NFL Reveals How We Should Be Testing For COVID-19
Posted October 08, 2020
“How is it,” asks journalist Jordan Schachtel in his private newsletter The Mass Illusion, “that the NFL has been able to keep its jet-setting roster of thousands of athletes, coaches, and staff largely COVID-free, while religiously testing these employees for COVID-19, while the rest of America registers some 40,000 new reported ‘cases’ each day?”
“Hint: It has nothing to do with masks, Andy Reid’s face shields, or some type of collective, incredibly responsible human behavior exhibited by men in their twenties and thirties.”
Instead, the NFL has set a different standard for COVID-19 testing than those standards set by our schools, universities, local governments, and other centralized institutions.
“At the same time,” says Schachtel, “the league has unintentionally added evidence to the reality of a massive, ongoing false positive ‘casedemic’ in the United States.”
The Science is Unsettled
As we’ve laid out in great detail in previous episodes, the entire paradigm of testing for COVID-19 is incredibly unscientific and causes no shortage of unnecessary panic.
For starters, there’s no clear “gold standard” setting for the PCR tests -- labs calibrate them however they wish and don’t report calibration levels (or “cycle thresholds”) -- to help us get an accurate picture of what’s really going on. Furthermore, a PCR result isn’t a useful metric absent the context of a clinical diagnosis.
As Schachtel puts it:
“Since the mad rush to ‘combat’ the novel coronavirus began six months ago, the FDA has been churning out emergency use authorization for coronavirus tests at an average of almost one approval per day. The insistence that everyone must be tested, on a regular basis, with or without symptoms, has created overwhelming demand for coronavirus testing, and an unintentional incentive to ‘find’ COVID cases, but the all-important oversight responsibility of vetting the accuracy of these tests has somehow fallen by the wayside. Now, many months into the pandemic, it’s become incredibly clear that the PCR tests are both unsuitable for determining a diagnosis, in addition to having parameters that are useless in determining infected individuals.”
This isn’t a conspiracy theory. It was all laid out in a New York Times investigation which discovered that up to “90 percent of people testing positive carried barely any virus,” meaning, most people who have tested positive were not contagious and certainly not “infected” as we understand the term.
(Alas, the one time the New York Times hits a home-run in the truth department, the entire world ignores it.)
With high cycle thresholds, you can test "positive" up to 12 weeks post infection, even though there's no active virus. Problem is, most states are reporting positive tests as “confirmed cases” when one of the most popular cycle thresholds in the United States is 40… which, by all accounts, is too high.
While apparent “outbreaks,” led by PCR testing and dubious “confirmed case” reporting are happening all over the States, the NFL has been able to, for the most part, keep its players on the field.
“No,” Schachtel makes clear, “not ‘THE SCIENCE!’ espoused by hysterical government bureaucrats and pandemic panic salesmen on television. Real science. The kind of science that is defined through experiments, observation, and experience.”
How the NFL is Testing
An interview with the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Allan Sills, reveals that the NFL understands, perhaps more than any other industry, how the PCR tests work. To the NFL, for this reason, a positive test is not a “confirmed case.”
Between August 12 and August 20, says Dr. Sills, the NFL administered 58,397 tests to 8,573 players and personnel. 23,260 of those tests went to players, and 35,137 to personnel. Throughout that nine-day period, there were ZERO confirmed cases among the players. Out of 23,260 tests, they came up with ZERO cases.
“When I say zero positive tests,” Dr. Sills said, “meaning zero that were confirmed as positive.”
What he means by that is none of the positive tests were confirmed as positive. Interesting, huh? We have been told, after all, that a positive test equals a confirmed case. But not so in the NFL.
“The league,” Schachtel explains, “has had well-defined testing protocols in place since the season began. When an athlete or staff member tests positive on the PCR method, the league does not hit the panic button (as observed in other institutions such as schools and local governments) and announce the results to the press, while remarking that the end is near. Instead, the NFL immediately deploys resources to determine whether or not they are in fact COVID-19 positive.”
As ESPN reported: “An initial positive test will continue to be followed by two more tests, a nasal swab to be assessed in a lab as well as a point-of-care test. Players, coaches and other staff members whose initial test results are positive must still isolate from the team while awaiting the additional test results. But they now can be cleared on the same day if both test results immediately come back negative.”
Consider what happened on Sunday, August 23. According to Dr. Sills, a total of 77 people -- 44 players and 33 staff members -- tested positive. This was spread across 11 different clubs, Sills explained, “but they were all associated with one regional lab facility that we are using.”
So the medical team immediately snapped into action. And, come to find out, all of the positive tests were the result of cross-contamination within the lab.
“Suffice to say,” Dr. Sills explained, “these are really sensitive, delicate tests, which again, are subject to irregularities of this type. The key for us and for our testing partner is to quickly recognize that and to act upon that, which is what happened here.”
All of the individuals, said Sills, “all 77, had a negative result on their confirmatory test. We believe, again, that these are what we are calling unconfirmed-positives and no one had symptoms, so it appears that none of these tests represent new infections.”
Patti Walton, and Independent Medical Adviser for the NFL, said this (emphasis mine) of the testing protocols:
“One of the things that we look at quite frequently when doing molecular testing is we look at our historical positivity rate -- which means, what is our positivity rate in the past, with a particular population or just with our patient population. When we see a run that shows a positivity rate higher than that, then that’s a red flag for us to stop and look and see if we have an issue. The other thing that we look at is, we want to look at what we call low positives, which means they have a high … we’re looking at something called a cycle threshold and that is how many times the amplification process has to go through before it becomes positive.
“So, if someone is very highly infectious, they’ll have a low cycle threshold. But if it’s someone that’s kind of right at the cutoff, their cycle threshold will be high. If we see a lot of patients that are testing positive with a high-cycle threshold, then that’s also a red flag to stop and actually go back and look at our run. And then, the other thing that we do is we take swabs of our hood on a fairly frequent basis and actually just swab all of the, around our hood, several times in different places and actually test those. Of course, that should be negative.”
Of course, statistically speaking, COVID-19 is fairly harmless to the average NFL player -- as it is to the average individual under the age of 70. Even so, the NFL has the most rigorous scientific standards for testing in the country.
“As a private enterprise that is attempting to keep its employees both healthy and on the job,” says Schachtel, “the National Football League is a case study of what happens when you are incentivized to follow the real science, which means calibrating testing to avoid false positives, and minimizing shoddy results. In doing so, the NFL has both offered a blueprint for managing COVID hysteria, and has exposed our countrywide ‘casedemic’ problem for what it is.”
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today