In this interview with Reaction’s Deputy Editor Alastair Benn, Martin Kulldorff, Professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and leading figure in the field of infectious disease epidemiology, argues for an age-targeted response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lockdowns result in too much collateral damage, he argues, and impose unreasonable costs on the working class and the young in particular. He also has some fascinating comments on the uses and misuses of “the science” in the debate over public health.
Alastair Benn: This week Boris Johnson urged the British public not to “throw in the sponge”, a boxing metaphor. How helpful is the language of conflict when we are trying to deal with a disease?
Martin Kulldorff: It is an enemy, in a sense, so we have to use the weaknesses of the virus against it. The key feature with Covid-19 is the huge difference in mortality between the old and the young. The older people among us have more than a thousand-fold risk of death compared to the youngest among us. We have to use that in order to deal with this virus. So that means we have to protect the elderly among us and other high-risk persons while we wait for herd immunity which will either come via a vaccine or natural infections or a combination of the two.
AB: The British government tends to stress that everybody is at a similar level of risk. So whenever there is a specific acknowledgement of the threat of Covid to the elderly, it is caveated with comments about how young people can get seriously ill too.
MK: This is very unhelpful. There is an enormous difference of risk. For older people this is much worse than the annual flu. For children the risks are much less than the annual flu. This is not a dangerous disease for children. We don’t close schools because of the annual flu. We don’t ban people from driving cars because there are people who die in car accidents. We let people live normal lives with standard precautions.
Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).
Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:
which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.
While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state.
The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.
The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.
“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”
Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.
All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.
Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.
WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators
Assembly against private school forced closure.
Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results
“An emphasis on adult employment”
Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]
Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration