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A big data COVID train wreck

BY ANISH KOKA

If there was any doubt the academic research enterprise is completely broken, we have an absolute train wreck of a study in one of the many specialty journals of the Journal of the American Medical Association — JAMA Health.

I had no idea the journal even existed until today, but I now know to approach the words printed in this journal to the words printed in supermarket tabloids. You should too!

The paper that was brought to my attention is one that purports to examine the deleterious health effects of Long COVID. A sizable group of intellectuals who are still socially distancing and wearing n95s live in fear of a syndrome that persists long after a person recovers from COVID. There are any number of papers that argue a variety of putative mechanisms for how an acute COVID infection may result in long term health concerns. This particular piece of research that is amplified by the usual credentialed suspects on social media found “increased rates of adverse outcomes over a 1-year period for a PCC (post-COVID conditions) cohort surviving the acute phase of illness.”

In this case PCC (Post-COVID conditions), is the stand-in for Long COVID, and leading commentators use this paper to explicitly state that heart attacks, strokes and other major adverse outcomes doubled in people post-COVID at 1 year…

It is a crazy statement, and anyone regurgitating this has no business commenting on any scientific papers. Let me explain why.

In order to find out about the potential ravages of long COVID researchers need to be able to compare outcomes between those who were infected with COVID and now have long covid to those who were never infected with COVID. At this point finding a large enough group of people that never had covid is impossible, because everyone in the world will have been infected with COVID many, many times. It’s also really hard to define the nebulous long COVID because a study after study finds no clear objective markers of the disease.

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