Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.

Early March Did Not Predict the Future

Certain adamant coronavirus declarations look foolish now.

compare early March to April 7-May 7, when the coronavirus claimed more than 2,000 American lives on each of 19 separate days – click for source

It’s easy to misunderstand the danger that infectious diseases pose. Here’s conservative commentator John Hinderaker on March 20th (a mere 61 days ago):

In the last 21 days, approximately 162,000 Americans have died. Of that number, 150 were killed by the Wuhan virus. If governments at all levels had done nothing, other than eliminating regulatory barriers to the deployment of already-existing medicines, would the virus have killed more Americans? Yes, that is what flu bugs do. Would it kill more than the 13,000 or so who have died from this year’s seasonal flu virus? Who knows? More than the estimated 80,000 who were killed by the flu in the U.S. just two years ago? I doubt it: world-wide, it has killed only a little more than one-tenth that number. [bold added; see March 20th data here]

The wisdom of various government responses to the coronavirus will be debated for many years. Hinderaker’s view that economic shutdowns carry their own, heavy price was fair enough. But he clearly had no idea what this virus was capable of.

If he were in charge, he’d have done nothing more than eliminate regulatory barriers. His big mistake was imagining that the 150-person US death toll during the first three weeks of March was a reliable guide to the future. It now exceeds 93,500.

Who knows, wrote Hinderaker 61 days ago, if the coronavirus will kill more than the 13,000 US flu victims. It has now claimed seven times that number.

Hinderaker doubted the virus would kill more than the “estimated 80,000 who were killed by the flu in the U.S. just two years ago.” Wrong again. (Those flu statistics are highly questionable, but that’s another story.)

61 days ago, Hinderaker dismissed and downplayed this virus. In his words, government-imposed lockdowns were an “insane overreaction” given that a mere 8,000 or so people had perished worldwide. Since he penned those words, global deaths have officially surpassed 325,000.

OFFICIAL/CONFIRMED CORONAVIRUS DEATHS

ITALY SPAIN FRANCE US UK BRAZIL RUSSIA total deaths
world wide
14th Feb. 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1,523
14th Mar. 1441 195 91 57 21 0 0 5,821
14th Apr. 21,067 18,056 15,729 25,924 12,107 1,532 170 126,066
14th May
31,368 27,321 27,425 88,873 33,614 13,993 2,305 303,024

Between April 7th and May 7th, this virus claimed more than 2,000 American lives on each of 19 separate days (see the chart at the top of this post). That’s with sporting events, music concerts, cinemas, political rallies, and St. Patrick’s Day parades all shut down.

We will never know how many more infections, ICU admissions, long term disabilities, or funerals would have resulted had Hinderaker been the person making the decisions. What’s clear is that his analysis back in March wasn’t rooted in deep research or genuine understanding. It didn’t rest on a solid grasp of the history of infectious disease.

Hinderaker’s remarks were merely an expression of his own political worldview, his personal abhorrence of government interference in economic life. Which makes him no different from others who mistook their own worldview for reality.

Remember back in early March, when left-wing New York City officials were telling residents there was nothing to worry about? The mayor said the city was “fully prepared to respond” to the coronavirus. Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot insisted “appropriate measures” were being taken to prevent its spread, and that New Yorkers were “at low risk.”

“As we confront this emerging outbreak,” she continued, “we need to separate facts from fear, and guard against stigma and panic” (bold added).

screen grab from the Johns Hopkins virus website; 6:26 am, 20 May 2020 (click)

More than 20,000 people have since perished in NYC from this virus. The suffering has been immense. To date, that jurisdiction is America’s most deadly hotspot. Might this be connected to the fact that, blinded by her leftist worldview, the city’s Health Commissioner thought anti-Asian stigma was the big issue?

Moral of this story: Ideological blind spots have deadly consequences. It’s hard work seeing the world as it really is.

 

 

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FURTHER INFO:

  • six years ago, Canadian journalist Lawrence Solomon, alerted us to the dubious nature of official flu statistics in, Don’t Believe Everything You Read About Flu Deaths.
  • similarly, physician Jeremy Faust, in Comparing COVID-19 Deaths to Flu Deaths Is like Comparing Apples to Oranges, writes: “in four years of emergency medicine residency and over three and a half years as an attending physician, I had almost never seen anyone die of the flu. I could only remember one tragic pediatric case. Based on the CDC numbers though, I should have seen many, many more…I decided to call colleagues around the country who work in other emergency departments and in intensive care units to ask a simple question: how many patients could they remember dying from the flu? Most of the physicians I surveyed couldn’t remember a single one over their careers. Some said they recalled a few. All of them seemed to be having the same light bulb moment I had already experienced: For too long, we have blindly accepted a statistic that does not match our clinical experience.”
  • physician Richard Levitan, in The Infection That’s Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients, offers crucial insight into the devilish nature of this virus, “Normally an [Emergency Room] has a mix of patients with conditions ranging from the serious, such as heart attacks, strokes and traumatic injuries, to the non-life-threatening, such as minor lacerations, intoxication, orthopedic injuries and migraine headaches. During my recent time at [New York City’s Bellevue Hospital], though, almost all the E.R. patients had Covid pneumonia…Even patients without respiratory complaints had Covid pneumonia. The patient stabbed in the shoulder, whom we X-rayed because we worried he had a collapsed lung, actually had Covid pneumonia. In patients on whom we did CT scans because they were injured in falls, we coincidentally found Covid pneumonia. Elderly patients who had passed out for unknown reasons and a number of diabetic patients were found to have it. And here is what really surprised us: These patients did not report any sensation of breathing problems, even though their chest X-rays showed diffuse pneumonia and their oxygen was below normal.”
  • there’s good reason to suspect that official tallies undercount global virus deaths. See this Financial Times analysis, Global coronavirus death toll could be 60% higher than reported and this analysis by The Economist: Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries
  • my previous commentary, How NYC’s Leaders Betrayed the Public

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