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The devastating epidemic that simply wasn’t devastating

It is now more than a year since the arrival of the coronavirus in the United States and the panicky wave of fear it brought to our governments and many of our citizens, shutting down whole states, bankrupting millions of businesses, and shuttering schools for practically a whole year. In the process our governments have demanded we change how we live in fundamental ways, from no longer gathering together in any social setting to wearing masks wherever we go, inside or out.

Was that reaction correct? Readers of my website know that I never believed it rational, and that it was an entirely out-of-proportion response to what was really nothing more than a new variation of the flu.

Well, we now have some data that reveals the actual scale of the COVID-19 epidemic, as shown by the CDC graph below:

weekly number of deaths from all causes
Click for CDC source page.

The yellow curve indicates the upper bound threshold for expected deaths. Any week that exceeds that threshold is considered to be a week whereby more people died than would normally be expected.

The graph reveals many things, the most of significant of which is that this epidemic was simply not devastating and that all the harsh lockdowns, mask mandates, and panic were simply unnecessary. To explain that conclusion will require some analysis, as follows.

The most obvious take-away from this graph is that the 2020 and 2021 waves of COVID-19 definitely caused more deaths than previous flu seasons. The 2018 flu season had been considered a bad one, as shown by the graph. Both COVD-19 waves exceeded it. These final numbers are also higher than I and others had expected or predicted based on earlier data. However, a wider and deeper view of these numbers shows that the earlier more optimistic conclusions were still largely correct.

First, we must remember that the numbers of deaths from the flu practically vanished during this epidemic, which seems unlikely. More likely, based on the financial benefits awarded to doctors and hospitals for assigning any undetermined respiratory illness to COVID-19 and not the flu, most flu deaths were instead labeled COVID. Thus it is not surprising that during the last two years the numbers were high, as they probably included deaths from both COVID and the flu. We were hit with a double whammy these past two years.

Second, the data continues to show that the large majority of these deaths occurred among the elderly sick. If you go to the source webpage and change the settings to show you deaths by age, it shows that in the past 40 weeks almost all deaths were for those over 45 years of age, with more than 75% of those deaths older than 65 years of age. Previous studies have found that of the aged who were dying most did so because of a combination of several chronic illnesses and COVID. In other words, these individuals were poised for death because of age and their overall very bad health, and the addition of a respiratory infection, such as COVID or the flu, was enough to push them over the edge.

Nor is this unusual. Sadly it is the norm, and has always been so. Old sick people do not have the resources to fight off a sudden respiratory illness that is relatively harmless to the rest of the population. While almost everyone else recovers, the disease kills them.

Fourth, and most important, the number of excess deaths demonstrate that the last two flu/COVID seasons, while bad, were not terribly different than the many other bad flu seasons we have weathered in the past without blinking an eye.

To illustrate, take the numbers for the week ending January 2, 2021, the worst week on record. According to past data, the CDC expected there to be 59413 deaths that week, with an upper bound of 61,248. Instead, 83,283 people died (these are not deaths from just COVID, but from all causes). Whether or not we had an epidemic, it is perfectly normal for about 60,000 people to have died that first week in January, because it is a basic fact of life that it ends at some point.

Nonetheless, in that week there were about 29% more deaths than would normally be expected during a normal flu season. O my God! We are all gonna die!

NOT. When compared to the entire population, this increase is a pinprick. There are presently about 330 million people alive in the U.S. Eighty-three thousands deaths equals a death rate of 0.00025, which means 99.975% of the population survived during that first week of January. Even more revealing, had the number of deaths been what the CDC expected, about 60,000, then 99.982% of the population would have survived instead, a difference of .007%, a percentage difference so small that scientists would normal consider it what they call an insignificant number.

More important, that difference means that the COVID-19 epidemic for the past year was not something that warranted a panic. It was simply nothing more than a variation of the flu, though clearly more deadly to the elderly sick. Had we treated it like the flu, we would have acted to first and foremost protect that elderly sick population, while letting everyone else go about their lives normally.

Had we done that — as we have done traditionally since the Enlightenment — the virus would have quickly spread through the general population, killing almost no one while rapidly running its course so that it had less chance to reach that protected elderly sick and vulnerable population.

The Scream by Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch’s Scream, a perfect representation of today’s culture.

Instead, Democratic Party governors in states like New York, Michigan, Washington, and Pennsylvania decided — in their panicked belief that the virus was about to kill millions based on computer models that were inherently flawed and untrustworthy — that they couldn’t favor this vulnerable population with any protection. To make sure they had plenty of emergency room beds for the hoards of sick COVID patients from the general population (hordes that never materialized), they required nursing homes to take in COVID patients, thus exposing that most vulnerable population and thus killing tens of thousands for absolutely no reason.

COVID-19 was not a pandemic, it was simply a somewhat worse flu season that caused a sad but entirely intolerable number of additional deaths among the older population because of fear and panic the strong and healthy decided to let them die.

Had we responded rationally and with courage, we might not have even had the number of the excess deaths now documented. Those elderly sick in New York, Michigan, Washington, and Pennsylvania might still be alive, and the non-devastation from COVID-19 might have been even less noteworthy.

But we did panic, and the result was not only many additional unnecessary deaths, but a terrible transformation of our society from one that was an exuberant celebration of freedom to a culture that now crouches in fear from the thunder gods.

The children who lived through the horror of masks and Zoom and isolation in the past year will not be the kind of adults who will build a nation of the free and brave. They will live in fear, and will impose that fear on all around them.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

32 comments

  • mkent

    COVID-19 was not a pandemic…

    So are you denying that there’s a pandemic?

  • I’m pretty sure no one thinks that there IS a pandemic. Both the CDC and WHO backed that off months ago.

    The problem with determining whether or not there WAS a pandemic is definitional. “pandemic” – much like “tort” – is a term-of-art. It does not mean what most people think it means.

    For example, there was an Ebola pandemic, but not many people in the United States even noticed. For the average person on the street, “pandemic” means we’re all going to die. For medical professionals, it means something else entirely – I believe it has something to do with infection rates and virulence coefficients, but I’m the average person on the street.

    For useful intents and purposes, the word can mostly be ignored.

  • concerned

    As popularized by Mark Twain:
    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

  • Jürgens Bauer

    Astute, well thought out and concise.

  • Trent Castanaveras

    merriamwebster.com says:

    pandemic (adjective)

    pan·​dem·​ic | \ pan-ˈde-mik \
    1: occurring over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affecting a significant proportion of the population

    significant (adjective)

    sig·​nif·​i·​cant | \ sig-ˈni-fi-kənt \
    1: having meaning
    especially : SUGGESTIVE
    a significant glance
    2a: having or likely to have influence or effect : IMPORTANT
    a significant piece of legislation
    also : of a noticeably or measurably large amount
    a significant number of layoffs

    By these criteria there are multiple pandemics every year, supposing one considers the various strains of influenza and the common cold (another corona virus), and Covid definitely fits this.

    You could change Bob’s statement to:

    COVID-19 was not a _devastating_ pandemic…

    to reflect what was likely his intent.

  • Trent Castanaveras: Until around 2000 the word “pandemic” did not exist, or if it did it was used by almost no one. When a disease spread across the globe it was always referred to as an epidemic.

    It appeared to me that “pandemic” was a made up crisis word created by politicians and academia to up the fear level when an epidemic occurred.

    Thus, I refuse to use it. Epidemic works just fine, as it always did.

  • Trent Castanaveras

    Mr. Z: “Until around 2000 the word “pandemic” did not exist, or if it did it was used by almost no one.”

    That’s fair. Although it’s been around for a bit more than a century, it’s use has been in niche applications. I first saw it in the documentary The Hot Zone a couple decades ago.

    An interesting thought: Since the word has been popularized by the entertainment industry, with all the reveling in various dystopian futures, it’s impact was far greater to the common man. The Stand, Outbreak, Utopia, The Crazies, etc. ad nauseum- the list goes on for pages. It’s almost like we’ve been being primed.

  • Andi

    Small edit in first paragraph under Scream: “hordes”

  • Andi: Thank you as always. Fixed.

  • numbers matter

    the percent numbers have two extra 9’s.
    .00025 death rate is .025%
    survival rate is .99975 or 99.975%

  • numbers matter: You are correct. I forgot to move the decimal when switching to percents. Thank you.

  • wayne

    “Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.”
    Blade Runner 1982
    https://youtu.be/0zXajYDnprQ
    0:10

  • wayne

    Nine Inch Nails –
    ” Head Like A Hole ” (1990)
    https://youtu.be/ao-Sahfy7Hg
    4:31

  • Jeff Wright

    “Pandemic” means Andromeda Strain to me.

  • As a WuFlu recipient, here’s my two cents.

    > WuFlu is real, but not the existential threat to society that the purveyors of panic-demic made it out to be. We did not have to wound our society the ways we have … not even for me. Doing so has set a perilous precedent for the next crisis and the heroic-in-their-own-mind Karens that will rise to meet it.

    > But to many of the purveyors of panic-demic, this was a crisis not to waste. One of their (myriad) beefs with President Trump was that he didn’t go all-in with them … but instead respected federalism more than any other President in my lifetime, perhaps even including Reagan. That is another precedent that I hope takes root for future Presidents – and reflected in the resolve of state leaders to not just let the Federal piper call the tune.

    > All this being said …. as I’ve said before, if you want to tie down an adversary so that you can impose your will on the world, WuFlu is well-suited for that objective … “wounded” casualties place a heavy logistical and psychological burden on an adversary that is moral enough to seek their care and comfort. Add to that the longer-lasting presence, and the plausible deniability of not being an obvious weapon, and if this was designed, the designer qualifies for the title Patton conferred upon Rommel in the movie.

    Which thinking about it, tells me that this bug likely did escape inadvertently from the lab … as opposed to being intentionally released a few more years down the road, when China might have its Peking ducks in a row to “reclaim” Taiwan.

  • Craig Austin

    Many politicians have slipped, and told the truth. This “pandemic ” was an opportunity for a new “equitable ” and “sustainable ” economic reset. A ” case ” was historically a person with symptoms confirmed by a test, now it is just a positive test. We were preached to for years about the difference between HIV positive and actually having AIDS, according to the new rules they are the same. Similarly the definition of pandemic was changed to include any infectious agent, dangerous or not. I have difficulty believing that it is a coincidence that the director of WHO at the most important period of it’s existence is a Marxist philosopher and has no public health, medical or infectious disease expertise. This was planned, and launched at the first opportunity.

  • Cotour

    Covid and the “Great reset”? There are no coincidences here IMO.

    And where will Covid actually be devastating? Apparently India, 300,000 new cases a day and people dying in the streets because of lack of hospital capacity. (And that is probably a low number).

    And surprisingly what is a common denominator in India as counter intuitive as it sounds given it is a sun drenched country?

    80 to 90 percent of the population is extremely deficient in Vitamin D due to there almost exclusively vegetarian diet.

  • John

    Of course there were fewer deaths from the flu because people were masks and quarantined
    Any idiot should have realized that
    This virus killed 10x as many as the flu
    And also 3 times more were severely injured many permanently

  • wayne

    Craig Austin–

    I’m glad you brought up the AIDs vs. HIV thing.
    –>Just guess who was ‘in charge’ of that whole affair –>Fauci.

    That little weasel has been grifting the taxpayers for almost as long as I’ve been alive.

  • wayne

    Jeff-
    excellent example!
    (original 1971)

  • Dave O

    John

    If the flu was stalled by lockdowns an unable to spread, we wouldn’t have had any ailments, including COVID.

    I am currently laboring with my 6 th cold since last June. Corona series includes the common cold.

    The point being, the lockdowns aren’t stopping the spread, only causing excess mortalities.

    Regardless, the Canadian military revealed they brought COVID to North America in October 2019 while returning from the 2019 Military World Games, held in WUHAN. They RCMP, without warrant, banged on the journalist’s door who revealed the letter sent from the Canadian Military’s chief surgeon to the Canadian Prime Minister. The letter was ignored by the Canadian government and kept from the media until the surgeon general in frustration exposed the scandal by sending it to media who would listen.

    As such, COVID, the flu, everything else was dispersing worldwide, from October 2019 to March 2020, WITH NO CONTROLS. We’re likely very close to herd immunity anyway, a goal we would want to achieve.

  • Andrew_W

    Mr. Zimmerman argues that “these people were poised for death.” But if that was the case we would see the number of deaths drop below the number of expected deaths as a result of those deaths being brought forward. The drop-in deaths in the graph he shows is a result of the time it requires to collect data. So as of to date I would argue that most of the lives lost to the virus were shortened by more than a year, by how much more than a year we will learn in the future.

  • Andrew_W

    Dave O.
    Internationally we’ve seen the flu almost completely disappear from many countries, in Australia and New Zealand flu cases are down by more than 99%, the missing flu cases are not covid cases because in those countries the number of covid cases is very low. The reason flu cases has dropped more spectacularly than covid cases as a result of lockdowns and other measures is because covid is far more contagious than the flu. Colds are also more contagious then the flu, so also have not been restricted to the same extent

  • Rick

    As the flu returns, will the powers that be demand lock downs, and mask usage for that?
    People fell for it so easily this time.

  • Edward

    In the following essay, the graph titled “CDC US: Weekly All Deaths:: Dotted = All Cause — COVID” shows a bold line that is all deaths. The dotted line shows the deaths with those attributed to Wuhan flu subtracted.*
    https://wmbriggs.com/post/35380/

    The large drop off at the end of the bold green line (2021 reporting) is due to reporting delays, late reporting to the CDC. Virtually all reporting is complete in eight weeks, so the green lines are accurate counts to at least week 9 of 2021. We can see that the 2020 excess deaths in the US exceed those attributed to Wuhan flu, and the remaining excess are the deaths that were caused only due to the reaction to the Wuhan flu.

    Since we know that there were many Wuhan flu deaths that were also caused by the reaction, it is clear that we should never react like this ever again. It was like killing the cats during the Bubonic Plague.

    It is clear that the number of deaths attributed to Wuhan flu is too high. There is a large financial incentive to report deaths as being from, with, suspected, or assumed related to Wuhan flu, and some reported deaths, such as auto accident deaths, were so blatantly false that they were caught. What we will never know is how many falsely “with,” “suspected,” or “assumed” attributed deaths were not blatant enough to be caught, such as people who had died due to the flu or pneumonia.

    Notice the lack of flu cases in the graph titled “WHO Flu: Positive Specimens From GISRS: 2009 — 2020” The flu has virtually disappeared for the past year. Has it gone the way of smallpox or are these deaths being reported as Wuhan flu deaths?

    John wrote: “Of course there were fewer deaths from the flu because people were masks and quarantined
    Any idiot should have realized that

    If masks and quarantines stopped the flu, then why didn’t they stop the Wuhan flu, too? Shouldn’t any idiot realize that both would be stopped if either were stopped by these measures?

    Jeff Wright wrote “‘Pandemic’ means Andromeda Strain to me.

    That was the potential, but in the story it only killed off most of one small town and a pilot who flew overhead.

    * There is a light red line that branches off from the bold red line. The CDC was giving two different numbers for total weekly deaths, but they stopped presenting the lower number, last summer. Dr. Briggs keeps that lower line in his reporting.

  • Vermont farmer's wife

    When I was a kid in the late 70’s, my dad, a Ph.D. microbiologist, explained to me the distinction between a pandemic and an epidemic, the difference being ‘widespread” (pan-) and ‘concentrated in limited area/s’ (epi-). Not being well verse in ancient languages I can’t tell you if the prefixes are Latin or Greek. Nonetheless, at least to scientists, the terms have been in use for a while.

  • Craken

    You once received more push back on your Covid articles. I’m thinking those commenters have given up on you.
    Greg Cochran, a conservative who happens also to be an expert in infectious disease, wrote on March 9, 2020 that we should not flatten the curve, we should “nuke the curve.” He was correct. Had we done this 400,000 lives would have been saved and the economy would have suffered fewer losses in the long run. But, this country is not run by decent, intelligent people. Its ruling class does not care about those in its charge. It cares exclusively about fortifying its power and control. And its expert class is little better than its political leaders, probably because they are dependent on the patronage of such.

  • Cotour

    I despise this attitude of some of the general public: ” Its ruling class does not care about those in its charge. ”

    And many Americans unfortunately see things in similar paternalistic terms. Wrong, Bad, Uninformed, Misinformed.

    “It cares exclusively about fortifying its power and control. “. Yes, I call that “Strategy Over Morality”. And in understanding that and plainly seeing that “those in its charge” need to change their perspective and wield their real power at the voting booth in a wiser and more ruthless and informed manner.

    On another subject:

    The other day one of my millennial pseudo / convenient “Leftist” SJW lady friends came to see me. And in the conversation, which she was partaking in through her home made cloth mask we hit upon the subject of the virus.

    Keeping in mind that she has observed me in my unique situation for more than a year NOT wearing a mask, dealing with many, many, thousands of other human beings every day and Not becoming infected. Her conclusion? “Your just lucky you have not gotten the virus!” (I just smiled and shook my head, and recognized that I was generally a lucky person)

    Now let me get this straight: You have worn a mask most every day from the beginning of this virus event, you have generally stayed in your house away from most other people, you have stayed home most of the year from your job, AND both you and your partner both got the virus. Thankfully you both survived it and came out the other end just fine. And you both still wear a mask everywhere even though you now have natural immunity. And you have both also chose to receive the vaccine, and you still choose to wear your mask standing here talking with just me at a proper distance with the doors open and in the free flowing, just like being out doors air, being moved by my fan.

    AND, I have not gotten the virus to date by doing what I have determined was the best way to deal with the situation. And “I” am “Just Lucky”?

    Like I said, I just smiled and shook my head.

  • geTaylor

    What was “strong” about “Boston Strong”?
    Excessively supine acquiescence?

    For what period of time was the “Salk Polio Vaccine” made available under the ruse of an “Emergency Use Authorization”?

  • Cotour

    Important paper on the use of Ivermectin in a prophylactic manner V Covid 19 in a study from India :

    85% lower infections out of the 3532 individual healthcare workers that participated in the study within the hospital.

    https://assets.researchsquare.com/files/rs-208785/v1/d6ff79a3-d354-4aba-a6b0-4bc123bbd225.pdf

    ” We estimated the hazard ratio, excluding those who had been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive before the
    commencement of the study using the Kaplan-Meier method. The probability of SARS-CoV-2
    infection was 85% lower in those taking two-dose ivermectin at the end of 30 days (HR 0.15; 95% CI, 0.11- “

  • Cotour

    Dr. John Campbell reviewing the study information: https://youtu.be/XYv30g7TKVM

    AND, the Social Media overlords do not allow such reviews apparently.

  • Cotour

    THESE ARE TWO INTERESTING COVID HEADLINES

    “Dr. Cole on Covid Jabs: “We’ve Seen More Deaths From This Shot Than All Vaccines in the Last 20 Years Combined”

    “Indian Health Ambassador Gets COVID Vaccine Live on TV to Show Everyone How Safe It Is – Dies 2 Days Later”

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