YOu can imagine a situation where R0 < 1, but only due to a strategy that includes some methods that only work  when the absolute number of infected people  is low. Something like fighting fires in California brush: everything’s flammable, potentially you could have a big fire, but as long as you run around quickly putting out little fires ( before they spread) you can prevent it. But if there are too many little fires, the one-armed paperhanger effect kicks in and things get out of control.

In such a metastable situation, controlling the number of visitors could be important.

Now if R0 is well under 1.0, and that  is all due to strategies that have no problem scaling up, a few infected visitors is an annoyance but not a big threat.



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23 Responses to Metastable

  1. Gordon William Marsden says:

    I believe that 3.4 million visitors came to the USA after they knew it was coming .

  2. David Chamberlin says:

    There is a one graph at CNN that I suggest following. But when you link to that you need to scroll down to Covid 19 cases by region and territory. It shows the major countries affected and how many days it takes for the known cases to double.

    Bend that curve, bend it like China. At least with this graph you can see progress being made as populations get scared shitless and do as they are told. The US had a doubling every three days and it has been pushed to every five days. Long way to go and no we can’t trust these numbers, but still, it’s informative and a bit positive. Hunker in your bunker.

  3. Anon says:

    If things keep up China’s problem will be creating narratives that explain why it and the other East Asian countries got off so easy or to create the notion that they really didn’t get off easy. Nasty commies lying about the death toll to save face is a pretty easy sell. – “This is all fake”

  4. gothamette says:

    What do people here think about triaging ventilators? Age a factor, but not the only one.

  5. John says:

    The Italians started their lock down about a month ago. Their daily new cases have peaked, but we are not seeing them go down very fast at all. A danger is that, as the economic pressure mounts, the rest of the world look at this and give up hope. When the economic pain is great enough, herd immunity will be more convincing.

    • PrinzEugen says:

      Austria started its lockdown 3 weeks ago and it is already past the peak, with active cases starting to drop. So the strategy does work, only it probably works a lot faster when you have a lot less cases than Italy or Spain (or the US, which at this point unfortunately seems to be going for herd immunity).

  6. sfw says:

    I still don’t understand what the long game is here. Is the point of keeping Ro under 1 just to stop overloading the hospital system? After all without a vaccine (which could take a long time) the problem won’t go away. You talk about putting out small fires to avoid a big one however the problem isn’t the fire but the fuel load, same with this, the vulnurable population is still there. Until enough people get it or a vaccine comes you’re just delaying the inevitable.

    • SteveB says:

      It buys time for effective treatments to be developed, as well as vaccines.

    • gcochran9 says:

      What Japan, Taiwan, SKorea, HongKong, and Singapore are doing is working, more or less, and they’re mostly open for business. But this is only possible when the total number of infected people is not too large. Get R0 < 1 and the number of cases actually shrinks: if you get it low enough, you can now do what they’re doing, while working on a better solution.

      Is that clear?

      • gothamette says:

        This is my own stupid person’s understanding of what Japan, Singapore et al did, and what we did not do.

        My analogy is cats in a bag. Or rather several cheetahs. If you kill the cheetahs while they are still in the bag, you’ve done your job. They did this with surveillance, contact tracing, testing and thorough follow up.

        We, on the other hand, allowed the cheetahs to escape from the bag and now we are having a devil of a time trying to find them because cheetahs are very fast, very carnivorous and have been let loose in a very target-rich environment. The only way to thwart the cheetahs in such a scenario is to put yourself in a place where they can’t find you before they either maul you to death and eat you, or injure you so badly that you have to be put on a ventilator.

        Hope this helps.

      • John says:

        At this point, it seems more realistic to hold out for a semi-effective vaccine that does not kill too many people. The Chinese are talking about having one ready by Sept. of this year. I am not sure what is the earliest one we have. If we have something, Trump needs to indemnify the company from lawsuits. Getting it down to the numbers the South Koreans have, for example, seems would take many months, if possible at all. There are many in our country that will be on the streets if they lose a couple of months of pay. I don’t know if the country can hold out that long.

    • Анисимов Дмитрий says:

      if R0 ~1 for a long time population will build herd immunity and R0 starts to plummet after certain threshold.

  7. masharpe says:

    Yep. For this reason I expect the thing that’s abnormal for longest will be international travel. It can’t return fully to normal until there’s a vaccine. Organizing the Olympics is going to be a challenge even next year, for example.

    The travel effect is among the many reasons for a country to suppress the virus. Doing so allows your residents to travel to other countries without being quarantined. Once some countries had chosen to suppress the virus, it became necessary to do it too or else get stuck outside the tent.

    • Анисимов Дмитрий says:

      Olympics, a useless sink for taxpayers money, shouldn’t exist.

    • Gkai says:

      If there is herd immunity in some countries they can be open to all… But it does not change much if other countries do not visit them… Travel between staturated countries may happen, and maybe it will be interesting for them to allow it, to gain some competitive advantage of restarting things earlier…
      If serological tests generalise and do have very low false positive, being positive without viral load (2 tests separated by 2 weeks) could give you a traveler pass.
      Lifting local travel restriction but not global one would mean you have curbed the epidemic without reaching saturation. If that’s the case, you are in the metastable region and need to keep monitoring things, so not really business as usual. IMHO, economic and societal pressure will be such that saturation will be reached, it will be flatten the curve and not squash it… Only a quick vaccine would change that, but apparently the quickest possible would be mid 2021. Evene early 2021 seems too slow.

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