A Journal of the Plague Year (11)

Today I’ve been busy trying to organize bookmarks in my browser in the right folders so as to make everything readily accessible for my preparation of the latest screed.

Also, Zotero for the academic publications to be saved for references.

First, an excellent source for the real meat of this thing with all the latest from bioRxiv.org {here], a preprint server like arxiv.org for physics.

Second, BoJo himself in the UK has been diagnosed with corona virus; rich and poor can be cut down. But we hope he’s going to be OK, he’s got a lot of work to do—no time for slacking.


And now…

In a situation like this, there is precious little time for partisan shenanigans, but you wouldn’t know it from the behavior of Pelosi and the Democrats in the US. Blame seems to be cast always on the politicians in office.

Actually, I’m going to go out on a limb here and cut the politicos a bit slack. Not much, but a bit. No country in the world has been prepared for this. Europe, America, the UK, Canada, wherever, no-one. Political leaders are always confronted with the Something-Must-Be-Done Syndrome. Whatever problem or fresh disaster occurs, whatever weird social deviance is suddenly de rigeur for the chattering classes, whatever new degeneracy deserves some special new “right”, our political leaders Must-Do-Something. When, most of the time, nothing need be done. Their skepticism really is justified much of the time.

But when it does need to be done, when it’s based in the scientific reality of the world and not the fevered imaginations of some deranged progressives, it’s suddenly very difficult.

An interesting article appeared today in the City Journal, (America’s Regulatory Framework Exacerbated Covid-19 Crisis) an American blog, concerning the lead up to this disaster in the US. As the preliminary phases of the epidemic began to show up on the radar of medical professionals, the warning signs were noted. I’ll just quote this passage in toto, as I can’t summarize it any better and the details are important…[CDC = Center for Disease Control]:

As has been widely reported, the CDC’s in-house testing design was flawed, thus compromising early testing results. Mistakes happen, but the impact of the test-design flaw was much greater than it should have been—owing to the U.S. bureaucracy’s tightly controlled process. Even had the CDC test worked perfectly, not nearly enough tests would have been available for wide-scale testing on the South Korean model.
The reasons: the American regulatory system, cumbersome even in emergency settings; and the specific choices made by regulators that proved to be tragic misjudgments. As Alec Stapp of the left-leaning Progressive Policy Institute has documented, after Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar declared a public-health emergency on January 31, private laboratories had to obtain an Emergency Use Authorization to conduct their own testing. On February 4, the FDA approved an authorization for the CDC—and only the CDC. This created a testing bottleneck, with all testing in the nation routed through the government agency. By February 28, the CDC had processed only 4,000 tests. The next day, the FDA finally invoked the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments to permit testing at some 5,000 highly specialized virology labs (among more than a quarter-million laboratories nationwide with some testing capability). The first Emergency Use Authorization granted to any entity other than the CDC was issued on March 12, to Roche. Throughout this period, the rollout of mass testing was limited by privacy rules in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA); they were not waived until March 15.
Some of the holdups in the critical early U.S. testing effort read like paradigmatic illustrations of bureaucratic bloat. In Emergency Use Authorization applications in the face of an epidemic, the government was actually requiring labs to mail in CD-ROMs for agency review, rather than permitting online submission, owing to outdated rules. (Thankfully, they’ve since dropped that particular rule.)

That mailing in CD-ROMs in this day and age at the apex of a national emergency is not only so 20th century but shows the suffocating force of bureaucratic red tape—in an organization that is responsible for dealing with emergencies! So anyone thinking that more government control of the health care business is a good thing should think again.

In any emergency response operation, responsibility for much decision-making and action has to devolve to those on the front lines who are dealing with the actual problem. The bureaucracy is always worrying about what the clouds of parasitic lawyers might do if a decision later turns out to be not the best choice (which invariably happens in real emergencies). And the political leaders are always worrying about how this will look on the re-election prospects. “You told us it was a national emergency and only 300 people died!” —as the media-bitches will whine afterwards.

Perhaps Satan has a special room for some of the media.

Rebel Yell