Alex Berneson details how Coronavirus deaths are counted in a discussion with Joe Rogan on the Joe Rogan Experience #1582.
The Joe Rogan Experience
Alex Berneson: So that’s one issue with the death count is that so many of the people, so, so let’s say, and I urge people, one of the things that I’ve done a couple times on Twitter that always gets an interesting response is that you can go look at the coroner’s report, especially in Milwaukee where they put them all on line, of people who’ve died so you can actually see the people who have died of COVID and you’ll see how sick they are for the most part. I’m talking about people in their eighties and nineties who have multiple severe comorbidities. So in that case it’s really hard to tell, did this person die with COVID or from COVID? You know, if my heart is failing and my kidneys are failing and I get this thing and I die the next day, okay, I die, did I die, did I die with COVID or did I die 2 weeks before I would have died anyway and we’re counting that as from COVID.
Joe Rogan: Or maybe even a year before you would have died anyway. But the 2.6 comorbidity factors, that’s the average, right, for people who’ve died of COVID?
Alex Berneson: That’s correct.
Joe Rogan: That’s a good way of saying it.
Alex Berneson: Again, it’s very, very hard to distinguish with and from in these cases of people who are really sick. Now, sometimes it’s not that way. Sometimes you can say again a 50 year old who is was relatively healthy gets COVID. They died from COVID. COVID killed them. We can agree about that. But at the, many of the cases are hard to, hard to understand, or not hard to understand but hard to distinguish. And I’ll make one more point about deaths. Very, very, very important point. PCR testing, you know, I know, I know you know, you know what this is. You look for a sample of the virus in, usually it’s in the nose, you multiply it and you run a cycle where doubles over and over and over again, and when it gets to a certain point they actually, it’s it’s actually incredible technology. It’s sort of, sort of magical. But they add a fluorescent marker to it and, at some point, if you can see the flourescent it’s considered a positive sample, okay. Here’s the thing, a 40 cycle PCR test means that you are multiplying the original, any original viral material in that sample by 1 trillion times, okay. So a single viral particle that you pick up becomes 1 trillion particles. It is very, very easy to find virus in people when you’re running a PCR cycle at that at that level, okay. It does not mean necessarily that they’re very sick at the time. It doesn’t even mean that they have active virus in their bodies at the time. They could have a piece of virus that, that, that the, that the original samples picking up and multiplying by 40X, okay. It’s clear, by the way, when people have a low threshold, let’s say 20 times. Let’s say it only takes 20 cycles, that’s a million multiplications. if you’re positive at 20 cycles you’re pretty sick. If you’re positive at 25 cycles you’re probably pretty sick. If you’re positive at 30 cycles maybe not. 40 cycles, it doesn’t really mean anything. It means that you have, you know you have this one bit of virus in you that they’ve managed to find.
Joe Rogan: Does it mean you’re contagious?
Alex Berneson: It probably doesn’t mean you’re contagious.
Joe Rogan: I don’t like that word. I don’t like that word probably. I’m around grandma.
Alex Berneson: I don’t like to say never unless I’m sure, okay. So when I say probably usually means never, but I just don’t like saying.
Joe Rogan: I understand.
Alex Berneson: Okay. When we count deaths the states have a procedure, most states. They look at positive test and they match them with death certificates, okay. So let’s say you had a positive test, okay, tomorrow, okay, and let’s say it was 38 cycles. Their not going to tell you that, but it was 38 cycles, okay. You are not very sick at all with COVID, but you’re in a registry somewhere, your names in a registry. A month-and-a-half later you die. Let’s say you get hit by a car that will still initially come up as a positive COVID death because you had a positive test and you died within a specific amount of time after having that test.
Joe Rogan: But they don’t distinguish from a violent accident?
Alex Berneson: Not, not initially. Now some of the states are trying to clear this up, but let’s say you died of a heart attack, Joe. A heart attack is a potential outcome of COVID. You’re always going to be on there, if you died of a heart attack.
Joe Rogan: So you’re saying that if you have this tiny amount of COVID in your system, you never wind up getting sick, but yet you have a heart attack a couple weeks later 3-4 weeks later, they will still call that a COVID death, even though you never got sick from COVID.
Alex Berneson: 100 percent.
Joe Rogan: That doesn’t seem smart.
Alex Berneson: The idea is to capture deaths as broadly as possible. The idea is, this is, you lnow, a serious illness and we want to know every possible person who died from it. We don’t do this with any other illness.
Joe Rogan: Is it because they don’t have the resources differentiate between the people that have died from heart attacks where it’s clear, we look at the person, they, they had a very small amount of the virus in the system, four weeks later there’s no way they were sick from that, but is that . .
Alex Berneson: it’s a function of decisions that have been made along the way. So they could have set the PCR threshold at lower. They could have said it in 30. They were aware from almost the beginning of this issue that at, you know you can find a comment rom Fauci in July talking about this, okay. But, an certainly they knew well before this. The idea was, we want to know so as broadly as possible how many people have this. And then secondarily we wanted to find deaths from COVID as broadly as possible.
Joe Rogan: And what is the, the, what is the level set at currently?
Alex Berneson: Different states have different levels, but in most places it’s 37 to 40 cycles, which again means that a lot of those people at the high-end are not sick and they they certainly had COVID at some point, but they probably don’t have it anymore. Here’s the other reason to do this, Joe. If you, if you set it really high you’re going to capture people on the way in, just as are getting sick. So if you’re truly afraid of, we want to quarantine everybody really early, then you have to set the threshold really high. So that’s, to the extant that there is logic behind it, that’s the logic behind it. But it has all these negative side effects. So there’s one other point I want to make, I’ll remember it in a second.
Joe Rogan: So the negative side effects would be that their inflating the number of people that not just have it, but die from it because of the fact that they’re making sure that these deaths that get link within a certain time period. What is the time period?
Alex Berneson: So, in some states has 30 days, in some states in 60 days. I don’t know if it’s more than 60 anywhere but, but the states are sort of allowed to define it. Oh, here’s, okay, so there’s a negative for the person who’s tested positive because you then have to isolate yourself, you can’t work, you know you’re scared. And then there’s this negative for society with the death count later.
Joe Rogan: Right, but it isn’t that negative that you have to isolate yourself and you can’t work. That seems very rational, because if you do test, let’s say you’re on the way in, you catch it, you have a little tiny bit of it in your system and you have to isolate. What if that person just went out and start drinking, got run down, the COVID multiplies and then they have a full-blown case and then they start spreading.
Alex Berneson: So, that is , look, realistically can that happen sometimes? Yes.
Joe Rogan: That’s seems like that would happen a lot.
Alex Berneson: Well, it doesn’t happen that much because at 37 your asymptomatic so you’re not going to know unless you have some reason to be tested.
Joe Rogan: But isn’t there a significant amount of spread from asymptomatic people?
Alex Berneson: So this is another argument that we don’t, there’s asymptomatic spread it looks to be very rare, although now Fauci’s saying it’s not so rare. There’s pre-symptomatic spread. Pre-symptomatic spread appears to be more real.
Joe Rogan: We need another person other than Fauci. That the one guy. Like everyone says “Fauci says”. Like we have this guy
Alex Berneson: Yes. Let me, let me, let me say one more thing about death, okay. Back in March and April people said COVID deaths are being undercounted. We don’t ,we’re not doing enough testing, there’s all these people dying, there being called pneumonia deaths, it’s probably COVID. That was probably true at the time, especially in New York and New Jersey. You can look and you can see the number of what are called access deaths, more people dying than would you expect in a normal year was higher than the number of COVID deaths, okay. And a lot of those deaths where in people who had pneumonia, okay. so that looks like, hey, we didn’t even, you know this is even worse than we thought. We’re capturing, we’re not even capturing everybody who died, okay. But that was March and April. Let’s talk about what’s happening now. We know the PCR test are going to capture a lot of people who aren’t sick anymore and who maybe never were sick. We know that some of those people are going to be classified as COVID deaths if they are again I’m 88, I somehow, you know, was asymptomatic a month ago, but I got a positive PCR test, now I died because I’m 88, that’s a COVID death, okay. What we’re seeing now in the United States and certainly in in Europe, we don’t have data as good in the U.S. for the last couple weeks, but we have some pretty good data from Europe and the UK, is that the number of COVID deaths, when you add it to the number of non-COVID deaths, is not as high as the overall number of deaths you would expect. So what does that tell you? That tells you that some non-COVID deaths are probably being classified as COVID deaths these days. so back in March and April there were more people dying than you would have thought based on the number of COVID deaths, now there are fewer people overall dying then you would think based on the number of COVID deaths, and I got a one more thing. I know this gets complicated but it’s worth, is worth thinking about. We also know that a significant number of people are dying from lockdown, okay. There, and, and the number one way you can look at that is overdose, okay. Overdose deaths in this country have all, you know they’ve been terrible for years. This year looks like they’re off the charts. So if twenty or thirty thousand people, and that’s probably a reasonable estimate, twenty or thirty thousand extra people are dying this year from overdose alone, that, that should push up the number of overall deaths, and yet, when, and if you add the COVID deaths that should be even higher. When you put these three things together right now you’re getting fewer deaths than you would expect. Again, what I’m trying to say is, I know this, this math can sort of seem complicated and the stacking can seem complicated, but right now it looks like a significant number of deaths are being classified as COVID would have occurred anyway and are just sort of being shifted into the COVID pile. And that was not so true a few months ago. So when you see three thousand people died today of COVID, until we get the true mortality figures for this year for, for November and December, we’re not going to know if that’s really true.