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PSA: Do NOT Take Medical Advice From Unqualified Pundits
COVID: It's Still Bad For You!
The PAI cannot believe this has to be said heading into Year Four of the ongoing global COVID pandemic, but for quite some time now there has been an ongoing attrition campaign by a subsector of the pundit class, aka Paid Opinion Havers, to nudge the public back towards a "normalcy" that is tailored to the comfort and whims of certain people. Mostly well-off dorks with much better healthcare than you, that don't actually work a real job and get paid to smash letters together on a keyboard for a living, even when these sophisticated word scrambles make it obvious the author has zero relevant expertise to the topic they’re talking about.
The PAI’s position is clear:
Do NOT take medical advice from unqualified losers who suggest recklessly rolling the dice with your health.
A great example of this is a recent embarrassment of an article in The American Prospect by supposed progressive pundit and managing editor Ryan Cooper, who has long been a "Vaxxed and Relaxed" bro - insisting that it's totally fine to get COVID repeatedly, don't worry about infecting others, and to consider COVID just another "inevitable seasonal yuck" as culture writer Emma Greene writes in The New Yorker. Y'know, just another "ISY" that has already killed over a million Americans and disabled many millions more. The whole screed by Ryan is a majestically pathetic and petty rambling slop of minimizing horseshit that does little more than launder the far-right bullshit of the rightoid billionaire funded Great Barrington Declaration. Both “progressive” Cooper and pro-child labor Jeffrey Tucker agree that mass & repeated infection of COVID provides some sort of benefit to society.
This piece mainly exists because Ryan is pissy at Taylor Lorenz on Twitter and doesn't like how she covers the continually deteriorating conditions of the ongoing pandemic. Ryan Cooper has never opened a medical textbook, donned scrubs, or treated a COVID patient. As a paid opinion haver with some of the best healthcare in the country, this pandemic is largely an abstract ideal to him - and the idea that the underclass which delivers his Amazon goodies and cooks his Doordash treats might not have the brightest of smiles on display just ruins his vibes. So that makes him just as qualified as any working medical doctor or expert, right?
Funny that, because Wannabe-MD Cooper makes it clear that he didn’t even read the literature he links to in his article. Ryan declares there’s “no solid evidence” that COVID harms immunity, whilst linking to a Forbes article that says “marked lymphopenia is observed in 83.2% of SARS-CoV-2 patients.” What’s “lymphopenia?” It’s a “disorder in which your blood doesn’t have enough white blood cells called lymphocytes.” Oh. It helps to actually read the article to see if it actually lines up with what you’re saying, Ryan. Again, this whole piece is more about unresolved Twitter beef than actual science - hence the zealous overconfidence instead of humble curiosity about a new disease that has already wrecked the lives of so many people.
The entire article is minimizer hogwash that isn't even worth taking a second glance at, but the paragraph at the very end Ryan rights is especially heinous and completely detached from the reality of the COVID pandemic. By allowing this to be published, The American Prospect has completely humiliated itself and destroyed their legitimacy as a publication. The refusal to clarify that Ryan Cooper has zero medical expertise and is in fact selectively picking and choosing evidence is a grave error - and will lead to people making reckless decisions based on medical advice from someone without a medical license or relevant expertise, desperate to hash out a victory in some meaningless Twitter grudge.
Ryan then plops out this steaming pile of incompetence:
"Masking, testing, air quality improvements, and other non-pharmaceutical interventions have their place - particularly in vulnerable locations like hospitals, schools, homes with newborn infants, and so on - but they cannot possibly halt transmission entirely. Not even the full weight of the Chinese ~*POLICE STATE*~ could manage that after Omicron hit.
The suggestion from some quarters that normal social life should be more or less permanently suspended carries its own risks. Studies have found social isolation or loneliness to be associated with depression, anxiety, memory loss, dementia, and death, particularly among the elderly. Humans, like all primates, are not meant to live like solitary scavengers. (This is why solitary confinement is torture.) For the vast majority of people, there is every reason to return to normal life. Just get your shots, and mask up or stay home if you aren't feeling well."
Hilariously enough, Ryan has to immediately downplay NPIs, as if greatly reducing COVID infections isn’t a worthy goal in and of itself - basically arguing they should only exist in some cornered off part of society, a-la the “focused protection” as loosely proposed by the rightoid billionaire funded Great Barrington Declaration. The next paragraph is even more heinous.
First, we start out with a fearmongering smear of "some quarters." Oh, that evil Taylor Lorenz and her gaggle of anti-disease mongers! Trying to keep people from being killed or disabled! He can't specify whom, so he just gestures wildly into the sky and says "some quarters." Really quite embarrassing, because Ryan knows he can’t just come out and say “people on Twitter I don’t like.”
Second, Ryan quietly writes off the high-risk, immunocompromised, and other vulnerable people aren't trapped in the social isolation and loneliness that he fear-mongers about. Writing that NPIs "have their place" in some corner of society outside of daily life in an ongoing pandemic, and then downplaying them - taking up the rightoid billionaire backed GBD ideal that infections are simply not preventable, but even encouraged.
"For the vast majority of people, there is every reason to return to normal life. Just get your shots, and mask up or stay home if you're not feeling well."
Unless you're one of those weirdos or freaks with (imagina- uh, psychosomatic) health problems, which you may not know because the Government doesn't mail you a card telling you that you're immunocompromised or high-risk, it's totally fine for you to go out and get COVID over and over. There’s no harm to your immune system! Just ignore this growing mountain of evidence that all points to the same conclusion:
Oopsie. So just who is lying to you, some random pundit with a crippling Twitter addiction, or a multi-national conglomerate of medical researchers engaged in an elaborate conspiracy to make you wear an N95 to protect your health?
Thirdly, and even worse, Ryan completely ignores the very reality that most COVID transmission is asymptomatic - you should only stay home if you personally feel ill, which is the position of cranks like Vinay Prasad or the rightoid funded Great Barrington dickheads - meaning that if you took Not-an-MD Ryan Cooper's medical advice, you would be helping forge the chains of viral transmission that have already killed over a million Americans, quickly made COVID the leading killer of children with over 2500+ casualties reported by the CDC, given tens of millions of Americans Long COVID, and forced over four million Americans out of work via crippling COVID-induced disability. Here are two very real examples of the new “normal” that Ryan simply shrugs off in his pro-viral manifesto:
All of this is very real human trauma and suffering, yes, but that's only going to happen to *other* people. You, the gig worker who can't afford a $600 emergency expense and are likely struggling to buy food right now? You need to get out there and pretend that everything is normal! Just ignore the mountains of dead and disabled piling up around you! Ignore the tens of thousands of vaccinated people who died from breakthrough infections, or the countless many who became disabled after a breakthrough infection. No, there's no real treatment or cure for Long COVID, but I, as the do-nothing economic superior to you, know what's good for you, and that's forcing you, a member of the permanent underclass, to roll the fucking dice with death and lifelong disability to provide me with my cheap plastic crap and overprocessed slop! Faster, ye damned disposable prole!
Credentialism has its place, and when it comes to unqualified pundit “generalists” who posit themselves as experts on every topic under the sun based off of a few glances at Twitter - they’re not the people you can rely upon when it comes to knowing when to let your guard down during an ongoing pandemic. Ryan Cooper and The American Prospect have only proven their own scientific illiteracy - shamefully contributing to reckless decision-making, forging the chains of transmission which have killed and disabled so many. The truth is that COVID as we know it has only been around for a few years, and we are still struggling to understand the virus’ impacts on our bodies - which has already been linked to brain & organ damage - and it will be some time until we form an informed scientific consensus about COVID’s effects on the immune system. A random Twitter sociologist is not the final authority.
Hence, the only legitimate medical advice, especially from the unqualified such as Ryan Cooper, is to continue to avoid repeat COVID infections using every tool possible. Anything else is reckless and irresponsible. This is what has been known as the Precautionary Principle of Public Health, and it’s something that was taken as bog-standard pandemic management until the scientifically illiterate and unqualified found it inconvenient to their everyday lives. Instead, Ryan Cooper has found himself fit to tell his audience that it’s totally fine to be repeatedly infected with COVID, and to totally ignore the cumulative damage done. One small problem with this:
Ryan Cooper and The American Prospect will not pay your medical bills if you take his advice and wind up hospitalized or crippled by COVID. Ryan Cooper and The American Prospect will not pay the funeral costs if you end up infecting a vulnerable family member and putting them in the ground. Ryan Cooper and The American Prospect have no answers for the millions already too disabled to work by COVID and suggests you should risk adding yourself to their numbers. Ryan Cooper does not have any responsibility to you - treating your health as a plaything in the abstractions of his mind, in a truly sociopathic and selfish display of ignorance and bias - and cannot face any negative consequences for the harm caused by his reckless disinformation, even as he publicly practices medicine without a license.
If this is the sort of thought we can expect from “progressive” outlets like The American Prospect, that claim to be “devoted to promoting informed discussion on public policy from a progressive perspective,” then it’s clear that fascist goons like Ron DeSantis and Jeffrey Tucker have already won. If the “left” is this easily hoodwinked into accepting medical disinformation and naked eugenics for some small delusion of personal comfort, then just who needs a fascist uprising? The opposition has already gotten on their hands & knees.
If you would like to inform The American Prospect of these grave errors in their publication, they can be reached via Twitter or over e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org - you can also inform Ryan of his grave amateur epidemiological errors via Twitter.