Saturday, January 8, 2022

COVID-19: conflating absence of evidence with evidence of absence

 I started noticing this issue when I started blogging about masks in the spring of 2020, when I wrote a blog asking why the virus was innocent until proven guilty. https://annebarschall.blogspot.com/2020/04/why-is-virus-innocent-until-proven.html

That was after I started the blog in March of 2020 saying we should use masks -- and was frustrated at how long it took for that to become a public recommendation -- until July -- 4 precious months where we might have stemmed the spread of this virus https://annebarschall.blogspot.com/2020/03/argument-for-requiring-masks-even-if.html

It wasn't until November of 2020 that I saw someone with a platform condemning the medical community for the same pattern of behavior.   She called it conflating absence of evidence with evidence of absence https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientists-failed-to-use-common-sense-early-in-the-pandemic/

It's still happening.  I was just having an argument with my cousin on Facebook, arguing about the need for eye protection.  This is what I said

In fact there has been totally inadequate study of the role of the eyes in contagion. This whole pandemic has been cursed with making the virus innocent until proven guilty. 


They had to prove it was airborne, even tho similar viruses were known to be airborne -- delaying mask recommendations for months -- and therefore allowing the pandemic to spiral out of control.   I blogged about this back in March of 2020.  I had extensive arguments with a friend who is a doctor who kept insisting that masks were not necessary — changed her tune a few months later.  


They claimed they had to prove that children could spread the virus, even tho there haven't been other viruses that adults could spread and children couldn’t.  When the proof finally arrived, it turned out that children were more contagious than adults.  The widespread statements implying that children could not spread the virus — in the absence of evidence -- also helped the pandemic spread. 


They alleged for the longest time that people couldn't catch it from animals, even tho it was generally believed that the virus initially jumped from animals to people.  Now they're finding it endemic in various animal populations — and they’re concerned about it.  White tailed deer are now suspected vectors.  https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/covid-rampant-deer-research-shows-rcna10181 White tailed deer routinely kill off competing species by spreading disease that they’re able to live with, but other species can’t.  Why should they be surprised that COVID-19 would be in the same category?  Yet it had to be proven. Some scientists are now even suggesting that Omicron developed in mice — which may be a good thing, as it may be milder, but that wasn’t the obvious result of it having spread to rodents.


The lack of recommendations regarding eye protection, despite the clear communication of the eyes with the nose, is in this vein. The virus hasn't been scientifically proven to be transmitted through the eyes, so, despite the widespread empirical experience in emergency rooms, no eye protection recommendation is given.  


This innocent until proven guilty attitude towards the virus is really an appalling.  It has resulted in millions of deaths.  


In fact, my personal experience with common colds is that they ALWAYS start in the eyes.  First, the eyes itch. Then I get the scratchy throat.  Then the cold develops.  If you look at the configurations of the orifices of the face, the eyes are most exposed.  The nose points downwards.  The mouth has saliva, which has been shown to kill many coronaviruses.  The eyes are just sitting there — sitting ducks.

Here's an article about the possible role of the eyes in infection https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanmic/article/PIIS2666-5247(21)00040-9/fulltext It's really only a matter of time before they "prove" that the eyes are important in infection with respiratory viruses.  In the meantime, people die.