Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden insists that, if he wins the November election, his COVID-19 policies will “follow the science.” This would certainly be a welcome departure from his rhetoric regarding the pandemic. Biden’s public statements, particularly on mask mandates, general lockdowns, and in-person education, are clearly at odds with the recommendations of an increasing number of epidemiologists and public health scientists. His continued advocacy of countermeasures that have proven ineffective or even harmful suggest that the former vice president is scientifically illiterate or has deliberately ignored the discoveries made by genuine scientists about COVID-19 since it claimed its first U.S. victim in February.
Biden’s position on allowing kids to return to school and permitting in-person education is just as scientifically illiterate as his positions on mask mandates and general lockdowns.
The most risible manifestation of Biden’s imposture concerning COVID-19 involves his science-free claims that mask mandates will somehow ameliorate transmission of the virus. He recently told a group of Michigan supporters, “Wearing a mask is not only going to protect you, but it also protects those around you.” This nonsense has been repeatedly debunked by randomized controlled trial (RCT) studies. No RCT study with a verified outcome — not one — has shown that masks prevent the spread of respiratory influenza-like illnesses (both influenza and COVID-19 spread via droplet and aerosol transmission). The ineffectiveness of masks has been confirmed by a meta-analysis that can be found at the official website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
In our systematic review, we identified 10 RCTs that reported estimates of the effectiveness of face masks in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infections in the community.… There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure. Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.
Yet Biden’s campaign website states that he will “Implement mask mandates nationwide by working with governors and mayors.” His public statements have made it clear that “working with governors and mayors” means he will use the power of the federal government to bully them into imposing mask mandates on their citizens. Biden’s website also claims, “Experts say that if 95% of Americans wear masks between now and December, we can save almost 70,000 lives.” This is based on a projection by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). It was the IHME “experts,” you will recall, who produced such inaccurate projections concerning hospital overcrowding and ICU bed shortages that millions of health-care workers were unnecessarily laid off.
Far more egregious than Biden’s pseudoscientific posturing on mask mandates are his claims about lockdowns. In late August, he was asked by ABC News’ David Muir if he would be prepared to shut the country down if he is sworn in as president in January. Biden replied, “I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists.” Biden didn’t name any “scientists” to whom he would listen but an increasing number of genuine public health experts have denounced lockdowns as dangerous. The most recent such statement, “The Great Barrington Declaration,” was signed by an international group of nearly 15,000 epidemiologists, public health scientists, and medical practitioners. They expressed grave concerns about the COVID-19 policies advocated by the former vice president:
Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health — leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden.
The signatories to the declaration are particularly concerned about the ongoing harm done to students kept out of school. This brings us to yet another pseudoscientific position adopted by the former vice president when parents began preparing to send their children back to schools. In a tweet with his wife, Jill, Biden declared that returning children to school was too risky: “Everyone wants our schools to reopen. The question is how to make it safe and how to make it stick. Forcing educators and students back into classrooms in areas where infection rates are going up or remaining too high is just plain dangerous.” This claim flies in the face of everything we have learned about who is most vulnerable to the virus: “For children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than other threats, including influenza.”
Biden’s position on allowing kids to return to school and permitting in-person education is just as scientifically illiterate as his positions on mask mandates and general lockdowns. According to CDC statistics, the number of children from 5 to 14 who have succumbed to COVID-19 is 35 out of an age cohort totaling 40.9 million. The average age of a public school teacher is 42 years old. The number of Americans aged 35 to 44 who have succumbed to COVID-19 is 4,039 out of a total age cohort of 41.6 million. In other words, children who would normally attend school from kindergarten through middle school — and their teachers — are all but immune from COVID-19. Yet our erstwhile vice president insists that forcing educators and students back into classrooms is just “too dangerous.”
Joe Biden’s strategy for dealing with COVID-19 has nothing to do with “following the science.” To the extent that he and his Democratic accomplices even understand the scientific implications of mask mandates, lockdowns, and in-person education, they aren’t really interested. Their calculations concerning the pandemic are purely political. The pseudoscientic facade, phony statistics, and general fear-mongering about COVID-19 are all part of an elaborate Beltway farce. It’s about getting rid of President Trump and putting his “deplorable” supporters in their place. It’s time to end the masquerade.