“Wait two weeks,” the political appointee who heads the CDC said, repeating the Safety First Mantra. “Wear your masks and the Dreaded Delta will subside. Our new The Science, which you must believe, says so.”
I might have got the quote wrong in detail. But it’s right in spirit.
I did, however, get right their new The Science report. And it’s perfect.
A perfect example of how The Science is conducted these days. Which is to say, badly. The conclusion foregone, the assumptions unverified, the methods shoddy, the results political.
The new report, from which the mandate to wear masks again was drawn, is “Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 Infections, Including COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Infections, Associated with Large Public Gatherings — Barnstable County, Massachusetts, July 2021”.
This report is ostensibly about the Dreaded Delta variant, and you’d think the CDC researchers would take care to see where and how people became infected, especially because of the mask mandates and vexxine panic.
(I use vexxine and not the real spelling to save us from being banned by censor bots.)
Not so. They winged it.
During July 3–17, 2021, multiple summer events and large public gatherings were held in a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, that attracted thousands of tourists from across the United States. Beginning July 10, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH) received reports of an increase in COVID-19 cases among persons who reside in or recently visited Barnstable County, including in fully vaccinated persons. Persons with COVID-19 reported attending densely packed indoor and outdoor events at venues that included bars, restaurants, guest houses, and rental homes.
Goodness! People reported going to restaurants. Therefore, they must have got the Dreaded Delta with their side of fries. Solution? Mask mandates!
Now it might be true that some, or even all, of the people they measured got the DD at both indoor and outdoor “events” in this one particular spot, or they might have got it elsewhere. They might have all got it the old-fashioned way, by person-to-person contact in myriads of ways and locations, i.e. all the ways in which people make contact with one another. Who knows?
I’ll tell you who doesn’t know. The CDC. This hand-waving about transmission path isn’t enough to damn the study, but it’s sloppy. This circumstantial evidence is assumed to be conclusive.
Regular readers have had it drummed into them that a “case”, as our Experts use that word, is not a case in the old-fashioned medical sense. Before 2020 in medicine, a case was an infected person who sought or required treatment. Today, a “case” is a positive test, a possible infection. True cases used to be separated from infections. Not anymore. Now panic rules and everything must be made to appear as bleak as possible.
The CDC grabbed a sample, with scant details of its completeness or sourcing, and with an embarrassing non-reporting of the total sample possible. There is no “N” in this study! They grabbed a sample from the Massachusetts Depart of Public Health, not knowing how many people were exposed or could have been infected, or were vexxed or unvexxed. They therefore could not compute infection rates. Which is necessary and crucial when you are, like the CDC is, making claims about the transmissibility of the DD. Bad.
Then “COVID-19 cases were matched with the state immunization registry.” Jabs out-of-state wouldn’t appear, but let that pass. They only kept “breakthrough” samples, which had to be people who admitted travel to or living in that above county within two weeks of a certain date. Why not grab everybody in the registry with the relevant dates? Obviously weak.
“[A] total of 469 COVID-19 cases” were sequenced. Only “346 (74%) persons with COVID-19 reported symptoms consistent with COVID-19”. That makes 26% of the possible infections asymptomatic. Huge! Why no reporting on this?
After that, the real comedy (in Dante’s sense) begins (my emphasis). Of these 469
Five were hospitalized; as of July 27, no deaths were reported. One hospitalized patient (age range = 50–59 years) was not vaccinated and had multiple underlying medical conditions. Four additional, fully vaccinated patients aged 20–70 years were also hospitalized, two of whom had underlying medical conditions.
So only one unvexxed guy who was already ill was hospitalized. The other four who were admitted were vexxed. It seems only two total hospitalizations might have been due to the coronadoom. The CDC did not say. Hiding something are we, CDC?
Using classical statistics methods, which of course I reject, this would paint a very bad picture of vexxination.
Nobody died. And only two vexxed out of 469 people might have been hospitalized for coroandoom.
This cannot, in any way, be used as strong evidence of the danger of the Dreaded Delta. Or, indeed, of the coronadoom in general now (of course, accepting the vexxination status of this sample and of others etc.).
Does this paper stink? Is it rotten science?
Don’t answer! There’s more!
This research is about the DD. They only got sequencing on 133 people, not all 469, and of these 133, in 13 “sequencing was not successful”. Only 120, out of 469, were known to be the DD.
Here’s the most hilarious sentence, “Among the 469 cases in Massachusetts residents, 346 (74%) occurred in persons who were fully vaccinated”. Meaning 26% were those not “fully” vexxinated. (If you think “fully” need scares quotes now, just wait. Right, vaccine-passport France?)
The CDC does, at least, provide a breakdown of vex manufacturer, but owning to the lack of N, of both the population of vexxed and unvexxed, it is of little use.
Thus endth the data analysis. Now come the recommendations drawn from that analysis. They say.
On July 27, CDC released recommendations that all persons, including those who are fully vaccinated, should wear masks in indoor public settings in areas where COVID-19 transmission is high or substantial. Findings from this investigation suggest that even jurisdictions without substantial or high COVID-19 transmission might consider expanding prevention strategies, including masking in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status, given the potential risk of infection during attendance at large public gatherings that include travelers from many areas with differing levels of transmission.
You will search in vain for any evidence of the efficacy of masks or vexxination in the data. Yet they were still, by some medical miracle, able to infer both work.
I believe the Irish word to describe the work of our Experts is shite.
(We’re still doing the regular update tomorrow.)
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