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Covid false claims rebutted December 2, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

An excellent overview in the most recent edition of Scientific American on ‘the most insidious false claims about the pandemicOctober 12, 2020The Coronavirus Outbreak

This doesn’t simply debunk the myths, but attempts to provide explanations as to why people hold them. So, for example:

COVID-19 is no worse than the flu.

Why It’s False:The precise infection fatality rate of COVID-19 is hard to measure, but epidemiologists suspect that it is far higher than that of the flu—somewhere between 0.5 and 1 percent, compared with 0.1 percent for influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the latter causes roughly 12,000 to 61,000 deaths per year in the U.S. In contrast, COVID-19 had caused 200,000 deaths in the country as of mid-September. Many people also have partial immunity to the flu because of vaccination or prior infection, whereas most of the world has not yet encountered COVID-19. So no, coronavirus is not “just the flu.”

Why People Believe It:Their leaders keep saying it. In addition to his repeated false claims that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu, Trump has also said—falsely—that the numbers of deaths from COVID-19 are exaggerated. In fact, reported deaths from COVID-19 are likely an undercount.


Herd immunity will protect us if we let the virus spread through the population.

Why It’s False:There is a fundamental flaw with this approach: experts estimate that roughly 60 to 70 percent of people would need to get COVID-19 for herd immunity to be possible. Given the high mortality rate of the disease, letting it infect that many people could lead to millions of deaths. That tragedy is what happened during the 1918 influenza pandemic, in which at least 50 million people are thought to have perished. The U.K.’s COVID-19 death rate is among the world’s highest. Sweden, for its part, has had significantly more deaths than neighboring countries, and its economy has suffered despite the lack of a shutdown.

Why People Believe It: They want to get back to normal life, and without a widely available COVID-19 vaccine, the only way to achieve herd immunity is to let a substantial number of people get sick. Some have speculated that we may have already achieved herd immunity, but population-based antibody studies have shown that even the hardest-hit regions are far from that threshold.

I think framing this in regard to why people might be inclined to believe a falsehood is sensible. One can completely understand the distress and concern at the manner in which 2020 saw many many aspects of normality fade away, almost overnight as it were. And it’s key to keep in mind that people can sincerely hold misguided beliefs. But it’s also absolutely essential to push back against these beliefs because they have a political power that can, as we saw in the US in respect of mask wearing, exacerbate the very real impacts of the virus. Going with the science was never more important.

Other issues tackled include falsehoods around mask-wearing, and the idea that increases in cases are the result of increased testing amongst others.


1. Message Server - December 2, 2020




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