The crackpot whose ‘scientific study’ informed the administration’s do-nothing pandemic response
[Chotiner]:You wrote, “The adaptive responses should reduce the exposures in the high-risk groups, given the tendency for the coronavirus to weaken over time.” What tendency are you talking about, and how do we know it will weaken over time?
[Epstein]: Well, what happens is it’s an evolutionary tendency. [“There is absolutely no evidence for that,” Ko told me. According to Kuritzkes, “There is no proof that this is the case. To the extent we see that evolution taking place it is usually over a much vaster timescale.”]
He then repeats that he assumed the coronavirus would weaken over time: “This tendency takes time. It could be a week. It could be a month. It could be longer. But, in the end, you should expect something of this particular sort to take place.”
In fact, Epstein says he knows of “no exception” to the rule that such viruses weaken over time. Unfortunately, he’s wrong here as well:
[Epstein]: Over time, yes. And is this a hundred-per-cent tendency? No. Is there any known exception to it? No. [“We did not see SARS or Ebola weaken over time,” Kuritzkes said. “It is only appropriate public-health measures or vaccines that have helped to control those epidemics.”]
So up to this point, we’ve determined that Epstein doesn’t understand the nature of the virus, doesn’t understand what happened in Washington State (which he relied on in his model of the virus’ transmission), and doesn’t understand that the virus will not necessarily “weaken over time.” In short, his conclusions and the methodology underlying them are sheer garbage.