Are confirmed cases an illusion?
A lot of people, including Dr. Martenson are drawing many conclusions based on very fault information. The information that is being presented to them is painting a false sense of reality. I am not an epidemiologist but I certainly know when I am being lied to.
Rather than beginning this by talking about cases, let’s look at mortality. Because with a case, perhaps a test was wrong, whereas with death..the patient is no longer alive. I believe that many people are trying to claim the mortality numbers are overestimated and now “any” hospital death is being attributed to “COVID”. This is more than likely not the case. If there is a man that has a heart condition and goes to the hospital due to chest pains and then dies from a heart attack, then later he was confirmed to have the virus, we should say he died from a heart attack and not COVID, correct? Incorrect. This virus is primarily causing coagulation issues and if the patient was confirmed as having the virus then there is a higher probability that the virus caused complications which led to his death. Keep in mind that this virus does not result in one specific outcome, but many outcomes. If anything, the mortality is being greatly under-reported around the world. My personal estimation is that we are already around 7 million. Some basic math leads to that conclusion, but more on that later.
Most countries are testing using different methods, but even the best testing out there is still pretty faulty. Some tests provide around 30% accuracy and the best ones might be around 89%. We should compare this with a pregnancy test. Telling a woman the test says there is an 89% accuracy that she is pregnant means she is likely pregnant. The problem is that if she takes the test five times, she gets different results. Do you know how we can confirm if she is actually pregnant? We take her to a hospital for actual lab confirmation. This is where all of this falls apart and virtually no one appears to understand how testing works. A pregnancy test can determine if a woman might be pregnant, but it certainly cannot tell us the gender, race, or eating preferences of the potential baby. The common virus testing is similar in this way. The test is asking “do you have a coronavirus in your system?”. Even if the answer is no, a faulty test may still provide a false-positive. Viruses contain multiple signatures or fingerprints. Each of those is very unique to each virus. The problem is that the test is not trying to match the fingerprints, simply match that you also have a hand. The assembly code of a virus is called an Open Reading Frame or ORF. Within a very important portion of those instructions are to build instructions for viral replication. Imagine this is a textbook called “step-by-step how to replicate a virus”. This specific component is called the RdRp or RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and this is almost always what we test virus samples for. Here is an example. We find chewing gum on the street that contains a foreign virus. We can sequence any DNA found in that gum and attempt to identify any RdRp regions. The gum in question contains 7 different viruses including HIV, Ebola, SARS, and hCoV-2019. In the lab, we can separate out each sequenced sample and usually determine at least part of the RdRp for each contained virus. We then enter that partial RdRp into a database to compare with other known viruses. The RdRp of hCoV-2019 is a chain of 932 amino acids. If our partial sample contained only a 440 basepair sequence for the RdRp yet we get a 100% match to hCoV-2019 we can say with high certainty that the coronavirus in the gum is hCoV-2019. We can use methods to “boost” the fragmented sample to get more information, which increases our match. Ok, so let’s run another example! We are going to take two viruses, both hCoV-2019. Our first sample is from an elderly male in Wuhan from December 2019. Our second sample is from an elderly female in Brazil from July 2020. Both patients died from hCoV-2019 so naturally, we will expect the RdRp match to be 100%. Pretty obvious, right? Absolutely not the case. RNA viruses evolve with natural mutations over time. As the virus learns to better infect host cells it will update its build manual with better instructions for replication and other actions. These different “strains” of the virus have key differences and this is most obvious when digging deep down into the RdRp. Instead of being a 100% match, the July sample of hCoV-2019’s RdRp was only a 73.67% match. I will not get into the technical breakdown of what the differences are. This example shows you that even comparing two different RdRp samples from the “same virus” yields very different results. The example in question was completed in laboratories. Think of what is happening with 5 minute quick testing on the street. Take a random testing site in some random city in Europe. Someone on-site takes a DNA swab from you and has that run through a computer. What is happening? Their system is programmed with the RdRp of hCoV-2019 and the computer is trying to determine if there is a coronavirus in your system. If there is one, it then tries to compute a fragmented RdRp. Can any of these tests confirm that you have hCoV-2019? Absolutely not. The test can, at best, tell you if you might have a similar RdRp of a coronavirus in your system. The RdRp of hCoV-OC38, which is a strain of the common cold has a 66% match to the Wuhan strain of hCoV-2019. Next example. In this example, I run a drive-up testing site in Germany. We have 700 people come through that day and 600 test positive for the virus. Given the data that I now have in my hands can I prove to you that any of those people actually have this virus? No, I cannot. In order to prove a positive infection, we MUST sequence the genome of the virus within the host. Think of the potentially pregnant woman. She does not take the pregnancy test, it says she is pregnant, then she prepares for childbirth. If positive she visits the hospital for confirmation testing. That is what is NOT happening here, hundreds of millions of people are taking a low accuracy test with no followup from medical professionals. You get tested tomorrow and it says you are positive. As a scientist, I cannot work with the lack of data. If we take your DNA sample into an actual laboratory and then sequence the genome of the virus, then I have every amino acid, confirmation of every tiny fragment of that virus. I can determine exactly which strain you have and when you became infected. As a scientist, we need to see the genome of the virus to confirm exactly what is happening in the patient. As of 4 August, there are over 18.6 million “confirmed cases” but only 100,000 sequenced genomes from patients. That is only 0.5% of “confirmed” patients. As a scientist, I can factually confirm all 100,000 of those patients have/had this virus. For these 18 million people, there is no “proof” that they ever actually had this virus. This is why the case for so many asymptomatic patients makes people think the virus is not very dangerous. I can factually tell you that this virus is extremely dangerous. I can also tell you that based on the testing methods there are likely tens of millions of false positives. There are also false negatives. More importantly, only fractions of populations have actually been tested.
The actual reality here is that both the mortality and cases are not what they appear. Many countries are not reporting out what is actually happening within their borders yet most people keep taking the numbers we are seeing as reality.
China is the best example to provide. There is a known massive coverup happening in China yet we are allowing their lack of data to shape our view of cases? Reports of 80,000+ dead in Wuhan alone. The virus is ripping through China via different waves and now the G clade is attacking the nation. This is simple math. Let’s take the face value number that 1.5% of the American population has been “confirmed” and 3.2% of those have died. You have to know that the situation in China is far, far worse than in America. Let’s just apply the small America numbers to China. 1.5% of the population is 21 million confirmed. 3.2% CFR would be 640,000 dead. Initially, that number seems crazy, but you need to step back and take the population size into account. Something like 3 million dead is more probable. That represents 0.2% of the population. Or apply the 0.048% mortality of the entire population of America, we are back to 670,000. So China alone vastly skews the reality of the global cases and mortality.
Spain simply stopped reporting deaths in June. They suddenly went from 680 deaths to zero, amazing. Turkmenistan has an internal public health emergency but has not declared a single confirmed case. North Korea is in the same position.
The slip-ups are easy to see, if you bother looking for them
The situation in India is actually terrible but they are saving face and vastly underreporting what is happening. Look at this graph and see if you notice anything out of place. That single day spike was likely a glimpse into what is really happening. What makes me think so? Identical instance in China. Here it is happening in Peru, as their health care system is collapsing. Here is Chile, which also has a collapsing health care system. What is happening is that these nations are being judged on a global stage. Economics and finance are what run the nations. Try to view your nation as a business for a moment. You are CEO of your business. If you start posting massive losses and showing that you cannot contain this virus, you will lose foreign investors, local businesses close. Essentially by showing your weakness your business partners will go elsewhere. This is why in March+ the USA President Trump kept downplaying the virus and trying to keep everyone calm. That is his job as CEO, keep the investors calm, and keep the economy moving. That is exactly what Brazils’ President Bolsanaro understood from the very start. He attempted to protect the economy and the portfolio of the nation because he knew closing down the nation would be economic suicide. He was in a lose-lose situation and the health care system in Brazil is now facing collapse.
It is smarter for you to assume every nation is lying to you until proven otherwise. Every nation has virtually nothing to gain from transparency and everything to gain from protecting their national security and investments. Here in Germany, we have a 97% recovery rate from the virus. Yes, we have great health care. Did we magically defeat the virus? No. Does the average person in Germany feel that we have defeated the virus and it is safe to send children back to school? Absolutely not. Because the average German understands that the government is likely withholding information and there is much that we are not being told.
If you just take a cursory glance at the deaths per day charts for the top 50 countries in the world, certain aspects begin to stand out as farcical. Notice specific trends happening in Belarus?
In 2002, SARS predominately impacted China. Do you think they were transparent back then about cases? We factually know there was a massive coverup going on. I am unclear as to why people continue to build the foundations of the severity of this virus on known faulty/incomplete information.
How many lives has this virus claimed? That is unknown. My estimation is around 7 million. I understand how deadly the virus truly is and while this number seems very high, keep in mind this represents 0.08% of the global population.
How many people have been infected with the virus? That is unknown. Testing is very poor, to begin with, and even the best countries in the world have only tested 19% of their population. Even heavily populated nations like Nigeria have only tested 0.5% of their population. My estimation is around 150 million have been infected so far. This is based on viewing the confirmed genomes that we have on file and understanding how the virus is spreading. This would put the CFR around 4.6%, which is roughly where it is using the known incorrect numbers. I believe my numbers are more realistic for the global population. Please keep in mind that most nations in the world are exceptionally poor and do not have the systems in place to cope with any pandemic. In those nations, which represents billions of people, the loss of life would likely be substantial and never reported due to a lack of resources as nations collapse.
How many asymptomatic cases? Also unknown. Given how deadly the virus actually is, the only way that someone can actually have this virus but never show any symptoms is if they have immunity. That is possible as the host may have previously been infected with any other coronavirus, even certain strains of the common cold. That would only account for a small fraction of asymptomatic confirmed cases, the majority are likely false-positives. To take the confirmed case count at face value knowing we are working with exceptionally flawed testing methods is a serious error in judgment.
We can easily beat this virus if everyone wears masks for the next 6 months. We can starve the virus out and no vaccine is required.
Dr. Martenson’s video today about herd immunity made me realize that he is still, somehow, taking the case counts at face value when we factually know that data is not being reported and or is being manipulated. I generally do not get into these types of topics since it is predominately speculative but I am pretty tired of people downplaying the severity of this virus and that “so many people recover without issues”, as if those patients were properly tested. You show me the genome, I will show you the science. Until then, the patient probably does not have the virus, especially if they are asymptomatic. We are not talking about the common cold here.
I will stick to the science but wanted to share my thoughts on this topic since many are reaching conclusions based on bad data
Thanks for reading. Stay safe
Wanted to contribute some trivia from Sweden. Our reporting of new cases is actually divided into two sections. One for “people who have symptoms, went to a drive through test facility and got a positive result” (called “mild cases” here), and one for “people who have severe symptoms and needed to go to the hospital and got laboratory confirmed tests that came back positive” (called “severe cases” here). And the latter one is really, really going down.
And they also report anything dying _with_ covid19 as dying _of_ covid19 which is one of the reasons our numbers are way up there.
Wasn’t sure where you were leading when first looked at your post, But after reading, I do agree with most of your observations. I do not think Chris is off base on his information; he often prefaces with “based on the best data we have available” He always understands that that things can change when new information comes to light. He actually very open.
With that said, Yes and yes. I agree, something is way off with the numbers and reporting. And it does defy logic of any viral transmission processes. And absolutely the tests are really really not much more than a guide or a tool and should not be interpreted as matter of fact. You would probably be more accurate on clinical assessment alone. The tests are quantitative, not qualitative. Just wrap your head around that phrase for a minute. The actually references for negative and positive are arbitrary. and none of this even begins to address the actual collection process.
I definitely think we are missing something really big with this disease. In the way of why and who is getting severe illness, in the way we believe immunity is acquired, and the way this is spread. In fact, I think some of theories are close, but most are way way off. It doesn’t pass the litmus of rational logic for me.
I do not believe the vaccines will be effective. In fact may be very deadly or harmful. Simple reason we have no coronavirus vaccines yet. Its not like we are able just do one at will when we have a need or desire. The reason is simple. You do not get conferred immunity after an infection. Most, if not all, vaccines work on this basic principle. We have some very bad outcomes with vaccines for viruses that do not confer life-time immunity. Think coronavirus and dengue. I know that it has been found that some immunity lies within the T-cells not antibodies. But somehow that does not translate into immunity. This is clearly the case why we can contract the cold year over year – even the same strain. We have studies to prove this and I do not believe this is disputed. So, I am uncertain how a vaccine is supposed to work. I think the truth is sort of hidden while the pharm stocks run up on potential world changing solution. They at best know that this is something you will likely need 2 times per year or more – and year and year. That hardly sounds safe. What we do not know is what will happen when the body is challenged after vaxxing. ADE? there are other immune enhancements as well. What will happen when challenged virus, at 6 weeks? 12 weeks? 18 weeks? 36 mos? we need to know this far out. What about a cross-virus reaction? what will happen if contract common cold after this vaccine ? 6 weeks? 12 weeks etc? does it change the way the immunity responds to this? This is not me bring this. The are the ones saying that there might be some immunity conferred via another similar corona virus. So, these questions must be answered. I truly believe there will some very abnormal responses in the host immunity. If not immediately , down the road , it will be evident.
The reason I believe this is because i truly think they have logic upside down , on who gets severe illness and why. The main assumption right now is that people who are asymptomatic or mild, have acquired immunity via some previous coronavirus infection. I have even heard some doctors say this explains why the young people are unaffected.. Because kids have several coronaviruses a year. This makes no sense what soever. The truth is if we are talking small children yes. But we would have a boat load of toddlers and infants dead , especially newborns. The reason most children are protected is because of the innate immunity. In fact, I actually believe the logic of having conferred immunity from previous infection is 180% upside-down. What I actually think is going on is that one is actually sensitized to ADE type response if they actually had a particular similar coronavirus. Follow me for a minute. The older one is the more likely to get severe symptoms. Its not because these people are older and have illnesses that they die, they actually get more severe corona symptoms… read this again. not that ordinary symptoms become problematic and their conditions cant cope.. The are becoming more corona symptomatic. As in ADE. What would cause a nice curve , where your risk of severe illness goes up per decade , even without sufficient disease? Well , I can tell you one thing that would cause this// The longer you have lived, the more likely you were exposed to a previous similar infective agent that would cause an ADE. So, kids are getting a pass because they are less likely to have caught the sensitizing agent previously. And this is why some of the unlucky few healthy young people are getting severe illness.. perhaps that had just the wrong cold previously.. This would also explain why medical persons seem to get hit hard with the severe form. Why would they get it severe more frequently? they have higher risk of exposures to illness in their line of work.. its just a numbers game. So this sensitizing theory is the exact opposite of what mainstream thought is ..and what vaccine hopes are. It does explain why kids and even newborns are getting a pass mostly. It does explain why the age curve is associated with severe disease. And even explains why medical professionals hit hard. And it even perhaps explains why its racial. How? because low economics is associated with more health issues. These people are less likely to take care of themselves, live in closer quarters thereby spread disease more efficiently. I am not sure i would call this theory an epiphany. But it does explain all in nice little package , where other logic is just not adding up for me.
Appreciate your input, Dr Mayer. Great summary of the fog of confusion being created with the “number of cases” metric.
The numbers of cases being reported are terribly terribly unreliable.
- how common and accessible are testing centers?
- how sensitive and specific are the tests and the swabbing procedure?
- how many sick and how many “worried well” go in for testing?
Nations lie with their statistics for many, many reasons. (Nice examples!) Scaring off foreign investors, tourists, business contacts. Unwillingness to accept exports. Boosting or under-reporting to frighten the local populations who may decide to vote for the “other guy” if things are really bad. Preventing fearful actions (saving money, not going to work, etc.) that harm economic activity, tax revenues, etc.
Dead bodies are easier to be sure about.
And excess deaths (number of deaths over the historical averages) is the hardest of all to fake.
I have heard Chris be cognizant of all of this in his presentations.
So this is the CDC all cause mortality chart. I’m not seeing millions of dead people here. Well, I am, but they aren’t dying from COVID-19. Mostly they die from other things.
As always, appreciate the opportunity to dig through the data for interpretations.
Here’s what I’m pretty certain about.
- At least 45% of people catch SARS2 and don’t progress to Covid, in fact they have no symptoms at all. These people are only known about because of contact trace testing and special situations like the Disaster Princess or countries that actually test pretty much everybody.
- Therefore in places with weak testing, like the US, vastly more people are exposed than we know about.
- The PCR test returns a hefty chunk of both false positives and false negatives.
- With different countries and even different states/provinces/regions administering different tests at different rates, our data is mediocre at best.
- For whatever reason(s), pre-pubescent children are virtually pre-immune to SARS2/Covid.
As fuzzy as the case testing may be, it’s still directionally correct. Not perfect, but still useful.
With that said, it makes sense to also back up and view the macro data.
- Are your hospitals overflowing?
- Are bed counts up or down?
- Is your excess mortality higher, rising, or declining?
Based on the fact that I cannot find evidence of either overflowing hospitals or excess deaths remaining elevated *after* the first wave, I have to conclude that for whatever reason, Covid is not as big of an issue after the first wave (which is usually a pretty awful thing).
It’s an issue, for sure, and I don’t want to catch it if I can avoid it, and it’s a terrible assault on some people’s bodies, and all of that – but it also follows a similar pattern in country after country.
Okay, so it’s hypothesis time. Why would it do that?
Certainly we could posit that in country after country the people become alert to the disease, take precautions, and governments apply reasonable containment programs. Boom! The R0 falls.
But this strikes me as unlikely because of the vastly different cultures and government responses involved. Why should the graph of Mauritania look so similar to NY? Why does the daily death chart of Sweden resemble that of a dozen other countries?
In terms of formulating an hypothesis this is where I allow myself to consider all sorts of possibilities. It’s something I’m well wired for. I am willing to let go of my prior beliefs, ideas and opinions to try and see things with new eyes.
So the other possibility that explains all these similar charts in dissimilar countries is that we’re actually tracking a beast of a virus whose dominating characteristics define the shapes of the charts.
Anything short of a draconian lockdown, and exceptionally rigorous follow-on actions (such as China’s) the Honey Badger virus runs rampant through every half-assed approach as if they didn’t even exist at all.
This would explain the similarities. Weak containment, shoddy tracing, and don’t-test-don’t-tell policies all lead to the same outcome.
Declining case counts coupled to the declining hospitalizations + declining excess mortality all point to one conclusion; SARS2 is running out of new hosts to infect.
I can’t think of any other reasonable interpretation. We can either attribute that to the exceptional efforts of wise governments and clued-in populations or we have to posit something else.
Which brings us to the herd-immunity hypothesis. Early modeling based on the high R0 suggested that you’d need 80%+ exposed people with circulating antibodies to achieve that. We’re nowhere near that.
So then how do we account for the case declines even though seroprevalences are weak (by accepted herd immunity standards) in every tested area?
We do that by hearkening back to the T-cell immunity evidence. For immunity we’ve got B-cell (humoral, or antibody based) and we’ve got cell-mediated.
We have to account for the fact that a significant portion of those exposed don’t display any symptoms at all. Or extremely mild symptoms. That means only one thing; they’ve got either complete or significant immunity. Right from the get-go.
So if we posit that herd immunity is achieved when XX% (insert arguments here) of the population has immunity then our efforts need to be focused on the inputs for immunity.
- X% are simply “pre-immune.” This includes the very young. We don’t know the mechanisms yet or how effective they are at transmission even if they aren’t seriously affected. TBD.
- Y% develop cellular immunity and don’t go down the antibody pathway. We don’t yet know how many people this is or how long this lasts.
- Z% develop traditional antibodies. So far we see this at 10% to 15% wherever tested. We don’t know how long this lasts, or if ADE is a downstream risk.
X + Y + Z = (min threshold) and then you’ve got herd immunity.
Guessing wildly, I might place those at X = 45%, Y = 25% and Z = 10% – 15% which adds up to 80% to 85%.
So the theory is, as presented, that SARS2 is actually vastly better at sweeping through a population than we have appreciated, it devastates far too many lives but doesn’t really impact the vast majority (through the first 6 months at least…the rest is TBD), and it burns out rather quickly from an epidemic standpoint.
However, it is now endemic and anything other than a proper lockdown with strict adherence to mask wearing and full on contact tracing and quarantine, will lead to an eventual escape of HB-19 back into your population.
New Zealand, most of Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, China, etc., are all in full containment mode.
Most other countries lack the resources and/or political will for such a program, and that explains all those similar charts all over the world.
As always, if/when the data changes, I’ll shift again!
By the way, for the critics in the Youtube comments noting that “Spain is experiencing a second wave, so your theory is wrong” should really look at this chart comparing the initial seroprevalence and the new case clusters.
Seems to me that the new outbreak in formerly low seroprevalence regions supports the hypothesis laid out rather than refutes it.
I still think it’s the “movie” explanation – that sometime in late may / early june it got some kind of mutation that made it more contagious but less deadly (which is what every virus wants to be). It explains a lot of the curves we’re seeing now and even why some countries that had it under control are seeing a new wave of cases. It also explains why we in Sweden (without lockdown, without shutting schools, without official recommendations on masks) are still seeing hundreds of new cases per day but single digit fatalities. And it explains why India which missed the initial wave and now posting 50k+ cases per day and “only” ~750 deaths, when the countries like Italy that got it early posted ~900 deaths per day but cases maxed out at 6k per day.
Or is this too simply of an explanation?
I live in London and wanted to provide further context on those 2 slides. 5.32 London Herd Immunity. England has been in lockdown from March 23 to July 4 so I would expect this drop, given the tight restrictions.
These have recently been lifted, but as almost everyone goes away in July & August this would explain the lack of recent increases in London. Those who are not away on holiday are either working from home, unemployed or on furlough scheme, so not out and about as much as they normally would be.
I’ve been into London city about twice a week over last 3 weeks and volume of people about is at 20%. Shops, cafes, etc are mostly boarded up or closed. Normally we get significant volume of tourists in summer. There are none.
I would expect when schools and offices return in September it will be a couple of weeks before we see an uptick in London cases.
Also, slide Herd Immunity at 15%? 7.28 the slide refers to areas in England not London. Apart from London most other areas are just starting their first wave. Ie Manchester is in North West area and Liecester in Midlands, both of which have recently gone into local lockdowns.
It seems to me that we will not really know where we are at until we open up. I have heard from people in NYC that it is dead and the streets are empty. Can we really say we have herd immunity? Until we start living normally and see if everything starts going up or if that curve stays down we can’t say. Everyone is in lockdown across the US and I believe in all western countries. I am not sure I am buying herd immunity with us locked down as tight as we are.
Thanks for your detailed analysis of the inadequacy of CORVD19 testing procedures. While I accept the overall thesis, statements like “We can easily beat this virus if everyone wears masks for the next 6 months.” are without credibility. In my little valley in the mountains there is one supermarket. We have a mandatory mask law in the county and the market is crowded with shoppers wearing masks. Since July 4 we have gone from only having 10 total confirmed cases since January to having ten new cases per day. Of the masks worn in the supermarket, almost none are N95 level and hence able to stop 95% of airborne particles. The surgical mask knock-offs, brightly colored fashion statements, and homemade used T-shirt face diapers easily can be shown to expel almost all of the airborne particles from a sneeze out beyond the edges of the mask while providing little protection for the wearer.
Returning to the topic of the testing clusterfuck both in the US and internationally, this article makes the most sense of anything I have seen to date: Do give it a read.
Failing the Coronavirus-Testing Test
by Jonathan Shaw
What I find interesting about this test protocol is that it parallels one of the key features of the Cuban’s successful fight against CORVID19. * Cuba claims to have successfully nearly have eradicated the pandemic with only 89 deaths. Even if the Cuban government lies like all governments and the death toll was actually 890, that is radically different from the 17,000 deaths in New York City with 30% lower population and ten times the median wealth.
Somewhat like the Harvard proposal for cheap daily self testing, Cuba deployed a virtual army of nurses, para-professionals, and med students * to visit daily any person with an elevated temperature or other early signs of viral infection and monitor their progress. Armed with this real time data they could then begin timely treatment with a number of anti-viral medicines that they had developed to combat diseases like dengue fever. ( * The fact that Cuba has 2.7 times as many doctors per capita as the US or any other country doesn’t hurt. )