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Sunday, April 19. 2020
Bulldog's post earlier today suggests what many of us have imagined but had no hard data about: this corona virus may be about as lethal as seasonal influenza. That means it kills 0.1 to 0.15% of infected people and, in this case, mostly frail and elderly.
That would make it comparable to the H1N1 virus pandemic of 2009 which had little media or political hysteria.
Read the post, and listen. It's a random sample from California, but it makes sense to me because it gives us an inkling of a denominator. No denominator, no data. More probably similar data will be trickling in over the next weeks. Many people have had this bug and barely noticed it, much less got tested for it.
If the world has hysterically overreacted to this germ for lack of data (thanks a lot, China) - what then?
Since I am always a skeptic, I was always skeptical about the hysteria around me. Skepticism is my default setting, and it usually works out.
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Unfortunately, the sample in California was not a random sample. It was people who self-selected by responding to an ad, representing a sliver of the modeled population.
It is still a nice study demonstrating that there is evidence for high prevalence of past infection.
Testing everyone on the cruise ship, or the aircraft carrier was better at getting a sample. Those test were for active cases, rather than antibodies.
A nice follow-on study would be to test all students at a selected high school The demographics of population can be known from previous data uncorrelated with whether each subject had the disease, or thought he or she did. From the opt-in population and overall demographics, one can determine demographics of opt-outs, too.
Except he explains how he WAS able to randomize it. He pointed out that its main flaw is that it's small - but he's also working on 2 other studies to expand this, and he says the data already seems to indicate the same information.
I could point out that I'm Superman from the planet Krypton, but that doesn't in make it true.
The fact is it wasn't randomized. It's always been the fatal conceit of central planners and poor researchers that they think they can account for myriad variables many of which they do not even realize exist.
At the end of the day, most studies (especially expensive ones) don't tell us any more than what we should have been able to determine using common sense. Most respiratory viral illnesses are either asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic and never get entered into the denominator. NOTE:Politicians may know this, but it's in their interest as power/wealth brokers to collect taxes and pay for this nonsense.
Folks around me here in northeastern MA are coming to this conclusion. It was a glorious spring day here today, but the number of people out and walking, cycling, biking, etc. was remarkable given the standing stay at home "advisory".
I suspect people will be cautious about returning to large scale events, including sit-down restaurants. Once the data show this is, as you say, similar to a seasonal flu then the real pressure will be on to fully re-open.
Meantime the governor - and I use the term loosely - in NH declares that we are in the “thicK” of it with hospitals empty and people coping with their flu at home. Except those in known nursing homes and enclosed schools for disabled children. And those closed facilities do no extra screening of personnel and the state is NOT using quinine for treatment. Because. He just wants to get along.
I am going to post on this tomorrow. In fact, I already posted on this in the irritating post "Courage" over at my own site.
I have absolutely had it with comparisons to the seasonal flu. We have taken drastic measures, we are already over the yearly flu average in just two months, and we are still going. This is not the flu. People are starting to adopt a scientific view on the basis of their political bias, conservatives saying this is no big deal, liberals saying it is huge. That is not how science works. I would ordinarily be in the ranks of those in favor of risk - because all of life is risk - but conservatives and libertarians so consistently overlook very basic information that I am just plain turning them off. There is damage other than death, to the lungs, to the kidneys, to other organs, and maybe even the brain. There is considerable evidence from other countries that the diminution of cases and death is not a nice pretty bell curve, but a long fat tail. Reinfection and inadequate immunity from mild cases are still considered possible (I think those unlikely, but still very bad signs).
Science is not feelings about whether your impression of one thing or another is true. We might be able to risk that outdoor transmission is rare and begin to relent there. Worth a shot, and some states are. If someone claims more than that, they are flying kites, letting out the string until they can't see the cloth anymore. Remember what we used to tell liberals in the age of Obama? Hope is not a plan.
Additionally, conservatives are starting to adopt the social, non-logical argument "Oh, those people are panicking. We are the calm adults who aren't doing that." Are you sure that shoe isn't on the other foot?
It seems to me that there is something serious about this virus that we aren't acknowledging. The oft used word "panic" is intended to insult and put down those who are concerned about this pandemic. Others are out on that conspiracy limb with no way to get back. Their theory seems to be that the reason our governors and or federal government "over reacted" to this virus is because they want to enslave us or something. But that doesn't explain the extraordinary actions other nations have taken. I guess if you are a conspiracy theorist you would conclude all those other nations are in cahoots with the left in the U.S. to deprive us of our constitutional rights.
But all of that is foolish. Everyone, well everyone who is in on the medical and intelligence briefings, is genuinely worried about this virus. To put it simply either they know something that they aren't telling OR they are telling us by their actions and we are not getting the message. The message I'm getting is that before this is over a lot of people are going to die and a lot will get quite sick. The "over reaction/shutdonw" worked. It flattened the curve. I think it is a mistake to think it is now all over but the shouting. Once the shutdown is eased it will spread and we will again see increasing cases, hospitalization and deaths.
This is not an argument to not end the quarantine. I think it is time and certainly past time in some states and cities. Do it as many suggested with phased in opening up and at risk people continuing to quarantine. Keep up the efforts to get PPE supplies and trying new treatments. But expect that even with our best efforts the death toll will keep going up and states and cities that seemed to have escaped the virus will feel the impact. It's just a matter of time.
Most in the medical community are worried because they don't know enough about it. That's the cause of the over-reaction.
I'd add that a number of nations didn't take such extreme measures and are doing OK. Sweden is the obvious one, though apparently New Zealand simply closed its borders and has limited restrictions (though it is a small island nation and can take more simplified steps).
My primary point is that I do think something is amiss with the over-reaction, and I do believe it is an over-reaction. It is overwhelmingly opportunistic as viral infections go - elderly and some select at-risk. There are ways to protect and limit their exposure without doing all this.
I don't believe it's a conspiracy, as if someone felt "Hey, now we can force people to do what we tell them to do and they will have to believe us because this is scary."
I do believe it's an overwhelming over-reaction to mystery and fear. The risk appeared fast and furious in NYC, which a week prior to shut down had a mayor saying "Ignore the virus, we'll be fine." That same mayor is regularly blaming Trump. So there are some things to consider here about the hows and whys people are flip-flopping on their POV.
For my part, I've remained fairly consistent and underconcerned. Dangerous? Yup. In need of caution? Yes. But my wife was eating chips out of the same bag with me the day before I was diagnosed, neither of us realizing I had it. She got nothing. Neither did my son, who traveled to and from various places in the car with me for a week while I unknowingly had it.
Of course, I am NOT visiting my 85 year old father, or my mother for that matter. For obvious reasons.
It is panic. It's panic when the person in front of me, at the store today (we are all wearing masks and gloves and carrying sanitizing wipes) starts screaming at me because I thought she was done and stepped into the checkout aisle. "GET OUT OF MY SPACE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Sorry, the panic is real. I've seen it multiple times - such as the fights at Costco that led to calling a regular police presence.
That's panic. There's a lot of it, and the media is helping to feed it. My wife turned on CNN today just to see what's happening in the world. After 20 minutes she said "they really are just feeding the fear, aren't they? There are plenty of stories to report, and some are very good, but they have ramped the fear up to 11."
This isn't the flu. I never said it was. But it's appearing more and more that while it's more dangerous for certain groups of people, and it's slightly more contagious - the rate of mortality is roughly similar.
Another note - supposedly our health system sucks (to listen to Democrats, anyway). So why are we crushing this thing in a way no other nation is? Our death total is higher, but that's for obvious reasons. Our % rate is far lower. And we're presumably doing less testing...only the worst off. So you'd expect a much higher rate.
Either it's not as deadly, or we are damn good at what we do. I'm opting for a combination of both.
Time will tell. I think it will get a lot worse. I think that at some point even the most committed non believer in the seriousness of this virus will change their opinion. Just 16 days ago I posted a similar post to the one I posted today and the U.S. death count was 6927 then. I simply cautioned people to keep checking it every few days and weeks. And now just 16 days later the U.S. death count is 40,548. What will it be in 16 more days?
At this point the epidemiologists are forecasting 60k. So if they are right the end result is less than the 80k from the 2018 flu, which had a vaccine. Did you panic then as well? If we had shut the economy then is it fair to say we could have saved 40k people? If the forecast of 60k are right for a virus without a vaccine now, isn’t 80k for something with a vaccine back then worse?
Keep in in mind California with a population of 35 million has about 1k deaths with a total forecast of 2k. For this we will impoverish millions. The human misery from the shut in will lasts a decade and be far worse than the virus. Those who advocate an unending shut-in should be made personally responsible, and I forecast many will.
I'm with whatever.
I'm sure it WILL get worse, and when this was starting someone at work asked me how bad do you think it will be?
I looked at the estimates and said the low end will be what we should expect. The higher estimates are based on massive assumptions that usually (in the past) have never happened. The idea of 2mm dying would scare me - and I believe would justify all this.
But that's just ridiculous. After all, when I was born, polio had once again just ravaged the nation, infecting up to 60,000 people a year whenever it rolled through. There were no shutdowns and our population was smaller - so the %s were high. Measles would infect 5mm people a year and kill 6,000 each year.
Let's put it this way - we used to recognize that these things were real, and take extreme precautions, and our nation is still standing. We had a smaller population, so larger swathes of it were overrun by viral infections of various types, and we didn't shut down.
George Carlin has a great skit on this. That we've basically reached a point where we're coddling ourselves. This is a false sense of security - trading off one form of 'safety' while giving up a larger, more important form of self-reliance.
In this battle between the epidemiologists and the economists, why have "we" clung to the dictates of the epidemiologists?
1. Due to the panic induced by the media, the medical danger of the virus seems more tangible and closer (in a chronological sense, it's happening now) than the economic eventualities.
2. We tend to place greater weight on the visible here and now than in something that may happen in the future. It's evolutionary. That's not to say, people aren't losing their jobs or businesses right now - they are and that's why we're seeing protests. For many getting government checks, the economic reality has been kicked down the road for another four months. The bill may be postponed, but it will be paid!
3. The near-sighted PC crowd rushes to condemn as uncaring anyone who suggest that the "long-term" economic consequences of the lockdown may be worse than the short-term medical consequences of no lockdown. Note that when i say long-term economic consequences, the PC chicken littles forget that these economic consequences will result in negative health consequences as well.
I'd call it worse than the flu, but there's still a huge spectrum between "it's nothing, ignore it" and "shut the country down indefinitely because we're all going to die."
Enough with the all-or-nothing thinking. We ought to tailor our response to the clearest risks. Mass transit and crowds are clearly high-risk. Walking on the beach may not be zero-risk, but zero-risk is not what public policy is supposed to aim at. In between are lots and lots of activities that can be made safer without putting everyone in a cell.
Your post is uninformed leftist rubbish!
"The oft used word "panic" is intended to insult and put down those who are concerned about this pandemic.
Balderdash (the spam filter catches the word I want to write). Anyone who doesn't recognize the panic that has been created by the leftist media is blind or lying. Further, anytime someone mentions the economic ramifications of the lockdown (and their health consequences) is labeled as uncaring or greedy. Sounds like an insult and put down to me.
"Everyone, well everyone who is in on the medical and intelligence briefings, is genuinely worried about this virus."
That's pure BS. The public heath people advising Trump have only one concern - zero illnesses and zero deaths DUE TO THE VIRUS. They have no expertise and no concern for the economic consequences either for the public or themselves (their paycheck and job is secured by the federal government). Many physicians, epidemiologists and scientists are on record as saying they think the virus is less deadly than predicted and that there has been an overreaction to the problem.
"The "over reaction/shutdonw" worked. It flattened the curve. Once the shutdown is eased it will spread and we will again see increasing cases, hospitalization and deaths. ... expect that even with our best efforts the death toll will keep going up and states and cities that seemed to have escaped the virus will feel the impact. It's just a matter of time."
Yours in incoherent babble! If the end result will be the same (or close to the same) anyway - and it will be because flattening the curve will delay, but not prevent deaths - all the lockdown has done is reduced the resources we have to provide for the myriad wants/needs of people which includes food, clothing and shelter in addition to medical care for coronavirus AND other medical problems.
This is the exact same thing you said to me 16 days ago when the total U.S. deaths were 6927 and today they are 40,566. Are you clueless?
Nope. Just proves I recognize a turd for what it is. What part of "the end result will be the same anyway" did you miss? Evidently, even a turd like you has agreed with that point (or do you not even understand what you posted?). What you evidently fail to grasp is that adding the economic insult to the medical injury will only make the latter much, much worse. Even your sacred cow - the UN - agrees with that. So go crawl back where turds like you come from.
There's an interesting article on how badly downstate New York is skewing the numbers of the entire country. Take downstate NY out of the picture and the rest of the US comes in 13th worldwide for number of cases per capita (per million), while downstate NY, treated as a country of it's own with a population of over 12 million, comes in at number one. In terms of deaths per capita (per million), NY again tops the list, with the rest of the US coming in a #11.
And, my goodness, it's not even close.
Cases per capita:
1. Downstate New York (16,230.65)
2. Spain (4,100.67)
Deaths per capita:
1. Downstate New York (848.45)
2. Belgium (470.51)
Downstate NY Skewing US Coronavirus Numbers
That data distribution sure does bring up a lot of good, salient questions, the most obvious being: is a densely populated city with heavy public transportation usage a very large (possibly the biggest) risk factor?
Asked another way, if the above is not the biggest risk factor, how does one explain the following:
NY state deaths/1M population: 957
CA state deaths/1M population: 30
A difference of that magnitude demands answers and would seem to indicate that everyone is not really at serious risk, i.e. not to the degree we are being lectured and hectored about it.
Just asking questions and using the same data as everyone else.
OK, the answer is that those places that have not yet experienced larger pools of infected people yet have not yet experienced larger pools of infected people yet! They will? If you assume that a snapshot of the progression of any disease is the final picture than you do not understand how disease spreads.
If on the other hand by the end of August California still only has 1000 or so deaths THEN you can draw some conclusions from that.
Interesting theory — got any data to back it up, or are you just looking to pick fights with people who are just asking honest questions?
Another theory you might check out is the one where CA actually had earlier exposure starting in Sept ‘19.
So great to see "Turn off the TV" in a headline. And oh, did I mention turn OFF the TV???? Many thanks.
The reality is that the good news is still bad.
We as induhviduals, family members, members of communities, members of nations, etc, are always faced with Hobson's choice:
You will live your life with all of the bad things that entails or not at all.
Since our answers are seldom so black and white as Mother Teresa, Howard Hughes, jumping on the grenade, the degree to which you choose one aspect or the other tells us what kind of girl you are and what your price is.
No data set we base our judgement upon - if we use reason at all - will be perfect. To often we'll string together weighted anecdotal evidence, play some internal normalization games and call it data or pretend that a model is reality only to find that neither will ever satisfy the aggregate of what we witness.
But we must choose to live with our choices to whatever degree good, bad, indifferent, or hide from sometimes truly awful uninvited realities that knock on our doors.
When possible - if allowed - forgiving those at the extremes of the thought processes claiming theirs is the only path to salvation and any that disagree are apostate is the preferred approach because the next time each of us is perfect will be the first.
Do this as long as possible until better solutions are bumbled into by the midst of the bell curve.
When not possible, it's best to act ruthlessly because waiting for the bandage to rot off is far more costly than addressing the wound to the best of your ability now.
We've baked the cost of buying time to arrive at approaches to mitigate the Wuhan flu - let us agree to call a spade a spade - into our world. It's now time to do what is prudent with the information at hand instead of waiting for the perfect solutions demanded by the feces flinging monkeys on both ends of this debate.
Be considerate of others by acting as though you are infected - hygiene, distance, PPE (to protect them from you), etc, - until you know you're not and/or people around you voluntarily decide to assume risk with you.
If possible, use what resources you have to get tested so that you remove the burden of doubt from yourself and others
Forgive the Feces Flingers until they are literally destroying your life as opposed to merely inconveniencing it.
And most importantly, set aside the TV and look for the Gospel around us.
We turned off our TV
Threw away our papers
Moved to the country
Built us a home
Had a lot of children
Fed ‘em on peaches
They all found Jesus
On their own
- John Prine, “Spanish Pipedream”
The longer I live the better this advice gets.