Drowning in Coronavirus Research, Part 22

By June 18, 2020 Commentary

First, I want to say that I probably over-reacted to the coronavirus briefing by MnDOH yesterday.  Here, however, is why I get so frustrated.  These people keep talking about being guided by the science and the data.  I track both extremely carefully and as completely as I can.  The science and the data both very clearly now say we don’t need lockdowns or shutdowns, and we can get by trusting people to protect themselves.  It is absolutely clear, and Minnesota is one of the best examples of this, that severe disease is limited to frail elderly and a few other people, almost always with significant pre-existing disease.  There is none, zero, nada, zilch justification for the kind of restrictions now mandated by our Dictator (I am not backtracking on that title).  It is particularly tragic to restrict the activities of school-age children.  It is also incredibly clear just how extensive the damage to jobs; business, especially small business, the health system, government finances, and people’s health and well-being has been from the extreme lockdowns.  The politicians who refuse to accept what the data and science clearly show, and adopt a more rational policy, are clearly doing so because they are trying to save face and don’t want to admit that they made a terrible mistake.  Hence my anger.

And here is the latest in a long line of research on age and coronavirus.   (Nat. Medicine Article)   The researchers found from a study of cases in several countries and developing models to explain the age grouping and seriousness of cases, that people under the age of 20 have about half the likelihood of becoming infected as do those over age 20.  And only 21% of children aged 10 to 19 have clinical symptoms.  Among other things this suggests they are very unlikely to be transmission agents, since it is also now clear that asymptomatic cases are much less likely to be spreaders.  Here is a finding directly relevant to the Minnesota epidemic model.  A model that did not vary the age susceptibility or seriousness of infection could not reproduce accurately the actual age distribution of cases, over-estimating the number of cases in children and under-estimating the number in older adults.  That is one of the exact flaws in the Minnesota model.

This Wall Street Journal column gives the reasons why lockdowns should just be completely ended now.  It eviscerates earlier work claiming that the deaths from the epidemic would impose a high economic cost and it notes the much greater cost of the lockdowns.  (WSJ Column)  It notes that estimates of the number of deaths supposedly saved by extreme lockdowns was far too high because basic social distancing achieved almost the same results.

And this Wall Street Journal article indicates that transmission of the virus doesn’t occur that easily.  (WSJ Article)  The article summarizes research suggesting that transmission is unlikely except from relatively close, extended person-to-person interactions.  And it takes a lot of virus to infect the average person.  So we may be going a little overboard on all the social distancing.

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