A Case of Malpractice
“Aha,” say the critics of my “Crisis Over” Prophecy last Thursday, posting a Wall Street Journal report by Daniel Michaels on April 22 titled “Mortality Rates Tell True Tale…” where he notes that “In parts of the US and Europe that have been hit hard, weekly fatalities from all causes are up by more than 25% in some places almost 80%.”
Look at the UK, look at Italy, look at Spain, and New York City. Look at the Netherlands. People are dying. Don’t you care?
Well, 2.8 million die every year in the U.S. As an octogenarian, I’ll die relatively soon, as will presumably at some point my 101–year–old mother. By contrast to these acute data points, 50,000 COVID deaths seem a mere fact of human life.
“If you don’t believe the virus is dangerous, why don’t you get down to a hospital and volunteer to take care of the victims?” the critics ask. And so on with the sneers and anecdotes of the Facebook hero polemicist.
Well, everyone doesn’t live in New York or Italy. The COVID patients in my local hospital number in the single digits and they don’t need an 80–year–old codger getting in the way of the pros.
Then I hear that I disdain the medical profession because I compared them to the “barbarians of specialization” in Ortega y Gasset’s masterpiece The Revolt of the Masses. Barbarians of specialization try to parlay a specific form of expertise into peremptory authority in areas where they are ignorant.
What did I mean? Addressing a particular patient, a physician observes the Hippocratic Oath. He wants to do no harm. He issues orders: Stay in bed, stay at home, go to the hospital, and avoid the workplace for a couple weeks. This is admirable and good advice for an individual patient.
My complaint is that today doctors are violating their oaths by addressing not individual patients, where a “stay–home” order is therapeutic, but the entire society. The same society where a stay–at–home order is suicide. In addition, it thwarts the very herd immunity that is necessary to end the epidemic.
The Argument is Over
Doctor Anthony Fauci and the rest are barbarians of specialization. Great physicians in particular cases they “do harm” rampantly in the society at large. The barbarians at Harvard School of Public Health tell us we can’t open up until we have increased testing some 13 thousand–fold. This is simply malpractice.
Also malpracticing in a more marginal way is Michael’s Wall Street Journal story. It presents a series of graphs comparing COVID spikes with previous five–year–averages and all–mortality spikes in the hit–hardest places. Then it compares spikes this year with the same week in previous years. Hey, it’s worse this year for the hit–hardest.
That’s what diseases do. They spike in different places and times in different patterns. They relent through herd immunity, sun, and air. Comparing the spikes of deaths this year with the same weeks in previous years with different patterns is a debating point with little or no relevance to the argument. It is slovenly journalism.
As I wrote previously, the US death rate from all causes as compiled by the CDC is lower this year than it was in 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2015. It is higher than it was in 2016. The death rate always declines in January, well before the mid–March lock in, so the politicians cannot claim credit for the death dearth.
It all becomes clearer in a global study published this week in Israel by Professor Isaac Ben–Israel, chairman of the Israeli Space Agency and Council on Research and Development. Ben–Israel shows that “the spread of the coronavirus declines to almost zero after 70 days — no matter where it strikes, and no matter what measures governments impose to try to thwart it.”
“Rapid increase in infections that reaches a peak in the sixth week and declines from the eighth week — is common to all countries in which the disease was discovered, regardless of their response policies: some imposed a severe and immediate lockdown that included not only “social distancing” and banning crowding, but also shutdown of economy (like Israel); some “ignored” the infection and continued almost a normal life (such as Taiwan, Korea or Sweden), and some initially adopted a lenient policy but soon reversed to a complete lockdown (such as Italy or the State of New York). Nonetheless, the data shows similar time constants amongst all these countries in regard to the initial rapid growth and the decline of the disease. For example, our calculations show that the pattern of the daily new infections as a percentage of accumulated number of infections (weekly averaged), is common to every country around the globe. Typically, in the first phase of the spread, this percentage amounted around 30%, decreased to a level of less than 10% after six weeks, and ultimately reached a level of less than 5% a week later.”
That’s what I’ve been saying. I think the argument is over.
Get back to work and investing, folks. Leave this ghastly self–inflicted wound behind us. And be careful not to duplicate it with the ritual self–abuse of the climate change cult.
Editor, Gilder’s Daily Prophecy