90 Comments
Dec 1, 2023Liked by Katelyn Jetelina

I really like your Covid coverage, even now, because everyone else has moved on. You’re my only source. So while you explore other topics, please don’t give up on Covid. Don’t let the haters drive you off the topic. That’s their goal. Thank you so much for your consideration.

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Dec 1, 2023·edited Dec 1, 2023Liked by Katelyn Jetelina

Dr. Jetelina, I need you! I count on you and Dr. Rivers to tell me the truth and all of the truth. You have access to information that I don’t have (and I’m pretty good at ferreting out information and ignoring the “if it bleeds, it leads” or fingers in ears, “la la la,” or, “we’ll just tell them what we think they want to hear” media.) That includes information about COVID, which is still with us.

I know you have to take care of yourself, or we risk not having you write this column. Please know you are performing a badly needed public service and I and my family appreciate you! Love, Bee

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To be frank, the only reason I am a paid subscriber to your Substack is for COVID information. I can find other public health content in a million other locations, but almost no one is talking about COVID anymore, and we’ve been abandoned by every facet of public health, our government, and even our medical providers. There are so any of us who cannot just decide we are “burned out” on the pandemic, as it rages on while everyone who could make a difference looks the other way. We continue to get disabled and die from COVID in huge numbers, and you are unfortunately one of the last ones standing. The pandemic is ongoing, and just because we aren’t calling it an emergency doesn’t mean that it isn’t.

If you stopped talking about COVID, I would not have any interest or inclination in continuing to engage with your content.

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Dec 1, 2023Liked by Katelyn Jetelina

Thank you. You have been amazing. I hope you find a path that allows you to continue while filtering out the rage from the gratitude.

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My husband and I just got Covid for the first time last week. He is still symptomatic and testing positive after 9 days. I am also still symptomatic, but haven’t bothered to retest, as I am not going out in public until both of us have completely cleared the virus. We both got our fall vaccines, mine just two weeks before I got sick. It was definitely not “just the sniffles” - more like a two to three day flu followed by a bad cold lasting way too long. So, Covid is still here, still spreading uncontrolled, still making people sick and still impacting one’s ability to do what one needs and wants in their lives. I understand your burnout. We live in Missouri where most people don’t take any precautions anymore and are perfectly happy spreading their germs around, and many are hostile to any mention of it. Just want you to know I have appreciated your efforts over the past years.

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founding

Sharing my narrative submitted in the survey: "I have no criticism. I just hope you can find a way to cover Covid. It is not "over". The latest provisional death counts from the CDC is still far above a bad flu season, annual motor vehicle deaths etc. Covid is evolving. The fascinating science is evolving. Reliable platforms like Twitter (I can't bring myself to use the other name), are devolving to the point where my trusted epidemiologists are leaving (or faced with difficult ethical issues should they stay), the CDC is --frustrating and disorganized. One example, instead of updating the page on the 2.86/JN I see no new news since August. This week, I discovered they have been posting information on a completely different page. The site search and navigation is often dysfunctional. I understand your burn out with the American Bile Epidemic. What if you take a break from composing your amazing, "just right" narratives on Covid, but instead post links to the current statistics and studies related to Covid topics? As the media platforms (Twitter), sources (Our World in Data, Johns Hopkins, YLE), and methods (wastewater) in which we gather the information evolve-you can still be the conduit for the numbers and studies. At the end of your weekly newsletter, you could include links to quality: hospitalization data by age, hospitalization data by other demographics of interest, provisional death counts, wastewater with a standard narrative about current reliability in interpreting case data, variant forecast issues (virulence, test reliability, treatments). Most of the time this "source" or "deeper dive" section would have the same headings and links. But as the CDC conducts their confusing re-dis-organization, and new issues come up-you would still be involved in education the public about this worse-than-flu, worse-than-motor-vehicle-accidents public health issue. I also suggest that rather than making separate regional newsletters: pick out topics that you are called to write about, to sustain your fine advocate's heart, and put links to deep dives on other public health topics in the end section. So if you want to write about the effects of the Canadian fires, write. If you don't post a link to them. For me, I live in Michigan, my young grandchildren are in Tennessee, and Colorado. So I inhabit 3 regions. I'd prefer the national overview, and links to deep dives on the others. These are just ideas, which I hope you can use to confirm your path or spark new ideas. No matter what, I find it a tragedy that good people like you have to endure the threats and anger of the misinformed. I appreciate everything you've done with grace, bravery, and intelligence." Sincerely, Karen Athan

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Keep up the good work, this has been a fantastic resource! I ranked chronic diseases 2nd behind infectious diseases, because I hope to continue to see updates on long covid (prevalence, research, treatments, etc). It's clear that it has now joined the ranks of common chronic diseases and will continue to be a major issue indefinitely. Its risk is also why I haven't fully returned to 2019-normal, and a big reason why COVID isn't "just a cold".

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I'm really sorry that people get angry with you and, I assume, express that anger in unconstructive ways. You never make me angry. I'm so grateful for the information you provide to this community.

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I love the work you've done, and hope to see it continue. I would like to see a combination of topical and deep dives, but we need (NEED) info on, and to combat misinformation. I was reading a piece last night by Francis Collins where he highlights the need for us in PH to get the messages out more frequently and "better" to combat the misinformation campaigns. I think your efforts were a key element in that effort because they were fact based, cited references that were accessible (if technical), explained things well, and were timely. And you put out so much content.

I think what you and Caitlyn are doing is very important and useful. I especially like (and use frequently) Caitlyn's regional summaries to spot trends and make my own decisions on updates and correlations. I think that's something you might also be successful with, but I'd ABSOLUTELY LOVE to see a start on an effort to counter misinformation (and I'm willing to participate).

Per Collins, we may need a "Communications Corps" to provide update and data sooner and faster, and to better counter both misinformation and worse, disinformation. Both were present during the height of the pandemic, and we'll see them again for whatever reason in the next, inevitable outbreak. We need to be prepared and work cohesively to improve the information transfer overall.

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Thank you for your dedication! Your calm straight information in the face of the insanity has been a godsend. ❤

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Thank you for writing, and for being open to comments.

I echo the sentiments about SARS-2. It really isn't over, regardless of the concerted effort in the US to hide data.

I am also concerned about the state of public health. I'm of the generation that saw the introduction of seat belts and other mitigations in automotive safety, of smoking cessation, of a major effort to eradicate an infectious disease with a survival rate of well over 99% (yes, poliomyelitis), and more. These days "99%" is considered okay, at least in the mind of the general public. Medical folk often use the notation of per 100,000 individuals. For someone my age, the chance of death from colon cancer is about 50/100k per year. That translates to 99.95% survival rate - but I'm expected to get a colonoscopy, and I do. The WHO lists the current case fatality rate for covid as 1% in the US (which I found surprisingly high). That's 1,000/100k.

We are out of balance in terms of risk assessment and mitigations. I'm concerned about this spilling over into areas like childhood vaccinations and other preventative interventions.

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I took the survey, however I am repeating myself here. First, I am eternally grateful to you, and I want to be clear about that. Urgency of situation communicates (particularly when it is in media) through frequency of content. In an emergency, lots of content is necessary. In reduced urgency reduced content is consonant with the situation. So keep at it, and allow yourself to do less, as less is needed right now. If things change, in a challenging way, you have space to upgrade how much content to share. I hope that is useful feedback

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founding
Dec 1, 2023·edited Dec 1, 2023

Over the last four years, I have posted a few of your YLE issues on my Facebook page. I received an excellent reaction as misinformation about shots, masks, research, etc was so prevalent in the US. Thank you for your energy in putting out the information. I also appreciated the research you have cited from other countries. It lended the point that the COVID virus was world wide.

If you downsize to possibly publishing every other month, I understand. You do have a family.

By the way, your very matter-of-fact way of writing is excellent. Currently, there is too much emotion and not enough straight research-based facts. I figure when you receive negative, obnoxious comments, those folks know they really don't know anything.

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I’m immunocompromised, so COVID isn’t over for me (or flu, RSV, mycoplasma pneumoniae, strep, etc.) Would love to see more about zoonotic pathogens and the One Health Approach.

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Thank you Katelyn for all you do! Through these years of the pandemic I knew I could check in with you and others, and come to my own conclusions as to how to take care of myself and family against the ravages of COVID. I lost an aunt, uncle, and cousin early in the pandemic, and so it was always personal to me. Personally, I check in mostly with you on the infectious diseases aspect of health. I find that people are sleepwalking to what is happening to our world without taking any personal responsibility. But with your advice, I don’t have to be one of those people.

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founding

Good faith comment (I promise), then will go back to "lurker" mode a few more weeks, but since you are requesting feedback...

First off, your followers have spoken. Stay on Covid. Yes, keep adding other things that interest you, but at least 1x a month, a good Covid piece.

My "dream scenario" comes from your August interview with David Wallace-Wells [1] which I recently re-read after Jeremy Faust posted it again a few weeks ago:

|YLE: "..it’s going to take time to heal and to understand and to try to hear the other side, and try to |hear what we got wrong and how we can do better in the future."

I would love to see you begin to reach out to the other side and start working through the messy science of figuring out better truth, improving our scientific understanding of what the fuck happened the last 3 years. I'm not suggesting you meet with the Cranks or the Antagonists, but there are many, many reasonable, polite scientists out there who disagree on the current PH "narrative" regarding Covid and I would love to see more collaboration instead of echo-chamber substacking (this applies to them as well).

Below is an "off the top of my head" list of people who hold views in contrast to mainstream PH, are articulate, data driven, and I'm 90% sure would be very polite and courteous would you pursue a dialectic - not a debate - with them. [2]

As you noted in your interview with DWW you agree there should be some sort of "Covid Commission" - and I agree with, not in Congress, so why not pursue this yourself?

Critical questions I would like to see addressed (consider this a "greatest hits" of my prodding posting).

None of these I mean to engage in today, tomorrow, or next week - just think of this as the top questions skeptics have that need to be addressed in the future:

1) How did we not realize Covid was a disease that primarily affects the elderly immediately? Why was there such reluctance to acknowledge this disease was not a threat to children despite overwhelming evidence immediately in Spring 2020? In your DWW interview you noted:

|YLE: "It’s hard to remember how little we knew back then. Are children truly less risk than adults |because this typically isn’t how viruses work."

But we had the data in Italy by April. And again when the NYT published the "Incalculable Loss" 100K deaths story May 24 2020 listing 1,000 names claimed by Covid. [3] The average age was 77. 80% of the people were over the age of 65. 50% over the age of 80. It was in plain sight from the beginning. How did PH not figure this out immediately?

2) Extension of above - considering there were zero excess deaths in children, in any country, throughout the pandemic [4], how would we be able to assign "credit" towards any intervention when the NNT approaches infinity? If every country had the same outcome of child mortality regardless of vaccination approach, school closures, masking, lockdowns, etc, why not consider none of these things mattered? (**Except Canada for some reason - the only country in the world child deaths jumped)

3) Public Health repeatedly engaged in what Francis Bacon called "Counting your hits and forgetting your misses". Why is this acceptable? Why wasn't public health disinterested, self-critical, and obsessed with error checking - all necessary components of science? Examples: South Korea was poster child of "doing it right" when things were going well, but there has been zero coverage of their massive mortality spike in 2022 (+90% excess deaths spring 2022!). Michael Mina and others claimed mass rapid testing could end the pandemic, but when the examples he used to make his case (UK and Slovakia) became overrun with Covid, PH does not grill this hypothesis and many people still seem to believe it. [5], etc

4) How did PH get Sweden wrong? How do so many in PH still get Sweden wrong? Katelyn, in the DWW interview you remarked:

| YLE: "Sweden didn’t also have a perfect response. Compared to the United States, they had less |excess deaths, but compared to their neighbors, like Denmark, they did a much more terrible job if we |judge their job on excess deaths."

This is demonstrably false. [6] This is a bit frustrating to data nerds like me, as we already discussed this almost 6 months earlier. [7] This is on "the paper of record", and despite listing multiple fact checkers, no one is aware that Sweden has lower excess deaths than Denmark. How can this be?

5) How did PH not realize masks were so important fighting respiratory viruses for the 100 years following the 1918 flu, struggling to find any efficacy, yet suddenly, within 6 months of Covid we managed to find 100+ studies showing near 100% efficacy? Does this not strike PH as odd that when masks were apolitical, it was openly known they didn't stop viruses [8], and only after they were politicized every. single. study no, matter how poor [9], managed to find amazing efficacy? And why isn't PH deeply interested in figuring out how the lowest masked countries had far better outcomes than Asia? Why every prediction failed ("will drive pandemic to the ground"... "taking them off is throwing gas on fire")?

What does this say about how we pursue scientific truth if simply by wanting something to be true, we can conjure up the "science" to back up our desires - that is clearly what happened with the 100+ studies saying cloth masks worked so well.

6) Why do spurious vaccine claims go unchecked by PH? How can PH claim that the vaccine saved 3 million people in the US? The Commonwealth Fund Analysis is regularly repeated uncritically [10], but simple replication tests show this can't possibly be true including: a) countries that didn't vaccinate don't have a proportionate increase in mortality predicted by this study [11] b) there is weak correlation between excess mortality and vaccination at the state level in the US and c) half the 1st world countries saw all-cause mortality *increase* after vaccination. [12]

7) Why was PH advocating for censoring dissent? There are few things more antithetical to science than celebration of orthodoxy and branding those who disagree with you a heretic who must not be allowed to speak. I should probably move this to #1.

So that is my wish for 2024, tackle these sorts of questions and engage with experts you don't agree with and see if you can find common ground. Maybe they are wrong?

(Resuming lurker mode again)

____________________

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/29/podcasts/transcript-david-wallace-wells-interviews-katelyn-jetelina.html

[2] Off the top of my head you could reach out to (all of whom are on Substack as well):

Carl Heneghan - World renowned physician critical of lockdowns and not accounting for age stratification

Martin Neil - He has lots of questions on excess mortality curves in Spring of 2020 and how they don't match behavior of viruses

Tracy Beth Hoeg - Critic of Covid Vaccine efficacy

Paul Offit - On why he doesn't advocate for one-size-fits-all vaccination strategy the CDC rolled out

Paul Thacker - On mis and disinformation

Steve Templeton - On fear of the microbial planet

Aaron Kheriaty - Ethics of mandating vaccines

Tom Jefferson - Why the studies on masks aren't as convincing as you may think

Alina Chan and Alex Washburne - On why the lab leak was most likely scenario

[3] I scanned all the names into a spreadsheet from the print edition of "Incalculable Loss" NYT story here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1AR9X-Cwu9dUIF50gBz9YOrVtvmrhNIBqJPZJBFSTmDM/edit?usp=sharing

[4] Easy to replicate with mortality.org data:

https://imgur.com/a/wIeMkbJ

[5] https://time.com/5912705/covid-19-stop-spread-christmas/

[6] OWID: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/excess-mortality-p-scores-average-baseline?country=DNK~SWE

Raw deaths you can see yourself: https://imgur.com/a/fzB6wbI

[7] https://yourlocalepidemiologist.substack.com/p/house-select-subcommittee-gbd-and/comment/13418186

[8] One of 100's of possible examples, here is Laurie Garret giving a speech to the National Academy of Medicine about pandemics: "Did the mask really help them? Did the mask keep the virus out? Almost certainly not."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSExbHTS3nE&t=2504s

[9] "Identifying airborne transmission as the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19" was spread in the media 400 times, had 40,000 tweets, and was the primary "go to" proof that masks worked summer of 2020. But it was so bad even Michael Mina signed the retraction request ignored.

  https://www.pnas.org/content/117/26/14857 

[10] https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2022/two-years-covid-vaccines-prevented-millions-deaths-hospitalizations

[11] Show me a country with low vaccination rate which had a 100% increase in mortality in 2021. Best I can come up with is Bulgaria which saw deaths in 2021 continue to rise to +37% prepandemic levels, but they quickly fell back to baseline without vaccinating. Then of course, there is Africa...

[12] Example: https://imgur.com/a/zGPSXpT

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