What “Science!” Cannot Do

Science is a tool with limitations. Science does not tell you how you should live your life, and science does not tell politicians what policies they should set. It may and, in many circumstances does, provide helpful information in making such decisions, but it cannot make the decisions.

The governor does not have access to a book, helpfully labeled “SCIENCE” on the cover, that informs her on page seven that, according to the science, she should not further reduce restrictions in the state until a vaccine is available. Science cannot answer that question. Science does not tell you how to balance the many considerations that make up a human life. And we should stop pretending (for a game of pretend is all it is), that it does or can. Read more»

David Shane, “Science Can’t Tell Gov. Whitmer How and When To Reopen Michigan” Detroit News

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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18 comments

  1. Always capitalize “SCIENCE!” because you are shouting down those who are merely using “science” or reasonably disagreeing with the consensus.

    BTW, the most accurate scientific take was that of Dr. Ioannidis. See also Sweden.

    • Out of curiosity, how was Sweden’s take “accurate”? The website you cite reports 5880 coronavirus deaths (out of a population of 10.2 million). Next-door Norway, for comparison, reports 270 deaths (out of half the population, 5.4 million). A death rate roughly ten times larger does not sound like a successful strategy to me.

  2. Depends on whether Norway’s deaths have merely been pushed to the future. “Flattening the curve” merely widens the standard deviation of the curve to spare excess deaths due to hospital resources, it does not change the total area under it. Of course, as Dr. Ioannidis’ article states, there are huge drawbacks to lockdowns such as suicides, economic calamity, child abuse, spousal abuse, divorce, school shutdowns. For example, they estimate that 75,000 extra people will commit suicide this year due to the conseqeunces of the coronavirus lockdown. Monomaniacally attempting to control a virus at the expense of all other risk factors is not a successful strategy.

    Also, many countries with severe lockdowns such as the UK have higher deaths/million population than Sweden. It’s not at all obvious that the lockdowns worked, and the Lancet admitted this in a published article recently.

    https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/vilified-early-over-lax-coronavirus-strategy-sweden-seems-to-have-scourge/

    The equation “Lockdown = SCIENCE!” has not at all been proven.

    • I disagree. All of Scandinavia is together averaging under 10 COVID-19 deaths per day. It’s not clear to me that the thousands of deaths in Sweden, versus hundreds of deaths in the other three countries, gave Sweden any advantage.

      You are wrong that flattening the curve simply pushes the same number of COVID-related deaths to the future. We know much more about this disease and its treatments compared to March (when the article you cite was written). The US death rate per infected rate seems to be much lower, compared to earlier in the year.

      I certainly agree that preventing the spread of the virus is not the only issue that needs to be addressed. But I don’t know who is “Monomaniacally attempting to control” the virus, so I don’t know whom you are arguing against. The opinion piece by Prof. Shane doesn’t cite any specific policies or anything, so I don’t know how to respond to that. And the original mlive article discussed how Gov. Whitmer was reopening gyms and schools and contained her description of how working with businesses was helping the state economy.

  3. I disagree. All of Scandinavia is together averaging under 10 COVID-19 deaths per day. It’s not clear to me that the thousands of deaths in Sweden, versus hundreds of deaths in the other three countries, gave Sweden any advantage.

    The death rate was definitely higher than other Scandinavian countries, but Belgium and the UK both had very strict lockdowns and the death rate was even higher than Sweden’s. Sweden’s advantage is getting back to normal while the rest of Europe goes through a second wave. Right now, the daily deaths in all the Nordic countries are about the same.

    You are wrong that flattening the curve simply pushes the same number of COVID-related deaths to the future. We know much more about this disease and its treatments compared to March (when the article you cite was written). The US death rate per infected rate seems to be much lower, compared to earlier in the year.

    I’ll partially concede that we know more about it and how to treat it. For example, we’re getting much smarter about the use of respirators and have come up with some drug therapies. However, we already know a lot about coronaviruses generally. Saying “THERE’S SO MUCH WE DON’T KNOW” is squid ink.

    The falling death rate per infected rate (IFR) is mostly an artifact of younger healthier people getting the disease and recovering from it. See also this. There is much argument over whether those who have died WITH COVID died OF COVID. The CARES Act financial incentives for hospitals were to count those who died WITH COVID as those who died OF COVID, though the patients who died OF COVID had on average 2.6 comorbidities. Only around 9,000 patients who died OF COVID had no comorbidities. This will probably have to be determined using the excess death estimates. Liberals say the COVID 19 deaths have been undercounted; conservatives say they’ve been overcounted. The politics will doubtless find its way into the scientific discussion. It already has.

    I certainly agree that preventing the spread of the virus is not the only issue that needs to be addressed. But I don’t know who is “Monomaniacally attempting to control” the virus, so I don’t know whom you are arguing against.

    California and any other lockdown state or country.

    The opinion piece by Prof. Shane doesn’t cite any specific policies or anything, so I don’t know how to respond to that.

    Here’s an idea: you could look through the history of Whitmer’s COVID policies and say what you agreed with and why. If you want to continue this discussion, you should assume some of the burden of proof and not merely provide FUD.

    And the original mlive article discussed how Gov. Whitmer was reopening gyms and schools and contained her description of how working with businesses was helping the state economy.

    Whitmer’s “working with businesses helping the state economy” seems to be something of a political Rorschach test.

    • I purposefully compared Sweden to the rest of Scandinavia since those countries are presumably similar and readily comparable, rather than to the rest of Europe. The question remains, whether the thousands of additional deaths in Sweden gives them any advantage, as Europe (including Scandinavia) faces a second wave. Meanwhile, it’s not clear to me, given the half-hearted and inconsistent measures that the US has taken, whether the first wave ever ended here.

      I’d rather not wade thru a different state’s COVID policies at all, and especially not to respond to Shane’s generic complaints. If he had problems with Whitmer misapplying specific research to particular policies, he might have said so.

      As an aside: The article you cite says, “This analysis shows that the fatality rate from COVID-19 has declined in all age groups, and the older age groups drive the overall reduction.” This is opposite of the artifact you claim. So it’s reasonable to think this is because more younger people are getting it (also maybe because of better and more extensive testing), but I don’t see it here? Can you provide other evidence for this?

  4. I purposefully compared Sweden to the rest of Scandinavia since those countries are presumably similar and readily comparable, rather than to the rest of Europe.

    How are the Nordic countries incomparable to the UK and Belgium or even the rest of Europe?

    The question remains, whether the thousands of additional deaths in Sweden gives them any advantage, as Europe (including Scandinavia) faces a second wave

    You don’t sound like you draw a private sector paycheck. Sweden is not locking down again while Denmark is. This “start/stop” is murder on commerce, mental health, and the social fabric. Seen any riots lately? How’s the unemployment rate? Doesn’t the suicide rate go up one percent for each percent increase in unemployment? Aren’t men who get divorced much more likely to kill themselves? (I’ve known 2 from my own circle who’ve done this).

    Meanwhile, it’s not clear to me, given the half-hearted and inconsistent measures that the US has taken, whether the first wave ever ended here.

    Ours is a country of 330 million people composed of 50 states. Expecting uniformity is a pipe dream. I felt like the lockdown in my state was pretty darn serious. The data shows that IFRs by state depended on many things. Some of the biggest IFRs were in NY and NJ where infected patients were sent back to nursing homes. Both states had lockdowns but failed to protect the most vulnerable.

    As an aside: The article you cite says, “This analysis shows that the fatality rate from COVID-19 has declined in all age groups, and the older age groups drive the overall reduction.” This is opposite of the artifact you claim. So it’s reasonable to think this is because more younger people are getting it (also maybe because of better and more extensive testing), but I don’t see it here? Can you provide other evidence for this?

    Yep. The artifact is largely due to who’s being tested and when. Younger people get milder cases and don’t go in for testing. When you measure more of them, the overall CFR falls. In places where they were already testing all age groups according to the age structure of the population such as Germany, the CFR falls when the virus works its way through the elderly. The CFR and IFR are heavily dependent on who’s coming in for testing and the demographic mix of the population.

    Doubtless some of the reduction in CFR effect is improved treatments and better protection of the elderly, but even this seems regional. This article finds no difference between the IFR of NY earlier in the year with the IFR in AZ now. Both states have almost identical proportions of people over 65 years of age, so this makes sense. Note also that if treatment had really improved that much the AZ doctors are not being made aware.

    Anyways, it’s been real. If you want to post some studies rather than cast doubt on mine, I’ll be happy to re-engage.

    • > How are the Nordic countries incomparable to the UK and Belgium or even the rest of Europe?

      I’m comparing Scandinavia because of location, culture, climate, and most importantly, population density. Denmark is somewhat higher, but in population density Sweden is pretty close to Norway and Finland. Belgium’s population density is 16 times higher than Sweden’s, which matters for a highly infectious disease.

      > You don’t sound like you draw a private sector paycheck.

      If you must know, I’m earning a total of $25 this year from my side hustle.

      Also I don’t know how to embed links, as you will soon see.

      > This “start/stop” is murder on commerce, mental health, and the social fabric.

      And the virus literally kills people. Which besides killing people, is bad for the economy. This study is rather old (May): https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-calculus-death-covid-lockdown-worth.html
      but its projections indicate that the lockdown in Australia prevented far more deaths than were added from suicide and other causes. Obviously, the degree and duration of a lockdown needs to be balanced against other factors. And while we know a lot more now than in March, there are still a lot of gaps in the data. Which to circle back to my original point, is that I haven’t seen any convincing evidence that Sweden’s response to the virus was particularly successful.

  5. I’m comparing Scandinavia because of location, culture, climate, and most importantly, population density. Denmark is somewhat higher, but in population density Sweden is pretty close to Norway and Finland. Belgium’s population density is 16 times higher than Sweden’s, which matters for a highly infectious disease.

    This kind of depends on how rural vs. urban the population is more than surface area of the country. A big problem in Sweden, as in the US, was that the virus got into nursing homes. You can lockdown everyone else all you want but if the virus gets into nursing homes it’s going to kill.

    If you must know, I’m earning a total of $25 this year from my side hustle.

    So, no, you earn no substantial money from the private sector. Skin in the game really helps credibility.

    And the virus literally kills people. Which besides killing people, is bad for the economy. This study is rather old (May)

    This is true every year. We have a cold and flu season every year. As Dr. Ioannidis noted, 48% of elderly patients die with some sort of lower respiratory infection, many with CFRs in excess of 8%. This year, we decided to declare that those who died WITH a novel coronavirus died OF it. Why?

    This study is rather old (May): https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-calculus-death-covid-lockdown-worth.html
    but its projections indicate that the lockdown in Australia prevented far more deaths than were added from suicide and other causes

    The assumptions of that study are very much in doubt:

    With no lock-down measures other than the quarantine of suspected cases, the government believes 68% of people would contract the virus. Our estimates suggest this would result in more than 287,000 deaths from COVID-19 as the health system could not cope with the volume.

    Let’s do some back of the envelope math. You have to take the population of Australia, multiply by .68 and the IFR to arrive at 287,000. Using a population of 25 million and solving for the IFR, I get 1.6% The two articles I linked above gave an IFR of .6% for NY and AZ. As we now know, the IFRs are not the same everywhere but tend to be much lower than the estimates made early in the pandemic. Assuming it was 3x deadlier than last year’s flu which had an IFR of .18 with roughly 60,000 deaths, it’s unclear we saved any lives at all with the lockdowns here since we’ve had over 200,000 deaths, unless you want to argue that the deaths are overcounted. I very much doubt Australia would come close to 287,000 deaths if they did nothing at all. They have an age structure identical to NY and AZ which both had an IFR of .6%, or roughly 3x lower than used in the study above. On to the economic assumptions of your study:

    The projections for increases in unemployment if the lock-down continues are grim, some pointing to an unemployment rate of up to 15% which might not return to normal for up to a decade.

    Well, this will certainly be true if we drag this out forever, but not if we treat it like any other flu season with extra precautions like more handwashing and steps to protect the elderly and at-risk. What about the social fabric?

    Obviously, the degree and duration of a lockdown needs to be balanced against other factors.

    I see very little balance from Western nation-states.

    And while we know a lot more now than in March, there are still a lot of gaps in the data. Which to circle back to my original point, is that I haven’t seen any convincing evidence that Sweden’s response to the virus was particularly successful.

    I doubt you will since our politics and lives influence how we interpret the data (paging Jonathan Haidt). The rest of us do not have forever to wait for all the data to come in to give an optimal solution. Business runs quarter-to-quarter. Lives are being ruined.

    • Yeah, I failed to actually explain the side-hustle thing. The $25 I’m earning this year is a minuscule fraction of what I’d normally earn. Beyond that I am, for some reason, reluctant to discuss personal finances on the internet.

      > This year, we decided to declare that those who died WITH a novel coronavirus died OF it.

      Who is this “we”? What evidence do you have of it? Beyond various facebook memes, I mean. Comorbidity was not invented to make this virus seem worse than it is.

      >> I haven’t seen any convincing evidence that Sweden’s response to the virus was particularly successful.
      > I doubt you will since our politics and lives influence how we interpret the data
      You haven’t shared any data which shows that Sweden’s response was successful. The only link you shared about Sweden was a NY Times article which said their death rate was very high early on, and they now may or may not have things under control. I doubt there’s any conclusive evidence anywhere that can simply say whether Sweden’s approach was successful. But I reject the simplistic statements that they did things fine.

      > Lives are being ruined.
      209,000 American lives have been ultimately ruined so far.

  6. Yeah, I failed to actually explain the side-hustle thing. The $25 I’m earning this year is a minuscule fraction of what I’d normally earn. Beyond that I am, for some reason, reluctant to discuss personal finances on the internet.

    I’m not interested in your finances, only in if the private sector pays your bills.

    Who is this “we”? What evidence do you have of it? Beyond various facebook memes, I mean. Comorbidity was not invented to make this virus seem worse than it is.

    I’m saying that hospitals have financial incentives to count COVID-infected patients as COVID deaths despite their average 2.6 comorbidities. This could significantly inflate the death count. The CDC will probably spend the next couple of years revising the data, just like it does for the flu.

    I haven’t seen any convincing evidence that Sweden’s response to the virus was particularly successful.

    How are you defining success? You posted a study from Australia saying that lockdowns saved lives counting the deaths due to the economic fallout. If you take Sweden’s deaths per million (roughly 600) and multiply by 25 (the millions in Australia), you arrive at 15,000 deaths, which is a 20x lower death count than your study for minimal precautions like Sweden used. The US has an even higher death rate per million and we had extensive lockdowns in many places. Your study was junk. What proof do you have that lockdowns work? Why is the burden of proof on those of us who want to get on with our lives as we’ve always done?

    209,000 American lives have been ultimately ruined so far.

    Are those deaths WITH COVID or OF COVID? The data is tainted by the financials and politics. Nearly 3 million people die in the US every year of all causes. The excess deaths I cited earlier will give a much more honest assessment of deaths FROM COVID than the current count.

    • > How are you defining success?
      You first said that Sweden’s “take” was “accurate.” I replied that a death rate significantly higher than neighboring countries does not seem successful to me. If you have data that show otherwise, please share.

      > What proof do you have that lockdowns work?
      One side effect of social distancing/mask wearing/lockdowns/etc. is that the last flu season ended 5-6 weeks early. (Hopefully it’s clear that influenza is not COVID, but they are spread thru similar means and therefore similar measures are effective at preventing transmission.)

      > Why is the burden of proof on those of us who want to get on with our lives as we’ve always done?
      How about, because you can still become infected, putting yourself and others at risk?

      > Are those deaths WITH COVID or OF COVID?
      I’m not sure why you think this is different. You realize, I hope, that (statistically) most of the people with comorbidities who died of COVID would still be alive if they had not contracted the disease?

      > The excess deaths I cited earlier will give a much more honest assessment of deaths FROM COVID than the current count.
      This is true. And COVID deaths are likely undercounted, possibly by 26% or more: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.31.20184036v3.full.pdf
      You had a bad link on “financial incentives” in the above comment. If you have evidence that hospitals are over-counting COVID deaths, please share.

  7. The Great Barrington Declaration: real public health science.

    As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

    Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

    Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

    Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.

    As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.

    The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.

    Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.

    Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

    As far as I can determine, our lockdown policy was devised by charlatans and fueled by a CCP propaganda campaign.

  8. You first said that Sweden’s “take” was “accurate.” I replied that a death rate significantly higher than neighboring countries does not seem successful to me. If you have data that show otherwise, please share.

    You don’t seem to understand Sweden’s strategy which is more-or-less the one in the Great Barrington Declaration. Sweden decided to get through the epidemic in one season and rejected the idea of lockdowns for the other harms they cause. They tried to protect the vulnerable in nursing homes. Their epidemic is over. To the extent that lockdowns worked for neighboring countries, they have to stay in lockdown or the virus never runs its course. This has a million negative effects on society, each with a death toll of its own.

    One side effect of social distancing/mask wearing/lockdowns/etc. is that the last flu season ended 5-6 weeks early. (Hopefully it’s clear that influenza is not COVID, but they are spread thru similar means and therefore similar measures are effective at preventing transmission.)

    This doesn’t get you through a pandemic, it only pushes the brunt of it to the future while increasing a host of other maladies mentioned in the Great Barrington Declaration. The viruses stay around until enough people become infected and recover that the virus can no longer multiply. Vaccines speed-up this process.

    “In our study, an increasing number of days to border closures was associated with a higher caseload, and more restrictive public health measures (such as a full lockdown compared to partial or curfew only measures) were associated with an increase in the number of recovered cases per million population,” the researchers reported. “These findings suggest that more restrictive public health practices may indeed be associated with less transmission and better outcomes.”

    “However, in our analysis, full lockdowns and wide-spread COVID-19 testing were not associated with reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality,” the researchers added.

    You can prove the last paragraph to yourself on the Worldometer site. Click on the “deaths per million” widget and compare the countries that had the high death tolls per million and whether they had a lockdown.

    How about, because you can still become infected, putting yourself and others at risk?

    What about all the other effects of the lockdown? Why do you ignore them? Motivated reasoning?

    I’m not sure why you think this is different. You realize, I hope, that (statistically) most of the people with comorbidities who died of COVID would still be alive if they had not contracted the disease?

    I’ve heard of strong pressure to mark the deaths with COVID from COVID due to the financial incentives. You seem to be ignoring most of my other points about this.

    This is true. And COVID deaths are likely undercounted, possibly by 26% or more: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.31.20184036v3.full.pdf

    I’d say it’s highly debatable and subject to political confirmation bias. They said they didn’t control for age because the effect of age would be partially captured in the historic mortality term. COVID deaths are overwhelmingly of people over the age of 70. If younger people are dying it’s due to other factors mentioned in the Great Barrington Declaration. I’d say you’re using another weak study that confirms your bias.

    • > They tried to protect the vulnerable in nursing homes.
      Unfortunately they failed very very badly at this.

      > Their epidemic is over.
      What evidence do you have of this? The very link you share shows that Daily New Cases have been increasing over the past month (faster than Norway, not as fast as Finland).

      > What about all the other effects of the lockdown?
      I’m not sure what you’re trying to show with the Daniel Hannan graph. That Sweden’s economy declined more than Norway’s and Finland’s?

      Furthermore, Science magazine reports that Sweden is slowly adopting the policies that most of the rest of Europe adopted. (The main point of this article is the unfortunate silencing of scientists who do not toe the government line, which is interesting in its own right. Also it implies that Sweden’s COVID mortality rate is significantly undercounted due to lack of testing.)
      https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/10/it-s-been-so-so-surreal-critics-sweden-s-lax-pandemic-policies-face-fierce-backlash

      > I’ve heard of strong pressure to mark the deaths with COVID from COVID due to the financial incentives. You seem to be ignoring most of my other points about this.
      It seems reasonable for a hospital to be recompensed with more cash, for a disease that is more expensive to treat. Do you have any evidence that hospitals are actually labeling deaths as falsely due to COVID? Meaning, specific instances, not general possibilities?

      > I’d say it’s [undercounting] highly debatable and subject to political confirmation bias.
      Do have data to support this? If not, then it starts to sound like wishful thinking.
      The Horowitz article you link to does not, itself, seem to link to the study it talks about, just selections from it, so there’s not much for me to comment about that.

      The Chaudhry article is very interesting, thank you for sharing. It seems counter-intuitive that full lockdowns are correlated to increased recovery rates but not to decreased mortality. I would have thought that recovery rate and mortality would be directly (negatively) correlated. Apparently, national preparedness and public health factors (obesity rate, etc.) are much more important for that.

  9. Unfortunately they failed very very badly at this.

    So did the United States. 40% of our deaths were in nursing homes. We had lockdowns, Sweden didn’t.

    What evidence do you have of this? The very link you share shows that Daily New Cases have been increasing over the past month (faster than Norway, not as fast as Finland).

    Their cases are increasing but their deaths are almost nil and they aren’t using the draconian measures of their neighbors. For the vast majority of people, this disease is harmless.

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to show with the Daniel Hannan graph. That Sweden’s economy declined more than Norway’s and Finland’s?

    I’m showing what the title says and what the Lancet article said. While there is no correlation between lockdowns and mortality, there is a strong correlation between lockdown and the economic effects with death tolls of their own that you refuse to see. I reject the idea that you get to cherry-pick other Nordic countries to make your case as if we can turn the rest of the world into Scandinavia.

    Furthermore, Science magazine reports that Sweden is slowly adopting the policies that most of the rest of Europe adopted.

    The author asserted that but did not prove it. The author’s evidence for the assertion was that they’d changed a few measures. It didn’t say they started lockdowns or other economy-crippling measures. Sweden had ALWAYS urged extra precautions.

    (The main point of this article is the unfortunate silencing of scientists who do not toe the government line, which is interesting in its own right. Also it implies that Sweden’s COVID mortality rate is significantly undercounted due to lack of testing.)

    Science is politicized everywhere. It’s one of the reasons for crumbling trust in it as an institution and for its declining quality. Lack of testing does not imply undercounted mortality rate. If anything, it’s the exact opposite. The more you test, the more you count the vast majority of infected people who have mild illness.

    It seems reasonable for a hospital to be recompensed with more cash, for a disease that is more expensive to treat.

    A better way of infusing hospitals with more cash is to resume normal operations. People have been avoiding treatment because they are afraid. This has another death toll of its own.

    Do you have any evidence that hospitals are actually labeling deaths as falsely due to COVID? Meaning, specific instances, not general possibilities?
    Here’s one. Here’s another example. Surely search engines work as well where you are? Are you not able to find stuff like this?

    Do have data to support this? If not, then it starts to sound like wishful thinking..

    Your assertion that COVID deaths are undercounted is just that: bald assertion. You posted one study that looked at excess deaths and concluded that COVID cases where undercounted. The study was weak because it didn’t control for age. I posted another excess death study showing that more youth were dying in one state of auto accidents and so forth. I’ve seen others showing that gunshot deaths went way up in other states. These tend to have younger victims. At best, you can say that undercounting is debatable.

    Speaking of debate, you’ve so far posted only two studies AT ALL. I refuted the first and you moved onto the next. So far, I’m the only one assuming burden of proof in this conversation. Do you not have to bolster your scientific claims with evidence in your line of work? How long will you ignore the fatal effects of lockdowns in your calculus?

    • > So far, I’m the only one assuming burden of proof in this conversation.
      You started by claiming that Sweden was doing something right. You still haven’t presented much of anything to support that claim. You reject a comparison to Sweden’s closest and most similar nations (ALL of whom are having an upswing in cases but fortunately not in deaths), and have tried to compare Sweden to a much more densely populated country in the middle of Europe and now to a much larger country that implemented lockdowns to various degrees in various locations. Possibly the most important thing that Sweden and the US had in common was a severe lack of testing, which I think Prof. Ioannidis would say is bad, whatever else he is saying.

      > The more you test, the more you count the vast majority of infected people who have mild illness.
      The point in the Science article is that Sweden may be undercounting COVID deaths because when someone who was never tested dies, their death cannot be labeled as due to coronavirus.

      Did you actually read the Arizona news article that you shared? It argues VERY strongly against your position. The most I can get from the two news reports is that bureaucracies make mistakes. Nowhere in either article is a hospital accused of anything. Just one pull quote: “Not only do most doctors not have a financial incentive to determine causes of death, but there are multiple steps in the medical billing and coding process that are designed to prevent “upcoding” from happening.”

      I’m not sure you directly linked to any Lancet article? I suppose you may not be referring to Cauchemez et al. (vol. 396, pp. 1068-1069), who say “Lockdown therefore appears to have been successful not only in alleviating the burden on the intensive
      care units of the two most severely affected regions of France, but also in preventing uncontrolled epidemics in other regions.”

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