retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We have continued criticisms of my approach to reporting about the pandemic.

One MNB reader wrote:

KC... fear mongering and recycling the left bias news doesn’t really tell the true story. If you persist in spreading the fear then maybe you should reference someone who follows the science and has no political agenda...  Dr. Jay Bhattacharya / Professor Stanford University is a Covid expert who speaks from Science. Can we expect lockdowns to prevent the spread of Covid...the answer is No ! Ruining the economy and people’s lives is not acceptable. We need to accept reality and learn to live with this epidemic. Young people and poor people are paying the ultimate cost as we move forward which means more government dependency... Is that a good thing?

Maybe I'm wrong on this, but Dr. Fauci - who has had his job since being appointed by President Ronald Reagan and has worked for three other Republican presidents (Bush, Bush, Trump) and two Democratic presidents (Clinton, Obama) - strikes me as a very model of a scientist who has no political agenda.

I'm not sure it would be called a political agenda, but Dr. Bhattacharya certainly has an agenda of some kind - he is one of three authors of what has been referred to as the Great Barrington Declaration, which promotes a herd immunity approach to the pandemic.

The New York Times described the Great Barrington Declaration this way:

"The central proposition — which, according to the declaration’s website, is supported by thousands of signatories who identify as science or health professionals — is that to contain the coronavirus, people “who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal” while those at high risk are protected from infection.

"Younger Americans should return to workplaces, schools, shops and restaurants, while older Americans would remain cloistered from the virus as it spreads, receiving such services as grocery deliveries and medical care.

"Eventually so many younger Americans will have been exposed, and presumably will have developed some immunity, that the virus will not be able to maintain its hold on the communities, the declaration contends."

The Times goes on:

"Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, has dismissed the declaration as unscientific, dangerous and 'total nonsense.' Others have called it unethical, particularly for multigenerational families and communities of color.

"Alarmed and angry, 80 experts on Wednesday published a manifesto of their own, the John Snow Memorandum (named after a legendary epidemiologist), saying that the declaration’s approach would endanger Americans who have underlying conditions that put them at high risk from severe Covid-19 — at least one-third of U.S. citizens, by most estimates — and result in perhaps a half-million deaths."

Herd immunity is essentially the approach taken in Sweden, and it hasn't worked.

From Bloomberg:

"There’s little evidence that herd immunity is helping Sweden combat the coronavirus, according to the country’s top epidemiologist … In a recent OECD study, Sweden consistently ranked among the hardest hit nations in Europe, as measured by relative Covid mortality and infection rates. It was also the slowest at containing transmission.

"Sweden was recently forced to recalibrate its approach against the virus, as the daily case rate topped 7,000. In what Prime Minister Stefan Lofven called an 'unprecedented' step earlier this month, Swedes will no longer be free to gather in public in groups larger than eight. The sale of alcohol is now also banned after 10 p.m."

As I've said here before, I'm no scientist … but it seems to me that if we'd followed that approach from the beginning, we probably would have a lot more souls than we've lost.

Here's what I am fairly sure of:  If you think Bhattacharya has no agenda, but that Fauci does, I'm not going to convince you otherwise.  All I'm going to do is try to report the science the best I can, with a constant and consistent eye on how it all may impact retailers.

On this point, let me reiterate something:  Fauci has consistently said that lockdowns are not necessary if people wear masks when outside the home, practice physical distancing and wash their hands frequently.  When people congregate without wearing masks, they are being most successful at perpetuating and exacerbating conditions that make lockdowns necessary.

That's why stores have to be vigilant about enforcing the rules, and consumers have to do their part.

On a related subject, one MNB reader wrote:

To your reader’s point about the Covid recovery rate being 99.5%, note that using that same rate of recovery for successful airline flights, we would have had over 200,000 crashes in 2020.

We had over 40 million flights so far this year even with Covid

Think people would be more careful flying if that were the case?

%’s are one thing.  Raw numbers are another.

Responding to the calculator in the New York Times that allowed people to estimate when they might get the vaccine, one MNB reader wrote:

No priority list is perfect I suppose, but as an older guy with a number of health related concerns who can (and typically does) spend relatively less time out and about, it seems to me everyone would be better served by vaccinating my son who works in a grocery store, my daughter who is a child protection investigator with the sheriff or my wife who works at Walgreens before me. Just saying.

You're right.  No list will be perfect … and as pointed out, the calculator was "only is an estimate, based on available information," and not anything official.  I'm with you, by the way … the calculator suggested that I'd get the vaccine before my daughter, who is a teacher.  I'd want her to get it first.  (If you vaccinate all the nation's teachers, you go a long way toward addressing the problem of school closures.)

On the same subject from another reader:

Just took the NYT test.  I find it very disconcerting that my “place in line” is behind people that break the law and people that do not contribute to our society and economy.  How left of them.  BTW, I’m 64 and employed.

"Left?"  What the hell does that have to do with anything?  The Times only took the best available information and created an algorithm.

Some of those people who may be ahead of you on line may be there because they live in places - like, say, jail - that have become breeding grounds for the virus, and so getting them vaccinated could save a lot of lives.  Even if they are lives that, in your view, don't contribute to society and the economy.