17 Apr 2020

BMS ep. 116: A Libertarian NYC Doctor Explains the Physiology of the Coronavirus

Bob Murphy Show, Coronavirus 15 Comments

Before I jump into my podcast episode, let me mention: This is an old SlateStarCodex post on “conflict vs. mistake theory,” that I thought was very illuminating.

Now then: My most recent podcast episode is the last I’ll do on the medical aspect of the coronavirus. It fell into my lap; this doctor (a pathologist working in NYC hospitals) is a fan of Contra Krugman, and he understands the problems (both in practice and philosophically) with coercive lockdowns. However, he thinks it’s wrong to view the coronavirus as “just like the flu.”

This was a very informative interview, in terms of understanding what this thing actually does to you, and why it can be so fatal for certain people.

At the end, Dr. Machado talks about practical tips to stay healthy.

15 Responses to “BMS ep. 116: A Libertarian NYC Doctor Explains the Physiology of the Coronavirus”

  1. Tel says:

    I don’t think anyone said that CCP-19 was just like the flu.

    It has “flu-like” symptoms which is only a vague similarity.

    As a broad comparison for what type of disease kills people, seasonal flu provides a yardstick as to how dangerous something is. Since no one freaks out over flu (perhaps more people should) it seems weird to have such a massive reaction over something that so far has only killed roughly similar numbers of people as other things that we largely ignore. As for exactly whether flu kills people, or some long chain of events that started with flu, I think that’s a rather spurious distinction.

    I got sick in December 2019 with very similar symptoms to COVID-19 and I was coughing up the most disgusting sticky, ropey, yellow pus filled slime you ever did see. It beat me around a bit, I took the Friday off work, called the doctor on Saturday because it was getting worse and he only visited then checked my out for five minutes, wrote a prescription and scooted out of there. I might have skipped work Monday as well, no one made much of an issue over it because there was hardly any news coverage. No one was doing any tests, and that’s normal in Australia, no one ever has done specific virus tests whenever I’ve been sick and seen the doctor. They do a generic white blood cell test, and some tests to check various levels of this and that in your blood.

    Then I had a fever recently over Easter 2020 and I told people at work they all hit the roof with helpful suggestions ranging from “Yer gonna die!” to “Try to relax and look after yourself!” to “Seek treatment at once!” (when there is no treatment), but anyhow I got a test done and after waiting for days turns out it was negative for the Rona so therefore the fever must have been caused by something else (dunno what). Since it’s negative, suddenly no big deal again, no excitement because it isn’t “The Big One” and merely one of another million or so things that can kill you (and surely one day one of them will kill you). This has revealed to me the way people are so deeply manipulated by the media and even when you lay it in front of them, “This is how you reacted when I got sick in December, and this is how you reacted just last week” they don’t care.

    I still don’t know what either of these sicknesses were actually caused by … but neither do I know about most of the things that make me sick. The strangest thing is that before this recent fever over Easter I have hardly been anywhere, I have been living on tins of beans in the basement. I went to the supermarket a couple of times and I was in and out so quick. I bought a bit of petrol, I’ve been washing my hands like nothing else. I just cannot believe I caught anything … I have literally been sitting at home, alone.

    I have not gone quite to the extreme precautions of Bob with his mail sitting in the garage, but then I never read my mail normally, so it’s always at least a month old before I even look at it. The only thing I can think of is that I don’t have any masks and I never planned ahead that I would need masks (actually I have one disposable mask that I have accidentally … I did not throw away after using it once, but that’s probably not so great).

    I have a dreadful feeling that people are being given the psyop treatment here, and it will get worse. The government response is so bad it looks to me like it’s designed to fail … if a crisis didn’t exist then it would be necessary to invent one.


    There’s my recommended link for the week … if you like the pommy accent.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      “I don’t think anyone said that CCP-19 was just like the flu.”

      Sure they have, Tel. I’ve seen lots of people saying that.

      • skylien says:

        Yes too many have and still do. And especially people from our camp, the libertarian side..

        Also I think it is just the wrong way to argue against government mandated lockdowns. Because ultimately the question to answer from our side is: What would a (really) free society without government do in case there is a really super deadly and super easily transmittable disease?

        Bob, you want to make a podcast on that question?

        • Harold says:

          I second that – I would like to know your views on this as it has had me wondering.

          What are you views on podcast vs post? Not for interviews and discussion, but for monologs. A podcast takes maybe an hour to listen to, whereas a well crafted post would get the same information accross in maybe 7-8 minutes reading and is easy to flip back to clarify something.

          Obviously there are other factors, so if you are driving, a post is no good, and the audience will be different. But if you want to find out someone’s opinion or arguments about something, which do you prefer? Is a podcast for entertaainment rather than information?

          • skylien says:

            Basically you said it all there. I think both are good. Since I am working in an (home) office I prefer podcasts at the moment because I can listen to them during (easy) work.

            If it is only about getting information/viewpoints across then a post is more efficient. If the topic is somewhat more complex, then with a podcast it is a bit easier to try to explain it with different angles. And obviously the entertainment factor in podcasts is usually higher.

            A noteworthy disadvantage of even well crafted posts is that they usually are condensed. This brings with it that people intentionally and unintentionally “love” to strawmen/misunderstand contrary viewpoints. That is so much easier done with condensed posts than with podcasts, where I have noticed that people partly go to extreme lengths to make clear what they do not mean. The amount of eggshell walking needed today is absolutely insane.

            • Harold says:

              That condensing takes a long time from the poster. As Mark Twain said, “Apologies for the long letter, I didn’t have time to write a short one.”

              Something for which I am often guilty.

    • random person says:

      Tel: “The strangest thing is that before this recent fever over Easter I have hardly been anywhere, I have been living on tins of beans in the basement. I went to the supermarket a couple of times and I was in and out so quick. I bought a bit of petrol, I’ve been washing my hands like nothing else. I just cannot believe I caught anything … I have literally been sitting at home, alone.”

      That can happen. Not sure how it happens, but historically, it can happen.

      A History of Epidemics in Britain, Volume II (of 2), by Charles Creighton

      “The ship ‘Wellington,’ sailed from the Thames, for Lyttelton, New Zealand, on the 19th December, 1891. The epidemic of influenza in London in that year had been in May, June and July; the mate of the ‘Wellington’ had had an attack of it ashore, on that occasion, but not the captain nor the steward. On the 2nd of March, 1892, when seventy-four days out and in latitude 42° S., longitude 63 E., near Kerguelen’s Land, the captain began to have lumbago and bilious headaches, for which he took several doses of mercurial purgative followed by saline draughts. The treatment at length brought on continual purging, which, together with three days’ starving from the 22nd to the 24th of March, caused him a loss of weight of eight pounds. The navigation had meanwhile been somewhat difficult and anxious, owing to a long spell of easterly head winds. Quite suddenly, on the 26th March, when the ship was in latitude 44 S., longitude 145 E., or about two hundred miles to the south of Tasmania, he had an aguish shake followed by prolonged febrile heat, which sent him to his berth. The symptoms were acute from the 26th to the 30th March,—intense pain through and through the head, as if it were being screwed tight in an iron casing, pain behind the eyeballs, a perception of yellow colour in the eyes when shut, a feeling of soreness all over the body, which he set down at the time to his uneasy berth while the ship was ploughing through the seas at about twelve knots, and a pulse of 110. The head pains were by far the worst symptom, and were so unbearable as to make the patient desperate. This acute state lasted for four days, and suddenly disappeared leaving great prostration behind. The captain, who had long experience with crews and passengers, and a considerable amateur knowledge of medicine, summed up his illness as a bilious attack, passing into “ague” with “neuralgia of the head.” While the acute attack lasted the ship had covered the distance from Tasmania to the southern end of New Zealand, and on the 31st of March the captain by an effort came on deck to navigate the vessel in stormy weather up the coast to Lyttelton, which was reached on the 2nd of April. The pilot coming on board found the captain ill in his berth, and on being told the symptoms, at once said, “It is the influenza: I have just had it myself.” The doctor who was sent for found the captain “talking foolishly,” as he afterwards told him, and had him removed to the convalescent home at Christchurch, where he remained a fortnight slowly regaining strength. The doctor[801] could find no other name for the illness but influenza, although he had not supposed such a thing possible in mid-ocean. They had just passed through an epidemic of it in New Zealand, and it is reported about the same time in New South Wales, afterwards in the Tonga group, and still later in the summer in Peru. The symptoms of this case are sufficiently distinctive: the intense constricting pain of the head is exactly the “fierro chuto” or “iron cap” of South American epidemics; the pain in the eyeballs, the soreness of the limbs and body, and the unparalleled depression and despair, are the marks of influenza without catarrh. The[Pg 431] patient was of abstemious habits, and had made the same voyage year after year for a long period without any illness that he could recall. He had reduced himself by purging and starving, on account of a bilious attack during a fortnight of foul winds from the eastward, and had doubtless become peculiarly susceptible of the influenza miasm before the ship came into the longitude of Tasmania on the 26th March.”

      • random person says:

        from that same book,
        “The general rule seems to have been that the more sparse populations had it later, the nearer they were to the extremities of the kingdom, as in Cornwall, the north of Scotland, and in Ireland. Opinion was divided as to the part played by persons in carrying contagion from place to place, some holding that the facts of diffusion could be explained on no other hypothesis, while most held that the influenza was in the air. Beddoes got as many answers favouring the doctrine of personal contagion as made a respectable show for it; but when these had all been set forth to the best advantage, a practitioner wrote to say that, after all, nine-tenths of professional opinion was against the[Pg 377] contagiousness of influenza. The practical question for Haygarth, Beddoes, and other contagionists was whether influenza was not a disease, like smallpox or scarlet fever, which could be kept from spreading by means of isolation, disinfection (with the fumes of mineral acids) and other precautions.”


      • random person says:

        So that goes into this article I linked before, about the lack of experimental evidence of person-to-person transmission of influenza.


        “In 2003, Bridges et al reviewed influenza transmission and found “no human experimental studies published in the English-language literature delineating person-to-person transmission of influenza. This stands in contrast to several elegant human studies of rhinovirus and RSV transmission …” [50]. (p. 1097)

        However, according to Jordan’s frightening monograph on the 1918 pandemic, there were five attempts to demonstrate sick-to-well influenza transmission in the desperate days following the pandemic and all were “singularly fruitless” [19]. (p. 441) Jordan reports that all five studies failed to support sick-to-well transmission, in spite of having numerous acutely ill influenza patients, in various stages of their illness, carefully cough, spit, and breathe on a combined total of >150 well patients [51–55].

        Rosenau’s work was the largest of the studies, illustrative of the attempts, and remarkable for the courageousness of the volunteers [52]. In 1919 – in a series of experiments – he and six colleagues at the U.S. Public Health Service attempted to infect 100 “volunteers obtained from the Navy.” He reports all volunteers were “of the most susceptible age,” and none reported influenza symptoms in 1918. That is, “from the most careful histories that we could elicit, they gave no account of a febrile attack of any kind,” during the previous year. The authors then selected influenza donors from patients in a “distinct focus or outbreak of influenza, sometimes an epidemic in a school with 100 cases, from which we would select typical cases, in order to prevent mistakes in diagnosis of influenza.” Rosenau made every attempt to get donors who were early in their illness, “A few of the donors were in the first day of the disease. Others were in the second or third day of the disease.”

        “Then we proceeded to transfer the virus obtained from cases of the disease; that is, we collected the material and mucous secretions of the mouth and nose and bronchi from (19) cases of the disease and transferred this to our volunteers. We always obtained the material in the following way: The patients with fever, in bed, has a large, shallow, traylike arrangement before him or her, and we washed out one nostril with some sterile salt solution, using perhaps 5 c.c., which is allowed to run into this tray; and that nostril is blown vigorously into the tray. That is repeated with the other nostril. The patient then gargles the solution. Next we obtain some bronchial mucous through coughing, and then we swab the mucous surface of each nares and also the mucous membranes of the throat.”

        Then they mixed all the “stuff” together and sprayed 1 cc of the mixture in each of the nostrils of 10 volunteers, and “into the throat, while inspiring, and on the eye” and waited 10 days for the volunteers to fall ill. However, “none of them took sick in any way.” Undaunted, Rosenau conducted another experiment in which ten acutely ill influenza patients coughed directly into the faces of each ten well volunteers. Again, “none of them took sick in any way.””

    • random person says:

      Tel: ““Seek treatment at once!” (when there is no treatment)”

      I mean, if you depending on whether or not you insist on treatments that have already passed double-blind studies and reach widespread acceptance, there might be more experimental options available.

      For example, on Mercola’s website, it mentions Vitamin C is under investigation as a potential treatment. Also note that, for myself as an individual, I stick to only food forms of Vitamin C, like camu camu, acerola, and citrus fruits, but I suspect they are using synthetic vitamin C experimentally.


      “Vitamin C Treatment for Coronavirus Under Investigation

      February 4, 2020, researchers at Zhongnan Hospital in China announced they will investigate the effectiveness of vitamin C infusion for the treatment of severe COVID-19 infected pneumonia.14

      Many of the deaths associated with this viral pneumonia appear to be due to septic shock,15 and studies suggest high-dose vitamin C infusions can improve outcomes in cases of sepsis16 and respiratory infections.17 As noted in the Zhongnan Hospital’s study description:18

      “Viral pneumonia is a dangerous condition with a poor clinical prognosis … Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has antioxidant properties. When sepsis happens, the cytokine surge caused by sepsis is activated, and neutrophils in the lungs accumulate in the lungs, destroying alveolar capillaries.

      Early clinical studies have shown that vitamin C can effectively prevent this process. In addition, vitamin C can help to eliminate alveolar fluid by preventing the activation and accumulation of neutrophils, and reducing alveolar epithelial water channel damage.

      At the same time, vitamin C can prevent the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps, which is a biological event of vascular injury caused by neutrophil activation.”

      The researchers intend to treat patients with 24 grams of IV vitamin C per day for seven days at a speed of 7 milliliters per hour. The placebo group will receive an IV of normal saline.

      The primary outcome measure will be the number of days without ventilation support during 28 days of hospitalization. Secondary outcome measures will include mortality, ICU length of stay, the rate of CPR required, vasopressor use, respiratory function, sepsis-related organ failure and more.”

      • random person says:

        I just think it’s kinda suspicious how carefully the CDC phrases this.

        ““There is no scientific evidence that any of these alternative remedies can prevent or cure the illness caused by COVID-19. In fact, some of them may not be safe to consume,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned of the recent spate of claims around herbal or tea remedies.”


        Ventilators don’t prevent or cure COVID-19 either. They are still (sometimes) used to treat COVID-19 because, when certain criteria are met, i.e. when the patient is already in danger of becoming unable to breathe, they are believed to improve survival chances.

        There’s a whole lot of ways a treatment could provide beneficial results without qualifying as preventing or curing something.

        The Washington Post mentions some sort of tea based on Artemisia. It does appear that someone jumped the gun by promoting something that hasn’t been proven yet, but then again, it’s plausible that it might work.

        See “Artemisia annua to be tested against COVID-19” on innovations-report.com

        “COVID-19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus that is contagious in humans. Like the SARS-related coronavirus strain implicated in the early 2000’s SARS outbreak, SARS-CoV-2 is a member of the same subgenus.”

        “SARS-CoV-2 is unique among known beta-coronaviruses in its incorporation of a polybasic cleavage site, a characteristic known to increase pathogenicity and transmissibility in other viruses.”

        ““Given the similarities between those two viruses, plant extracts and artemisinin derivatives need to be tested against the new coronavirus and this international collaboration makes it possible,” continued Prof. Seeberger.”

        • random person says:

          “In Spain, a former member of Catalonia’s parliament claimed some elderly patients and those with pre-existing conditions are being given morphine to avoid the ‘futility of health care’.”

          See, this kind of thing is why I never consent to go to hospitals even when I am afraid I might die.

          Like, given a choice between Artemisia (or some other random herbal medicine believed to have antiviral effects) and morphine, I will take the Artemisia (or other random herbal medicine believed to have antiviral effects).

          • random person says:

            Sorry, forgot to include link for that.

            “Doctors facing ‘temptation of euthanasia’: French medic warns of terrible decision facing staff in coronavirus hit care homes while Spanish doctors are ‘ordered to stop using ventilators for patients older than 80′” by Harry Howard


          • random person says:

            Vaguely related, “Doctors who ignore consent are traumatizing women during childbirth” by Rebecca Grant


            “Abbassi checked on Turbin’s progress over the course of the evening, and shortly after midnight, it looked like she was ready to deliver. She was on her back in the hospital bed, immobilized by an epidural and pushing, when Abbassi said, “I am going to do an episiotomy now.””

            “Turbin objected: “What? Why? We haven’t even tried!” More than once, she said, “No, don’t cut me.” Surgical scissors in hand, Abbassi explained that the baby’s head was too big and that her “butthole” might “rip” otherwise. Turbin implored him, once again, not to cut her. He said, “I am the expert here… Why can’t I do it? You can go home and do it. You go to Kentucky.” Then, despite her refusals, he cut her perineum 12 times.”

            “The entire episode was caught on video by her mother, standing off to the side in the hospital room.”

            ““I didn’t know he did that until I saw my video,” says Turbin. “Nobody could tell me why and that’s what bothered me. I was so mad he forced me to do something I didn’t want to do.””

            “The video meant Turbin’s story could be proved. There was no doubt that she said no and the doctor proceeded anyway.”

            ““There are thousands of stories like Kim’s, but hers was caught on video,” says Thompson. “Just before she reached out to us, I had been saying that we needed to find documentation, a video, of a doctor being abusive to substantiate the case, so people would know that this is not unusual. Kim’s story is an extreme version, but it’s an issue everywhere.””

            ““I begged not to have a c section, neither I nor my baby were in distress or danger, but because the doctor was ready to go home, he did a terrible section that resulted in almost a year of recovery,” one woman said.”

  2. skylien says:

    Great Interview! Great Points!

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