A COVID Statistic That is Beyond Meaningless

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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13 Responses

  1. Philip H says:

    You can’t shame people who have no shame. Though I agree 100% with your analysis.Report

  2. Chip Daniels says:

    Fascism corrupts by politicizing everything, even emergency response.

    For the Republicans, Covid was is, and always will be first and foremost a political PR problem/ opportunity to be managed/ exploited.Report

  3. Oscar Gordon says:

    Lies and damn lies…Report

  4. Marchmaine says:

    Sure the laying of deaths at the foot of the president during a pandemic is kinda dumb and only dumb people would do that.

    The critique of Biden – which I’ll make here well before it becomes obvious 20/20 hindsight – is that his team has been too slow to adjust to the fact that we *aren’t* running downhill to herd immunity like we thought in March/April 2020.

    What the Biden team hasn’t done is change the FDA so that we can handle the variants better… we’re not positioned for Moderna/Pfizer 2.0 upgrade boosters… we’re still too slow to address new drugs/treatments and nothing has been done to pre-scale production… worse the FDA has been pulling back lots of different Emergency Use Authorizations and is reversing course to BAU. Testing, Rapid Testing, Home Testing is a complete patchwork of hit/miss. The CDC is, amazingly, still a communications train-wreck.

    So as we move from pandemic to endemic, the death tolls aren’t the fault of a president in the midst of ubiquitous free vaccines (nor are the ubiquitous free vaccines a Biden admin achievement, if we must be fair); the test comes when/if we spike back into a pandemic situation with death spirals among the vaccinated. And there? I have the above concerns that we haven’t taken this time to reposition. *That* will be on the Biden Admin (may it never come to pass).

    The blindspot with Biden – which is baked into the Biden cake – is that he’s 100% Washington institutionalist… so his agenda will always be more funding, but not reform. That’s who he is. So I know the FDA and CDC and NIH will get more money, but they will spend it as they know how to spend it. Rules are rules, regulations are regulations…

    It is possible the Biden Admin is clawing, hacking and hewing new paths, but search on the topics and the tumultuous intertube winds blow quiet. Unless OTC Monograph Reform (Cares Act) is the thing we’ve been waiting for. But fair enough… maybe wheels within wheels are turning out of sight. Hopefully we never need to test the hypothesis. But if we do… I’ll be here to say, we squandered 2-yrs on kabuki-masking.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Marchmaine says:

      How fast do you want to react? Are you willing to really accept the trade-offs imbedded in that change of pace?

      I ask because the FDA and CDC went from zero to EUAs on adult vaccines in about 5 months, which in FDA Time is a record. Then they went from EUA to full authorized in under 6 months – again really really fast. They went from zero to EUA for the Covid Treatment Pill in about 4 months. All those represent a good balance between emergent need and processes to maintain human safety ( you do recall that a good many conservative commentators – including here – use that fast time line as a reason to NOT get vaxxed).

      As to pre-scaling production – we spent $1 Billion under Trump to pre-scale vax production and its attendant R&D. What you are talking about would be billions more. DO you think Senate Republicans would support that if Biden introduced it tomorrow?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

        The pivot from “PEOPLE ARE DYING!” to “well, you have to understand…” and back and back again lessens the impact of both points, no matter how true they might be.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Jaybird says:

          Its not a pivot. Both things cane be and are true simultaneously. People are dying – and to date it’s been increasingly unvaccinated people. It is also true that the FDA and CDC have moved with unheard of speed to address vaccines and treatments. They did so because they were told to do so, and because Congress authorized enough funds for the initial vaccine development that the private companies who do that work agreed to put other stuff aside and hustle.Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to Philip H says:

        Start your stopwatch right now, on Dec-1st.

        We have a new version of Covid (Omicron) which the CEO of Moderna says should be expected to be vaccine resistant.

        We’re hearing from the FDA that they’re working with Moderna to make a new vaccine. Moderna says it will take a few months (like 2-4).

        Modena and Pfizer have shown that their technology works(*), one assumes they didn’t fire all the scientists who made it a year ago, one assumes everyone has learned stuff and will be better/faster this time.

        If the FDA approves Vaccine-2(**) in less time then Biden and his crew are doing great. If next year in December we’re still waiting it will be because Trump did a better job at that.

        (*) Not including Johnson and Johnson. Their science worked but they dropped the ball repeatedly at handing it over to the engineers on the production line.

        (**) Real Name TBD.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Philip H says:

        “How fast do you want to react? Are you willing to really accept the trade-offs imbedded in that change of pace?”


        Part of the point of faster is that approving a new type of vaccine mRNA, should *also* carry a re-assessment of the approval process and requirements for mRNA v.1.2 or 2.0 — that’s a big part of an Executive push to create a new model with appropriate safeguards.

        Global Pandemic is the trade-off we’re making. We’re never going for Covid-0 or dealing with chronic issues… we’re trading risk for risk. And risk management/calculations will change over time.

        If anything, treating Covid like a disease that we’re trying to cure rather than a risk we’ll looking to mitigate is probably the meta-failure of our general policy/approach.Report

  5. As you might recall, Obama was being blamed for the recession even before he was inaugurated, because of course business investment was down with one of them about to be president.Report

  6. Kazzy says:

    I like how the Tweet, while attacking Biden, also can’t let go of the conspiracy theory that Covid deaths were being artificially and intentionally inflated (e.g., dying “with Covid” and dying “from Covid).


    • Pinky in reply to Kazzy says:

      But doesn’t this article do the same thing? It says, “But let’s just say that this statistic is incredibly deceptive. Even if weren’t, it would be utterly meaningless.” And it’s not wrong to do that, to say to an opponent that even if I grant his terms, he still doesn’t prove what he wanted to.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Pinky says:

        The article says, “The number is unreliable and useless.”

        The Tweet says the opposite: “The number is unreliable BUT we’ll use it to bludgeon our opponent.”Report