(TMU Op-Ed) — There seems to be a lot of confusion about the novel coronavirus including the basics like the difference between the name of the virus and the name of the disease. I’m going to attempt to clear a few things up but also ask some important questions.
The novel coronavirus is called SARS-CoV-2. It was named by the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 11. SARS-CoV-2 stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and it is a virus just like strains of influenza are also viruses. I am not mentioning this to say that they are similar, I am simply drawing the comparison that they are both indeed viruses. Likewise, HIV is a virus and not a disease.
Some people who are infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus, go on to develop CoViD-19, the disease that is caused by the virus.
As you can see in this article that I published on February 11, the disease was also named by the WHO on February 11. CoViD-19 stands for corona virus disease 2019—the year in which it was first discovered.
Unfortunately, people on the internet, journalists, and oddly enough even some medical professionals are not distinguishing between these two things. Not only is this incredibly confusing but it’s allowing a lot of room for doubt and conspiracy in places where there shouldn’t be.
And instead of correcting these errors or speaking up about the confusion, the World Health Organization quietly changed the way that it refers to the virus.
“From a risk communications perspective, using the name SARS can have unintended consequences in terms of creating unnecessary fear for some populations, especially in Asia which was worst affected by the SARS outbreak in 2003.
For that reason and others, WHO has begun referring to the virus as “the virus responsible for COVID-19” or “the COVID-19 virus” when communicating with the public. Neither of these designations are intended as replacements for the official name of the virus as agreed by the ICTV.
Material published before the virus was officially named will not be updated unless necessary in order to avoid confusion.”
Why would the WHO make this switch from two very different names for the virus and the disease to using virtually the same name for both? I believe that advising folks to not call it the Chinese Virus or the Wuhan Virus is reasonable, but what exactly are the unintended consequences of using SARS in the virus name? 774 died from SARS. At least 118,304 people have already died from SARS-CoV-2.
Anyway, it is very important to make this distinction and to understand that CoViD-19 is a disease.
Most people have experienced how viruses exist on a bit of a spectrum—from not a big deal to deadly pandemic. Sometimes a virus can invade our body but our body fights it off and we don’t even have any noticeable symptoms. Sometimes a virus invades our body and begins to replicate by hijacking our cells and destroying them as the virus multiplies. This can make us sick.
Some common viruses include hepatitis, influenza, rubeola, mumps, rubella, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), herpes, dengue virus, Ebola virus, and varicella zoster virus. Some viruses go on to cause infectious diseases such as influenza, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), dengue fever, Ebola, and chicken pox.
So let’s take a step back and look at what we have. We have a virus called SARS-CoV-2. And we have a disease called CoViD-19.
The nasal swab test, the most common way to test, looks for the virus. The results are positive or negative, indicating that the virus is either in you or it isn’t. You might have symptoms and you might not. The nasal swab test does not test for the disease, CoViD-19. So why is it that many of the maps, most of the articles, and even statements from doctors talk about someone being positive or negative for CoViD-19? This isn’t possible.
This is an especially important point to consider for those that think the death counts and the total cases of those infected with the viruses are being falsified.
If you are very ill and you go into the hospital because you can’t breathe, the attending team of healthcare providers is going to try to help you breathe. They want to save your life. I’m not a doctor or a nurse but I can say with certainty that their goal is to help you as quickly and as efficiently as possible, not to prove whether or not you have SARS-CoV-2 replicating inside of your body. While new and quicker technology is being explored and used, the results of the common nasal swab tests can take 3-5 days to return. When a patient can’t breathe they generally don’t have 3-5 days to wait and decide what to do. So the team does what medical professionals who have the goal of saving lives in a fast paced environment do, pandemic or not—they look at the available evidence in front of them and act on it.
For patients ill thanks to the coronavirus, observing the patient and doing things like looking at the blood oxygen saturation level and checking for anomalies in X-rays and CT scans of the lungs will help a doctor decide if a patient has the disease CoViD-19 or not.
Do you think if the nasal swab test came back negative the course of care would change? What if it were you in that hospital bed and your nasal swab came back negative? Would you want them to continue moving forward with your care as if you have CoViD-19 to save your life? Or stop and say it’s a dead end because you tested negative? Would you then go home? Undergo an expensive battery of tests? What exactly would be acceptable?
Again, we have a virus and we have a disease. And we have a test that tests for the virus, not the disease. We are also seeing asymptomatic people and varying levels of severity when it comes to symptoms. But we are not being told if these are symptoms of the virus or the disease or if the symptoms of these two things are different. From the anecdotal evidence out there, it seems like they might be a bit different.
Could it look something like this?
- Can you have a positive SARS-CoV-2 test and not have symptoms because your body is winning?
- Can you have a positive SARS-CoV-2 test and have basic symptoms, because you have a viral infection? Not a disease.
- Can you have a positive SARS-CoV-2 test, have basic symptoms, and also have symptoms of CoViD-19, the disease?
- Can you have a negative SARS-CoV-2 and have symptoms of CoViD-19, because the virus ran its course and you no longer have an active infection but you do have the resulting disease that some people end up with after being infected by SARS-CoV-2?
If so, this might clear up some of the confusion about false negatives because they might not be false. You might be done with the virus but still suffering from the disease.
Making this distinction calls into question all of the data that is being tracked. On these tracking maps are we simply tracking positive test results of people who, at the time of testing, were actively infected with SARS-CoV-2? Is anyone keeping track of how many people have been diagnosed with CoViD-19?
Speaking of being diagnosed with CoViD-19, I mentioned it a little while ago that CT scans and X-rays and blood oxygen saturation levels in addition to probably other things that I am not aware of are being used to decide if someone has CoViD-19 or not. Some people think that this is a terrible thing and a sign that there is some sort of fraud happening here. But it would help to really understand how diseases are diagnosed, especially in a life or death situation.
Personally, I have firsthand experience with being diagnosed with lupus and my mom being diagnosed with MS. A single test cannot diagnose someone with lupus. There isn’t magic indicator to look for. In fact there is a list of 11 things and you must be experiencing at least four of them to secure a diagnoses. When I was a kid some doctors looked at that list and thought that I had lupus. Other doctors looked at that list and didn’t think I had lupus. They didn’t agree because there is no magic test, it’s a list and so it’s a little open to interpretation. Sometimes this happens in medicine. It isn’t black and white. I know you want CoViD-19 to be black and white but it isn’t, and that isn’t weird or suspicious. Likewise, no single test can diagnose MS. Have you heard of Lyme disease? That’s diagnosed based on symptoms and physical findings. Again, normal.
So if you’re incredibly upset that CoViD-19 is being written on death certificates when the results of a nasal swab have yet to be confirmed, I don’t think you understand how any of this works.
Let’s talk about death certificates for a moment. Check out this 2003 CDC manual called Physicians’ Handbook on Medical Certification of Death. It really makes it clear how death certificates are supposed to be completed. In the excerpt below, it clearly lays out that more than one thing can and should be written on a death certificate because there is often a chain of events that occurs, ultimately resulting in death.
“This section must be completed by either the attending physician, the medical examiner, or the coroner. The cause-of-death section, a facsimile of which is shown below, follows guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization. An important feature is the reported underlying cause 9 of death determined by the certifying physician and defined as (a) the disease or injury that initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to death, or (b) the circumstances of the accident or violence that produced the fatal injury. In addition to the underlying cause of death, this section provides for reporting the entire sequence of events leading to death as well as other conditions significantly contributing to death (5).
The cause-of-death section is designed to elicit the opinion of the medical certifier. Causes of death on the death certificate represent a medical opinion that might vary among individual physicians. A properly completed cause-of-death section provides an etiologic explanation of the order, type, and association of events resulting in death. The initial condition that starts the etiologic sequence is specific if it does not leave any doubt as to why it developed. For example, sepsis is not specific because a number of different conditions may have resulted in sepsis, whereas human immunodeficiency virus syndrome is specific.
In certifying the cause of death, any disease, abnormality, injury, or poisoning, if believed to have adversely affected the decedent, should be reported. If the use of alcohol and/or other substance, a smoking history, a recent pregnancy, injury, or surgery was believed to have contributed to death, then this condition should be reported. The conditions present at the time of death may be completely unrelated, arising independently of each other; they may be causally related to each other, that is, one condition may lead to another which in turn leads to a third condition; and so forth. Death may also result from the combined effect of two or more conditions.”
Right now, we have people up in arms all across the country right now claiming that death certificates aren’t accurately detailing what people are dying from. There are claims that if people are very obese, if they have cancer, if they have heart disease, etc. they are being listed as CoViD-19 deaths despite those other things being part of what caused them to die. But it looks like death certificates have spaces to account for this. Doctors are already instructed to detail the chain of events that lead to death which might include a disease in addition to an infection or even another disease.
If you have a problem with the way death certificates are completed, which it seems some doctors who are making viral videos of themselves on this topic do, your issue is with the forms and the process, not CoViD-19. Sorry but in the middle of a deadly global pandemic is not the time to complain about death certificates.
The CDC also has a document specific to deaths due to coronavirus disease. Take a look. I’d like to highlight a few specific parts:
“When reporting cause of death on a death certificate, use any information available, such as medical history, medical records, laboratory tests, an autopsy report, or other sources of relevant information. Similar to many other diagnoses, a cause-of-death statement is an informed medical opinion that should be based on sound medical judgment drawn from clinical training and experience, as well as knowledge of current disease states and local trends (6).”
“Other significant conditions that contributed to the death, but are not a part of the sequence in Part I, should be reported in Part II. Not all conditions present at the time of death have to be reported—only those conditions that actually contributed to death.”
“If COVID–19 played a role in the death, this condition should be specified on the death certificate. In many cases, it is likely that it will be the UCOD, as it can lead to various lifethreatening conditions, such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). In these cases, COVID–19 should be reported on the lowest line used in Part I with the other conditions to which it gave rise listed on the lines above it.
In some cases, survival from COVID–19 can be complicated by pre-existing chronic conditions, especially those that result in diminished lung capacity, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma. These medical conditions do not cause COVID–19, but can increase the risk of contracting a respiratory infection and death, so these conditions should be reported in Part II and not in Part I.”
More than what’s being recorded on death certificates, deaths in general are up in some epicenters. Here’s a great graph that shows that potential undercounting of deaths:
Plot⬇️from @nytimes clearly shows UNDERCOUNTING of #COVID deaths in NYC.
"Anomaly" variables are often used in physical sciences. Anomalies are calculated by subtracting the average of a variable from its observed values, therefore revealing its temporal &/or spatial variability. pic.twitter.com/5Mg8XKL0Da
— Dr. Safa Mote (@SafaMote) April 11, 2020
Sure, maybe we have a few deaths attributed to CoViD-19 that shouldn’t have been. That’s inevitable. Mistakes do happen. But how many deaths due to CoViD-19 or the novel coronavirus haven’t been counted? And won’t be counted? That includes deaths that happened earlier this year. That includes people dying at home. That includes people dying in nursing homes. For every one case overcounted, there may be 5, 10, or 50 undercounted.
But the truth is that we’ll never quite know for sure. We don’t have an accurate look at one year’s flu data until the next season. This takes time, and even then it’s still just an estimate.
So the next time somebody tells you the numbers are being inflated and that death certificates are being manipulated, show them this article or the video included below. Or better yet, check out the documents linked to in this article and look at the information yourself and respond to people in your own words.
3 Ways Consumerism and Social Media Are Killing the Value of Friendship
Most of us are aware of the adverse effects that consumerism and social media have on our lives. Distorted self-image, an unhealthy need for social acceptance, and too much focus on material values are just some examples.
But have you ever thought about the ways the consumer society alters our perception of other people? It turns out that our approach to friendships and relationships gets affected too, whether we realize it or not.
Consumerism and social media are indeed killing the value of friendship in today’s society and here is how:
1. The cult of fakeness
The desire to be likable and make a good impression on others has always been in our nature. But it’s thanks to social media that it has transformed into an unhealthy craving for attention that skirts the edge of addiction.
It seems that too many people nowadays are trying to look perfect in the eyes of others. And I’m not talking only about the physical looks. What we see today is an ever-consuming need to demonstrate that you are living a perfect life, have a perfect marriage, and are a perfect person.
And this unhealthy craving for perfection and acceptance goes much further than sharing our photoshopped selfies with our Instagram followers. This obsession with being liked by everyone has left its mark on our attitudes in real life too.
Being fake nice is considered to be more normal than being blunt and honest. We are supposed to smile at everyone, be friendly, and have small talk regardless of our real feelings about the people we are talking to. We are expected to be perfectly nice.
This approach can help you make a good impression on others and form superficial connections with other people, but it can’t lead you to meaningful, true friendships. So if you feel like you have no real friends, it could be that you don’t give others the chance to get to know the real you.
A certain degree of fakeness has always been a part of polite social behavior, but thanks to social media, we can now see it in its most grotesque forms.
2. The “give and take” approach to relationships
The consumer mindset has taken roots in our ways of thinking on so many levels. We have learned to see everything – and sadly, everyone – as objects of consumption without even realizing it.
This is why so many people today have a “give and take” approach to romantic and friendly relationships. Or, rather, a “take” approach.
It seems that they know exactly what they want, expect, and need from others. But are they willing to do anything for their fellow human beings too? Not quite. Generations of “takers” nurtured by the consumer society have mastered the art of putting themselves first no matter what.
Even though the skill of putting yourself first and setting strong boundaries can be useful in life, there also comes a time when your friends might need your help and support.
Real friendships are much more than joking around and having fun. They are based on a genuine connection, meaningful communication, and reciprocated interest. It seems that this meaning of friendship is slowly getting lost in our society.
3. Everyone is replaceable
One more way the consumer mindset distorts our perception of relationships is that we no longer really value other people – just as we don’t value things.
Consumerism and the abundance of goods trick us into believing that everything (and everyone) is replaceable.
70 years ago, you would most probably have your kettle repaired if it broke down. Now, you get yourself a new one. This way of thinking goes beyond our attitude to objects though. Many of us, especially younger generations, fall for the misconception that people are replaceable too.
Why put effort into a friendship or relationship, overcome difficulties together, or support each other when things get tough? It’s easier to be with someone who is convenient and doesn’t cause problems. After all, if it doesn’t work out with a friend or lover, we can always move on to someone else and try again.
Sadly, this is quite a prevalent way of thinking in today’s world.
To sum up, the consumer society we live in doesn’t teach us to value what we have – be it things or people. This inevitably leaves its mark on our view of life, including our relationships with other people.
Do you agree that the value of friendship is getting lost in modern society? Please share your thoughts with us!
The Pendulum of Internet Censorship Swings Leftward Again
There has been a purge of left-wing accounts from social media, with socialist organizations being targeted on Facebook and multiple Antifa-associated accounts suspended from Twitter.
“We have just confirmed that Facebook has disabled the page of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality at the University of Michigan, as well as the accounts of all admins,” World Socialist Website editor tweeted today. “This is an unprecedented attack on the speech rights of an official campus student group.”
World Socialist Website also reports the following:
On Friday, Facebook carried out a purge of left-wing, antiwar and progressive pages and accounts, including leading members of the Socialist Equality Party. Facebook gave no explanation why the accounts were disabled or even a public acknowledgement that the deletions had occurred.
At least a half dozen leading members of the Socialist Equality Party had their Facebook accounts permanently disabled. This included the public account of Genevieve Leigh, the national secretary of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality, and the personal account of Niles Niemuth, the US managing editor of the World Socialist Web Site. In 2016, Niemuth was the Socialist Equality Party’s candidate for US Vice President.
Facebook also disabled the London Bus Drivers Rank-and-File Committee Facebook page, which was set up with the support of the Socialist Equality Party (UK) to organize opposition among bus drivers. This follows a widely discussed call for a walkout by bus drivers to demand elementary protections against the COVID-19 pandemic.
None of the individuals whose accounts were disabled had violated Facebook’s policies. Upon attempting to appeal the deletion of their account, they received an error message stating, “We cannot review the decision to disable your account.”
The New York Post reports the following:
Twitter has suspended several popular accounts with alleged ties to Antifa — which have more than 71,000 followers combined — following the Inauguration Day riots.
At least four accounts tied with the militant group have been yanked offline — including @TheBaseBK, the account for the anarchist center in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Archived web pages of the accounts show they shared more than 71,000 followers and dated as far back as 2012.
Their pages now read “Account suspended” for violating Twitter rules.
This follows a mass purge of right-wing accounts in the wake of the Capitol riot earlier this month, a swing-back of the censorship pendulum that surprises nobody who knows anything about anything. That purge was broadly supported by shitlibs and a surprisingly large percentage of the true left, despite the overwhelming and growing pile of evidence that it is impossible to consent to internet censorship for other ideologies without consenting to censorship for your own.
I encountered many arguments in support of the right-wing purge from the online left while it was happening, and none of them were good.
“They’re only banning fascists,” they told me. “Why are you defending fascists?”
Well first of all there was never any evidence that these social media corporations were only purging fascists. We know for example that included in the sweep were tens of thousands of basic QAnon posters, who while ignorant and wrong would not in most cases meet most people’s definition of “fascist”. We don’t know who else was eliminated in the purge, but believing on blind faith that Facebook and Twitter were only targeting fascists who want to violently overthrow the US government is silly.
In reality these social media giants have never claimed to be “banning fascists”, and there’s no reason to believe that’s their policy; white nationalists like Richard Spencer are still there. And even if these outlets did have a policy of “banning fascists”, what definition of “fascist” are they using? Do proponents of Silicon Valley censorship believe they’ll be using their personal definition of fascism to determine whose political speech is off limits? Do you think they’ll be calling you personally to consult you on whom to ban? How do you imagine this works exactly?
And of course opposing the normalization of government-tied monopolistic Silicon Valley oligarchs controlling worldwide political speech on the platforms an increasing number of people use to communicate important ideas is not “defending fascists”. Opposing oligarchic authoritarian control is the exact opposite of defending fascism.
“They always censor the left,” they told me. “We’re just happy that now they’re censoring fascists too.”
So you imagine it can’t get worse? We just saw a major escalation against leftist accounts these past few days; do you think that’s the end of it? What do you imagine will happen if the left ever gets close to actually threatening the interests of the powerful after you’ve helped manufacture consent for the normalization of internet censorship every step of the way?
It can always get worse. The online left has not yet experienced mass-scale censorship of political speech yet; it’s experienced losing a few accounts here and there. You haven’t seen anything yet. Some Twitter leftists really seem to think that getting suspended because Kamala Harris supporters mass-reported them over a mean tweet is as ugly as this thing will get. If your goal is to threaten power at some point (and if you’re a real leftist it should be), then you need to oppose the normalization of any policies that can be used to silence those who threaten the powerful.
“Well it’s not like leftist revolution will be planned on social media anyway,” they told me.
You don’t use social media to plan the leftist revolution, you use it to create more leftists. You use it to bring consciousness and understanding to your ideas and your causes. Consenting to the institutionalization of the censorship of political speech is consenting to your own silence on this front, which will mean the only people who will be able to quickly share ideas and information online with the mainstream population will be those who support the very power structures you oppose.
And make no mistake, the imperial narrative managers most certainly do need the public’s consent for internet censorship. They don’t pour vast fortunes into manufacturing consent for evil agendas because it’s fun, they do it because they require the public’s consent. The empire’s inverted totalitarianism only holds together because they’re able to maintain the illusion of freedom and democracy; the iron-fisted silencing of wholesome political speech can only happen if the public has been paced into believing it’s a good thing. Every step of the tightening of the censorship noose is a part of this pacing, and if you consent to it, you’re helping them.
“Ultimately this content moderation movement will restore a system where the only allowable route to a mass audience is through a major institutional partner,” journalist Matt Taibbi recently observed.
That is it. That is the goal. They tried allowing free speech online while simply hammering us with propaganda to keep us asleep, but people still just wanted to use the democratization of information that the internet afforded them to talk about about how horrible the status quo is. So now they’re working to reinstate the supremacy of mainstream gatekeepers.
When you realize that corporations are America’s real government, the whole “it isn’t censorship if it’s a private company doing it” argument is seen for the joke that it is. When you learn that this censorship is being actively coordinated with the official government, it’s even more of a joke.
To support the censorship of online speech is to support the authority of monopolistic tech oligarchs to exert more and more global control over human communication. Regardless of your attitude toward whoever happens to be getting deplatformed on any given day, supporting this can only be self-destructive.
Republished from CaitlinJohnstone.com with permission
You Counter Trumpism By Ending The Conditions Which Created It, Not With Authoritarian Policies
The US political/media class have been pushing hard for more authoritarian policies to stave off the threat of “domestic terrorism” in the wake of the Capitol riot. President Biden, who was already working on rolling out new domestic terror policies well before January sixth, confirmed after the riot that he is making these new measures a priority. Political internet censorship is becoming increasingly normalized, anti-protest bills are being passed, and now we’re seeing liberals encouraged to form “digital armies” to spy on Trump supporters to report them to the authorities.
And an amazingly large percentage of the US population seems to have no problem with any of this, even in sectors of the political spectrum that should really know better by now.
“What else can we do?” they reason. “What other solution could there possibly be to the threat of dangerous fascists and conspiracy theorists continuing to gain power and influence?”
Well there’s a whole lot that can be done, and none of it includes consenting to sweeping new Patriot Act-like authoritarian measures or encouraging monopolistic Silicon Valley plutocrats to censor worldwide political speech. There’s just a whole lot of mass-scale narrative manipulation going on to keep it from being obvious to everyone.
The way to stem the tide of Trumpism (or fascism, or white supremacism, or Trump cultism, or whatever term you use for what you’re worried about here) is to eliminate the conditions which created it.
Trump was only able to launch his successful faux-populist campaign in the first place by exploiting the widespread pre-existing opinion that there was a swamp that needed draining, a corrupt political system whose leadership does not promote the interests of the people.
Conspiracy theories only exist because the government often does evil things and lies about them with the help of the mass media, forcing people to just guess what’s happening behind the opaque wall of government secrecy.
People only get it in their heads that they need a trustworthy strongman to overhaul the system if the system has failed them.
People who are actually interested in ending Trumpism would be promoting an end to the corruption in the political system, an end to the opacity of their government, an end to their uniquely awful electoral system, and an end to the neoliberal policies which have been making Americans poorer and poorer with less and less support from the government which purports to protect them.
But these changes are not being promoted by the US political/media class, because the US political/media class speaks for an empire that depends on these things.
Without corruption, the plutocratic class couldn’t use campaign donations and corporate lobbying to install and maintain politicians who will advance their interests.
Without government secrecy, the oligarchic empire could not conspire in secret to advance the military and economic agendas which form the glue that holds the empire together.
Without a lying mass media, people’s consent could not be manufactured for wars and a system which does not serve their interests.
Without widespread poverty and domestic austerity, people could not be kept too busy and politically impotent to challenge the massive political influence of the plutocrats.
So the option of stopping the rise of Trumpism by changing the system is taken off the table, which is why you never hear it discussed as a possibility in mainstream circles. The only option people are being offered to debate the pros and cons of is giving more powers to that same corrupt system which created Trump, powers which will be under the control of the next Trumpian figure who is elevated by that very system.
You’re not going to prevent fascism by creating a big authoritarian monster to stomp it into silence, and even if you could you would only be stopping the fascism by becoming the fascism. To stop the rise of fascism you need to actually change. Drastically. Believing you can just make it go away without changing your situation is like believing you can avert an oncoming train by putting your hands over your eyes.
There is no valid argument against what I am saying here. Saying the powerful won’t allow any positive change is just confirming everything I’m saying and confirming the need to remove the powerful from power. Saying that ending corruption, government secrecy and injustice would just be giving the terrorists what they want would be turning yourself into a bootlicker of such cartoonish obsequiousness there aren’t words in the English language adequate to mock you.
Yes, change is desperately needed. Yes, the powerful will resist that change with everything they have. But the alternative is letting them plunge the world into darkness and destruction. We’re going to have to find a way to win this thing.
Republished from CaitlinJohnstone.com with permission
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