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Asymptomatic Spread, Lockdowns, and Masks, Oh My!

When SARS-CoV-2 (#coronavirus, #COVID19) was unleashed upon the world from Wuhan, China, few could have predicted the unprecedented worldwide response, yet fewer could have predicted that the ongoing extraordinary response could be driven by such meager evidence and willful ignorance of emerging data.

Thousands gathered for the 2021 New Year celebration in Wuhan, China.

Despite calling itself “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” the United States of America's schools were forced to shut their doors to children and teenagers whose chances of dying from COVID-19 hovered around 0.002% while their teachers’ chances of dying averaged around 0.013% — slightly lower than the risk of dying from sunstroke.

Restaurants and small businesses were compelled by many state and local governments to suspend operations. When citizens ventured to leave their homes, they were required to wear masks while maintaining at least six feet of distance from fellow citizens. If these citizens were found to be without sufficient face covering, they were often escorted out of still-thriving large-box retailers while publicly shamed and sometimes assaulted by mask-wearing fundamentalists. First it was fifteen days to slow the spread. Now, in January 2021, “all we like sheep,” are still virtuously uploading masked selfies across social media platforms and pliantly obeying the vacillating proclamations of our esteemed technocrat shepherds named Fauci.

Why did we cede our civil liberties and livelihoods to COVID-19? What did this mass ritualistic sacrifice of precious freedoms purchase? Well, if you’ve been paying attention to the data — the “science,” if you will — absolutely nothing. What is truly astounding is that we voluntarily assumed the framework of a loose coalition of totalitarian regimes based upon little more than the mostly incorrect assumptions and opinions of de facto experts. And this has nothing to do with President Trump. Throughout the pandemic he has resisted the proddings of mostly Democrat politicians to invoke authoritarian mechanisms such as the Defense Production Act that would have allowed the federal government to essentially commandeer private industry. Indeed, while deftly implementing programs such as Operation Warp Speed, which led to the speediest development of a viable coronavirus vaccine in history, Trump has mostly left the handling of the pandemic response to the states, providing backup resources when necessary. And while some states have certainly performed better than others, we Americans have mostly demonstrated that we no longer possess the courage to be a free people.

Asymptomatic & Pre-symptomatic Transmission are Highly Unlikely

Possibly the most frenzied narrative that proliferated at the beginning of the pandemic was that an asymptomatic COVID-19 carrier or latent pre-symptomatic COVID-19 carrier could spread the virus. This account fueled the push for such non-pharmaceutical interventions (“NPIs”) as lockdowns, mask mandates, and social distancing guidelines, and was based upon a handful of limited studies coming out of Italy, Brunei, and China during early Spring 2020 -- studies where alleged asymptomatic cases could just as easily statistically represent false positives. Not surprisingly the banner of asymptomatic transmission was raised by authoritarian technocrats and Democrat party heroes like Dr. Fauci as justification for reversing his March 8, 2020 [correct] opinion that masks were likely unnecessary for the healthy general public. That masks provide no protection to healthy people from healthy people and, in some cases, actually increase the risk for upper respiratory infections among healthy individuals will be discussed further below.

In any case, one of these early 2020 reports published by the New England Journal of Medicine detailed the COVID-19 infections of several German citizens by a purportedly pre-symptomatic Chinese woman who had traveled to Germany from China. In rushing to publish the article, the researchers had failed to interview the woman presumed to be pre-symptomatic when allegedly spreading the virus. After the allegedly pre-symptomatic patient was finally interviewed, she recalled having symptoms while meeting with her German colleagues including muscle aches and drowsiness for which she was taking fever reducing medication. In other words, the person cited as “scientific” proof-positive of asymptomatic / pre-symptomatic spread was, in fact, symptomatic, as typically are all spreaders of upper respiratory viruses like coronavirus. Even the head of WHO’s emerging diseases department, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, remarked in July 2020 that numerous countries’ contact tracing efforts were finding little to no evidence of secondary transmission from asymptomatic carriers. At the time, Dr. Fauci criticized Dr. Van Kerkhove for voicing her observations, but offered no evidence to counter Dr. Van Kerkhove's observations.

Indeed, recent studies performed since the beginning of the pandemic confirm that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of COVID-19 have never actually been observed, and are, in fact, unlikely phenomena. In a meta-analysis of 54 studies covering 77,758 participants published to JAMA on December 14, 2020 it was extrapolated — not observed — that the likely infection rate from asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic COVID-19 carriers to other members of a household — where there is presumably extended and close contact among members — is 0.7%, or essentially 0% when accounting for margin of error. On the other hand, the study concluded that symptomatic adult COVID-19 carriers confined to a household carry a 28.3% risk of infecting other adult contacts, a 16.8% risk of infecting child contacts, and 37.8% risk of infecting spousal contacts. In other words, while incidentally confirming that asymptomatic spread is an unlikely phenomenon, the study concluded that household transmission is a significant venue for COVID-19 transmission. It is then easy to understand the continued spread of the virus in regions like California despite expansive lockdowns enforced in those regions.

Gavin Newsom knows that Californians know that when the cases eventually begin to taper, it will have been because of all those restrictions.

Had China not been active in publishing studies in early 2020 promoting misleading accounts of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, one might be mistaken in now believing that China is trolling the United States and the rest of the world when it published a new study in December 2020 purportedly finding no cases of asymptotic or pre-symptomatic spread among ten million test cases observed in Wuhan. Did China actively plant disinformation early in the pandemic to devastate the U.S. economy in the run-up to the 2020 POTUS election in order to effectuate the CCP’s desired outcome for a Democrat Biden presidency? That’s a topic for another story.

China taking asymptomatic transmission seriously as mass crowds gather in Wuhan for 2021 New Year celebrations.

While it would appear that very little effort was required by local and state governments to convince citizens to lay down their civil rights at the alters erected to medical technocrats, it is necessary to understand the means and metrics employed by our “experts” to wrestle our fearful submission. To start, this requires understanding of the most commonly used COVID-19 testing method. With this knowledge, one can truly appreciate the misleading nature of total COVID-19 case numbers.

Likely Inflated Test Numbers

The most popular and "reliable" test used to diagnose COVID-19 is the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test (“RT-PCR”). This test examines a nasal swab taken from a patient to detect traces of the COVID-19 virus identified by the virus’s RNA. This test runs a sample through numerous cycles and is deemed positive if it finds RNA associated with COVID-19. The inherent problem with this test is that the existence of COVID-19 RNA does not necessarily mean that the virus is infectious within a particular individual. The virus does not spread from person to person unless it is infectious — meaning that the virus is shedding or replicating within the individual carrier. The degree of infection within a patient is often inferred by the number of PCR cycles required to find the COVID-19 RNA in the sample. The number of cycles is referred to as the cycle threshold value. Accordingly, the fewer the cycles that the test takes to find COVID-19 RNA, the greater the viral load the sample is assumed to contain, and, in turn, the more infectious the virus in the particular patient is assumed to be. No one actually knows what, if any, cycle threshold value is associated with an infectious case of COVID-19 as symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals have tested positive via the RT-PCR test across a wide spectrum of cycle threshold values ranging from 12 cycles to 40 cycles. Likewise, not until very recently have medical and governmental entities started recording the number of cycles and clinical presentation information of the patient (such as with what, if any, symptoms did the patient present) along with the test results so that more accurate and nuanced test results may be ascertained. Therefore, up to this point, anyone who tests positive pursuant to the RT-PCR test is included in the total case numbers, regardless of cycle count and clinical presentation.

Again, the presence of COVID-19 RNA does not mean that the virus is shedding or is infectious. Typically outside of the hurried framework of data tracking and metrics cobbled together during pandemic hysteria, a person in a clinical setting testing positive for a virus presenting with no symptoms would not be diagnosed as having the virus, and would be considered immune to the virus or to be exhibiting a false positive. This is possibly the phenomenon we are witnessing as testing for COVID-19 has expanded over the course of the pandemic.

Yet, in order to stoke fear, media outlets and politically compromised medical "experts" have been reporting total positive cases without accounting for nuances and without adjusting for ever-increasing test capacity. As testing increases, so, too, do positive test results. The same disingenuous approach has likely gone into the reporting of COVID-19 deaths. While more reports are coming out on this topic, it is safe to assume that the deaths in the United States attributed to COVID-19 are far less than the 350,000 compiled from the disparate state health departments across the country. A county coroner in Colorado recently called out the Colorado State Health Department for classifying individuals who died of gunshot wounds inflicted during a murder suicide as COVID-19 deaths. The coroner reported similar stories from other county coroners detailing how the Colorado State Health Department was incorrectly classifying deaths obviously caused by acute injuries and drug overdoses as related to COVID-19. A man in Florida who died in a motorcycle accident was counted as a COVID-19 death. In Washington State, any person who tested positive for COVID-19 prior to their death was counted in the COVID-19 death toll by the state department of health, regardless of other causal factors. Not surprisingly, COVID-19 deaths in Washington State included deadly gun shot wounds and drug overdoses, among other acute deadly incidents. Had George Floyd not died during his arrest on May 25, 2020, and had he been discovered in his vehicle or home overdosed on toxic levels of fentanyl, his death would likely have been attributed to COVID-19 since COVID-19 RNA was discovered during his autopsy.

Tweets from an "expert" that did not age well.

Brazenly lying to the public about the “impossible” timeframe promised by Trump for the development of a vaccine and inflating case and death numbers based entirely upon assumptions and arbitrary classifications has been one of the most effective devices used by the fear mongers and technocrats to push draconian non-pharmaceutical interventions such as lockdowns, mask mandates, and social distancing guidelines upon a cowering citizenry. While temporary lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders can certainly “flatten the curve” to prevent medical facilities from becoming overwhelmed and provide a time buffer for healthcare providers to prepare for future influxes of patients, these measures should never be permanent solutions to combating a virus. Indeed, the countries that were widely lauded as having mitigated the virus by shutting down during the first wave of the pandemic were some of the hardest hit during the second wave. As reported by the meta-analysis discussed above, the virus flourishes within households regardless of public lockdown and shelter-in-place policy.

Because asymptomatic spread is, according to all observable data, essentially a myth, by far the most effective way to combat viruses like COVID-19 is by self-quarantining of symptomatic individuals. If a person is, in any way, experiencing fever-like or upper respiratory symptoms during a pandemic, that person should isolate themselves, ensure that he or she and others are wearing an N-95 respirator or multiple layers of medical masks when it is necessary to share vicinity with others, and do so for ten days following the last day of symptoms. Healthy people (read, asymptomatic / pre-symptomatic) are not spreading the virus and wearing masks and social distancing around other healthy people is little more than an exercise in futile placebo self-stimulation.

"Look at us. You can tell by what we are wearing on our faces that we practice the same religion that you demand everyone practice."

While few studies on the efficacy of mask wearing have been undertaken, a 2015 study published to the BMJ demonstrated that wearing cloth masks may be worse than wearing no masks at all. The study found that cloth masks (which have a 97% particle pass through rate) compared to surgical masks (which have a 44% particle pass through rate) resulted in all-day wearers in a hospital setting contracting respiratory illnesses at a significantly higher rate than those who wore medical masks during the twenty-five day study period. Comparing the 2015 study’s data with previous studies tending to show that medical masks provided only marginal protection against upper respiratory viruses when compared to wearing no mask at all, one conclusion drawn was that cloth masks were worse than no masks, despite the fact that the cloth mask participants rotated between five masks that were washed every day after use. The researchers speculated that cloth masks, after accounting for their essentially 100% particle pass through rate, also tend to attract moisture and therefore tend to transfer particles to hands during donning and doffing. One can safely assume that the transfer of germs between cloth masks and hands is compounded when the practice is adopted by a general population not trained in medical mask wearing and that is constantly manipulating cloth masks while going to and from establishments that require face coverings.

And current COVID-19 tracking data certainly suggests that mask mandates and ongoing lockdowns are futile. California, for example, has mandated outdoor mask wearing since April, has restricted indoor dining since mid-November, has restricted outdoor dining since early December, and has experienced a greater COVID-19 Winter spike than Florida, which has no outdoor mask mandates and has not suspended any operations during the same time period. The same goes for places like South Dakota, which has remained open in comparison to its northern neighbor.

While all regions have experienced similar seasonal COVID-19 spikes, the numbers of cases and hospitalizations are often worse in places with lockdowns and mask mandates. This is certainly consistent with studies indicating that wearing cloth masks -- which, anecdotally is what this writer sees the majority of people wearing when observing mask wearers in public — actually render individuals more susceptible to upper respiratory infections.

What have we received in return for entrusting our mayors, governors, and unelected "experts" with our freedoms? Certainly no additional safety. One in five small businesses including restaurants, bars, salons, and retailers — businesses that rely on person to person contact -- have been forced to shut down because of draconian and needless restrictions upon commerce. Meanwhile the world’s largest corporations have grown larger, sweeping in like high-tech vultures proudly wearing the state badge of “essential business.” These include woke corporations like Amazon that own mainstream media outlets like the Washington Post — media outlets that are, in turn, working together with tech giants like Google and Facebook to push the kinds of pandemic narratives and information censorship that ensure that no one outside of the vast woke corporate and technological oligarchy can compete. The United States reached unprecedented unemployment during the first three months of the pandemic necessitating that many low income Americans deplete what little savings they already had and borrow to make ends meet. The rich became richer and the poor, poorer. As always, Jesus’ words from Matthew 13:12 ring true -- particularly of Jeff Bezos in 2020:

“For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Certainly the risks of COVID-19 should not be underestimated, especially among the aging population. While the chances of death after contracting COVID-19 are minuscule for most people under the age of 50, the death rate is alarming for those age 65 and above, ranging from 4.6% at age 65 to over 15% at age 85. Many states like New York and Michigan failed their elderly populations when state governors issued orders to healthcare facilities mandating that COVID-positive elderly patients be sent back to nursing homes.

The CDC is still failing in this regard. Rather than following models prioritizing allocation of the newly-released vaccine to the most vulnerable elderly population, the CDC Vaccine Advisory Committee rejected the life maximizing models because “racial and ethnic minority groups are under represented” in the US elderly population. Instead, the US has chosen to prioritize “front-line workers” regardless of age, rejecting the models that demonstrably save more lives by targeting the elderly population and assuming the efficacy of the vaccines. To sentient readers it should come as no surprise that woke (read racist) policies lead to nothing other than more division and more death.

Oxford University Professor of theoretical epidemiology, Dr. Sunetra Gupta.

While the COVID-19 death toll is truly devastating, countless many more lives have been lost to the governmentally and culturally enforced isolation that now dominates society. Untreated deadly cardiac conditions drastically rose in 2020. Murders during 2020 increased at staggering levels compared to previous years. Suicide rates and deaths related to untreated mental health conditions sharply rose this year. Unprecedented numbers of drug overdose deaths were observed, not to mention the unprecedented increases in violent crime observed throughout 2020. Humans are not meant to be isolated. In fact, Oxford University professor of theoretical epidemiology, Dr. Sunetra Gupta recently opined that the rise of global human contact since World War I is exactly why the world has not seen a pandemic remotely approaching the deadliness of the 1918 Spanish Flu, which killed an estimated 50,000,000 people. Dr. Gupta, in fact, encourages the social intermingling of healthy individuals, especially young people, during the pandemic as social behavior among healthy individuals eventually generates the herd immunity needed to protect the population’s most vulnerable. Clearly the studies and data outlined above demonstrate that lockdowns and mask mandates are having little, if any, impact upon the course of the pandemic. Let’s make 2021 the year where we take Dr. Gupta’s advice. Let’s reconnect in person as fellow citizens and resist the oppressive masked totalitarian lockdown culture. Let’s step outside of our basements and begin practicing courage as a virtue.

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