Why obsessing over COVID ‘cases’ causes needless panic and misleads the public
December 1, 2020 (American Thinker) — As many Americans recover from their “virtual Thanksgiving,” sharing prayers and turkey across the internet, the media is pushing their November propaganda narrative, that Dementia Joe really won the presidential election and that COVID cases are once again surging across America.
The Washington Post claims that Wuhan coronavirus cases are “skyrocketing” while the New York Times wails that “It has hit us with a vengeance.” Yet the media is oblivious, either ignorantly or deliberately, to the reality that positive tests are not the same thing as cases.
A “case” has a very specific definition, apparently beyond the intellectual realm of Wolf Blitzer or Neil Cavuto. The CDC provides a specific “case definition.” A case is not just a positive test. Instead, what is needed is "presumptive laboratory evidence AND either clinical criteria OR epidemiologic evidence." Notice the AND, meaning not simply a positive test.
The current COVID surges are positive tests, and even those are suspect, without regard to whether those who test positive are actually sick or not. I was curious about drive-by testing and last weekend gave it a whirl. It only took about 20 minutes and was free, meaning I got what I paid for. Results were promised within three days but took just over seven days to find out that I was virus free.
Given the sensitivity of the COVID PCR test, it is likely that some of those being tested, without any symptoms or exposure, will be reported as test positive and added to the case tickers running constantly on Fox News and CNN.
Saying someone with a positive COVID test is a “case” is fraudulent. For comparison, blood glucose has an upper test limit of 140. Is everyone above that number a diabetic? Even if they just ate a doughnut or ice cream cone before testing? Or does it take more than a single blood glucose level before one is diagnosed with diabetes? Does a single elevated blood pressure test make one hypertensive? Certainly not.
COVID is tested using PCR which amplifies any viral fragments found in the nose repeatedly until the test is positive. This is called the amplification cycle and the higher that number the more likely a positive test will be returned, even if it is clinically insignificant.
From that bastion of right-wing conspiracy, the New York Times,
The standard tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus.
Most of these people are not likely to be contagious, and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time.
The amplification cycle is the problem.
The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample. The greater the viral load, the more likely the patient is to be contagious.
With too high an amplification cycle, the PCR test is hyper-sensitive. Most commercial tests set this threshold at 40, whereas it would be more clinical meaningful if much lower, say at 30. Otherwise as the NY Times notes,
Tests with thresholds so high may detect not just live virus but also genetic fragments, leftovers from infection that pose no particular risk — akin to finding a hair in a room long after a person has left.
The CDC admits the test is too sensitive,
The CDC’s own calculations suggest that it is extremely difficult to detect any live virus in a sample above a threshold of 33 cycles.
In Massachusetts, from 85 to 90 percent of people who tested positive in July with a cycle threshold of 40 would have been deemed negative if the threshold were 30 cycles.
Garbage in, garbage out. With an overly sensitive test, almost 90 percent of the so-called surge is fake news, fear porn to justify unnecessary lockdowns and business closures.
This is easily understandable basic science and arithmetic, not string theory. If the CDC and NY Times can figure it out and acknowledge it, other “journalists” can as well and should be asking questions and providing caveats to their surge reporting rather than their typical hair on fire reactions.
Also unmentioned by the media is the fact that PCR testing was not designed as a test to screen for viral infection. Don’t take my word for it. That’s the opinion of Kary Mullis who invented PCR and won a Nobel Prize for his efforts.
Beyond cases, when we look at deaths, we see the same 3-card monte. Remember last spring when we heard about deaths rather than cases? Fox news had a death ticker sidebar just as they might have a Dow ticker running during the business day.
Death counts are back in vogue, each and every one blamed on President Trump, even the deaths cause by NY Governor Cuomo sending infected patients into nursing homes. We are told that COVID is killing hundreds of thousands.
Johns Hopkins University recently published a study which found,
In contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.
In other words, the same number of people died this year compared to last year, with the only variable this year being the Wuhan virus.
It seems deaths due to heart and respiratory disease, influenza, and pneumonia are down this year, the difference made up in deaths attributed to COVID, but the total number of deaths unchanged from last year to this year. Such a study is certainly inconvenient to the “shut it all down” narrative and not surprisingly John Hopkins deleted the study from their website.
Perhaps message crafting is related to financial contributions to Johns Hopkins, whether from China or the $1.8 billion from failed presidential candidate and Trump hater Michael Bloomberg. Hopkins’ motto is, “The truth will set you free.” But to paraphrase Orwell, some truths are more equal than others.
The ruling classes and their media allies are happy to play loose with COVID numbers, cherry picking and massaging the data to create fear. For many reasons.
COVID fear was used as an election campaign issue, blaming everything on Trump. It served as an excuse for mail-in ballots and last-minute changes to electoral laws favoring Sleepy Joe Biden. Shutdowns, masks, and distancing are a way of wannabe dictator governors to flex their power, lest the hoi polloi become restless and protest electoral fraud. In the quest for safety and security, American must relinquish freedom and liberty.
It’s almost as if this was all planned out, part of a grand scheme for the administrative state to subversively take over the government, rather than through free elections seeking the consent of the governed.
Keep your eye on the case numbers, which are simply positive tests, perpetuating the big con that things are far worse than they really are.
Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., is a Denver-based physician and freelance writer for American Thinker, Rasmussen Reports, and other publications. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Parler, and QuodVerum.
Published with permission from the American Thinker.