As recently as two weeks ago, the big story of the day was the coming surge of a new, highly infectious COVID variant, called BA.5. The Biden administration warned about it. Los Angeles county considered renewing its indoor mask mandate. The head of the World Health Organization said that “new waves of the virus demonstrate again that the Covid-19 [pandemic] is nowhere near over.”
Look at some of the headlines:
- “BA.5 Will Cause ‘Even Greater Surge,’ Warns UCSF’s Wachter of Highly Infectious COVID Subvariant,” KQED, July 6
- “The BA.5 COVID Surge Is Here,” New York Magazine, July 8
- “Los Angeles could reinstate mask mandates as COVID cases rise,” CBS News, July 8
- “As new COVID variants surge, White House urges caution, pushes boosters,” Boston Globe, July 12
- “Experts rue simple steps not taken before latest COVID surge,” ABC News, July 13
- “The ‘worst variant’ is here,” CNN, July 14
Well, the data from the Centers for Disease Control show that the number of new infections has remained pretty flat since late May and is now trending downward. In, fact, the rate of new infections appears to have topped out right when the media were playing up the coming “surge.”
CDC data show that the seven-day moving average for new cases peaked at 129,823 on July 17. It had fallen to 119,034 by Aug. 2.
Reported COVID deaths also appear to have peaked on July 22, with the seven-day moving average of 428, which had dropped to 387 by Aug. 2.
While some states are seeing increases, in most of them cases peaked a while ago or are now seeing big declines.
The seven-day average in Los Angeles, for example, plunged 50% over the past week. (A week ago it dropped its mask mandate plans.)
Yet, instead of mea culpas we are seeing stories about how the COVID infection rate is far bigger than the official number suggests, because of the widespread availability of home testing and the fact that not everyone who tests positive will report it.
As CNN reports:
Official data dramatically undercount the true number of infections in the U.S., epidemiologists say, leaving the nation with a critical blind spot as the most transmissible coronavirus variant yet takes hold. Some experts think there could be as many as 1 million new infections every day in the broader U.S. population — 10 times higher than the official count.
But wait. That’s actually good news.
As it stands, the “case fatality rate” — which is the ratio of deaths to reported COVID cases — is currently running at around 0.3%. If the actual number of cases is 10 times the reported number of cases, that means the “case fatality rate” is more like 0.03%. For perspective, the case fatality rate for the flu is said to be about 0.1%.
So why isn’t this being reported as good news? Why is the press still treating COVID the same way it did when the virus first emerged: as a potentially lethal new disease against which no one had immunity?
Why are we still acting like everyone is at equal risk from COVID, when out of more than 1 million COVID deaths recorded in the United States, only 538 involve children under age 4, and just 1,195 are between ages 5 and 18, according to the CDC? Why isn’t the public being told that those over 65, who make up less than 17% of the population, constitute 75% of the reported COVID deaths?
Why are public officials still pushing vaccines on infants? Why do we still see children in public places wearing masks when they are far more likely to die from drowning than COVID?
Finally, why are we the ones being attacked for spreading misinformation when the worst offenders have been government officials and the mainstream press?
Almost nothing uttered by “experts” over the past two years has turned out to be true. Mask mandates were ineffective. Lockdowns were massively expensive failures. The vaccinated and boosted keep getting COVID — including President Joe Biden, who not long ago was issuing blistering attacks against the unvaccinated, saying “your refusal has cost all of us.”
It’s the refusal of so many public officials to be straight with the public and put COVID in the proper perspective that “has cost all of us.”
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board