Democrats Must Join Republicans In Calling For A Hearing On Coronavirus ‘Models’

As Americans struggle to conform to a new way of life imposed by government restrictions to control the coronavirus pandemic, government officials are struggling just the same to understand the ever conflicting models and data regarding the severity of the outbreak.

There are more questions than answers. And with possibly more than eight weeks of lockdown still ahead for the nation, concerns are mounting that keeping the country locked down for weeks or months to come could lead to an economic depression that will threaten growth, shudder small businesses and leave people jobless for months or years to come.

More importantly, what are we to believe with regard to various coronavirus models? These models – which vary in number – were and are the basis for the shut-downs implemented by State and local governments across the country. In a little more than four weeks, our way of life has been upended and many of the civil liberties we take for granted are now on hold until the wave of the virus subsides, a treatment is found or a cure.

It’s not to say that the deaths from the virus aren’t priority and it’s also difficult to ascertain the tragedy that many Americans have faced or will face as loved ones are lost to this global pandemic.

But understanding what has happened to our nation, comes with first understanding and ascertaining the facts and reality of the virus.

First, the coronavirus model from Imperial College in London, which was used by U.S. epidemiologists to guesstimate that 2.2 million lives in the U.S. would be lost if we failed to implement rules of social distancing, school closures and lockdowns is now found to be unreliable. Later we were told that other models revealed significantly less numbers of deaths, estimating that roughly 100,000 to 200,000 would succumb to the virus in the United States. Most recently, a new coronavirus model suggests that roughly 60,000 would lose their lives to the virus, which is tragic enough but far less than the original model.

Some have attributed the decrease in deaths to social distancing measures that are in place but unfortunately the data is just not there to substantiate the claims.

Lisa Boothe, a Fox News Contributor, wrote recently in an OpEd for The Hill, that the models are only as good as the data obtained. She’s right. She quoted Stanford epidemiologist  John Ioannidis, a scholar famous for debunking bad research.

“The data collected so far on how many people are infected and how the epidemic is evolving are utterly unreliable,” he said with regard to the coronavirus models. “Given the limited testing to date, some deaths and probably the vast majority of infections due to SARS-CoV-2 are being missed.”

Every life is important and it’s also just as important to understand what the models represent and why the numbers vary so much. Only time and substantial facts based on testing, random sampling and understanding the origins of the virus will deliver the information we need.

This is a bipartisan issue. Hopefully the Republicans on the House Oversight Committee can get us some of those answers, along with their Democratic colleagues. On Thursday, the Republicans called for a hearing to review the “modeling platforms” used by the top health experts that led to the nationwide shut down. Those modeling platforms of the coronavirus were used to project the extent and impact of the pandemic, as well as the deaths expected from the outbreak. As I’ve stated, those numbers have changed numerous times.

The Republicans, led by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, claim that the coronavirus models exhibit “conflicting data” and that the policies are “placing extraordinary burdens” on Americans.

Roy, along with his Republican colleagues sent a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. on Thursday. They urged the Chairwoman to schedule a “formal hearing” on the matter.  The letter noted that the hearing can take place either in Washington D.C., in “the field or virtually.”

Roy, and the other Republican lawmakers, are right to call into question the models used to bring an entire booming economy to a grinding halt. Those answers may reflect that it was absolutely necessary to do so but we just don’t know because in reality we don’t have the answers to the most pressing questions regarding the outbreak.

“Yesterday, I sent a letter with my @GOPoversight colleagues requesting a hearing on how we plan to continue modeling #Coronavirus,” said Rep. Roy. “We’ve seen conflicting data overtime. We need to get it right.”

Roy is right about ensuring that the American public understand why there was such a discrepancy in the models. This will not be a one time event.

In fact, Dr. Anthony Fauci, among others, have warned that this may only be the first wave of the coronavirus and we may see it return in the Fall. There is still no clear understanding but what is clear is that numbers of unemployment applications have surged and Americans, albeit wanting to help mitigate the spread of the virus, are now grappling with what their futures might be if they no longer have a business or a job to go back to.

So far, more than 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment. The United States has passed the largest bailout legislation in United States history at $2.2 trillion and tens of billions more are expected to be allocated to the economic crash caused by the virus.

In order to be ready for a potential second wave of Coronavirus, or for that matter any future potential pandemic outbreak, the modeling platforms must be reliable and encompass the magnitude of changes that occur during a viral outbreak.

We can’t afford to be on the defensive in the future but instead be on the offensive to combat these invisible enemies with the best tools necessary to not only save lives but to save our nation.

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