So yesterday I posted Part 1 examining the Swedish data showing there is absolutely no reason our kids should not be in school the way they were before we all went insane. But today I’m going to show you how the PANIC PORN industry I’ve been railing against for almost a year really works. Yesterday I discussed the actual data as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine and today we’ll look at a somewhat different perspective on the Swedish data in a publication ironically enough called “Science”. The title of their article published on February 15th is (caps from here on mine for emphasis) “Keeping schools open without masks or quarantines DOUBLED Swedish teachers’ COVID-19 risk”. Wow, “DOUBLED”? That’s horrible. I guess anyone who suggests it might actually be safe for teachers to return to the classroom is a stupid, selfish, science-denying, Grandma-killer after all. But maybe not so fast. Let’s at least scratch the surface on this PANIC PORN piece and see just how misleading this headline is.
Let’s look at some of the text. Remember that most people who read a headline such as this probably never actually read much if any of the text and certainly don’t source the original data to see just how skewed the reporting is. That’s what I do – pathetic, I know. After reading this headline or maybe the actual article, people then “know” how truly unsafe it is for teachers to be in school. But most are not aware of the incredible amount of author bias and qualifying language used in these PANIC PORN pieces. If you’re not sure what qualifying language is, just think of Anthony Fauci who only speaks in qualifiers. Something like “While I can’t say FOR SURE when we MIGHT be able to reopen, there is a POSSIBILITY that if we do EVERYTHING right and NOTHING goes wrong and there are NO NEW VARIANTS, and everyone continues to wear two masks, which LIKELY provide more protection, we MIGHT SOMEDAY be able to PROBABLY return to SOME TYPE OF NORMALITY at SOME POINT in the future. MAYBE. But just hold on a LITTLE WHILE LONGER.” That’s not an actual quote but just read anything he ever says and you’ll notice the similarity. In this article which states emphatically in the title that teachers’ risk DOUBLED, the rest of the text is filled with qualifiers and modeling and predicting which I have shown many times isn’t worth the paper upon which it is printed. To the text Batman! (shout out Boy Wonder)
“A careful analysis of health data from Sweden SUGGESTS keeping schools open with ONLY MINIMAL PRECAUTIONS in the spring ROUGHLY doubled teachers’ risk of being diagnosed with the pandemic coronavirus.” Notice the qualifiers in caps which were not in the title. They change the entire impact of the title. I guess those words just aren’t quite the headline grabbers they’re looking for. Probably doesn’t create as much panic.
“Outbreaks have demonstrated that the virus can spread via schools to the wider community AT LEAST OCCASIONALLY, and SOME data SUGGEST teachers have higher than average risk of infection.” More qualifiers.
“Whereas teachers at upper secondary schools had an average infection risk among 124 occupations in Sweden, the researchers found, lower secondary teachers ranked seventh. (Primary school teachers had a somewhat lower, but still above average, risk.)…Among the country’s 39,000 teachers in lower secondary schools, 79 were hospitalized with COVID-19 between March and June 2020, and one died. Shifting these schools to online learning WOULD HAVE prevented PERHAPS 33 of those severe cases, the authors ESTIMATE.” Qualifier-palooza! 79 people hospitalized out of some 39,000 is a population hospitalization rate of 0.2%. One death is a population fatality rate of 0.003%. Sweden’s national population fatality rate for COVID at the same time was about 0.05%. That’s about 18 times higher than the teacher fatality rate. So the headline could have easily read “Teachers 18 Times Safer in School than at Home.” I wonder why that wasn’t the headline.
“The authors CALCULATED that keeping lower secondary schools open LIKELY led to 500 additional detected cases in the spring among the 450,000 parents with kids in lower secondary school.” 500 out of 450,000. That’s an increase in cases among parents of kids in school of only about 0.1%. LIKELY, of course.
“Adding masks would LIKELY have reduced the risks to both teachers and families…” First, masks have been proven to be all but useless (even by the CDC). Second, even if they have some effect “more than zero” you’re talking about literally a handful of “cases” out of 10,000,000 people. Again, LIKELY, of course.
So you see this kind of crap throughout this piece and all over any piece you’ve read in the last year about how bad things “could” get or “would have been” without our valiant mitigation efforts. Bollocks! This is evidenced in the actual study upon which this article is based when the authors say, referring to their calculations vs. the actual numbers, “This counterfactual inference regarding mortality is highly uncertain.” Translation: We don’t really understand how our calculated numbers differ from the actual numbers. Every piece of PANIC PORN garbage you have read or heard over the last year is based on this type of modeling – how many cases or lives “could have” been saved if only we did this or that. EVERY. SINGLE. PIECE. And when some media outlet “reports” on the findings of some “study” based on modeling, you get headlines like the one above. But let’s take just a minute and look at the actual numbers in this study.
While it’s technically correct that the “risk” almost doubled for teachers in school vs. teachers not in school, the actual numbers for infections are 0.6% for in school vs. 0.3% for out of school (an actual difference of about 112 “cases” out of about 70,000 teachers). That’s a three-tenths of one percent difference. That’s nothing. And the national population infection rate at the time of this study was about 0.6% so the teachers with the “doubled” risk are actually about the same as everyone else in Sweden. Also “For severe health outcomes, we find 79 cases among 39,446 lower-secondary teachers.” Again, that’s a severe outcome for the teacher population of just 0.2%.
The authors also “ESTIMATE” a reduction of 620 cases in teachers, their partners, and parents of in-school students out of 53,482 cases country wide if the schools had closed. That’s a reduction of about 1%. 1%!
For kids ages 1-16, their risks, being in school wide open and full time were as follows: Infection = 0.03% (three one-hundredths of one percent) Hospitalization = 0.008% (eight one-thousandths) Death = 0.00005% (five one-hundred thousandths) If those numbers disturb you, well, you do you.
What’s conspicuously missing from the PANIC PORN article in “Science” are statements from the study authors like:
“But the Swedish study shows that even if schools do not require masking, risk to families of in-person schooling is LOW,”
“Closing the schools is a COSTLY MEASURE with potential long-run DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS for students. The results presented are in line with theoretical work indicating that school closure IS NOT an effective way to contain SARS-CoV-2.”
“These closures are likely to have a NEGATIVE IMPACT ON STUDENT LEARNING AND WELL-BEING, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
“While the costs associated with school closures are HIGH, modeling studies QUESTION THEIR EFFECTIVENESS in reducing the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, AND DIRECT EVIDENCE IS LARGELY MISSING.”
“This suggests that keeping lower-secondary schools open had a MINOR IMPACT on the overall spread of SARS-CoV-2 in society.”
So, very little, in fact tiny, possible benefit from shutting down schools, with significant (and really incalculable) potential damage to kids from closing schools. And again remember, this is without masks, distancing, quarantines, vaccines, or any other mitigation effort and still no harm done. I wonder why those statements were left out of the article. Probably just an oversight…