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Epidemiology

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Epidemiology is the medical discipline that is keeping the world and more specifically the American economy on lockdown. From Wikipedia: Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the distribution (who, when, and where), patterns and determinants of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It is a cornerstone of public health, and shapes policy decisions and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare. Governments throughout history have distorted and destroyed economies thru war, regulation and sheer incompetence. The more typical problems are created by laws and regulation designed for some policy goal like full employment, lower interest rates etc. This is

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Epidemiology is the medical discipline that is keeping the world and more specifically the American economy on lockdown. From Wikipedia: Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the distribution (who, when, and where), patterns and determinants of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It is a cornerstone of public health, and shapes policy decisions and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare. Governments throughout history have distorted and destroyed economies thru war, regulation and sheer incompetence. The more typical problems are created by laws and regulation designed for some policy goal like full employment, lower interest rates etc. This is the first time in history where governments have deliberately cratered their own economies on purpose. The stated goal this time around is to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus called ‘covid-19’. Epidemiology is a medical specialty and this essay will discuss what is missing in this data that is presented non-stop by the mainstream media everywhere on the planet.

All animals die that is mortality. Morbidity are conditions that take an animal from the normative healthy state to a state of illness. Some illnesses are recovered from completely like a common cold, some are always fatal like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Some diseases have full recoveries and also derive future immunity such that the particular disease will be prevented in the future. If we consider the human body to be a computer then the acquired immunity is the software programming telling the hardware what to do. We program our immune system by getting sick and then recovering. Any parent of young children is all too familiar with this software paradigm.

Modern science has sought to improve on the human immune system by providing vaccinations. Vaccinations seek to trigger the immune response but without the often unpleasant step of getting sick first. Wikipedia provides a good introduction to vaccine science:

vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and to further recognize and destroy any of the microorganisms associated with that agent that it may encounter in the future. Vaccines can be prophylactic (to prevent or ameliorate the effects of a future infection by a natural or “wild” pathogen), or therapeutic (e.g., vaccines against cancer, which are being investigated).

The administration of vaccines is called vaccination. Vaccination is the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases; widespread immunity due to vaccination is largely responsible for the worldwide eradication of smallpox and the restriction of diseases such as poliomeasles, and tetanus from much of the world. The effectiveness of vaccination has been widely studied and verified; for example, vaccines that have proven effective include the influenza vaccine, the HPV vaccine, and the chicken pox vaccine. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that licensed vaccines are currently available for twenty-five different preventable infections.

The terms vaccine and vaccination are derived from Variolae vaccinae (smallpox of the cow), the term devised by Edward Jenner to denote cowpox. He used it in 1798 in the long title of his Inquiry into the Variolae vaccinae Known as the Cow Pox, in which he described the protective effect of cowpox against smallpox. In 1881, to honor Jenner, Louis Pasteur proposed that the terms should be extended to cover the new protective inoculations then being developed.

Vaccines work at various levels of efficacy. Some like polio and measles work extremely well, but other like the annual flu or other viruses that mutate quickly have various levels of efficacy. Any chemical introduces to the sterile interior of the body may cause problems that are called contra-indications. In a population of seven billion people and no two people share the exact same chemical makeup except identical twins there will be someone who reacts negatively to almost anything. In college one of my professors told me about a strain of white rat that has been developed by genetic selection to be very susceptible to almost anything, to which he added writing on the skin with a graphite pencil can induce lesions. The point here is that there are trade-offs in choosing vaccines. Should we vaccinate school age children against the measles which can be a devastating illness to many at the risk of the rare death of a few. Yes, I would say, but as the efficacy wanes and the negative reactions increase the choices become less than yes or no. I sent all of my children to college vaccinated against meningitis which is rare but devastating largely based on how dirty I remembered college dormitories to be. This was my choice. How and when to force vaccination is a grey area and the subject of intense debate. My point here is that flu/coronavirus efficacy may very well fall into this area. At age 50 would I get the vaccine? No, should I live to 80 probably, but this is my choice not public policy.

There is a great deal of medical information, ideas and conjectures spewed by the mainstream media 24×7. Much of it is scientistic: information that looks scientific but in fact is not. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized because this sad occurrence may be causing a great deal of harm.

When someone dies in the United States a licensed allopathic physician (Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathy) must sign the death certificate stating the cause of death. If the deceased is elderly and foul play is not suspected then an autopsy is not performed. The Center for Disease Control is the government agency that is charged with monitoring health of the American and World populations. It also collects and publishes the mortality data from death certificates. This data is published on their website and other locations. The data always lags the death events. In April 2020 the most recent data on their website is for 2017. From the CDC Fast Facts page:

Deaths and Mortality

Data are for the U.S.

  • Number of deaths: 2,813,503
  • Death rate: 863.8 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Life expectancy: 78.6 years
  • Infant Mortality rate: 5.79 deaths per 1,000 live births

Source: Deaths: Final Data for 2017, tables 1, 3, 13 pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB]

Number of deaths for leading causes of death:

  • Heart disease: 647,457
  • Cancer: 599,108
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
  • Diabetes: 83,564
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,672
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 50,633
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173

Coronaviruses are not new. They like Influenza have been around a long time and like the flu also change from genetic mutation, that is changes, in their genetic chemical constituency. Some mutations result in a weaker disease vector, some stronger. Influenza in particular varies significantly from year to year and the annual flu vaccine attempts to guess based on previous year what this year’s vaccine should be. As we can see from the above table Influenza killed more than fifty-five thousand people in 2017. The CDC publishes retroactive data on flu efficacy. It can be found here. Flu vaccines do not work 100% of the time that is they fail to prevent the flu in some percentage that received the vaccine. The retroactive data publishes the fact that this particular government program failed and actually fails to some extent each and every year. Radical! If only the Department of Defense or the Department of State, or any other government branch admitted failure. Every day I hear reporters ask the experts when will the vaccine be available to save us from the ravages of the coronavirus. The clamoring is nearly continuous.

A superb best-seller published in 1994 was titled ‘How We Die’. Each chapter explained a different cause of death. The author made the superb point that we all ultimately die of the same thing: lack of adequate oxygen to the brain to maintain homeostasis which is a fancy word for health. He also explained how a single disease like heart disease can affect other organ systems like the kidneys and the downward spiral begins. Heart attacks can be very quick, other diseases like Alzheimer’s very slow. A disease condition that has concomitant other factors are called ‘co-morbidities’. Co-morbidities are very very important when considering the Covid-19 pandemic.

Back to the 2017 data we can see the along with Influenza there is an additional category title ‘chronic lower respiratory diseases’ that added an additional 160,000+ fatalities. These are things that can be known facts like a lifelong smoker that develop chronic obstructive pulmonary, and others can be suspected but not known for certain like tuberculosis, these could be just educated guesses. Some of us just have more vibrant cardiopulmonary capacity than others. Training like long distance running could certainly help, but judicious selection of parents (genetics) could be another. The truth is there is no such thing as a healthy eighty year old, not in comparison to a fifty year old. There will always be co-morbidities creeping like in.

Bill Sardi has written eloquently and at length about possible co-morbidities like tuberculosis causing covid-19 fatalities. Bill is not a doctor or even a scientist. He is an author, like yours truly, that reads, thinks, collates and presents information. He has made the point that natural immunity gets a boost from sunlight exposure and that Influenza is nearly wiped out every year when the winter wanes, the day gets longer, temperatures increase, and those of us that live in the Northern Hemisphere get out of the house and get some fresh air. He also says that most Americans have a Vitamin-D deficiency that should be boosted with supplements and sunlight exposure. Colds, flus, and viral infection do seem to me to be a lot less frequent when things are warm.

Sunlight creates vitamin-D in the skin which is supposed to boost immunity. Another factor is increased sunlight in terms of hours per day and a thinner atmosphere to pass-thru which means the intensity of ultraviolet (UV) radiation increases dramatically. Radiation from the sun radiates from the sun and is called radiation, it is not the same radiation from radioactivity which radiates from a decaying unstable nucleus. This is ionizing radiation and while the sun does produce some it cannot pass-thru the atmosphere. Ultraviolet radiation is just a higher energy form of light that we cannot see. UV plays havoc with organic chemical bonds which is why too much UV and we get sunburn! This also means that it destroys viruses and bacteria on surfaces quickly. Old school barbershops used to have a small device they left their scissors and combs in overnight that used UV radiation from a lamp to do the sun’s work. Lamps that produce invisible UV also produce some purple light which is visible light at the highest energy we can see. This is what a ‘black light’ does. Nature produces melanin which makes the skin brown; very brown in sub-saharan Africans and lighter shades of brown in other areas closer to the equator. Melanin protects the body from the ravages of UV to a significant degree. The body’s DNA genetic replication system has a specific enzyme that walks along the DNA molecule and repairs UV damage; without this animals would never have gotten to the multi-cellular stage of life!

This author has looked for data in parts of the world that are much warmer than North America. Mexico, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia have billions of people yet the detailed statistics and status of their populations with respect to the Covid-19 Pandemic are notably lacking. This could certainly lend or remove credibility from Bill Sardi’s opinions. It might also tell us about what our near future could be.

The crux of this essay can now be addressed quite simply that what is lacking in all the media data about the Covid-19 Pandemic is a simple histogram of Covid-19 fatalities by age. It is also quite possible that mortality statistics for lower lung co-morbidities are now being thrown into the Covid-19 category pumping the death statistics that CNN displays non-stop. The CDC has this data, yet it is not presented. Every death certificate has an age of the deceased so all that is needed to plot a graph of the number of Covid-19 fatalities by age. This is called a histogram and most of us can interpret one. This will tell a lot about the co-morbidity issue that is almost certainly present, we do not die of one thing but many, it is just a race to the end. Sadly, I believe this information is being withheld on purpose, but that is one man’s opinion. However, at some point in the future if the CDC provides us with this data if we see that during the periods of Covid-19’s pandemic that the lower lung category goes down then we have our answer.

If the CDC presented this data, it would tell whether the reaction to this pandemic is justified. If 80% of all fatalities were under the age of 18 then it would, in my opinion, certainly be justified as protecting America’s future and the brutal economic toll exacted. On the other hand, if 80% of all fatalities were in persons 65 or older then it would certainly not be justified because most of us at that age are no longer working and are socially distanced already. If 80% of the fatalities are in persons 80 or older then we have punished ourselves mightily for no justifiable reason. Like almost all other government actions it punishes most those at the bottom of the economic pyramid, the poor. People without significant savings, vacation pay accrual or ability to borrow. History is clear that the human misery index of alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce and suicide all rise dramatically in every economic recession/depression. If this turns out to be the case this time around it is reasonable to see and hear Anderson Cooper Vanderbilt and his ilk present this needless tragedy long, loud and with lots of fancy graphics to make the point that the experts were wrong and to express sorrow and apology for their part in this needless world-wide human carnage. Only time will tell. Governments admitting fault to any extent do not exist.

In closing I would like to make the point that every doctor is considered a medical expert and their opinions are to be taken as scientific fact and that this is very dangerous. Thanks to my 20 years of working in academic and enterprise healthcare I learned that the majority of doctors do not have PhD’s and have not done published peer-reviewed research at the level of rigor of a hard scientist like a physicist, a chemist, biologist or a mathematician. Most physicians use the product of science but that does not make them scientists and they should not be treated as such. Talking heads that blither ‘scientistically’ just need to be ignored. If we as a society do not, then we do so at our own peril.

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