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Horowitz: NFL rejects COVID testing regimen that picks up low viral loads. When can we do the same?


Science for me, but not for thee

by_nicholas/Getty Images

Science for me, but not for thee.

We've seen this happen throughout the country. One college kid comes down with the sniffles or milder respiratory infection symptoms than what typically goes around the dormitory during a change in weather. The school immediately tests everyone in the school and discovers an "outbreak" of asymptomatic infections. Then they either shut down the institution or turn all the students into jail inmates. However, there is a group of VIPs who get to live by authentic science: the players of the National Football League. Too bad we don't have top-notch doctors advocating for our children in the same way.

Last month, a bombshell New York Times report showed that as many as 90% of the positive results in some states are infections in name only because they don't contain enough viral load to make someone sick or infect anyone. The threshold of amplification in these testing labs is evidently set so high – what is called 40 "cycle thresholds" – that they are detecting what are, for all practical purposes, false positives. This would explain why we are seeing a constant panic of record "cases" in certain institutions and parts of the country, but the hospitals are completely empty. Well, the NFL is now able to abide by the real science.

Why is it that we are not seeing the same level of disruption in professional football as we are seeing in the schools and colleges?

Yesterday, my former colleague Jordan Schachtel discovered an interview with the NFL's chief medical examiner from a month ago that provides us with the answer. In a conference call with the media on August 24, several days before the New York Times had us even discussing a "cycle threshold," Dr. Allen Sills, the chief medical examiner for the NFL, was onto the fraud of hyper-amplification and was taking action to rectify the problems this process causes for his institution.

"The other thing that we look at is, we want to look at what we call low positives, which means they have a high … we're looking at something called a cycle threshold and that is how many times the amplification process has to go through before it becomes positive," said the NFL's chief medical examiner on the conference call last month.

What are the policy implications?

"If we see a lot of patients that are testing positive with high-cycle threshold, then that's also a red flag to stop and actually go back and look at our run. And then the other thing that we do is we take swabs of our hood on a fairly frequent basis and actually just swab all of the, around our hood, several times in different places and actually test those. Of course, that should be negative."

In other words, football players get to follow science before their livelihoods are shut down and they are forced into lockdown for two weeks. They get to throw red flags just like they do out on the playing field. What about our college kids?

We already knew, as early as several weeks ago, that the NFL adjusted its testing policy to minimize false positives. CNN reported, "An initial positive test will continue to be followed by two more tests ... But they now can be cleared on the same day if both test results immediately come back negative."

Isn't it nice to have the money and clout of the NFL? But what about the rest of us? We can't obtain follow-up tests to appeal our lockdowns. We can't investigate the cycle thresholds or whether the lab hoods were already contaminated.

The truth be told, this is one time the NFL actually got it right. What's interesting is how our government and society recognize the faulty nature of positive tests without symptoms when it actually matters to their bottom line. The FDA sets strict standards for vaccine trials. So, what is the definition of a COVID-19 case for the purpose of Moderna's vaccine trial? If you look at the protocol (p. 131), it clearly states that a positive test without symptoms does not meet the definition of a case to be used in a vaccine trial.

So, these bogus cases are real enough to serve as the sickness and the excuse to lock us down, but not to test the cure? Garbage in, garbage out.

The effect on children is devastating. My son's private school in Maryland is shut down because of the existence of supposed cases that would never be known without this "test-demic" and where students and teachers, even the ones with symptoms, are less sick than they are from a flu or strep throat. Colleges have become virtual prisons. Meanwhile, out of nearly 50,000 known cases on a list of dozens of state university systems, there are just two known hospitalizations and zero deaths:

Despite all of the cases, there are now fewer people in ERs with COVID-like illness than at any time all year, according to the CDC.

And remember, those numbers include people who come in with trauma from a car accident or a pregnant woman coming in to deliver a baby but who test positive – with these same faulty tests.

So, the next time a school wants to lock down your child, just tell them he is training for the NFL. After all, they might not respect our national anthem, but at least they respect science … or have the clout to abide by it.
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