A New Covid-19 Myth?

A correspondent suggested I should have known that the pandemic was over months ago. That’s obviously a myth. But where did that idea come from?

Everything I have been reading indicates that the pandemic is far from over. Around the world, people are still testing positive, being hospitalized, and dying. It is not as deadly as the 1918 flu epidemic, which has been estimated to have killed between 17 and 100 million people. So far COVID-19 has killed  3,918,958 worldwide: 618,694 in the US, 393,508 in India, 509,282 in Brazil, 232,068 in Mexico, 191,286 in Peru, and so on.

In the introduction to my monthly SkepDoc newsletter for June, I mentioned that bad news along with this good news: “Pandemic death rates are declining. On June 13, there were 105 new deaths confirmed in the U.S. compared to 6,000 deaths per day a year ago.” In response, I got a surprising email saying the pandemic has been over for months, and suggesting I would have known that had my MD degree not been “from Walgreen’s U”. I was flabbergasted. I wrote back and asked them to explain what they meant, but I didn’t get an answer.

The experts have been saying COVID-19 will probably never go away but will subside into an endemic infection similar to the current seasonal influenza. In areas where the numbers of cases and deaths have decreased, the success has been attributed to a combination of effective vaccines, masks, and restrictions. There are still many unanswered questions. The Delta variant is worrisome, but the vaccines are effective against it. Steven Novella wrote about this last week, saying “we have not won this race against the pandemic yet”. Will we need booster shots or annual vaccines? We don’t know yet.

David Gorski has been doing yeoman’s work to counter every bit of misinformation circulating about the virus and the vaccines, but I don’t recall him ever mentioning the myth that the pandemic has been over for months. I tried to find the source of that myth but I wasn’t successful. Where did that idea come from? I find it hard to believe that my correspondent thought it up independently; I’m guessing they were repeating something they had heard or read. Since many of our readers are more knowledgeable than I and more adept at searching the internet and social media, I thought I would throw it out there and see what others could find.

Conclusion: No, the pandemic has not been over for months

My correspondent was obviously wrong, but I’m intrigued to know where that wrong idea might have come from.

Author

  • Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so),  and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel.  In 2008 she published her memoirs, Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly
  • This article was originally published in the Science-Based Medicine Blog

Dr. Hall is a contributing editor to both Skeptic magazine and the Skeptical Inquirer. She is a weekly contributor to the Science-Based Medicine Blog and is one of its editors. She has also contributed to Quackwatch and to a number of other respected journals and publications. She is the author of Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon and co-author of the textbook, Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions.

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