The COVID-19 Pandemic—Seeing and Interpreting the Big Picture
Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, here is the big picture I see with my eyes, heart, mind, and soul—informed by my clinical experience in both the medical clinic and the social clinic .
Most importantly and most strikingly, I see an inadequate amount of critical thinking and an inadequate amount of healthy, respectful dialogue—within the scientific community, the conventional media, and the public at large. I see inadequate scientific rigor. I see narrow one-sided thinking, extremism, polarization, and intolerance.
I see two extreme narratives: The Narrative of Excessive Fear, promoted by the US COVID Task Force, and the Narrative of Excessive Denial, exemplified by Donald Trump. [2, 3] The rhetoric from both extremes contains a considerable amount of overstatement, unsound scientific methodology, and misleading low-quality data. [2, 3] Many in both extreme groups have become intolerant and dismissive of views other than their own.
In my view, the prevailing Narrative of Excessive Fear has been based on and justified by data of low scientific quality—in particular, flawed data regarding cumulative COVID cases and cumulative COVID deaths, both of which have been overstated because of improper data collection methodology and improper use of the COVID PCR test. [4, 5] Basic, fundamental methodological principles and practices of science, epidemiology, and clinical care have not been followed. [4, 5, 6] As a result, it has been very difficult to know what percentage of the stated cumulative COVID cases and cumulative COVID deaths have truly represented such—is it 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, 15%? Proponents of the Narrative of Fear believe it is 100%, while proponents of the Narrative of Denial believe it is a far lower percentage—hence the strong disagreement and animosity.
The fact is, 14 months after onset of the pandemic, we still do not have accurate numbers of true COVID cases and true COVID deaths, because the COVID PCR test has been mis-used and data have not been properly collected. I have my best personal guess, and it fits with neither of the extreme narratives.
Furthermore, it is unclear what percentage of the people who have truly died of COVID, could have been saved, if they had received prompt, appropriately aggressive treatment —could 30% of these patients have been saved, 70%? Again, I have my best personal guess.  But we should not be having to guess. Proper use of the COVID PCR test, proper data collection, and proper use and study of treatment would have provided accurate data by now. I am not sure why the collection of data has been so sloppy and why treatment has not been better. A wise and caring government and Task Force would not have permitted such sloppiness. Successful protection of the public from a pandemic requires rigorous collection of honest high-quality data and prompt appropriately aggressive treatment.
In my view, public education about COVID-19 has been inadequate—failing, for example, to explain to the public: the importance of paying close attention to the Ct values at which COVID PCR tests have been positive ; the importance of using rigorous diagnostic and classification criteria in the collection of data on numbers of COVID cases and COVID deaths ; the importance of promptly administering appropriately aggressive treatment to patients with severe COVID illness ; and the importance of adequately determining the safety, efficacy, and necessity of the COVID vaccines before executing a mass vaccination campaign [7-11]. Not only has the importance of these practices not been explained to the public, but they have also not been practiced by the promoters of the prevailing narrative, and those promoters have not admitted and explained these failings to the public. I am not sure why. A wise, caring, science-based government and COVID Task Force would not have committed these failures. Successful protection of the public from a pandemic requires rigorous practice of these principles and thorough honest public education, including honest explanation of mistakes made.
I see conventional media and conventional journalists participating in the above failures. They have shown little or no interest in critical thinking or healthy public dialogue. Instead, they have incessantly bombarded the public with the COVID data provided by the COVID Task force—without context, without nuance, without critical discussion of Ct values, without details of data collection methodology, without coverage of the quality of treatment, and without comprehensive discussion of the safety, efficacy, necessity, and wisdom of rushed vaccination. Instead, challenges to the Narrative of Excessive Fear are classified as disinformation and dismissively presented with disdain and disgust, if not censored altogether. Viewers and readers are encouraged to simply accept the Narrative of Excessive Fear, including its flawed data, at face value, as undeniable fact. I am not sure why this has been done. A wise and caring government and COVID Task Force would encourage critical thinking, scientific rigor, and healthy public dialogue—among themselves and in the media.
In my view, this combination of misuse of the COVID PCR test, flawed data collection, sub-optimal treatment, media bias, inadequate public education, and inadequate public awareness of these just-stated failings, has been creating and fueling the extremism, polarization, animosity, and intolerance that are tearing the nation apart and interfering with accurate interpretation and successful management of the pandemic. A wise, caring, science-based, democratic government and COVID Task force would not have let this happen.
In addition, I see the beauty, genius, humility, and preciousness of the natural human immune system being underappreciated, marginalized, patronized, over-ridden, unprotected, even poisoned—while one-dimensional scientists arrogantly claim to know better [7, 8, 9]. I am not sure why. Wise and caring medical scientists marvel at the human immune system, learn from it, maximize use of it, and avoid harming it. Successful protection of the public from a pandemic requires maximal appreciation and support for the natural human immune system.
I see the promoters of the prevailing Narrative using fear, shame, guilt, and intolerance to empower their narrative and force it upon the public. I am not sure why. Successful protection of the public from a pandemic requires a balanced approach and avoidance of excessive fear, anxiety, guilt, and shaming.
I see legitimate scientific challenges to the prevailing narrative being met with intolerance, belittling, dismissiveness, ad hominem attack, censorship, and punishment—not with healthy, respectful dialogue and careful scientific examination. I am not sure why. Wise and caring medical scientists would not have let this happen. Successful protection of the public from a pandemic requires open-minded, multi-dimensional, inter-disciplinary dialogue that welcomes challenges and alternative points of view. That is the wise tradition of science, medicine, and democracy.
I see that only the Narrative of Excessive Fear is being allowed. I am not sure why. That is not how science and democracy are supposed to work. That is how totalitarianism works.
I see that millions, even billions of people, particularly children, are suffering from the collateral damage of lockdown measures. Successful protection of the public from a pandemic requires equal consideration of the side effects of the disease and side effects of treatment.
I see a campaign of rapid, massive vaccination that has been hastily implemented without adequate determination of safety, efficacy, or necessity and without adequate scientific debate, public education, public dialogue, or opportunity for informed consent being afforded to those vaccinated—the haste being justified by terribly flawed data regarding COVID cases and COVID deaths [7-11]. Those who question the wisdom of this vaccination campaign are being punished, without even being given opportunity to explain their concerns. I am not sure why. Wise and caring medical scientists would not have let this happen. Successful protection of the public from a pandemic requires quality data, honest assessment of urgency, and comprehensive study of safety, efficacy, and necessity of vaccines.
It could be claimed that the data and contentions of the Narrative of Excessive Fear are all very accurate, and that the practices and decisions associated with that Narrative have been undeniably excellent and wise. Whether that claim is valid, or not, could be determined by encouraging open, inclusive, penetrating public dialogue that invites and respects all points of view. If the conclusion of such dialogue were that this claim is true, I would stand corrected. But such dialogue has not occurred, and the quality of the data and the quality of the practice behind the Narrative of Excessive Fear do not currently support that conclusion. The failings, I am afraid, are real, undeniable, and tragic.
As a result of the above-mentioned failings, I see Humanity being abused on a massive scale—by unjustified, unnecessary, and unwise policies dictated by the promoters of the Narrative of Excessive Fear, with little public discussion and no tolerance for opposing points of view. These policies have callously decimated livelihoods, crushed human souls, adversely affected the physical and emotional and social health of billions of people, and seem to be leading Humanity towards a soulless, authoritarian, excessively high tech, corporate-controlled “new normal” —all of this being justified by undeniably flawed data that are being presented as undeniable fact. In my view this represents abuse of Humanity—a major Crime against Humanity.
This abuse of Humanity, whether committed consciously or unconsciously, has included some behaviors in common with fascism, whose leaders and obedient followers use authoritarian fear, anxiety, shame, guilt, deceit, isolation, silencing, erosion of self-confidence, undermining of self-worth, required obedience, and punishment to control their victims and consolidate their power. Fascists demand that their superior understanding be acknowledged, trusted, and followed, without being questioned. Does the behavior of leading promoters of the Narrative of Excessive Fear not have some of these characteristics?
This abuse of Humanity, whether being committed wittingly or unwittingly, has also included some behaviors in common with the spousal abuse experienced by women subjected to arrogant, miseducated male bullies—bullies who control their victims through use of authoritarian fear, tension, shame, guilt, diminishment, deceit, isolation, silencing, erosion of self-confidence, undermining of self-worth, required obedience, and punishment. Bullies demand that their superior understanding be acknowledged, trusted, and followed, without being questioned. Does the behavior of leading promoters of the Narrative of Excessive Fear not have some of these characteristics?
This abuse of Humanity, whether committed wittingly or unwittingly, has also included some behaviors in common with racial abuse perpetrated by supremacists, who use authoritarian fear, shame, guilt, deceit, segregation, silencing, erosion of self-confidence, undermining of self-worth, required obedience, and punishment to control their victims and maintain their power. Racists demand that their superiority be acknowledged, trusted, and followed, without being questioned. Leaders of the Narrative of Excessive Fear have shown little respect for the Human Race—repeatedly blaming surges of the pandemic on human selfishness, ignorance, and irresponsibility—as if they are disgusted with and have little respect for much of the Human Race; as if the character, intelligence, and worthiness of much of the Human Race is inferior to theirs (the leaders’). Is this disdain not a form of racism—in this case directed against the Human Race? 
This abuse of Humanity, whether committed consciously or unconsciously, has also included some characteristics in common with past and current behaviors of ruthless corporate transnational ultra-capitalists, whose leaders and followers have callously exploited powerless populations throughout the world, throughout history—using authoritarian fear, shame, guilt, deceit, division, silencing, erosion of self-confidence, undermining of self-worth, required obedience, and punishment to control their oppressed victims and maintain their imperial, colonial, racist power. Corporate ultra-capitalists demand that their superior understanding and competence be acknowledged, trusted, and followed, without being questioned. Does the behavior of leading promoters of the Narrative of Excessive Fear not have some of these characteristics?
This abuse of Humanity, witting or unwitting, has also included some characteristics in common with the geo-political policies and actions executed by those who believe the USA is the “exceptional, indispensable,” most competent nation on earth and in History; the “greatest nation;” the greatest “force for good” —while, hypocritically, that nation conducts numerous endless wars, repeatedly over-throws sovereign governments it does not like, commits unconscionable atrocities, and causes millions of people to suffer. These “exceptionalists” (supremacists, really) insist that their superior understanding, competence, and even their exceptional compassion be acknowledged, trusted, and followed, without being questioned. Does the behavior of leading promoters of the Narrative of Excessive Fear not have some of these characteristics?
Sadly, but predictably, I see many families being torn apart, as otherwise good people who have bought into the COVID-19 Narrative of Excessive Fear have started to attack members of their own family with abusive behaviors in common with fascists, spouse abusers, racists, ultra-capitalist imperialists, and American exceptionalists—namely, authoritarian intolerance, shaming, shunning, isolation, silencing, undermining of others’ self-confidence/self-worth, required obedience, and punishment of those who challenge the single narrative that is “allowed.” Adding to this frightening trend is the self-righteous zeal and pride with which many proponents of the prevailing narrative exhibit as they intolerantly insist that others accept their point of view. And all of this is done in the name of “following the science,” without recognition that basic fundamental principles and practices of science have not been followed.
This increasingly prevalent phenomenon of abusive intolerance within families is particularly strong evidence that the Narrative of Excessive Fear has been unhealthy, abusive, and lacking in scientific rigor.
Why has all of this happened? I am not sure why, except to say that this is exactly what happens, predictably, when there is inadequate critical thinking, inadequate scientific rigor, inadequate healthy dialogue, inadequate journalism, inadequate public education, extreme division, and intolerant polarization. A wise, caring, science-based government and COVID Task force would not have allowed this to happen.
Who has been behind this COVID-19 pandemic process, particularly the Narrative of Excessive Fear? I am not sure. I would ask, though, Cui bono? Who benefits? Has this process primarily been encouraged by a consortium of corporate transnational ultra-capitalists? [13, 14] Ultra-capitalists have been greatly benefitting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Their wealth has skyrocketed. They see their vision of their preferred “new normal” coming into being. In contrast, the vast majority of the world’s population is suffering mightily from pandemic-related decisions and has little interest in that “new normal.”
Perhaps those of us who are against abusive behaviors of all sorts (fascism, spousal abuse, racism, imperialism, and supremacist American exceptionalism) should maximally apply critical thinking, scientific rigor, and healthy dialogue to careful examination of, not only the pandemic as a whole, but also the behaviors, social philosophy, and economic beliefs of corporate transnational ultra-capitalists. Perhaps we need to encourage wide-spread, multi-dimensional public dialogue about both the pandemic and new economic models and new social arrangements that could replace the current prevailing social philosophy and economic model.
The Big Clue:
The big clue to comprehending the big picture is to realize that, early in the pandemic, a kind, caring, competent, science-based government and COVID Task Force would have developed and implemented the kind of plan described below—but such a plan has not been developed or implemented.
Components of a proactive plan for the COVID pandemic:
- Proper use of the COVID PCR test : The Ct value at which positive tests occur will be provided to all patients, their families, their physicians, and to state and national epidemiologic databases. Only tests that are positive at a Ct value of 30 or less will be considered “definitely positive.” Tests that are positive at a Ct value between 30-35 will be classified as “possibly positive,” and tests that are positive at a Ct value greater than 35 will be classified as “inadequately interpretable.”
- Strict performance standards will be demanded of all COVID PCR test kits—to make certain that the test is adequately sensitive and specific—i.e., detects only the presence of SARS-CoV-2 and does not detect or cross-react with other coronaviruses , influenza viruses, or any other respiratory viruses.
- The public will be educated about the importance of knowing the Ct value at which a test is positive. Patients and physicians will be taught to ask for the Ct value at which a person’s test was positive.
- The above proper use of the COVID PCR test will ensure that epidemiologic data collected, regarding new COVID cases, new COVID hospitalizations, and new COVID deaths, will be based on meaningful and trustworthy COVID PCR results.
- Strict, accurate, uniform clinical diagnostic and classification criteria (including, but not limited to the COVID PCR result) will be established to define a “definite new COVID case,” a “definite new COVID hospitalization,” and a “definite new COVID death.”  Criteria will also be established for designation of a “probable,” “possible,” and “probably not” COVID-related situation.
- The reports of national numbers of daily and cumulative COVID cases, COVID hospitalizations, and COVID deaths will be based on the above criteria, including the Ct information. This will ensure that these reported numbers are accurate and meaningful—neither understated nor overstated.
- The conventional media, journalists, and physicians assigned to educate the public will explain the importance of Ct values (including limitations of their interpretation) and the classification criteria to the public.
- The Task Force will immediately establish a set of treatment protocols for early evolving severe COVID illness.  These protocols will provide prompt, appropriately aggressive treatment that takes both viral load and extent of hyperimmune reaction into account. Nationwide, all patients who appear to be heading for severe COVID illness will be promptly treated with one of these protocols. Results of each protocol will be continually evaluated and compared to determine which protocols are working best. Adjustments will be made. This approach will maximize reduction of deaths and reduction of long-term damage in those who survive.
- Beginning early in the pandemic, the feasibility, safety, efficacy, necessity, and wisdom of vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 will be studied. Potential benefits will be carefully weighed against potential risks. Mass vaccination will not be implemented hastily. In fact, the possibility that mass vaccination might be the wrong approach will be given due consideration. [7-11]
- Throughout the pandemic the government and the Task Force will strongly encourage (and exemplify) critical thinking, scientific rigor, quality data, quality journalism, quality public education about the pandemic, and healthy public dialogue. All points of view will be respected. Extremism, polarization, shaming, belittling, intolerance, and censorship will be strongly discouraged.
To date, to what extent has the COVID pandemic been handled in the above way? How many components of the above plan have been implemented by the government and its Task Force? Not many, if any; none fully. Particularly telling has been the profound silence regarding the Ct story. It is hard to understand why Ct information has been withheld, throughout the pandemic. Also revealing has been the lack of scientific rigor, regarding determination of cumulative counts of COVID cases and COVID deaths. These failures are Big Clues to comprehending the Big Picture.
A good outcome to the COVID-19 pandemic depended on early introduction of a plan like that described above. A kind, wise, caring, science-based government and Task Force would have emphasized those needs and made certain that they were met. Wittingly or unwittingly, an unwise, less caring, or less insightful government and Task Force would not have emphasized those needs and would not have met them.
It is not too late to insist on implementation of a plan like that described above. Such a plan would likely save lives, reduce ICU admissions, reduce long-term disease damage, decrease angst and moral stress among health care workers, provide more accurate epidemiologic data, and better educate the public. Such a plan, particularly the provision of more accurate epidemiologic data, might bring people in from the extremes and reduce fear, anxiety, polarization, intolerance, shaming, and animosity. Such a plan might bring about much needed critical thinking and healthy public dialogue.
A good outcome to the pandemic will also depend on thorough examination and discussion of current economic models, current social arrangements, and potential replacements for them. This, too, is part of the big picture.
We need to see the big picture, interpret it wisely, ask who is painting it, notice clues, do our homework, and insist on open democratic participation in the creation of a better picture—one that exhibits Social Beauty , not abuse of Humanity.
[1-15] Companion Articles that provide more explanation, detail, and depth:
- Notes from the Social Clinic—Welcome to the Social Clinic
- COVID ANALYSIS—A Middle Narrative
- COVID ANALYSIS—Part 1: An Additional Narrative; An Alternative Response
- The Importance of Knowing the Ct Value at which a COVID PCR Test is Positive
- Critical Examination of COVID data
- Treatment of Patients with Severe COVID Illness
- COVID ANALYSIS—Vaccine Concerns
- An Interview with the Human Immune System
- A Spiritual Appreciation of the Human Immune System
- Marek’s Disease—A Cautionary Tale?
- Che, the Rebel Chicken
- Notes from the Social Clinic—A Little Recognized and Most Pervasive Form of Racism
- COVID ANALYSIS—Part 2: Social, Economic, Geo-political, Philosophical Considerations
- The Consortium of Transnational Corporate Ultra-Capitalists
- Notes from The Social Clinic—Social Beauty