By Ian Miller
As many pandemic restrictions have, at least temporarily, been lifted, many activist “experts” have understandably become increasingly frustrated with the potential loss of influence.
Perhaps that’s one explanation for why pro-mandate and progressive policy activists like emergency medicine doctor Jeremy Faust have turned to desperate measures — the purposeful exaggeration of the risks of COVID to kids.
In a perfect distillation of the symbiotic relationship between the “expert” community and progressive influencers, Faust published an extremely misleading article that was immediately amplified by Ashish Jha, an official employee of the Biden White House currently serving as the Coronavirus Response Coordinator.
Jha has repeatedly spread misinformation about masks while overtly promoting vaccine passports and verification, and last summer claimed that “unvaccinated, unmasked folks” are the drivers of transmission, while ignoring that cases surged in highly masked and vaccinated areas like San Francisco:
Jha, claims in his personal Twitter bio, seemingly without a hint of irony, that he is an “advocate for the notion that an ounce of data is worth a thousand pounds of opinion,” while ignoring the data that proves him wrong.
Instead, after years of disseminating his inaccurate opinions to hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, he was promoted to the White House by virtue of telling “believe in science” progressives what they wanted to hear. So it comes as no surprise that he chose to spread disinformation from another progressive activist with credentials, Jeremy Faust.
Faust went completely off the deep end when airlines ended mask mandates in April, suggesting that those who have accepted the reality that masks do not work will be responsible for the deaths of “babies” from COVID:
And just for the record, it’s now been over a month since this tweet and there still is no authorized vaccine for all ages over six months.
Faust wasn’t done. In yet another example of his transparent obsession with exaggerating the risks of COVID to kids, he tweeted out this disgusting sentiment:
Incompetence on masking and bewildering lack of awareness aside, did Faust ever care about the possibility that a “small number of kids” might die from maskless flu transmission on planes? A quick Twitter search of Faust calling people indecent for refusing to (uselessly) mask on planes to prevent flu transmission to kids turned up zero results.
Of course, Faust has also ignored that after the mask mandate on planes was lifted, none of the consequences predicted by his ideological compatriots materialized:
Not to mention that newly reported deaths in the US have remained at near record low levels after the mandate was lifted:
As expected, there’s been no update from Faust, Andy Slavitt, Eric Feigl-Ding or other supposed “experts” as to why there’s been no huge surge of COVID deaths despite the lifting of mandates which was going to encourage unvaccinated, unmasked Trump supporters to take to the skies en masse.
Now that we’ve established that Faust, especially in regards to the risk to kids, has a track record of blatant fear mongering, the inaccuracies in his propaganda make much more sense.
Many others have picked up on the issues with his assertions, including this brilliant takedown:
Faust blatantly lies about the “evidence” in one of the first sections of the article by inaccurately conflating two different counting methods:
Covid-19 killed around 600 children in 2021, which is far more than influenza ever kills in any given year. At the peak of Omicron, 156 US children died of Covid-19 in a single month (January 2022). In the 10 years leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, an average of 120 children died of flu per year—and that was without masking or distancing.
The number of pediatric flu deaths that he references are based on records where flu was determined to be the underlying cause of death, not just a contributing factor. For that reason, the CDC explains that this will likely significantly underestimate the flu burden since complications from influenza are often not listed on death certificates:
Of course, the CDC has famously adopted the exact opposite standard during the COVID pandemic, leading to COVID being listed on death certificates for tragic accidents and other causes where COVID was present, but extremely unlikely to have contributed to the death.
The extent of this misattribution has been painstakingly chronicled by individuals and deliberately ignored by experts:
Faust acknowledges that this method of counting can lead to an over attribution, but only for the flu:
Meanwhile, the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) estimates the overall burdens of a number of diseases. That means they consider both underlying and contributing causes of death. (They also correct for some other assumptions, some more plausible than others.) If a person dies primarily of terminal cancer, but influenza might have played a role in the timing of their death, the NCIRD might include that death in its annual assessment of influenza’s “burden of disease.”
In his bewildering lack of intellectual honesty, Faust ignores that this exact same issue is present with COVID, meaning that his comparison should be immediately null and void.
The indispensable Kelley explains how this results in dramatic disparities between the different COVID databases:
Essentially everything in this paragraph is a misdirection or outright lie:
The NCHS’s annual counted number of flu deaths, on the other hand, are highly accurate and are certainly the right comparator for Covid-19. Why? Because like all Covid-19 deaths, pediatric influenza deaths are mandated for reporting to public health officials, which the NCHS then reports. (Adult influenza deaths are not mandated for reporting, by the way.) Since we have both counted pediatric flu and Covid-19 deaths there is no need to estimate one and count the other; Doing so is actually epidemiologically inappropriate. To compare Covid-19 to influenza correctly, we have to do apples-to-apples comparisons, something I’ve advocated for in Scientific American and in medical journals.
The CDC specifically contradicts these assertions for flu, and Faust ignores that COVID deaths are often misattributed due to different standards. While there has been an increase in deaths with COVID among those aged 0-18…
…it correlates almost perfectly to increased testing rates:
Which exposes another flaw in his argument — the massive testing disparities. As shown by this graphic, the US at peak earlier this year was running over 4 million tests per day.
Between September 2020 and January 2021, there were roughly 800,000 laboratory tests reported for the flu. Total. Not per day. Total. In ~4 months. That’s not a low number either, a report from the 2015-2016 flu season estimated less than 900,000 tests were run.
The United States in recent years has never tried to find every single case of the flu as we have been attempting to do with COVID. We’ve now run over 1 billion COVID tests. See how well mass testing works to control the spread of a highly infectious respiratory virus?
This obsessive desire to find every possible positive test result for a disease that will inevitably infect everyone can, and undoubtedly has, lead to a significantly higher proportion of deaths from other causes being attributed to COVID. The more you look, the more you’ll find.
What Faust also ignores, yet another simple and easy method to disprove his arguments, is all cause mortality.
By comparing total deaths in the 0-18 age groups to COVID deaths, it’s immediately apparent how low the relative risk of COVID is to kids:
Not to mention that as COVID deaths rise and fall, the number of total deaths from all causes barely moves.
In summer 2020, a time period that Faust believes that masking, interventions and less transmissible variants were responsible for a lower disease burden, total deaths among kids 0-18 were at the same rate or higher than during fall and winter 2021-2022 with Delta, Omicron, open schools and reduced masking. We simply have had more tests available and thus have been able to add COVID as a contributing factor when it’s not necessarily an underlying cause.
Faust’s article is so disingenuous that the only probable explanation is that he feels his newly gained power and influence slipping away.
Mask mandates have ended in most parts of the country, and COVID deaths have fallen dramatically. Airplanes are no longer requiring masks, and the rash of flight cancellations never materialized.
Gradually, as each prediction of doom is disproven, with each surge in highly masked Northeastern states, the public is coming to the realization that masks don’t work and that they’ve been misled by Faust and his allies. Even The New York Times now admits mask mandates don’t work.
This is only a partial list of the issues with his fear mongering article. There are many more. Faust knows this; he simply doesn’t care. Neither does Jha.
They can never admit they were wrong, that they’ve exaggerated the risks in order to achieve compliance with their mandates and recommendations while aggrandizing themselves in the process.
So no matter the cost to intellectual honesty and plummeting trust in public health and “expertise,” they’ll continue churning out inaccurate fear mongering to scare their audience while earning even more media appearances.