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December 23, 2021 Reading Time: 5 minutes

As we head into winter, based on the most recent government data, estimates are that only about five Americans in a thousand could conceivably transmit Covid-19 to someone else. In other words, an estimated nearly 99.5 percent of people in the United States are currently no threat to anyone of spreading the virus. Even with rising case counts owing to seasonality and perhaps the new variant, this proportion will not change very much. And despite the large case count, 19 out of every 20 cases are recovered, meaning not only that those people are no longer threats, but also that they now have the strongest form of immunity against Covid-19. 

As explained in the inaugural US Threat-Free Index, those numbers sound counter to the usual presentation of official Covid numbers, which is because media reports never seek to inform but to stoke fear. People seeking good information are long past expecting any responsible reporting from major news services. Media refuse to put any context to the data and ignore and silence epidemiologists, physicians, economists, statisticians, mental and behavioral health professionals, child psychologists, surgeons, cardiologists, industry representatives, policy analysts, and others who raise well-founded objections based on their specialized knowledge. We are nearing two years of being “protected” from these perspectives, which still could help round out our understanding of risks, rewards, alternatives, and tradeoffs involved in our societal as well as personal choices regarding Covid.

With recent revelations from the National Institute of Health emails among Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Francis Collins, and others, we have learned just how intentional the government/media collusion against Covid apostasy has been. They targeted the reputations of highly regarded scientists Martin Kulldorff of Harvard, Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford as “fringe epidemiologists” while seeking a “quick and devastating published take down[sic]” of their Great Barrington Declaration. Why? As Phillip W. Magness and James R. Harrigan pointed out, those scientists “were simply doing what any good scientist would do: They were following the evidence.”

The evidence prompted them in the GBD to lay out an informed vision for “focused protection” from the virus in which life — school, sports, business, dining, social and cultural activities, etc. — immediately returns to normal for those who are not vulnerable to severe Covid outcomes, in order to protect the vulnerable through rising herd immunity. Alarmingly to Fauci, Collins, and others, it was a compelling alternative to government lockdowns and, more broadly, the myriad other interventions aimed at keeping Americans from resuming life as normal. How preferable would such an approach have been these past two years?

Now we head into winter, into the teeth of what used to be called “cold and flu season.” Seasonality has been politically forgotten, however, deposited down the virtual memory hole with such other inconvenient stuff as Everything We Know About How the Immune System Works, piles of research into Why Face Masks Don’t Work Against Airborne Viruses, promises last year that Hey We Only Need to Do These Things Till the Vaccines Arrive, and millennia of history that Scientific Inquiry Begins With Questioning the Current Science. When people catch Covid, it will never be said it’s because terrible government powers cannot dictate to natural forces; no, it will be blamed on disobedient people wickedly disrupting their plans. 

The Biden administration is setting a new low for that tone. White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, a title as impressive as Canute’s Royal Director of the Tides, recently unveiled the new messaging: “For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm.”

There remains no acknowledgment of, nor accommodation for people with natural immunity from prior infection, even as 140 research studies and counting attest to the superior strength and breadth of natural immunity to Covid-19. Recognizing such an obvious, large, and growing population with no need for being forced to receive two shots plus boosters every six months in perpetuity would significantly undercut the formidable new business model of the providers of those products. Dissonant data (or should that be dissident?) will continue to be squelched, and fear will continue to be fomented.

The Threat-Free Index is a response to this unhealthy diet of fear and provides greater context for people to have a healthy, warranted respect for the virus rather than an unhealthy, unwarranted abject terror of it and their fellow citizens, including their friends, neighbors, even family. The index has several components, all easily derived from official government data. They include:

Active cases: the number of people currently with lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19. These are the people who could conceivably transmit the virus to others. The number of active cases is generated by taking the total number of cases and subtracting out presumed recoveries and deaths.

Presumed recovered: the number of convalescent people who have had a lab-confirmed case of Covid-19 and are no longer sick and infectious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers recovery to be generally 10 days post infection. For my index I have been rounding that to two weeks (14 days). The number of presumed recovered is generated, then, by taking the total number of cases from two weeks prior and subtracting out all deaths from or with Covid-19.

Deaths: the number of people who have died either from or with Covid-19.

Population: the daily US population estimate provided by the US Census Bureau. The index states the above numbers also as proportions of the US population. 

Here are the Threat-Free Index estimates as of December 17:

  • Active cases: 1,709,889 among a population of 332,998,518
  • Presumed recovered: 48,123,268
  • Percent of total cases presumed recovered: 95.0%
  • Percent of total cases that are active: 3.4%
  • Percent of the total US population with active cases of Covid: over 0.5%
  • Percent of the US population to have died with or from Covid-19: over 0.2%
  • Percent of the US population posing no threat of passing along COVID-19: nearly 99.5%

These are estimates, of course, and the data are incomplete. Also, the estimates will vary regionally, though not by much. 

Importantly, the index does not distinguish among cases according to their severity, an oversight in common with daily news reports on rising case counts. There is mounting evidence that cases are increasingly decoupling from hospitalization and deaths, however, which is additional context that could tamp down people’s fears and undercut the extreme emergency edicts.

The index gives a close approximation of the current risk to a hypothetical person going out in public somewhere in the United States of encountering someone with a transmissible Covid infection. Notice that the risk estimated here is of encountering someone with a transmissible infection, not of contracting an infection. Becoming infected requires a greater range of circumstances than a chance encounter. It includes length of time spent near an infected person, proximity, location, air circulation and purification, how symptomatic the person is, and one’s own immune protection (especially if one has acquired natural immunity from fighting off a prior infection).

The risk is decidedly lower than what people have been made to believe. The risks from government tyranny excused by this belief are much, much higher.

Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is an economist and the director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he also serves as research editor. The center focuses on protecting and expanding freedom in the vital areas of agriculture, energy, and the environment.

Follow him on Twitter @jonpsanders

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