A former PBS scriptwriter looks at the current CNN reporting
The following is Bruce Brown‘s commentary response from the Coronavirus Vaccine & Herd Immunity Digest to an article by Christina Maxouris, Jen Christensen and Nicole Chavez, “Study says actual number of Covid-19 cases is far greater than thought,” that appeared on CNN on July 21, 2020.
Brown writes: So how is this good news, you ask? It’s fabulous, dance-in-the-streets good news because it means that many, many more people than originally thought have now been exposed to COVID-19, and thrown it off, many of them without even knowing they were sick!!
Many of the weak are gone now, and the strong, immune portion of the population is emerging. This is how human beings have always achieved herd immunity against pandemic threats in the past, almost always without a vaccine.
SOMETIMES good news comes in strange forms, and this is one of them.
This story (by Christina Maxouris, Jen Christensen and Nicole Chavez, “Study says actual number of Covid-19 cases is far greater than thought,” that appeared on CNN on July 21, 2020) is old news to anyone who has contacts in the medical field. The nurses I know have been saying for months that the official COVID-19 infection and death counts are way too low.
Now the CDC has officially concurred with the nurses in the wards.
In New York City, for instance, the CDC now thinks the infection rate was 12 times greater than reported at the time. Stated another way, that means that the CDC missed more than 90 percent of the coronavirus cases this spring.
In New York City, this would mean there were 642,000 people infected by COVID-19 by April 1, not the paltry 53,803 infections that were officially reported at the time.
So how is this good news, you ask? It’s fabulous, dance-in-the-streets good news because it means that many, many more people than originally thought have now been exposed to COVID-19, and thrown it off, many of them without even knowing they were sick!
Not only have these heroes of the pandemic demonstrated innate, inherited strength against the disease, it is hoped they now have some form of developed immunity against COVID-19 as well. We’re not sure exactly what yet, — but it will likely be expressed in the form of antibodies, T-cells, and possibly “immunological dark matter,” and it will convey SOME kind of increased immunity to COVID-19 because the people who threw off COVID-19 sight-unseen have now seen it before.
And this is EXACTLY what we’ve got to do to beat this pandemic — we’ve got to get the population to the herd immunity point, where enough people are immune that the disease can’t flare to wildfire proportions. This is how humanity has beaten every plague that’s ever challenged it, and it’s how humanity will beat this plague too, with or without a vaccine.
One true ray of good news on the coronavirus pandemic front right now are reports indicating that the hardest hit neighborhood in NYC have attained herd immunity, with more than 60 percent of the population tested showing antibodies to COVID-19, according to the New York Times.
A recent article in the Atlantic noted of New York:
Essentially, at present, New York City — which was hit very hard by the first coronavirus wave — might be said to be at a version of herd immunity, or at least safe equilibrium. Our case counts are very low. They have been low for weeks. Our antibody counts mean that a not-insignificant number of people are effectively removed from the chain of transmission.
However, the very idea of herd immunity is pretty upsetting for CNN, which ran an OpEd piece as a news story two weeks ago under the looney toones plague headline of the week: “We’re wasting time talking about herd immunity” — never mind that herd immunity is the only path out available to us right now!
So this CNN COVID-19 story quickly and blandly looks past the hard won but good herd immunity news from New York, and reassures the reader that:
The country remains far from a level that would give the population herd immunity — assuming that having been infected once provides immunity. Doctors are not sure if that is the case.
Whew! What a relief. As I said at the outset, sometimes good news comes in strange forms!