been many more cases of myocarditis, according to his observation.

Some doctors have also observed menstrual irregularities associated with the COVID-19 vaccines, something that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said is an issue that needs to be studied more.

Also in May, The Epoch Times reported that a pediatric cardiologist had to stop working and was punished by his board for not wanting to recommend a vaccine to a young patient who had contracted COVID previously.

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel on June 15 unanimously recommended the FDA give emergency authorization to the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months of age.

The U.S. drug regulators on March 29 announced they had granted emergency authorization allowing a fourth dose of the jabs to be given to all Americans aged 50 and above.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

2 Years In, Science Still Shows Masks Useless

I pointed out the large holes in the Bangladesh study nearly a year ago

Masks are back in San Diego, California, where the school board has just decreed that students must cover their faces or be barred from setting foot inside a classroom. Never mind that, per CDC statistics and Census Bureau population figures, more than 99.99 percent of children in California (where governor Gavin Newsom has regularly imposed mask mandates) and more than 99.99 percent of children in Florida (where Governor Ron DeSantis has let kids live mask-free) have not died of Covid—either because they haven’t gotten it, or because they’ve gotten it and survived it. Never mind that more than 99.99 percent of kids nationally have not died of Covid, either. And never mind that, again, based on CDC statistics, those over age 85 have had more than 2,000 times the chance of dying of Covid as those under age 18; that even those in their thirties have had 25 times the chance of dying of Covid as those under 18; and that, out of every 40 school-age kids (ages 5-17) who have died during the Covid era, only one of those deaths has involved Covid. Regardless, school officials have decided that everyone must mask up.

Nor are schools alone in returning to mask mandates. The military has been one of the most mask-happy of all institutions. Right on cue, the Navy announced that everyone, whether uniformed or not, must wear masks indoors on its bases in the San Diego area. Up the coast, Bay Area Rapid Transit has reimposed a mask mandate. Meantime, many colleges across the country have announced that they will be requiring masks this fall.

Such decrees ignore the facts that masks are physically uncomfortable, make it harder to breathe, and profoundly compromise human social interaction. But none of that matters to the mask zealots, who are convinced that benefits far outweigh any potential costs. So, where is the proof?

The nature of the public-health establishment’s embrace of masks is nicely captured in an article published last spring and currently posted on the website of the National Institutes of Health. The article, by Se├ín M. Muller, speaks of “the failure of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to provide supportive evidence” that masks work to reduce viral transmission—a matter I discussed at length last summer.

Muller deserves credit for being more honest than most mask advocates. He notes that the World Health Organization said in March 2020 that “there is no evidence” that masks work, and he adds that “it was the absence of significant positive effects from RCTs prior to the pandemic that informed the WHO’s initial [anti-mask] stance.” Yet Muller laments the reliance on RCTs as opposed to “mechanism-based reasoning.” This is a fancy term for applying one’s own reasoning faculties. Muller’s reasoning leads him to be convinced that masks must work. But that, of course, is why we have RCTs: to test people’s notions about what works and what doesn’t.

Muller recognizes that people “may transfer infectious material by touching their faces with unsanitized hands to place and remove a mask,” but this important realization doesn’t seem to affect his conclusions. Instead, he writes, “Mechanism-based reasoning provides a justification for the stance ultimately advocated by the WHO and adopted by many countries.” He admits that the “logic” entailed in such reasoning “relies only on a fairly simple germ theory of disease.” Yet—incredibly—he then asserts that such reasoning “places the burden of proof on those who would argue against recommending masks.” So, even if RCTs provide no evidence for the claim that masks work, even if they continually suggest, on the contrary, that masks don’t work, then health officials should still recommend masks—and probably mandate them—because the claim that they work seems logical to some.

This is fundamentally anti-scientific. Yet it effectively captures the thinking that has animated mask mandates for more than two years now. This kind of thinking continues even though (as John Tierney has detailed) the remarkable similarity in Covid results between mask-mandate and mask-free states, and between mask-mandate and mask-free countries, strongly suggests that masks don’t work—just as RCTs have indicated they don’t.

The lone, slender scientific reed onto which mask advocates can grasp, at least in terms of RCTs, is a recent study from Bangladesh. Released well over a year after the CDC and others had already embraced masks wholeheartedly, the study claimed to find statistically significant benefits from surgical masks. The first author listed on that study, Yale economics professor Jason Abaluck, weighed in publicly on the mask debate before the study ever went into the field. In the early days of Covid, he opined that both the federal government and state governments should give out free masks and perhaps levy fines on those who refused to wear them. Unfortunately for mask advocates, the very small differences that the study found, and the questionable methodology on which those findings were based, provide little more scientific support for mask-wearing than does mechanism-based reasoning.

The Bangladesh RCT found that 1,086 people in the study’s mask group, and 1,106 people in the study’s non-mask control group, got Covid. Amazingly, these numbers did not come from the study’s authors—even though they provide the answer to the main question the study was addressing. Rather, Ben Recht, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, computed these numbers from those that the authors did release, and Abaluck subsequently confirmed Recht’s calculation of a 20-person difference between the two groups.

This 20-person difference (out of more than 300,000 participants) meant that about 1 out of 132 people got Covid in the control group, versus 1 out of 147 in the mask group. That equates to 0.76 percent of people in the control group and 0.68 percent of people in the mask group catching Covid—a difference of 0.08 percentage points—which the study’s authors prefer to describe as a 9 percent reduction. Abaluck and company also describe their study as having provided “clear evidence” that surgical masks work—even though those masks’ alleged benefit registered as statistically significant only after the researchers “adjusted” the ratio of how many people got Covid in each group by providing “baseline controls,” which they do not transparently describe. (That adjustment, however—and its necessity for achieving statistical significance—is plainly indicated.)

This reported difference of 0.08 percentage points tested as statistically significant only because of the massive sample size that the authors claimed, which allowed tiny differences to test as significant rather than being attributable to random chance. It is not at all clear, however, that this study could really produce such precision.

Imagine if researchers randomly divided 340,000 individuals, regardless of where they lived, into a mask group (170,000 people) or a non-mask control group (the other 170,000). One would assume that this random division would result in the two groups being very similar. That’s part of the essence of an RCT—that if you randomly assign enough people to one group or another, the two groups will end up being essentially alike simply by chance. It would be a very different thing, however, to assign two whole cities of 170,000 people into two groups, with each member of a given city going into the same group. In that case, it wouldn’t be clear whether any potential differences in outcomes would be due to the intervention (in this case, masks) or to the differences between the cities (in rates of virus exposure, cultural norms, and so on).

The Bangladesh study’s approach falls somewhere between these two scenarios. Its researchers randomly assigned 300 villages to its mask group (in which it encouraged mask-wearing) and 300 villages with similar characteristics to its non-mask control group (in which it didn’t encourage mask-wearing). Every member of a given village was assigned to the same group. As a result, Recht writes, “Though the sample size looked enormous (340,000 individuals), the effective number of samples was only 600 because the treatment was applied to individual villages.”

However, the researchers didn’t analyze the findings at the level of villages. Instead, they did so as if they had randomly assigned 340,000 individuals to either the mask group or the control group. Recht writes that because “the individual outcomes are not independent” and “outcomes inside a village are correlated,” analyzing the study in this manner is “certainly wrong.” Put another way, when individuals are randomly assigned to one group or another in an RCT, one person’s outcome isn’t supposed to affect another’s—but this is hardly the case when analyzing the effects of a highly contagious virus among people living in the same village, all of whom were assigned to the same group. In layman’s terms, each roll of the dice should be independent and shouldn’t affect subsequent rolls. But in the Bangladesh study, each roll of the dice did affect subsequent rolls.

Recht cites a previous RCT on masks (which I discussed in my 2021 essay) that adjusted for such correlation—that is, adjusted for the fact that one person’s outcome could influence another’s. Even though that earlier RCT randomly assigned families rather than villages to a particular group, it still assumed correlation and adjusted for it. The Bangladesh study, which had far greater correlation, assumed none. Adjusting for correlation, Recht found that the Bangladesh study showed no statistically significant benefits from masks.

The danger in pretending to have randomly assigned 340,000 individuals is that huge sample sizes—which suggest great accuracy—allow small differences to test as statistically significant, since there is less likelihood that they merely reflect random events. This is fine if a test is really that accurate, but not if it’s inflating its sample size by a factor of more than 500 (600 versus 340,000)—or even by a factor of five. Such a scenario risks producing “statistically significant” results that are really just a product of random chance. This is exactly what seems to have happened in the Bangladesh study.

The mainstream press heralded this study as confirming that surgical masks work and suggesting that cloth masks (which, overall, didn’t show a statistically significant benefit) should perhaps be shelved. But the study’s actual findings were more interesting. It found no statistically significant evidence that masks work for people under the age of 40. For people in their forties, however, it found statistically significant evidence that cloth masks work but no corresponding evidence to support the use of surgical masks. For people in their fifties (or older), it found statistically significant evidence that surgical masks work, but no corresponding evidence to support the use of cloth masks. Further complicating matters, the researchers distributed both red cloth masks and purple ones. Recht, citing data from the study that the authors didn’t include in their write-up or tables, writes that, based on the study’s method of analysis, “cloth purple masks did nothing, but the red masks ‘work.’” He adds, “Indeed, red masks were more effective than surgical masks!” When a study starts producing findings like these, its results start to look like random noise.

Moreover, since there were just 20 fewer Covid cases in the mask group than in the non-mask control group, most of the difference between the 0.68 percent Covid rate in the former and the 0.76 percent rate in the latter was because of differences in the sizes of what were supposed to be two equally sized groups. The researchers omitted from their analysis thousands of people—disproportionately from the control group—whom they didn’t successfully contact. The University of Pittsburgh’s Maria Chikina, Carnegie Mellon’s Wesley Pegden, and Recht found that the study’s “unblinded staff”—who knew which participants were assigned to which group—“approached” those in the mask group at a “significantly” higher rate than those in the control group. Indeed, Chikina, Pegden, and Recht write that the “main significant difference” that led to an “imbalance” between the two groups was “the behavior of the study staff.”

Under the “intention-to-treat” principle, everyone who was originally randomly assigned to either group should have been included in the analysis, whether or not the staff had contacted them. Eric McCoy, an M.D. at the University of California, Irvine, explains that intention-to-treat analysis “preserves the benefits of randomization, which cannot be assumed when using other methods of analysis.” Recht, agreeing with McCoy, writes, “For the medical statistics experts, the intention to treat principle says that the individuals who are unreachable or who refuse to be surveyed must be counted in the study. Omitting them invalidates the study.” Yet that’s exactly what the authors of the Bangladesh study did. When Chikina, Pegden, and Recht analyzed the study’s finding using intention-to-treat analysis, they found no statistically significant difference between the number of people who got Covid in the mask group and the number who got it in the control group.

Thus, in order to show a statistically significant benefit from masks, the Bangladesh study both had to depart from intention-to-treat analysis and treat 340,000 people who were not randomly assigned to a group on an individual basis as if they had been. Doing just one or the other would have failed to produce a statistically significant result.

In addition, the study made no real secret that it was pro-mask, launching an all-out campaign to convince people in half of the villages to wear them. The researchers found that physical distancing was 21 percent greater in the mask villages than in the control villages, muddying efforts to distinguish between the effects of masks and distancing. The study also provided monetary incentives to some people, opening up the possibility that, given that participants and staff both knew what group people were in, some participants might have desired to give responses that pleased the researchers (and only those who reported Covid-like symptoms got tested for antibodies). Finally, the study didn’t test how many people had Covid antibodies beforehand, even though its principal findings about masks were based on how many people had Covid antibodies afterward. This is like determining whether a family bought butter during their most recent grocery trip by seeing if there’s butter in the refrigerator.

To sum up, the Bangladesh study’s findings show tiny differences in how many people got Covid in the mask and (non-mask) control groups, and these tiny differences register as statistically significant only because of myriad questionable methodological choices. The study’s researchers conducted their analysis as if they had randomly divided 340,000 individuals into either the mask group or the control group, when in fact they had just randomly divided 600 villages. They also deviated from intention-to-treat analysis, without which they would not have shown statistical significance even on the basis of this inflated sample size. They adjusted the ratio of Covid cases between the mask and control groups by adding baseline controls that were not well-explained—without which surgical masks would not have tested as providing statistically significant benefits. And they based their primary findings on whether people had acquired Covid antibodies by the end of the study, without having tested whether they had already acquired them before the start of the study.

Nevertheless, the CDC favorably references this study and calls it “well-designed.” And even before the effort had been peer-reviewed or published as an official study, Abaluck proclaimed, “I think this should basically end any scientific debate about whether masks can be effective.”

Keep in mind that there are no real grounds for cherry-picking results from the Bangladesh study. If the study persuades people that masks work, then it should also persuade them that those in their forties should wear cloth masks (red ones, not purple!) and then switch to surgical masks once they turn 50. All those statistically significant findings resulted from the same abandonment of intention-to-treat analysis and the same determination to analyze 340,000 people as if they had been randomly assigned to a group on an individual basis, when instead they had been lumped in with the rest of their village. To put it in layman’s terms: garbage in, garbage out.

More here:


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)


Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Deborah Birx's Guide to Destroying America

Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator under President Donald Trump, was one of the "trifecta" of three leading public officials who successfully pushed COVID lockdowns in the United States. Virtually every page of Birx's new book, Silent Invasion: The Untold Story of the Trump Administration, Covid-19, and Preventing the Next Pandemic Before It's Too Late, reads like a how-to guide from the front lines of subverting a democratic superpower from within. It bears repeating, from the outset, that lockdowns were never part of any democratic country's pandemic preparedness plan prior to Xi Jinping's lockdown of Wuhan, China.

The lockdowns that Xi pioneered and Birx so zealously advocated for reportedly led to over 170,000 non-COVID excess deaths among young Americans while failing to meaningfully slow the spread of COVID anywhere they were tried. It would have been impossible for an enemy agent armed with anything less than nuclear weapons to have inflicted so much damage on America's economy, social fabric, and historical freedoms in such a short period of time.

Notably, though Birx's memoir has earned relatively few reviews from human readers on Amazon, it's earned rave reviews from Chinese state media, a feat not shared even by the far more popular pro-lockdown books of professional genuflectors to power like Lawrence Wright.

The glowing response from Chinese state media should come as no surprise. Nearly every sentence of Birx's book faithfully parrots the Chinese Communist Party's foreign and domestic propaganda, which helped facilitate Xi's weaponization of the COVID response to eliminate the independence of the CCP's private sector rivals.

Chapter 1 opens with what Birx claims was her first impression of the virus:

I can still see the words splashed across my computer screen in the early morning hours of January 3. Though we were barely into 2020, I was stuck in an old routine, waking well before dawn and scanning news headlines online. On the BBC's site, one caught my attention: "China Pneumonia Outbreak: Mystery Virus Probed in Wuhan."
Indeed, that BBC article, which was posted at approximately 9:00 a.m. EST on Jan. 3, 2020, was the first in a Western news organization to discuss the outbreak of a new virus in Wuhan. Apparently, Birx was scanning British news headlines just as it appeared. Birx then tells us where she got her philosophy of disease mitigation, recalling how she immediately believed Chinese citizens "knew what had worked" against SARS-1: masks and distancing:

Government officials and citizens across Asia knew both the pervasive fear and the personal response that had worked before to mitigate the loss of life and the economic damage wrought by SARS and MERS. They wore masks. They decreased the frequency and size of social gatherings. Crucially, based on their recent experience, the entire citizenry and local doctors were ringing alarm bells loudly and early. Lives were on the line-lots of them. They knew what had worked before, and they would do it again.
Birx spends several pages tut-tutting the CCP for its "cover-up" of the virus (which Chinese state media pointedly didn't mind), then tells us:

On January 3, the same day the BBC piece ran, the Chinese government officially notified the United States of the outbreak. Bob Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was contacted by his Chinese counterpart, George F. Gao.
Note that Jan. 3 was also the same day that heroic Chinese whistleblower Li Wenliang was reportedly admonished by Chinese authorities for sending a WeChat message about a "cover-up" of the outbreak. In other words, on the same day Li was "admonished," the head of China's CDC personally called U.S. CDC Director Robert Redfield to share the same information Li supposedly shared. Some cover-up.

From here, it gets worse. One page later, Birx tells us how traumatized she still is from having watched videos of Wuhan residents collapsing and falling dead in January 2020, and praises the "courageous doctor" who shared them online:

The video showed a hallway crowded with patients slumped in chairs. Some of the masked people leaned against the wall for support. The camera didn't pan so much as zigzag while the Chinese doctor maneuvered her smartphone up the narrow corridor. My eye was drawn to two bodies wrapped in sheets lying on the floor amid the cluster of patients and staff. The doctor's colleagues, their face shields and other personal protective equipment in place, barely glanced at the lens as she captured the scene. They looked past her, as if at a harrowing future they could all see and hoped to survive. I tried to increase the volume, but there was no sound. My mind seamlessly filled that void, inserting the sounds from my past, sounds from other wards, other places of great sorrow. I had been here before. I had witnessed scenes like this across the globe, in HIV ravaged communities-when hospitals were full of people dying of AIDS before we had treatment or before we ensured treatment to those who needed it. I had lived this, and it was etched permanently in my brain: the unimaginable, devastating loss of mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, brothers, sisters.

Staring at my computer screen, I was horrified by the images from Wuhan, the suffering they portrayed, but also because they confirmed what I'd suspected for the last three weeks: Not only was the Chinese government underreporting the real numbers of the infected and dying in Wuhan and elsewhere, but the situation was definitely far more dire than most people outside that city realized. Up until now, I'd been only reading or hearing about the virus. Now it had been made visible by a courageous doctor sharing this video online.
Birx's book was published in April 2022. The early videos she recounts as the source of her trauma were exposed as fake by the Associated Press and other outlets in February of 2020.

In the next paragraph, Birx tells us how she grew even more determined after seeing that the Chinese had built a hospital in 10 days to fight the virus:

Dotting it were various pieces of earth-moving equipment, enough of them in various shapes and sizes that I briefly wondered if the photograph was of a manufacturing plant where the newly assembled machines were on display. Quickly, I learned that the machines were in Wuhan and that they were handling the first phase of preparatory work for the construction of a one-thousand-bed hospital to be completed in just ten days' time . The Chinese may not have been giving accurate data about the numbers of cases and deaths, but the rapid spread of this disease could be counted in other ways-including in how many Chinese workers were being employed to build new facilities to relieve the pressure on the existing, and impressive, Wuhan health service centers. You build a thousand-bed hospital in ten days only if you are experiencing unrelenting community spread of a highly contagious virus that has eluded your containment measures and is now causing serious illness on a massive scale.
BuzzFeed had proved that images of rapid hospital construction in China were faked on Jan. 27, 2020.

To recap, Deborah Birx-the woman who did more than almost any other person in the United States to promote and prolong COVID lockdowns, and attempted, with the support of mainstream media outlets, to silence anyone who disagreed with her-tells us in 2022 that she'd been inspired in her work by images that were widely known to have been faked (as if the real images of old age homes in Italy and elsewhere weren't bad enough) before the lockdowns even started.

That's Chapter 1.

Birx then spends hundreds of pages recounting what appears to be political maneuvering to intentionally deceive as many Americans as possible into willingly locking down for as long as possible, without making it seem like a "lockdown":

At this point, I wasn't about to use the words lockdown or shutdown. If I had uttered either of those in early March, after being at the White House only one week, the political, nonmedical members of the task force would have dismissed me as too alarmist, too doom-and-gloom, too reliant on feelings and not facts. They would have campaigned to lock me down and shut me up.
Birx recalls using "flatten-the-curve guidance" to manipulate the "political, nonmedical members" of the government into consenting to lockdowns that were stricter than they realized:

On Monday and Tuesday, while sorting through the CDC data issues, we worked simultaneously to develop the flatten-the-curve guidance I hoped to present to the vice president at week's end. Getting buy-in on the simple mitigation measures every American could take was just the first step leading to longer and more aggressive interventions. We had to make these palatable to the administration by avoiding the obvious appearance of a full Italian lockdown. At the same time, we needed the measures to be effective at slowing the spread, which meant matching as closely as possible what Italy had done-a tall order. We were playing a game of chess in which the success of each move was predicated on the one before it.
She also admits that her guidance regarding the maximum allowable size of social gatherings-10 people-was arbitrary, because her real goal was zero-no social contact of any kind, anywhere:

I had settled on ten knowing that even that was too many, but I figured that ten would at least be palatable for most Americans-high enough to allow for most gatherings of immediate family but not enough for large dinner parties and, critically, large weddings, birthday parties, and other mass social events. . Similarly, if I pushed for zero (which was actually what I wanted and what was required), this would have been interpreted as a "lockdown"-the perception we were all working so hard to avoid.
Birx then divulges her strategy of using federal advisories to give cover to state governors to impose mandates and restrictions:

The White House would "encourage," but the states could "recommend" or, if needed, "mandate." In short, we were handing governors and their public health officials a template, a state-level permission slip they could use to enact a specific response that was appropriate for the people under their jurisdiction. The fact that the guidelines would be coming from a Republican White House gave political cover to any Republican governors skeptical of federal overreach.
The White House advisor recalls with relish that her strategy led states to shut down one by one, destroying the livelihoods of millions of Americans and devastating the country's elementary and high school education systems without any public health benefit to show for it:

[T]he recommendations served as the basis for governors to mandate the flattening-the-curve shutdowns. The White House had handed down guidance, and the governors took that ball and ran with it . With the White House's "this is serious" message, governors now had "permission" to mount a proportionate response and, one by one, other states followed suit. California was first, doing so on March 18. New York followed on March 20. Illinois, which had declared its own state of emergency on March 9, issued shelter-in-place orders on March 21. Louisiana did so on the twenty-second. In relatively short order by the end of March and the first week of April, there were few holdouts. The circuit-breaking, flattening-the-curve shutdown had begun.
Cue the maniacal laughter.

In what may be her most damning remark about the entire U.S. response to COVID, Birx tells us that she'd always known "two weeks to slow the spread" was a lie and knew in advance that she wanted the timeframe extended, despite having no data to support why such a step was scientifically sensible:

No sooner had we convinced the Trump administration to implement our version of a two-week shutdown than I was trying to figure out how to extend it. Fifteen Days to Slow the Spread was a start, but I knew it would be just that. I didn't have the numbers in front of me yet to make the case for extending it longer, but I had two weeks to get them. However hard it had been to get the fifteen-day shutdown approved, getting another one would be more difficult by many orders of magnitude.
This is one of several quotes in which Birx refers to "our version" of a lockdown, though she never makes it clear what the original "version" of a lockdown was (read: China's). In fact, though Birx spends hundreds of pages boasting about her crusade for lockdowns across America, she never once explains why she wanted them or why she felt they were a good idea, other than the aforementioned brief asides about China's supposed success using social distancing to combat SARS-1.

Birx then says that she had a regular system for surreptitiously revising and hiding information from her bosses (whom she calls "gatekeepers") after they reviewed her guidance to the states, in order to keep lockdown measures in place for as long as possible against the wishes of the White House:

After the heavily edited documents were returned to me, I'd reinsert what they had objected to, but place it in those different locations. I'd also reorder and restructure the bullet points so the most salient-the points the administration objected to most-no longer fell at the start of the bullet points. I shared these strategies with the three members of the data team also writing these reports. Our Saturday and Sunday report-writing routine soon became: write, submit, revise, hide, resubmit.
Fortunately, this strategic sleight-of-hand worked. That they never seemed to catch this subterfuge left me to conclude that, either they read the finished reports too quickly or they neglected to do the word search that would have revealed the language to which they objected. In slipping these changes past the gatekeepers and continuing to inform the governors of the need for the big-three mitigations-masks, sentinel testing, and limits on indoor social gatherings-I felt confident I was giving the states permission to escalate public health mitigation with the fall and winter coming.
Birx's plans seem to be going quite well for her until she meets the book's leading antagonist: Scott Atlas, the former Stanford University neuroradiology professor serving as an adviser to the Task Force. To Birx's disgust, Atlas took a strong stand against school closures, treating children as unique vectors of disease, and other heresies.

More here:


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)