Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Covid, the media, the medical literature, and SCIENCE!

I recently had an extended Twitter discussion with an antivax lawyer, and he pointed out that he knew a lot of people who had had covid who didn’t have long covid symptoms. This isn’t likely. He probably assumed this was so because those people didn’t talk about it, and didn’t have big, obvious disabilities.

One gets a different picture of covid from reading the medical literature than from casual conversation with people who have had the disease or most of the major media sources. The people he knew may not have talked about long covid symptoms, or recognized them. Many doctors, even, don’t.

Many of the disabilities of long covid are not dramatic or visible - they just make people miserable. Some are embarrassing and people don’t talk about them. Some only show up in medical tests but will have long-term consequences.

This article covers the risk of reinfection. This study which “examined the prevalence of long COVID on a university campus, with primarily young and healthy adults, as 75.2% of participants had no preexisting health issues” found that “Irrespective of initial symptoms, 36% of the COVID-19-affected study participants self-reported experiencing symptoms congruous with long COVID.” This study “found that people with COVID-19 reinfections were twice as likely to die and three times more likely to be hospitalized than those with no reinfection.”

Faced with these articles, the lawyer objected that he could find other articles. I’m sure he could, but they are not credible any more. US law determines truth by the most persuasive argument. Science, instead, demands evidence, and from multiple experiments and studies.

There is science when a new topic is being studied, and science once a consensus has been reached. In the first state, there are many conflicting hypotheses, and little certainty. In the second state, there are well-tested theories, and strong, though not complete, certainty. And, yes, sometimes well-tested theories turn out to be wrong and science is thrown back to examining multiple conflicting hypotheses, but this occurs rarely; most claims that established theories are wrong(!) wrong(!) are crankery.

People who don’t understand scientific epistemology often get stuck in one of two views, either that all scientific knowledge is uncertain or that scientific knowledge is as certain as the word of god and any sign of uncertainty is an indication that science(!) is(!) wrong(!) But rocks still fall at the same rate regardless of argument, and you’d better dodge if you don’t want them to smash your head. At this point we have a lot of solid knowledge of the SARS-2 virus and covid, and arguments that reinfection is not risky are not credible.

So don’t get your medical knowledge from lawyers or economists!


yellowdoggranny said...

having covid gave me long covid. its worsened my asthma..I can't walk to the mail box and back without wheezing...I can't walk any distance without either having asthma attack or having such pain in my back that I want to when people say there is no such thing or he knows people etc..fuck them.

Raven Onthill said...

oh, no. I'm so sorry.

The Blog Fodder said...

Found an article dissecting the Cochrane review of masking.
Slate does a good job of pointing out the shortcomings of the Cochrane review as well.