Dr Fauci has an insight


Incredible.

“One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority,” Fauci said.

Well, duh.

Comments

  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    … for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable …

    Oh please, Tony. There is no need to be obtuse, but If you’re afraid to say it, I will:

    The primary reason IS FUCKING RELIGION—ESPECIALLY EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANITY!

  2. markme says

    Well considering he lied to the world about wearing face masks and now even admits to it, it’s no wonder. This has cost thousands and thousands of lives.
    In the beginning, they said wearing masks wasn’t important, which we now (and then as well) know to be totally untrue. They did this to keep the n95 masks available for healthcare workers. But rather than admit that they were totally ill prepared, and requiring people to wear non professional homemade masks instead, they lied to us and just said that social distancing is more important and that the risk of spread beyond 2m is insignificant, which is total nonsense.

  3. Matt G says

    Correction: people listen to illegitimate authority (Bible, clergy, quacks), not legitimate, evidence-backed authority (scientists, MDs, etc.).

  4. markme says

    Also, the organization he heads, the National Inystitute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, funded the Wuhan lab which created the virus. They apparently did it for “gain of function research” where they intentionally modify the virus to make it more infective, purportedly for the purpose of furthering research into possible vaccines and treatments for such viruses should they ever arise naturally. Most of this virus seems to have originated from a sample the Wuhan “bat lady” collected in 2013 in some caves in the southern Yunnan province.

    Trouble is, the virus got out, and we gained no insight into vaccines… :(

    https://www.newsweek.com/dr-fauci-backed-controversial-wuhan-lab-millions-us-dollars-risky-coronavirus-research-1500741

    osp.od.nih.gov/biotechnology/gain-of-function-research/

  5. says

    “…they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority…”

    Probably because of all those right-wing extremist propagandists like Timothy Leary, Frank Zappa, Hunter S. Thompson, Roger Waters, Alan Ginsburg and…and…

    …oh…

  6. sparks says

    @ #5 markme:

    Newsweek is hardly the arbiter of truth. Thanks for playing. Please try again.

  7. says

    @markme 3
    I’m going to need to see the lie you are referring to.

    @markme 5
    You go straight from research meant to understand gain of function mutations, to “they made the virus”. You omitted some steps in demonstrating your conclusion.
    The article says,
    “U.S. intelligence, after originally asserting that the coronavirus had occurred naturally, conceded last month that the pandemic may have originated in a leak from the Wuhan lab.”

    Conceded? It’s politically useful and they’ve offered no evidence at all. I don’t see where that stuff about Yunnan and 2013 is. And I know that story is omitting the discovery of wild viruses that share covid 19 features.

  8. Duckbilled Platypus says

    @markme You’ve got a strange blend of conspiracy theories blended with hints of truth. For the record:

    The initial response was indeed that face masks did not seem effective enough and in case of shortages, should be preserved for close-contact medical personnel, especially with shortages. Given the high-risk they’re running, this seems fair. What seems unfair is to blame the ill-preparedness to the pandemic on the likes of the institutions that have been gutted by a ignorant government.

    Social distancing is far from total nonsense. Keeping away from other people keeps you safer. I don’t know of an infectious disease for which this isn’t true. Risk decreases with distance, plain and simple. Sue, with a relatively unknown virus and on-going research, the specifics of the measures keep being revised. We simply do not know enough about how exactly infections spread, but it sure as hell isn’t teleportation.

    The article you link to suggests, but does not confirm, the virus originated from the Wuhan lab. Subject experts still do not believe it. To be honest, Newsweek isn’t the best of sources, and it seems to have jumped on the yet unproven lab-spread bandwagon.

    Shi Zhengli (‘bat lady’) is a virologist who discovered the Covid-19 gene sequence. If anything, she identified it – not carry it to world from a cave, which is a downright low-blow insinuation. In fact, she is credited with anti-body research in bats for Sars-like viruses.

    So, um, yes, check sources? I’ll grant it to you though, Google doesn’t help you – the majority of search results for any conspiracy-rich theory first yield obscure websites confirming it, before getting to the modest ones discrediting it.

  9. Owlmirror says

    Since “argument from authority” is a fallacy, it would have been far better to say expertise.

  10. markme says

    @Brony
    https://www.thestreet.com/video/dr-fauci-masks-changing-directive-coronavirus

    “Well, the reason for that is that we were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply. And we wanted to make sure that the people namely, the health care workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in a harm way, to take care of people who you know were infected with the coronavirus and the danger of them getting infected.”

    Earlier in March he said “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask”

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/preventing-coronavirus-facemask-60-minutes-2020-03-08/

  11. markme says

    @Platypus, you misquoted me. I did not say that social distancing is total nonsense. In fact I said the opposite. If you’d care to re-read my post, what i said was total nonsense is the assertion that social distancing is more important than mask wearing and that maintaining 2 m distance is sufficient. That is not true. There was lots of evidence way back in January that the virus spreads through the air much farther than 2 m.

    As to the topic of the virus’ origins, I am on my phone so it’s time consuming to post material and I’m having dinner soon so I will respond later.

  12. markme says

    @Brony, actually it is a lie. Whether you think it was justified does not change the fact that it was a lie. He admitted that the reason they were discouraging mandatory mask wearing months ago was because they wanted to reserve real ppe for health care workers.

    Had they not been so concerned about looking bad versus the safety of people, they could have required evertone to wear face masks, even if homemade which significantly reduces the spread from infected people. This policy was instituted by several countries in the beginning like Singapore and Czech republic with effective results. Since the US is now the worst case for the disease in the world, one can only conclude that Fauci and authorities have abysmally failed.

  13. John Morales says

    Hey, here I am in Oz, and I’ve seen fuck-all people wearing masks.
    It’s just not a thing, unless one is in a special category.

    (I’ve not worn one myself, but I’m already a bit hermitic)

    https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/04/coronavirus-covid-19-information-on-the-use-of-surgical-masks_0.pdf

    markme:

    This policy was instituted by several countries in the beginning like Singapore and Czech republic with effective results.

    From https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
    Singapore: 41,473 cases, cases per million:7,091
    Czech: 10,280 cases, cases per million: 960
    Australia: 7,391 cases, cases per million: 290

    (Hey, I can pick cherries, too!)

  14. psychomath says

    They believe in authority. They just have other authorities they believe in. It’s a little messed up, since science is the best way to go for understanding the practical realities of the world, but we are so bad at doing science because we just aren’t very good at thinking, so it is easy to come up with embarrassingly bad mistakes that reflect on the reputation of science and finding the supporters of science admitting to mistakes.

    Religion and “common sense” just assert things without any process that can be judged. Expert knowledge isn’t respected by people who don’t respect knowledge because they don’t have any. Shit, ask scientists what they think of philosophy if you want to see an example.

  15. says

    @markme 17
    Admitted? They said they wanted the health care workers to have masks. That’s not a lie because it seems true. Without specific information to the contrary, and with a desire to reserve masks for health care workers I don’t see how this is a lie.

    Where did they say wearing masks wasn’t important? The health care worker need appears to be why they believed there was no reason to be walking around with a mask.

  16. markme says

    @Brony

    “Where did they say wearing masks wasn’t important?”

    Apologies; I copied wrong in my earlier Fauci quote since I was typing on my phone rather than copy pasting. He actually said:

    “There’s no reason to be walking around WITH a mask”

  17. raven says

    markme is a brain dead troll.
    More specifically he is an idiot and wrong on all his points, especially his cuckoo conspiracy theories.
    FWIW, they aren’t even good conspiracy theories.
    They need more UFO aliens, Illuminati, Globalists, and some fairies, at the very least.

    At the time Fauci, said public use of masks wasn’t necessary, it was an arguable point.
    Even the World Health Organization said they weren’t necessary.
    .1. April 6, 2020 WHO “Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19”
    Advice to decision makers on the use of masks for healthy
    people in community settings

    As described above, the wide use of masks by healthy
    people in the community setting is not supported by current
    evidence and carries uncertainties and critical risks.

    This guidance was updated on 5 June. Click here to access the new version

    .2. June 6, 2020 Update
    2) Advice to decision makers on the use of masks for the
    general public

    Many countries have recommended the use of fabric
    masks/face coverings for the general public. At the present
    time, the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the
    community setting is not yet supported by high quality or
    direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and
    harms to consider (see below).
    However, taking into account the available studies evaluating
    pre- and asymptomatic transmission, a growing compendium
    of observational evidence on the use of masks by the general
    public in several countries, individual values and preferences,
    as well as the difficulty of physical distancing in many
    contexts,

    WHO has updated its guidance to advise that to
    prevent COVID-19 transmission effectively in areas of
    community transmission, governments should encourage the
    general public to wear masks in specific situations and
    settings as part of a comprehensive approach to suppress
    SARS-CoV-2 transmission (Table 2).

    In other words, WHO changed their mind.
    Fauci likely did the same thing and for the same reasons.
    Scientists do this a lot.
    When they get new data, they revise their theories and conclusiosn based on the new data!!!

  18. raven says

    There isn’t a huge amount of systematic data on how well cloth masks work to reduce community spread of Covid-19 virus.
    That is one reason why it has been arguable and why a lot of people don’t wear masks in public.
    The consensus is however shifting towards it being a good idea where there is community spread.
    Because in much of the USA, the Covid-19 pandemic is not only still going on, it is getting worse!!!

    Here is one well known example of how being careful likely paid off.
    These two hair stylists, were infected, symptomatic, and went to work anyway.
    With prolonged close physical contact with their customers.
    What could go wrong here?
    Everything.

    Livescience 6/12/2020
    Hairstylists with COVID-19 didn’t infect any of their 140 clients. Face masks may be why.
    By Nicoletta Lanese – Staff Writer 6 days ago

    Two hair stylists in Missouri interacted with a total of 140 clients and six coworkers before learning they both had COVID-19 — thankfully, the stylists didn’t pass the virus on to any of these contacts, according to a statement from the local health department.
    and
    …. and the salon required that both stylists and customers wear masks during appointments,

    This salon practiced infection control and required masks.
    It’s likely why none of their clients ended up infected.

    As a Boomer, I’m in a high risk group for dying from the Covid-19 virus.
    I wear a mask and gloves in public at all times and have for months now.

  19. John Morales says

    raven, it’s not complicated.

    If you’re infectious, wearing a mask reduces risks to others, by a fair whack.

    If you’re not infectious, wearing a mask protects you from aerosolised particles.
    And not much more than that.

    But obviously, ceteris paribus, wearing a mask is better than not.

  20. says

    @markme 22
    I still don’t see how that is a lie. Their opinion was that there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. The situation with the shortage for health care workers would be why they were of that opinion.
    The implication is we’re collectively worse off with dead health care workers than wearing the masks.

    That’s one sentence, maybe if you quoted a paragraph on either side too?

  21. stroppy says

    they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority

    Can’t say it often enough, if you ask me. Not that it matters.

    Religion, authoritarianism, American exceptionalism (should I say all intertwined in support of the institution of slavery?) primed the pump.

    How America Lost Its Mind
    The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history.

    “…During the ’60s, large swaths of academia made a turn away from reason and rationalism as they’d been understood. Many of the pioneers were thoughtful, their work fine antidotes to postwar complacency. The problem was the nature and extent of their influence at that particular time, when all premises and paradigms seemed up for grabs. That is, they inspired half-baked and perverse followers in the academy, whose arguments filtered out into the world at large: All approximations of truth, science as much as any fable or religion, are mere stories devised to serve people’s needs or interests. Reality itself is a purely social construction…

    “…Yet once the intellectual mainstream thoroughly accepted that there are many equally valid realities and truths, once the idea of gates and gatekeeping was discredited not just on campuses but throughout the culture, all American barbarians could have their claims taken seriously. Conservatives are correct that the anything-goes relativism of college campuses wasn’t sequestered there, but when it flowed out across America it helped enable extreme Christianities and lunacies on the right—gun-rights hysteria, black-helicopter conspiracism, climate-change denial, and more. The term useful idiot was originally deployed to accuse liberals of serving the interests of true believers further on the left. In this instance, however, postmodern intellectuals—post-positivists, poststructuralists, social constructivists, post-empiricists, epistemic relativists, cognitive relativists, descriptive relativists—turned out to be useful idiots most consequentially for the American right. “Reality has a well-known liberal bias,” Stephen Colbert once said, in character, mocking the beliefs-trump-facts impulse of today’s right. Neither side has noticed, but large factions of the elite left and the populist right have been on the same team…”

    Wrapping it up in too tidy a bow, I’m sure, but I can’t help noticing that in the 50’s Roy Cohn was behind Joe McCarthy ginning up the red scare, and he was still there making messes and mentoring Donald Trump in the 70s and 80s. In between, the 60s boiled over, all manner of social problems came to a head at once and the Viet Nam war made it all the bloodier. Then the fall of the Berlin Wall, and capitalism “won” and tycoons thought they were gods. The swelled heads were astonishing. Still are.

    I have to say though, I think a lot of blame has belonged to big business all along. Campaigns about tobacco and climate change to name a few, have seriously damaged peoples ability to separate fact from fiction. Add in Fox, Zuckerberg et al. and fuck all we’re screwed.

    IMO.

  22. silverfeather says

    @Brony 26
    I worked at a store that sold N95 grade masks when this pandemic first came onto America’s radar, and we sold out almost immediately. The official messaging at the time was “masks won’t help you”. Because of this messaging, the general attitude among my coworkers and superiors was that the people who were buying up the masks were being ridiculous (turns out, no). In that same time period though, you could look at pictures from other countries like China, see the populace all wearing masks, and wonder why.
     
    It sure looks to me like at least the suspicion of asymptomatic spread of a highly contagious illness was out there, along with solid reasoning that if everyone wears a mask at all times in public it eliminates the social stigma of being marked as “contagious” that could lead individuals to not mask up even if they know they’re ill.
     
    It looks to me like our government organizations played fast and loose with our lives because of our shortage of masks. Brought on in large part by multiple failures of conservatism and capitalism that I don’t want to bother to list. I do think they lied to us, and I definitely don’t trust them to have the general public’s best interest at heart. I really don’t know how anyone does at this point.

  23. says

    Okay, this is a bit of a non sequitur, but lemme tell a story about student teaching a few years ago, and how the students didn’t respect me. Okay, so, first off, it was a rural/suburban school in Ohio, and it was full of right-wingers. Even the few liberal students were anti-choice. So anyway, my cooperating teacher watched too much Fox news, and thought snow in winter disproved global warming, yada yada yada. Obviously that’s not a great start, right? One of the AP kids actually questioned my credentials in teaching, because he disagreed with my progressive position. But they always hung on the words of their real teacher, even though he was often teaching them garbage, you know?

    So, my mom’s boyfriend was black, and he lived in that town for several years. And the cops were pulling him over for driving while black about once a month. When I told those students about it, they didn’t believe me. They just made scoffing sounds.

    I had to bite my tongue a lot that semester, because I wasn’t really supposed to contradict my cooperating teacher (but fuck that guy). Even all these years later, he was telling students that Saddam was somehow behind 9-11, that Antarctica wasn’t on the world maps when he was in high school (in the 80s) because no one had mapped it yet, and that before colonialism there weren’t any countries in Africa, just tribes (and also, he thinks Africa has no resources and that’s why it’s poor) and on and on and on… I was so glad to leave that fucking school. (bloviation complete)

  24. markme says

    @Brony:
    “I still don’t see how that is a lie. Their opinion was that there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.”
    They were saying more than that. They were saying that wearing masks was not only ineffective, but that it was actually detrimental with the bizarre argument that it causes people to touch their faces more often. Now he comes around and admits that they were discouraging mask use to save the n95 masks for health care workers. That is admission of a lie, plain and simple.

    @John Morales
    Thanks for pointing out that data. I am guilty of not backing up my claim about case rates in countries with mask usage with good data. I was going on old data from several months ago which suggested this but that clearly needs to be re-evaluated.

    @raven
    “Even the World Health Organization said they weren’t necessary.”
    Why are you giving WHO any credit at all? They have been the world’s #1 disseminator of bad information from the very beginning; Public Enemy No. 1 because people go to them for advice, which has mostly been flat out wrong up until recently.

  25. markme says

    The evidence for the lab origins of the virus is pretty clear. I follow Chris Martenson who has done a good job of analysing the data as it becomes available. The statements made by scientists in the public realm about this are so misleading that they can only be intentional since they are covering their a$$es. Since they are obviously deliberately lying, it only begs further investigation by inquisitive people to find out why they are lying (for example, they claim that genetic manipulating would leave clear fingerprint remnants, which is totally untrue — they have been doing genetic modifications for decades with the ability to leave no traces).

    They rely on the fact that 99.9% of the population doesn’t understand genetics and if the scientists can come out with some complicated sounding bio-techno-babble that sounds authoritative, and then end it with a convincing statement that, “therefore, there is no way the virus came from a lab”, most people will believe them even though they don’t have a clue what the scientist on 60 Minutes just said. It all comes down to trust: if the viewer trusts authority, they will believe virtually anything they are told. If they don’t trust authority, they will question it. Since I lost my trust long ago, I now question everything. And I think more and more people are losing trust, for good reason.

    One of the smoking guns is the PRRA furin sequence inserted into the cleavage site which greatly increases the ability of the virus to enter the cell (hence, become super-infectious).The chances of this arising naturally are astronomically small because it is such a major insertion without any of the concurrent mutation you’d expect to see in the rest of the genome. It seems to have just appeared there. And this is the exact type of genetic fiddling that these viral geneticists routinely do and write papers about. He explains it well in this video:

    Other oddities are the incredulous official account of how the observed virus could have come from bats and pangolins. It’s fantastically statistically impossible.

  26. John Morales says

    “are our scientists lying to us?” and “suspicions grow”.

    Clickbait, if I’ve ever seen it.

    (Are aliens visiting us? Suspicions grow!)

  27. unclefrogy says

    the problem is and always was exactly what Dr Fauci it was even then he was doing his very best and not be too inflammatory. All of the agencies were dealing with government funding and government control that was counter to what their missions and purpose were.
    the paper masks are not very effective in preventing you from getting infected but are pretty good at preventing you from infecting others.
    Conditions change and the directives change to meet the present conditions.
    The problem is political pressure from self centered ignorant greedy politicians, it has always been.
    OK so in hindsight at least the previous advice was not strong enough when all of the present administration was bent on denying there was a pandemic and minimizing all the information about it that it could. OK
    so now the advice is everyone should be wearing masks whenever they are in public so what are you going to do wear one or not?
    Who are you going to listen to agent orange or people who are experts in infectious diseases?
    I watched the good doctor in those awful pres-conferences and he did remarkably well given what the public attitude as has been expressed here was and the emotionally unstable “guy in charge” agent orange.
    uncle frogy

  28. unclefrogy says

    Ok here is a pretty good vid by a pretty good science news guy who does the research and gives you all the links to the data he uses.
    enjoy

  29. markme says

    @ John Morales
    “Clickbait, if I’ve ever seen it.”
    Can you please refute the analysis he provides in those videos? If not I’ll assume you are unable to and therefore have admitted defeat. It looks like I’m pretty close to winning this debate already regardless since none of you have been able to provide any compelling argument / evidence supporting any of your claims other than correctly pointing out that Singapore and Czech republic have a higher infection rate than Australia.

  30. John Morales says

    markme:

    Can you please refute the analysis he provides in those videos?

    I’d have to spend time watching them, to do that. Not worth my while.

    Did you ever ask yourself how, if all the scientists are lying (as you claim), whence his information sources? Surely not those same lying scientists!

    (Was he poring over the specimens himself?)

    If not I’ll assume you are unable to and therefore have admitted defeat.

    <snicker>

  31. markme says

    @unclefrogy
    Your video didn’t contain a shred of genetic analysis so I can’t say that it shows much of anything. It flashes a bunch of scientific papers on the screen, full of statements made by the scientists who have a vested interest in convincing the world that the virus is natural, that the virus is natural. LOL. And Chris Martenson thoroughly debunks most of those papers using basic genetics.

    Next please. Specifically tell me where the PRRA sequence came from, and how it got there by natural processes.

  32. markme says

    @John Morales
    “I’d have to spend time watching them, to do that. Not worth my while.’

    I won!!!

  33. markme says

    @John Morales
    I guess I should be more understanding. I do appreciate that it is very disconcerting to have your world views challenged. Most people respond with ridicule (we’ve seen that here with @jrkrideau’s earlier post), or anger, or denial. Clearly you are in the denial stage since you refuse to look at the evidence, since obviously I’m not a whacko but actually make a very reasoned argument. That scares you. Your dismissal that it would be a waste of your time to watch the videos is a classic red herring since you seem to be spending a lot of time here, responding to my posts. The worst you could get from watching them is that you’d then gain better ammunition to strike down the conspiracy theorists with, once you can debunk the arguments made. But we all know that deep down you are afraid that you won’t be able to…

    I challenge you to challenge your world views more. You will grow as a person.

  34. John Morales says

    markme:

    Clearly you are in the denial stage since you refuse to look at the evidence, since obviously I’m not a whacko but actually make a very reasoned argument. That scares you. Your dismissal that it would be a waste of your time to watch the videos is a classic red herring since you seem to be spending a lot of time here, responding to my posts.

    I’d rather waste my time toying with conspiracy theorists such as you.
    Much more entertaining.

    (And, obviously, if not a whacko, you are at the very least credulously naive)

    The worst you could get from watching them is that you’d then gain better ammunition to strike down the conspiracy theorists with, once you can debunk the arguments made.

    You know, that’s exactly what Jordan Peterson fanbois said.
    Didn’t work for them, either.

    I challenge you to challenge your world views more. You will grow as a person.

    People already think I’m too big for my boots — I hardly need to grow even more.

    But, since you like challenges, how about you respond to this:
    “Did you ever ask yourself how, if all the scientists are lying (as you claim), whence his information sources? Surely not those same lying scientists!”

  35. unclefrogy says

    as he said all sources are in the description feel free to follow them up I will not be copy/pasting them there
    does any of that have any help in dealing with it now?
    its kind of like Mrs, O’Leary cow maybe,maybe not but it wont help put out the fire
    uncle frogy

  36. KG says

    So, markme, what are Chris Martenson’s qualifications in virology? I’ve been googling the guy, and he’s ubiquitous – there can’t be many YouTubers who appear on both CounterPunch, and Glenn Beck’s site, so he evidently has a flair for self-promotion if nothing else. His own site says his PhD is in neurotoxicology, which as far as I can see, wouldn’t qualify him to assess whether a virus is natural or engineered. Nor would his MBA. I don’t have the expertise to assess his claims (and my hunch is that you don’t, either), so at least for now, I’ll go with the scientific consensus that SARS-CoV-2 is a natural virus.

    Which doesn’t mean I discount the possibility that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had some role in the origin of the pandemic. It need not be the case that they engineered the virus (for either malign or benign purposes), or even that it’s a natural virus that escaped from the lab. It does seem an extraordinary coincidence that the virus seems to have first infected people in the vicinity of one of the very few places in the world working on bat coronaviruses, and the idea that it originated in the “wet market” doesn’t seem to hold up well – the earliest cases had no known link to that market, and such markets exist all over China and in many other countries. What I have not seen asked anywhere is whether the process of collecting samples from bats could have led to a sample-collecter becoming infected elsewhere in China, bringing the virus back, and spreading the infection in the normal way. Ten days ago I sent the following email to EcoHealth:

    I read with great interest Dr. Peter Daszak’s article in today’s Guardian: “Ignore the conspiracies: scientists know Covid-19 wasn’t created in a lab”. I completely accept the scientific consensus that SARS-CoV-2 is a natural virus, probably derived from bats. Nevertheless, it seems an extraordinary coincidence that it should emerge in Wuhan, close to one of the very few places in the world working on bat coronaviruses. “Wet markets”, after all, are everywhere in China and many other countries. I have read that bats were not sold in the Wuhan market, that the evidence for pangolins (which were sold) as an intermediate host is dubious, and that the very earliest cases do not appear to have been associated with the market. It’s been noted that increased contact between humans and wildlife raises the chances of novel zoonoses – but who has closer contact with wildlife than researchers into wildlife pathogens? A possibility I have not seen discussed is that a researcher from Wuhan became infected with SARS-CoV-2 while taking samples from bats elsewhere in China, brought the infection back to Wuhan, and passed it on. Supplementary material from Li et al. (2005), “Bats Are Natural Reservoirs of SARS-Like Coronaviruses”, Science Vol. 310, Issue 5748, pp. 676-679 (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/suppl/2005/10/27/1118391.DC1/li-SOM.pdf) describes the collection of blood, faecal and throat samples from bats. However careful the collection methods, this must involve close and prolonged interaction with the bats sampled – far more so than is likely for the 3% of Yunan villagers reported to have antibodies to bat coronaviruses in Wang et al. (2018) “Serological Evidence of Bat SARS-Related Coronavirus Infectionin Humans, China”, Virologica Sinica, (https://doi.org/10.1007/s12250-018-0012-7).

    I would be most interested in your comments. It is clearly necessary to study potentially dangerous viruses in non-human animals; but the process of studying them itself holds potential dangers.

    No reply as yet.

  37. KG says

    markme@#various,

    Your condescending jibes at anyone questioning your claims really don’t help your credibility, or Martenson’s.

  38. silverfeather says

    @Brony 31
    Not trying to make you defensive, I just don’t understand how you come to the conclusion that they didn’t lie. If you don’t disagree with anything I said, how are you coming to the conclusion that what they told us was honest?

  39. call me mark says

    That a coronavirus should emerge from an area near a facility to study coronaviruses is unsurprising. The Wuhan lab is there because that’s where the wild reservoirs of coronaviruses are!

    Also the mutation that has made SARS-CoV-2 more infectious is an out-of-frame 12-nucleotide insertion. This sort of mutation happens naturally relatively frequently in coronaviruses, yet would be outrageously unlikely piece of genetic engineering to even attempt.

  40. KG says

    OK, I watched unclefrogy’s video, which means I need to correct somethnig I said: apparently a lot of places in the world research bat coronaviruses. I don’t know how many are in China. I also didn’t know local farmers around Wuhan go into bat caves. So that reduces my assessment of the probability of a link to sample collection either of the Wuhan Institutes – although certainly not to zero: the video cites an account by a sample collector of earlier incidents (i.e. some years ago – so clearly not the source of the pandemic) in which he was splashed with bat blood or bat urine while collecting samples. So the process I hypothesised could certainly happen.

    I also watched a minute of the first of markme’s Chris Martenson videos. That was enough to tell me he’s not an expert, because he contrasts an insertion of a sequence into a genome with a mutation. But an Insertion is a form of mutation – I know that, and I am not any sort of biologist, let along a virologist. If Martenson makes such an elementary error, he’s not worth taking seriously.

  41. KG says

    That a coronavirus should emerge from an area near a facility to study coronaviruses is unsurprising. The Wuhan lab is there because that’s where the wild reservoirs of coronaviruses are! – call me mark@50

    More there than elsewhere in China? The map in this article indicates they are widespread, with Yunnan (far from Wuhan) having the most known sites, although Hubei province has quite a few – but that might be because the labs studying them are there, rather than vice versa!

  42. KG says

    Watched a bit more of Martenson’s first video. He falsely accuses the authors of the Nature paper I linked to (and which he cites) of dishonesty, because they say:

    The functional consequence of the polybasic cleavage site in SARS-CoV-2 is unknown, and it will be important to determine its impact on transmissibility and pathogenesis in animal models.

    Martenson says they are being dishonest because the function of this polybasic cleavage site is known in other viruses, where it does increase transmissability. So what? It’s not known if it confers the same functionality on SARS-CoV-2, and the authors go on to say:

    Experiments with SARS-CoV have shown that insertion of a furin cleavage site at the S1–S2 junction enhances cell–cell fusion without affecting viral entry.

    So in at least one other coronavirus, inserting such a site did not aid viral entry. So it’s Martenson who is being dishonest here. I’m not going to bother with any more.

  43. ChrisE84 says

    There’s high speed rail between Wuhan and Guangzhou. So researchers aren’t even needed, just some business people or tourists.

  44. says

    Since this has gotten to be about virus conspiracy theories, I’ll link to a good podcast for people interested in virology, especially regarding SARS 2 currently. They debunk the lab made/release ideas several times. Ep 619 might be of specific interest.

    https://www.microbe.tv/twiv/

  45. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Markme, The definitive study of the origins of the novel coronavirus appeared in Science months ago. It concluded with exceedingly high probability not only that the virus was of natural origin, but that the specific mutations in the virus meant that it HAD TO BE of natural origin. There would simply be no reason why a lab would make such changes. This has been the conclusion of every reputable team of scientists who have looked at the virus.–NEXT!

    As to your slander that Fauci lied, it illustrates your lack of understanding of public health science more than any untruth by Fauci. At the time he was speaking, there was a severe shortage of PPE. The conclusion of the experts was that making the masks available to healthcare workers would save more lives than making the public–who had much lower exposure–wear them. Try getting your information from a source other than Laura Ingraham.

  46. Rob Grigjanis says

    markme @40:

    Specifically tell me where the PRRA sequence came from, and how it got there by natural processes.

    You could spend some time reading online forums, and you might find out!

    Feb 7

    We know from influenza H1N1, for which we have serial isolates from 1918 to the present, that wobble base mutagenesis occurs at a rate of 0.95% per decade. This permits an estimation of the TMRCA of the two sequences nCoV2019 and RaTG13 of 69.5 years ago – roughly 1950 +/- 10 years or so.

    RaTG13, or anything nearly identical to it at the RNA level, simply could not be a proximal source of nCoV2019. It just LOOKS like it might be…at first glance.

    Given that furin cleavage signals are present in other coronaviruses at exactly that point in the S1/S2 boundary region, it only LOOKS unusual, especially against the backdrop of SARS. The preponderance of evidence, coupled with Ockham’s razor (that the simplest explanation is preferred) dictates that the PRRA sequence has been conserved in nCoV2019 from a long ago ancestor virus. It is not of suspicious origin. The closest bat virus sequence is really not close at all.

    May 2

    SOURCE OF FURIN SITE IN SARS-CoV-2 IS COPY CHOICE ERROR FROM MIXED INFECTION OF BATS

    I have found a probable source of the putative insert that adds the RRAR furin site to SARS-CoV-2.

    Ten of the 12 nucleotides in the RRAR insert are identical to a sequence in the spike protein gene of Bat Coronavirus HKU9 isolated from a Rousettus fruit bat in Guangdong province in 2011.
    ….
    Copy choice errors in mixed infections do not have to be in an exact context, since it is not a recombination, but RNA polymerase hopping from one template strand to another. In this case the two templates code for the same gene, between regions about a thousand nucleotides from one another, out of a genome of 30,000 nucleotides. There could easily have been evolution of the site since the mixed infection, over a period of years.
    ….
    So the definitive source of the pandemic is a mixed infection of viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2 and Bat HKU9 – copy choice error resulting in an insert in SARS-CoV-2. Could occur in bats, intermediate animal or human.

    May 7

    The entirely natural origin of SARS-CoV-2 is as simple as CAGAC.

    That palindrome, or its complement TGAGT, or the variant CAGAT, very frequently precedes a length polymorphism or copy-choice recombination event among Bat Coronaviruses.

    Palindromes act like speed bumps for the RNA polymerase complex, rather like switches in a train yard. The polymerase can stutter or jump to another track, perhaps to jump back, or not.

    Swapping out RNA sequences in bat caves is as simple as CAGAC. That in a nutshell is how this all happened.

    May 12

    A number of us have never worked together over long careers. Some of us do not even know of each other by reputation. Yet we have all come to the same conclusion, in China, in Scotland, in North Carolina, in Louisiana, in Texas, in New Mexico, in California and in Australia. The backbone of the virus sequence was derived from a common ancestor of Bat RaTG13 and SARS-CoV-2, most likely in Yunnan province from which Bat RaTG13 was isolated. Small segments of sequence, hundreds of nucleotides long in a genome of 30,000 nt, were derived from viruses ancestral to other viruses only recently isolated in Guangdong province.

    The only laboratory in which SARS-CoV-2 was concocted was a natural one in a bat cave, in a process that took decades, an accident of nature waiting for human contact.

    All the above from William R. Gallaher, Ph.D. (Harvard ’72)
    Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, Emeritus
    Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans

    I’m not a biologist, and there’s a lot up there I either don’t understand, or only vaguely understand. But it works for me.

  47. says

    KG @ #47:

    So, markme, what are Chris Martenson’s qualifications in virology? I’ve been googling the guy, and he’s ubiquitous – there can’t be many YouTubers who appear on both CounterPunch, and Glenn Beck’s site, so he evidently has a flair for self-promotion if nothing else. His own site says his PhD is in neurotoxicology, which as far as I can see, wouldn’t qualify him to assess whether a virus is natural or engineered. Nor would his MBA. I don’t have the expertise to assess his claims (and my hunch is that you don’t, either), so at least for now, I’ll go with the scientific consensus that SARS-CoV-2 is a natural virus.

    This isn’t markme’s first thread pushing Martenson’s conspiracy theories. When he was brought up last month, I looked into Martenson – who most definitely is not a viral geneticist – a bit. He complained in February that his WP page was removed, arguing on Twitter:

    Apparently having a PhD in Pathology from Duke University no longer qualifies one to assess the facts of an infectious disease which *checks notes* is what the study of pathology is all about.

    That just screams crank. From his bio at PostCarbon:

    Chris Martenson is an economic researcher and futurist specializing in energy and resource depletion, and co-founder of PeakProsperity.com (with Adam Taggart)…. Prior to spending four years educating himself and developing the course and other materials to help individuals understand and take action, Chris was a Vice President at a Fortune 300 Company and spent over ten years in corporate finance and strategic consulting. He has a PhD in pathology from Duke University and an MBA from Cornell University.

    His Spanish WP page is still up:

    Christopher Martenson, PhD, es un científico estadounidense de formación y analista económico de carrera profesional. Dentro de su carrera científica he realizado investigación en el campo de la bioquímica, neurotoxicología, farmacología aplicada y técnicas in vitro.1​ Obtuvo su doctorado en neurotoxicología en la Universidad de Duke en 1994 con la presentación y defensa de la tesis Neurotoxicidad de la acrilamida: efecto en el crecimiento de los conos neuronales y velocidad en el transporte axonal (Originalmente y según aparece en las publicaciones Acrylamide neurotoxicity: effect on neuronal growth cones and axonal fast transport), y completó un programa postdoctoral en la Universidad entre 1995 y 1997 especializándose en transducción y transporte de la señal neuronal.1​ Martenson obtuvo un MBA en la Universidad de Cornell en 1998 and is miembro del Post Carbon Institute.2​

    …Fue consultor en Desarrollo de Negocios y Estrategias de Pfizer, Inc.3​ Más adelante se convirtió en el vicepresidente de la empresa,4​ y aún después – Vicepresidente de la Corporación Internacional de Aplicaciones en la Ciencia División de la Ciencias de la Vida,5​ puesto que ocupó hasta julio de 2005.

    En los últimos años Martenson ha salido de los campos de la biología y la dirección de empresas para desarrollarun sistema educativo sobre economía en video titulado The Crash Course publicado originalmente en octubre de 2008 que basado en conceptos neo-malthusianos trata de acercar conceptos de economía avanzada a personas no formadas en la materia. El curso investiga las formas en que la economía, el medio ambiente y la energía están relacionados e interactúan.

    Publications suggest he was at Duke working on toxicology – again, not viral genetics – in the 1990s, but I can’t find any other record of the 1994 Duke dissertation described there (or of his Cornell finance MBA for that matter, although that’s less unusual). The dissertation link reads:

    Acrylamide neurotoxicity: effect on neuronal growth cones and axonal fast transport, a Duke University thesis, Ph.D. M377A 1994 LSC.

    The only link is under “Duke University,” which just goes to the university’s main page.

    Assuming he did in fact earn these degrees, which barring evidence to the contrary I will assume, neither of them remotely qualifies him to challenge the work of experts in viral genetics.

    The discussion of his corporate work is a bit sketch. His bio vaguely refers to his having been a “Vice President at a Fortune 300 Company,” while the WP page says he was a consultant and then a Vice President at Pfizer specifically, but the citation links go to his bios and not documents related to his work at Pfizer. Again, I have no real reason to doubt this, but the only evidence is his claims, and given the wildly inflated and cranky claim on Twitter, he doesn’t seem a particularly reliable source.

    So I’m a little suspicious in general, but again even assuming his claims about his qualifications are true, he doesn’t have expertise in the areas relevant to the question at hand here. In addition to which, major holes have been punched in his arguments on this and the earlier thread, which markme continues to ignore.

  48. Howard Brazee says

    Oh, a lot of them believe in authority… As long as it is the authority that tells them what they want to hear.

  49. says

    @markme 33
    I don’t do link dropping. I don’t do YouTube when you’re making virology claims.

    Because you now have a wall of assertions I’m going to copy/paste with brackets on your claims that need substantiated.

    “The [evidence for the lab origins of the virus] is pretty clear. I follow Chris Martenson who has done a good job of analysing the data as it becomes available. The [statements made by scientists in the public realm about this are so misleading that they can only be intentional since they are covering their a$$es]. Since they are obviously [deliberately lying], it only begs further investigation by inquisitive people to find out why they are lying (for example, [they claim that genetic manipulating would leave clear fingerprint remnants], which is totally untrue — they have been doing genetic modifications for decades with the ability to leave no traces).

    They rely on the fact that 99.9% of the population doesn’t understand genetics and if the scientists can come out with some [complicated sounding bio-techno-babble that sounds authoritative, and then end it with a convincing statement that, “therefore, there is no way the virus came from a lab”], most people will believe them even though they don’t have a clue what the scientist on 60 Minutes just said. It all comes down to trust: if the viewer trusts authority, they will believe virtually anything they are told. If they don’t trust authority, they will question it. Since I lost my trust long ago, I now question everything. And I think more and more people are losing trust, for good reason.

    One of the smoking guns is the [PRRA furin sequence inserted into the cleavage site which greatly increases the ability of the virus to enter the cell] (hence, become super-infectious).[The chances of this arising naturally are astronomically small because it is such a major insertion without any of the concurrent mutation you’d expect to see in the rest of the genome]. It seems to have just appeared there. And this is the exact type of genetic fiddling that these viral geneticists routinely do and write papers about.”

    I’m questioning you. Since you’re into questioning everything you should be fine with this.

  50. says

    @silverfeather 49
    I haven’t even looked at anything yet because as I mentioned, you paraphrased a government statement at me. That’s not something I can assess for myself. That’s your feelings about something I haven’t seen yet. I want to see what your feelings are connected to.

  51. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’m just waiting for markme to start rambling about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Globalists (i.e. Jews), and the International Satanist pedophile cabal controlled by Inter-dimensional demons trying to create a technocratic socialist dictatorship… unless you buy snake oil pills from Alex Jones.

  52. says

    Rats. MarkMe seems to have fucked off before I had a chance to tell him to do so.

    Just in case: markme, just fuck off already. Nobody here subscribes to you batshit conspiracy theories.

  53. seachange says

    IME post-modernism is neutral and destroys what should be destroyed. It is not in any way synonymous with the other philosophies listed that were grouped in with it.

    I have used it effectively on liberals and conservatives with sexist and/or racist views. Liberals are suprised, because of the massive fear that conservatives use on post-modernism. Those liberals uncritically think that post-modernism means what conservatives say it does just because conservatives say it.

    Dr. Fauci’s statement was not effective, just as Dr. Myers says.

  54. silverfeather says

    @Brony 64

    I haven’t even looked at anything yet because as I mentioned, you paraphrased a government statement at me.

    I’m genuinely not getting how this is the gotcha you seem to think it is, and what do you mean when you say you haven’t looked at anything yet?
     
    You said above:

    I still don’t see how that is a lie. Their opinion was that there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.

    You seem to be of the opinion that when they told us that we shouldn’t wear masks because they wouldn’t help us, (and yes, I do remember some nonsense about touching your face more – though I’m not sure where that originated), when what they really thought was masks will help contain the spread among the general population but we are short on masks and healthcare workers need them more, this was not a lie? I’m asking how you come to that conclusion.
     
    To try to be really clear, I’m not arguing that healthcare workers didn’t/don’t need them more, I’m saying the government and govt health orgs lied to us about mask use among the general population, causing harm that we’re still trying to overcome (less than half the people in my area are bothering to mask up), and when you look at how they handled the mask shortage – they didn’t even do what they needed to do to get the masks into the hands of the healthcare workers! It’s almost as if they’ll say whatever is likely to make it easier on them in the short term without giving a fuck about the long term consequences in loss of life among the general public.
     
    I don’t understand why you’re defending this.

  55. Mark says

    Fauci’s language has often been weak and meandering, to the point that he might as well say nothing. It must be tiring to kowtow to President Agent Orange every day.

  56. says

    @silverfeather 69
    First of all I have no way of knowing who “they” are. I’ve been arguing with someone else and you weren’t citing specifics. Tell me who you are typing about. Is it one person? Is it a statement from a group?

    Second of all there’s no “gotcha”, stop paraphrasing. Quote and name. I want to see the face touching stuff for myself.

    Finally, who is “they”?
    “You seem to be of the opinion that when [they] told us that we shouldn’t wear masks because they wouldn’t help us, (and yes, I do remember some nonsense about touching your face more – though I’m not sure where that originated), when what [they] really thought was masks will help contain the spread among the general population but we are short on masks and healthcare workers need them more, this was not a lie? I’m asking how you come to that conclusion.”
    I don’t have a conclusion because “I don’t accept this is a lie” is where I’m at. I also haven’t said something isn’t a lie.
    What government orgs? If you want to talk lies we need to tie statements to those who made them otherwise I can’t and won’t do shit with them.

  57. silverfeather says

    @Brony 72

    First of all I have no way of knowing who “they” are.

    The Trump administration, the U.S. HHS, the CDC, the Surgeon General, the “authorities” that the U.S. general public is supposed to be listening to so we can keep ourselves safe… I don’t think I was unclear here. It seems like what you want is for me to trawl the internet for specific links to specific quotes and I don’t see how I’m making an extraordinary claim. Even you say that my first comment just “paraphrased” a government statement? I find enough damning in my initial comment to be comfortable with the notion that they lied to us. Clearly you don’t.
     

    I want to see the face touching stuff for myself.

    I mean, look for it? I don’t know where it originated but you can find mention of it if you look. Here’s just one article that mentions it: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/29/health/coronavirus-n95-face-masks.html
    From that article:

    Most people are unlikely to know how to wear these masks and could accidentally contaminate themselves if they touch the outside of the mask when they remove it and then touch their face.

     
    The messaging that people around me, and those I worked with took from our government authorities when this all started was that masks would NOT help the general public slow transmission. Again, my co-workers mocked the people buying up the masks in my store – not because our healthcare workers needed them more, but because they were being “silly” as the masks wouldn’t help them. I heard my superiors cite the “masks lead to extra face touching” thing, and also the “air can get around the edges of ill fitting masks” thing as reasons that they wouldn’t work. I know, I know, it’s anecdotal.
     
    My point is that during this very same time period there were good arguments for wearing masks (even cloth ones) and learning how to use them properly (see my first comment). Other countries were already using them among the general population. Our authorities ignored that information, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that if there was no mask shortage, or hell, if we had a different administration, the guidelines would likely have been different from the start.
     
    If you need the public to take additional risk because someone else needs the equipment that could also help us more, tell us that. Be honest, ramp up mask production asap, and get the populace used to the idea that we’re all going to need to mask up when they become available.
     

    “I don’t accept this is a lie” is where I’m at. I also haven’t said something isn’t a lie.

    Okay, I admit I read you as arguing that they were being honest. I personally think you are giving them waaaay too much benefit of the doubt, and being much too credulous, especially when you look at the fuller picture of how the U.S. govt is (not) handling the Covid19 pandemic over time, but I also don’t have the time or energy to dump a bunch of links here to satisfy you. Unless there is something else that really needs responding to, lol, I’m going to say have a good day.

  58. jefrir says

    @silverfeather

    Most people are unlikely to know how to wear these masks and could accidentally contaminate themselves if they touch the outside of the mask when they remove it and then touch their face.

    That’s not saying that masks make people touch their faces more, it’s saying people don’t know how to use them properly and so risk contaminating themselves. And given the amount of very bad mask wearing I’ve seen, along with memories of having to specifically learn skills like how to take off contaminated gloves, it doesn’t seem a particularly unreasonable fear.
    I think various bodies did make the wrong call on masks, but that’s not the same as deliberately lying.

  59. silverfeather says

    @jefrir 74
    But it is saying that you will touch your face more – you’re potentially touching your face as you put on and take off the mask, and every time you have to adjust it! Anecdotally, (I know, I know, sigh) this is how it was used to argue against the wearing of masks in my store.
     
    I’m not claiming that the mask contamination/touching isn’t a fair concern, I’m saying that the honest solution is to talk to people and teach them the proper way to wear and handle masks.
     
    Instead a valid concern was deployed as yet another reason why the general public shouldn’t bother. Not because they believed that masks were useless to us. Because mask shortage.

  60. silverfeather says

    @WMDKitty — Survivor

    “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS!” the surgeon general, Jerome M. Adams, said in a tweet on Saturday morning. “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

    They did not.

    “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus

    They told us the masks wouldn’t help us.

  61. says

    @silverfeather 73
    “I don’t think I was unclear here. It seems like what you want is for me to trawl the internet for specific links to specific quotes and I don’t see how I’m making an extraordinary claim. ”
    If you can’t support your claims I’m going to point it out. How you feel about your claims doesn’t change the fact that they aren’t supported.

    “Even you say that my first comment just “paraphrased” a government statement? I find enough damning in my initial comment to be comfortable with the notion that they lied to us. Clearly you don’t.”
    If you can’t show me the reasons for your claims it’s just your opinion. It’s not damning at all without more than your text on the screen.

    “I mean, look for it? I don’t know where it originated but you can find mention of it if you look. Here’s just one article that mentions it: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/29/health/coronavirus-n95-face-masks.html
    From that article:”
    Where did the article cite the source that showed the government doing that? I looked and what people felt isn’t what the government did so I can look for myself.

    “My point is that during this very same time period there were good arguments for wearing masks (even cloth ones) and learning how to use them properly (see my first comment). Other countries were already using them among the general population. Our authorities ignored that information, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that if there was no mask shortage, or hell, if we had a different administration, the guidelines would likely have been different from the start.”
    I heard there was a lie. I don’t see you showing a lie, the government ignoring?
    Citation needed. It’s ok to feel negative about the administration but it’s got to attach to something that you can show me.

    “If you need the public to take additional risk because someone else needs the equipment that could also help us more, tell us that. Be honest, ramp up mask production asap, and get the populace used to the idea that we’re all going to need to mask up when they become available.”
    This mask production stuff isn’t a lie.

    “Okay, I admit I read you as arguing that they were being honest. I personally think you are giving them waaaay too much benefit of the doubt, and being much too credulous, especially when you look at the fuller picture of how the U.S. govt is (not) handling the Covid19 pandemic over time, but I also don’t have the time or energy to dump a bunch of links here to satisfy you. Unless there is something else that really needs responding to, lol, I’m going to say have a good day.”
    Your feelings about my feelings aren’t this lie that I’ve heard about.

  62. says

    There are people who are politically challenging the wearing of masks. Political dominance displays. arizona may get interesting.
    I think the “boomerang effect” is worth looking up.
    I don’t think they’re upset about the government lying. They’re upset about “antifa” because they fear antifascism and pretend a political disposition is a group.

  63. John Morales says

    Geez, enough bashing on silverfeather!

    It’s a perfectly reasonable expression of personal opinion, and hardly baseless.
    And on-topic.

    (Save it for the deserving, perhaps)

  64. jack lecou says

    Instead a valid concern was deployed as yet another reason why the general public shouldn’t bother. Not because they believed that masks were useless to us. Because mask shortage.

    I think you’re a bit confused.

    The thing to remember is that there are two completely different contexts for mask use. (And, indeed, two correspondingly completely different classes of masks.)

    The first — and crucially the one that the (Western, at least) medical community was most familiar and comfortable with at the beginning of this crisis — is the use of masks in medical and surgical contexts. That is, as PPE to protect medical workers and (primarily in a surgical rather than infectious disease context) to prevent those workers from coughing something into a patient’s open chest cavity or what have you.

    In that context, there are a few important caveats: Number one, it really does take a lot of training to know how to use one properly in this context. If you spend the day treating SARS, Ebola, whatever patients, how you take the PPE off is as at least as important as putting it on in the first place, or you’re just going to be covering youself in concentrated infectious waste. Number two, to be effective, it needs to be the good stuff – a threadbare old bandana doesn’t cut it. You need a real mask, rated to reliably filter out whatever size of infectious particles you’re dealing with. And you need to use a new one, or at least a newly sterilized one, each time.

    All of that is clearly only worth it if you’re dealing with a really high flux of virus — in a hospital room with an actively infected patient, say. Not so much for going to the grocery store.

    It is in that light that the earliest official mask advice messages must be interpreted. You’ll recall, for example, that everyone was saying you needed an N95 or whatever mask — I’m sure that’s the first thing that disappeared off the shelves of the store. And naturally the authorities were quite correctly saying that it didn’t make sense for the general public to be wearing such things – they probably didn’t need them, it wouldn’t really protect them if they did, since it might actually be slightly more risky given the lack of training. All in all, better to reserve them for medical personnel, who are already trained, and are going to need a lot of them.

    These are all facts, and they’re all still entirely true for that context.

    The problem was that it took medical authorities a while to catch on to a second possible context. IIRC, in the early part of the year, it was not well understood that people who weren’t feeling sick might still be spreading infectious quantities of virus — IANAD, but my understanding is that’s somewhat unusual, and one of the things that appears to make this virus so dangerous. They advised people feeling sick to stay home, of course. But it wasn’t immediately clear that we should be worried about non-sick people walking about silently spreading the infection.

    That kind of scenario completely changes the equations on a lot of things — including mask use. Now it suddenly makes sense to wear one, not to protect yourself, but in case you’re an asymptomatic carrier, spraying virus out your face holes everywhere you go. It helps to slow down the spray a bit and give everyone else a fighting chance to maintain a safe(-ish) radius. You don’t even need or want an N95 for that — a threadbare old bandana is fine now, or a bit of old shirt with some elastic stitched to it. That won’t do jack to stop virus getting in, but it slows it down on the way out. And nobody needs training to take it off and sterilize it (if there’s something on the outside, you probably already breathed it anyway). Basically, this is the polar opposite of the original PPE scenario when people were panic buying N95 dust masks at the hardware store.

    And I think you’ll find that as soon as it did start to become apparent that asymptomatic spread was a real worry, the mask wearing (and other) advice changed rapidly to reflect that scenario. Reports trickling in of mask-wearing successes from places like China and Korea — where public mask wearing is more common — probably helped too. (Though, it’s worth noting that even now the evidence for that is mainly anecdotal. Solid statistical evidence for masks being a significant factor — rather than any of the other interventions — is a bit thinner. It certainly doesn’t hurt though.)

    There are many things to criticize health officials (and elected officials) for on this one — including, perhaps, not catching on to the threat of asymptomatic spread faster, as well as not doing enough early testing or contact tracing, not working more proactively with doctors in China who might have had better data or other advice, etc., etc. — but I don’t think you can say they were, at any point, lying about masks. The advice about mask wearing was always the best advice they could give, given the evidence they had available. And it changed when new evidence came in.

  65. silverfeather says

    @Brony 78
    Of course it’s my opinion! I’ve explained why it’s my opinion. I was more curious to hear from you why your opinion was that they were being honest, back when I thought that was what you were arguing, because I do have quite a bit of context on my side and I don’t think I’m being unreasonable.
     

    Where did the article cite the source that showed the government doing that?

    I have only ever said that I don’t know where this originated and that it was used in conversation at my workplace as another reason that people buying N95 masks were being silly. The article says “medical specialists have said”. Notice though that while the information itself is true, it is being deployed (<— because you liked that one!) as part of a multifaceted argument as to why the Surgeon General didn’t want the general public wearing masks. People reading that article have now connected that argument with a govt official talking about how masks won’t help us.

    I heard there was a lie. I don’t see you showing a lie, the government ignoring?

    Look, if you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, that they just somehow missed the reasons that the general public should mask up, that’s your call. They were so incurious about why other countries were doing it that they never bothered to look into it? Sure.

    “If you need the public to take additional risk because someone else needs the equipment that could also help us more, tell us that. Be honest, ramp up mask production asap, and get the populace used to the idea that we’re all going to need to mask up when they become available.”
    This mask production stuff isn’t a lie.

    I don’t think you understand what I’m saying here, based on your response, and I’m not sure how to state it any better for you, I’m sorry.

    Also, I’m probably not going to find a link to a bunch of government officials crowing about how they LIED to the public about mask use!!1!1! You aren’t interested in engaging with my arguments unless I can factually demonstrate every motivation to your satisfaction, and I’m not interested in posting a link to a source for every sentence that I type, lol, that’s exhausting. It seems like you don’t really have an opinion on this, anyway… you don’t think they lied, but you’re also not saying they were honest. This conversation just isn’t going anywhere. Maybe next time.
     

    @WMDKitty — Survivor 81

    silverfeather, cherry-picking ONE TWEET from a Trump-appointed lackey is not proof.

    With all due respect, Trump lackey or no, that’s from the Surgeon General of the United States. It was a widely quoted tweet from an authority figure that absolutely impacted public opinion. It’s representative of the message we were getting from our government. How about you give me a link to a U.S. govt health official or Org that was saying at that time that masks could help contain the spread of the Coronavirus among the general public?
     

    @jack lecou 83
    I do understand what you’re saying.

    …it really does take a lot of training to know how to use one properly in this context…

    The fix to this problem is to teach people how to safely and effectively use them! Remember the campaigns to teach us all how to wash our hands properly (i.e. like a surgeon)? Extrapolate that out onto mask use.

    to be effective, it needs to be the good stuff – a threadbare old bandana doesn’t cut it.

    Yep, I’m with you, especially in the context of medical professionals.

    All of that is clearly only worth it if you’re dealing with a really high flux of virus — in a hospital room with an actively infected patient, say. Not so much for going to the grocery store.

    I disagree. We saw what was happening in Italy. Considering the high rate of transmission, the death rate of this virus, and its ability to overload a healthcare system, it seems worth the effort to educate the population and get them masked up to go to the grocery store. In N95 masks in a perfect world, or with a cloth mask in a world with N95 shortages.

    They advised people feeling sick to stay home, of course. But it wasn’t immediately clear that we should be worried about non-sick people walking about silently spreading the infection.

    So even back in the beginning of the U.S.’s exposure to Covid19 we knew there was at least some asymptomatic spread. It isn’t as though that was nowhere on anyone’s radar. https://med.stanford.edu/content/dam/sm/id/documents/COVID/AsymptCOVID_TransmissionShip.pdf
    We have a lot more evidence that it is a problem now, yes.

    But let me grant you just for the sake of this conversation that the CDC and the HHS and the Surgeon General et al had no idea whatsoever that asymptomatic spread could even be a thing.
     
    It was always agreed that sick people wearing masks would help prevent them from spreading the virus if they go out – even in the U.S. – though it was never really focused on here. Hopefully we can agree that it isn’t reasonable to expect every sick person in America to have the luxury of staying home when they need to work to live, and they need to buy groceries to eat?
     
    One of the major reasons other countries gave for having every person mask up to go out was to eliminate the social stigma of being marked as sick or contagious. They reasoned, (correctly, imo) that some sick people would rather risk quietly spreading the illness than risk othering themselves by wearing a mask. Thus, mask wearing was a way to both protect healthy people from ill people, and a way to protect ill people from being socially othered and stigmatized. Just normalize mask wearing. This is a solid fucking argument. Imo. And it was completely ignored by our govt authorities.

    You don’t even need or want an N95 for that — a threadbare old bandana is fine now, or a bit of old shirt with some elastic stitched to it. That won’t do jack to stop virus getting in, but it slows it down on the way out. And nobody needs training to take it off and sterilize it (if there’s something on the outside, you probably already breathed it anyway)

    I don’t think a threadbare old bandanna is fine, exactly (more layers and/or a tighter weave of fabric would be better). In a world with no mask shortages I would absolutely prefer that everyone have N95 masks and education on how to safely use them – “N95 masks are better protection than cloth masks” isn’t a radical statement. However, when you’re dealing with a virus that spreads primarily through droplets in the air, some covering is better than no covering, and that was known back in February.

    I don’t think you can say they were, at any point, lying about masks. The advice about mask wearing was always the best advice they could give, given the evidence they had available.

    You don’t have to agree with me, obviously, but I hope you can see why I don’t think it was in any way the best advice they could give based on the information they had at the time. It was the advice calculated to stop people from panic buying N95 masks – not the truth about how to best protect ourselves. They lied, sorry. If there wasn’t a mask shortage, or if we had even a slightly more compassionate and science embracing administration, I think the messaging and the guidelines would have been different.

  66. jack lecou says

    The fix to this problem is to teach people how to safely and effectively use them! Remember the campaigns to teach us all how to wash our hands properly (i.e. like a surgeon)? Extrapolate that out onto mask use.

    Maybe for people caring for sick relatives, say. But no, there really is just no point for everyone else. I don’t think that’s coming across.

    Either you are in a situation where you are almost definitely interacting with actively infected individuals, or you’re not. In the first case, yes, you should have proper PPE and training — and also throw the masks away after each use.

    In the second case, you’re the rest of us, and you’re just going to Trader Joes for some frozen peas. In which case that was and still is overkill. Immensely wasteful overkill. There were simply not enough rated masks for that. And triaging equipment for those who actually need it is not the same as lying. (Where is the lie, even? They told you exactly why they were saying what they were saying.)

    I disagree. We saw what was happening in Italy. Considering the high rate of transmission, the death rate of this virus, and its ability to overload a healthcare system, it seems worth the effort to educate the population and get them masked up to go to the grocery store. In N95 masks in a perfect world, or with a cloth mask in a world with N95 shortages.

    Ideally, yes. Authorities could have recommended cloth face coverings and improvised masks much sooner than they did. That could have saved lives. (For Italy, maybe sometime in January.)

    But what you should be asking yourself is “why didn’t they?”. Your answer of “because they were lying to preserve them for health workers” or whatever answer doesn’t make any sense at all. There was, if you stop to think about it, never a shortage of kitchen towels and bandanas and old shirts. They could have made that recommendation at any time.

    In fact it could have backstopped the plea to leave the rated masks to the professionals — ‘leave the N95s to health care workers, but everyone should wear a surgical or improvised mask to protect others in public”. Even if they were lying somehow (still not seeing the lie), surely that would have been the smart way to do it?

    So even back in the beginning of the U.S.’s exposure to Covid19 we knew there was at least some asymptomatic spread. It isn’t as though that was nowhere on anyone’s radar. https://med.stanford.edu/content/dam/sm/id/documents/COVID/AsymptCOVID_TransmissionShip.pdf
    We have a lot more evidence that it is a problem now, yes.

    From that very paper, which you apparently didn’t read:

    Currently, there is no clear evidence that COVID-19 asymptomatic persons can transmit SARS-CoV-2, but there is accumulating evidence indicating that a substantial fraction of SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals are asymptomatic [10-12].

    In other words, they knew asymptomatic cases existed, but explicitly note that there’s no evidence those people were spreading it. And that’s from a paper published March 12.

    The CDC recommendation for mask wearing came out only about two and a half weeks later – with a list of even more recently published research showing the early evidence of asymptomatic spread. They changed the recommendation as soon as the evidence came in.

    But let me grant you just for the sake of this conversation that the CDC and the HHS and the Surgeon General et al had no idea whatsoever that asymptomatic spread could even be a thing.

    No idea it could even be a thing, and had no evidence it was actually a thing with this disease are two very different things.

    Again, you’ve got to ask yourself, if they knew it would help, why wouldn’t they recommend cloth masks?

    It was always agreed that sick people wearing masks would help prevent them from spreading the virus if they go out – even in the U.S. – though it was never really focused on here. Hopefully we can agree that it isn’t reasonable to expect every sick person in America to have the luxury of staying home when they need to work to live, and they need to buy groceries to eat?

    Reasonable doesn’t factor into it. It was definitely the recommendation — public order even — that actually symptomatic sick people stay the hell at home. Even after masks were recommended for everyone else.

    And that’s completely the right call. It’s really not ok to be going out sick, even with a mask.

    Does that expose all kinds of problems with the US system of medical leave and employment protection, and at home care*? Sure. But it’s still the right call, and masks don’t mitigate that.

    Korea aggressively quarantined not only symptomatic and positive cases, but also potentially exposed people. Local government workers helped deliver fresh food and care packages to those people’s homes. (And you’ll note that that quarantine existed even though Korea has a very good culture of public mask wearing. Everyone was already wearing masks, no stigma, etc.)

    One of the major reasons other countries gave for having every person mask up to go out was to eliminate the social stigma of being marked as sick or contagious. They reasoned, (correctly, imo) that some sick people would rather risk quietly spreading the illness than risk othering themselves by wearing a mask. Thus, mask wearing was a way to both protect healthy people from ill people, and a way to protect ill people from being socially othered and stigmatized. Just normalize mask wearing. This is a solid fucking argument. Imo. And it was completely ignored by our govt authorities.

    Western ones, yeah. And that was a problem. But they weren’t lying — that theory doesn’t add up. Just slow to catch on.

    I don’t think a threadbare old bandanna is fine, exactly (more layers and/or a tighter weave of fabric would be better). In a world with no mask shortages I would absolutely prefer that everyone have N95 masks and education on how to safely use them – “N95 masks are better protection than cloth masks” isn’t a radical statement. However, when you’re dealing with a virus that spreads primarily through droplets in the air, some covering is better than no covering, and that was known back in February.

    Actually, no. Emphatically no. A lot of the N95 masks from the hardware store are worse than cloth coverings. The non-medical masks typically have one-way valves for exhalation – which can spray droplets out almost as badly as no mask at all (maybe worse, because condensed — potentially infected — breath moisture builds up inside the mask, can work its way into the valve, and squirt out in significant quantities with every breath).

    The smarter jurisdictions in fact banned these kinds of masks (I do see them in my area, alas). A cloth covering is better than a mask with an outlet valve. Completely different purposes being served.

    You don’t have to agree with me, obviously, but I hope you can see why I don’t think it was in any way the best advice they could give based on the information they had at the time. It was the advice calculated to stop people from panic buying N95 masks – not the truth about how to best protect ourselves.

    It was both. Again, triaging for those most in need is not lying, and having everyone in hardware N95 masks wouldn’t have helped anything anyway.

    They lied, sorry. If there wasn’t a mask shortage, or if we had even a slightly more compassionate and science embracing administration, I think the messaging and the guidelines would have been different.

    Your theory just doesn’t make any sense. Even if there hadn’t been a mask shortage (which — agreed — would have been nice), consumer N95s wouldn’t have helped ordinary people. Nor was there ever a shortage of kitchen towels — that recommendation could have been made by authorities at any time if they had thought of it.

    The fact that they didn’t shows a blind spot, sure. And in that and so many other ways the public health response could undoubtedly have been way better — no question about that. But there was never any reason to lie.

  67. says

    @John Morales 82
    If you sense mobbing I can understand the concern, but “bashing” could use some definition.

    Otherwise the reasonable part is what I’m trying to get out of silverfeather. I’m not going to have sympathy for people who want to type about lies they can’t show. That the recommendation is different now doesn’t mean the recommendation then was dishonest then.

  68. says

    @silverfeather 84
    “Of course it’s my opinion! I’ve explained why it’s my opinion. I was more curious to hear from you why your opinion was that they were being honest, back when I thought that was what you were arguing, because I do have quite a bit of context on my side and I don’t think I’m being unreasonable.”
    That I had an opinion is your assumption. I’m asking you about your opinion. Wanting the source for claims should have been obvious but you can argue with phantoms all you want.

    “I have only ever said that I don’t know where this originated and that it was used in conversation at my workplace as another reason that people buying N95 masks were being silly. The article says “medical specialists have said”. Notice though that while the information itself is true, it is being deployed (<— because you liked that one!) as part of a multifaceted argument as to why the Surgeon General didn’t want the general public wearing masks. People reading that article have now connected that argument with a govt official talking about how masks won’t help us.”
    People in this country are largely irrational and I’m not really interested in enabling that. They, and you should still be able to point out a lie if you claim one.

    You used “deploy” like it was something harmful.
    So weapon-like. You’ree avoiding why I liked it.

    “Look, if you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, that they just somehow missed the reasons that the general public should mask up, that’s your call. They were so incurious about why other countries were doing it that they never bothered to look into it? Sure.”
    Asking you about your claims isn’t giving the government the benefit of the doubt. That’s me making sure that if I repeat something it’s not bullshit.
    “Incurious” isn’t a lie.

    “I don’t think you understand what I’m saying here, based on your response, and I’m not sure how to state it any better for you, I’m sorry.”

    I don’t think it’s going to help because if we’re done with the lie issue because there isn’t one then it’s not going to help. It’s not dishonest from what I can see either. It’s awkward to have to attach that one sentence to other things to see why Dr.F didn’t think we needed to be wearing masks. But so far those other things don’t look like a lie or dishonesty.

    “Also, I’m probably not going to find a link to a bunch of government officials crowing about how they LIED to the public about mask use!!1!1! You aren’t interested in engaging with my arguments unless I can factually demonstrate every motivation to your satisfaction, and I’m not interested in posting a link to a source for every sentence that I type, lol, that’s exhausting. It seems like you don’t really have an opinion on this, anyway… you don’t think they lied, but you’re also not saying they were honest. This conversation just isn’t going anywhere. Maybe next time.”
    It’s a good thing I didn’t ask for the government saying they lied then. I asked for context showing Dr.F knowingly gave false information, a lie. Or dishonesty now. Your hyperbole about “every sentence” is also dishonest. I’m asking for specific things. I’m sure it’s tiring finding out that you can’t back up your claims. I recommend you fix that before the election because I’m not interested in going easy on “allies”.

  69. silverfeather says

    @jack lecou 85

    In other words, they knew asymptomatic cases existed, but explicitly note that there’s no evidence those people were spreading it. And that’s from a paper published March 12.

    Which is why what I originally said was “suspicion of asymptomatic spread” in comment 28, which I see I failed to repeat in that last response to you, mea culpa. It’s also why I discarded asymptomatic spread from my argument. I can fully concede asymptomatic spread (even though I still believe it should factor in) and my argument still stands.

    Also, that paper was submitted on Feb 20th, which shows as I said that it was on their radar. I included that link because asymptomatic spread was a valid concern even at the beginning, and no current evidence is not the same as evidence against. In a perfect world, given the risks, the concern would have been one factor pushing toward a “can’t hurt, might help” discussion on mask wearing.

    Again, you’ve got to ask yourself, if they knew it would help, why wouldn’t they recommend cloth masks?

    My personal theory on this is because this administration (who sets the tone/staffs the orgs) doesn’t care much about the lives of the general populace and was busy irrationally trying to minimize the risks of Covid19 so the public wouldn’t panic. Telling people to mask up works counter to the “there’s nothing to see here” narrative Trump started with. The concern from the top appears to be re-election and the economy, not actual lives. I doubt they would have allowed the cloth mask suggestion to fly when what Trump was saying was stuff like “we’re doing a great job”, “our numbers are low”, and “it will go away when it gets warm, like a miracle”.

    This administration has made a habit of replacing anyone who publicly disagrees with Trump with lackeys to keep govt orgs “on message”. I can’t divorce that from how this was handled.

    The health officials maybe had more sense, and knew there weren’t enough N95 masks to go around, and they wanted people to stop panic buying them. So they told us masks wouldn’t help us, when there were good arguments to the contrary, instead of the nuanced truth.

    By the way, you telling me that a specific type of N95 mask is a bad idea doesn’t invalidate the idea that N95 masks offer better protection. A cloth mask protects others from me, and offers maybe a miniscule bit of protection for me. A properly worn N95 mask protects others from me and also offers me better protection from them. Even a standard, valveless hardware store one (which was the majority of what we carried). Now that we’ve effectively politicized mask wearing and republicans are more likely to go maskless as a statement – this is a meaningful distinction.
    I do think it’s very reasonable to say that in the non-perfect world we live in they need to go to healthcare workers and not the public, of course.

    Reasonable doesn’t factor into it. It was definitely the recommendation — public order even — that actually symptomatic sick people stay the hell at home. Even after masks were recommended for everyone else.

    And that’s completely the right call. It’s really not ok to be going out sick, even with a mask.

    Does that expose all kinds of problems with the US system of medical leave and employment protection, and at home care*? Sure. But it’s still the right call, and masks don’t mitigate that.

    I’m not saying that it wasn’t the right call, I’m saying that it was obviously insufficient to do a damn thing for working class people without sharp and significant change to how this country operates (at least during the pandemic).

    It was obvious that it was never going to realistically contain the spread, because we weren’t willing to actually help people. It was however, the bare minimum CYA call so that sick people who went to work because they had no paid sick leave/ needed to pay the rent and spread Covid19 could be blamed for not not following recommendations.

    Korea aggressively quarantined not only symptomatic and positive cases, but also potentially exposed people. Local government workers helped deliver fresh food and care packages to those people’s homes. (And you’ll note that that quarantine existed even though Korea has a very good culture of public mask wearing. Everyone was already wearing masks, no stigma, etc.)

    Best practices? They seem to be doing better than us. That’s a low, low bar though right?

    It was both. Again, triaging for those most in need is not lying

    It’s called a lie of omission for a reason. I’m not objecting to them trying to “triage for those most in need”, I’m objecting to them lying to us to those ends.

    In the most generous reading, our govt health officials just didn’t bother to look at or consider why other countries might be advocating general mask use, or consider that telling working people to stay home when they’re sick wasn’t going to do a damn thing in our cutthroat capitalistic society, so they were just too ignorant to make the right call here. Which is where you seem to fall. That still aint good, but based on the full handling of this pandemic by the U.S. govt so far, it’s way too generous. Saving our lives was just never much of a priority for them, is all.

  70. silverfeather says

    @Brony 87

    I asked for context showing Dr.F knowingly gave false information, a lie

    I don’t think I ever once even typed his name. You’re still arguing with markme, and you aren’t engaging with what I am actually saying.

    I’m not interested in the type of conversation you want to have.

  71. jack lecou says

    Also, that paper was submitted on Feb 20th, which shows as I said that it was on their radar. I included that link because asymptomatic spread was a valid concern even at the beginning, and no current evidence is not the same as evidence against. In a perfect world, given the risks, the concern would have been one factor pushing toward a “can’t hurt, might help” discussion on mask wearing.

    No evidence is no evidence.

    I agree that a precautionary attitude toward improvised mask wearing would have been a good call. Covidiots notwithstanding, it’s really not at all difficult to ask people to wear a surgical mask or a scarf to the grocery store. In countries where that was already a cultural norm, health officials were also much quicker to make it an official recommendation.

    Unfortunately, it was simply not on most Western officials radar until it forced its way on. Failure? Yes, absolutely. But a failure of imagination and navel gazing, not dishonesty.

    You need to also keep in mind that masks were not the only consequence of the recognition of asymptomatic community transmission. Other, more extreme measures, like the lockdown orders, were also riding on that. The lockdown orders actually started coming out a week or so before the mask recommendation, even though the same evidence would have informed both — I reckon that’s because that’s the containment measure health officials primarily had in mind as a counter to asymptomatic spread, and they were waiting for firm evidence before taking such a drastic step.

    An improvised mask order would plainly have been an easy lift much earlier, but, in the West, it just wasn’t a thing yet. Hopefully that will be different next time.

    My personal theory on this is because this administration (who sets the tone/staffs the orgs) doesn’t care much about the lives of the general populace and was busy irrationally trying to minimize the risks of Covid19 so the public wouldn’t panic. Telling people to mask up works counter to the “there’s nothing to see here” narrative Trump started with. The concern from the top appears to be re-election and the economy, not actual lives. I doubt they would have allowed the cloth mask suggestion to fly when what Trump was saying was stuff like “we’re doing a great job”, “our numbers are low”, and “it will go away when it gets warm, like a miracle”.

    That might make sense for the US. Certainly it’s the reaction Trump et al had at some point after the CDC made the recommendation.

    This does not do an adequate job of explaining why other Western countries’ authorities also didn’t recommend general mask wearing until much later. For example the German recommendation hit in mid-April (later than the US, AFAICT). France didn’t mandate masks until May.

    Partly that’s to do with circumstances — Germany had a much better response all around, and was actually easing restrictions by that point, while the US was (is) still digging a hole — but also note this sentence:

    Special masks such as the FFP2, which also protect the wearer, should be reserved for medical personnel, they said.

    In other words, despite recommending masks for the general public, they’re still repeating the thing you think is a lie…?

    This administration has made a habit of replacing anyone who publicly disagrees with Trump with lackeys to keep govt orgs “on message”. I can’t divorce that from how this was handled.

    And yet, you must. Certainly you must for places like Germany, France, Italy or Spain, which are not — last I checked — presided over by President Trump.

    Obviously the US response was ham-fisted in every way. And crippled and slowed even before it started by foolish funding cuts to pandemic response agencies. But what you’re proposing — putting words in the mouths of health officials, both US and otherwise — is something else again.

    Pre-emptively doing so in order to get in front of the situation doesn’t even fit the administration’s modus operandi. Nor does the timeline match up. The “save the PPE for medicos” message was coming in late Feb. If the administration was concocting that lie that far back in order to (what exactly?) why did they then let the lockdown orders happen in late March?

    If they’d been that much in front of the game on masks and getting back to business, wouldn’t the smart thing for the administration to do have been to say “let’s put masks ON, in order to AVOID(/get out of) lockdown”? If they were reacting to the shortage of masks, wouldn’t it have been smarter to not draw attention to it at all? Or tell people to go ahead and buy as much as they wanted, the doctors had what they needed and were just whining? Why would the WHO — noted enemy of the Trump administration — still be saying the same thing about masks being for doctors only?

    Nothing — facts, logic, timing –about your little conspiracy theory makes sense.

    The health officials maybe had more sense, and knew there weren’t enough N95 masks to go around, and they wanted people to stop panic buying them. So they told us masks wouldn’t help us, when there were good arguments to the contrary, instead of the nuanced truth.

    If there were good arguments to the contrary, you would have been able to come up with them by now.

    The fact is, it’s still not recommended to wear masks for personal protection. The WHO hasn’t recommended masks in general at all. You keep saying that’s a lie, and yet… It’s still true? How does that even work?

    What happened was a simple shift in the recognition of a need for public rather than personal protection. A whole different paradigm of mask use. And that happened with the growing evidence of asymptomatic community transmission. That recognition dawned later than any of us would have liked, sure, but it wasn’t at any point actively dishonest.

    By the way, you telling me that a specific type of N95 mask is a bad idea doesn’t invalidate the idea that N95 masks offer better protection. A cloth mask protects others from me, and offers maybe a miniscule bit of protection for me. A properly worn N95 mask protects others from me and also offers me better protection from them.

    There’s just no evidence for that. Even aside from the valve issue, there’s no reason to think an N95 mask reduces the risk you — an untrained wearer — have of catching the disease in typical conditions. Both because of the contamination and misuse issues, and because the math changes when an acute exposure risk factor isn’t there (it’s like carrying an open umbrella when there’s only a 2% chance of rain). That’s just not what the public should be wearing masks for right now.

    This was the point I made in my first post: I wish we had two completely separate words for this rather than overloading the word “mask”. Maybe let’s distinguish PPE (personal protective equipment) and CPE (community protective equipment).

    PPE protects the wearer, and is only going to be helpful in cases of acute exposure — health care workers, people caring for an actively sick family member. Properly worn N95 masks are PPE — even ones with exhalation valves in the right circumstances — scarves and kitchen towels are obviously not.

    CPE is to protect others from the wearer and is an easy call to make if asymptomatic airborne spread is even a possibility. CPE is handkerchiefs and simple surgical masks, but NOT high grade N95 masks, especially ones with a valve. (Those should always be saved for health workers — they just won’t help ordinary people much even if we had warehouses full of them.)

    I do think it’s very reasonable to say that in the non-perfect world we live in they need to go to healthcare workers and not the public, of course.

    Well, thank goodness for that. And of course, that is the world we live in. It’s probably why health officials were saying that in February.

    Which you’re now calling them liars for- Hey, waitaminute…

    I’m not saying that it wasn’t the right call, I’m saying that it was obviously insufficient to do a damn thing for working class people without sharp and significant change to how this country operates (at least during the pandemic).

    It was obvious that it was never going to realistically contain the spread, because we weren’t willing to actually help people. It was however, the bare minimum CYA call so that sick people who went to work because they had no paid sick leave/ needed to pay the rent and spread Covid19 could be blamed for not not following recommendations.

    We’re getting off topic here. Like I said, no real disagreement there. The US health care and sick leave system is a cruel joke, and this whole thing has exposed (as if they weren’t already) a lot of the problems with the whole capitalist system of keeping everyone in a persistent state of barely-hanging-on employment and health fragility in order to suppress wages.

    If someone did have a genius plan to blame minimum wage workers for not staying home, though, it appears to have backfired, no?

    Best practices? They seem to be doing better than us. That’s a low, low bar though right?

    The US response was just abysmal. I chuckle darkly to myself now every time I hear someone say the phrase “the US is still the greatest country in the world, but…”, which has been happening a lot as people talk about these issues. It’s pretty much just a rote protective incantation — the part after ‘but’ always catastrophically undermines it.

    There are a lot of lessons to learn from Korea, as well as places like Singapore, New Zealand, etc. Even China. I’m sure nobody had a perfect response, but American exceptionalism needs to die already. Masks are only the tip of the iceberg.

    It’s called a lie of omission for a reason. I’m not objecting to them trying to “triage for those most in need”, I’m objecting to them lying to us to those ends.

    But what is it you think were they omitting exactly?

    What did they say? PPE won’t protect you: true. PPE should be reserved for medical staff: true. There’s no evidence at this time for asymptomatic spread: true.

    In say, the end of February when the surgeon general was telling people not to buy masks, what information was he omitting, exactly? Do you think he’d looked at the news and seen East Asians wearing masks and said to himself, “Oh, well that would definitely prevent the outbreak from spreading if we did that here, but we wouldn’t want to do that — then we might avoid lockdowns coming a month from now, and all of the economic and political fallout from this, and look like we actually knew what we were doing — we can’t have that. I’m going to go on twitter and tell people NOT to wear masks. That’s the ticket.”

    What exactly was the sinister plan you think was in operation?

    In the most generous reading, our govt health officials just didn’t bother to look at or consider why other countries might be advocating general mask use, or consider that telling working people to stay home when they’re sick wasn’t going to do a damn thing in our cutthroat capitalistic society, so they were just too ignorant to make the right call here. Which is where you seem to fall. That still aint good, but based on the full handling of this pandemic by the U.S. govt so far, it’s way too generous. Saving our lives was just never much of a priority for them, is all.

    Yep. Nothing about this was handled competently. That’s kind of the point. What makes you think messaging about masks was literally the only action in all of this calculated to serve a purpose?

    And, no, I don’t think saving lives is important to the administration — not prepared to make the same accusation against even top health officials like Fauci (nevermind the hardworking grunts) — but the administration, sure.

    But saying that saving lives was never a priority is one thing. What you’re saying is that they were lying specifically to serve some other priority. What other priority, and how was that plan supposed to work? Did they care about the stock market? Jobs? Political popularity?

    How exactly do you think any of those goals were being served by having the surgeon general lie about masks in February?

  72. silverfeather says

    @jack lecou 90

    I’ll try to use the PPE and CPE distinction going forward.
     

    I just don’t agree with you on PPE. You keep having to qualify why it wouldn’t be better for the general public to have PPE – which would offer some protection to the wearer and also to the community.

    -You say untrained use, I say tell us how to use ’em safely.

    -You say valves are bad, I say don’t use that kind.

    -You say it’s like carrying an umbrella when there’s a 2% chance of rain and I say that if contact with that rain can kill you and/or vulnerable loved ones? You should carry that umbrella if you can.
     

    The only good argument I’ve heard against PPE for the general public is that we don’t have enough to go around and medical professionals need them more.

    If we had enough PPE to cover everyone I don’t see why we wouldn’t use it, especially (as I’ve said) because CPE only works well if we have a social contract in which we all use it. “My mask protects you and your mask protects me.” When the dude in the MAGA hat comes to my counter without a mask and expects me to help him – my CPE is protecting him, but he aint doing shit to protect me or my immunosuppressed husband. PPE over CPE.
     

    On to my lovely government.
    (And yes, I’ve only been talking about about the U.S. this whole time because I live here. I follow politics here. The point you made about the other countries who didn’t mandate CPE use is interesting. Places like Brazil or Britain seem to follow a similar logic to what’s going on here, but Germany? France? I really don’t know. I also don’t know if they were honest with their people about CPE/PPE use. They aren’t who I’m talking about.)

    I don’t think there was a sinister plan. I don’t think that Trump’s lies are always calculated, I think he says what he says in the moment without thought for anyone but himself, and he has put in power an extended circle of yes men and evil assholes who will kowtow and spin to justify whatever bullshit he feels like spewing on a whim. He keeps extending this circle of raw sewage people out into government orgs, replacing people who may have cared more about the truth than massaging his ego with people who will at the bare minimum not contradict him. So far, this tactic has worked depressingly well for him his entire life.

    But saying that saving lives was never a priority is one thing. What you’re saying is that they were lying specifically to serve some other priority. What other priority, and how was that plan supposed to work? Did they care about the stock market? Jobs? Political popularity?

    Salving Trump’s ego by not contradicting his narrative (which CPE would do) while trying to direct limited PPE to healthcare workers to mitigate just enough potential disaster that we wouldn’t be in an Italy position? So to do that, if they have to break a few eggs… I mean, tell the general public that masks won’t help them

    when what they mean is N95 masks not CPE, and then only if you aren’t taught how to use them safely, or you’re using the kind with valves, and otherwise actually, yes, both kinds of masks will help you in these different ways and we should be normalizing mask use across the population to help prevent further spread of a deadly virus as these other countries have done and here’s why: (Blah blah blah, sick people needing to go out, blah blah blah, eliminating social stigma)… and also, for now, we need you guys to use CPE and not PPE because of the shortage – but if we all wear them we can do our part to protect each other and let our healthcare workers do their jobs as safely as possible

    but no, we get masks won’t help you, and this slow rolling horror show, and months later we get Trump saying 200,000 deaths is him doing a great fucking job.

    But what is it you think were they omitting exactly?

    See above.

    One main difference between us seems to be that you are assuming they didn’t look at the options and information they had access to (re: CPE/PPE use), making them blind and ignorant, and I am assuming they did look and made the decision to ignore that info… making them the folks that lied to us about mask use when they knew different. At this point it doesn’t really matter I guess. The end result was the same.

    It’s funny. All this typing, lol, and this isn’t even my biggest issue with how The U.S. has handled the pandemic so far.

  73. jack lecou says

    I just don’t agree with you on PPE. You keep having to qualify why it wouldn’t be better for the general public to have PPE – which would offer some protection to the wearer and also to the community.
    -You say untrained use, I say tell us how to use ’em safely.
    -You say valves are bad, I say don’t use that kind.
    -You say it’s like carrying an umbrella when there’s a 2% chance of rain and I say that if contact with that rain can kill you and/or vulnerable loved ones? You should carry that umbrella if you can.

    Respectively:
    — I’m not sure such training is really possible, certainly not on the timescale involved. Where I am, we can’t, unfortunately, even seem to manage to get 100% of super market staff to keep their masks on all three breath holes at the same time. Actual compliance with a real medical PPE regimen would, without any doubt at all, be absolutely abominable.

    Remember, this isn’t just remembering not to touch your face (which would be hard enough), it’s really a whole thing, and if you skip one step, you might as well skip them all. For example, because the outside of the mask is potentially infected, you will have to keep the mask on in the car all the way home, wash your hands, remove the mask without ever touching the front, and then throw it away. (That last part in particular is something I’m not sure you’re grappling with.)

    — Right. So for what’s available to consumers, that pretty much leaves you with simple surgical masks or the pressed-fiber type dust masks, neither of which are, at least for naive use, any more effective than a handkerchief at keeping stuff out. Possible the latter could be made to work with very careful fitting, but then again, only with proper training, a very strict hygiene regimen, and for a single use.

    — What I should have said was carrying a one-time use umbrella. I hope, especially if the umbrellas were both life saving and finite, you agre it might be better to keep that in the plastic wrap until the chance of rain is a bit higher, no? Or save it for a guy who works in a sprinkler field?

    The only good argument I’ve heard against PPE for the general public is that we don’t have enough to go around and medical professionals need them more.

    It’s the only argument you appear to be willing to really listen to. It’s not the only argument.

    Let me quote you again what, for example, the surgeon general actually said in February:

    They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus

    Note that wording. He didn’t say “N95 masks don’t work”. He said not effective as a measure for the general public.

    That should pretty much be read the same way as the surgeon general saying “the rhythm method is not generally effective birth control”. Does that mean no one has ever used it successfully? Of course not. But doing so requires nearly perfect compliance. It’s not something that, as a public health official, you can rely on. Not even close.

    And when the tradeoff is actual trained health care workers not having PPE — people who both know how to use it, and need it to not get infected themselves and infect others — it’s an absolute no-brainer. (That’s even before you start to factor in the real possibility that PPE use might raise infection rates, because people both won’t be using it right and simultaneously engage in riskier behavior because they feel safer.)

    When the dude in the MAGA hat comes to my counter without a mask and expects me to help him – my CPE is protecting him, but he aint doing shit to protect me or my immunosuppressed husband. PPE over CPE.

    I sympathize. The Azathoth-damned Covidiots are going to be the death of us all.

    But their existence kind of proves the point. Someone like Fauci or the surgeon general are not just charged with protecting you and me, or other people who can follow directions and count to 20 without taking off their shoes — they’re also charged with protecting the Covidiots. It’s one of the many reasons a general PPE regimen would have have had terrible complance, and (statistically) likely not helped at all. Your CPE, on the other hand, is protecting that asshole, and a lot of other people around you.

    BTW, someone with an immuno-compromised household member might actually be a candidate for PPE training and use even though the general public is not. Nothing the surgeon general said contradicts that or implies otherwise — though, as with so many other things, an actual program to make that happen no doubt failed to materialize in time.

    Germany? France? I really don’t know. I also don’t know if they were honest with their people about CPE/PPE use. They aren’t who I’m talking about.

    It’s important, though. The fact that the exact thing you’re complaining about was not a US specific thing, but more or less universal to the entire Western hemisphere’s Covid response, kind of points to, among other things, a non-Trump related answer.

    Salving Trump’s ego by not contradicting his narrative (which CPE would do) while trying to direct limited PPE to healthcare workers to mitigate just enough potential disaster that we wouldn’t be in an Italy position? So to do that, if they have to break a few eggs… I mean, tell the general public that masks won’t help them

    Several problems with that.

    First of all, if it’s true that this was a lie — that (PPE-type) masks actually could have helped — there ought to be a bunch of public health professionals coming out and saying “we knew all along that PPE use could have stopped this virus in its tracks, but that darned surgeon general fired us before we could get the word out”, etc. That’s not, AFAIK, the case. Quite the opposite. Doctors of my own acquaintance are of pretty much the same opinion as the SG — PPE use would not be an effective public health measure. Non-Trump affiliated organizations like the WHO also remain firm on that stance. Are they all covering for Trump?

    That the PPE was much more needed for health care workers part is/was also very emphatically true.

    That the two things that were actually said turn out to be be completely true — then and now — strikes me as a big problem with trying to retroactively declare it to be a lie. True lies, I guess?

    Second, you can’t have it both ways with regard to their beliefs about community spread. If they were, as you theorize, hoping there was a chance that disaster could be averted by getting equipment to health care workers and clearing up the symptomatic cases in hospitals, then by definition they did not think there was significant community spread. And if they didn’t think there was significant community spread, then they, by definition, would be able to say perfectly honestly that they didn’t think having the general public wearing masks would do much good, right?

    Third, none of this really makes sense as a way to salve Trump’s ego or buttress his “this isn’t a big deal” narrative. Remember that what they actually said in the statements you’re objecting to was more along the lines of “this is a big deal [so stop buying the masks and leave them to the professionals]”. If their goal was salving Trump’s ego, it would have been much easier to say something like, “Ha ha, this is no big deal, buy all the masks you want you sillies, the doctors already have this under control.”

    One main difference between us seems to be that you are assuming they didn’t look at the options and information they had access to (re: CPE/PPE use), making them blind and ignorant, and I am assuming they did look and made the decision to ignore that info… making them the folks that lied to us about mask use when they knew different. At this point it doesn’t really matter I guess. The end result was the same.

    No, I’m sure someone looked at both. They certainly didn’t ignore PPE — they looked at the info they had, and, e.g., tweeted completely accurate information about its effectiveness for the general public. That’s what you’re apparently taking issue with.

    CPE is a bit murkier. I’m sure some flunky somewhere was looking into it (assuming the one who would have been in charge of that hadn’t already been laid off in some round or other of Trumpian budget cuts). But note that even now there is still not any really solid information about whether it’s truly effective. We may get some better studies someday, but only after this is long over. The (mainly East-Asian) authorities that recommended CPE early on did so mainly because it was a cultural no-brainer where they were, rather than on any body of solid evidence.

    Meanwhile Western authorities, in the time period you have issue with, lacked: 1) solid evidence for CPE effectiveness, 2) solid evidence for asymptomatic spread, 3) any (recent) cultural precedent for CPE. Given all that, I’m really not sure why you think it’s so surprising (or malevolent, even) that Western authorities didn’t get on the CPE boat sooner.

    It’s funny. All this typing, lol, and this isn’t even my biggest issue with how The U.S. has handled the pandemic so far.

    I mean, I would certainly hope not. There were/are so very many incredibly serious issues with the way the US and the Trump administration handled things. That you’re focusing on this absolute non issue strikes me as slightly…funny. Yes that’s the word.

  74. says

    Seeing you people arguing over masks when lots of countries that have implemented them (even with imperfect use, even with mostly home made cloth masks) seem to see really good results, while your president admits that he simply interfered with testing to keep numbers low is ridiculous.
    I’m as much a fan of arguing as anybody else here, but you folks really need to do two things:
    1. Wear a damn mask
    2. Get your priorities sorted
    Because you’re arguing a lot over spilled milk as to who said what about masks when people are dying in the thousands.

  75. jack lecou says

    Nobody’s arguing about whether to wear masks.

    The argument is about whether health authorities — not admin flacks, but doctors — were deliberately hiding evidence and/or lying about masks back in February. (And not just in the US, but throughout most of the western hemisphere.) That’s a much more important and far reaching point, if true.

    Also, no — I see you can’t be bothered to read the thread, but AFAIK, no country has implemented or recommended masks in the PPE sense (requiring rated masks and perfect use) for the general public. The PPE sense the reference point in the debated Feb statements. (There’re a number of key differences from a practical and public policy point of view between masks as PPE vs. masks as “CPE”. See above. [I don’t know if there’s already a well understood term of art for that latter, but also see above for a definition]).

  76. silverfeather says

    @jack lecou 92
    Okay, you did it! You made me go look up the damn Fauci quote that started this whole thing upthread. I think I’m done after this, I’m tired, and Giliell is yelling at me now, lol – which means the bar is closing and it’s time to go home. Thanks for being civil.
     

    Compare this: “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” – Trump lackey Surgeon General
     

    To this: “The primary purpose of a face mask is to protect a healthcare worker when he or she is taking care of somebody that’s sick. The secondary use is to get someone who is sick to put it on themselves to prevent them from infecting somebody else. Other people who want to protect themselves in society, they can use face masks. The reason we didn’t recommend it early on is we didn’t want the supply of face masks to be used for people who didn’t really need it when the physicians and the nurses and the healthcare providers who needed it weren’t getting it. In a perfect world, if you have enough face masks, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a face mask. Is it 100% protective, no way. What is it, estimate, maybe 50% or so, and that’s merely an estimate. There’s some degree of protection, but it isn’t completely protected against the transmission.” – Dr. Fauci
     

    If you can read these two things side by side and not see the difference here, I don’t know what to tell you. They both say the masks need to go to healthcare workers first – great, that’s uncontested. The lackey though, in a widely publicized message, says they are NOT effective. Fauci says estimate, maybe 50% or so.

    Well hell, that’s waaay better than rhythm method levels! (And I’m pretty sure he’s talking about PPE here, too.)

    He also says, as you can see above, that the reason they weren’t recommended early on was [insert mask shortage here]. So yeah, that reads to me like some honesty from Dr. Fauci about why the CDC wasn’t honest with us about mask effectiveness for the general public. Here’s the link (I assume you’ll want), he says this at around 7:48: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2YKKba6ps0

    During this conversation, (and again, thank you for the civility, it was nice), you have expected a much greater degree of nuance and specificity from me, a layperson, than you have expected from the Surgeon General of the U.S. (and others, like the head of the CDC who said “There is no role for these masks in the community”). You say that technically, they weren’t lying (even though they were omitting critical information in such a way as to make it sound to other laypeople that masks won’t help us, when they would). I just don’t agree with you.

  77. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    OK, I am going to try to come up with a civil reply to silverfeather and the others on here who seem bent on finding conspiracies wherever they look.

    Dr. Fauci is a public health expert. Part of public health is the allocation of scarce resources where they will save the most lives. One can certainly find fault with the fact that PPE was in short supply–there’s no good reason for that, but it was the case. As such, it was a no brainer that a trained health professional who is exposed to the threat daily and if infected would expose countless patients to the virus would benefit more than an average citizen who can’t keep from touching his/her face and doesn’t know how to even wear a mask.
    In China, there is more of a culture of mask wearing–a lot of Chinese wear masks every flu season. They know how to wear them, and they were not in short supply.

    The fact that you don’t understand the reasons why professionals do the things they do does not mean the professionals are conspiring against you. Maybe invest a couple of hours and educate yourself before jumping into the conspiracy ocean.

  78. jack lecou says

    The lackey though, in a widely publicized message, says they are NOT effective. Fauci says estimate, maybe 50% or so.

    Not effective for the general public. In other words, on average members of the public using masks are likely to get sick just as often.

    If you can’t see why that’s not an important qualifier for a health official to add — and to not leave out of your paraphrase — I can’t help you.

    It’s actually Fauci who seems rather more Trumpian there. “Maybe 50% or so but that’s just an estimate”? Please. 50% of what, even? A single exposure? Cumulative use? If he doesn’t know, he doesn’t need to make up a number on the spot. He sounds like he’s trying to say roughly the same thing as the SG (‘sorry, they won’t be that effective for you’), but soften the news a little with some bafflegab.

    And of course, whatever number he’s making up there is not accurate if he’s talking about the face masks most people are wearing now (when is this quote from?). (I’d guesstimate the wearer-protective factor for modified kitchen towels and stray bits of cloth is ~0%, and I don’t even need to quantify the ‘out of what’.)

    At least he does say the secondary use is keeping a sick persons sick in. That’s the real reason we’re using them now when we weren’t at first, of course. We learned we’re all potential secondary use cases now.

  79. jack lecou says

    In China, there is more of a culture of mask wearing–a lot of Chinese wear masks every flu season. They know how to wear them, and they were not in short supply.

    Maybe I’m the weirdo for making this point over and over, but, once again, it’s not true about knowing how to wear them.

    I very much doubt your typical Chinese subway rider is using surgical hygiene procedures when they don and doff their masks. And they’re mostly wearing surgical-type masks, which don’t really provide virus-filtering personal protection in the first place.

    The thing is, it doesn’t matter, because they’re technically wearing them in a ‘CPE’ context — where procedure and personal protection aren’t crucial — not a PPE one.

  80. says

    @silverfeather 98
    You have my apologies about the inclusion of the Dr.F claim.

    You did however make claims about messages from the government about masks which is fair to question. And I don’t have a position which is related to the confusion in a way I’ll figure out later.

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