Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
The author is basically saying "we got everything wrong." It would be more plausible if he had said "I got everything wrong and I continue to do so as evidenced by this opinion piece."
From the newsweek opinion piece:
>>Most of us did not speak up in support of alternative views, and many of us tried to suppress them. When strong scientific voices like world-renowned Stanford professors John Ioannidis, Jay Bhattacharya, and Scott Atlas
, or University of California
San Francisco professors Vinay Prasad and Monica Gandhi, sounded the alarm on behalf of vulnerable communities, they faced severe censure by relentless mobs of critics and detractors in the scientific community—often not on the basis of fact but solely on the basis of differences in scientific opinion."
Let's look at Bhattacharya.
>>>Dr. Bhattacharya, for instance, proclaimed
in The Wall Street Journal in March 2020 that Covid-19 was only one-tenth as deadly as the flu. In January 2021 he wrote an opinion essay for the Indian publication The Print suggesting
that the majority of the country had acquired natural immunity from infection already and warning that a mass vaccination program would do more harm than good for people already infected. Shortly thereafter, the country’s brutal Delta wave killed perhaps several million Indians. <<<
Before getting to the main point, I'll nit pick the NY Times opinion piece. As I read it, in the WSJ piece by Bhattacharya he didn't actually proclaim that COVID was only one-tenth as deadly as the flu, but Bhattacharya did suggest it might be that low (based on extrapolation and guesswork). The NY Times opinion is creating a straw man of sorts, but that doesn't mean Bhattacharya had a solid scientific basis to assert COVID is relatively benign.
Flu deaths in the U.S. ranged from 12,000 - 52,000 between 2010 and 2020.
View attachment 59984
Learn about how CDC estimates the burden of seasonal influenza in the U.S.
That's about 350,000 total over 10 years.
In three years COVID has caused about 1.1 million deaths in the U.S.
How does mortality differ across countries? Examining the number of deaths per confirmed case and per 100,000 population. A global comparison.
I realize Bhattacharya was estimating the case fatality rate of COVID, not the total number of deaths. Still, no matter how slice or spin it he was off by a country mile.
The Newsweek piece says "they faced severe censure by relentless mobs of critics and detractors in the scientific community—often not on the basis of fact but solely
on the basis of differences in scientific opinion." This is not really true. As I see it, the main reason that Bhattacharya drew criticism is because he started with an extremely low case fatality rate based on a SWAG (Scientific Wild-*ss Guess), and went on to argue policy issues based on this SWAG (e.g. the Great Barrington Declaration). To my mind the policy arguments went way beyond the evidence (I had actually hoped early in the pandemic that the case fataility rates would prove to be as low as some of the estimates).
Nassim Taleb annoys the living sh*t out of me because he's so flipping arrogant, but I do think he gets a lot of things right when it comes to assessing risks and decision making when faced with limited data.
The YouTube video (link below) is just one example, it's probably not the most relevant to the topic at hand but I'm not motivated to sift through all of his material to find the best one.