Michael Dobbins | Why the Dog Isn’t Barking

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Excuse me, do you have any spare conspiracy theories? Mine are all coming true. 

When we look back, 2020 will be the year people had their lives stolen. Have you been kicked out of your life this year? Me too. I am a musician and Emmy-nominated music editor. I have been out of work for nearly seven months. My 6-year-old child does not have a school to attend. We have been living in Santa Clarita for three years. We moved into our dream home in 2017 and have been enjoying the fruits of a couple of decades of hard work and good decisions. The same story is playing out for millions with no end in sight. Small businesses have been forced to close while mega-corporations have enjoyed record profits. 2020 has seen the largest transfer of wealth in history from the middle class to those who were already the global captains of power. 

What keeps it happening? 

Cases — the metric by which governments around the world justify lockdowns and ever-tightening restrictions. Cases of COVID-19. Not symptoms of sickness, not hospitalizations, not mortalities. Cases! And in the ongoing case-demic, one test has risen to the top as most widely recommended: the PCR test. The RT-PCR test (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) does not simply deliver a positive or negative result. It involves cycles where genetic material from the nasal swab is magnified or amplified. The number of magnification cycles is known as the cycle threshold (Ct). If the material is run at a low threshold, say 10, perhaps no virus will be detected. If the material is processed at a high threshold, say 50, then viruses of all kinds can be detected. 

Experts in virology and epidemiology around the world have been sounding the alarm. In October, Swiss Policy Research, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group composed of independent academics, published an article titled, “The Trouble With PCR Tests.” The article says, “A PCR test is amplifying samples through repetitive cycles. The lower the virus concentration in the sample, the more cycles are needed to achieve a positive result. Many U.S. labs work with 35 to 45 cycles, while many European labs work with 30 to 40 cycles.” 

It goes on to cite research by French professor Didier Raoult. They conclude, “At a Ct of 35 or higher (as applied in most U.S. labs and many European labs), the chance that the person is infectious is less than 3%. The chance that the person received a ‘false positive’ result is 97% or higher.” 

In a New York Times article (Aug. 29), Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says of the high cycle counts, “Tests with thresholds so high may detect not just live virus but also genetic fragments, leftovers from infection that pose no particular risk, akin to finding a hair in a room long after a person has left.” 

In the same article, Juliet Morrison, a virologist at the University of California, Riverside, agrees. “Any test with a cycle threshold above 35 is too sensitive.” She continues, “I’m shocked that people would think that 40 could represent a positive. A more reasonable cutoff would be 30-35.” Mina recommended setting the cycle threshold at 30, or less. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci agrees. The pandemic’s leading expert has said the threshold should be 35 or lower. In a video call with This Week in Virology from July 16, Fauci states, “If you get a cycle threshold of 35 or more, the chances of it being replication competent are minuscule.” Fauci continues, “You almost never can culture virus from a 37 threshold cycle, so I think if somebody does come in with 37, 38, even 36, you’ve got to say, ‘You know, it’s just dead nucleotides, period.’” The False Positive. 

So what is the cycle threshold being run by our local laboratories? Three companies handling tests in Southern California are Lab Corp., Quest Diagnostics and WestPac Labs. According to a document on Lab Corp’s website, their COVID-19 PCR tests have a 38 Ct. Quest Diagnostics has a Ct of 40 for their tests. Several calls to WestPac Labs were not returned. 

Do you believe Dr. Fauci? I do. I follow the science! It appears the PCR tests, at least in the U.S., are processed at higher-than-optimal cycle thresholds, and many positives are false, yet this is the benchmark test governments all over the world are using to justify shutdowns, issuing stay-at-home orders, and here at home, criminalizing your multi-household Thanksgiving. If you think this sounds alarming, hold on tight. Some facilities are using PCR multiplex tests that test for COVID-19 and the influenza A/B viruses, and may not even distinguish between them. And who has genetic fragments of the flu virus that will be picked up by an overcooked PCR multiplex test? Anyone who has ever had the flu. 

Recently, I received an email from my child’s school district. The district clearly favors the PCR test. The email states, “The most sensitive and accurate test is the molecular or PCR test. All employees and students should request a molecular/PCR test when being tested.” And a third time, “Please specify that this is the test you need.” 

So now we’re in the paradox. People all over the U.S. and the world wanting to go back to school, work, or return to their lives, are being pressured to get tested, specifically with a PCR test. The predictable outcome is an unending surge of false positives being used to suppress anything resembling a return to normal life. The media will continue to report record-breaking numbers of cases as we test our way to the dark winter they love talking about. 

What about the experts? What about the science? Why the lack of interest? Why is the mainstream media ignoring experts when they sound the alarm? PCR testing strikes me as deserving more scrutiny. Yet, as soon as experts started to voice concerns about the test, the media seemingly received a new memo, and they all began universally referring to the PCR test as the “Gold Standard.” So why isn’t the dog barking? Because. He’s a good boy. Yes he is. 

In 2012, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 4310, allowing propaganda to be used on the citizens of the U.S. by our own government, repealing the Smith-Mundt act of 1948. So it is perfectly legal for the media to lie to the American people. Thanks Obama! It isn’t too much of a leap to suppose that for certain subject matter, the media takes direction on what to report and how to frame it, dis-incentivizing any tendency toward curiosity or investigation. After all, if they are going be told what to say, why waste time being curious or skeptical, like a journalist? 

A couple of weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom apologized after being photographed at an indoor gathering with friends and members of the California Medical Association. It was a large gathering, inside a closed space, of people from numerous households, none of them wearing masks or social distancing. Meanwhile, Americans are being conditioned to view our own freedom as selfishness. 

Here’s a question worth asking. Does it still feel like we’re all in this together? Here’s another one. What the hell is going on? Does anyone need a music editor? I’d like to go back to my life.  

Michael Dobbins 


Editor’s note: The above letter was received before the state began using intensive care unit availability as a threshold for the stay-at-home order. 

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