To understand the true prevalence of COVID-19 infections in the United States, Jay Bhattacharya has recently undertaken several seroprevalence studies (the study of antibodies in a population). You can read about his study of Santa Clara County in California here
and his study of 5,600 Major League Baseball employees here
Sten Vermund has published numerous scholarly studies on infectious diseases, which you can view here
During the debate both Jay and Sten speak about COVID-19’s “infection fatality rate” (IFR). IFR is one of the most important characteristics of an infectious disease in determining its severity. It is basically the ultimate measure of a disease’s ability to cause death. You can learn more about IFR and how it is estimated here
. In the debate, both Jay and Sten agree that the current estimates of the COVID-19 infection fatality rates are overestimated and therefore misleading. To learn more, read Jay’s Wall Street Journal op ed.
During the debate, Sten points out that between March and May of 2020 there was a 19 per cent excess death rate in the United States. Excess death rates
refer to the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time period and expected number of deaths in the same time period. According to Sten, the excess rates are probably 28 per cent higher than the official deaths tally of COVID-19 because so many cases are not reported. This Nature.com article
supports this view.
Jay argues that part of the science community’s overreaction to COVID-19 has been censorship of unpopular scientific views. Jay refers to an op ed in the New York Times by Michael Eisen
that expresses concern about how scientific study pre-prints are being released before they are peer reviewed, and calling for the establishment of a scientific “rapid review” service for pre-prints.
One of the scientists Jay identifies as having an unorthodox view on COVID-19 is Gabriela Gomez, She speaks about her research on herd immunity occurring when as little as ten percent of the population has been infected with the virus here
and you can read her research article here
Sten and Jay disagree with each other about the feasibility of isolating the most vulnerable members of society, particularly the elderly, while letting the rest of the population continue to live normally. Sten refers to a New York Times article by David Katz
which supports the strategy of “vertical interdiction”, where those over 60 are “preferentially protected.”
Jay refers to the recent release of findings from a Public Health England study
that found negligible spread among one million students who returned to school in June.
During the debate Jay identifies Sweden’s approach to COVID-19 as a model for the world, while Sten argues it represents a failed strategy. You can decide for yourself by listening to the Munk Debate, Be it resolved, Sweden is the model for how to fight this pandemic and the next.