Leana Wen has led several lives in the media over the past couple of years. She was a leading COVID hawk back in 2021 who compared going out in public without being vaccinated to drunk driving. But almost as quickly she angered the left this year for turning on mask mandates and other restrictions with statements like this.
For those who don’t agree that the vaccinated can return to pre-pandemic normal, I ask: What should we all do? Perpetual masking? Forever not dining out, avoiding large weddings & indoor gatherings, etc? Virtually everything has risk, and zero covid is not a viable strategy.
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) March 23, 2022
She actually got the full cancel culture treatment because of her new opinions:
Her columns in recent months have sung a new Covid tune, encouraging governments to drop mask mandates and embrace “individual responsibility.” This is what some of us have argued all along. But no political epiphany goes unpunished. And now more than 600 activists are demanding that the American Public Health Association cancel her as a panelist at a conference this autumn…
Her opponents accuse her of promoting “unscientific, unsafe, ableist, fatphobic, and unethical practices.” They take issue with a column in which she argued that large events such as Washington’s Gridiron Club dinner in April should go on despite the contagion risk. “This is our new normal—one that’s based on individuals being thoughtful about their own risks and the risks they pose to others,” she wrote.
In August she wrote a column explaining why here kids wouldn’t be wearing masks in school this year. Today, Wen has a new piece at the Post arguing that we’re currently overcounting COVID deaths and that isn’t very helpful for helping people estimate the real danger of the disease at this point.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States is experiencing around 400 covid deaths every day. At that rate, there would be nearly 150,000 deaths a year.
But are these Americans dying from covid or with covid?…
Two infectious-disease experts I spoke with believe that the number of deaths attributed to covid is far greater than the actual number of people dying from covid. Robin Dretler, an attending physician at Emory Decatur Hospital and the former president of Georgia’s chapter of Infectious Diseases Society of America, estimates that at his hospital, 90 percent of patients diagnosed with covid are actually in the hospital for some other illness.
“Since every hospitalized patient gets tested for covid, many are incidentally positive,” he said. A gunshot victim or someone who had a heart attack, for example, could test positive for the virus, but the infection has no bearing on why they sought medical care.
So how many people hospitalized with COVID as opposed to from COVID? Massachusetts has been separating the categories and has found about 30% are there because of COVID while the rest are there for other reasons but happen to also have it. Here’s a graph showing the difference.
This seems like a pretty obvious difference that we ought to be tracking everywhere. Dr. Wen concludes:
To be clear, if the covid death count turns out to be 30 percent of what’s currently reported, that’s still unacceptably high. But that knowledge could help people better gauge the risks of traveling, indoor dining and activities they have yet to resume.
We have more than one measure of unemployment, why not more than one measure of COVID hospitalizations and deaths. For most people, the relevant number is going to be the one that tells them how many people died from COVID. In fact, most people are already living as if the totals we hear are an overestimate. Why not just clarify the situation so people can better estimate their own risk? Anyway, I just checked Twitter and sure enough there are people outraged about this new column. Dr. Wen has gone from progressive COVID champion to spreader of misinformation, etc.