Dr. Anthony Fauci spent the first weekend of the New Year running around on television, painting a dismal picture for 2021. On Meet the Press, he appeared to scold everyone for not adhering to Christmas gathering restrictions and let all you heathens know that the coming disaster is your fault. To combat an unmitigated disaster, he has some advice:
Rather than sit back and throw up our hands and say, “Oh my goodness, it’s getting worse,” we need to double down on some of the fundamental things that we talk about all the time, Chuck: the uniform wearing of masks, the physical distancing and the avoiding of congregate settings and crowds, particularly indoors.
How about this. If you don’t feel well, stay home, and isolate yourself from other household members. If you have a low-grade fever, muscle aches, or a scratchy throat, by all means, act out of an abundance of caution. In the early symptomatic phase of any respiratory disease, also called the prodromal phase, you may transmit it to others. However, a growing body of research demonstrates that asymptomatic people do not spread COVID-19 in any significant way.
It also shows that household spread, especially between spouses, is a significant transmission vector. According to a large 54-study meta-analysis, symptomatic patients transmit COVID-19 to their spouses nearly 40% of the time and another household member close to 20% of the time. An analysis in New York estimated approximately 1.43% of cases originated in restaurants and bars. By contrast, 75% came from the household.
Yet, at home is exactly where Dr. Fauci wants you to stay. In the same interview, he said he is not ruling out a national lockdown. Because lockdowns are working so well in Southern California. In response to a question from host Chuck Todd about the need for additional shutdowns, Fauci responded:
Well, I hope we don’t have to do the lockdown because of the, we all know, Chuck, how much COVID-19 fatigue there is of people just really being worn down with this. But we certainly need to enhance and make more uniform our public health measures. President-elect Biden has called for 100 days of everybody wearing a mask uniformly throughout the country. That’s really a good start. The idea about locking down is something you might have to do but you want to avoid….We hope we don’t have to do it nationwide.
I want to remind the good doctor that both California and New York have had mask mandates and severe restrictions for months. According to the CDC, California has the highest number of cases per 100,000 in the country at 98.8, and New York is 76.4. By contrast, Florida is 58.5, and Texas is 57.5 with optional masking and businesses open. At any rate, the constitutionality of such a move is in question. The differing results nationwide indicate the public health measures being taken do not correlate with disease spread in any significant way.
Finally, Dr. Fauci rejected comments President Trump tweeted:
The number of cases and deaths of the China Virus is far exaggerated in the United States because of [The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries, many of whom report, purposely, very inaccurately and low.
Fauci responded: “The numbers are real. We have well over 300,000 deaths. We are averaging two- to three thousand deaths per day.”
Neither man is completely correct, but President Trump is more so. The CDC’s method of collection and disease monitoring is ridiculous on several fronts. To begin with, the agency does not monitor COVID-19 deaths the same way they monitor deaths from influenza. As noted by Justin Hart:
Just had a revelation. The CDC calculates #'s for seasonal influenza primarily from hospital data: 61K deaths in 2018 from 800K hospitalizations, 22M doctor visits & 44M infections. If we narrow #COVID19 data to: lab-confirmed cases with hospital stays we get: 107K COVID deaths. pic.twitter.com/LaEskAvwyM
— Justin Hart (@justin_hart) January 4, 2021
The CDC data becomes even more dubious when you look at the number of deaths that actually include a COVID-19 symptom onset date. Over 61,000 do not indicate a date that symptoms began. Another 32,000 do not include a hospitalization date, which is odd, to say the least. These metrics are being monitored by every state and should not be difficult to report.
There is also widespread testing for asymptomatic hospitalized patients that does not happen with influenza. And the CDC’s own comorbidity data on COVID-19 deaths includes many terminal conditions and intentional and unintentional injuries such as suicide, falls, and auto accidents. While Hart’s assessment may not be perfect, a review of the data indicates his estimate is likely closer to reality than the publicized numbers.
An oversensitive PCR test also complicates widespread testing of hospitalized patients. Jaafar et al. showed that the ability to grow replication-competent virus for COVID-19 declines dramatically after a PCR cycle threshold of 30. Viral material must be capable of replicating to cause illness or be transmitted. Tests in the United States currently use a cycle threshold of 37, which amplifies viral RNA segments several times more, making false positives exponentially more likely. The New York Times has noted this glaring issue, with several prominent epidemiologists agreeing.
The same journalist just reported that the cycle threshold is very likely a proxy for disease severity. The lower the cycle threshold that COVID-19 is identified at, the more likely it is for someone to suffer severe symptoms. Taken together, the information on testing alone indicates death counts are likely inflated. PCR tests being taken in large numbers of hospitalized patients, who may well arrive for something not related to COVID-19, is a significant problem. To date, Florida is the only state requiring cycle thresholds to be reported on COVID-19 tests.
Dr. Fauci should know all of this information. If he doesn’t, he should be fired. If he doesn’t start sharing it with the American public, he should be ignored.