Coronavirus Update XXXIII: The Effect Of HUGE Increases In Testing & False Positives On Continuing The Panic

Coronavirus Update XXXIII: The Effect Of HUGE Increases In Testing & False Positives On Continuing The Panic

The Godmother

Want proof this is all now politics, pure politics? Here’s the Godmother (misquoting his own law):

Here is the actual state of the coronadoom crisis in all New York:

There is no crisis, and hasn’t been for months.

The Godmother is not the most brilliant ruler, but his intelligence is sufficient to understand that plot, which surely must have been brought to his attention. He therefore knowingly pretends there is a crisis when there is not, for purely political reasons.

This should be the real crime. It won’t be. He’ll get away with it.

The crisis is now purely driven by government testing, as described in detail below. After you read that, come back here and gaze at this, the number of daily tests in New York.

On the 27th, there were 6 attributed coronadoom deaths in the entire state. Some of these, because of false positives in the test, might not even be true coronadoom deaths. But testing only increases increases increases. Look at how testing and deaths have nothing to do with one another.

This is the biggest scandal of our times. But, like I said, they’ll get away with it. It’s too big an error to admit.

If you know any rulers in New York (or elsewhere) please send them this post.


You’ll notice comrade De Blasio didn’t mention deaths, because there weren’t any. Also, a target of 0 infections is not sane. How can rulers make such monumentally ignorant statements?


British ministers prepare for social lockdown in northern Britain, London: The Times. See below for the true state of the coronadoom crisis in all of UK (hint: there isn’t one).

Coronavirus: UK winter could see 85,000 deaths in second wave, says leaked Sage report. This is 60% more than the first wave. Evidence for second wave? None, save fear.

Face masks could be giving people Covid-19 immunity, researchers suggest. You have to hand it academics. A helluva sense of imagination. If wearing masks provoked immunity, why not wear one all the time and be free of disease? Why didn’t evolution, or God, think of that?


Marc Siegel, M.D., clinical professor of medicine and medical director of “Doctor Radio” at NYU Langone Health, writes in The Hill (a prog site) COVID-19 facts obscured by the politics of fear.

El Tres write in Epoch Times (a semi-prog site), The Idea for Pandemic Lockdowns Started With a High School Science Project. But those guys are trying to flog the book The Price of Panic: How the Tyranny of Experts Turned a Pandemic into a Catastrophe

MASKING OURSELVES TO DEATH: A NEW ESSAY BY MARK CRISPIN MILLER, PHD: what appears to be a complete history of the mask in insanity, including links to literature (as we did) showing masks are not worth wearing if you’re not sick—and in this case young.

El Tres return for Is The Wuhan Coronavirus Really A Chinese Bioweapon? “Bottom line: If someone tried to make the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein resemble the SARS-CoV-1 spike protein, they did a miserable job.”

The Numbers

Sources: daily tests, CDC official toll number one, number two (CDC has two official sources that have differences). The media reports are always greater than CDC numbers. Yes, these are the sources, which is why I call them “sources”, for the data. The other is the Google: type [LOCATION] coronavirus deaths. So when you email or comment asking for the sources, here they are.

Let’s start with the bad news. The very bad news. Daily—as in daily—tests:

We broke the million-a-day barrier again! Yippee!

“Say, Briggs, why are you celebrating? You hate these daily tests. What’s so good about them continuing to increase with no end in sight?”

Because now we can do some fun math. Some are reporting a false positive rate of 1%. Nobody knows the actual number, because it depends on how many people have already got the bug, the different tests’ sensitivity and specificity, and so on. The WSJ, for instance, suggests an overall accuracy of 70%, which is what civilians would consider poor, but which doctors would not find unusual. The Cochrane review found false positives of 2% (and even up to 21% in some scenarios).

In the UK, one report says “After reviewing data from British testing centres, the government research paper released last month estimated that the UK’s false positive rate has a 50% chance of sitting somewhere between 0.8% and 4%.”

Our 1% guess is in the middle, or on the low end, of all these figures. It’s not wildly wrong.

Suppose nobody in the million tests we do today have an active infection. Then, with a false positive rate of 1%, 10,000 will be incorrectly identified as “new cases”. Every single day.

Some will have an active infection, though. If 1% do, then that leaves 990,000 without, and with a 1% false positive, we still get 9,900 false “new cases”. Here’s a plot with the fraction of a million with an active infection on the x-axis, and the number of false positives on the y-axis.

Even when the fraction with active infections is a whopping 20% (fraction 0.2), the number of false daily “new cases” is still 8,000! All would be gleefully reported by our propagandists and click-baiters.

Of course, the fraction of folks who have an active infection won’t be anywhere near 0.2; it will likely be on the lower end, which means we’re reporting a huge amount of false “new cases”, which are used to continue the panic.

A reminder that cases are not positive tests. Cases are positive tests with active infection and in people who require treatment, which is not most people. Lot of emphasis there, eh? Strange that media and government can’t remember these distinctions. It’s almost as if they won’t want to remember them.

Now we have to add in the wrinkle that the test is likely not just picking up active infections, but also old ones, and also indications of infections (past or present) of other coronaviruses (which cause the common cold). These boost the true false positive rate. The test is, after all, supposed to pick up only active coronadoom infections, not old ones, and not infections other than coronadoom.

So that 4% figure noted above no longer seems so wrong. And in fact might be on the money. Sort of. Problem is, as the coronadoom makes it way through the population and herd immunity arrives, if the test is picking up past and other infections, then the false positive rate will increase through time. By how much? I don’t know.

Let’s stick with the 4% figure, though, and treat it as constant. Also assume at 10% active infection rate of people reporting for daily testing, which is likely high. We need one more number, which is the fraction of cases among true positives. The CDC estimated 40% of active infections are asymptomatic.

That’s so juicy, I want to repeat it: The CDC estimated 40% of active infections are asymptomatic. Well, we knew as much: maybe not the exact number, but the ballpark. Anyway, cases are only a fraction of active infections. Let’s be generous and say they’re 10%, which is high.

We finally arrive at this guesstimate figure:

The black line is the reported daily positive cases, which we know are too high. The blue is the likely true positive tests given the assumptions we just made. The red is the likely true cases given those same assumptions.

Well, there is lots of plus or minus to all this. So this figure should be taken as an illustration only, as a guide to the direction things are and not a bold statement of how they actually are. But it is still true we know the reported positive tests are too high. And anyway, we can see how numbers of daily tests are driving the continued panic.

Plus, we ignored false negatives, which boosts things back up. But false negatives are lower than false positives, usually much lower, though some reported numbers are higher. This is funny (strange) because it’s not typical at all. It’s as if some reports want the false negatives to be high. Lastly, many of these reported tests might be repeats on people, so we shouldn’t take the counts too literally.

With that figure in mind, here is the official CDC attributed coronadoom deaths, current as of Monday night.

Ain’t that something. True, the CDC is always adding in late counts, as we say every week, and it takes up to eight to get a full picture, but most are in by three. Et cetera. Still, it takes a confident man to predict a second wave out of this—especially given the discussion above.

Two weeks ago, frightened people were saying “Wait two weeks! The deaths will catch up!” Catch up to the reported “new cases” generated by increased testing. Uh huh.

What about the UK? They re-panicked. We saw last week they have been testing like mad, too, driving up reports of “new cases” and causing much fretting. We had to wait two weeks for them, after which deaths were sure to soar again!

Here from M. Google are the daily UK deaths:

Maybe we should wait two more weeks? And then two more after that? And two more in perpetuity?

Anyway, here are the CDC official weekly all cause death counts. As always, last three weeks are dots, it takes up to eight weeks to get all counts, but most are in by three. Dashed line is all cause minus attributed coronadoom.

That scenario we painted a month back where the most vulnerable of us died a bit early this year is no longer looking so unlikely. If these numbers hold (the trend, I mean) after the late counts are in, then we’ll know. We need to wait to be sure.

50,000 or so is the minimum from 2018-2019. And we still have to consider population increase. Reported deaths are really plunging. But, it could just be because it’s late reporting. Unusually late, though.

Age Bonus!

Here are the CDC counts of 2020 death rates (they have both counts and population) by age, for COVID and for All Causes except COVID.

Way to think of this is that the 85+ crowd had a 8.3% chance of going to the grave from causes other than coronadoom, and about a 0.9% chance of dying from the doom. Deaths are dropping, so these chances are dropping, too.

If you’re in the crucial 55-65 group, there was a 0.57% chance of dying from other than the doom, and a 0.057% chance of dying from the doom. Ten times less.

Seems rude that people are actually still dying of other things, and a higher rates than coronadoom. Another way to look at this is to divide the number of All Cause (except the doom) by the doom, to get the DEATH MULTIPLIER:

Tots under are dying at other things 560 times more often than the coronadoom. But even the 85+ crowd is still dying of other things 9.4 times more often than the coronadoom.

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  1. Rudolph Harrier

    MN news agencies recently celebrated 2 million tests in the state. 2 million. In a state of 5.6 million.

    Of course, many of those are repeats (not that it will prevent news agencies from reporting repeated positive tests as separate “cases”), but the department of health still estimates that about 1.4 million separate people have been tested. That’s 1 in 4 people.

    But according to the department of health there is still not enough testing, particularly in schools. Even though we are currently testing 22,000 people per day and at the start of this mess Governor Walz said that 20,000 tests in a day would probably be too high a target to hit.

  2. Rudolph Harrier

    And to expand on that post, what’s the new target for the number of tests we need to be save? 40,000 to 50,000. Per day. Enough to test everyone who hasn’t been tested in under three months.

    In brighter news, efforts to do door to door testing where slowed when people in small towns pulled guns on the health workers and told them in no uncertain terms that no one wanted to be tested.

  3. DAV

    Wearing a mask in public is not optional. It’s the law.

    So is the speed of fright.

  4. Maixiu

    “After reviewing data from British testing centres, the government research paper released last month estimated that the UK’s false positive rate has a 50% chance of sitting somewhere between 0.8% and 4%.”

    I’m reminded of this quote, “Doctors say that Nordberg has a 50/50 chance of living, though there’s only a 10 percent chance of that.”

  5. Sheri

    No, it’s not the law. It’s a mandate (EO) during an emergency that was put in place by a maniacal dictator. Laws are made by the legislature. In fact, New York had a LAW AGAINST masks that was repealed so the EO didn’t look so stupid and uninformed. (EOs create dictators, bypassing the making of laws and are very, very popular. The Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MSEHPA) literally gave governors dictatorial powers and they are LOVING it. Hey, many of you may have voted for ’em.)

    “He” killed thousands in nursing homes and no one gives a damn. “He” turned murderers loose and no one cares. “He” is lawless because AMERICANS, or at least New Yorkers, WANT IT THAT WAY. Stop complaining. IT’S WHAT WE WANT.

    I told you testing was a mistake.

    Not my fault the entire world has gone stupid. Many tried to warn the population, so few cared. So few care now. So…..HERE’S WHAT YOU WANTED. STOP COMPLAINING. There is no way to reach the stupid and Americans WANT STUPID. Give it up.

    Tests are stupid, but again, people do not care. One college kid tested negative AND positive on the same day. It’s super easy to contaminate tests. Impossible to get anyone to care that the tests were contaminated. Maybe the same thing happened with HIV and that helped spread the virus. Who knows? Who cares? Not 95% of the population, that’s certain.

    One does not need a bioweapon when we have STUPID STUPID STUPID everywhere. Why is that so hard to understand???? You can rename a cold and cause terror. STUPID is the cause and you can’t fix stupid. It may be preventable, but people would have to care and clearly they do not.

    People have a greater probability of dying in a car or being shot in Chicago that dying of Covid. But as long as STUPID rules, it does not matter. REALITY DOES NOT MATTER. If this is to be “fixed”, stupid has to be so uncomfortable and hellish that someone objects. Not happening any time soon. Panic and stupidity are here to stay.

    By the way, Amazon has a plastic piece that goes under a mask to keep the mask from ruining lipstick and makeup. Masks are forever.

  6. DAV

    plastic piece that goes under a mask to keep the mask from ruining lipstick and makeup.

    If one has to wear a mask in public why use lipstick that can’t be seen?

  7. awildgoose

    Sheri is spot on – EOs are not law.

    Cuomo is on the DNC-CCP payroll, so he will never change COURSE.

    There are several other governors in the same boat. Whitmer is in on it. This is why MI has never been on the NY quarantine list, even when it met the criteria for inclusion.

    I would only add that it is terrifying how overpowered the Executive branch is at the state level. The Legislative and Judiciary branches seem toothless in every state.

    Equally terrifying are the 76.2k likes on Cuomo’s mental diarrhea tweet. Doesn’t say much for NY voters.

  8. awildgoose

    John b()-

    That depressing poll really goes to show that NYers, NYCers in particular, are some of the most ignorant people around.

  9. C. R. Dickson

    Masks are an American version of the Mao hats. Some cities (like Chatham) in upstate NY have installed permanent signs on the streets saying masks must be worn. Across the border in Massachusetts, the governor now states that bars will not open until a cure or a vaccine for Corona is found.
    Here is a video of Cuomo not obeying his mask rules (indoors) begins at 5:16 and Fauci breaking the rules at 6:00 (, Cuomo walking his “pet” outdoors in Albany no mask no social distancing ( and Fauci talks about masks and Millenial tests it out ( ).

  10. Dennis

    I’ve been saying it since as early as mid-to-late April, when what we know now was already coming into focus for those with eyes to see and ears to hear after the initial coronahype: In the fullness of time, the worldwide response to this coronavirus – by not only governments, but mass media malfeasance as well – will be seen as the single greatest collective crime against humanity ever perpetrated.

  11. Dennis

    “By the way, Amazon has a plastic piece that goes under a mask to keep the mask from ruining lipstick and makeup. Masks are forever.”

    Horrifying. This is the problem with America: Everything gets turned into a big business marketing opportunity for grifters. From alleged “temporary emergency health care measure” to permanent Mask Fashion Industry overnight. Perhaps we could call it Big Mask, Sheri ;).

    “STUPID is the cause and you can’t fix stupid.”

    I have a new product idea: Going to market airtight masks made out of extra-strength, four-ply plastic bag material (Instructions: place item over nose and mouth with secure band fixed as tightly as possible around head; breathe rapidly). Perhaps this will help eliminate some of the STUPID from our midst. I’ll focus early marketing efforts on politicians and members of mainstream media.

  12. jwm

    OT, but not OT:

    Anonymous Conservative, home of R/K theory, and Q-anon updates and links is gone. A click on the bookmark gives a blank white screen; “access denied” in tiny script in upper right corner. Not even a 404 message. Q maps also gone. Regardless of what you may think of Q-anon, *SOMEBODY* thinks it’s dangerous enough to nuke the site.


  13. Sheri

    JWM: Try clearing your cookies. After I did that, I can access the page. Before, I got the “access denied” message.

  14. Dennis

    Sheri: Sure, all investments welcome…I’ll ask Briggs if I can post my Venmo here, though I can’t guarantee any ROI whatsoever…so invest wisely, the more frequent the better! 🙂

  15. Andrew

    Mr. Briggs — check how you’re accounted for the decimal place in the CDC best estimate for Covid IFR by age. I believe you’ve made quite the error. Over 75 is 0.054, or 5.4% — which means that 85+ can’t be right.

  16. john b()

    Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

    Sorry I’m late with my goto quote whenever Stupid is the topic

    “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.”
    ? Frederich Schiller

    There! I’m good now!

  17. Briggs


    These are not IFRs, but population fatality rates. Check the CDC link.

  18. Fredo

    Lock-downs and masks compromise the immune system which is designed
    to adapt to an ever present noxious biological storm from the ‘natural’ environment.
    The immune system is strengthened and adapted by unremitting exposure. There
    are a whole host of modern aliments allergies, asthma, and immunological disorders
    stemming from a lack of exposure in the modern world. I suspect that we may see
    increased pathogenic activity from other viral and bacterial strains in the the not too
    distant future, a direct result of this madness. We once understood that you quarantine
    the sick not the healthy who eventually develop herd immunity to meet the next
    biological onslaught. Such is life and much of what we’ve done compromises that

    That all goes out the window if what we’re dealing with is a lab concocted pathogen
    someone has dragged out of the azz of a bat. Which is why it’s so important to determine
    the origin of this particular virus and put a stop to this type of research entirely. As Bill
    Gates said if this one doesn’t get your attention the next one will. Bat video below…

    New data leak from the Pentagon biolaboratory in Georgia

  19. B1

    Could our fixation on a nothing virus be mere self comforting,
    in the face of dystopian power gone mad?

  20. Patrick healy

    Some facts.
    Each hot blooded human (there are many reptiles) exhales 40,000 ppm Carbon Dioxide. That is 4%. It so happens that if you were to breath in 40,000 ppm of CO2 you would die in about 30 minutes.
    Now I have the greatest admiration for CO2 which sadly is only present at about 400 ppm in our atmosphere.
    To make this wonderful world even greener we need much more of this essential, odourless, transparent trace gas.
    But to wear a dog muzzle and breath back in vast quantities of my own CO2 – no thank you.
    I certainly will not be investing in Denis Acme Inc.
    I certainly will not be investing

  21. Andrew

    Got it, I now see what you did — the numbers do look very close to the updated IFR / 100 estimates by age (which are quite low for most, of course), which is where the confusion began. Yet, following this with “Way to think of this is that the 85+ crowd had a 8.3% chance of going to the grave from causes other than coronadoom, and about a 0.9% chance of dying from the doom” isn’t a stable way to look at it.

    These numbers don’t say anything about what the chance was (or is) it only tells us what has happened so far. In January, the assessed probability on that basis would have been 0.0%.

  22. jwm

    Thanks. That worked. Maybe I’m getting paranoid. No reason for that in this age & time, right?


  23. john b()


    One of my favorite tag-lines is
    “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re NOT out to get you”

    Then there was 1981, The Kinks? Really? It even starts with Lola!
    (Like everyone else I thought it was “Paranoia will destroy ya)

    Silly boy ya’ self-destroyer. paranoia, they destroy ya’

    Self-destroyer, wreck your health
    Destroy friends, destroy yourself
    The time device of, self-destruction
    Lies, confusion, start eruption

    (Yea, it goes like this, here it goes) paranoia, they destroy ya
    (Here’s to paranoia) paranoia, they destroy ya
    (Hey hey, here it goes) paranoia, they destroy ya
    (And it goes like this)

    Paranoia, they destroy ya (and it goes like this)

  24. Uncle Mike

    According to the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, USA mortality in 2017 was 2,813,503 deaths.That number does not include abortions which are estimated to have been 862,320.

    In 2018 a total of 2,839,205 resident deaths were registered in the United States — 25,702 more deaths than in 2017. Again, that does not include abortions. I was unable to find the abortion count for 2018.

    I was unable to find the total death count for 2019, either, but the estimated population growth was 1.2% for 2019. If the death rate did not change, a projected 2,876,167 deaths occurred in the US in 2019.

    The total deaths for 2020 have not yet happened, much less been counted. It may take two years or more for that stat to be determined. If, however, the total deaths for 2020 do not exceed ~2,900,000, then that would mean Covid had no effect. Repeat, if total deaths in 2020 are unchanged (taking population growth into account) from prior years, the overall impact on mortality will have been nil, zip, zero, none at all. Those deaths attributed to Covid cannot be considered “excess” deaths if no such excess occurred.

    We won’t know for a couple of years. I suspect that it will in fact be the case that no excess mortality has happened in 2020 when the complete picture is finally available. Not counting abortions, that is, which are at least 4 times the number of alleged Covid deaths and probably a lot more than that.

  25. Joshua Spitz

    Briggs, I read your weekly Covid blog because I mostly agree with you. Lockdowns or partial shutdowns should have never happened, any still ongoing should be stopped, and we shouldn’t do any more over the Winter. Luckily, this was not the Hollywood-blockbuster-movie-type-world-killer-virus some of us feared it might be in the beginning. If we ever run into a virus in future decades that has, say, a 10% mortality rate or higher and is highly contagious, we may have to rethink that. But we’ll cross that bridge when it comes.

    I look at places like New York City though and perhaps see something different than you do. They have achieved Herd immunity, or at least enough immunity that this virus can’t catch fire anymore. Many US states and European countries show this same pattern. Even when cases go back up, sometimes dramatically, mostly because we test like crazy, the deaths don’t return. Therefore, the crisis is over. But why is the crisis over? And how could we have achieved Herd immunity so quickly and easily without a vaccine? I think masks are the answer. I don’t believe any government should pass laws to mandate masks. People should have the right to choose. But if I’m reading this page correctly, it sounds like you are dismissing the Telegraph mask article. In fact, they may have produced an eloquent theory, that masks help the majority of us to get low exposures, and perhaps build up some immunity without a vaccine. Which would be beautiful if true, and may perhaps help Covid go away without a vaccine at all. It’s just a theory, but it sounds very sound and logical to me. Do you not agree?

    Again, I’m not for mandates, but getting even half the population to wear masks might be more effective than a vaccine. Is this why Asia has been so successful at stopping this virus? Is this why Sweden and New York are not seeing it return?

  26. Dean Ericson

    Dennis has the best mask.

  27. maixiu

    Joshua, if you believe masks are effective in stopping the virus, then how do you account for the development of herd immunity? Also, how do you account for herd immunity in Sweden (very few masks), while Japan (90+% mask usage) saw positive tests go from 6% to 45% this summer, according to a recent survey?

  28. Joshua Spitz

    Maixiu, I think what happened in both Sweden and Japan were quite different. I think Sweden actually saw a large percent of the population exposed to the virus, and perhaps even large exposures to the virus because they had a lot of deaths per capita. They didn’t lockdown and they didn’t really mask early on, so this shouldn’t be surprising. But their cases have quieted now and the deaths are down to less than 5 per day. The number of cases that Sweden has reported does not explain their apparent Herd Immunity. Even if you assume that 25% of Swedes have recovered from the virus, this alone would not explain their immunity. I think it’s a complicated explanation that we are still learning about. It appears that perhaps prior exposure to other coronaviruses seems to give a lot of the population at least partial immunity, some cross protection. This was not predicted early on since the virus was new. It’s not just antibodies, which actually do appear to decline over time. It’s also T cells which have some memory. Find some articles on the human immune system. It’s amazingly complex and works amazingly well. Something is obviously going on in Sweden and other countries because there’s no way that 60%-80% of the population has been exposed to and recovered from the virus which is normally the range needed for Herd immunity if not slightly higher.

    Japan is almost the opposite of Sweden. They’ve been masking for years for flu and colds so everyone already had masks and were used to wearing them. And no one had to demand they wear them. It’s just their culture. Masks apparently work in either completely preventing exposure to the virus, or at least minimizing the viral load and giving you mild symptoms or even being asymptomatic. My guess is that Japan has had a much smaller percentage of their population exposed and recovered from the virus. But it appears that even when there are cases in Japan, it’s not as deadly. I don’t think Japan or other Asia countries have Herd immunity or are anywhere close yet. But the masks seem to slow the virus down dramatically and are probably helping develop immunity for those unlucky enough to get a small exposure. A small exposure is similar to how a vaccine works.

    I don’t believe either country locked down and are certainly both in better shape today than the US is in. Our approach should have been similar. Don’t lockdown and wear a mask if you need to be in an enclosed space with several people for an extended period of time. But let people make their own decisions. Show them the data and theories on the efficacy of masks, but don’t mandate masks. The sad thing, this could still be our approach starting tomorrow. But California wants to keep businesses closed and Michigan wants to fine you if you don’t wear a mask. Ridiculous!

  29. Chad Jessup

    Joshua Spitz – Briggs has linked to many studies which determined that medical masks and face coverings do not stop virus ingestion. The CDC also states those masks are ineffective in stopping viral transmission.

  30. Joshua Spitz

    Chad Jessup, my own opinion 7 months ago before reading anything was that masks don’t work. Viruses are microscopically small, and the spaces between the fabric and layers on masks is perhaps a hundred times bigger (or more). After reading articles early on during the pandemic, this seemed to confirm my opinion. But, I’m open-minded, and I’m a scientist, and my opinion is not set in stone. That’s my life philosophy on any topic. I’ve read the articles that they don’t work. And I’ve read that articles that they have some effectiveness. My conclusion is that they provide SOME protection. Whether it’s 10% or 50% or 90%, I’m not sure. But it’s certainly not 0%, and unless it’s a gas mask, it’s not 100% either. Obviously, there are a lot of factors. What kind of material does the mask use and how thick is it? How many different layers are there? Is it sealed around the edges?

    One thing we are quite certain of is that this virus is primarily spread by breathing in someone else’s respiratory droplets. Sure, you could touch the virus on a surface and then spread it to your mouth or eyes. But my guess is that is less than 5% of the infections. I’m sure you’ve seen a slow motion video of a sneeze. There are dozens of large droplets, hundreds of medium droplets, and perhaps thousands of very small droplets. 95% of the virus is contained in 5% of the droplets – the largest ones. Some of those droplets in those slow motion videos will not make it through a mask, especially if the sneezer is wearing a mask. Add in a mask of your own and there’s more layers to get through. Some of the heavier ones will even fall to the ground after a minute, so a mask will buy you time for them to drift down.

    The theory is, if the mask lets in SOME of the virus, but not all of it, your immune system will kick in. But since it’s a smaller viral load, your body has a better chance of winning the battle. And maybe it takes several small exposures over weeks and months to develop decent immunity. Then, maybe you have mild symptoms. Maybe you are asymptomatic. You would certainly test positive but would have a better chance at avoiding the hospital, ICU, or a ventilator. You’re less likely to die. And isn’t that what the bottom line is? Infections are not the problem, they never were. Death is the problem. This is why the swine flu of 2009 ended up being no big deal. We basically ignored it and the CDC estimates maybe 25%+ of us contracted it. But it was less deadly than even Flu A or B.

    And to your comment, Chad, the CDC has waivered back and forth on this mask issue, so I really don’t listen to them anymore. But, I’m also not arguing masks stop the virus. And we don’t necessarily want them too. Stopping 90% of the virus might just be what the doctor ordered. I’m arguing that they lower the amount you receive in, say, a one hour trip to the grocery store. And maybe it’s enough to build up your immunity without making you sick. I’m not certain that we have proof of that but it certainly sounds plausible. However, I do know that many countries and states had huge spikes in deaths and are now barely reporting any. There have not been enough reported cases and recoveries to explain this. Even if you use the highest estimates of ACTUAL infections vs CONFIRMED infections, it still does not explain the apparent Herd immunity some places seem to have.

  31. Maixiu

    “Masks apparently work in either completely preventing exposure to the virus, or at least minimizing the viral load and giving you mild symptoms or even being asymptomatic.”

    I’m sorry, but that’s not apparent at all. There are numerous examples this year of “spikes” (I’m coming to detest that word!) in regions/states/nations which had mandates or widespread voluntary usage of masks — Peru is a glaring example. If I’m mistaken I’d like to know. Can you show me where mask usage has done what you claim it’s done?

    As someone who lived in the Far East for several years and whose wife is Taiwanese, it’s always been my observation that mask usage in those countries is not primarily about disease mitigation. The biggest clue to that is that during normal times they’re almost exclusively worn by women. I was typically told that they were worn to protect against airborne pollutants. They’re also a good way to protect the skin from the weather, hence the reason women wear them far more often than men.

  32. Anon

    Masks are to soften the public for further intrusions on their liberty that are waiting in the wings. Masks have nothing to do with COVID.

  33. Javier

    Where are those state death charts coming from?

  34. Joshua Spitz

    Maixiu, and anyone else interested, check out this you tube video.

    It doesn’t prove anything definitively about the mask, no mask debate, but it is a good demonstration in a simple case that masks can actually stop some of the respiratory droplets. I’ll admit that I did not expect the results they got. It’s one of the pieces of evidence that changed my opinion.

    And here’s a link to a story about a study that was done at Duke University.

    Check out the video and the story and let me know what you think. I’ve also read some articles that say masks are useless, so I know the perspective some are coming from. But, I’m not convinced that science knows definitively either way. However, I am saying that there does appear to be some evidence that masks can at least reduce the viral load. If we accept that as true, does a reduced viral load limit the severity of an infection? I think that question needs further study, but it certainly seems plausible.



    Monumentally ignorant statements come easy when you are monumentally ignorant.

  36. DavidCH1

    Dennis: AHAHAH, that’s a good one!

    Joshua: The T-cell testing indicates that amount of people that had the virus is far higher than cases indicate, actually few times higher than antibodies, which is a temporary measure.

    Weather and climate also explains the reduction, in combination with “Herd Immunity”. Flu viruses are highly seasonal, since people go out during warmer and sunnier weather and the sun itself kills viruses. 100 years ago hospitals knew letting patients be out in the sun and breathing fresh air improved their condition. Also being active helps with health.

    Masks are for SICK people, not for the healthy, or even asymptomatic. Since the PCR tests are easy to get false positives we don’t even know who’s truly asymptomatic and has nothing to do with covid either.

    The first cases date back to October of last year for many countries. It has 6 months to spread unrestrained.

  37. Spudjr60

    These are all tests that are supposed to let you know if you currently have traces of the Wuhan Virus.

    Why isn’t the government testing similar number of people for Anti-bodies?

  38. James G McClure

    If CDC excess deaths are right, covid deaths have been under-reported instead of over-reported. The good news is that the July/August surge in deaths is abating.

    Weekly Covid Deaths as of 10/2/2020

    Week CDC NYT CDC
    Ending Covid Covid Excess

    21-Mar 571 301 1,286
    28-Mar 3,152 1,939 5,302
    4-Apr 10,019 7,189 15,360
    11-Apr 16,177 13,678 23,198
    18-Apr 17,058 15,491 21,445
    25-Apr 15,425 14,665 19,125
    2-May 13,141 13,160 15,162
    9-May 11,164 12,348 15,142
    16-May 9,159 9,891 11,172
    23-May 7,156 8,337 8,595
    30-May 6,105 6,713 6,847
    6-Jun 4,984 6,258 6,230
    13-Jun 4,188 5,418 5,604
    20-Jun 3,797 4,263 5,547
    27-Jun 3,770 3,920 6,245
    4-Jul 4,454 3,311 7,687
    1-Jul 5,658 4,900 9,814
    18-Jul 7,028 5,376 11,016
    25-Jul 8,007 6,349 11,810
    1-Aug 8,027 8,603 11,347
    8-Aug 7,537 7,035 12,098
    15-Aug 6,887 7,455 11,832
    22-Aug 5,885 6,846 9,084
    29-Aug 5,165 6,363 6,838
    5-Sep 4,258 5,796 4,914
    12-Sep 3,495 5,152 3,608

  39. James G McClure

    The column formatting disappeared when I submitted the post. I will send you an Excel file by email.

  40. Pedro Jorge

    Dr. Briggs, shouldn’t the 1% false positive rate be considered as referring to the percentage of the positive tests rather than to the percentage of the overall tests performed? The 2% study you linked seems to adopt that definition.
    Thank you for your great blog!
    Greetings from Portugal

  41. DanJ1

    In one section you indicate there seems to be two sets of numbers. I follow Michigan statistics almost daily. I have two sources, both from the official state Covid sites. You would expect them to be the same, right? Wrong?

    In the last 30 days, the web page that is picked up as local, state and national “news” has shown 19 days with over 700 new cases. Going to the raw data, there are only 9 days. For any one following the stats, this is mindboggling.

    When it comes to calculating statistical Covid deaths in Michigan there are three categories, all resulting in a Covid death on the media tickertape. First, and most obvious, you die from Covid. CDC has said that this accounts for about 6% of all Covid deaths. Second, you have Covid when you die (i.e. you have no symptoms and die from cancer and test positive for Covid – you are now a statistic). Last, you test positive, with or without symptoms, you recover and you die within 30 days from any natural cause. Congrats! You too are a statistic. In Michigan, this last category accounts for about 30% or more of all statistical deaths.

    Even with the cooked books, Covid deaths in Michigan are less that Influenza/Pneumonia deaths on any given day. And yet we don’t shut down the economy for the flu.

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