Discover more from eugyppius: a plague chronicle
Checking in on the Zero-Covidians
Corona eradicationist Yaneer Bar-Yam has gone mad.
Zero-Covid visionary and World Health Network founder Yaneer Bar-Yam appears to be losing his grip on sanity, to judge from the massive wall-of-text he posted to Twitter yesterday, a transcript of a statement he made at some Occupational Health and Safety Administration hearing.
As you look over my abbreviated edit of his insane rant, remember that Zero Covid, as a movement, once enjoyed massive political and scientific influence across the world:
I am Yaneer Bar-Yam, Professor and founding president of the New England Complex Systems Institute. I work on mathematical analyses to identify the variables necessary and sufficient to describe a complex problem at large scale. … Science … is about what we see and learn about the world around us. It is about life itself. All of us have formative experiences in life. For me one of them was the loss of my sister, Aureet, who was two years older than me. She cared deeply about helping people. For years afterwards I drove her car, on the steering wheel there was attached the “serenity prayer” that many of you surely know: “God grant me the Serenity, To accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And Wisdom to know the difference.”
In science as in life, the most important question is: Can we make it better? … Today I want to tell you that the pandemic has been mischaracterized as something we can’t control, even can’t do anything about. … Here, today, we have a historic opportunity to change the direction of society from failure, causing illness, death and disability, on a spiral of devastation, to a new path that will lead to an exit from this catastrophic condition. The place to start is in the workplace …. Economy depends on health. Infection followed by infection, disability accumulating from long covid organ damage after multiple infections, is untenable.
There are 5 pillars of prevention: Masking, Ventilation, Testing, Social distancing, and Vaccination. Each of these has multiple levels. From poor to outstanding. First: Masks: From cloth and surgical masks that might have been somewhat effective early in the pandemic, to N95s that help now, to elastomeric respirators that would stop almost all infection, to PAPRs that could stop infection entirely.
Second: Ventilation & HEPA purification according to conventional standards help significantly. Elevating standards makes it even better, and the risks can be minimal in many locations if we place HEPA purifiers near workers or customers based upon measured airflows.
Third: Testing is the most widely accepted measure. Reactive symptomatic and exposure testing has a significant effect. Proactive frequent screening, which in workplaces can and is being done once daily at some locations including fire departments at $1 per test using LAMP testing, can cause transmission to decrease even for Omicron, and can make risk minimal if it is done twice. Saliva tests are fine.
Fourth: Social distancing ranges from avoiding gatherings all the way to lockdowns.
Fifth: Vaccination in conjunction with other measures could have stopped the pandemic, but over reliance on vaccination alone undermined its utility because of new variants that would not have arisen if we effectively used other measures to reduce transmission.
What is important is that a combination of these five can be crafted based upon receptiveness and technology adoption and there are many choices that all work. Note that even though treatments exist, variants undermine them, they are not adequately available or equitably distributed, they do not always work, and have significant side effects. As far as we know, the only way to stop long covid disability is to stop infection.
… We need comprehensive protection. Regulation exists in the complexity of multidisciplinary knowledge. Each discipline has its own assumptions. Medical and biological sciences are different from social and engineering knowledge. Biologists may focus on vaccines, but high mask quality is no less a game changer. And RT-LAMP testing is now easy to do, costs $1 per test, and can be scaled immediately to 100s of millions per week.
Naysayers distort science, technology and economics. It is important to remember that scientists in general are passive observers. Biologists see biological phenomena not socio-technical advances or collective action, and surely not the opportunities of global enterprise engaging in coordinated action. To know what can be done, use a startup mentality and galvanize multidisciplinary teams to meet the challenge.
In this light passivity makes no sense. We have advanced since 1918. We have better science, technology, and communication to coordinate action. We provided people with clean water, we can provide clean air. Just as the virus can mutate and gain an advantage, we can innovate to defeat it. Our economic freedom driven culture has a knee jerk reaction: A desire for freedom from regulations. There are those who may say to themselves, I didn’t have these expenses before, I shouldn’t have them now.
We must recognize that there is a pandemic. The true costs of the pandemic are manifest in both acute illness and in post acute effects including cardiovascular events, symptoms of long covid and its organ damage and disability. Brain fog will cost workers and employers. We will surely pay for shortsighted views that focus on comparatively miniscule costs of masking, ventilation, testing, sick leave and supportd other precautions. …
Pandemics should not be thought of as waves, but as a fire. We know the solution is to put them out. Similarly for pandemics getting things to be a bit better is not enough. Can we do it? Multiple times we achieved cases going down. When cases go down, focus and put the fire out. We have been suffering from the pandemic for two years, complaining about its effect on the economy. Should we suffer for another two? Or more? Should we sacrifice lives pretending it is inevitable, or doesn’t exist? The data shows, strong action can reduce cases dramatically in 4-6 weeks. Then we only need to prevent a new wave, so the fire is not rekindled. We just need to start. We have the knowhow, we need the will. I hope you will recognize not just the challenge but the opportunity to make a difference. Seize this opportunity. Thank you.
We are watching the development of a technophilic religious system, here. There are the five rites of Masking, Ventilation, Testing, Social Distancing, and Vaccination, the “preventive pillars” which each consist of “multiple levels.” These are the only things that can save initiates from the Pandemic Fires. With enough virtue, or will, adherents may dare to hope for a utopian world, free of disease and death.
Working on review of Gate’s terrible book, which will take another day or two.