February 4, 2016
I can now provide the latest update on what researchers in Brazil are discovering, as they dig into their original findings about the Zika virus and cases of microcephaly (babies born with small heads and brain impairment).
A correspondent has offered a translation of an article that appeared in one of the major Sao Paulo newspapers, O Estado de São Paulo, on February 2nd, “País tem 404 casos confirmados de microcefalia”:
It is obvious that no significant connection between microcephaly and the Zika virus has been found. It’s not even close. So far, therefore, there is absolutely no reason to trumpet an epidemic of Zika. Doing so is quite insane, by any reasonable standard.
Here are the principal facts in the article (after which I’ll comment):
* As of January 30, 2015, 4,783 suspected cases of microcephaly were reported in Brazil.
* Of those, 3,670 suspected cases of microcephaly, covering the entire country of Brazil, are being investigated.
* Of those 3,670, 404 cases have been confirmed as microcephaly or “other alterations in the central nervous system” of babies.
* Of those 404 cases, 17 “had a relationship with zika virus.”
* 98% of the 404 microcephaly cases come from the Northeast area of Brazil, and in that area, Pernambuco has the highest number of cases: 56.
Now, let’s take each one of these reported facts and examine it.
First: 4,783 suspected cases of microcephaly in Brazil. “Suspected” is the operative word. This number means nothing, because it says nothing about confirmation. It’s just a raw figure.
3,670 of these cases are being researched.
Of these 3,670, 404 have been confirmed as microcephaly or other alterations in the central nervous system of the babies. The key word here is “or.” The researchers don’t know how many of the 404 babies have microcephaly. At the very most, it would be 404. 404 cases of microcephaly in the whole country of Brazil, so far. That is not an epidemic. For example, every year in the US, there are 25,000 cases of microcephaly. And the literature is very clear about causes: any insult to the fetal brain during pregnancy can result in microcephaly. Severe malnutrition, falling down stairs, a blow to the stomach, a toxic street drug or medical drug or vaccine or pesticide, and so on.
Of these 404 cases of (possible) microcephaly in Brazil, 17 babies have been found who “have a relationship with the Zika virus.” It’s hard to be more vague. But for the sake of argument, let’s say that in each of the 17, with a correct test done properly, the Zika virus was isolated. This finding does not even remotely approach proof that Zika is causing microcephaly. It’s miles away from proof. Any honest researcher will tell you that. If Zika were the cause, researchers should have been able to find it in the overwhelming majority of the 404 babies. 17 out of 404 is, in fact, major evidence that Zika is not the cause.