WARNING: The COVID project announced record testing, which leads to record “cases”, i.e. positives. The may move to mandatory quarantines in some places because of the political situation using the doom as an excuse.
Robert Yoho is a physician who did not panic.
My friend Stan Cohen is terrified of Coronavirus, and he plies us with horrifying stories. Although he is a professional with a graduate degree, statistics are not his specialty. Stan and everyone else are being tutored by talking heads who know no more math than a house cat.
The pundits throw around surrogate disease measures such as testing results, hospitalizations, and infection rates. These measures distort conclusions for several reasons. First, the COVID test identifies only half of those with active disease. Second, people briefly infected with a minor or asymptomatic variant seldom get tested. Third, the numbers of tests being done has increased, so we are identifying more and more of these inconsequential cases along with some who have already recovered. There is no way to be sure any of these surrogates are valid without purposefully infecting and then studying a sizable group, which is too dangerous.
The only reliable, hard endpoint to evaluate the pandemic is deaths due to the disease. Although this may be confounded by factors either way, it is what we care about most. It is not a questionable surrogate—we can count bodies. But even this figure may be distorted, propped up by political machinations. It is hard to be sure.
Deaths due to other seasonal viral illnesses give us some perspective. These kill 291,000 to 646,000 people worldwide every year. Also, pandemics occur every few decades:
COVID (by Oct 2020): 881,000 deaths
Flu pandemic 2009: 284,000 deaths (CDC)
Hong Kong flu (1968): 1-4 million deaths
Asian flu (1956-8): 1.5-2 million deaths
Spanish flu (1918-9): 20-50 m deaths
Even death numbers, however, are just the relative risk of dying from COVID alone. Every day, 8,500 pass away in the US and 156,000 die worldwide. Violence, suicide, and many other complex factors are in play; the current pandemic is only one variable and not the biggest one. Restricted access to medical care might decrease mortality.
This fatality rate from all causes, the all-important absolute fatalities, is likely unaffected by Coronavirus, lost in statistical “noise” or variation. Since COVID primarily affects the elderly and the infirm, many people are just dying a few months early. No one denies that this is an aggressive disease, but the total fatalities from all causes might be the same or close to the same in 2020 as any other year.
The media brainwashes us with surrogates instead of the hard endpoint of death, and they spout relative risk rather than absolute risk—the identical deceptions used by medical journals. It is all done for the money. The press uses panic to sell advertising and the journals use lies to sell drugs.
What about the costs? How much is a human life is worth? A NY Times article describes how this is calculated. The higher guesstimates are one to two million dollars, and a year’s life extension might be worth $200,000. These numbers are determined using cancer treatments, vaccine analyses, and other methods.
What does it cost for each life saved from Coronavirus using masks, quarantines, social distancing, and so on? Assume we will end up saving 200,000 US lives through these efforts. We have spent trillions of dollars and are going to have trillions more in economic losses. Type the following into Google: five trillion dollars divided by 200,000. The answer is $25 million for each life saved. Change the assumption to 500,000 lives saved, which is absurdly high. Each life still costs $10 million. Even if you assume 5 million lives are saved by social distancing and the other measures, we would be spending a quarter of our $20 billion gross domestic product to save 1/60th of our population. Another disaster like this, and we could not feed ourselves, let alone have money for healthcare. This expense—and it is ongoing—dwarfs any other healthcare story I have ever heard.
Frightening the public by telling them diseases are increasing is standard practice in cancer marketing. Typically, the fatality rates, which is the best measure of any tumor’s actual occurrence, has been unchanged for decades. Thyroid cancer, for example, is being discovered much more often, as seen in the top line of the graph below, but there is no change in the death rate since 1992, which is the lower line:
One explanation could be that we are curing more cancers and saving more lives, but this is impossible—most of our treatments are ineffective or barely effective. Just like COVID, these diseases are being discovered earlier and earlier by aggressive screening. This accounts for the increase in numbers. We promote anxiety, and we sell drugs. Most of the newly discovered tumors would go nowhere, even without treatment.
In South Korea, ultrasonic screening diagnosed 15,000 people with thyroid cancer, resulting in thousands of radical thyroidectomies, all of which required lifelong thyroid hormone replacement. The surgery caused vocal cord damage in two percent. However, mortality rates were rock-stable. This is proof that this early diagnosis had no benefit and harmed some.
Kidney cancer shows a similar pattern. Increases in diagnosis (top line) make the incidence seem to rise, but this has helped no patients. The cancer deaths (lower line) are the same year over year from 1992 to 2014.
Melanoma is the only skin cancer that routinely metastasizes and kills people. The dermatologists almost universally refer these cases to plastic surgeons for removal and then to oncologists for chemotherapy. Few skin doctors want to get involved with a fatal disease.
But when the dermatologists became cancer slayers, they began crying about the exploding numbers of melanomas along with the other skin tumors. As a result, they discovered so many that they made the claim that melanomas were increasing faster than any other cancer. This epidemic now seems to be on the point of slaughtering anyone who dares to walk outside in sunlight.
Left unsaid was that small, early tumors require only a simple procedure rather than an overpriced, supposedly complicated plastic surgery. Treating low-grade (thin) melanomas in seniors does not prolong their lives, either. However, once discovered, since progression into a fatal disease is unpredictable, they are cut off.
Because of all this, far more melanomas are being identified, but the total deaths are not increasing. Like thyroid and kidney cancer, the disease-specific mortality for melanoma has not gone up one iota. All the extra procedures to chase them, however, cost us time, pain, money, and anxiety.
The top line on the graph below is the number of tumors being found. The lower line is the number of deaths, which are unchanged (National Cancer Institute).
A generous observer might say that the above analysis has not entered the dermatologic consciousness and that there are no wrongdoings here. But the specialty’s ringleaders understand it—they orchestrated the entire thing. And they made the story terrifying through disease-mongering.
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- . National Cancer Institute
- . Gilbert Welch, MD, described the debacle in the NEJM (2014).
- . National Cancer Institute
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