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iatrogenic deaths: was it mishandling society or mishandling covid?
a look at US excess deaths in 2020 by climate zone
what follows is essentially a working draft of a hypothesis i’m assessing in an effort to untangle some longstanding associative puzzles from covid. it seems sufficiently plausible to warrant consideration and i’d love some feedback and review.
the closer i look at this, the more it looks to me like the huge killer here was the truly nasty combo of bad policy on care homes, hospitals, and vents and the massive suppression of effective medicines and health aids. covid became deadly because we lost our collective minds and short circuited the functioning of modern medicine.
it looks like the virus did a fair bit of killing, but it was not because the virus was inherently unusually deadly, it’s that we made it so through mishandling.
this was an own-goal.
some of my early work on covid was tracking its spread in the US. what emerged was a clear but unexpected signal where it tended to march from climate zone to climate zone in inexorable but highly delineated fashion. this was extremely pronounced in the first year and then later attenuated into a more traditional “north south” split like that seen in influenza.
thus the “3 waves” of covid in the US in 2020 were not so much three large waves as the sum of regional waves taking place at different times.
my original tweet on this was retweeted by then president trump and it was this oddly uncontroversial pointing out of a simple fact pattern in the CDC data that likely first landed me on the “personna non-catta” list.
you can read my updated later thread on it here:
(note that this data was incomplete for dec 2020 at the time it was posted and so the far right of graphs will read low)
i used the US climate regions maps to break the states into groups. (i put ID in northern as that’s where all the population lies)
the result was a set of regions “taking turns” with covid and led to the ideas of “when it’s your turn, it’s your turn and virus gonna virus” that contradicted early claims that “whatever the places that had not had their turn yet were doing must be working so we should emulate them.”
no locking down or masking up worked. no one ducked it. when your turn came, you got covid.
states within regions were remarkably similar, but regions differed greatly from one another.
this pattern creates an interesting potential to test some questions on iatrogenic deaths (deaths caused by medical care) that seem to dominate all cause deaths this pandemic. (and there was conspicuously little excess death until the aggressive covid reactions started despite covid having been circulating for months beforehand)
if such deaths were mostly caused by lockdowns and other aggressive policies by themselves (and had nothing to do with covid) they should be pretty uniform. states all locked down at the same time.
but if the damage came more from mistreating covid patients or from an interaction of “sick people + disrupted society = more deaths” then we’d expect the excess deaths figure to track covid emergence arrival. this would imply that much of the damage we saw (relative to places that did nothing and did not alter care or social function) stemmed from people getting covid and not being treated for it properly (or perhaps at all).
based on my preliminary look, the latter appears to be the case.
i’m going to deliberately avoid the vaccine period for now as it muddies things and choose 2 regions that had very different temporal presentation to use as an example here, but best i can tell, this is holding in all regions and excess mortality in 2020 aligns with high precision to “reported covid deaths” in 2020.
this is, in fact, a part of what originally led so many to claim it was “proof of covid’s unusual deadliness” back before so much evidence about how little risk it posed in places who did not react to it by radically changing their social and medical behavior started to point to the causality on this correlation actually running the other way.
the northeast had an “early peak” on “reported covid deaths.”
the northern plains had a late one.
now compare these to excess mortality:
the alignment is extremely precise, right down to vermont, new hampshire, and maine having neither covid deaths nor excess mortality to any great degree in the mar-jun 2020 surge.
(why these 3 states differed is an interesting question that it not resolved to any great degree best i can tell. perhaps they were sufficiently climactically different that their timing was different, but this would require more work to say anything terribly definitive on. it’s also possible (and there is some evidence) that they just panicked less and did not act like much of the rest of southern new england.)
this pattern of aligned excess deaths and reported covid deaths seems universal in the US in 2020. some of it is almost certainly over ascription of deaths to covid because any really sick people (or people in hospitals who die) are likely to test positive for at least trace covid using 40Ct PCR, but this seems an unsatisfying overall explanation as this would not account for the difference in the timing of the excess deaths surges by region which represents a particularly poignant marker as it happened out of typical seasonality and was therefor unexpected.
that points to some sort of external driver.
it occurred to me that there was an interesting test for this: louisiana. the pelican sate was a regional outlier that exhibited vastly different covid seasonality vs local peers seemingly because of mardi gras which had just been held on feb 25th 2020 and drew millions of visitors, many from the northeast.
this appears to have been sufficient to drag them into the northeast timing regime.
it’s a clear regional standout on “covid deaths” in 2020. it looks like the northeast, not the rest of the neighbors and its “double hump” is actually just the sum of localized single humps.
when you break it up by parish (county), it looks like this:
the high tourist/mardi gras parishes had a northeast signal, the others a southern one.
that points strongly to some introduced driver.
now what about excess deaths?
yup, there again we see the same signal with the pelican state out of step with the others.
i do not have this data for excess deaths at parish level, but i would wager it will track the covid deaths plot above.
this really makes the link between excess deaths and covid seem pretty solid. i’m not seeing a good way to rebut it. excess deaths come with reported covid deaths and that timing appears to be transmissible. louisiana caught it seemingly from the northeast.
so what of the claim that this means that “covid was deadly and this proves it”?
one could certainly try to make that claim from the data above, but it falls apart given greater perspective:
the places that largely did nothing to change their health systems (the nordics, germany, etc) had no/very low levels of excess deaths in the april spike. sweden actually stands out a bit and you can see their bad initial call on care homes taking effect before they got their act together and went on to have the lowest excess deaths in the developed world. you can see it a bit in switzerland too.
the countries that were more aggressive and did radical things with health care (spain, italy, UK) did see excess deaths. they hit levels that look like connecticut or massachusetts. but no one managed to hit the massive spikes of new york or new jersey. those two really stand above and beyond as exemplars of just how much harm you can do by getting this egregiously wrong.
essentially, it looks like you could basically have come through covid with typical “middling bad flu year” results if you kept calm and carried on and, perhaps most importantly, retained your existing medical practices.
so the idea that it was “covid as inevitable killer in excess of the sort of rates seen in a typical baddish flu season” looks as though it lacks evidentiary foundation.
many managed it. (and these run a bit high as they are not adjusted for population growth)
this leaves us with a provocative fact pattern and questions:
not all countries exposed to covid got high excess deaths,
but in the places that did, the elevated all cause mortality in 2020 (pre vaccine) appears temporally correlated with covid itself
and this seems to be a contagious phenomenon which implies that the causality is likely predominantly driven by pathogen emergence and not by ascribing all deaths to it.
and the only real explanation here seems to be this:
the excess deaths were highly iatrogenic and the result of mistreating covid.
the virus came to your area and if you had a normally functioning health and senior care system, you did fine. it was well within the remit of high functional modern medicine to handle.
but if you didn’t, everything went off the rails in a hurry. one does not break the systems of modern medicine at whim and expect not to pay a price.
this would seem to imply that “just what mistakes were made?” must be the question of the hour if we are to avoid similar own goals in the future.
i spoke about ventilators and care home policy the other day and how they were obviously huge vectors for needless death.
many others have spoken about midazolam being widely used in some places to great detriment.
it also appears that (especially in the US) we had widespread medical meddling where many drugs used to good effect previously and elsewhere were discontinued, barred, or banned.
and i think this wound up being a HUGE deal. we basically banned and barracked against everything that worked effectively dismantling the things that make modern medicine work and throwing covid treatment into the dark ages.
i’ve honestly never seen anything quite like it. some have ascribed this to a push from the vaccine interests to prevent treatment because emergency use authorization is not permitted if there is an approved treatment for a disease. i cannot speak to how true this is in any definitive fashion, but based on an awful lot of what we saw, it does at least seems like a question worth asking. i wish i could say it seems implausible. but it doesn’t.
because A LOT of weird things happened. treating pneumonia (and even flu) with antibiotics is pretty normal. and, contrary to popular belief, some ABX (shorthand for antibiotics) have strong efficacy vs viruses. this text on azithromycin (z-pak) comes from the NIH website. the whole class of macrolides does this.
when i had what i suspect was covid in 2019, my doc prescribed a z-pack and a budesonide nebulizer. it knocked it out in short order.
and yet it suddenly became “a thing” that you were not supposed to use ABX on covid. the pretexts were often seriously flimsy. but the effects were significant.
reader stephen j wood turned me on to this: (you can read his whole analysis HERE)
antibiotic prescriptions suddenly dropped to a figure about 40% below normal right at the commencement of the covid/excess deaths surge.
it was even more pronounced for AZM. by may, one would have expected 3mm scripts but we only saw about 1mm. that’s a massive shortfall and seasonal normalcy was not regained until july of 2021.
i lack the ability to quantify the effect this had with precision, but presuming there would have been efficacy, the effect may have been quite large esp as from some of the data, it looks like diagnoses of pneumonia were up and yet treatment for it way down.
we dropped a frontline weapon against pneumonia/resp ailment just as it ran wild.
who made this choice to de-emphasize and discourage typical ABX use for respiratory infections and why? how and by whom was this elevated to the status of a public info pressure campaign?
these are some very interesting questions.
“did people stay home and not get doctor and pharmacy care when they got sick out of fear/induced sense of social obligation to “stay home save lives” or similar?” is another query that seems poignant.
provocatively, france was using an AZM and HCO protocol that ramped up in the april/may timeframe and something sure caused their excess deaths to rapidly snap back to normal (unlike the US). they then barred this after a study in “the lancet” showed inefficacy and shortly thereafter, deaths once more rose. (my understanding is that even post ban, many were using it until supplies ran out so some lag seems plausible)
this is certainly not proof of causality/efficacy, but it is, perhaps, grounds for questions, especially given the truly dire track record of the lancet on covid mis and malinformation and what seems to be a truly global scale fight against any covid treatment using approved/safe/cheap/generic drugs.
i’m honestly not sure what the effects of HCO wound up being and if it showed efficacy in some circumstances esp early treatment and prophylaxis. many claim it did. others claim it did not. the big studies were never done.
(recall that NY state commandeered all of it for that purported purpose thereby preventing people from using it and barring pharmacists from even having it to dispense. this itself is a wildly unusual act and NY’s outcomes speak for themselves.)
what i can say is it became an outlandish political football in the US because everything that trump touched did.
and the risk warnings from FDA were absurdly out of line with reality but even this extemis paled in comparison to the outlandish vilification of a safe drug used by literally a billion people as some sort of uber dangerous fringe misuse of veterinary medicine and not the miracle cure that won a nobel prize for curing numerous infectious diseases. in humans.
i have never seen a safe, approved drug maligned like this by drug agencies. it was, frankly, surreal. these sorts of anti-pharma programs are, best i can tell, unprecedented in FDA history.
and the meta studies seem to point to efficacy esp if used early. (the we tried it on critical patients and it failed therefore it does not work schtick was a pretty shabby trick)
and there seem to be some folks who used them successfully. (india, el salvador, etc)
simple things like vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc seem to help, sometimes a lot. and yet i never saw the FDA/CDC/NIH talk about it.
D in particular had quite a lot of evidence (and is a notoriously deficient vitamin) it has been posited that a big part of the nordic success was lots of oily fish (high D) in diet.
these are from 2020.
and these are BIG gains from cheap, safe, widely available self care you ought to be doing anyway.
how this happened?
it’s hard to say. there are lots of confounds and el salvador and india have younger populations than the US and other variances.
but it’s a question we ought to be asking.
what drove the FDA to sideline cheap, safe, widely available meds though literal campaigns of aggressive dissuasion while moving the goalposts on remdesivir to allow an expensive emergency drug on the market after it missed the endpoints in its trial?
the drug failed, so they changed the endpoint to a post facto composite and claimed it worked.
if paxlovid caused any more rebound cases, they would have to rebrand it “kangaroo.”
its approval was similarly shenanigans riddled (and the US gov’t had paid $billions up front beforehand)
and these became the front line along with bad ideas like vents and hospital shielding.
monoclonals worked but were phased out.
“stay home save lives” kept people from seeking care.
antibiotics, vitamins, budesonide, HCO, ivermectin, and who knows how many other ideas were thwarted.
the FDA motto might as well have been “you’re a lab rat, not a horse!”
why? what was the impetus? and why stop doctors from using things they were having success with and/or experimenting to find sound treatment regimens?
why stifle and censor them?
why seek to prevent them from making their own choices?
why centralize and systematize on products with terrible data (and not much of it)?
why run a literal campaign against everything that works?
perhaps most interesting “who made these decisions?”
they came from somewhere.
so many questions here.
it’s time we demanded answers.
because best i can tell, what made covid unusually deadly vs say, a baddish flu, was not the virus but rather the suppression of effective treatment and medicine. we effectively tilted the world back 100 years on medicine and replaced that which has served well with a bunch of untested and scammy gewgaws that failed conspicuously.
if we’re not going to call that an iatrogenic own goal, just how are we to describe it?