As states move through the phases of opening, “contact tracing” remains a topic of national interest. For several months now, talking heads of government and the media have called this strategy the saving grace of the country. One NBC Header to read“Coronavirus contact tracing can stop COVID-19 and discover America,” and CNN article declared“The US – or indeed any country – cannot safely open without a significant amount of contact tracking and testing.”
With this stellar perception tens of states rushed to train and hire tens of thousands of contact trackers – what former CDC director Tom Frieden happily tells described as army” tracers.
It is true that contact tracing has been an indispensable asset in the past many times – it helped to destroy viruses by carefully monitoring their spread. So it’s no secret why some health experts flock to him in the current crisis.
In short, here’s how it works: Tracking contacts conduct short telephone interviews with newly diagnosed patients about who they recently had close, physical contact with. There are concerns that these recent contacts could have infected the virus from the patient before he was diagnosed. These contacts are then phoned by tracers, informing them of this risk and prompting them to immediately apply for testing and independent quarantine. Tracers continue this process in the future to reduce the number of times a virus is transmitted.
Several states have also begun developing smartphone applications for digitally tracking contacts. Phones with the application exchange unique encrypted numbers via Bluetooth, which are then stored on their devices. If the user of the application is diagnosed with COVID, he must notify the application, which then publishes a log of numbers received by his phone over the past fourteen days. If one of these numbers corresponds to the number stored on the device of another user, the application will send a notification to this user that he recently spoke with a newly diagnosed patient with COVID.
Until now, the adoption of these applications in the United States has remained completely voluntary, unlike other countries such as China and South KoreaIn general, however, most states have yet to demonstrate a strong interest in digital tracking. The focus is still on creating an “army” to track the spread of the virus, no matter how much the country can cost.
Contact tracking job vacancies are temporary for months or up to a yearwith an annual salary of 40,000 to 70,000 dollars. These numbers are roughly on par with entry level salaries registered nurses, for work that anyone who completes six-hour free course can be hired for. However, few people doubted whether such a payment is excessive or whether such use of taxpayer money is reasonable. All of this was blindly approved under the sacred pretext of “public health.”
Given that experts recommend that the country hire a total of 150,000 contact tracking tools, these programs can ultimately cost states $ 1 to $ 10.5 billion. USA. In addition to this amount, there are any additional costs incurred by several countries developing digital tracing applications. Even worse, bills are currently floating around house and senate if passed, he will create a federal program for tracking contacts with a price of up to $ 100 billion. For government budgets, this may look like zeros and decimal digits, but there are serious economic losses to be reckoned with.
An increase in government spending is often accompanied by an increase in taxes and almost always an increase in the money supply. In any case, the welfare of people subsequently decreases. Thus, individuals and their families must reduce the amount saved, which in turn reduces the amount of borrowed funds from a level that would otherwise be available. As a result, investment in the economy is falling, slowing down the pace of economic growth. This can seriously slow down the economic recovery after the crisis.
In our current crisis, unlike any other, many enterprises were closed for months, not because of economic circumstances, but by order of the state. This has contributed to an acute employment crisis in the United States, over 20 million workers were cut out of wages only in April. Some of these reductions were temporary leave, but part of this number reflects a permanent loss of jobs – either because companies have to cut operating expenses or go bankrupt directly.
Some proponents of government contact tracking programs believe they are killing two birds with one stone, helping to eliminate COVID while returning people to work. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) made this clear when she co-authored the federal Contact Tracking Bill: “Our policies must meet the needs of the moment, which means we need to be creative in getting people back to work,”
But government job programs do not actually create jobs other than externally. The reality is that they are pumping labor from potentially productive enterprises at the expense of wages, supported by artificially high rates. It will also delay economic recovery and should be stopped immediately for the benefit of private enterprise. But, apparently, the program will continue uninterrupted, as it fits perfectly into the narrative that the state can solve all the problems of society – regardless of what economics and epidemiology actually say about it.
How the public should respond to the virus depends largely on how widespread its asymptomatic transmission is. Unfortunately, the available research on this issue is limited and controversial, which allows tricky politicians to play both sides of the fence to break through.
Some early results suggest that the virus undergoes significant release in non-symptomatic patients, which means that asymptomatic transmission is indeed common. Looking through this narrow lens, it seems that there is cause for concern. However, evidence of the prevalence of asymptomatic transmission is ultimately rather scarce, and there is evidence to the contrary.
WHO spokeswoman Maria van Kerchove recently claimed this is based on “a series of reports from countries that conduct very detailed contact tracing,” the asymptomatic transmission is “very rare,” directly contradicting what health officials have long suspected of the virus. If the risk of infection remains low until symptoms appear, the likelihood of spreading the virus to other patients is much lower. This concept, however, is also based on data that are currently incomplete, leaving the issue of asymptomatic transmission unresolved and open to further study. But whatever the underlying reality, there must inevitably be a serious problem for advocates of government efforts to counter the pandemic.
Governors initially imposed restrictions, fearing that asymptomatic carriers would spread the virus. Since someone could have contracted and become infected unknowingly, locks were introduced as proactive quarantine for the entire population.But, according to Dr. Don Prince, a former research leader at the Center for Disease Control, if “the loss is 2-5 days before any signs or symptoms appear, I would have thought [contact tracing] it would be almost impossible. ” Indeed, with an incubation period lasting from two to fourteen days, many patients will remain contagious for a long time without any symptoms. New transmission chains will easily arise, leading to an exponential increase in the number of new cases. By the time contact trackers tried to display the likely route of transmission, the virus would have spread to a number of other people — and so on and so forth.
On the other hand, if asymptomatic transmission is “very rare,” as van Kerchove argued, contact tracing can be a successful strategy. If the virus is spread only by symptomatic patients, then all the reasons for blocking are completely destroyed. With all the economic, political, social and psychological damage caused by the locks, they would not bring any benefit to public health. This comes down to the following: either (1) the locks were effective, or (2) contact tracing is effective, but politicians cannot use it in both cases.
Nonetheless, major government sponsors moved forward without delay. In fact, they doubled their internal contradictions. CDC for example declared that “asymptomatic transmission increases the need for increased throughput for … careful contact tracing.” This, of course, is the repetition of a long-standing call for increased funding –oh how our problems would disappear if we spent more. Directing more money to programs that are inherently flawed will not lead to better or more effective results, but to programs that are just as flawed, but with more staff.
Trying to track COVID probably won’t work anyway
Even if we discard the obvious duplicity of public health on the part of politicians, their contact tracing plans do not withstand scientific control. Whatever the case with asymptomatic transmission, the COVID characteristics pose contact tracking tools unique and probably insurmountable problems, leaving the US tracking army Besieged,
The first problem is that fishing COVID is not specific for activity, unlike other viruses, such as, say, HIV. Anyone in the immediate vicinity of a contagious patient with COVID is at risk of inhaling droplets infected with the virus that cough, sneeze or exhale – it doesn’t matter where people are or what they are doing. This suggests that the virus can often be transmitted between completely strangers, in which case contact tracing becomes impossible, since tracing depends on patients recalling their recent contacts.
It only got worse in the last month, when Black Lives Matter riots broke out all over the country – an ideal storm for the spread of the virus. Research work showed actions such as screaming, singing and singing to increase the distance that infectious drops are thrown into the air. This not only leads to the appearance of new cases of the disease, but also complicates, even makes it impossible for tracers to find out who transmitted the virus to whom.
A second problem occurs when symptoms begin to manifest. The way COVID manifests itself is diverse, some patients show only irregular symptoms usually not associated with the virus, like loss of smell, rash, and delirium. Many of its main symptoms, including dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath, are found in many other diseases that further pollute the water. This leaves gaping holes in the medical record and can lead to new, hard to track outbreaks.
Although designed to increase efficiency and effectiveness, digital tracking applications are also full of significant challenges. If the applications are not loaded by a sufficient number of residents, many can easily fail and infect others. Applications benefit public health only if they are widely used. But today, almost 20% Americans still do not own smartphones, and a recent survey showed that only half of those who do this consider downloading a tracking application. And this is not even mentioning the fact that people do not always have their phones on their faces, which means that many interactions can occur without tracking and under the radar.
Focusing solely on proximity, digital tracing continues to err, Internal airflow represents a risk the spread of infectious drops across rooms and throughout buildings — far beyond the six-foot proximity that applications are looking for. This summer, this risk may be increased by AC ventilation. In addition, there is a risk of touching infected surfaces that may contain traces of the virus for hours or up to several daysApplications simply cannot account for this kind of distribution, which further reduces their overall effectiveness.
Moreover, there are some cases when people who are physically next to each other are extremely unlikely to become infected, for example, at the supermarket checkout counter, separated from the clerk by a Plexiglass shield. However, this will trigger an alert on people’s phones, warning them of the possible impact of COVID without any further explanation – causing a false alarm and probably a lot of anxiety and confusion. The separation of the human factor from the process indisputably affects its reliability, although in the first place it has never been so reliable.
Why should someone still believe in the government when it makes deadly spots at every stage of the pandemic? Public Health Officials Unable to Stop First Cases distribution in society COVID at the end of January even denied that the virus spread uncontrollably until the end of February. The idea that contact tracing is currently a useful strategy in the United States – with active business management about 1 million– ridiculous.
Officials can imitate confidence in the decisions they make, but this is stimulated by pure optics, not science. In all fifty states, these programs are on track to redirect billions of dollars and more than one hundred thousand workers to other valuable goals. And for what? Everything to spin our wheels and plunge into a false sense of hope and security.