There comes a time to stop listening to widely recognized and even renowned “experts.” We may be well past that time where the coronavirus is concerned.
For quite some time, the “experts” have flubbed testing protocols and collecting and disseminating data. But a new article in The New York Times calls into question much more of what we have been told about the severity of the pandemic.
What if, more than five months into this crisis, we only had 1.8 million or so confirmed cases instead of 6.1 million? Or what if we only had about 600,000 instead of the 6.1 million?
Would this calamity still be cause for shutting down the country’s economy, schools, hospitals? Pretty much everything but the post office, Walmart and Home Depot were either shut down or restricted to the point of strangling their business to death this spring.
More than 6 million cases might seem to justify such draconian measures, but would they seem justified if the true number of confirmed cases were only 10 to 30 percent of what we have been told?
According to Dr. Michael Mina, who is an epidemiologist at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, the typically used PCR test for coronavirus might well be missing the mark by that much.
The polymerase chain reaction test takes a sample and replicates the DNA of the coronavirus present in the sample. Every iteration of the cycle replicates the virus present. According to The Times, the test is so sensitive that it can pick up even very tiny amounts of the virus DNA.
To illustrate, say there are 10 little virus DNA pieces in your sample. If we copy those 10 little virus DNA pieces in the sample 30 times, that’s almost 11 billion. If we run the test with 40 iterations, we’ll get 10,995,116,000,000. That’s almost 11 trillion little virus pieces.
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Increasing the iterations in the test by 10 increased the number of little virus DNA pieces by more than 1,000 times.
The number of iterations required to qualify as a positive test result is called the cycle threshold. Mina said some labs are using a CT that is too high, one that may be so sensitive it can generate a positive test result if a person has such a small amount of the virus in his system that he is not contagious, or even that the test can count a test positive when no live virus is present in the person.
At such a high CT, the PCR test can multiply even dead virus fragments enough to generate a positive test result.
Juliet Morrison, a virologist from the University of California, Riverside, said a CT of 35 should be adequate. Mina believes the CT should be 30 or lower. The labs that most states are using are declaring a positive test result if enough copies of the virus DNA are created in 37 or 40 iterations.
The Times found data on CT values from labs in New York and Massachusetts. Analysis of this data revealed reducing the CT to 30 could have resulted in 70 percent fewer positive tests in New York and 85-90 percent fewer in Massachusetts.
Assuming a similar reduction would yield similar results across the United States, we might be looking at 600,000 to 1,800,000 coronavirus cases in the U.S. instead of 6,000,000 plus.
The “experts” we have listened to and followed since March should have known and understood how the test works and how a CT set too high could inflate the numbers.
Whether their error was intentional or accidental, this revelation should be reason enough to shatter any credibility they ever had.
The time has come to stop listening to the “experts” who have been wrong more than right, who locked us up and shut us down and who botched this whole testing regime so badly that we honestly have no idea now how many real positive tests we have had.
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