By Andy Caldwell


Is Santa Barbara County’s public health officer, Dr. Henning Ansorg, looking through the wrong end of the microscope, telescope and horoscope?

In a public health briefing on April 15, Dr. Ansorg indicated he believes that “anywhere from 0.5 to 0.7% of the population has been exposed to the virus. That is what our current understanding is from studies done in Europe and China …. it is definitely … less than 1 percent of the population. That leaves 99% ready to catch the virus at any time.” 

He was citing these statistics in reference to a question about our ability to develop herd immunity, indicating in his opinion that we are a long ways off from that level of defense against the virus. Yet, Gov. Newsom says California is not going to get back to “normal” until we have a vaccine or we have developed herd immunity.

Nevertheless, how on earth could this good doctor believe that less than one percent of the population has been exposed to a virus that has been in our community for nearly four months? 

And, what does that say about the transmission rate of the virus?

Dr. Ansorg believes this because less than 1% of the county’s population has had a confirmed case of the virus. He equates a confirmed illness with the infection rate. Hence, Dr. Ansorg and the board of supes who are relying on his guidance are completely dismissing the fact that 80% of the people who do catch the virus will have no symptoms and therefore not seek medical attention.

The reality is, according to Stanford Professor Michael Levitt (Nobel laureate and biophysicist), the infection rate of the virus drops naturally over time, even in those countries (e.g., Sweden, more on that below) that have not shut down their economy and forced people to stay in their homes. 

Moreover, all the data indicates that upwards of 80% of the population will not “catch” this virus, as it relates to them having symptoms, and the odds are you have to be in close proximity to an infected person to catch it in the first place (shared confined space, which is why staying at home may not have been the best advice).

As it pertains to looking through the wrong end of the lens, using Dr. Ansorg’s very own numbers, the real data indicates no more than 0.5 to 0.7% of the entire population will suffer a fatality once they are infected. The Santa Barbara County death rate, relative to our entire population, is less than 0.001%! Regardless, more than 99% of the populace will not suffer mortality even if the virus were to spread unabated.  As one research pathologist I interviewed (Roger Klein) indicated, “the coronavirus in all actuality is infrequently severe and rarely fatal.”

Hence, Stanford University epidemiologist and Meta Data analyst John Ioannidis believes what we are witnessing is not a once-in-a-century pandemic but a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco. 

Dr. Ioannidis, in addition to many others, points to the one closed population segment where an entire population was tested. There were 3,700 people on the Diamond cruise ship. Eighty percent of the people on the ship never suffered morbidity. The fatality rate, of those who did get sick on the ship, did approach 1%, however, the passengers were elderly with underlying conditions so that skewed the fatality rate upwards.

With respect to the economic shutdown and Stay At Home orders, consider the fact that Sweden took an entirely different approach than most of the rest of the world. The following quote says it all:

“This is, in fact, the first time we (the world) has quarantined healthy people rather than quarantining the sick and vulnerable. As Fredrik Erixon, the director of the European Centre for International Political Economy in Brussels, wrote in The Spectator (U.K.) last week: ‘The theory of lockdown, after all, is pretty niche, deeply illiberal — and, until now, untested. It’s not Sweden that’s conducting a mass experiment. It’s everyone else.’”

There is another perspective to this crisis that should duly concern Santa Barbara County residents. The Board of Supervisors has completely deferred to the governor’s edict on this matter of a shutdown along with Stay At Home orders. They are only beginning to consider a process of reopening our economy and society, a process they estimate will take four to six weeks; however, in the meantime, the only thing they have asked the governor to do is send them money.

Compare and contrast this to San Luis Obispo County. They organized a letter signed by county supervisors and mayors requesting the governor cede back local control as it affects managing the crisis and the economy.

In conclusion, we didn’t elect public health directors to create policy and the governor no longer has the constitutional authority to keep us in lock down because his original impetus to flatten the curve has been accomplished

Our elected leaders must now turn their attention, post haste, to flattening the curve of economic catastrophe now that our California hospitals and care providers have more than enough surge capacity, by a factor of tenfold.