My response to Dr. Gottsegen’s letter to the Gazette

Here’s my response to Dr. David Gottsegen’s letter to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, posted on January 4, 2022.

  1. I deplore death threats as much as anyone. But bringing them up here is a non-sequitur, intended, I suspect, to divert attention from my point: While I support vaccination, I think the unvaccinated have been stigmatized unfairly and I believe, divisively.
  2. I’ve heard of lots of nasty scientific squabbles in my day. But the attacks on the Great Barrington Declaration and its authors constitute one of the most shameful and most consequential examples of intra-scientific viciousness ever. And the shame goes all the way up to the top of our federal health bureaucracy. I strongly recommend that all read the Declaration for themselves, or at very least check out some of the many media appearances by co-author Jay Bhattacharya (here’s a recent episode of the Megyn Kelly Show where he’s the first guest). Readers should also check out co-author Martin Kulldorff’s letter to the Gazette following an earlier attack in the paper.
  3. It’s my understanding that rates of hospitalizations and death have replaced case numbers as the leading metric in assessing the impact of COVID in any given region or across any given demographic. As of January 3, the seven-day average of COVID deaths in Florida is 16. In New York, with a similar population, it is 38. In Sweden, with half the population, it is six, which would place it 44th on a list of US states. What do you make of this? And considering the spike in the number of cases in each region and basically everywhere else, aren’t these numbers, measured against cases, encouragingly low, perhaps leading health of officials to loosen up on mandates and restrictions?
  4. According to Dr. Marty Makary, as of November 9, the number of children aged 5-11 in the US who had died from COVID without comorbidities is in the single digits. Each time a child dies or becomes seriously ill, it is a tragedy. So are all illnesses and deaths of children from any cause, some more common than those resulting from COVID, but for which we do not require all citizens to take stringent measures. And the measures that have been taken, from school closures to on-line learning to universal masking, have not been without serious costs to our children’s education or overall well-being. How best to balance these concerns? By listening to all stakeholders, including – especially including – parents. Besides, how well do the cloth masks our kids wear work to stop the spread? I await the data that demonstrates their efficacy, if you can produce it.

CODA: I have nothing but admiration for the health care workers, from physicians on down, who have helped me through some serious medical scares, including recently. That does not and should not spare our public health bureaucrats from harsh and well-deserved criticism. I help pay their lavish salaries, so I get to say that what I think of them. Let’s revisit this whole thing in a couple of months. I suspect that what passes for conventional wisdom in dealing with the pandemic – which very well may be seen as endemic by then – will have shifted significantly. Thanks for reading!

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