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COVID-19

New Study Confirms CDC and Other ‘Experts’ Hurt Children for Nothing

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Ian MillerIAN MILLER

The CDC funds a study with what it expects are pre-determined results, the media reports the results of that study – despite being misleading, expert researchers reassess using conventional methods, and the supposed benefit disappears.

But the correction receives none of the attention of the original, because it shows a result the CDC deems unacceptable.

There have clearly been many, MANY aspects of our Covid response that were and remain inexcusable.

Vaccine passports and mandates, the nonsensical curfews and capacity limits, general mask mandates, and of course, closing beaches, should never been forgotten.

But few, if any of our pointless, ineffective Covid-era restrictions were as indefensible as child masking. And thanks to the awe-inspiring incompetence of the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States was a global outlier; obsessively dedicated to forcing toddlers as young as 2-years-old to wear masks.

Schools, youth programs, camps, on airplanes…anywhere children gathered, they were forcibly masked. Horrifying videos emerged of teachers or flight attendants putting masks on crying children.

YouTube video

Calls to mask children in schools have disturbingly continued into late 2023 in certain parts of the country.

But new research has confirmed what was obvious to anyone who studied the data and evidence over the past few years: it was all for nothing.

Child Masking is Ineffective, New Study Finds

“Trust the science,” “Follow the data,” “Listen to the experts.”

Starting in 2020, those phrases became a relentless mantra of an oppressive government/pharma/media playbook. Instead of examining the actual evidence, data, and pre-Covid consensus, politicians, administrators, and huge swaths of the public put their faith and trust in a few unreliable, self-interested individuals. And with disastrous results.

Following the actual evidence would, in theory, have meant using evidence-based methods as espoused by experts in that field, such as Carl Heneghan from Oxford University. Primarily, that means using a hierarchy of studies, based on quality, to create systematic reviews of well-conducted research.

Instead, we were fed the CDC’s reporting of non-statistically significant results based on phone surveys, and we watched as those results were included in pro-masking reviews designed to promote an ineffective policy.

But a new systematic review from Tracy Beth Høeg and a number of other researchers has just been released on mask mandates for children. And unlike the pro-mask propaganda, it actually attempts to use high-quality evidence to come to its conclusion.

Background Mask mandates for children during the Covid-19 pandemic varied in different locations. A risk-benefit analysis of this intervention has not yet been performed. In this study, we performed a systematic review to assess research on the effectiveness of mask wearing in children.

They even used independent reviewers to ensure that there was no bias involved in the study selection criteria.

Methods We performed database searches up to February 2023. The studies were screened by title and abstract, and included studies were further screened as full-text references. A risk-of-bias analysis was performed by two independent reviewers and adjudicated by a third reviewer.

That meant that out of 597 studies screened, just 22 were included after meeting the criteria. And in a sign of how the CDC abdicated their responsibility, none were randomized controlled trials. Sure enough, when filtering out information at a risk of serious bias or confounding, there was no association between forcing kids to wear masks and infection or transmission.

Results There were no randomised controlled trials in children assessing the benefits of mask wearing to reduce SARS-CoV-2 infection or transmission. The six observational studies reporting an association between child masking and lower infection rate or antibody seropositivity had critical (n=5) or serious (n=1) risk of bias; all six were potentially confounded by important differences between masked and unmasked groups and two were shown to have non-significant results when reanalysed. Sixteen other observational studies found no association between mask wearing and infection or transmission.

As every intellectually honest scientist, researcher, or expert would admit, their inescapable conclusion is that the “current body of scientific data does not support masking children for protection against COVID-19.”

Conclusions Real-world effectiveness of child mask mandates against SARS-CoV-2 transmission or infection has not been demonstrated with high-quality evidence. The current body of scientific data does not support masking children for protection against Covid-19.

Who would have guessed?

Low-Quality Research Used to Create Low-Efficacy Policy

The details of the studies involved in this systematic review are even more damning.

Of the six observational studies that supposedly showed a benefit to masking kids, all were fatally flawed in important ways. Specifically, there were significant confounding differences between unmasked and masked children that undermine any of the reported results.

Differences included the “number of instructional school days, differences in school size, systematic baseline differences in case rates in all phases of the pandemic, testing policies, contact-tracing policy differences and teacher vaccination rates.” With differences that substantial, it’s impossible to determine whether or not the claimed reduction in infection or transmission is due to masks or one or many of those other factors.

This is why randomized controlled trials are so important. And why the CDC should have conducted them during the pandemic years. Yet at the same time, considering the results of masking RCT’s conducted on adults, it’s pretty obvious why they didn’t. Because they knew it would show that masks didn’t work.

The researchers also touched on the fact that some of the studies promoted by the CDC saw their effects vanish upon re-analysis. Specifically, one of the “observational CDC funded study” in the US claimed to show an association between county-wide mask mandates and pediatric case counts.

Yet when subjected to “expanded reanalysis,” that association disappeared.

That initial result though, is how you use low-quality studies to launder low-quality information. The CDC funds a study with what it expects are pre-determined results, the media reports the results of that study – despite being misleading, expert researchers reassess using conventional methods, and the supposed benefit disappears.

But the correction receives none of the attention of the original, because it shows a result the CDC deems unacceptable.

Even observational reporting has shown masks don’t matter at a population level for younger aged individuals. Virginia faced massive criticism for ending school mask mandates early in 2022, only to see cases collapse after a massive surge with mask mandates in place.

Similarly, cases in Philadelphia schools dropped two weeks after the mask mandate was lifted in 2022, and rose substantially for two weeks after the mask mandate in January 2023 came into effect.

As often discussed, in a sane world, this systematic review would permanently shut the door on further discussions of forced child masking. Higher quality research has confirmed that there is no evidence masks are effective and eliminating bias and confounders unsurprisingly shows the same result with children.

But sanity is dead. Therefore the current CDC director defiantly refuses to admit that masking toddlers was a mistake.

She doesn’t have to.

Høeg and the other researchers who conducted this review said it for her.

Republished from the author’s Substack


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Brownstone Institute

How Did a Small Group Do This?

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From the Brownstone Institute

By JEFFREY A. TUCKER

“You know, it’s kind of our own science experiment that we’re doing in real time.”

A very interesting study appeared last week by two researchers looking into the pandemic policy response around the world. They are Drs. Eran Bendavid and Chirag Patel of Stanford and Harvard, respectively. Their ambition was straightforward. They wanted to examine the effects of government policy on the virus.

In this ambition, after all, researchers have access to an unprecedented amount of information. We have global data on strategies and stringencies. We have global data on infections and mortality. We can look at it all according to the timeline. We have precise dating of stay-at-home orders, business closures, meeting bans, masking, and every other physical intervention you can imagine.

The researchers merely wanted to track what worked and what did not, as a way of informing future responses to viral outbreaks so that public health can learn lessons and do better next time. They presumed from the outset they would discover that at least some mitigation tactics achieved the aim.

It is hardly the first such study. I’ve seen dozens of such efforts, and there are probably hundreds or thousands of these. The data is like catnip to anyone in this field who is empirically minded. So far, not even one empirical examination has shown any effect of anything but that seems like a hard conclusion to swallow. So these two decided to take a look for themselves.

They even went to the next step. They assembled and reassembled all existing data in every conceivable way, running fully 100,000 possible combinations of tests that all future researchers could run. They found some correlations in some policies but the problem is that every time they found one, they found another instance in which the reverse seemed to be true.

You cannot infer causation if the effects are not stable.

After vast data manipulation and looking at every conceivable policy and outcome, the researchers reluctantly come to an incredible conclusion. They conclude that nothing that governments did had any effect. There was only cost, no benefit. Everywhere in the world.

Please just let that sink in.

The policy response destroyed countless millions of small businesses, ruined a generation in learning losses, spread ill health with substance abuse, wrecked churches that could not hold holiday services, decimated arts and cultural institutions, broke trade, unleashed inflation that is nowhere near done with us yet, provoked new forms of online censorship, built government power in a way without precedent, led to new levels of surveillance, spread vaccine injury and death, and otherwise shattered liberties and laws the world over, not to mention leading to frightening levels of political instability.

And for what?

Apparently, it was all for nought.

Nor has there been any sort of serious reckoning. The European Commission elections are perhaps a start, and heavily influenced by public opposition to Covid controls, in addition to other policies that are robbing nations of their histories and identities. The major media can call the victors “far right” all they want but this is really about common people simply wanting their lives back.

It’s interesting to speculate about precisely how many people were involved in setting the world on fire. We know the paradigm was tried first in Wuhan, then blessed by the World Health Organization. As regards the rest of the world, we know some names, and there were many cohorts in public health and gain-of-function research.

Let’s say there are 300 of them, plus many national security and intelligence officials plus their sister agencies around the world. Let’s just add a zero plus multiply that by the large countries, presuming that so many others were copycats.

What are we talking about here? Maybe 3,000 to 5,000 people total in a decision-making capacity? That might be far too high. Regardless, compared with the sheer number of people around the world affected, we are talking about a tiny number, a mico-percent of the world’s population or less making new rules for the whole of humanity.

The experiment was without precedent on this scale. Even Deborah Birx admitted it. “You know, it’s kind of our own science experiment that we’re doing in real time.” The experiment was on whole societies.

How in the world did this come to be? There are explanations that rely on mass psychology, the influence of pharma, the role of the intelligence services, and other theories of cabals and conspiracies. Even with every explanation, the whole thing seems wildly implausible. Surely it would have been impossible without global communications and media, which amplified the entire agenda in every respect.

Because of this, kids could not go to school. People in public parks had to stay within circles. Businesses could not open at full capacity. We developed insane rituals like masking when walking and unmasking when sitting. Oceans of sanitizer would be dumped on all people and things. People were made to be afraid of leaving their homes and clicked buttons to make groceries arrive on their doorsteps.

It was a global science experiment without any foundation in evidence. And the experience utterly transformed our legal systems and lives, introducing uncertainties and anxieties as never before and unleashing a level of crime in major cities that provoked residential, business, and capital flight.

This is a scandal for the ages. And yet hardly anyone in major media seems to be interested in getting to the bottom of it. That’s because, for bizarre reasons, looking too carefully at the culprits and policies here is regarded as being for Trump. And the hate and fear of Trump is so beyond reason at this point that whole institutions have decided to sit back and watch the world burn rather than be curious about what provoked this in the first place.

Instead of an honest accounting of the global upheaval, we are getting the truth in dribs and drabs. Anthony Fauci continues to testify for Congressional hearings and this extremely clever man threw his longtime collaborator under the bus, acting like David Morens was a rogue employee. That action seemed to provoke ex-CDC director Robert Redfield to go public, saying that it was a lab leak from a US-funded lab doing “dual purpose” research into vaccines and viruses, and strongly suggesting that Fauci himself was involved in the cover-up.

Among this group, we are quickly approaching the point of “Every man for himself.” It is fascinating to watch, for those of us who are deeply interested in this question. But for the mainstream media, none of this gets any coverage at all. They act like we should just accept what happened and not think anything about it.

This great game of pretend is not sustainable. To be sure, maybe the world is more broken than we know but something about cosmic justice suggests that when a global policy this egregious, this damaging, this preposterously wrongheaded, does all harm and no good, there are going to be consequences.

Not immediately but eventually.

When will the whole truth emerge? It could be decades from now but we already know this much for sure. Nothing we were promised about the great mitigation efforts by governments turned out to achieve anything remotely what they promised. And yet even now, the World Health Organization continues to uphold such interventions as the only way forward.

Meanwhile, the paradigm of bad science backed by force pervades nearly everything these days, from climate change to medical services to information controls.

When will evidence matter again?


Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

 

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  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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Brownstone Institute

The Trouble with Testing

Published on

From the Brownstone Institute

By Jeffrey A. Tucker

Deborah Birx is at it again, urging mass testing for the detection of bird flu. She wants cows and dairy workers examined to ferret out asymptomatic infections and exposures in animals and people. We have the technology so why not use it, she demands to know. We are making the same mistake we made with Covid early on, she argues.

The role of testing is relatively uncontroversial but it probably should be. Early on in the Covid crisis, though completely against the lockdowns, I was an enthusiast for testing simply because I thought doing so would overcome the epistemic void that was driving public panic.

If you are scared of a disease and have no means to discover whether or not you have it, what is your choice but to hop around in a frenzy and comply with every edict? That was my thinking in any case. We live and learn.

What’s left out of the testing issue is the great question of why. Is it track, trace, and isolate? That has been proven impossible – and long known to be impossible – in the case of a fast-spreading and fast-mutating respiratory virus with a zoonotic reservoir. They tried it anyway with many states quickly hiring tens of thousands of contact tracers.

The iTunes and Google app stores had contact tracing programs you could download. That way if you came close to someone who had tested positive, you would be alerted. It worked like a digital leper’s bell. In fact, even now, the airlines are still doing Covid contact tracing for flying in and out of the country.

Another possible rationale is likely the one in the mind of Birx. She was formed in the AIDS era where the goal was zero infections. Early on, she was a proponent of zero Covid and made that very clear. She is a virus exterminationist: every policy is structured to drive infections, cases, and even exposure to zero, despite the utter impossibility of this goal.

Another possible rationale would be to discern early intervention therapies for people who need them. But realizing that goal is contingent on two other conditions: having therapeutics available and knowing with some sense of confidence that an asymptomatic infection is certainly going to get worse.

Think of the movie Contagion (2011) in this way. It was a killer virus that you get and get worse and then die, all rather quickly. In the movie, the job of the health authorities was always to find the infected and notify everyone with whom they had contact. By the way, this didn’t even work in the film but we are presented with some impressive disease forensics that ended up isolating patient zero.

Again, the question beckons: why are we doing all this? The goals of stopping the spread, driving exposure to zero, and actually treating the sick (if they are sick versus just exposed) are certainly in tension with each other. If you are going to embark on an elaborate and invasive scheme to find and isolate every instance of the pathogen, it’s a good idea to know what precisely you are trying to achieve with the effort. No interviewer has been smart enough to ask this fundamental question of Birx.

And keep in mind that Birx does not want to limit testing to people. She wants cows and chickens tested too, and there’s no particular reason to limit it to that. It could include every member of the animal kingdom, every four-legged creature, and every fish and foul. The expense would be enormous and truly unthinkable, driving the cost of meat production sky-high, especially given the inevitable slaughters that would be mandated.

This is made worse, as we learned last time, by PCR tests that can be set at any cycle rate to discover the mere presence of a virus in just about anything. The last time, this led to unwarranted assumptions of contagiousness, up to 90 percent in 2020, as reported by the New York Times. Because there was and is so much confusion about this piece, let’s quote it directly.

The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample. The greater the viral load, the more likely the patient is to be contagious.

This number of amplification cycles needed to find the virus, called the cycle threshold, is never included in the results sent to doctors and coronavirus patients, although it could tell them how infectious the patients are.

In three sets of testing data that include cycle thresholds, compiled by officials in Massachusetts, New York and Nevada, up to 90 percent of people testing positive carried barely any virus, a review by The Times found.

On Thursday, the United States recorded 45,604 new coronavirus cases, according to a database maintained by The Times. If the rates of contagiousness in Massachusetts and New York were to apply nationwide, then perhaps only 4,500 of those people may actually need to isolate and submit to contact tracing.

While it’s not quite precise to say that the PCR tests generate 90% false positives, it is correct to say that in those tests looked at by the NYT at the height of the pandemic, 90 percent of positive results did not warrant concern at all. They should have been thrown out entirely.

That’s a serious problem for the test, track, trace, and isolate regime that Birx is proposing. Is it any wonder that people today are highly suspicious of this entire idea? Rightly so. Nothing is to be gained by throwing the whole of society into a mysophobic panic when the tests themselves are so poor at discerning the difference between a mild exposure and a medically significant case.

For more on this, see my interview with Jay Bhattacharya, who was onto this problem very early on.

Indeed it was precisely the PCR tests that created this wild confusion between an exposure, an infection, and an actual case. The word case in the past had been reserved for someone actually sick and needing some medical intervention. For reasons never explained, that entire language was blown up, such that OurWorldinData suddenly started listing every documented PCR exposure as a case, creating the feeling of disaster when actually life was functioning entirely normally. The better the authorities got at testing, and the more universal the testing mandates, the sicker the population seemed to be getting.

This all depends on the conflation of exposure, infection, and cases.

Once the disease panic is created, what’s left to do about it remains entirely within the realm of public health authorities. Already last week, the authorities ordered 4 million chickens to be slaughtered. Already more than 90 million birds have been killed since 2022.

As Joe Salatin points out: “The policy of mass extermination without regard to immunity, without even researching why some birds flourish while all around are dying, is insane. The most fundamental principles of animal husbandry and breeding demand that farmers select for healthy immune systems. We farmers have been doing that for millennia. We pick the most robust specimens as genetic material to propagate, whether it’s plants, animals, or microbes.”

This is precisely where this obsession with testing gets us. Whether it is animals or humans, the power of government to compel disease tests and act on the results has led to destructive policies in every instance. You might think we would have learned. Instead, reporters just let Birx ramble on without asking fundamental questions about severity, purpose, viability, or consequences.

There has probably in the history of government never been a more presumptuous aspiration than for bureaucrats to seek to manage the whole of the microbial kingdom. But that is where we are. There’s never been a better time for every citizen of a would-be free nation to proclaim: my biology is none of the government’s business.

Author

Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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