UPDATED: A W.H.O. gift to Biden: Seemingly fewer COVID-19 infections

Justin Reyes administers a COVID-19 test to Maria Suarez outside Heartland Health Centers in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood on July 10, 2020. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

Justin Reyes administers a COVID-19 test to Maria Suarez outside Heartland Health Centers in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood on July 10, 2020. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

A new testing guideline arrives just in time to   show that the pandemic is abating. Hail Biden

If you see a dramatic decrease in the number of infections over the next few weeks, credit the World Health Organization for fixing a problem with the testing procedure that some experts said over-counted the number of infections.

Under the new guideline, you might see a possibly dramatic decline the in the infection rate.

The kicker: The W.H.O. announced the correction on Jan. 20, the same day that President Donald Trump left office and Joe Biden was inaugurated.

Call it a coincidence. Or a quid pro quo for Biden from the W.H.O for restoring the United States’ membership in the organization, a payoff that will cost American taxpayers more than $400 million.

The guideline can get rather technical, but here are a couple of places that might help the layman: WHO releases new tightened guidelines regarding the diagnostic criteria for COVID-19. PCR positive no longer means you have COVID-19. You need a second test to confirm you have the virus and Why PCR Cycle Threshold Is Useful in Coronavirus Testing— It can help better triage patients, physician argues.

Let’s see if I can boil it down. Under the old guideline, test results came back either “positive” or “negative.” Some experts warned that the the simple yes-or-no option was too “sensitive,” so much so that the test would include not-so-serious levels of infection.

(This next four paragraphs are new) The data based on these yes-or-n0 tests would tend to exaggerate the seriousness of the infection because the threshold for declaring a yes was so ultra sensitive that it could include people only slightly infected or showing no symptoms. Or who are unlikely to pass on the disease. All these different levels of seriousness would be batched together with more serious or even fatal cases.

Or let me try to explain this another way: When using certain tests, the measure of the seriousness of the infection if something called “cycles.” If you spin with higher thresholds–say 40 cycles–the chances of getting a false positive, because this ultra sensitive test might tell you that you are infected, but only because the test is picking up, say, dead viruses. But it never detected the real virus because it didn’t show up at lower levels.

But if you spin at only, say 30 cycles, the test will reveal the real virus and you never in danger of getting the false positives at the higher levels.

I should note that it’s up to each lab to determine how many cycles it will use. But if many decide to use the new guidelines and switch to a lower spin cycle, it could correct the serious overstatement of the incidence.

The policy implications are dire. Data that overstate, perhaps vastly so, the infection rate will lead to overreactions–shutting down schools and businesses, confining pe0ple to their homes and to overly long quarantines. And to crippling economic and emotional distress.

So, the  new guideline will produce a more accurate test, thereby revealing to doctors the degree of seriousness of the infection, allowing them to better prescribe treatments. The new method for collecting  data will enable policy makers to better prescribe such things as how open the economy can be.

If you’re still with me, congratulations. This isn’t easy going, but a lot about this pandemic isn’t. The problem is explained in another way in a New York Times article:

The standard [previous] tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus.

Most of these people are not likely to be contagious, and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time.

The new guidelines have been little noticed outside of medical professionals, and as far as can tell,  I am may be the only layman writing about it.

But the consequences of the change could be immense. The number of cases is the one measure that gets the most attention in the media. For some, it is the best measure to most accurately gauge the extent of the pandemic, and over time it is used to conclude whether the pandemic is intensifying or receding.

So, the question now: If the new way of conducting tests is more accurate, why wasn’t the guideline changed sooner, months ago when experts understood the problem?

Inexplicably the effective date of the new guideline was Jan. 13, but it wasn’t published until Jan. 20, the date of Biden’s inauguration. Was it delayed to mute a possible Trump complaint that the seriousness of the pandemic was overstated because of “fake” data? Was the announcement of the new guideline held up until Biden took office so that the new data would “prove” that Biden was doing a better job than Trump?

I’ve watched the Chicago Way in action long enough to customarily suspect that political skulduggery is in play, on an international scale. If so, it would be a stunning betrayal if a health organization could be so politicized that it would fudge something that would otherwise help the world deal with the pandemic.

Whatever the reason, the implementation of a more accurate method of gauging the pandemic is a welcome development. Anything that helps us better understand how to deal with this novel coronavirus will save lives.

The problem is that experts were aware of the problem months ago. The change should have come months ago.

 

Filed under: Health

Tags: COVID-19, testing

Comments

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  • With our crop of corruptocrats, not just in Chicago and the Demokratik People's Republik of Illinois, but also the now re-expanding DC swamp - Political skullduggery should always be the #1 presumed reason they do anything until proven otherwise - if not corruption/skullduggery, the #2 most prevalent reason will be incompetence/stupidity or virtue signaling

  • In reply to Archangel999:

    Nonsense!

  • I recall in March of 2020 how this was a scam invented by Democrats. Then, at one point, Trump indicated that he knew all along how serious this was, but didn't want to say so publicly as to keep from alarming people. Anecdotally, I've been hearing from friends on the right that "the day after the election, this will all go away". Well, to be honest, I heard that back in May of last year, but wasn't really hearing it so much after then.

    In the meantime, the Chinese government has been doing amazing things like setting up massive hospitals in less than a month. They've been taking extreme measures like physically locking people in buildings and immediately testing EVERYONE in cities of millions when they get a dozen positive tests. Russia pushed through a vaccine in only a few weeks longer time than it took the miracle that Trump enabled. Our allies in Europe have been destroying their own economies and seeing thousands of dead, all the while trying to hold down the infections they see.

    And now, 'coincidentally', the day of the inauguration, the WHO throws a bone to Biden. But, they do so in a way that no one, other than Dennis, will actually notice.

    Anyone noticing a trend? You can claim that this is a scam any way, any time, without anyone actually holding you to it. Of course it is a scam. Of course, people have been claiming it is a scam. Of course, the goalposts have been getting moved for almost a year, all the while ignoring all the evidence from all over the world. Because the people claiming scam sure don't want the sheep to look at evidence. And honestly, the people who want to believe in a scam aren't doing so because of evidence, either.

    So, yes, the whole thing is a scam, invented by Democrats. That seems about right.

  • In reply to dave77:

    Balderdash!

  • The WHO was recommending the PCR tests be at 45 cycles (hmmmm?) until this recent change, Jan 20. At that sensitivity, positive test results were inevitable for many millions of people who were never infected or had once been infected, or who even had a coronavirus due to the common cold.

    Some laymen and scientists have been noting the PCR test sensitivity for months, but they were usually de-platformed in the name of unity and science.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    It's important to note the laymen who have been speaking out about test procedures for viruses. The lay opinion really is the one that holds the most weight.

    You really didn't take long to just turn into full 'Troll' mode.

    Do you think Biden is wearing his mask right now?

  • In reply to dave77:

    When the medical opinion, as voiced by Dr. Facui and others, has contradicted itself many times, then, yes, opinions of laypeople -- many of them scientists who understand and read studies-- are valid to consider. Not to mention clinical doctors far removed from the PhD's of government agencies, which you apparently swear fidelity to .

    Let me get this right: I criticize the hypocrisy in current government officials and their decrees vs actions and that is being a "troll"? I must have missed your admonitions of so many on here pointing out the Trump contradictions. Knowing that you are not a troll, but a vaunted objective commentator on all things social and political you will be more than willing to provide a link to your work. Please do.

    Also, can you manage to post something without a personal attack, especially since you choose to remain anonymous? Considering you allow me to live rent-free in your head it would be nice to know who my landlord is.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    > Let me get this right: I criticize the hypocrisy in current government officials and their decrees vs actions and that is being a "troll"

    Yes. You aren't a troll for criticizing hypocrisy. You are a troll for saying "Biden didn't wear a mask" over and over, without bothering to read what his EO said. Following the dictates of the CDC doesn't make him a hypocrite. Picking at a senseless detail without context makes you a troll.

    And stating your opinion as though it were fact, not anecdote, while acting like it is a fact makes you a troll. The opinion of laypeople aren't valid to consider. I don't ask my neighbor if they think I have diabetes, regardless of how intelligent they are. "Reading studies" doesn't make you qualified to do anything. A lifetime of writing studies in the area of concern makes you qualified.

    The Right has a legacy of stating their disdain for the 'elites'. The reason constantly seems to be that they don't understand what elites do or how one becomes an 'elite'.

    Just like you continually pointed out that Jill Biden had done something wrong by using the 'PhD' after her name, but couldn't give a single example of what wrong thing might have been or when she might have done it. Nor did you have any answer for non-Democrats who use the PhD or what the circumstances were when someone might use it. You are a troll. Make a valid point, defend or abandon it. Answer a question about your point of view. Stop asking to see personal details of people who disagree with you. If your point of view can't withstand anonymous attack on an anonymous discussion board, or you point of view depends on reading the minds of the people who disagree with you ("which you apparently swear fidelity to"), maybe YOU are the person in the wrong place.

    "Considering you allow me to live rent-free in your head it would be nice to know who my landlord is.". Get over yourself. You occupy no space in my head. We both comment on the same anonymous internet board. What arrogance to assume that spotting your mistakes must rely on some all engrossing interest in your self...

  • In reply to dave77:

    Your rancor and hubris and personal attacks are not worthy of any kind of response. You seem very angry. A sore winner, if you will. With quite a bit of time on his? hands, I might add.

    Unless I fold in with your slanted view of the world I am wrong? I think that is the take away here.

    Have you considered anger management therapy? Might want to, bud.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    I haven't said anything about you personally. I just point out your behavior and how it continually demonstrates that you don't understand what you are talking about and how your refusal to provide even the most basic answers to questions about your point of view demonstrate that you aren't interested in discussing a point of view.

    Your repeated mantra of "Biden didn't wear a mask" demonstrates this. You were asked multiple times about the use of "PhD" and continually ignored questions. If you don't like what your behavior makes people assume about you, change your behavior. Otherwise...

    > Your rancor and hubris and personal attacks are not worthy of any kind of response.

    Again, a response meant to communicate that I'm not worthy of a response. Are you paying any attention to what you write? Do you not think that people who read you are able to form an opinion of their own based on your responses? They don't need to read anything I write to decide what they want to think about you.

    > Unless I fold in with your slanted view of the world I am wrong?

    A response with the subtlety of a child. How about, you know, answering a question when someone proposes one? How about, you know, stop worrying about where I live and maybe spend some time focusing on what you are actually writing.

    These are all the actions of a troll. Stop acting like one if you don't want people to think you are one.

  • In reply to dave77:

    You can't get away from the personal attack, can you? It may shock you that I can state my opinion without having to provide reason or sources to you or anybody else.

    You rant on and on and on and insist -- with anger-- that people defend their opinions. May I suggest that you pitch CN and write your own blog instead of being a troll and commenting on every post Dennis writes? I'm sure your style and grace and attitude will win you ones of followers.

    Here is what is going to happen. I will continue to comment as long as Dennis allows me, and any solid blocks of rancid prose you post in response will be ignored by me.

    And will still be living rent-free in your head, whether I respond or not. I find that amusing.

    You must have some snow to shovel. The exertion can help work off your frustrations.

    Good luck. And relax. And goodbye.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    > It may shock you that I can state my opinion without having to provide reason or sources to you or anybody else.

    The ultimate narcissist. You actually have no interest in engaging with anyone. You feel that others are equivalent to the clouds that you shout at. You just get to do this while online because it is cold outside.

    > And will still be living rent-free in your head,

    I haven't read textbooks about narcissism, but I would assume that someone who assumes that the world is constantly obsessing about them is probably discussed.

    > instead of being a troll and commenting on every post Dennis writes

    Right? Why would anyone assume that a blog that is integrated with this comment system would actually be open to comments?

    You've done a great job of letting everyone know how credible you are. I'm imagining people reading what you write and trying to figure out if they agree with you and then wondering why they agree with you. After all, someone who admits ahead of time that they have no interest (ability?) to defend a position is admitting quite a bit about that position.

    You think that calling you a Troll is a personal attack, but you've just admitted that you are a Troll. Someone who posts provocative opinions with no attempt, ever, to defend them or reply to a question is the definition of a Troll. It's amazing that you spend more time asking about the personal details of those posting comments than you do providing details of your own comments.

    Dennis, is repeated attempts at doxxing against the Terms of Service of this website or your own personal Terms of Service?

  • In reply to dave77:

    And thus I am thinking of barring anonymous comments here.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    And yes, it is my blog and I decide who gets to comment.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    No one disputes that. You seem a little selective in who you choose to allow to comment and who you don't and what comments you decide to filter and which you decide not to filter is all.

    If you are standing up to claim your rights to decide who gets to comment, isn't the honorable thing to do to be forthcoming about what your criteria are?

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Dr. Fauci is a world-renowned epidemiologist. Who are the scientists and clinical doctors you apparently swear fidelity to? And which studies are they reading?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Jerry, Fauci has been wrong numerous times during this pandemic alone. One might even claim he lied to the American public. He appeared on Jan 21, 2020 and said masks were totally unnecessary, only to change his mind when it became clear that medical personnel had enough masks. Lie or stupidity? You decide.

    Going back in time Fauci was wrong about the AIDS crisis. He proclaimed that AIDS would spread like wildfire thought the hetro community. It never did.

    Now, Fauci is stating that one should wear two masks. This is a tacit admission that one mask does not work.

    If you could be intellectually honest you could find studies on epidemiology that run counter to Fauci and Brix et al, but you have a confirmation bias so I don't expect you will search too hard.

    In addition, the WHO itself, until March 2020, advised against lockdowns, which was the protocol for the last 100 years of epidemiology practice. The WHO suddenly reversed course, tossing all that history out the window, and followed the lead of one of their biggest benefactors, China.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    > The WHO suddenly reversed course, tossing all that history out the window, and followed the lead of one of their biggest benefactors, China.

    That seems like an odd remark, considering that China was actively locking down entire cities in March of 2020.

  • In reply to dave77:

    The reversed course was the WHO's stated view, prior to March 2020, that lockdowns do not work and should not be done.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    I assume you would be willing to provide a citation for the WHO stating that lockdowns should not be done?

    Everything I've seen is that their position is that lockdowns are a last resort and should only be done as a way to buy time while more effective and less onerous solutions can be put in place.

    But, you've remarked multiple times that this has been the position of the WHO, so surely you have some proof to back this up, right?

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Poppycock!

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thank you for being civil, which is more than the anonymous and angry people who seem to populate Dennis' articles.

  • "Call it a coincidence. Or a quid pro quo for Biden from the W.H.O for restoring the United States' membership in the organization, a payoff that will cost American taxpayers more than $400 million."

    Any proof or evidence, Dennis? Or just a partisan hypothesis?

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