Three recent medical reports. The first is from Science. A conference held by Biogen in February of this year was a superspreader event. Phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in Boston highlights the impact of superspreading events reports the spread of SARS-CoV-2 following an international business conference in at the Marriott Long Wharf on Feb 26-27. By the time the outbreak was recognized the participants had long since returned to their home bases. By characterizing the virus’s genotype the Harvard based investigators were able to show that the allele came from Europe, likely France, and that it rapidly spread throughout the bay area, then Massachusetts, the USA, and the rest of the world. As many as 300,000 cases in the US may trace to this conference. Of course, we didn’t know very much about COVID-19 back then and it’s hard to assign Biogen any blame for this unfortunate outcome.
All-Cause Excess Mortality and COVID-19–Related Mortality Among US Adults Aged 25-44 Years, March-July 2020 is the title of a study just published by the JAMA. It’s an example of interesting data inadequately analyzed. Consider this passage from the study: “Only 38% of all-cause excess deaths in adults aged 25 to 44 years recorded during the pandemic were attributed directly to COVID-19. Although the remaining excess deaths are unexplained, inadequate testing in this otherwise healthy demographic likely contributed. These results suggest that COVID-19–related mortality may have been underdetected in this population.”
The conclusion that COVID-19 mortality may be underdetected is possible. However, there is an alternative which seems at least as likely as the one offered by the authors of this report. The aggressive mitigatory measures imposed by governments at all levels doubtless exerted a price. Both mental and physical health were negatively affected by the lockdowns forced on an unwilling populace. How big is uncertain, but it could well explain at least part of the excess mortality not directly linked to infection by the virus. The failure to consider this possibility is proof of unconscious (I think) bias on the part of both the authors and journal’s editorial process.
For example, the CD reports that fatal overdose deaths have increased in the US over the past 12 months. How many of these deaths are due to isolation and and the absence or late arrival of help that could have prevented death is impossible to quantitate. But there is no doubt that a high price has been paid to lessen the harm from the virus. In my expert opinion, this price is far too high. The leaders of our various administrative units have been both ill advised and enthralled by unheard of power in a supposedly free democracy/republic that they have usurped unheard of jurisdictions that caused harm that may never be undone.
Now for something entirely different. The New England Journal of Medicine used to be a serious medical publication. Over recent decades, from the time Arnold Relman was editor-in-chief the NEJM has drifted so far to port that if the world were flat it would have fallen off its 2700 edge. On December 12 it published Failed Assignments — Rethinking Sex Designations on Birth Certificates. Its title tell you pretty much what the article advocates – dropping sex assignment on birth certificates. You might think that the piece would be more properly published by the Journal of Irreproducible Results or Mad Magazine, but given the current worldview of the NEJM its found its comfortable nest. I don’t think the authors have gone far enough. After a period of deep reflection, the next step would be to stop assigning parents. Then there’s no need for a birth certificate. The final two steps are the neatest of all. Do away with births and make all children who somehow still managed to make it into the world genderless wards of the state.
How are we actually going to do all of this? Simple. We’ll form a committee.
Churchill’s observation that democracy was worst form of government save all the rest was hardly a ringing endorsement. But it does explain why things are always a mess.