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EXCLUSIVE: Scientists, Economists Urge Trump To Bring On Statistician To Avoid Getting Duped By Bad Health Models

Chris White on May 15, 2020

  • 70 scientists and economists are urging President Donald Trump to include professional statisticians on the White House’s coronavirus task force to prevent the team’s researchers from being led astray by bad COVID models. 
  • The academics are also worried that the White House’s task force is leading the president’s administration astray, in particular on the importance of flattening the virus’s curve, which they say is important because it buys time to create therapeutics. Such policies should not be sold as a permanent solution, they argue. ‘
  • One of the scientists is planning the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) models, which projected on April 1 that 262,029 hospital beds would be needed on the peak date of the coronavirus.

Dozens of scientists, economists and medical experts are urging President Donald Trump to add a professional statistician to his coronavirus task team because they worry the models his administration are relying upon could potentially lead his administration astray.

A slate of academics provided the Trump administration with a letter Tuesday listing several ideas the president could use to help boost his team’s pandemic response. They believe adding an expert statistician to the COVID-19 task team could help Trump avoid relying on poor models that don’t reflect the real world.

“Having an expert statistician as a key part of the President’s team is an urgent matter,” they wrote in a letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Such an immediate addition will reduce the chances of being misled by speculative computer models and other data.”

The letter’s signees cite two articles to help explain why they think models get it wrong without a statistician’s help.

They cite an April 23 Daily Signal article from retired epidemiologist James Enstrom who says in the piece that “all other COVID-19 models are grounded in important assumptions about which there is currently little knowledge.” Enstrom, one of the letter’s signees, also suggests that “some deaths are being classified as COVID-19 deaths even when COVID-19 is not the underlying cause.”

Enstrom also mentions the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which projected on April 1 that 262,029 hospital beds would be needed on the peak date of the coronavirus’s spread in the United States. The researchers behind the IHME model eventually dropped that projected number down by 58 percent to 140,823 on April 6.

The letter was sent to Trump administration officials Tuesday, John Droz, a physicist who authored the memo, told the DCNF. “We support the President and wanted to give him several constructive suggestions going forward — and these are evidently somewhat different from what he is hearing from the Coronavirus Team,” Droz said.

Statistician Stanley Young, climatologist Patrick Michael, and immunologist Jonathan Bernstein are among the 70 scientists and academics who signed the letter asking the administration to strengthen the task force. Michaels worked as a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute until 2019, and Bernstein is a clinical immunologist at Bernstein Allergy Group in Ohio.

Young, for his part, is a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board and recently made waves after he criticized an April 4 Harvard University study drawing an association between particulate matters and coronavirus deaths. “The paper is written in a way that strongly implies cause and effect,” he told the Washington Examiner in April, referring to the research.

Young and the other academic’s also provide other potential pieces of advice for the administration, including emphasizing the importance of flattening the curve, a policy designed to slow the spread of coronavirus such that it flattens out the number of cases over time.

In addition, they want the Trump administration to refrain from imposing “one-size-fits-all mandates” and instead allow states to stagger when they reopen.

The pandemic has killed more than 85,000 people in the United States thus far.

“The main benefit is that it will enable higher efficacy COVID-19 therapies to come online (which will happen considerably sooner than vaccines will),” the letter explains, noting that flattening the curve is not a permanent solution. “The public needs to be much better advised as to this rationale for short-term flattening.”

They also want Trump’s task force to keep better track of COVID-19 complications and deaths.

“It would be informative if deaths related to lock-downs, higher prices, reduced incomes was kept track of,” they write, adding that it is not helpful when medical professionals sometimes lump deaths from other consequences into the coronavirus category. Misstating such deaths can make for bad policy, they argue.

Neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the White House’s COVID team have responded to the DCNF’s request for comment regarding the letter.

Recent reports suggest coronavirus death tolls are much higher than official numbers suggest.

Data from the CDC show total deaths are nearly 50% higher in states slammed by the coronavirus pandemic. Death numbers in New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois and Colorado leaped between March 8 and April 11, data show.

The data appear to illustrate how the pandemic is causing an increase in deaths, perhaps as a result of people forgoing hospital visits for what would otherwise be treatable conditions. The New York Times initially reported on the data on April 28, suggesting that the CDC’s findings show that coronavirus death tolls are likely higher than official counts.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Photo Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

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  1. BILLY J JOHNSON May 16, 2020

    The team that say they are advising Trump and the America people are ‘scary’ to say the least. I totally agree with your statement: “Having an expert statistician as a key part of the President’s team is an urgent matter,” they wrote in a letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Such an immediate addition will reduce the chances of being misled by speculative computer models and other data.” Thank you for this article……. Bill Johnson

  2. Ron Schenkelberg May 16, 2020

    Herd immunity is the most important factor in controlling the virus. Fresh air and sunshine will kill it. A vaccine is not the answer. Where is the SARS, Swine Flu, etc. vaccines from years ago? They died out without vaccines, and so will the Corona virus. .

  3. Karen Hornsten May 16, 2020

    I believe Pres. Trumps professional task force and enjoy learning more and more from them. They are each coming from their life’s input as professionals. I also agree that adding other professionals into the mix is not such a bad idea. As an average American citizen of the ‘senior’ variety i must admit that all i read and hear about this easily spread virus confuses me. One days reading contradicts something else I read so that i tend to have doubts about everything i read. Unfortunate. I will continue to protect myself and others by keeping social distancing in mind and wearing a mask when i go out. At this point i feel staying home is still a good idea. The virus scares me.

  4. Andy May 16, 2020

    There are several Natural Health treatments to deal with this virus problem. Pull your head out of the sand and read some information from the Alliance for Natural Health USA. The Big Pharma smoke and profit machine is taking full advantage of the panic they have created for more world wide profiteering and excuse making. Thanks to Big Pharma, the USA is the sickest and most diseased country on the planet. All for their profit.

  5. AmericanPatriot May 16, 2020

    Since when have “statisticians” been any better than flawed computer models? Seems to me they’re both to blame for some colossal blunders and LIES called”science”. Because of these things we’re saddled with the threat of socialist takeover because of the lie of man made “climate change” and the arm waveing NWO worshippers of the nature “god”. Personally don’t think much of statisticians and quite a few so called scientists.

  6. David Lee May 17, 2020

    The suggestions in the letter sound reasonable and I hope that the President considers them.

    More importantly, the tone of the letter is positive. Instead of complaining and blaming, these scientists are making constructive suggestions.

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