Health Officials Need To Stop Contradicting Themselves On COVID Data And Dangers

Health Officials Need To Stop Contradicting Themselves On COVID Data And Dangers

Narratives regarding COVID-19 are confusing, inconsistent, and often contradictory. Officials owe us accurate and clear explanations of the risks we face.
Deane Waldman

The official COVID-19 death toll for the United States is reported as “total COVID deaths,” a number that currently stands at around 150,000. Many Americans naturally assume that “COVID deaths” means infection with the virus was the C.O.D., the “cause of death” typically listed on a death certificate. That is not true.

Most deceased persons died with the virus but not necessarily because of it. At least three-quarters of these deaths occurred in patients who had one or more life-threatening pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart or kidney failure, or immune deficiency. Very few had autopsies, or, if they did, many of the results have not yet been made public.

Without information from a post-mortem examination, it is quite difficult to determine the condition that was the primary cause of death. Was the actual cause of death diabetes, kidney failure, chronic lung disease, or the virus?

When autopsies were performed on so-called COVID-19 deaths in Italy, the pathologist found only 12 percent had died because of the viral infection. In the other 88 percent of the same deaths counted, the pre-existing medical condition was the reason the person died.

Texas recently recognized this confusion and sought to resolve it. The Texas Department of State Health Services has clarified that “a fatality is counted as due to COVID-19 when the medical certifier, usually a doctor with direct knowledge of the patient, determines COVID-19 directly caused the death.”

This method does not include deaths of people who had COVID-19 but died of an unrelated cause such as the Florida man who died in a motorcycle accident. He was listed as a “COVID death” because blood taken in the emergency room during attempted resuscitation tested positive for COVID-19.

Why Refining the ‘Case Fatality Rate’ Is Important

An implied high risk of death to the general population has been the justification for imposing pseudo-martial law: restrictions on movement, mandatory face masks, and loss of the right to work. COVID-19 has been portrayed more like Ebola — with its case fatality rate of 90 percent — than the seasonal flu with a CFR of approximately 0.2 percent.

The death rate from COVID-19 has been officially reported as 3.5 percent, implying that at least three out of 100 Americans who become infected will die. Yet this is an exaggeration.

A percentage is a ratio — a numerator divided by the denominator. The 3.5 percent is calculated as 145,982 “total deaths” divided by 4,163,892 “total cases.” As the denominator of any ratio increases, the percentage decreases. The denominator of total cases, of those with confirmed infection, include only those tested.

Tests are generally offered only to those who are symptomatic. When this author, 76 years young, went to get a COVID-19 test, he was turned away because he was not symptomatic. Asymptomatic infected persons are not included in the denominator of total cases.

population study in Santa Clara, California of healthy volunteers suggested that the actual case rate could be 50 to 85 times greater than officially reported total cases because of unreported, asymptomatic infected individuals. Using 208,199,100 (50 times 4,163,892) as the denominator for the case rate, the death risk for the general population becomes 0.07 percent, that is, seven out of 10,000 healthy Americans who become infected with COVID-19 will die, similar to the flu.

Protection Against COVID-19

A human body protects itself against viral infection by developing an immune defense: antibodies, attack cells, and often both. Those who do not become ill when infected with a virus, any virus, either have a prompt and highly effective immune response or are healthy persons without a serious pre-existing medical condition that predisposes them to illness and death.

Reports have surfaced, including official statements, questioning whether COVID-19 infection will produce a lasting protective immune response. Some claim that antibodies fade quickly. There’s reporting that an Israeli physician had COVID-19 infection twice and that there is no immunity post-infection. Still another report mused, “so long to herd immunity hopes?”

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control is testing convalescent serum, from patients who recovered from COVID-19 infection, to treat those currently ill. They presume that infused antibodies will help sick individuals fight off the virus.

Humans develop immunity to a virus either naturally or artificially. Natural immunity occurs when the live virus infects someone and that person’s body does what nature commands: it builds an immune response. Artificial immunity is the result of vaccination, where a synthetically produced medicine mimics the infection and essentially “tricks” the body into thinking there is a live virus when there is none. As such, the body responds to vaccination with a similar reaction as though a live virus were present.

When enough people become immune, what results is what is often referred to as “herd immunity.” In such a scenario, a large enough number of immune people can “surround” a non-immune person so the virus cannot get through the defensive herd to attack the nonimmune individual. Quarantine has the same effect: it isolates the individual so the virus cannot get to the at-risk person to infect him or her and cause illness.

The United States has placed its hope for an end to this pandemic in a COVID-19 vaccine currently in phase III clinical trials. Washington has purchased 100 million doses of a yet-to-be-proven vaccine produced by a partnership of Pfizer and BioNTech.

We Must Resolve the Confusion

The official narrative about COVID-19 has two fundamental contradictions. Americans deserve to have these inconsistencies resolved based on well-vetted medical evidence, not made to fit some political ideology or agenda.

First, we need to fully investigate and discover whether infection — natural or artificial by vaccination — confer lasting immunity, or not? If it does, then social distancing, personal protective equipment, and lockdown prevent the development of herd immunity and will prolong the pandemic. If an infection does not confer lasting immunity, why did the United States spend $1.95 billion on a vaccine that won’t protect us?

Second, the chance of death due to COVID infection has been inflated to resemble Ebola or bubonic plague when in fact, the health risk to the general, healthy population may be closer to the seasonal flu. Should the U.S. response to COVID be: (a) Social distancing, personal protective equipment, mandated masks, economic shutdown and hope a vaccine will work; or (b) Release the American populace for all normal social and work activities, allow the development of herd immunity to end the pandemic, and in the short term, offer strict quarantine to the small, high-risk group who have serious pre-existing medical conditions?

Either way, the American public, and the world need answers — real ones. Getting to the truth, however, means first untangling the mess of misinformation we’ve been fed.

Deane Waldman, MD MBA, is Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Pathology and Decision Science and author of "Curing the Cancer in U.S. Healthcare: StatesCare and Market-Based Medicine."

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