Public health says it has no data on what works and what does not work

Oregon has released its periodic modeling update report.

Shockingly, they say they have no data on what measures work or do not work, or whether or not anyone is adhering to them. They have no information on whether some measures work better or worse than others. They have no data on any measures at all.

First, disease transmission was falling 2 weeks before the Governor put us under house arrest on March 19th.

The data are consistent with a stepped reduction in transmission in Oregon, beginning with a 5% decrease in transmission after March 8, up to a maximum 80% decrease in transmission after March 23. Indeed, while the interventions before March 23 appeared to have slowed epidemic growth, the additional aggressive measures implemented on March 23 (i.e., “Stay Home, Save Lives”) appeared to have further curtailed that growth.

What worked and what did not work is not known – what?

The reductions were likely due to people spending more time at home, as well as an increase in hygiene and disinfection practices, wearing of face coverings, and physical distancing outside the home; however, the data to determine the relative contribution of each change are lacking.

Translation: We don’t know whether any measure works or does not work, no idea how each works relative to others if at all, but we have a religious belief that some things work, maybe, perhaps, kinda, sorta. Close enough for government work.

It is not possible to confidently predict future COVID-19 trends because of significant gaps in knowledge. For example, we do not have comprehensive measures of adherence to the physical distancing, face covering, hygiene, isolation, and quarantine guidance, do not know how adherence will change over time, and do not know what the effects of seasonal changes will be.

Translation: We do not have any data to support any mitigation measures. None at all. Yet we can confidently tell you that face masks work – even as we tell you that we do not know. We can confidently tell you that face masks work better than a vaccine for which we do not yet have any data. Beyond parody!

Pubic health is astrology pretending to be a science. Using a computer does not turn astrology into a science.

It would not be a problem if public health were honest – authoritatively telling us that X works when they privately admit they don’t know confirms that public health has no credibility.

FYI – these modelers are okay. First, they have open sourced their simulation-based model code. Second, I have examined it and it seems reasonable and adhering to general software development principles (unlike the ICL pile of shit model code). Third, they openly discuss their model limitations. This is exactly how models should be done and discussed. Models that make numerous assumptions, based on no evidentiary support, can still get a good answer, just by luck! The happenstance of accidentally getting the correct answer 🙂

In Appendix 2 they have a list of government actions taken. They left out that on June 2nd, public health said protesting was more important than fighting a virus. Kind of a significant milestone to omit from the history.

In the last paragraph

Finally, significant unknowns remain, including information about public adherence to guidance (e.g., physical distancing, face coverings, hygiene, isolation, quarantine), the disease dynamics, and treatment. As CDC stated (CDC Planning Scenarios) “new data on COVID-19 are available daily; information about its biological and epidemiological haracteristics remain limited, and uncertainty remains around nearly all parameter values.

To quote Monty Python, “It’s only a model”.