A W.H.O. gift to Biden: Seemingly fewer COVID-19 infections
today at 10:41 am
A new testing guideline arrives just in time to show, perhaps falsely, that the pandemic is abating. All hail to Biden
If you see a dramatic decrease in the number of infections over the next few weeks, credit the World Health Organization for fixing a problem with the testing procedure that some experts said over-counted the number of infections.
Under the new guideline, you might see a possibly dramatic decline the in the infection rate.
The kicker: The W.H.O. announced the correction on Jan. 20, the same day that President Donald Trump left office and Joe Biden was inaugurated.
Call it a coincidence. Or a quid pro quo for Biden from the W.H.O for restoring the United States’ membership in the organization, a payoff that will cost American taxpayers more than $400 million.
The guideline can get rather technical, but here are a couple of places that might help the layman: WHO releases new tightened guidelines regarding the diagnostic criteria for COVID-19. PCR positive no longer means you have COVID-19. You need a second test to confirm you have the virus and Why PCR Cycle Threshold Is Useful in Coronavirus Testing— It can help better triage patients, physician argues.
Let’s see if I can boil it down. Under the old guideline, test results came back either “positive” or “negative.” Some experts warned that the the simple yes-or-no option was too “sensitive,” so much so that the test would include not-so-serious levels of infection. Or include in the results a more common flu virus.
The data based on these yes-or-n0 tests would tend to exaggerate the seriousness of the infection because the threshold for declaring a yes was so ultra sensitive that it could include people only slightly infected or showing no symptoms. Or who are unlikely to pass on the disease. All these different levels of seriousness would be batched together with more serious or even fatal cases.
The policy implications are dire. Data that overstates, perhaps vastly so, the infection rate will lead to overreactions–shutting down schools and businesses, confining pe0ple to their homes and to overly long quarantines. And to crippling economic and emotional distress.
The new guideline will reveal to doctors the degree of seriousness of the infection, allowing them to better prescribe treatments. The new method for collecting data will enable policy makers to better prescribe such things as how open the economy can be.
The problem is explained in a New York Times article:
The standard [previous] tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus.
Most of these people are not likely to be contagious, and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time.
The new guidelines have been little noticed outside of medical professionals, and as far as can tell, I am may be the only layman writing about it.
But the consequences of the change could be immense. The number of cases is the one measure that gets the most attention in the media. For some, it is the best measure to most accurately gauge the extent of the pandemic, and over time it is used to conclude whether the pandemic is intensifying or receding.
So, the question now: If the new way of conducting tests is more accurate, why wasn’t the guideline changed sooner, months ago when experts understood the problem?
Inexplicably the effective date of the new guideline was Jan. 13, but it wasn’t published until Jan. 20, the date of Biden’s inauguration. Was it delayed to mute a possible Trump complaint that the seriousness of the pandemic was overstated because of “fake” data? Was the announcement of the new guideline held up until Biden took office so that the new data would “prove” that Biden was doing a better job than Trump?
I’ve watched the Chicago Way in action long enough to customarily suspect that political skulduggery is in play, on an international scale. If so, it would be a stunning betrayal if a health organization could be so politicized that it would fudge something that would otherwise help the world deal with the pandemic.
Whatever the reason, the implementation of a more accurate method of gauging the pandemic is a welcome development. Anything that helps us better understand how to deal with this novel coronavirus will save lives.
The problem is that experts were aware of the problem months ago. The change should have come months ago.
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