Partisan virology

The Pan(ic)demic trolley problem
The controllers of the past


Nobody would be shocked by the revelation that Politics is partisan. There is nothing surprising about this poll:

…but the NBC panelists were all shocked about the response to the epidemic itself.
That democrats are more worried than republicans about their families getting sick, attending large gatherings, traveling or going to restaurants. How can this be, they ask, that republicans are not more worried? Then they come up with the standard answers: they must be brainwashed by the evil conservative media and the conspiracy theorists of the blogosphere. That is where their investigation and analysis ends. Conservatives are just stupid, evil and dangerous. More nuanced explanations would be too much to expect from the leftist media.

Clearly, there is a partisan divide and we should try too understand why. It may have something to do with the differences in our perception of reality. Our level of trust in different institutions. In the differences in our attitude toward solving problems; both in analyzing them and taking actions to solve them. Maybe it has something to do with our “Conflict of Visions”. Maybe it has something to do with our biological differences; the differences in the sizes of our Amygdala and Anterior Cingulate Cortex.

Maybe, just maybe, the partisan response to politics and virology are just correlations with underlying shared causes. But maybe, this would be a little too much for a leftist to contemplate. Considering the above possibilities would expose the need for the re-examination of their own biases. They would actually have to think and make difficult choices. Think about the consequences of those choices.
Maybe, just maybe, they would have to consider arguments and evidence and subject them to critical examination. It is so much easier to bash Trump and conservatives with lively performances of virtue signaling and moral indignation.

As days go by, the partisan divide seems to be growing.
It is getting too obvious that the cure is worse than the disease.
That the economic ills will be far more difficult to cure than the viral one.
That the numbers do not justify he reactions. That we are being lied to.

The Globe and Mail in an article asking for “….an outbreak of good leadership” declares:
But facts aren’t partisan. Science isn’t partisan. Virology isn’t partisan.

REALY?? What are the facts? Where is the science? What we have is, at best, guesses, theories and computer models. Models that are far less reliable than the ones predicting climate catastrophe.
Computer models that are constantly revised …….. make a wild guess in which direction!
All we would need is just a little bit of honesty to admit that we know next to nothing.

About two weeks ago, I offered a wager to some friends saying that this pandemic will not reach the average numbers (infected and dead) of the seasonal flu. The epidemic that we are prepared for every year, that we know and even have vaccines for. Now, I am starting to have doubts, as the evidence is mounting that numbers are fudged.
I have no idea how far this fudging can go.

The CDC, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines with the following instructions:

“COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death.”

Contemplate the implications. The keywords are ‘assumed’ and ‘contributed’. Neither means caused. Any death that could be even remotely connected to the virus should be reported with the virus named as the primary cause.
But NPR is doing even better in an article titled:
After Deaths At Home Spike In NYC, Officials Plan To Count Many As COVID-19

“New York City officials will begin to count suspected COVID-19 deaths in addition to cases confirmed by a laboratory, following a WNYC/Gothamist report revealing a staggering increase in the number of people dying at home but not included in the official tally because they hadn’t been tested for the novel coronavirus.”

….so it will be just assumed that any death above the average for the same period last year was caused by the virus. This is killing two birds with one stone. It could be argued, that the lock-down has many ways to victimize people. Especially those who are old, sick, and live alone.
In many cases, the major contributing cause could have easily been the difficulties associated with the lock-down.
To politicians (New York City officials) that fact does not matter. By attributing the deaths to the pandemic without ANY PROOF, they can inflate the impact of the crisis while also deflect the possible accusations about the harm caused by their policies imposed on the vulnerable.

The lock-down has a major effect on healthcare, but not necessarily the way we expected. According to the National Post, “Doctors still waiting for feared surge of COVID-19 patients in Canadian ICUs
78% of Canadian ICU beds are empty with the doctors twiddling their thumbs waiting for the critically ill. Their regular workload has been lightened by the cancellations of all elective surgeries.
Again, contemplate the implications. How many will die or be otherwise harmed by putting on hold medical services to accommodate the needs that did not materialize?

But none of these should really matter, because we have computer models that will tell us how many will die, right? Well, “COVID-19: Updated data implies that UK modelling hugely overestimates the expected death rates from infection

When an entire Italian town was tested, “What we learned is that 25 per cent had influenza-like symptoms, and 75 per cent were completely asymptomatic,” Crisanti said. “They were completely unaware.

Very few places do comprehensive testing. We have no way of knowing how many ‘influenza-like symptoms’ were judged to be Covid-19 cases and vice versa. We have no idea how many asymptomatic carriers walk among us; therefore, we know nothing about actual mortality rates.

It is all politics, based on speculation, it is therefore, quite understandably, all partisan.
The left wants to use the crisis to advance their pet project, socialism, while the right tries to advocate reason and the free market. The left wants government control, conformity, submission and compliance; the right wants to deal with the problem in the most effective way, finding the quickest path to herd immunity, removing regulatory barriers to the approval of drugs and other treatment options.

In a sane world, we could have reasonable discussions about our options.
In the one we live in, every question, every suggestion is turned into a partisan weapon. Numbers are distorted, models are manipulated, data is suppressed or misrepresented while all that matters is which side can provide a more convincing performance to their mostly captive audience, their political base.

But this circus performance, the juggling of numbers, the jumping through political hoops and the taming of the wild animal crowds, does not come without a price. The  final figure is difficult to imagine, but we will most certainly pay it for years, if not decades, to come. The pandemic is not our biggest problem. It is our response to it that is.



2 replies on “Partisan virology”

  1. zgh says:

    The virus is getting ever more dangerous:

  2. Gene says:

    Well said Zork. You ask many good questions that should prompt your readers to hold a skeptical and guarded view of the state’s intervention in our lives – it’s actual purpose rather than its stated objectives. Healthy skepticism is an essential perspective to hold  among our citizens in this modern era of excessive government authority and control. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.