Two infectious-disease experts I spoke with believe that the number of deaths attributed to covid is far greater than the actual number of people dying from covid. Robin Dretler, an attending physician at Emory Decatur Hospital and the former president of Georgia’s chapter of Infectious Diseases Society of America, estimates that at his hospital, 90 percent of patients diagnosed with covid are actually in the hospital for some other illness.
“Since every hospitalized patient gets tested for covid, many are incidentally positive,” he said. A gunshot victim or someone who had a heart attack, for example, could test positive for the virus, but the infection has no bearing on why they sought medical care.
Dretler also sees patients with multiple concurrent infections. “People who have very low white blood cell counts from chemotherapy might be admitted because of bacterial pneumonia or foot gangrene. They may also have covid, but covid is not the main reason why they’re so sick.”
If these patients die, covid might get added to their death certificate along with the other diagnoses. But the coronavirus was not the primary contributor to their death and often played no role at all.
Celebrated in mainstream US media for its anti-Russian trolling, the Twitter operation known as NAFO was founded by a Polish antisemite to raise money for a militia that has hosted war criminals, white nationalists and wanted murderers.
Whether they know it or not, anyone who has checked Twitter for recent coverage of the Ukraine proxy war has likely encountered at least one of the thousands of trolls that comprise NAFO, or the “North Atlantic Fellas Organization.” Thanks to the efforts of NAFO and its “fellas,” any journalist or prominent figure critical of Ukraine or NATO on Twitter is likely to receive hundreds of replies accusing them of being paid by Russian President Vladimir Putin (or even performing fellatio on him) from accounts with Shiba Inu dog avatars.
If you are the sort of person who gets your news from, say, a newspaper website, you may have little idea what NAFO is. But if you’re the sort of person who has spent the last six months scouring Twitter for news about the war in Ukraine, signing up for obscure Telegram accounts and reading accounts of the latest Ukrainian strikes on Russia on blogs devoted to open-source intelligence (OSINT) … well, it’s quite likely you’re already a fella yourself.
For the former, let’s explain. Over recent months, Ukraine-sympathetic internet users have come together to support Kyiv’s war effort. The Shiba Inu is a distinctive dog breed from Japan, which for over a decade, has been a recurrent motif in internet culture. You may recognize it as a “doge,” beloved of Elon Musk and millions of other internet users.
Since the pandemic began, Goerke’s wife, Denise — 63 years old and afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease — had declined dramatically. Left alone in her nursing home, she had lost 16 pounds, could not form the simplest words, no longer responded to the voices of her children.
In recent weeks, she had stopped recognizing even the man she loved.
Goerke, 61, could tell the isolation was killing his wife, and there was nothing he could do but watch. “Every day it gets a little worse,” he said. “We’ve lost months, maybe years of her already.”
But the virus’s destructive potential has overshadowed one encouraging aspect of this outbreak: So far, about 82 percent of the cases — including all 14 in the United States — have been mild, with symptoms that require little or no medical intervention. And that proportion may be an undercount.