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Fmr NY Times reporter says calls for ‘expanded testing’ are an excuse to delay reopening the country

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A former New York Times reporter who has become one of the biggest critics of coronavirus-related shutdown policies says he believes that calls by government officials and their allies in the Leftist ‘establishment’ media for ‘expanded testing’ are a ruse to keep the economy on ice.

In an interview with Fox News’ Brit Hume, Alex Berenson, who primarily covered the pharmaceutical industry for the Times from 1999-2010, said he believes that the economic damage done from keeping businesses closed longer far outweighs any risks and potential health effects from lifting stay-at-home orders, even before widespread testing for the virus is available.

“I think the antibody testing matters,” Berenson said about tests to see whether people have previously had the coronavirus and could now be immune to it. “I think the infectious testing is an excuse to delay this. I think putting this on widespread testing of live infection of people who are actually infected right now is meaningless.”

There have been calls, mostly from Democrats, to test nationally. But as President Trump and other realists have said, not only is that not practical, but it’s unnecessary.

“If people get sick, they can get tested,” Berenson continued. “I mean, I’m not saying we shouldn’t test people. But I’m saying that saying we need to be able to do a million tests a day before we can reopen is just an excuse not to reopen the country.”

Hume noted, however, that several health experts have said widespread testing is essential to reopening the country, including our schools and businesses.

“What do you think is behind this?” Hume asked the former Times reporter, adding that top White House coronavirus task force doctors Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx are “serious, qualified, articulate, able” experts who are “on board with” the idea of widespread testing.

In response, Berenson said that other experts are suggesting — and trying — other strategies.

“On the other side, most notably a Swedish epidemiologist who … ran Sweden’s public health department for a number of years and thinks the lockdowns are a huge mistake. He actually gave a very good interview a couple of days ago,” he said.

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist, okay?” Berenson said. “You know, I don’t think this is like, this is all part of a plan to, you know, to make us green or bring Trump down. … But here’s what I think. When people take a public position that causes massive, massive, massive economic and societal disruption, it’s going to be hard to get them to acknowledge that position was wrong. Or even that it can be changed right now in the light of new data.”

“And so that raises the question of whether some people are dying with, rather than of, this,” he added.

Other health experts who have conducted their own studies also suggest that widespread testing is not needed.

In an interview with Fox News Tuesday, investigative reporter Sara A. Carter referenced these studies, including one from Stanford University, that found random sample testing of the population was more effective at determining the state of exposure and immunity to the virus.

“We need random sampling to understand this pathogen. And doctors have said this over and over again. Experts have said this. The Stanford study is an example of that in Santa Clara,” she noted.

“To understand this pathogen, you don’t need to test everybody, you just need random sampling throughout the country to truly understand this. We may have already developed a certain herd immunity to the virus anyways, to the Wuhan virus,” she added.

In the Stanford study, researchers tested 3,330 randomly selected people, concluding:

The population prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in Santa Clara County implies that the infection is much more widespread than indicated by the number of confirmed cases. Population prevalence estimates can now be used to calibrate epidemic and mortality projections.

And Dr. David Katz, the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Connecticut, said in an interview with Mark Levin, host of Fox News’ “Life, Liberty, and Levin,” warned that while social distancing is helping mitigate the spread of the virus, it’s also preventing the development of “herd immunity” that is necessary to prevent a repeat pandemic.

He noted that predictions of a ‘second wave’ of viral infections will likely come true because the wrong approach of keeping everyone locked down, which has been advocated by Fauci and Birx, is what will cause it.

“That’s what will happen if you lock everybody away from everybody else and kind of wait until things get better and then let everybody out into the world,” he said. “The virus is still out there. We don’t have antibodies, We’ll just get it later.”

Jon Dougherty

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