Where we are now

Kevin Roche has posted striking data on relative death risks in the matter of Covid-19. While the Star Tribune continues to wage a campaign of fear consistent with the Democrats’ agenda, I asked Kevin for a set of bullet points drawing inferences with public policy implications from the data — “broader commentary on where we are with the epidemic, in light of my relative death risk tables,” as he put it in his message responding to my request. As always, we take Minnesota data, trends, and public policy issues as representative. Kevin comments in the form of 10 bullet points below the break.

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• The primary point of those tables is to correct the false impression, especially among those who vote D, which is surprising given how smart they believe they are, that the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19 is extremely high. Unless you are quite old, it isn’t high at all, and if you are young, you have far more risk from many other diseases or unfortunate occurrences that may befall you.

• The second point of the tables is to point out once more, as you and I have said from the start, the foolishness of adapting universal mitigation measures when the epidemic poses a significant risk of harm to only a small segment of the population. What possible justification is there for what we are doing to children when their specific risk is non-existent?

• In regard to hospitalizations, which Governor Walz harped on again recently, we are as usual fed incomplete and misleading information by the state. We know, because the state was trying to minimize how significant the number of hospitalizations in vaccinated people was, that half of all these hospitalizations were not actually for treatment of Covid-19, but only had incidental positive tests. The Department of Health knows equally well how many hospitalizations among the unvaccinated were not for Covid-19 treatment and I suspect that number is also close to 50 percent. So a large percent of hospitalizations attributed to Covid-19 have nothing to do with the virus.

• In addition, we get very inadequate information about those breakthrough hospitalizations–what proportion of all hospitalizations they actually represent. I believe it approaches 50 percent. So the state has a hard sell to persuade people that getting vaccinated will limit hospitalizations. And we still don’t get information on how many hospitalizations are solely for observation, or for administration of remdesivir. The hospital situation, while deserving to be watched closely, is not as dire as painted. And you have to wonder why we saw a significant reduction in hospital capacity in late summer and early fall if there is such an issue with the number of beds. What role are vaccine mandates playing in the capacity issues?

• Similarly, the situation in schools is used by the Governor and his administration, at the behest of the teachers’ unions, to sow fear among parents. The reality is that the level of cases in school-aged children is driven solely by testing policies. Increase all the asymptomatic rapid testing and you get a huge number of false positives and low positives–positives whose level of virus is so low that the child cannot be infectious.

• The Department of Health was claiming that the hospitalization rate among children had risen in the summer. That was purely driven by testing as well, and now that we have more testing and more “cases,” the hospitalization rate has dropped and the department no longer talks about it. And while there was a slight bump in the absolute number of child hospitalizations, it always remained very low and the bump was solely due to a large wave of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections, accompanied by incidental Covid-19 positives.

• RSV is a serious illness for children and does often require hospitalization. There is no evidence that the department has ever produced to demonstrate any significant transmission from school-age children to older adults, especially the frail elderly. Covid-19 in schools is really a non-issue, but again the Governor must do the teachers’ unions bidding or lose his primary source of funding for reelection.

• Minnesota has been on a slowly accelerating plateau for several weeks. Absent the increase in testing and cases when school began, we would likely be flat or heading down. The other factor in case levels is the rapidly lessening effectiveness of the vaccines against infection, particularly as measured by over-sensitive PCR test thresholds. We are seeing a very significant and increasing number of breakthrough infections. We do not have an epidemic of the unvaccinated. The Department of Health is dragging its feet on identifying cases as breakthrough infections, I believe to minimize that apparent rise to the public. And they make it impossible to match those infections to a date, similarly to stop people from understanding the proportion of all cases that are breakthrough cases. If we had complete data, we would see that not only that the proportion of breakthrough events is substantial, but also rising rapidly. Nonetheless, I believe it is most likely that we will see a blunted wave, with a more gently rounded shape.

• We have seen a rapid rise in deaths and again the state does not provide full data. It is apparent to me that a huge number of the recent deaths are in the vaccinated elderly. The vaccines simply don’t work well in the frail elderly — no vaccine does. We will continue to see deaths in these older age groups, vaccinated or not.

• At some point we must accept that the virus cannot be eradicated and adopt a rational approach to living with it and minimizing the morbidity and mortality stemming from Covid-19 disease. If we don’t, we will continue to do harm to. the physical and mental health of the population at large. Resolving to live with the disease is the approach an increasing number of European countries have taken, ending all Covid-19 restrictions including the absurd mask mandates.

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