As we approach 2nd anniversary, and tire of lockdowns and mandates, perhaps the WHO can downgrade this to an â€˜endemicâ€™ or Biden can end the national emergencyÂ
As I look at the data on COVID 19 now, and as we are about to observe the 2nd anniversary of this pandemic, I believe itâ€™s time for the World Health Organization (WHO) WHO to declare it over, or, downgrade it to â€œendemicâ€ or â€œepidemicâ€ status.
And, President Biden can declare the national emergency over with when he does his State of the Union Address March 1 â€“ although he extended it for the 8th time in January.
WHO is the UN agency, along with our Centers for Disease Control, that over relied on the â€œassurancesâ€ of the Chinese Communist government in Beijing that they had it under control back in January 2020.Â As such, WHO didnâ€™t declare COVID 19 a â€œpandemicâ€ until March 11, 2020. WHO and the CDC seem to have ignored the fact China has been the source of the major pandemics of the last 100 years, including the 1918 so-called â€œSpanish flu,â€ which killed about 50 million worldwide.
According to this article by the Columbia University School of Public Health: â€œThe WHO defines pandemics, epidemics, and endemics based on a disease’s rate of spread. Thus, the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic isn’t in the severity of the disease, but the degree to which it has spread.â€
- â€œA pandemic cuts across international boundaries, as opposed to regional epidemics. This wide geographical reach is what makes pandemics lead to large-scale social disruption, economic loss, and general hardship.
- â€œAn endemic is a disease outbreak that is consistently present but limited to a particular region. This makes the disease spread and rates predictable.
- â€œAn epidemic, which can be on a large scale, is also generally contained or expected in its spread, while a pandemic is international and out of control.â€
In fact, New Jersey Democrat Governor Phil Murphy Feb 7 used these classifications when he ended the mask mandate for public schools effective March 7. â€œWe have to learn how to live with COVID as we move from a pandemic to the endemic phase of this virus,â€ he said
â€œLearn to live with COVID? â€œ That was heresy when noted scientists like Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins â€“ now an adviser to Gov. Glenn Youngkin â€“ and Jay Bhattacharya at Stanford Medical School proposed that months ago.
Indeed, the governors can cite science â€“ i.e., declining Omicron variant rates â€“ for their rationale, but itâ€™s really political science that has been the underlying rationale for many COVID â€œmitigationâ€ efforts by the federal, states and local governments.
Democrats know they are pretty doomed in the fall midterms, primarily due to inflation, food shortages, a botched foreign policy in Afghanistan, and a roller coaster stock market that is wreaking havoc on votersâ€™ retirement plans. There has been a revolt against vax and mask mandates; the U.S. has only a 65 percent vaccination rate (at least 2 doses), which ranks low among nations.
Of course, WHO, CDC and COVID Czar and Media Star Anthony Fauci are never going to listen to conservatives who have been against lockdowns, mask and vax mandates from the get go â€“ nor the good scientist/M.D.s at Stanford, who have led the charge, and the thousands of epidemiologists and virologists who signed the Great Barrington Declaration against broad-based lockdowns.
No, they will be reading what the liberal establishment says and does, but while I am not a public health expert, I am a journalist who has covered these various pandemics since 1986, and I see the facts as follows for why this pandemic should be downgraded:
- About 4.2 billion of the worldâ€™s 7.6 billion people have gotten the COVID vaccine.Â This is phenomenal in such a short period of time.Â I donâ€™t even think the smallpox or polio vaccine had such a rapid rate of immunization.Â Â
- According to a recent Reuters article , â€œMore than 395.61 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 6,117,739â€‹ have died,â€ That comes to 1.5% mortality rate, which has been pretty consistent from the get go.Â This means there are at 389 million who have survived and have â€œnatural immunity,â€ but the number of people who are asymptomatic â€“ who were not picked up as having antibodies due to limits to COVID diagnostic tests â€“ could be way higher!
- Even if the most populous nation, China, is underreporting at 4,636 deaths, COVID has only infected 6 percent of the world population.Â That is remarkably low.
- Omicron variant rates also may have peaked, but deaths are climbing largely in unvaccinated populations.Â People who have been vaccinated and got Omicron â€“ my daughter and one of my rabbis, included â€“ have recovered very well, in many cases without drugs.
- Visit the web site Worldometers.info and you will likely see the U.S. as No. 1 in total cases.Â However, Sort the cases and deaths â€œper thousandâ€ population, weâ€™re really about 18th in deaths per thousand and 40th in total cases per thousand.Â But depending on the media you rely on;Â the U.S. is the â€œleaderâ€ in COVID cases without realizing how much lower we are based on population (which is about 350 million people).
- Hospitals, which were very good at sounding the alarm on overloaded ICUs through their public relations experts, have not been overloaded to the point that patients cannot get a bed.Â Do a Google search on â€œhospital bed availability covidâ€ and you will see articles from across the nation showing that as Omicron ebbs, so does the demand for ICU beds â€“ despite the fact people are still dying because they are not vaccinated (and/or have other underlying health conditions).
- WHO/CDC reporting criteria for COVID has recently come under question by CNN as being too aggressive and possibly double counting positives.Â The Medicare incentive for reporting deaths as COVID may mean the U.S. numbers are higher than they should be (See full detail below).
I donâ€™t mean to minimize COVID deaths and resulting conditions among people who recovered. This is a dreadful disease for those who get it and are hospitalized â€“ especially for those who refused to be vaccinated and have underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
But as I read the data, and the political tea leaves, I think there is sufficient science to downgrade the pandemic and end the U.S. national emergency.
Whatâ€™s more, is the data we are getting reliable â€“ at least in the U.S., which now has 990,000 COVID deaths?
One of the Trump administrationâ€™s rationales for instituting the â€œ15 days to slow the spreadâ€ (updated to 30 days) was what they witnessed in Italy with COVID patients not being able to find ventilators. Then, there were models from University of Washingtonâ€™s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which projected the number of new COVID cases.
The modeling was frequently criticized for being too optimistic or too pessimistic.Â Â For example, in December, IMHE predicted 3 billion Omicron cases worldwide by this month â€“ in other words, half the planet would be sick.Â Well, going back to Reuters the number is more like 395 million TOTAL cases, all variants. Â Â
A number of scientists say actual COVID positives could be much higher because millions more could have antibodies that COVID diagnostic tests donâ€™t pick up.Â This means the percentage of deaths is lower than 1.5 percentÂ
And, can we believe the numbers when weâ€™ve known since the get-go of the crisis in March 2020 that some 90% of Americans who died from COVID had â€œcomorbidities,â€ meaning underlying health problems like heart disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses. In addition, some 75% of COVID deaths occurred among those over 65 and 78% of hospitalized people were obese, according to CDC.
WHOâ€™/CDC reporting guidanceÂ on what constitutes a COVID mortalityÂ has often counted deaths due to COVID,Â Â
CDCâ€™S Vital Statistics Reporting Guidance,Â which is based onÂ WHO guidance,Â reads: â€œIf COVIDâ€“19 played a role in the death,Â this condition should be specified on the death certificate.Â In many cases,Â it is likely that it will be theÂ UCOD, as it can lead to various life-threatening conditions, such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndromeÂ (ARDS). â€œ
That sure reads like carte blanche for providers to report a case as a COVID death even if the person had other deadly conditions.
In addition, is there a financial incentive for health care providers to report COVID as a cause of death â€“ â€œThe coronavirus relief legislation created a 20% premium, or add-on, for COVID-19 Medicare patients,â€ USA Today reported after the initial COVID rescue package was passed by Congress in March 2020. However, the newspaper reported: â€œThere have been no public reports that hospitals are exaggerating COVID-19 numbers to receive higher Medicare payments.â€ About $171 billion had been appropriated to hospitals as of September 2021, Kaiser Health News reported
Conservative media has jumped on this issue since the pandemic began, but recently, CNN did a spot on the reporting criteria and questioned whether the COVID mortality numbers are juiced Â Â
Clearly, this is something Congress or the HHS Inspector General should investigate. But this begs the question — do the nationâ€™s media, public health agencies and some politicians have a vested interest in keeping the COVID 19 pandemic going?
I can tell you as someone who covered AIDS and saw how it became a budget dream for FDA, NIH and CDC, all of which faced cuts early in the Reagan administration. Agencies like this benefited well from AIDS spending, which if you didnâ€™t know was about $34 billion in 2019.
The Biden administration for Fiscal 22 proposed giving CDC and sister Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry $9,578,911,000Â in discretionary budget authority â€“ a whopping $1.681 billion increase over Fiscal 2021– theÂ largestÂ budgetÂ authorityÂ increase forÂ CDC in nearly two decades, CNBC reported.
WHAT IS THE COVID EXIT STRATEGY?
The Biden administration and big Blue states like New York, California and Illinois â€“ much of our GDP is in these states â€“ are not going to listen to us or the critics like Makary.
But they will listen to liberals â€“ and CNN, which also questioned CDCâ€™s statistics recently Â Â Â This Johns Hopkins professor states in the liberal Atlantic Feb. 9: End all the restrictions now.Â So, there could be political movement in this direction.
And, seeing Blue state governors ending school mask mandates, in wake of pressure from teachers unions to keep them and dropping requirements to show â€œvaccine passportsâ€ to be in certain public places, means we could be turning the corner. In addition, the hospitals are not being â€œoverloadedâ€ with serious COVID cases that they are denying beds to other patients. And seeing how Canadian truckers have revolted against Canadaâ€™s more-draconian measures, it would seem to me that the public is reaching the end of their rope.
Today, inflation, supply chain shortages, the inability of companies to get employees, are at the forefront of Americansâ€™ concerns â€“ and politicians who have supported lockdowns are feeling the heat. Â The liberal establishment needs to let go â€“ soon. Â Perhaps Gov. Youngkin can lead the way on this and urge the president to end the national emergency and WHO to downgrade COVID 19 to endemic or epidemic status.