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Sorry, but I’m not that comforted by the fact that Anthony S. Fauci is now saying  that “I don’t think we’re going to see lockdowns” because of the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the CCP Virus.

That’s because (1) President Biden’s top medical advisor has been such a single-minded backer of broad curbs on economic activity despite their devastating costs to both workers and businesses, not to mention the educational and non-virus public health crises they’ve worsened (like deaths from opioid overdoses); and (2) because he and the rest of the lockdown crowd keep harping on fatally flawed measures of virus dangers that have triggered previous lockdowns, and that are especially prominent and misleading because of Delta’s unusual transmissability. The two most important are case numbers and hospitalization increases.

Normally, the number of victims of a given disease and how that number’s been changing would be crucial gauges of the threat it poses to a population at large and of the effectiveness of mitigation steps already taken.

As has been known since the early phases of the pandemic, however, the CCP Virus can be present asymptomatically. That is, many individuals might not know they’re hosting it, either because they’re still feeling perfectly healthy, or because the effects are so mild that they’re judged not worth dealing with – or reporting to the health providers on which governments at all levels in the United States rely heavily for the virus data, and that form the basis for their policy responses.

As a result, literally no one knows how many Americans have been affected by the CCP Virus and, even more important, how that number has been changing. The same goes for the Delta variant. And therefore, literally no one knows the actual national health consequences of its virulence, and especially what percentage of those who have caught Delta are now or will become seriously ill, or have died or will succumb. Those are the Delta statistic — not simple numbers recorded instances of serious illness or mortality, however distressing they are on humanitarian grounds — that matter in assessing the peril posed by this strain, and in formulating responses whose net effects economically, socially, and health-wise aren’t worse than the disease/

To understand this distinction further, think about what’s known about Delta-related hospitalizations. The most accurate answer is “Very little so far in the way of hard data.” Indeed, as pointed out last week by the American Society for Microbiology, “Research is ongoing to determine if Delta infection is associated with increased hospitalization and death.” But that hasn’t prevented a pandemic of claims that it’s been a  primary driver of admissions lately. (See, e.g., here and here — among a gazillion other articles.)

Let’s assume, however, that the narrative is true. If so, since June 27 through the end of last week, when according to the Washington Post‘s very convenient virus tracker, the number of virus-hospitalized Americans hit its lowest level since the spring of 2020, the number of such patients has increased from 16,403 to 49,498 (through July 31), or 33,095. That sounds like a lot of hospitalizations, and the percentage gain (the numbers have nearly tripled), seems even worse. So Delta looks pretty dangerous, right? But again, what’s the context – that is, what’s the share of Americans infected with Delta who get seriously ill enough to get hospitalized?

As of two weeks ago, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the new strain was responsible for just over 83 percent of all new American CCP Virus cases. That was up from just over 30 percent on June 19 – just about the time virus-related hospitalizations hit their latest bottom. From that time through the end of July, just under 1.352 million total new virus cases have been recorded. So assuming that over the entirety of this period, Delta variant cases made up about 75 percent of these, their total at comes to 1.014 million.

Let’s further assume, in sync with the evidence-free narrative, that all of the new hospitalizations can be blamed on Delta. This would mean that 3.26 percent of the total new Delta cases (that 33,095 figure) were serious enough to require hospital care. Does that number justify even thinking about new lockdowns, much less calling them (only sort of) unlikely?

But don’t forget the asymptomatic cases! According to a new CDC estimate, as of mid-2020, 83 percent of total virus cases in America were asymptomatic – i.e., not recorded. Since so much has changed then – mainly, mass vaccination – that 83 percent figure probably doesn’t hold any more. A reasonable guess might be that 33 percent is now more like it (since about half of the total population is now fully vaccinated and many more Americans have either natural or acquired immunity).

If that’s right, the number of new Delta strain infections is more like 1.5 million, not one million. And the hospitalization rate is more like 2.21 percent. So the notion that “the war [against the virus] has changed” because of this recent mutation, as contended by an internal federal health document obtained by the Washington Post, looks recklessly alarmist.

Further, such views look even wilder and crazier given the likelihood that Washington’s methods for defining cases and virus-related hospitalizations have produced seriously exaggerated counts.

After all, detecting the virus’ presence in an individual is only one of several sets of criteria that the CDC uses to conclude there’s a CCP Virus case to be counted. For example, for individuals that have been in contact with even a probable case of the virus, or who are members of designated vulnerable groups, a positive virus diagnosis can be justified if they display a headache and a sore throat at the same time. Or a sore throat and a runny nose. Or fatigue and a fever. Or if he or she is simply has a cough.

Even the CDC lab test standards for declaring a virus case via testing are dodgy, primarily because the main determinant seems to be the simple presence of the SARS-COV-2 pathogen that causes the disease. Unfortunately, these standards don’t seem to take into account how microorganisms like viruses can enter hosts and form “colonies” that result in no tissue infection and indeed don’t interact with the host at all. And as no less than the World Health Organization has pointed out, “Detection of viral RNA does not necessarily mean that a person is infectious and able to transmit the virus to another person.” Indeed, for all intents and purposes, it means that someone can be hosting the virus but shouldn’t be considered a case at all. One recent study suggests that this pattern is found in more than a tenth of positive cases.

Finally, the hospitalization numbers may be the least reliable of all. In the first place, the reporting system used by the CDC covers only about ten percent of the American population. Moreover, all you need to qualify for the CDC’s definition of a CCP Virus-related hospitalization is to be admitted into such a facility for any reason within 14 days of a positive test. As a result, if you need to be hospitalized for, say, cancer, and you’ve tested positive for the virus during the previous two weeks, you’re considered hospitalized for the CCP Virus.

It’s the same issue that the country has been dealing concerning whether various deaths are “from” or “with” Covid. And genuinely complicated judgment calls are involved. But for that very reason, public health officials should be awfully careful when they talk about devastating consequences of infections in and of themselves.

So the bottom lines are that the sharp recent increase in CCP Virus cases – including of course Delta variant cases – look overwhelmingly to be asymptomatic or mild; that even these numbers define positivity way too broadly, thus representing a major exaggeration and therefore affecting the nation’s health only marginally at best; and that, similarly, there’s probably even less even to true hospitalization rates that are already meager enough than meets the eye.

If Fauci, or anyone else in the Biden administration or in the ranks of restrictions fans had been pointing out any of these absolutely vital nuances since the virus’ Delta phase began, I’d have more faith in assurances about avoiding new lockdowns or any significant new business or behavior curbs. That they haven’t tells me that if such deeply mistaken and needlessly damaging (as known since the virus’ early period) measures aren’t yet on the lockdowners’ table, they’re not too far off — and so far, that would represent leading the science, not following it.