Health News Digest

Quick takes on COVID-19

February 8, 2021

COVID-19 Quick Takes—Part Two

By Michael D. Shaw

We pick up where we left off last November.

1.     The Placer County, CA person who died shortly after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine—As first reported, the death occurred on January 21, shortly after the person (no information at all given regarding age or gender) received the vaccine. The original report does note that “the person had previously tested positive for COVID-19 in late December.” We are now being told that the victim was a 64-year-old healthcare worker, who “also had underlying health issues, and had been exhibiting symptoms of illness at the time the vaccine was administered.”

The sheriff’s office asserts that “Clinical examination and lab results have determined the COVID-19 vaccine has been ruled out as a contributing factor in the individual’s death.” Strangely, though, no cause of death is specified. It is, at the very least, a bit disconcerting that only this particular negative finding would be released, especially since privacy is assured in that the victim has never been identified.

Certainly, the Post hoc ergo propter hoc  fallacy can be invoked, but that is pretty thin gruel in light of the 47% of people surveyed who say they are either unlikely or very unlikely to get a vaccine. Clearly, the best course for the authorities would have been to affirmatively state the cause of death, only they chose not to.

2.     Kids should go back to school, says the American Academy of Pediatrics and many others—According to a recent poll, 53% of registered voters surveyed believe classrooms in their area should be open, while just 31% prefer they remain closed. It is no secret that teachers’ unions have been against reopening. Besides, neither kids nor teachers need to be vaccinated before returning. Not that it comes as a surprise, but being out of in-person school is damaging our kids. And, naturally, it affects the disadvantaged kids the most. How does that square with “It’s all about the kids” rhetoric? Or the “Follow the science” mantra?

As to the AAP, according to president Lee Savio Beers, M.D., FAAP, “Children absolutely need to return to in-school learning for their healthy development and well-being, and so safety in schools and in the community must be a priority. We know that some children are really suffering without the support of in-person classroom experiences or adequate technology at home. We need governments at the state and federal levels to prioritize funding the needed safety accommodations, such as improving ventilation systems and providing personal protective equipment for teachers and staff.”

The CDC says that schools can reopen safely during the pandemic. So, do we follow the science or the union-driven politics?

3.     The failure of the technocrats in the COVID-19 pandemic—Parker Crutchfield and Scott Scheall posted an article entitled “There Are No Experts On That for Which We Really Need Experts.” They make several good points, but the key takeaway here is that there is more involved in handling the pandemic than simply health-related issues.

“The best policy approach to the pandemic would not have prioritized health to the exclusion of economic, psychological, and sociological considerations. The best policy would have minimized human suffering, all things considered. Unfortunately, though there are epidemiological experts and economic experts, and psychological experts and sociological experts, there are no scientists whose expertise encompasses epidemiology, economics, psychology, and sociology.”

Moreover, most “experts” develop their knowledge under highly controlled conditions. And even when they are forced to deal with the real world, they often resort to models, which are often wrong because those models are based are all sorts of assumptions—and not an abundance of data. As to supposed experts in health, reliable hard data is sorely lacking. The National Health Interview Survey has a small sample size (30,000 sample adult and 9,000 sample child completed interviews), and again, must rely on statistics and modeling to arrive at its conclusions. As with all surveys, there is little provision made for the subjects who flat-out lie.

The authors cite F.A. Hayek’s essay entitled “The Use of Knowledge in Society.”

“Today it is almost heresy to suggest that scientific knowledge is not the sum of all knowledge. But a little reflection will show that there is beyond question a body of very important but unorganized knowledge which cannot possibly be called scientific in the sense of knowledge of general rules: The knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place.”

But, perfecting technocracy may not be the answer. As the authors state: “The other possible answer is to give up on technocracy and return to democracy, individual rights, and popular sovereignty.”