Nothing — and I mean nothing — makes someone who analyzes data angrier than being told to follow “science and data” which frankly, isn’t science or data. As a result, my frustrations grow daily as uneducated elected officials make stupid appeals to emotion (which are in no way scientific) to convince people of the deadliness of the disease. Most of these appeals come from people who wouldn’t know a scientific argument if it hit them across the face with a baseball bat, which makes a student and practitioner of data analysis irked beyond comprehension.
Perhaps the most alarming part of this demand that we follow the “science and data” is that we also are not given access to that “science and data” to which we should be adhering. The same officials who call us conspiracy theorists withhold normally publicly accessible data which could easily prove the necessity of their draconian measures by which they have controlled society for more than a year. In some states, including New York and Michigan, the data released to the public was manipulated to support lockdown measures and to cover for those governors’ failed policies (policies that increased COVID-19 deaths). As a result, absent the availability of supporting data, I have found most COVID-19 mitigation measures to be completely worthless. For instance, there’s a 0.005% difference between the death rate of California and Florida, despite the fact that Florida has been open since September of last year.
When the world knew little about COVID-19, and as a student of numbers, I decided to look into what was going on, more out of curiosity than anything. News of one of the initial outbreaks aboard a Princess Cruise ship in Japan made local news, as a local couple with whom I was acquainted was on the ship. Daily, little updates came from them as they talked about the mood on the ship, the efforts taken to slow the spread, and the plans that were unfolding to repatriate them as soon as safely possible. Eventually, the husband became sick with the virus, requiring that he be quarantined in Nebraska until he had recovered. A year on, and he still suffers from complications of COVID-19.
What is important, though, in this case, is the data. This man is over the age of 60 and suffers from an autoimmune disorder. He fell smack dab into one of the categories which we later learned was at-risk. His spouse, who had been quarantined with him on the ship in their cabin, didn’t get infected and returned home safely.
In the days after their return in the middle of March 2020, the COVID-19 numbers aboard the Diamond Princess became more available. As they were released I began looking at them, more out of morbid curiosity than anything, as I was interested in just how deadly this disease, which at the time had triggered a global lockdown, was. After a quick look, these are the numbers that I compiled and posted to my Facebook page, one year ago:
While in the days after I posted this, some of the numbers changed, they did not change enough to really affect the outcome of the data. For instance, four additional people died as a result of COVID-19 exposure aboard the Diamond Princess. Additionally, the 4,061 number included the on-shore support staff that assisted in the disembarkation of the passengers of the ship. Only 3,711 people were on board as passengers and crew. Still, is that only 19% of the passengers and crew on board the ship were infected as a result of exposure. Additionally, only 0.3% of the total passengers and crew, or 1.9% of those infected, died. Lastly, every single person that died as a result of exposure on the ship was over the age of 60.
My frustrations from last year continue to echo this year. At the time, we were told we had to forfeit our Constitutional rights simply because they told us that we “didn’t know” just how bad this was going to be, despite the data coming from the Diamond Princess. As of today, 2.1% of those infected have died, just 0.2% higher than what we saw from the Diamond Princess.
In other words, the entirety of the efforts we have taken engaging in a debate about the “unknown” aspects of this virus have resulted in a 0.2% difference from the numbers we knew last year. We nuked the global economy to slow the spread of the virus despite knowing over a year ago that the vast majority of us were not at risk of dying from the virus at all. To this day, no one has been talking about the immense possibility that a good number of people may be naturally immune to the virus without being infected.
Let me be clear: We should have taken efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus. We cannot, however, jump to the conclusion that all mitigation efforts were effective when, in fact, many are not. The thing about science is that it is never absolute. Science changes, evolves, and progresses. “Settled-science” is not a thing. Questioning data coming from a scientific debate does not make one “anti-science.” Had we simply provided for those who were over the age of 60 and/or had a pre-existing condition we could have avoided the majority of the negative consequences from which we have suffered.
One thing is for sure: We knew what was happening long before anyone wanted to admit it.