Political Leaders Use “Personal Responsibility” to Justify Needless COVID Deaths

From the federal mask recommendations suspended in May to White House COVID coordinator Jeffrey Zients’s December pronouncement that the unvaccinated are to blame for “the hospitals you may soon overwhelm,” the Biden administration has organized its COVID response around an ethos of personal responsibility.

COVID can be spun as a pandemic of the unvaccinatedEven vaccinated people can still be vaccinated. spread the virus. Vaccines and their boosters, importantly protecting the vaccinated from hospitalization and death, appear nothing of the public health silver bullet they’ve been positioned to be, presently offering only 10 weeks’ protectionOmicron variant is now available to prevent symptomatic infection.

A campaign like this against the unvaccinated is both bad politics as well as bad for public health.

Many of the unvaccinated aren’t ideologically motivated. Skepticism, hesitancy, and lack of access to vaccines are signs of failure in vaccine access. 84 million AmericansYou can’t walk around with no COVID shot, and they won’t even be able to transport you to an appointment. In order to control the outbreak, it is important to win their trust.

Others may choose to not get vaccinated even if it puts them in grave danger. Jesse Rouse, photographed hereHe was diagnosed with COVID in November in Minneapolis. He was said to have been unvaccinated after a double transplant. Researchers have proposedLung transplantees who have had their lungs transplanted are at high risk of respiratory infection. They should be vaccinated to prevent COVID.

Some people may refrain from vaccination for medical reasons – including confusion or conflicting information about how vaccination might interact with their health conditions or treatments.

It doesn’t matter why certain people are still unvaccinated. However, it is dangerous to place all the blame on individuals. Like Ronald Reagan’s campaign against “welfare queens,” presuming public health problems emerge primarily from bad actors and individual decision-making obfuscates the systemic and structural roots of the failure of the U.S.’s response to the pandemic.

The Biden administration, much like Trump, seems to be determined to turn COVID pages, regardless of how bad the pandemic is. The May mask recommendations, which said that vaccinated persons could no longer wear masks in most indoor spaces, were a textbook example of this. Later, the administration changed their mind. ignored A public health expert’s October report recommended free testing at a rate of 732,000,000 tests per month to prepare for a holiday increase in COVID.

The plan, in effect, was a blueprint for how to avoid what is happening at this very moment — endless lines of desperate Americans clamoring for tests in order to safeguard holiday gatherings, just as COVID-19 is exploding again.

Yesterday, President Biden spoke to David Muir about ABC News, “I wish I had thought about ordering” 500 million at-home tests “two months ago.” But the proposal shared at the meeting in October, disclosed here for the first time, included a “Bold Plan for Impact” and a provision for “Every American Household to Receive Free Rapid Tests for the Holidays/New Year.”

Early in December, Biden spokesperson Jen Psaki scoffed at reporter Mara Liasson’s query about why the U.S. doesn’t just pay for home COVID tests for every American household like other countries do instead of making Americans submit for reimbursement from insurance companies that have routinely failed to pick up the bill. “How much is that going to cost?” Psaki asked.

Should a government that voted be allowed to continue? $768 billion for the Pentagon,$24 Billion more than Biden requested. This is just to pay for COVID test? Yes, April Wallace replied The Washington Post. Yes, it should.

I am a dual citizen of the United States, Britain and Scotland. I live in Edinburgh, Scotland and can get rapid antigen testing whenever I want, at no cost and without any hurdles to overcome. I know that Americans pay more than $20 for a package of two tests — if they’re in stock. This is where you can go to your local pharmacy and receive seven packs of seven tests free of charge. I can also visit my local recreational center to collect packs of test for my family. I can also swing by a coronavirus center.

It turns out that home tests are eligible for reimbursement wasn’t to startYou can still do this until mid-January

Already, the administration stated that the plan would not reimburse retroactively for tests that have been purchased. This means that any holiday tests will not be covered.

The Biden no plan, which included four quick tests per household and three masks each for each American, seemed to be phase one in a campaign to further diminish American expectations. As self-described “shitposter” @fingerblaster tweeted about what’s missing:

Wild that the most unhinged republican president in history sent us $2000 checks back when we had like 12k cases a day and now we have 300k cases a day and a dem president who’s like “lol not my problem go to work jack”

The more august New York Times reported Millions of Americans depended on monthly child benefits when they ended.

The end of the extra assistance for parents is the latest in a long line of benefits “cliffs” that Americans have encountered as pandemic aid programs have expired. Paycheck Protection Program was a program that supported hundreds of thousands small businesses. It ended in March. In some states, the expanded unemployment benefits were ended in September. Last summer, the federal eviction moratorium was lifted. The last round of stimulus payments landed in Americans’ bank accounts last spring.

These benefit programs, though modest in size, saved thousands from COVID death.

A March 2021 FamiliesUSA report Summary research Lack of health insurance was responsible for a third of all COVID-related deaths. The effect was multiplicative: “Each 10% increase in the proportion of a county’s residents who lacked health insurance was associated with a 70% increase in COVID-19 cases and a 48% increase in COVID-19 deaths.”

Another study on control for stay-at home orders, school closures, and mask mandates was published in November 2020. estimatedState-to-state eviction moratoriums were lifted and caused between 365,200 to 502,200 excess coronavirus infections and between 8,900 to 12,500 deaths.

Omicron’s Delta Strain

Public health extends beyond the use of necessary prophylaxes to include necessary social interventions. If there was any doubt as to which constituency the political classes serves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut down its recommendation for quarantine on COVID exposure from ten days to five in December. The act was decidedly in response to pressure from employers, notoriously Delta Air Lines’ CEO Ed Bastian in a letter that Delta proudly posted.

The Delta letter summarized all scientific literature supporting its request in just two sentences. The science is more complex and marked by a variety definitional complications.

Omicron, just like the new variants before, is almost certain evolve out from underneath the vaccine effectivenessDelta Airlines describes its protection as adequate, and full-stop. Allowing COVID variants on Delta planes and elsewhere increases the chance they can. evolve enoughTo circumvent medical and other non-pharmaceutical controls.

Other drawbacks counter such summary boosterism. Omicron has been associated with increased reinfection. The variant’s other impacts on clinical courses and epidemiology are likely to be geographically specific, depending on a variety of local factors, including pre-existing immunity and the state of non-pharmaceutical interventions. What works in one setting may not work under another.

More meta, the speed with which new variants can be created is accelerating outpacing Even with the fast pace of research. “Flattening the curve” extends beyond our hospitals to research efforts aimed at discovering how to better control COVID.

In other words, a more infectious Omicron. a variety of interventions,Each layer should be layered on top of the other.

This isn’t the first time the airline industry tried to bend basic COVID science to its financial advantage. David Neeleman is JetBlue CEO, and reopen proponent funded and helped coordinateA Stanford University study based on whistleblower complaints found that a testing kit could have produced false positives. The study concluded that the COVID viruses were more prevalent in the general population and therefore, less dangerous as a pathogen, given the number of deaths in this study population.

Anthony Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (proving LysenkoOn the Potomac, Delta and other employers were subject to interference. Fauci parroted Bastian’s arguments nearly to the letter:

There is a danger that so many people will become isolated and become asymptomatic for a full ten days that it could have a significant negative impact on society’s ability to continue running. So the decision was made of saying let’s get that cut in half.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky once fought back tearsConcerned about the potential for COVID mass deaths. Now, she is thinking like a meat plant manger, but only in terms of the bottom line. defends It is still very infectious to send people back to work.

There are many studies. [from other variants]That is when the maximum transmissibility is at its highest, and that is within the first five days. And [with Omicron]We are likely to face hundreds of thousand more cases per day. The health care system was becoming very clear that we would have people who were [positive but]Asymptomatic and unable work, which was a warning sign of what was coming in all other essential functions of society.

In short, the combination of economic compulsion and traumatic bonding that sent millions of workers into unprotected workplaces the pandemic’s first two years now represents state policy. The labor law of the country is the denialism liberals attack Trumpists for. It is now a key part of the administration’s public health campaign.

“I’m not letting COVID-19 take my shifts,” one recent CDC ad declared. “My job puts me at high risk for COVID-19 exposure. I got vaccinated because it’s better to be protected than to be out sick.”

Another CDC post shamelessly used the U.S.’s privatized health care system as a cudgel of class discipline: “Hospital stays can be expensive, but COVID-19 vaccines are free. Help protect yourself from being hospitalized with #COVID19 by getting vaccinated.”

In this spirit, Jared Bernstein, the economic advisor to Biden, was created waxed optimisticEconomy. Bernstein cheered the idea that the loss of personal savings would encourage low-paid workers to return to work during a pandemic.

“We are intent,” Jeff Zients declared mid-December, “on not letting Omicron disrupt work and school for the vaccinated. You’ve done the right thing, and we will get through this.” The vaccinated are presented as pure enough of soul to get back to working the gears of the economic machine. The unvaccinated are cast, to appropriate Hillary Clinton’s characterization, as a basket of eschatological deplorables.

Zients, a Biden campaign donor, was the CEO of investment firm Cranemere and director of Obama’s National Economic Council before becoming COVID czar with no public health experience. His primary priorities were always clear.

The quarantine switcheroo follows CDC’s changing recommendations for school distancing from six feet to three, which it now pretends is the virus’s limit. In reality, even six feet isn’t enoughThe airborne virus. CDC could legally permit students to be returned to brick-and mortar schools by changing the number to three.

The consequences of keeping children out school can be devastating. terrible impactson learning outcomes, and emotional well-being. The death of other students could be prevented by keeping children in school. teachers in school,Senior adults, as well as older adults back home can experience a different type of emotional damage. These risks are more reason to bring the outbreak under control using a full-spectrum intervention.

The CDC’s position, sending students back to school without controlling the outbreak, is geared toward other aims. It’s about putting the economic cart before the epidemiological horse. The parents must send their children to school in order to allow them to go to work.

These misguided campaigns go beyond the administration. Among the American Heart Association’s new interim pandemic recommendations for medical staff is starting CPR without personal protective equipment.

Artist Rob Sheridan designed A series of posters counter to the CDC:

  • We Can Do It! We Can Sacrifice Grandma So Dave & Buster’s Can Stay in Business!
  • Quiet! Don’t Cough! You can pretend to be okay! Your Boss’s 8th Boat Depends on It!
  • America’s Youth is Ready to March Back to School! Sacrifice is necessary for the economy!

Across the internet — over the political spectrum — other observers expressed outrage in scathing terms:

The administration is too focused on itself to see that it is losing the country. Its caustic claims about “the science” aren’t supported by the science, further undercutting research as a trusted source of both state strategy and public response.

The original 10-day quarantine, which the CDC modified, was based on the evidence-based realities of this virus itself, specifically its incubation time, generation time and serial interval. At the same time, the 10 days aren’t a matter of essentialist measures of central tendency.

Against CDC Director Walensky’s characterization, it’s about the Variation in patients’ infectious periods. Some patients recover from their infectiousness in the five days Walensky mentioned. Others can remain infectious for much longer. No one knows who’s a late bloomer in transmission. As a matter of practical public health intervention, it’s an unknown.

A public health campaign must therefore institute mask and quarantine policies that cover for the late transmissions, so that they don’t serve as the means by which the outbreak rolls on — particularly as Omicron’s infectiousness approaches that of measles Even a small number of infected people can still lead to a 100% attack rate.

Instead, we have cut public assistance, shortened quarantines and offered remote schooling with no cost. We also have hired very few community health workers. conducted little genomic sequencinghospitals overrun by the virus. After the furore surrounding the shortened quarantine, the CDC decided to add only a recommendation — not a requirement — of a negative rapid antigen test before workers returned to work.

Trump and Biden tried to avoid the partisan ire, but why did they both pretend the pandemic was gone? Biden’s trajectory is illustrative that capitalist realism has a way of eating away at even good faith efforts at addressing existential threats.

Biden, the candidate, put the failures of his opposition in October 2020 perspective: “We’re eight months into this pandemic, and Donald Trump still doesn’t have a plan to get this virus under control. I do.”

“This crisis,” President-elect Biden added, “demands a robust and immediate federal response.”

One year later, President Biden pivoted: “There is no federal solution. This gets solved at a state level,” months after many state governors had lost or abandonedThey can use their emergency powers to impose shelter-at-home orders and mask mandates.

Other countries may view federal jurisdiction in a different way, as though the health of their constituents has something to do government.

The U.S. Daily Breaks are not available. record COVID caseloads,Some other countries seem to be from another world. COVID long-hauler Ravi Veriah Jacques reported These January 2 caseloads are from abroad

  • New Zealand – 51
  • China – 191
  • Taiwan – 20
  • Japan – 477
  • Hong Kong – 18

China’s reactions They are more widespread and can be triggered faster, with better public health results. Xi’an, a metropolis of 13 million people in Shaanxi Province, underwent The emergence of 175 COVID cases prompted a lockdown that was arguably difficult. The Western media has continued to play on the difficulties in obtaining food in the city over the 12 days’ quarantine, but not the campaigns to alleviateThese are the problems.

Some may argue the Biden administration’s reaction is better late than never, but that’s not how controlling COVID’s lightning strikes works.

As epidemiologist Rodrick Wallace models, whatever the intervention, there’s nothing worse than dithering. We are routinely infected with the virus due to its insidious nature. six weeks too lateIf spikes in cases rather than anticipatory plan are the trigger. Repeated delays mark U.S. COVID planning — among them, the spread of the original wave out of coastal cities to the rest of the country in spring 2020 and the arrivals since of Delta and Omicron stateside.

Rapid Confusion Test

It turns out that the mass at-home testing program that the Biden administration abandoned in October, establishing a program several months late, has already been a failure. It is a technicist intervention that, while necessary and necessary, is still insufficient. It’s more of a grand gesture that detracts from the administration’s refusal to pursue multilevel systemic public health programming.

The details of such a rollout as well as the tests themselves can also be problematic. It’s much more than a matter of rapid tests permitting an exit out of the shots for the deplorable unvaccinated, as the Biden administration feared. It’s also not merely a matter of doctors defending their testing territory, as rapid test proponents argued.

Biotech consultants are guilty of many inherent errors. Dale HarrisonExplores around the rapid tests, but there is the difficulty self-administering them:

Important note: At-home antigen testing can give very poor results (both high false positives and high false negatives) if you misuse them or are sloppy.

These are complex molecular assays, so it is crucial to use the exact instructions. You MUST read and follow every single detail in the instructions to get a reliable outcome….

The difficulties go beyond administering tests. Interpreting them is a difficult task. It is affected both by our hopes and by technical matters.

Now comes the tricky part… what happens if you get conflicting test results.

Let’s say you get a positive result on an at-home antigen test (like the BinaxNow) and decide to take it again “just to be sure”.

The second Binax test results are negative. Now, you can schedule an appointment to have a PCR test.

It comes back negative a few days later.


If you’re non-symptomatic and get a [Binax+ Binax- PCR-] set of results … a positive and two negatives in any order.

In that case, it is 56-times MORE likely that you’re infected than not infected … 5600% more likely!

And if you’re FULLY symptomatic and get a [Binax+ Binax- PCR-] set of results, it is 20-times MORE likely that you’re infected than not infected … 2000% more likely!

Even if you take a second PCR test, and that test comes back negative, [Binax+ Binax- PCR- PCR-] you are still 4-times more likely to be infected than not … 400% more likely!

And it does NOT matter the order of the test results … the math holds true regardless.

Even medical doctors who perform these tests in clinics fail to notice:

This is a very strange concept, and I’m sure it’s counterintuitive. However, even doctors who recommend these tests (other than Infectious disease specialists) don’t seem to get it!

And when faced with multiple conflicting test results, most medical people will incorrectly select the LAST result as the “correct one”.

This is a dangerous error! Exceptionally, only a few medical professionals are trained to use Bayesian statistics.

Vanity Fair’s palace intrigueThe COVID Collaborative was a group made up of high-end epidemiologists who recommended holiday testing surges against the administration that ignored them. But that isn’t quite right. Both sides agree to make public health an individualistic (and commodifiable!) option.

Once [ex-Harvard epidemiologist and now chief science officer at the eMed diagnostic company Michael] Mina began to advocate for rapid home tests, he encountered the same mindset: doctors “trying to guard their domain.” Some doctors had long opposed home testing, even for pregnancy and HIV, arguing that patients who learned on their own about a given condition would not be able to act on the information effectively. According to this view, testing should only be used by doctors as a diagnostic tool and not by individuals to influence decisions.

The U.S. approach places the responsibility on Americans to interpret the contradicting results of multiple tests. Because the peak viral load is nearly 100 percent specific, false positives can be low. Harrison points out that even though the test was administered correctly, false positives are common and the results of any one test will not necessarily have an impact on the implications of others.

Techno-utopianism offers another iteration of blaming the victim if the outcome goes south: “It’s your own fault you didn’t do the test right.” Don’t let the easy lines on the lateral flow ag card confuse matters. Against Mina’s insinuation, it’s decidedly unlike a pregnancy test.

There is also the matter of what happens when organizing society’s access to work and recreation around such tests collides with a run on the tests at local stores already suffering supply chain problems, making the tests both unavailable and priced beyond working people’s budgets.

If, on the other hand, the Biden administration hired and trained a million community health workers to go door-to-door across the country administering these tests for free — like really free — we wouldn’t be in such a free-for-all, if you’ll excuse the phrasing.

If such teams were established early, they might have been able build the trust necessary for successful introduction of a variety time- and place-specific interventions in public health that would likely have reduced the duration and impact each wave of the pandemic.

Surprising the Presumably Surprised

What’s interesting about Harrison’s direct and clearly written posts is that his recommendations are framed by the context of what the U.S. can, or is willing to, offer right now: not much.

Yes, everyone Should To be able test themselves whenever they wish, at all times. The U.S. tries to make it appear that it is unable to implement such a public-health program. Should the sensitivity be combined with specificity? reported Do the test boxes reflect their actual results? Yes they should, despite the fact that the original testing was done to bring the products to the market. Do the efficacy and effectiveness of vaccines have to match? That would be great.

There are expectations that individual American consumers hold about solutions — cheap and immediately effective — that the market repeatedly promises but can’t deliver. In this case, the multifactorial virus doesn’t cater to such an ideal of a single packet solution. We are almost starving for the public health response, which the market considers a rival.

The U.S. government as well as governments around the world. treatThe capitalism that helped to create the COVID virus from commoditized forests is more real than the ecologies or epidemiologies on which the global system relies. To protect that mirage of a difference, each new variant that has since emerged is strangely presented as the beginning of the pandemic’s end, resetting the next round of denialism, instead of alerting us that in reality, without a change in public health practice, we’re caught in a daisy chain of viral evolution.

Each “surprise” that the COVID virus refuses to cooperate with such an expectation, acting in its own interests instead of ours, also serves to protect the system from the implications of its refusal to act. Surprise — pretending we don’t know what we know — is itself an ideological project. Management of expectations is the key to managing a declining system. All is well, get back to work, until, suddenly, it isn’t, as it always was.

From the virus’s vantage, the resulting public health dithering and half-measures serve the virus as both escape hatch out of our control efforts and selection pressure to evolve around those campaigns. This combination leads to the worst epidemiological outcomes.

We must unite against our rulers, and their financiers, if we want to get out of this trap. We must use a full-spectrum intervention to drive the COVID virus below its rate of replacement.

That requires we reject not only Washington’s business bipartisanism, but also the core model of our economy around which our civilization is organized. That’s no small matter, of course, but with climate change and other pandemics also in the wings, likely our sole option out.