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YouTube Yanks Viral Video of California Docs Questioning Extreme Social Distancing Measures

YouTube on Monday removed a viral video featuring two California doctors discussing why they believe that the heavy-handed measures taken to combat the cornavirus pandemic throughout the nation are unnecessary.

Bakersfield Urgent Care doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi called a press conference last week to release their conclusions about the 5,213 COVID-19 tests they had conducted at their centers and testing site.

The doctors claimed their results showed that the virus is much more widespread than at first thought, and thus not all that dangerous to the general public. Dr. Erickson argued that the numbers indicate that the coronavirus is similar in scale to the flu.

“The initial models were woefully inaccurate,” he said. “They predicted millions of cases of deaths—not of prevalence or incidents—but deaths. That is not materializing.”

Extrapolating from their study and testing done in other states, Erickson said, “we’re seeing millions of cases, small amount of death.”

Erickson also pointed out that the death rates have been inflated because deaths that resulted from a number of causes are being attributed to COVID-19.

“It’s interesting. When I’m writing up my death report, I’m being pressured to add covid,” Erickson said. “Why is that?”

The doctor argued that the draconian measures taken by the government to combat the virus are “not about science and not even about covid.”

“When they use the word ‘safe’ … that’s about controlling you,” he warned.

A local television report on the press conference went viral, garnering over 5.46 million views on YouTube. Tesla founder Elon Musk praised the docs to his 33 million-plus Twitter followers. Musk is hoping to reopen his manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif., this week.

YouTube pulled the 23ABC News video apparently because it violated “community guidelines.”

The Bakersfield station verified that the video is no longer available on its YouTube channel, and said that it has submitted an appeal. The full press briefing can still be viewed on the station’s website.

In response to the video being taken down, Erickson said, “Anytime you push against the grain, you are going to have people who don’t like it.”

A number of public health experts quickly came out to debunk the doctors’ findings, according to the nonprofit California news site Cal Matters.

The doctors should never have assumed that the patients they tested — who came for walk-in COVID-19 tests or who sought urgent care for symptoms they experienced in the middle of a pandemic — are representative of the general population, said Dr. Carl Bergstrom, a University of Washington biologist who specializes in infectious disease modeling. He likened their extrapolations to “estimating the average height of Americans from the players on an NBA court.” And most credible studies of COVID-19 death rates in reality are far higher than the ones the doctors presented.

“They’ve used methods that are ludicrous to get results that are completely implausible,” Bergstrom argued.

“This pandemic has been so severely politicized in this country that evidence, no matter how poor, gets amplified enormously if it benefits one side or another,” he added.

“We always hoped this crisis wouldn’t come, but that if it did we’d all be in this together. That’s been a huge surprise for all of us doing infectious disease epidemiology. It’s amazing to have to deal with this misinformation that’s being spread around for political purposes and the ways that interferes with adequate public health response.”

In a long thread on Twitter, Bergstrom expounded on why he believes the doctors are wrong.

 

Monday night, Dr. Erickson and Dr. Massihi appeared on Fox News’s Ingraham Angle to defend their conclusions.

Erickson said he has been impressed with doctors like Johan Giesecke and Dr. Anders Tegnell of Sweden, who have been able to achieve herd immunity in their country with very relaxed social distancing measures.

“These two doctors have taken an approach where people are allowed to move about, children under 16 are in school, and they haven’t done a lock-down—they’ve done some basic social distancing,” he explained. “And Dr. Giesecke just finished doing a report where he said there’s really not a lot of science backing these [extreme social-distancing] techniques.”

The doctor explained how herd immunity happens.

“You get it by letting the virus spread throughout the community. Once it hits 70 to 80 percent, the virus has nowhere else to go and it burns out,” he said.

The other option is to wait for a vaccine to be developed which takes time and isn’t always effective.

Dr. Massihi said that the reason he thinks their video struck a nerve is because the American people related to what they were saying.

“There’s people at home, they don’t have a job, they’ve lost their source of income, there’s increasing alcoholism, folks are depressed, suicides are happening. People are struggling. So we felt like we needed to be an advocate for them and discuss this important issue.”

 

This isn’t the first time Big Tech has targeted what they have deemed to be “misinformation” about the coronavirus. YouTube also recently took down a video about Healight, a ultraviolet light product that could offer a potential treatment for COVID-19. 

And earlier this month, Facebook took down a number of posts promoting anti-quarantine protests in several states.