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How the organized Left got Covid wrong, learned to love lockdowns and lost its mind: an autopsy

It is hard to destroy your own cause and feel righteous while doing so, yet the American left has done it. After more than two centuries at the vanguard of the struggle for freedom, the American left, broadly defined, executed a volte face and embraced anti-working-class policies marketed as purely technical public health measures.
 
by Christian Parenti
 
Part 4 - Severity of the disease
 
The basic error of mainstream media hype is to conflate the “case fatality rate” (CFR) with the “death rate.” The number of known Covid “cases” is a function of testing; more testing means more cases are found. Thus, the denominator in the CFR depends on political, scientific, and economic choices. Up to 40 percent of Covid cases are totally asymptomatic and another 30 percent have only mild symptoms that can be confused with the common cold. Many of these asymptomatic and mild cases do not get recognized as Covid. 

Thus, the real measure of lethality is not the CFR but the “infection fatality rate” or IFR. That ratio must be estimated from large scale, statistically controlled, randomized testing. We now know that the IFR for Covid is basically low for anyone under 70, but it is rather high for those over 70. A total of 75 percent of Covid deaths have occurred among people over age 65; and 51 percent of the deaths occurred among people over age 75. In early 2021, The Bulletin of the World Health Organization published a Stanford-based epidemiologist’s overview study of 64 studies that used randomized serology sampling for antibodies; it found an infection fatality rate ranging from 0.00% to 1.54%. This study, found that, “In people younger than 70 years, infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 0.31%…”  

Among those over age 85, (the average US life expectancy is about 78 years) the infection fatality rate was very high. One study considered by the author found an IFR of 15% among over 85-year-olds, but most of the studies found much lower rates and thus the mean average was lower. Translation: the young have very little to fear from this disease, while the very old face very real risks. Policy should have reflected these facts, but it has not.

The author of that study, John Ioannidis, MD, MPH, Physician and Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Stanford University, has been attacked and censored simply for doing antibody research that suggested an IFR lower than that assumed in most headlines.  As Politico explained: “YouTube has been especially aggressive about pulling down speech that questions various coronavirus prevention measures. For instance, the company took down a March 2020 interview with John Ioannidis — a Stanford physician long known for skewering bad science — in which he questioned the quality of the data about COVID-19 death rates and called for more targeted responses to the pandemic.” 

The real IFR demonstrated by Ioannidis suggest that the approach called “focused protection” put forward in the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) – a statement drafted by several prominent epidemiologists that promoted an alternative strategy which sought to protect the most vulnerable, for example the elderly with pre-existing health problems, while minimizing the social harm of overly broad lockdowns – would have been the most effective public health strategy. But the left, like the liberal mainstream, immediately attacked “focused protection” not on the merits of the argument but with guilt by association – because the GBD was associated with a libertarian think tank.

The real IFR was becoming apparent by March of 2020 and it offered an opportunity for a policy course correction. But the pandemic was already hostage to the party politics of an extraordinarily weird election struggle.

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