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An Economic Shutdown Based On... What?

Coronavirus map
What a difference a week makes!

When I wrote my last report on April 6, the nation’s leaders were still basing their decisions on coronavirus computer “models” that were unchallenged.  I sought to show that the foreign statistics that formed the basis for these models ranged from unreliable to useless, and said I would next look at the statistics on coronavirus in the United States.

Today there is widespread skepticism about the statistical projections of these epidemiological models, even when we confine ourselves to the statistics about deaths, which are the most verifiable.  Maybe not on MSNBC and most of CNN, but then they live in their own universe.  There is evidence, however, that our political and financial establishments are becoming alarmed that we have crippled the economy on the basis of nonsense.

Take, for example, Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s highbrow Sunday “GPS” show.  I consider him to be CNN’s brightest light (granted, that bar is set very low) and tune in every Sunday to see what my real rulers (not the elected ones) want me to believe—they are the rarefied circles in which he travels.

Last Sunday (April 12) Fareed opened his commentary this way: “Something important is happening as the coronavirus crisis continues.  Estimates of its lethality keep going down.”  And his opening commentary concluded: “We have shut down the economy based on models, understandably worried about worst-case scenarios.  But models are only as good as the data.”

He expanded on this theme in his weekly Washington Post column of April 9.  America’s most influential coronavirus model (described as such by the Post elsewhere) is the one created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.  And Fareed noted that the IHME model had made more than five revisions in two weeks, suggesting a fatality rate now similar to that of seasonal flu (something I had pointed out in my first pandemic report of March 26).

Zakaria conveniently omitted noting that the IHME and its model were created and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—and Bill Gates wants a long-term nationwide lockdown of the American economy.  (“Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country’s leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere.“)

And the Washington Post (certainly not a peddler of conservative “conspiracy theories”) says this Bill Gates-spawned IHME model  “embraces an entirely different statistical approach, taking the trending curve of deaths from China, and ‘fitting’ that curve to emerging death data from U.S. cities and counties to predict what might come next.”  As I noted in my Pandemic Report No. 2, those Chinese statistics are bogus—nothing but propaganda put out for gullibles by the ruling Communist Party.

In short, America’s most influential coronavirus model bases its U.S. projections on bogus statistics supplied by the Communist Party of China.

And that’s just the beginning.

How Reliable are the American Death Statistics?

To begin with, there’s reason to be concerned about overstatement of coronavirus deaths, since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is instructing medical staff to report deaths as COVID-19 deaths even when no test has confirmed the presence of the disease.  In a March 24 Q and A on death certificates published by the CDC, it advises: “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” (emphasis added).

Note the word “contributed.”  We have conclusive evidence that the overwhelming number of people who have succumbed to the coronavirus had underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or chronic lung disease—conditions that are also present in many who die of influenza.  It is reasonable to suspect that many who are listed as “coronavirus deaths” would have died anyway from pneumonia or influenza.  (Note that as of April 6, New York City’s health department attributed 2,475 deaths to COVID-19.  But only 46 of those victims had no underlying health conditions.)

Dr. Deborah Birx, of President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force, confirms this approach in blaming the virus.  At the April 7 briefing, she said: “We’ve taken a very liberal approach to mortality…if someone dies with COVID-19 we are counting that as a COVID-19 death.”

But dying “with” a disease is not the same as dying “from” it.  Just as many who have COVID-19 show no symptoms or mild symptoms of it, the same is true of older men and prostate cancer.  As the saying goes, if you don’t die “of” prostate cancer you die “with” it.  And the presence of that prostate cancer is not the cause of your death.

Dr. John Lee, a former consultant pathologist to Britain’s National Health Service, explains it this way: “COVID-19 might have been the final straw, but it has not caused their deaths.”

Then there are the unexplained discrepancies in bureaucratic figures.  On April 4, one post on the CDC site confirmed 1,889 deaths due to COVID-19, while a separate CDC post said there were 8,910 deaths.  Which one are we to believe?  Can we believe any of their mortality figures?

Even Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx Seem to Be Confused

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx are now the two best-known doctors in America.  They come to us every day in our living rooms, where most of us are now confined, as the top medical authorities in the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

They have stellar reputations as long-term government medical bureaucrats, but if they seem confused by the statistics they rely on, who can ordinary citizens trust?  And they do seem confused and inconsistent in their messages, which only adds to the fear of the general population.

That’s not a good thing.  Unnecessary fear and panic are resulting in over-reaction that can cripple the strongest economy the world has ever seen.  That, in turn, will create a health disaster far greater than the coronavirus could inflict.

If only they would admit consistently that they are flying blind in this pandemic, forego the worst-case projections based on bogus models that the corrupt media love to trumpet, and restrict their advice to common-sense public health suggestions such as social distancing.  Then we as a nation could combine their medical advice with the advice from experts in the private sector, and possibly devise some common-sense policies to guide us through this crisis.

Dr. Fauci seems to be candid about this in private.  According to the Washington Post (April 2), and “according to two officials with direct knowledge of it,” he said at a task force meeting: “I’ve looked at all the models.  I’ve spent a lot of time on the models.  They don’t tell you anything.  You can’t really rely upon models.”

His public statements and projections, however, have been all over the map.  On March 15, he told Jon Karl on ABC that the U.S. could expect up to 1.7 million coronavirus deaths, though this is “unlikely if we do the kinds of things that we’re essentially outlining right now.”  But then, just two weeks later on March 29, he downgraded his worst-case scenario to 100,000-200,000 U.S. deaths from the coronavirus.  That’s a downward revision of 88% to 94% in two weeks!   Yet we are supposed to take him seriously when he says a few days later (April 2) that mitigation restrictions should stay in place until there are “no new cases, no new deaths”—which would undoubtedly be at least a year to two years, with the death of the American economy.

Adding to the confusion, Dr. Fauci seemed to be asleep at the wheel for a long time.

January 21 (to Newsmax TV): “This is not a major threat for the people of the United States.  And this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.”

February 26: Asked on NBC’s Today Show for advice on going to the mall, and movies, and maybe the gym, he says “right now at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day-by-day basis.”

March 9: “If you are a healthy young person, there is no reason if you want to go on a cruise ship, go on a cruise ship.”  (Technically that may be okay advice for a young, healthy person, but it overlooks the extremely unhealthy conditions on a cruise ship during a pandemic, and whether they will be able to get off the ship.  At the least his statement lacked nuance.)

Then, on April 11, in an interview with Fox News’ Jesse Watters, he claims it was “in January” that he believed the virus was a problem Americans needed to worry about.  That revelation apparently happened sometime after January 21 (see above).

Dr. Fauci’s inconsistencies are mirrored by those of Dr. Birx.

On March 29 she said all of the models predicted there would have been between 1.6 million and 2.2 million deaths in the United States without a lockdown.  She gave no specifics, and of course this is a claim that cannot be substantiated because the U.S. did mitigate.  But if you look at the charts giving the number of deaths so far, you can see how wild this claim was.

Relying on that IHME model, she said the next day (March 30) that “the model [projects] between 80,000 and 160,000, maybe even potentially 200,000 people succumbing to this.”  That number then dwindled to 61,000 by April 8.  The lower projection, she said, was due not to flaws in the model but because of public mitigation: “That is modeled on what America is doing.” But hold on:  When she had earlier used those much higher numbers, she had also said: ”That’s with mitigation.  In that model, they make full assumption that we continue doing exactly what we’re doing, in every metro area with a level of intensity.”   Like Dr. Fauci, she wants us to forget what she said earlier.

I am not saying that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx are consciously lying to the American public.  I think they simply cannot admit that for all practical purposes they are flying blind.  They cannot admit that because they are career professionals who are supposed to know these things.  The result is zig-zag confusion and inconsistency on their part.

That is a very human deficiency.  What is inexcusable is the media’s fawning over them in the hope of creating conflict between President Trump and his top medical advisors, and using the worst-case projections from flawed models to scare the American people into shutting down the economy and suspending our constitutional and civil liberties.  For evidence that this is senseless overreaction, see the two charts below.

Worldometer Chart

Worldometer presents the most detailed breakdown of coronavirus cases, deaths, and much more.  For the full chart listing all nations, see here.  And below is how the United States compares with some of the European countries you’ve heard about, in terms of total deaths and (most importantly) deaths per 1 million population, as of April 14.  To compare oranges with oranges, you should not look at total deaths—those statistics constantly emphasized in the media—but rather deaths per 1 million population, since these countries have vastly different populations (and the U.S. is the largest among them).

Country                      Total Cases                Total Deaths              Deaths/1 Million

United States              587,155                       23,644                         71

Spain                           170,099                       17,766                         380

Italy                             159,516                       20,465                         338

France                         136,779                       14,967                         229

Germany                     130,072                       3,194                           38

UK                                88,621                         11,329                         167

Belgium                       30,589                         3,903                           337

Netherlands                26,551                         2,823                           165

Switzerland                 25,688                         1,138                           131

Sweden                        10,948                           919                            91

Luxembourg                 3,292                            69                           110

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

The flu statistics are taken from top establishment sources, and the coronavirus statistics are courtesy of the map and chart provided by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.  As of April 15, here are the comparisons.  I have removed the comparison for China since its reported figures are totally bogus and therefore irrelevant.

Worldwide: 650,000 deaths annually from the flu, 125,123 from the coronavirus (so far)

U.S.: Up to 61,000 deaths annually from the flu, 22,195+ deaths from the coronavirus (so far)

As you can see, horrible as the pandemic is, it still has a way to go before it is as lethal as the common flu, and there is hope that we are now on the downward side of the curve.  (The coronavirus death toll for the U.S. is given as an approximation because for some reason—presumably to save space—Johns Hopkins no longer provides statistics for U.S. states that have fewer than 15 deaths.  But the additional deaths would be low enough so that this comparison remains valid.)

This article first appeared on

David Franke’s Previous Articles on the Coronavirus Pandemic

How Big of a Threat Is the Coronavirus?  (March 26)

How Bad Has the Pandemic Been? How Bad Will It Be?  (April 6)

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