There is a lot of information and misinformation about Covid and the measures the governments are using in an attempt to control it. Much of the information I get is negative about the government's actions. I wanted to know the thoughts of a conservative Christian pro-life organization that I have I a high respect for. They deal in detail with scientific and Biblical facts regarding Creation. So I wrote a letter to www.creation.com asking these three covid related questions:
Do Masks Actually Do Any Good?
Is Social Distancing Effective?
It It Claimed That The Covid Tests Are Inaccurate With Up To 97% False Positives [Not a question, I know, but an implied question].
Robert W. Carter PhD [scientist and speaker] was kind enough to take the time to answer me on Dec. 18. 2020. Below is a copy of my letter and his answers to these covid questions.
Thank you for all the work you do. I have read your two articles on vaccines and, although I have never been against vaccines in general, I have had concerns about the Covid vaccine specifically. Thank you for this information.
I did have a couple of questions that I was hoping you could give me some scientific/medical insight [in layman’s terms, of course :)] on as there are strongly held views on both sides. You are one of my few trusted sources.
1. Do masks actually do any good? Some doctors and experts seem to feel that they are useless against the Covid virus: “like putting up a chain-link fence to keep gnats out.” But something mentioned in passing in your article gives the impression that you believe they have value.
2. Is social distancing effective? Again it had been said by some that a virus can travel up to 98 feet before landing so six feet is pointless. Is that correct?
3. Again, it is claimed that the Covid test is inaccurate with up to 97% false positives causing a lot of people who are not really sick to self-isolate, causing stress and financial hardship [as do lockdowns of healthy people].
If these measures are necessary that is one thing, although I do not see in Scripture where the government is given authority to quarantine healthy people, only contagious people. However, if they are not necessary or have questionable effectiveness then they would appear to be an attack on people’s ability to fulfill God’s commands to work, to fill the earth, to share the gospel, to minister to widows and orphans, etc. [It has also been said that lockdown policies around the world are driving 150 million people into extreme poverty.]
I know this may be outside your mandate, but I wanted to ask as there is much confusion and misinformation on these subjects. I am particularly interested in your response to the masks.
Have you heard of the "Swiss cheese" strategy of threat mitigation? Essentially, any strategy one employs is imperfect. It has holes in it. But, if you layer enough imperfect strategies, you can achieve a high level of protection. Masks are imperfect. In fact, they may be the least effective of the strategies we are employing. But this does not mean they are worthless or ineffective. The 'chain link fence' analogy is flawed for the simple reason that this virus does not propagate as free particles. The virus has to be encased in a water droplet. At first, we thought only large droplets were at play. Later, we learned that aerosols were involved. Yes, consumer-grade masks are not great at filtering out aerosols, but this does not mean they give zero protection. Finally, the fact that areas with mask mandates seem to be faring no better than areas without mandates might be a commentary on the sanitary habits of the average Joe and not on the masks themselves. In the end, if they don't do anything this would have more to do with human behavior and false expectations of governmental authorities.
Yes, it helps. Again, this is an imperfect strategy. Six feet is an arbitrary number, yes. The measure was also based on a misunderstanding about how far the virus could travel in the air. However, in the same way that you receive a lower dose of radiation the farther you stand to a radioactive source, the farther away you are from an infected person the lower the risk of catching it from them. With radiation, there comes a break-even point where the threat is statistically no greater than what one gets the background radiation dose. The same should be true for Covid-19. Greater distance = lower risk. Also, consider the fact that there were hardly any cases of the flu in the southern hemisphere during our summer months and that there are very few cases of the flu in the northern hemisphere right now. Social distancing and mask wearing have absolutely had an effect on the flu. Why, then, would we think it has not had an effect on Covid-19? Don't forget that SARS-CoV-2 is much more infectious than the seasonal flu virus.
There is no substance to these claims. There is a clear relationship between positive tests and symptoms. There is also a clear anti-correlation between negative tests and symptoms. In Australia, there are zero current cases in the population at large, with all known current cases coming in from travelers (and they are quarantined). Yet, they have done over 10 million tests. The number of negative tests is absolutely huge, hence no 'false positives'.
Yes, a lot of people testing positive are not 'sick', but there is good evidence that they are still contagious. Yes, there has been a lot of stress and financial hardship. I can't really comment on this other than to say that we had no other options. Dropping social distancing would have led to millions more cases and many times more deaths. Even the Swedish king just announced that their strategy was a failure and they are beginning to crank up the restrictions.
I do not see in Scripture where it says anything about quarantining anybody, nor do I see the American version of civil rights. Paul, however, does clearly lay down the law in Romans 13:1-7 "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed."
If Uncle Sam is not telling us to worship Moloch, not preventing us from serving others in our community (James 1:27), and not closing churches out of religious persecution, why is it a problem for them to ask us to temporarily change our behaviours out of concern for the greater good? The saddest testimony about US Christianity is that we have not spent our free time ministering to others. Instead, many people have simply stopped doing anything related to Jesus. How many millions of Christians are there in this country? How many millions of service hours could we have performed in place of all those missed Sunday mornings sitting in pews at church?
Thank you for writing in. As you can see, I did not treat your questions lightly. I hope you can see how we at CMI are trying to give people the best information possible. Thank you also for your continued support. We could not do this without you.
I appreciate Dr. Carter's response. I am not saying that I no longer have any questions about these things, but hearing this side of the Covid questions from a trusted source has motivated me to look more seriously at both sides and not just accept the negative approach. May God give us all wisdom as we journey this road. [Creation.com is a ministry worthy of support whether you agree with them on this issue or not.]