The best is yet to be

The big mistake people are making is comparing the overall impact of a bad flu season (like the Hong Kong flu in 1968) – one in which ~50-70% of the population eventually caught it – with a more virulent epidemic ( higher IFR & higher R0)) that is just beginning ( < 5% of the US infected by coronavirus so far. )

Something like comparing the casualties of the first three months of WWII with the casualties of all of WWI.

Well, they’re making other mistakes too, but then they want to.

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329 Responses to The best is yet to be

  1. Coagulopath says:

    At t=.001ms Little Boy was pretty safe.

  2. Jon says:

    Rate of growth depends on R0 and the time you’re infectious. And it looks like the (sub) exponential growth in coronavirus decays quite rapidly, whatever the reason [hidden cases, prior immunity or social distancing].
    But probably this means a total 140,000 excess deaths across Europe (population: 330 million) this year, And flu kills 2 or 3 times more people under 65yrs than coronavirus,
    (No, I’m not saying coronavirus is like flu!)

    • ha1597 says:

      “And flu kills 2 or 3 times more people under 65yrs than coronavirus,”

      If you are using the reported seasonal flu casualties, then according to one front-line doctor, you’re greatly inflating the number of flu deaths. (According to him — see the links below — deaths from seasonal flu are derived estimates, sweetened so as to encourage more people to get a shot.)

      By his (Boston-based) reckoning, coronavirus is on the order of dozens of times worse than flu, which would also make it deadlier for the roughly one-fifth (give or take) of its victims that are under 65. (H/T to ‘keypusher’ on Sailer’s blog) (I forget who posted this, but it was on this blog, I think)

      • Frau Katze says:

        I just heard that about flu, it’s not something that’s determined from counting it on death certificates. That’s means it’s not obvious.

      • Frau Katze says:

        The 1918 flu did kill people.

      • random observer says:

        “(According to him — see the links below — deaths from seasonal flu are derived estimates, sweetened so as to encourage more people to get a shot.)”

        That certainly fills me with confidence. I really would prefer public authorities not do that to facts just for hortatory purposes. It delegitimizes the numbers and the authorities at once.

        • Frau Katze says:

          Nothing has done more to confuse the issue than these constant references to the supposed flu death rates.

          That these numbers may be completely meaningless is only coming out now. One doctor was surprised that he had never seen even one case of flu death in his career. He asked around but other doctors reported the same thing. (There was one exception of a patient who was seriously ill due another illness).

          People on chemotherapy are likely told that it compromises their immune systems and they must be very cautious.

          • mcdemarco says:

            As with COVID-19, flu victims are often not healthy to begin with and actually die of pneumonia. Flu testing, while possible, is not common, so the numbers have to be estimated. Fortunately, they are not estimated from doctors’ anecdotes but from actual deaths, so even if they’re wrong, we still have an equivalent (or possibly larger) pneumonia problem to worry about.

            • Frau Katze says:

              But when the average person thinks of flu they think of something that will lay you low for a week or two and that’s it. The average person has never known personally anyone who died of the flu. Not even amongst their overweight or 60s-70s acquaintances.

              I’m personally baffled now about flu. I’ve rarely had it. I did get it in that 2009 epidemic but at no time did I consider that this was potentially fatal. It wasn’t very bad. In fact I am only diagnosing myself retroactively. Since Covid, there have been numerous lists of flu epidemics. When I saw 2009, I figured it must have been what I had.

              Before that, I cannot recall having it at all. I must have forgotten. You don’t recall the dates of every cold you’ve had.

              So when some people read that Covid is only a bit worse than average flu, they don’t think of a horrible disease. They’re naturally confused about all the fuss.

              Covid should be compared to SARS, not the flu. But SARS was stamped out quickly and most people have never heard of it.

            • Frau Katze says:

              It’s a bit unfair to say “doctor’s anecdotes.” Doctors are the ones who fill out the cause of death of the certificate, aren’t they? It is not an anecdote. The doctor had never had a patient death that he considered caused by flu.

              • mcdemarco says:

                Unless the doctors were also asked whether they’ve ever seen anyone die of pneumonia, I don’t think the anecdotes are worth much. Doctors can unfortunately be as ignorant of epidemiology (not to mention geriatrics) as the next person.

              • gothamette says:

                “I’m personally baffled now about flu.”

                Me, too. I don’t even know if I’ve ever had flu. I suppose I have, but I can’t remember. Colds, oh yes. But flu? I keep having to read the difference on the internet and it still doesn’t sink in.

                And pardon my asking, but since we’re now talking about dying directly of flu, and “derived estimates” then how does someone die directly of flu? How does someone die of it and not with it?

              • random observer says:

                I was baffled by the shifting advice on masks, or rather assumed it was either a clear scheme to hoard them for medical workers, or the state patronizing us on grounds we’d all use them wrong and then revolt when we caught COVID from our masks. And I get where that latter is coming from.

                Still, I’d rather my government level with me and say they are mostly to keep me from coughing on others, and might at best provide some defence for me as long as I am careful about removal and still distancing and washing hands. That’d be fair. If you snort the fabric of the thing after that warning it’s your fault and I’d applaud any official loudly who said so. I mean, if all else is equal and one is worried about folks coughing and sneezing and violating 6 feet while so doing, how is a mask worse than an unadorned, however magnificent, nose?

                So I’m baffled by a lot.

                Also baffled about flu. Doctors have never been very precise with patients in my experience, whether or not they are confident of the diagnosis themselves. Everything is almost always hedged like a Norman field. Like many, I always assumed I had flu if it followed a particular trajectory and included fever. But there was an element of old wives’ tale in it all, and not just from my own mother. I think I had it some times in childhood and youth. Not for probably decades. I don’t know when flu shots came out, but I never had one before 2013, and missed a coupled years since. Never had flu just the same. Though one can never tell. It has its mild forms too. Maybe I did have it a few times.

                I have had bronchitis at least twice and pneumonia once [after the first bronchitis transitioned to it]. But I’m not sure how precise the doc was even then, these being 18 years ago. I also got told I had aspirated pneumonia at birth. Good times.

                And I’m diabetic and have HBP. No idea if the fact they are modest, medicated, and controlled helps at all. And was once, I think now wrongly, deemed to have asthma, 10 years ago. I think in retrospect I was having respiratory consequences of a trip to a nasty , airborne fecal and dusty environment while with a huge head cold, played out over a couple years. At any rate, haven’t used even a maintenance inhaler for 8 years. They told me that doesn’t happen.

                But I wrote all that down in papers I have left at home, in my office, and carry around with me everywhere for the last two months. Can’t be too careful.

                May takeaway, all else being equal, is that I am not well informed in these matters and my public health authorities are addressing other people’s questions, not mine. I’ll need to follow up.

                By the by, Frau Katze, IIRC you are in BC. It seems your province is doing better now, better than Ontario. Hopeful. Good luck. IS the island still clean?

              • Frau Katze says:

                “Influenza bafflement.”

                We all know about the common cold as it’s symptoms are well known. Some of us remember childhood diseases like measles and chicken pox (both now have vaccines).

                Those were well defined. But what exactly is influenza and have I had it?

                It’s also confusing because, at least in my neck of the woods, norovirus was called “stomach flu.” It seemed I’d get that about once a year as a child, and then again when I had my own children. This at least didn’t last long. But one attack didn’t confer immunity. The symptoms were crystal clear.

                I went for years assuming the flu was norovirus. I never heard the term norovirus until news reports on cruise ships.

                We can’t be the only confused ones. Yet in articles on Covid, death rates from influenza are repeatedly mentioned. But I bet money plenty of others are confused, or think they know what it is but they’re wrong.

                One thing I know: I was never given an influenza diagnosis. In 2009, I missed a lot of time off work (about two weeks) so I was obliged to get a medical certificate. By that time I was over it. I described the symptoms and got the certificate. But no diagnosis.

                My only other influenza memory. Apparently there was a bad outbreak in 1968. This must be the time I was very surprised to see how many students were absent from school (I was in Grade 11). I don’t remember having it myself in 1968. If I did, it couldn’t have been bad enough to stay in memory.

                I don’t think that health workers realized how confused people are.

                Re: Covid on Vancouver Island. It exists but the numbers in the news reports are low. Still, we are locked down with essential workers only on the job.

                I don’t think our leaders know what to do either.

              • Frau Katze says:

                “Use of masks” Also noted the shifting and confusing news reports.

                I made up my mind by watching a video from biologists Bret Weinstein and his wife. He showed viewers what he using when he went out: a piece of cloth that looked like a bandana.

                The kerfuffle over the high-quality ones was in the news and how they had to be reserved for professionals.

                Bret explained that the bandana would block at least of some of what was floating in the air. And stop least some of what you breathed out. He was the first one to explain what in retrospect seems obvious: you can still benefit or benefit others with a makeshift mask. It’s better than nothing.

                The media failed to make this clear.

    • gothamette says:

      “And it looks like the (sub) exponential growth in coronavirus decays quite rapidly, ”

      That would be nice. Link?

  3. ASR says:

    Some thoughts from a dissident epidemiologist:

    A look at the 1918-1919 Spanish Influenza Pandemic provides some useful perspectivee. The USA used only the most basic and primitive public health measures to control that epidemic. As a result some 600,000 persons died (an equivalent number today would be some 2,000,000). Despite this the country survived and actually throve during the following decade. The responsible H1N1 virus disappeared since herd immunity was created when most susceptible hosts died or had acquired immunity. Ten years later the Great Depression occurred for unrelated reasons and caused irreparably greater damage than the previous pandemic.

    Despite early concerns, the evidence is piling up that SARS-CoV-2 is not going to kill anywhere near 2,000,000 people in the USA, likely only a small fraction of that number even if all public health measures were immediately rescinded. Furthermore, it now appears that a large part of the population has an intrinsic (inherited?) resistance to SARS-CoV-2 infection and/or severe Covid-19 illness. Antibody studies are now suggesting that a large majority of those infected experience no or extremely mild symptoms, although the virus does appear to affect some clades, e.g., Amerindians and Afro-Americans, more than others. It might be best to stop fighting natural selection and just let the virus burn its way through the population, along the way naturally achieving the goal of herd immunity, as happened during the 1918-1919 pandemic.

    New information also suggests that current lock downs and similar stringent public health measures may not be the most cost beneficial approach for dealing with this virus. It turns out that asymptomatic infected persons play little role in transmission of the virus In light of this, a limited time quarantining of symptomatic individuals might be a better approach.

    We now know quite a bit more about SARS-CoV-2 than we did even a month ago. This new information should encourage policy makers to rescind decisions made “in the fog of war”. What I’ve been learning suggests to me that current public health policies directed at mitigating the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic may ultimately generate more human misery than would a less severe set of epidemic mitigating strategies. A worldwide Great Depression and its consequences have just as much, if not a greater, lethal potential than the current pandemic. Such economic disasters tend to drag social unrest and wars in their wake, e.g., 1930s Italian Fascism and German Naziism, and eventually WW II.

    • gcochran9 says:

      “Despite early concerns, the evidence is piling up that SARS-CoV-2 is not going to kill anywhere near 2,000,000 people in the USA, likely only a small fraction of that number even if all public health measures were immediately rescinded. ” False.

      “Furthermore, it now appears that a large part of the population has an intrinsic (inherited?) resistance to SARS-CoV-2 infection” False.

      ” It might be best to stop fighting natural selection” – true for you.

      • Peter Shaw says:


        Are you seriously still saying 2,000,000 Americans are going to die of this? If so how? The math does not add up. 70k have died so far with perhaps 5-10% of the population having had it.

        With herd immunity it will probably max out at 200k.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Tell me how you get that 200k. I really want to know. Assuming your own worst-case numbers ( which are wrong, by the way). But still. How do you get 200k?

        • gcochran9 says:

          Parenthetically,we know that simple theoretical estimates of the herd-immunity percentage are not far wrong: some town in Lombardy have reached 60%.

          • gothamette says:

            Such timing. IMHE just drastically upped their numbers. 135K deaths. From something like 73K a day or two ago. WTF?

          • Charlie says:

            If we accept the 5-10% figure and that 60% get infected then that gives 6 – 12 times the current deaths (plus a few deaths from existing cases that haven’t died yet).

            70,000 American deaths so far times 6 to 12 is 420,000 to 840,000. Quite a bit more than 200,000 but quite a bit less than 2,000,000 too.

            • gcochran9 says:

              The current serological prevalence data for New York state is 10%: for the country as a whole, considerably less. Almost certainly less than 5%.

      • ASR says:

        I’m not trying to get in a pissing contest with you, Professor Cochran. I’m not so oblivious as not to have noticed that commenters, including myself on past occasions, invariably lose these. But you and I disagree on two fundamental issues and I’m sincerely curious about your reasoning on these and willing to be educated if I’m wrong.

        “Despite early concerns, the evidence is piling up that SARS-CoV-2 is not going to kill anywhere near 2,000,000 people in the USA, likely only a small fraction of that number even if all public health measures were immediately rescinded. ” False.

        Data from the 1918-1919 H1N1 pandemic suggest that such an uncontrolled pandemic today would kill an estimated 2,000,00 persons in the USA. There seems to be near universal agreement now that the 1918-19 strain of H1N1 was more lethal than today’s SARS-COV-2. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that a pandemic involving the less lethal SARS-CoV-2 virus will kill less people than a hypothetical pandemic involving the more lethal 1918-1919 H1N1 virus. I want to understand why you seem to think that today’s less lethal SARS-CoV-2 pandemic will probably kill at least as many people as a hypothetical pandemic involving the 1918-1919 H1N1 virus?

        “Furthermore, it now appears that a large part of the population has an intrinsic (inherited?) resistance to SARS-CoV-2 infection” False.

        Sero-prevalence tests show that the estimated numbers of persons who’ve been infected with SARS-CoV-2 exceed the numbers of officially recorded infections (recorded Covid-19 illnesses and Covid-19-related deaths) by at least an order of magnitude ( 50 times as many in the study cited here To me this suggests that a large majority of individuals who are infected by SARS-CoV-2 experience no or very mild effects as a result of that infection, i.e., they have some intrinsic immunity to SARS-CoV-2. What is your alternative explanation?

        • gothamette says:

          I don’t want to get between you and Greg but let me ask one question: at what percentage of the 330 million Americans will we reach herd immunity? Forget 1918. Let’s talk about now.

          And I’m not trying to get into a pissing contest, or an argument. I won’t win. People don’t win arguments, both sides just quit, convinced they are right. Just answer: at what point do we reach herd immunity?

          • ASR says:

            There’s an interesting discussion of that issue here The answers to the question, which you pose and as you posed it, from the two researchers cited there, range from about one-quarter of the population to three quarters. i.e., from about 83 to 248 million.

            The current evidence from sero-prevalence studies and available data on SARS-CoV-2 IFRs , as I am interpreting them, suggests that a very high proportion of the population, say a low estimate of 80%, is effectively immune to any serious effects from the virus and of the remainder, those experiencing a serious case of Covid-18, about 1% will die. Therefore, a bit of grossly oversimplified arithmetic suggests that an absolute upper bound on the number of deaths it will take to achieve herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in the USA is somewhere between 600,000 and 1.8 million.

            I’d just add the following points: (1) These are extreme upper bound estimates. (2) In the absence of some intervention, such as a vaccine, improved treatment options, or some modified form of permanent lock down, deaths in numbers such as these are inevitable along the road to herd immunity, although they can be delayed and spread out.

            • gcochran9 says:

              Since the % infected has already hit 61% in Bergamo, I think you can be confident that the herd immunity percentage is at least that large.

              As for IFR, look at NYC: 1%. or Lombardy. Not 1% of 20%, as you suggest.

            • gothamette says:

              Fine. 80% shake it off, no problem. What about the other 20%? I see no reason why herd immunity should be less than Bergamo, i.e. 60%. That’s 200M. Which leaves 40 million people in need of some sort of medical care.

              How are we going to do this? Please recall the case of Italy’s Patient 1, “Mattia the Footballer,” who spent 6 weeks in an ICU. I’m not saying that 40 million people will need this, but some fraction will.

              Are you willing to take that chance? Forget the deaths for the moment, look at what happens when 40 million people need hospitalization. Tell me how you will handle this.

        • the 1918-19 strain of H1N1 was more lethal than today’s SARS-COV-2
          Spanish flu was probably more lethal but also quite a lot less transmissible. It only infected about ~1/3 of the world. Herd immunity threshold for Wuflu is at least 60% and probably higher. And since we’ll go higher than the herd immunity threshold anyway…

          What is your alternative explanation?
          False positives with the antibody tests. Note that since the link you give was published, the authors of that study have downgraded their estimates in response to people pointing out that the data they provided was statistically consistent with zero prevalence in Santa Clara.

          • gcochran9 says:

            Spanish flu today might actually be less lethal than wuflu – we could deal better with the secondary bacterial pneumonia.

          • The G_man says:

            Thanks for your answer. It seems to me that most western democracies are in a situation where two sides are pushing positions (less lockdown vs. more lockdown) that are both rational (albeit not to the same degree), but end up on compromising on a completely irrational position because of the way the decision making structure works. Is there a way out of this? Maybe a either-or referendum: 15% shutdown or 90% shutdown, with 35% shutdown not an option,

          • Frau Katze says:

            @“arguably wrong” I thought of something I could do about your one town at a time, contract tracing method.

            I could get another opinion. I chose Bret Weinstein and his wife Heather because I know they are American political leftists, who are biologists. But not kooky left. They’re also take audience questions.

            I asked them in a superchat on a livestream on Youtube. Cost me $20 US. They discussed it briefly here, approx 20 minutes in.

            Heather said, yes it would work, it was similar to what South Korea does. She said she was torn between wanting to rid of the virus but not trusting the government. Bret said flat out, no way I trust the government.

            Canadians must be different. They more accepting of authority. I would personally trust our government. I dislike our prime minister Trudeau but it’s because he’s stupid. I don’t think he’s malevolent.

            If sensible leftists would oppose it that’s a very bad sign. I already know the Trump supporters would reject it outright.

            So I did something. I don’t know who else I could ask.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Same as arguably wrong. R0 is much higher for Wuflu than it was for the 1918 influenza, and thus it would infect a much larger fraction of the population, unless interfered with. While it sure looks as if serological studies are dominated by false positives when the real prevalence is low. When it is high, as in NYC and Lombardy, you get what I think are reasonably correct results – reasonably correct for the real infection rate, and thus for IFR as well, death being not that hard to measure.

          • ASR says:

            Okay. Thank you. I understand the points you are making. I’ll concede that I may well be wrong but I still think that the data on R0, and the proportion of those infected who develop serious symptoms and/or die is too unsettled to make a solid case that current stringent policies will ultimately be cost beneficial.

            • The thing is, our current policies aren’t stringent enough. Since we’re not actually suppressing viral transmission enough to bring new cases to zero, we’re just stretching the epidemic out longer, with all the attendant economic damage. So I actually agree that our current policies are not cost beneficial. But much stronger ones would be.

              • gcochran9 says:

                You wouldn’t have to get to zero, just low enough to have South Korean-type trace-and-test methods be effective. But sure, we’re not getting there.

              • The G_man says:

                Let us say that you knew for absolutely certain that the U.S. (or any other given country) will never be able to get the R0 below 1 or whatever figure we decide would be necessary for a trace-and-test method to be effective? Would you then advocate loosening restrictions only to the bare minimum necessary to stop the medical system overloading?

              • Yes. I was talking about this back in March:

                Shutting down the economy is incredibly expensive. I came up with ~$15T cost for an uncontrolled epidemic, $7.5T for just enough controls to avoid saturating health care capacity (15% economic shutdown), $3T for extremely stringent controls (90% economic shutdown), and $91T for the worst-case scenario, using moderately stringent controls (35% economic shutdown) that kept the growth rate at ~1. Also known as about what we’re doing right now.

                Reducing healthcare saturation is simple and understandable. The really effective controls are straightforward as well: you push as hard as possible, so that you get caseload under control fast, and then you don’t have to keep the controls in place for very long.

                With the moderate controls we have in place right now, we somewhat decrease total caseload because it won’t spread quite as far, but we spread that caseload out over years, requiring those controls to be in place for a lot longer. A year of moderate controls at ~35% reduction in the economy is a lot worse than a short month long shock of 90% reduction.

              • TB says:

                It’s a common cold virus. It’s free in the world. It won’t be stopped now no matter how tight your controls are. Pretty much everyone is going to get this virus over the next few years. Your ‘strict’ control for a short time just means that you get a temporary drop in cases and a new surge as soon as you reopen. Pure isolation is flatly impossible, unless you want a policeman on every street-corner with orders to shoot to kill. China or N Korea might pull that off, but not many other places.

                It’s down to preferences. I go for moderate social distancing and a high, steady case load (which is what the US seems to have achieved) as ‘better’ than a peaks and valleys sort of thing you’d get with harsher, strict controls that would have to be applied again and again every time you got a major surge. Eventually we will either get a decent drug that works or a vaccine, or we won’t. If we do, wonderful. If not it’ll run through the whole population until it has infected everyone it can reach.

              • gcochran9 says:

                it’s not a common cold virus. Where do you get this shit? Moreover, other countries such as New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, are controlling it. Why are you lying?

              • TB says:

                It’s a corona-virus. Not exactly the same as the other common colds caused by various corona virus, but similar enough in how it spreads to use them as indicators in what to expect. Given the current prevalence, I’d certainly call it common. It is a common cold virus.

                As for S Korea, Taiwan, N Zealand, they all are doing well. All three are islands or effectively islands, with effective central governments. Not the situation in other major countries. I expect the virus to continue to occur even in those countries and to start being common again if they at any time relax isolation. How do you see anything different, given how easily this bug spreads? Will N Zealand stop accepting tourists and businessmen, forever? The US and Europe cannot adopt N Zealand’s or Taiwan’s controls because our situation is not the same.

                You can call me ignorant, stupid or an idiot. Not a liar.

        • Frau Katze says:

          You should not leave numerical quantities without either a description of how you got the numbers or a link to the source.

          Where did you get the data about the 1918 pandemic?

    • teageegeepea says:

      A worldwide Great Depression and its consequences have just as much, if not a greater, lethal potential than the current pandemic.

      Mortality went down in the U.S during the actual Great Depression.

      • gcochran9 says:

        yeah, but it can still have happened if it supports the right side. The past can be anything you want it to be.

      • skeptic16 says:

        Mortality rose during the Soviet collapse. I think that was substantially due to alcohol abuse which was a problem before the collapse. It’s possible the COVID19 measures have been a net life saver just from avoidance of auto accidents and infections occurring under medical treatment.

      • random observer says:

        THAT is actually quite interesting and counterintuitive. How does an industrialized society with almost no welfare provision put such a huge percentage of its people out of work without at least some increase in mortality from hunger, disease, exposure, or suicide? Or indeed homicide? Social solidarity was really that good? Reduced workplace accidents?

        No sarc. Genuinely curious.

        And not sure that would be replicated in today’s US or in the rest of the world in a prolonged depression. There’s a lot of dry powder lying around.

    • Coagulopath says:

      I’ve heard people say that COVID-19 is apples-to-apples worse than the Spanish flu, and the only reason it’s killing fewer people is because we have better sanitation and medicine.
      What’s your take on that?

    • Frau Katze says:

      Quote: “ Ten years later the Great Depression occurred for unrelated reasons and caused irreparably greater damage than the previous pandemic.”

      The Great Depression didn’t kill anything like number of people killed in the 1918 pandemic. Millions of people around the world lost their lives. It didn’t have to end in war either.

  4. pyrrhus says:

    Covid-19 stats are not very impressive except in densely populated cities ruled by completel idiots….

    • gcochran9 says:

      The 1918 flu was less infectious than this one – had a lower R0 – but no town in the US escaped. Today, we’re trying hard to slow or prevent coronavirus from spreading. if we quit, or materially relaxed our efforts, I can see no reason why this more-contagious virus wouldn’t spread just as efficiently, just as far, today. To every town. Farther in fact, because the herd immunity level increases with R0. We have decent evidence for this: some places in Lombardy have gotten up to ~60% seropositive, while the 1918 flu saturated at about 28%.

      So what am I missing?

      • rgressis says:

        Hi Greg,

        You usually have pithy, clarifying responses to things that confuse me. What do you make of this article in the NYT?

        Is it just “wait a bit, and all these seeming disparities will disappear”? Or is there still lots of room to wonder what the R0 and the IFR are?

        • gothamette says:

          I can’t clarify things for you as Greg can, but this sentence struck me:

          Young people are more likely to contract mild or asymptomatic cases that are less transmissible to others, said Robert Bollinger, a professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

          Less transmissible? Really? I thought asymptomatic transmission was the thing that makes this the bastard it is.

          W/R to why some countries haven’t been hit, let’s wait a year, shall we? Our first recorded case in NYC was on March 1.

        • Craken says:

          I would bet that many governments, concerned about their fragile hold on power and their international reputation, are simply lying about the number of Covid deaths. Even aside from the obvious liars (Iran, China), places like Egypt, Algeria, Venezuela, Pakistan have little incentive to admit to a high death toll.
          Then there is the problem of unintentionally under-counting deaths, which appears to be a problem almost everywhere. However, the severity of the problem varies from a 10-20% under-count to the type of massive under-count discovered in Ecuador, where the deaths were at least 20x the official number (8,000 vs 400) as of April 17. There are probably many instances of huge under-counts outside the first world.
          Black Africa’s a special case in that its median age is around 20. Since the dying scarcely begins before 40, a priori one would not expect much mortality in that region. Also, Africa’s burden of infectious disease may be counterbalanced by its lower burden of metabolic syndrome.

          I think 4 of the 5 variables they identified (gov’t response, culture, demographics, luck) explain all of the variability. The thing about luck, though, is that if you keep gambling it tends to run out, which leaves only two interconnected ways to turn the control dial. In a year, luck will be less of a factor in international differences, excepting only those places that used their early luck–if it was luck–to establish a lasting defense against Covid. Australia, New Zealand, and S. Korea are working toward that end.

          • ogunsiron says:

            Can Iran be considered a place where the virus has been or is allowed to run wild?

            I haven’t been able to follow recently what’s happening there but things looked utterly out of control a couple of months ago and my own town was officially seeded by people coming back from Iran.
            Do their current official numbers (about 100K cases for about 6K deaths) make sense to the readers here? Were there wildly different dynamics at play between the within elites epidemic vs the within common folks epidemic? For a while it looked like their political establishment was going to get decimated (in the literal sense).

      • pyrrhus says:

        If the R0 is as high as projected, there should be a lot more test positives and deaths in Arizona, for example, where most of the population is clustered around Phoenix and Tucson…unless perhaps the intense sunshine and dry desert air make it difficult for the virus to spread…The death rate is also open to question…A third possibility is that a lot of people would test positive, but have had no significant symptoms, or have been treated successfully at early stages….at some point there will be valid data on these points.

        • teageegeepea says:

          I thought humid air was generally considered a bigger barrier than dry air.

        • gothamette says:

          Wait a few months.

          Americans are so impatient!

          • gcochran9 says:

            I think many people’s sense of time is weirdly distorted. So, if cases are doubling every ten days in state X, trouble is so far in the future that there’s no point in thinking about it.
            I feel it myself.

            • gothamette says:

              Also, March 1 seems a century ago.

              Please remember: most Americans don’t read your blog. Not one politician has leveled with them in terms understandable to laymen WTF is going on.

              I had to look up stuff. You and AR were discussing things I had zero familiarity with. IFR. CFR. R0. Etc. Etc. Etc.

              I don’t blame Mr. Smith in Wyoming for thinking, “Why should I lose my job over deaths in NYC?” Because no one’s explained the big picture to him.

              I don’t understand why this hasn’t happened. Perhaps the pols thought it would instigate panic. Maybe it would have. All I know is, I think we’re headed towards the herd immunity strategy, like it or not. I’m just praying that if I get the virus, I get a mild case. I have no combordities except age. But that’s a big one.

              • gcochran9 says:

                What makes you think any politicians understand this in the first place?

              • gothamette says:


              • German_reader says:

                I normally can’t stand Merkel, but it’s true, in this crisis she does seem to have a comparatively good understanding of the issues (though she acted far too late, basically ignored the threat until almost mid-March). Probably won’t matter however, since there’s huge pressure for “re-opening” the economy from business representatives and Liberal/Christian Democrat politicians (not entirely sure what that means, there never was a lockdown as stringent as in Italy or France anyway); the public debate in Germany seems to be shifting to the view that the measures taken so far have been excessive. Online one sees lots of people on German twitter, comment sections etc. who spout all the usual “skeptic” arguments and regard Sweden as a positive example.
                Will be “interesting” what happens if/when a 2nd wave of infections hits. I doubt another shutdown will be politically possible in Germany.

              • gothamette says:

                I was semi-joking; Greg was asking about US politicians. But from your answer it doesn’t seem to matter. Did Merkel explain to the German people how this works? Because no one here did. So I have to excuse the American people since they were (a) left in the dark and (b) misled.

                It sounds as thought Germany is fairly similar to the US in the reactions of the people. I’m a little surprised.

                There are many people in the US who don’t understand the issue at all. They aren’t like some people here – they don’t bother to create elaborate evasions. They just think it’s flu.

              • German_reader says:

                “Did Merkel explain to the German people how this works?”

                I didn’t watch her speech (usually can’t stand her), but the general information about reproduction number etc. is readily available, e.g. Christian Drosten, a virologist (who developed a test for SARS back in 2003 and is one of Merkel’s advisors, has become somewhat of a media celebrity and has a regular podcast on public broadcasting where he explains the basic issues. It’s just that a lot of people refuse to consider the virus a danger for ideological and political reasons…I read an interview yesterday with a professor of economics who literally said that Covid-19 “is similar to the flu in its effects”, its threat is all “hype”, Sweden’s doing it right etc. The struggle in Merkel’s party over her succession is also a factor, the minister president of North-Rhine-Westphalia (literally too stupid to wear a face mask, leaving his nose uncovered) has come out as a big proponent of loosening restrictions, obviously in the hope of increasing his political profile and his chances to become Merkel’s successor. So as I wrote above, a 2nd wave of infections will be “interesting”, since there probably won’t be another shutdown for political reasons.

              • gothamette says:

                We’re going to have a 2nd wave here (on the East Coast) as well, and perfectly timed for flu season. When is flu season in Germany?

              • German_reader says:

                “When is flu season in Germany?”
                Fall, probably starting around October (I usually get the flu vaccine then). I hope that at least things will be better organized by then in areas like supply of good face masks (FFP2 masks are hard to get, and only at absurd prices), but ensuring safety of public transport etc. will probably be a major issue.

              • gothamette says:

                OK, same as NYC. I get a flu vaccine as well. And I’m now prepping with vitamin supplements, something I used to scoff at.

      • Peter Shaw says:

        Sweden’s experience says otherwise.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Sweden is, of course, nowhere near herd immunity – defined as the fraction of immune people that would scotch further spread with people acting close to normal. Their government had said that they are close, but that’s just a lie.

          • gothamette says:

            Suddenly there’s a lot of stuff in the media about Sweden. It’s simply not true that they’ve got on BAU. The only material difference between Them and Us is that they didn’t close primary schools, yet 40% of kids are absent. (They will probably end up academically ahead of the others, LOL.)

            And oh yeah, they have a huge CFR, higher per capita death rate than the US, and they’ve sure managed to clean out those pesky old folks in care homes.

        • Sweden has the 7th-highest death-per-million rate at present (I am excluding tiny places like Andorra and San Marino). Its best comps, the other Scandinavian countries, all have much better numbers.

          • skeptic16 says:

            We don’t know if the other countries have just delayed the inevitable at the cost of further delayed economic recovery and we won’t know until this is over.

            • gcochran9 says:

              if someone develops a useful therapy or vaccine, those authorities that bowed to the ‘inevitable’ might look a bit silly. As they were lynched.

            • Pincher Martin says:

              Sweden’s economy’s is doing just as badly as its neighbors, so your assumption is that the Swedes will hit herd immunity before their neighbors have access to new medicines/therapies that either prevent or alleviate COVID-19’s current high death rate.

              What evidence is there for this?

              The sane policy ought to be that it’s almost always better for the state to procrastinate on allowing large numbers of its citizens to die. I don’t want to say “always better,” but certainly it’s close enough to always that you ought to have abundant proof that your policy is the right one before going forward with allowing such widespread and certain death.

              And what makes Sweden the natural counterpoint to the United States? There are a number of countries around the world right now – Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, etc. – where domestic life goes on pretty much as before. People in those countries can go out to restaurants and movies without fear. That’s certainly not the case in Sweden.

              So those countries have managed to avoid both the high death rate in Sweden and the forced closures in the U.S. and Western Europe. They have found a sweet spot that ought to be considered ideal. Sure, those countries are all integrated into the global economy and so they will suffer some inevitable economic disruptions, but I bet those disruptions will be far less severe than what is happening in Sweden and the U.S. right now.

              If U.S. policymakers had listened to people like Greg in early February, we would be in that sweet spot – minimal economic disruption with very few deaths. Instead, we have to listen people like you who, even after what has happened in northern Italy, Spain, and New York City, still talk about the relative benefits of letting the virus rip so we can get back to that ideal economy on the other side of some one-million-plus excess deaths.

              • Peter Shaw says:

                The lockdown in Australia and New Zealand is much MORE severe than the USA. And yes it has been successful at squashing coronavirus cases. BUT it is destroying the economy and as it eases the virus is returning. In the long run it is just delaying the inevitable.

              • gcochran9 says:

                You’re just delaying the inevitable, right now.

              • Pincher Martin says:

                Peter Shaw,

                The lockdowns in Australia and New Zealand were not “much more severe.” They were just more effective, and now they are easing.

                The lockdowns are also not responsible for the economic disruptions in those countries. The plague is causing the disruption, and with the easing of the plague, some parts of the domestic economy in the two countries will begin to rebound. (But not the more globalized sectors of the economy, for obvious reasons.)

                It’s also an exaggeration to say the virus is making a comeback down under. Australia has seen a slight rise in cases, but it’s still a perfectly manageable number that is well under a half-percent rise per day. New Zealand hasn’t had twenty new cases in the last week after having 80 to 90 a day just last month. The Kiwis are in great shape.

                Both countries are now in much better shape than either Sweden or the U.S. in handling a fresh coronavirus outbreak or alleviating their moribund economies.

          • Luke Lea says:

            As I understand it, a higher number of deaths in the short-run is to be expected for the best long-term solution, in which the final morality rate may not be all that different but the economic damage should be far less severe. At least that’s the plan. It shouldn’t be too long before we learn who was right.

            • Peter Shaw says:

              It is more sever here in Australia. Yes it has squashed the virus but it is coming back. Because
              1. It is getting colder
              2. The lockdown is easing

              The Australian economy has contracted more than any other country, so economically we have and will suffer the most. This has been caused by the lockdown not the virus.

              For what? The lockdown will probably end up leading to lowered overall life expectancy as cancer checks are way down, suicides way up and elective surgeries cancelled. This will lead to 1000s of deaths of people who actually have miles left on the clock.

              This situation is like an elephant falling of a cliff after being scared by a mouse.

              • Pincher Martin says:

                You’re just making shit up, Peter.

                The Australian economy has contracted more than any other country, so economically we have and will suffer the most.

                What evidence do you have for this claim? Worse than Italy? Worse than Spain? Worse than Belgium? Worse than France?

                For what? The lockdown will probably end up leading to lowered overall life expectancy as cancer checks are way down, suicides way up and elective surgeries cancelled. This will lead to 1000s of deaths of people who actually have miles left on the clock.

                There’s no evidence that the lockdown will lead to ANY rise in mortality. There’s considerable evidence, however, that the coronavirus is killing a ton of people in countries which aren’t up to task of combatting it.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Are you getting a bit tired of these enthusiastic, dishonest, and painfully stupid assholes? I sure am.

  5. Nabeela says:

    We can spot these…. I don’t know why they are not understanding….

  6. gothamette says:

    I’ve given up arguing with the deniers.

    I hope to be out of NYC by October 2020. Why then? Well, flu season is coming. The virus will still be here, lurking around. And all those rich Manhattan swells who left town will have come back, creating a wonderful reservoir. The social distancing will have been relaxed, although NYC’s dreary late fall weather will keep people inside, a good thing.

    I expect a bad 2nd wave, this one focused on Manhattan.

  7. Kgaard says:

    If what you are proposing were true (COVID really bad), it would have blown all through China and Southeast Asia, since the Chinese were traveling very heavily in those countries prior to the Wuhan lockdown. Yet … crickets. Nothing happened. Why not? How would you explain that?

    • mapman says:

      Because the Chinese took extreme measures relatively early. Taiwan acted very early and did all the right things. As did New Zealand, BTW. The result: infection rates so low that can be controlled by doing the right things: contacts tracing and isolation.

      • gcochran9 says:

        You could add Vietnam to that list of those with a competent response.

        By the way, China’s response was spectacular and draconic, yet here we have someone talking as if it never happened at all. What gives?

      • Peter Shaw says:

        Humbug, the Chinese are just lieing. There is plenty of evidence covid19 has killed 10 times as many in Hubei as the official stars.

        But the Chinese government have a sense of proportion and it’s just another flu like illness.

        • Are you fucking nuts? The Chinese were grabbing suspected cases off of their streets to shove them in central quarantine. They were welding the doors shut of buildings with cases and feeding the inhabitants on the pancake diet. They were buying up most of the global supply of PPE. What planet are you living on?

        • Frau Katze says:

          It’s not just “another flu-like illness.”. It’s closest relatives are the very serious SARS and MERS.

  8. Citizen AllenM says:

    Open, close, panic, subdued resignation.

    The numbers are not going to change unless the nature of the disease changes.

    Meanwhile, so many can’t help but see this through simple economics.

    Which will be a three year disaster.

    So, no matter the bravado, bluster, and magical thinking, this keeps on going.

    Community spread, followed by repression.

    Excess deaths in vulnerable populations soar, and long term health damage is not even being discussed- yet.

    Might as well nationalize two airlines, it would be more efficient.

    Someday this war’s gonna end…

  9. j says:

    The virus is vulnerable to higher temperatures and it cannot survive on warm surfaces. There is a chance that the epidemic will subside as Earth’s axis tilts.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Manaus, Guayaquil.

      • j says:

        We are doomed.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Doomed is too strong a word.

          • Ilya says:

            Fucked is more like it.

            Apropos, a Harvard theoretical physics professor friend of mine disclosed to me that an “economic suicide” is being committed and that the IFR numbers are very exaggerated. Good to know that your friend is not as practically sharp and inquisitive as you once thought.

            • gothamette says:

              Ask him what the IFR is in NYC – 20% infected. Confirmed deaths: 13,724. Probable: 5,383.

              • Ilya says:

                As of a week and half ago, he said that he suspected that tens of millions of people in the US had been infected.

                I told him to provide me some verified studies that could confirm, because I don’t believe those numbers.

                So, that’s the thing: there’s a lot of people out there, very much educated and smart otherwise (and politically right-leaning also), who believe that the IFR is not really that high, even if you tell them that the excess death rate is high. You can always get rescued by the high number in the denominator… Until you can’t, but the it’s really too late, of course!

                In his favor, he did state that full quarantine would’ve worked, if they did it in the very beginning. But now the cat is out of the bag, and it’s “too late,” “people might literally starve to death.”

                My grandmother (still with us, God bless her) was a train nurse in Soviet Union during WW2. She was happy just to eat enough bread. A loaf of white bread with butter sandwiched in was something she dreamed about during those years. It is preposterous to suggest that Americans will be dying of hunger due to COVID, given that American farmers are literally burning produce they cannot sell, in mass quantities.

              • gothamette says:

                “IFR is not really that high,”

                Check today’s NY Times, there’s an article about Israel and herd immunity. They’ve had 237 deaths and about 16.2K infections. That’s a standard CFR, but a very low death rate per capita. They’ll be doing blood tests for antibodies in the coming week.

              • Ilya says:

                Also, there are others — i.e. not this particular friend — who believe that the excess deaths in NYC are due to iatrogenics and ventilators with too much pressure that “destroy lung tissue.” So, again, either it’s the uncounted numbers in the denominator or hospital extra infection/mistreatment — but it’s hard to convince them otherwise.

              • Ilya says:

                I see a lot of criticism of Trump, but I don’t agree. For him to do the right thing, he would have to commit political suicide. I don’t think there’s anybody out there right now, in the ruling circles and, especially, “the elite” of the country that would be willing to go full martial law for a month or two or three or whatever it takes. So, it’s not wise to say that he’s to blame. I don’t hear anyone proposing nation-wide martial law, to enforce true quarantine, from either side.

              • gothamette says:

                He lied a lot.

              • Ilya says:

                And you need martial law not just to enforce quarantine, but to also be able to suspend privacy laws. If a patient has COVID, the public and authorities have full right to know who this person is and what his close contacts were. One’s freedom should not come at others’ lives and longterm health.

              • Ilya says:

                He lied a lot

                Sure he did and still does. But he also did some things right; particularly, things that others would not have the stomach for. And let’s be honest: WHO, CDC and, notably, the press — most of them — have to take > 50% of the blame here. Kept insisting that this thing was blown out of proportion, and how much racism is to think otherwise. They’re still trying to spin it for their “racial injustice” agenda and BS about Trump telling people to inject Lysol etc (he didn’t). And when they’re finally now in hysteria about how bad this thing is going to be, no one believes them. Why? Because they lied and cried wolf too many, way too many times. And now the “wolf” is here.

        • gothamette says:

          J, maybe this got lost in the comment shuffle, but tell us about Israel’s epidemic. My understanding is that it was focused on Haredi clusters. Have they been stamped out?

          • j says:

            Israel: 1. There is only a transitory government, no permanent ministers, it is a political chaos. 2. It is a very well policed country. Places where the self-quarantine orders were ignored and infection suspected, like the Haredi neighborhoods and a few Arab towns, the police and the border guards were sent in, on horseback and Belgian dogs, in their hundreds, and physically enforced the closure. No excessive force was used…The Secret Service (not the Mossad, they dont operate in the country) was mobilized and authorized to break into phones. Just today its permit was renewed. 3. Israel was among the firsts to close its borders. 4. The Mossad was mobilized very early to import tests and equipment (most resulted useless). 5. Probably they were following Greg’s blog. Some people here no idiots like this person. 6. I saw many rented cars on the road, stopping cars but not for traffic infractions – I presume they are chasing infected individuals on the road.

            • j says:

              P.S.: No government = less mistakes.

              • j says:

                P.S.S.: The IDF announced they are buiding an antibodies factory. It seems that it is the only working organism in the “government”.

            • gothamette says:

              Thanks, very interesting. I haven’t heard anything about the Ethiopians yet, so I’ll assume they’re following protocols.

              “the police and the border guards were sent in, on horseback and Belgian dogs, in their hundreds, and physically enforced the closure.”

              I’ve nothing to say to that except that cutting and pasting it gave me a thrill.

          • mapman says:

            Also, perhaps this factor (anecdotal from a relative of mine): Israel’s officials took no stance on HCQ but purchased tons of it just in case (on top of what its TEVA already makes). As a result, availability is not an issue and roughly 50% of doctors routinely treat patients with HCQ – and treat early, not waiting for them to be hospitalized or develop a pneumonia. This is said to reduce eventual fatality several-fold.

            I’d like to believe it. But it would be nice to have freaking clinical data. Gilead got two RCTs done and had its lousy drug approved by FDA while we are still waiting for 25+ studies to report whether HCQ actually does something.

            • gothamette says:

              ” and treat early, not waiting for them to be hospitalized or develop a pneumonia.”

              Actually, Dr. Seheult of MedCram is cautiously positive about HCQ in the early stages. Go over to Rod Dreher – he has something about it.

            • gothamette says:

              See this:

              Click to access EVMS_Critical_Care_COVID-19_Protocol.pdf

              A doctor who corresponds w/Rod Dreher brought this to his attention. Dr. Seheult of MedCram also referenced it.

              A shame that this has been politicized to the max in the US – but from what German Reader says, the same thing has gone on there, so it’s not unique to the US. We’ll just have to ride this thing out. Ultimately the virus will tell us what to do.

              • ogunsiron says:

                The politicization is painful. The situation is tragic in that a lot, a whole lot of people have very good reason to be distrustful of mainstream media because mainstream media is really, really their enemy. I personally consider mainstream media in my country to be enemy propaganda. But there is a real wolf out there, this time. The lying boy is partially telling the truth, even if the boy can’t stop lying even now (the boy doesn’t tell you that this wolf runs away if you wear cheap clothes of a certain color, even though it’s true).

              • mapman says:

                Thank you, gothamette!

              • gothamette says:

                You’re welcome, mapman. I enjoy your contributions. Yes, I agree with Trump that the lying fake news media lies and tell us fake news. So having on-the-ground reporters like you is important.

      • adreadline says:

        Manaus is a good example. However, even though it’s not directly related to how the virus fares in high temperatures and humidity, I’ll concede the death rate there might paint a somewhat exaggerated picture of what could happen elsewhere. They are dying, alright, but medical care is precarious. People live in filthy, overcrowded, elevated shanty towns (sometimes called bodozais) around the urban core. I’d bet a WuFlu infection that gets bad is significantly more likely to result in death there than anywhere in the United States (even in the majority black inner cities), and if it is not, then the Manauenses’ genes are worth studying, or American doctors might be doing something nefarious.

        • Frau Katze says:

          Apparently Manaus is not populated by native Amazonians, for the most part. They have their own towns.

          I heard that from Bret Weinstein and his wife on one of their videos. They have been to both Guayaquil, Ecuador and Manaus.

          I saw a horrid photo of Manaus taken by satellite (or maybe drone) showing a huge area filled with coffins, with earth moving equipment bringing in more.

  10. sfw says:

    Nobody really thinks about or remembers the Spanish Flu, the Asian Flu, Hongkong Flu or SARS etc, but everyone knows about the Great Depression. The current Flu seems to have used dodgy computer modelling to shut down the world economy, the coming recession will cause greater and more long term damage than this flu ever will, even assuming the worst computer model predictions.

    • Maciano says:

      Relax bro, it’s just a recession.

    • The dead are soon forgotten, while the experiences of those who survive very quickly become the only history anyone thinks about. that is not a comment about the relative destruction of disease versus economic hardship, but just human nature in general. When we remember Vietnam now, it is rare, even among veterans who were there and saw the dead, that we talk about them. We talk about the return home, PTSD, divided politics, military strategy, plus all the really cool cultural byproducts in music and movies for the young. The parents or siblings of those who died might remember. Might. But even uncles and cousins have long moved on.

      • Kilo 4/11 says:

        I remember a young sergeant. He died walking the same trail I walked a couple of nights previous.

  11. adreadline says:

    Things might be about to get bad here.

    I’m Brazilian, and maybe out of some fundamental character flaw, don’t care much about generic Americans (or Brits, or Chinese, or…) dying of the Chicovid, but I’m worried that, eventually, our death toll (even the official, undercounted one) will eventually supass the United States’ and possibly by far. Our government, our president, and our people are even more incompetent, ignorant, and uncaring than their American counterparts; in addition, the population is far poorer. The silver lining is that, if the immunity is long-lasting, it’ll be over here quicker.

    • Frau Katze says:

      I don’t like to hear about anyone dying of it. Yes, you’re right, it will burn through the population quickly.

      I think some countries are lying about statistics. China is offender #1

  12. ASR says:

    I’ll refrain from commenting further, although I’ll continue returning to read further comments. I want to thank Professor Cochran and his many regular readers for their informed and thought provoking comments. I may not always agree but I always learn, and I frequently correct the course of my thinking based on what I read on WestHunt. And the repartee can often be amusing.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Your comments are appreciated, so if you have anything more to add please do. I lean towards Cochran’s projections of mortality rate for the United States, which could be as high as 2 million if the following assumptions are close to accurate. We can disagree but at least you are thoughtful and open minded.
      1) Mortality rate
      In New York City the mortality rate looks to be around 1% of those infected. This was a huge unknown and still isn’t that accurate a projection but with the antibody tests at least we know it is in the ballpark.
      2)Herd Immunity around 70%
      Wuflu won’t be stopped in the United States and will keep on spreading until somewhere around 70% have been infected and then is slows down because of herd immunity. I think the herd immunity percentage is at least this high, maybe higher but let’s just use that number. Other nations have successfully stopped Wuflu but the US lacks the brains at the top or the will of the people to pull this off.

      Multiply 330,000,000 people times .70 times .01 = over 2.3 million.
      Of course these are estimates and they have been wildly fluctuating and will continue to. You don’t have to agree with them but i put them out there so readers can at least understand how they are calculated.

      Another factor which hasn’t been counted and I think is very important to lower this frighteningly high mortality estimate is seniors to keep strict social distancing until herd immunity is reached. Why? 76% of the dead so far have been seniors. 95% of seniors do not live in nursing homes, where social distancing is pretty much impossible.

      A side note. Comments that we should reach herd immunity as fast as possible so we can get back to normal living are ridiculous. The heath care system will break and the mortality rate could go up to 5 percent, the food supply chain could break and all hell break loose, not to mention all kinds of horrible things happening.

      • gkai says:

        Such a high R0 (and thus high percentage of immunised people to stop the virus) seems strange.
        On one hand, it is directly observed at the early stage of the epidemy, from the doubling time, at least if time to become infectious is correctly estimated, and also in some small regions where virus has run unhindered.
        But on the other hand, countries that have implemented any kind of social distancing seems to have lowered it quickly well below one, even when the measures were not so stringent.

        In Belgium, we are about to relax some measures, but even during the worst part of the lockdown, quite a few people were still working (food store open, deliveries, garbage collection, essential industry, public transportation still running…), people were moving around (doing groceries, or pretending to), many without masks. Inside a house it was business as usual for the virus, and between houses it was from real isolation (large house in the countryside, with people agreeing to the distancing), to just contact reduction (small appartements with people not caring or trusting government – police was not so eager to go look there, could be unsafe 😉 ).

        So with this quite imperfect lockdown, far from the chinese one, R0 was reduced from 4-7 to 0.5-0.8?

        I though we were just seeing lockdown effect combined with herd immunity, because of a much higher percentage of population infected than what was reported. Partially coherent with anecdotal evidences (I knew too many people with the symptoms for infection rate to be < 1%).
        But now it seems infection rate is still <5-10%, and with such a low rate we are back to the measures only.

        Apart from an infection rate far higher than reported (serology tests are still very few, while continuously monitoring infection rate from representative sampling of the population seems like a no brainer), the only explanation I see is that tranmission, while effective, is specific and was prevented even by the partial lockdown. This suggest a more focussed approach, if transmission is highly specific ( for example needs large gathering is closed space?), better to target the problem than try generic lockdown that can not be maintained for long anyway…

      • Peter Shaw says:

        Your conclusions are way off and show your ignorance. Every study indicates actual infections are 10-50 times the numbers of postitive cases.

        Therefore the real death rate is somewhere less than 0.5%.

        No previous pandemic has required a herd immunity of close to 70%. It’s generally down around 30%

        It’s clearly seasonal. Warmth and humidity kill this thing just like other flus.

        Even in the worst hit, most unhealthy, areas like New York the medical system has coped. Moreover it’s been shown that that beyond oxygen medical care does little. Although new drugs might change that.

        You ignore the trend, which is clearly down

        • gcochran9 says:

          You’re wrong. We know the real number infected in NYC, from serological evidence. The death rate was about 1%. And we know it more accurately in NYC than elsewhere: the percentage infected was high enough that false positives didn’t have much effect. same for Lombardy. You are repeating nonsense. I doubt if you originated it.

          As for the herd immunity level, it’s 1 -1/R0. Since R0 is around 3, that means nearly 70%. That’s a direct result of IFR theory, which of course you know nothing about. R0 is usually 2 or less with the flu, but this isn’t the flu. Measles has an R0 > 10, polio 5-7, smallpox 5-7. When smallpox was introduced to the Americas, it probably infected > 80% of those Amerindian populations, populations that had never been exposed before.

          Clearly seasonal? Killed by warmth and humidity? Doesn’t seem to be stopping it in Manaus, Brazil, deep in the Amazonian jungle. Didn’t stop it in Guayaquil, in Ecuador. L<ike Humphrey Bogart, you were misinformed.

          Just like other flus? This isn’t influenza. Calling it a flu makes me wonder if you’re quite all right.

          • Peter Shaw says:

            Greg It’s easy to cherry pick but the total evidence just does not back you up.

            Less than 1% in NYC and MUCH less most other places.

            Maunaus, one Brazilian he’ll hole, maybe. But let’s look at every warm tropical country. Not a single me has had a major problem with Covid19 despite being crowded and poor. Even the patterns within countries back this up. Not to mention the research.

            The Spanish Flu maxed out at 30%. Maybe some get to 70% but it is very unusual. Btw common sense demonstrates why your maths is simplistic (hint people aren’t equally sociable)

            I respect your views on hbd and wmds but you are way wrong on this and the evidence (to those that can count) has built up. This thing peaked two weeks ago btw and is trending down (even in countries with no appreciable lockdown)

          • Garvan says:

            I am one of those who has become convinced SARs-CoV-2 must have a seasonal element to its spread. I live in SE-Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Lao and Myanmar), and yes, I think Vietnam did a good job in containing the virus, but I think they were also lucky. Vietnam has different climate zones, and their outbreak was in the North, where they have four seasons. The virus never established itself further south where we have three seasons (Dry-Rain-Cold) despite repeated reintroductions. The flu season in Thailand and Cambodia coincides with the rainy season – July to September – with year to year variations – but still strongly seasonal. It is 37C to 40 C outside now, 43 C is forecast. About 30% humidity before the rains started, but humidity is climbing every day. Perhaps, not enough to stop the spread in airconditioned spaces when people share drinks and “cigarettes” but perhaps enough to reduce R0?

            Thailand has 10,000 tourists from Wuhan in January. Cambodia 3,000. Lao has the railroad construction workers and the constant road traffic of Chinese registered trucks.

            Cambodia, Lao and Thailand have dealt with repeated introductions of the virus without local exponential explosions. The virus has spread among people who can afford to travel and party. Locally, it is a rich person’s disease.

            There are a few centers of the outbreak in Thailand. The biggest is in Bangkok. Parties and boxing matches. In Phuket it was centered on the night life. Further south there were Muslim cults who traveled on pilgrims to Indonesia. Again, rich people. Poor people can’t afford to travel abroad.

            What other reason would you suggest to explain the lack of cases? Personal Hygiene? Yes, I know about chance, but an unconvinced we were so lucky.

        • dave chamberlin says:

          “You ignore the trend which is clearly down.” The comment above yours by gkai is accurate and perceptive on just how sensitive the growth rate of wuflu is to social distancing. The curve has been bent considerably in the United States but we are relaxing strict social distancing. Look closely at the New York Times graph of new daily cases in the United States, if you have access. All our efforts for all these weeks and all we have done is get the R-0 just below 1. My best guess at this point in time is the spread of this virus accelerates as soon as strict social distancing is relaxed and it will be, Younger people will get out there and mix, and the spread will again accelerate. Like I said before our leadership doesn’t have the brains to act upon the advice of scientists and the people don’t have the will to continue this shutdown. Again I qualify this only to the United States.

          • gkai says:

            Well, maybe I did not express myself clearly enough. I believe R0 is too sensitive: Too easy to bring R0 massively down with not very strict lockdown.
            It’s difficult to compare lockdowns, what is decided at gov level and what is done in practice can be quite different, it depends on things like how far are measure enforced? How many people self-isolate more than what is mandatory?

            But still, I am sure that most if not all western lockdowns are less severe than what was done in Wuhan. And it is not the same among European countries (even if in practice it may differ less than what you expect from official country policies).
            Still, almost all european countries have now R0<1, sometimes well below 1.
            They also have the slow down in deaths that go with the decreasing exponential, so it’s difficult to argue Europe is massively lying just because they can not afford lockdowns for economic/societal reasons.

            Why all those different, but mostly quite mild lockdowns, have succeded in dividing R0 by 4 or more? The whole story is not coherent, so some data or some hypothesis behind covid propagation model must be very wrong, or all data are slightly wrong but in the same direction (looks even more unlikely).

            • dave chamberlin says:

              What makes the Wuflu different than almost any other infectious disease is the very high percentage of people who get it that are infectious but show little to no symptoms. It explains a lot of the very large Ro range that happens with even a mild lockdown. It is also the major reason I am so pessimistic that here in the United States we can get this virus under control. The Ro is too sensitive, but it is explained by overwhelming percentage of spreaders not even knowing they have it. We know this from the antibody studies in New York and the Netherlands. When 10 times as many people have the disease than are identified than mild changes in social distancing make for huge changes in the Ro.

              • Gkai says:

                Could be. Combined with 1% fatality rate, it means that for those who start to feel sick, things get hairy. 5-10% chances to die…this is scary, but not enough to help compliance : you are right, and not only for usa. Lockdowns will not be enforced much longer, and i do not think anything less than a second peak much worse than the first will allow a second lockdown here in Europe.

            • JAMES SHEARER says:

              “Why all those different, but mostly quite mild lockdowns, have succeded in dividing R0 by 4 or more? …”

              Maybe masks are actually quite effective?

              • gkai says:

                In Belgium, masks are becoming more common, but at the first, durinf the first 2-3 weeks of the lockdown it was worn by maybe 1/4 of the people in the supermarkets, and even less in the street. Still the curves looked like R0 was quickly decreased, well before masks were worn more often. Same in France, judging from the TV footage I see.

      • gothamette says:

        NYC numbers:

        Click on Daily Counts: there are different bar charts for Cases, Hospitalizations, Deaths.

        Every day the deaths go up – and I mean, deaths from prior days, weeks. COVID deaths take a while to code and be logged into the system; there’s usually a week’s lag. The CDC website explains. Can’t be bothered to find it now – but it’s there. We’ll have official numbers for today in about a month.

    • How often in a year? Two, three times for a few moments? I’m am not saying that to call you heartless. It is unfortunately who we human beings seem to be.

  13. Anonymous says:

    A few comments on projected mortality in the United States.

  14. Rob says:

    Greg, what do you think should come out of this pandemic, in terms of biomedical research and priorities?

    It would be nice if someone in government made a list of diseases, how they spread, what currently keeps them in check, how fast and how much they can spread, and what we need to nip a pandemic in the bud.

    So one thing on the list would be tuberculosis. Screening and antibiotics currently keep it in check. If there were a strain resistant to all the antibiotics we use, it could grow at x rate, potentially exponentially. To stop a pandemic, we should be ready to produce y million doses of BCG in however many months.

    What do you think of the idea of having trying to have a vaccine for one disease from each family (or order or genus or whatever) of viruses? Like Ebola and Marburg are both filoviruses, negative sense RNA viruses. If we had a vaccine for one of them, we’d be a lot closer to developing a vaccine for a filovirus that readily spreads person to person. Maybe that’s not the best example, because people are working on Ebola vaccines.

    Some viruses, like HIV, might be nearly impossible to vaccinate against, but most viruses lead to immunity in at least a minority of their victims, at least to homologous exposure. Seems we should work on imitating that effect wherever possible.

    I think you once said that vaccinology does not get the sharpest minds. Maybe that needs to change?

    • PrinzEugen says:

      We already have a vaccine for Ebola, approved for human use in November 2019, ironically when the CoVID-19 pandemic started. It seems to be working out OK, since there aren’t enough doses the health workers are resorting to so-called “ring vaccinations” of known contacts, which seems to keep the disease in check.

      Your idea seems very sensible, we need vaccines for every known category of viruses. Henipahviruses, for example, should be one the first categories to be worked on. It’s for a good reason that the movie Contagion was inspired by a virus from this category.

      Also, we need a universal flu vaccine. A bird flu that makes the jump to humans and transmits human-to-human, with the death rate of Ebola of 50% CFR and the transmissibility of COVID-19, can potentially do a lot more damage than COVID-19.

  15. TB says:

    Ignoring the effects other than death. This bug is harsh. If you are a young, previously healthy person who happens to be unlucky, you are looking at weeks of pain, fevers, diarrhea, feeling like you are smothering. Patient the other day had a fever of 107. Not all my seriously ill patients are elderly, many are under 60 and even under 40. Many have no pre-ex conditions. I plan to get the first experimental vaccine that I’m offered.

    • mtkennedy21 says:

      Have you tried HCQ ? Especially early ?

      • TB says:

        We were using it but recently I have not seen it ordered. I asked a doctor and he said they stopped using it due to the CDC saying it isn’t indicated.

        • ogunsiron says:

          What do you think of HCQ? Do you have a personal opinion on the regimen I keep hearing about, which consists of giving HCQ+Zinc to early cases of the disease? I keep hearing that HCQ has been debunked but from what I can see, what has been debunked is the notion that it’s a miracle cure that works all the time, which is a strawman.

          • TB says:

            I am a nurse. I see one patient for a few days at most and then don’t see them again. Not normally long enough to tell one way or the other if a given treatment ‘works’. Sometimes we can spot if something is making things worse, but it’s hard to pinpoint which exact thing is doing it.
            Privacy laws prevent us from following a patient’s progress if we are not specifically assigned to that patient that day. Our computer usage is tracked and people have gotten fired for checking up on a patient they had previously seen. Doctors have a bit more leeway but even less time than we nurses do. It’s bad.

  16. rgressis says:

    Seems like we’re lifting most shelter-in-place orders in the USA. I’m not sure how much less social distancing that will cause, but it will surely cause some. My question, though, is this: we seem not to have nuked the curve, just flattened it. Why didn’t the lockdowns have more effect? Is it just that they were poorly conceived, or poorly complied with, or both?

    What would our governments have had to have done (starting in mid-March) to have nuked the curve by the end of April?

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Scientists knew exactly what to do, where they were listened to with a multi pronged approach of core disease control measures early in the disease spread we have utterly different results. The graphs in the USA in the USA showing new cases is a plateau sloping up in the rest of the country and a plateau sloping down in New York state. I don’t see any reason to be optimistic that cases will decrease with shelter in place orders being lifted.

      • dearieme says:

        “Scientists knew exactly what to do”

        Yet reports are that the scientists on the UK govt’s advisory panel “bicker like economists”.

      • mapman says:

        What plateau are you talking about? USA as a whole is in a linear growth – every day brings about the same number of new infections and deaths. The only states anywhere near plateau are Hawaii, Montana and Vermont.

        • mcdemarco says:

          The governor of Massachusetts called our numbers a plateau over a week ago. We’ve been experiencing a 2-3% increase in cases per day.

    • gothamette says:

      “What would our governments have had to have done (starting in mid-March) to have nuked the curve by the end of April?”

      I would have quarantined the entire metropolitan NYC area, I mean, closed it down militarily. National Guard trucks in supplies. Airlines shut down. Everything shut down. Pizza parlors shut down. No private vehicles on the road. Roads cleared for hospital vehicles only. (Believe me – there were ambulances 24/7 in my area most of April.)

      Necessities distributed in central areas, or delivered by Amazon, working in conjunction with the DoD.

      I would have designated two hospitals in each borough (one in Staten Island) for COVID only.

      In the rest of the country, I’d have focused on Covid hotspots and instituted similar quarantines in their counties. I’d have designated 8-10 COVID hospitals and allowed the National Guard or the military to transport patients to them.

      I’d have used the Defense Production act for PPE.

  17. RVS says:

    Calling people who disagree with you “painful assholes” does n’t convince anybody. Instead debunk the leading proponent of the claim “it’s the flu.” He has a preprint out supporting that claim:

    • gcochran9 says:

      I looked at it. The guy’s nuts. ” The shorter duration of the epidemic in China and South Korea, however, does not demonstrate the effectiveness of social
      distancing, because the social distancing started too late to be effective. ” It certainly did demonstrate it: stopped the epidemic cold, with prevalence very much under the herd immunity level.

      Policy: argue for nonsense, lie, link to dishonest crap, and you will be banned, unless you’re funny or interesting in some highly individual way.

  18. John says:

    While I agree that it will be pretty bad and staying home longer should be the way forward, I think that politically, this is becoming increasingly untenable. CA is having a phased return to normal. Many states never did the lock down in the first place. Only a vaccine or new drugs will save us all. I think given how long it takes to develop a drug, a vaccine is the best hope. The way I see it, we try out the vaccine, no one dies and if 3 months later the anti-bodies still exist, we have something that we can use. If Trump is ready to indemnify the company for legal actions, we should having something mass produced by the end of the year.
    Greg, what is your take on the most optimistic timeline for a vaccine?

    • No.

      You’re still not getting it: it’s not that we need to stay home longer, it’s that the lockdowns we instituted were not strong enough to suppress the disease. That’s why new cases is most areas are either still growing or shrinking very slowly.

      If we had imposed a much stronger lockdown, including things like:
      * Centralized quarantine (infected or likely infected people get moved outside their households)
      * Internal movement controls (on the scale of neighborhoods is what the Chinese did)
      etc., then we would likely have suppressed the infection almost completely by now and we would be focusing on catching any new small outbreaks as they show up, and slowing their transmission enough that they don’t spread too much before they’re caught.

      Of course, that would require decisive and intelligent action. Individual states or polities could do it themselves if they wanted; the feds could help but aren’t necessary. They could do it now if they wanted. If some town of ~200,000 decided they didn’t want this problem, they could do something about it:
      * New tax levy of some sort to fund the rest
      * Random PCR testing of the population to identify new outbreaks, along with a couple dozen public health folks doing contact tracing on any new infections
      * Appropriate the local hotels as central quarantine sites for isolating identified infections
      * Temperature testing for exit (works better on an island, but not impossible anywhere) plus at key locations (grocery stores, gas stores)
      * Prevent entry to people who don’t reside there or work there (or are delivering key goods)
      * Mandatory face masks in public (ideally give the police lots of extras to hand out, levy fines of ~$500 for those who won’t wear them)
      * Various social distancing limitations in public spaces

      With something like this, you could run your own town fairly open the way New Zealand is, with people working and substantial economic activity, while the rest of the US is falling apart. Maybe I should call up a couple of city councillors and see what they think.

      • John says:

        I understand your point. The problem is, we are not able to do what the Chinese did. Even with the lock down that we are doing, there is so much pain economically that we can no longer sustain them for much longer. Yes we are a bunch of crybabies, but that is what we got.
        I realize the entire nation can synchronize a lock down like in Wuhan for six weeks and we would be out of the woods, but we have to deal with reality as it is. The top failed to lead and the bottom is too weak or stupid to do the right thing. Anyways, we really need a vaccine.

        • Obviously you don’t understand my point.

          There are a couple of regions in the US where this is already a serious problem. In the worst (NYC), about 20% of people are sick. In most places, there’s a very small fraction of cases, a small enough fraction that the effective suppression approaches will work. My town is about 80K people and we’ve had 40 confirmed cases here. If we can institute random testing and contact tracing — maybe a dozen or two contact tracers and a few hundred tests a week — then we could successfully keep this disease from spreading inside this community. Paired with some simple restrictions on movement and reasonable rules around masks and social distancing, my town could prevent a major outbreak even if a neighboring town doesn’t.

          • Frau Katze says:

            Eradication was never a goal. It was merely to “flatten the curve”. That succeeded and now many want to get on with business. It’s all about $$$.

            Contact tracing, talk about labour intensive and expensive. If eradication is your goal, then you go that route. Because New Zealand is on an island they realized eradication was within reach and it was worth it.

            I’d say eradication is impossible in Canada and the US, unless combined with travel restrictions (unconstitutional in the US, I believe, and only used lightly in Canada).

            In Canada it’s more about the cost. If shutting a bridge accomplishes your goal, that’s inexpensive, go ahead.

            But China-style restrictions would be very expensive. They might not be if your population was used to a authoritarian Communist government, I remember reading how the citizens of Wuhan were very cooperative. I bet they were.

            You think that will work in the USA? When the epidemic was getting underway in NYC, some New Yorkers decided to flee. At one point Rhode Island had the National Guard looking for New York licence plates. I remember reading about it. They were forced to stop.

            • mcdemarco says:

              Rhode Island has not stopped running their checkpoints or quarantining out-of-staters. Both Cuomo and the ACLU have threatened suits, but the state merely extended their restrictions to visitors from all other states.

              • Frau Katze says:

                That’s encouraging to hear. Restricting travel would be a big positive in controlling the disease in the huge land mass that is Canada and the USA.

            • Oh for fuck’s sake. I’m getting real tired of defeatism.

              Let’s say you’ve got a town of 80K, in 30K households. The goal of contact tracing and random testing is to spot new outbreaks as soon as possible and keep them from growing. What do you need to be able to do that?

              First, some testing capacity. Let’s say we’ve got capacity to run ~100 tests a day. First priority on your tests are anyone who’s been fingered as a contact of an infection or who are showing key symptoms (fever, anosmia). Do public announcements in the local paper, local radio, flyers, etc. to let people know who to contact for free testing. Just pay for it, tests are ~$40 or so, AFAICT, so that’s at most $4000 a day in testing costs. Cheap at twice the price, and in a lot of regions the local hospital system or public health dept will do it for free.

              Second priority is random testing. In practice, you’ll want to do it quasi-randomly: try to sample from all the neighborhoods in your town, trying to pick up people with higher contact rates with higher probability. So. Everyday, you throw some darts at the city map on the wall. Call up the houses you hit, tell them “Hi, we’re from the city and we’re offering a free COVID-19 test to someone from your household. Come to location X at time Y if you’re interested.” If not, throw the dart again, keep throwing until you’ve used up your capacity for the day.

              Then you take any positives and do contact tracing. Call them up, get their movements for the last 2 weeks. Where did they go, who did they talk to. Take the contacts they give you, and call them up too. Anyone in contact, request they self-quarantine for 14 days. If you’re flush or have donated hotel rooms, offer a free room with food delivery and internet to quarantine from their family. Keep a list of your quarantined folks and when they come out. They get a phone call every morning and every evening to check on how they’re doing (i.e., any symptoms or needs that you can help with?) and to check for any contacts they’ve had.

              Let’s suppose you get a new outbreak in town while you’re running this program. Day 1 you get a random person infected and every ~5 days the number of people infected doubles. How quick will you catch this? First let’s look at just running 100 random tests arbitrarily throughout the population. With 100 tests, you’re testing 0.125% of people a day. So that first five days, you’ve got a 0.6% chance of catching them 1-(1-0.00125)^5. Then it cascades like this:

              1 case: 0.6%
              2 cases: 1.2% (1.9% total)
              4 cases: 2.4% (4.3% total)
              8 cases: 4.7% (9.0% total)
              16 cases: 8.7% (17.6% total)
              32 cases: 14.9% (32.6% total)
              64 cases: 22.2% (54.8% total)
              128 cases: 24.9% (79.7% total)
              256 cases: 16.2% (95.9% total)
              512 cases: 4.0% (99.8% total)

              So: if you do nothing but random testing, you’re almost guaranteed to catch an outbreak by the time it reaches ~500 people. But of course you’ll do better than that because you’re testing sick people as well. So if you catch a quarter of sick people, and half of people get sick after 5 days, then you’re almost guaranteed to catch an outbreak by the time it reaches 32 cases. If you focus on people more likely to catch the disease, you’ll do even better.

              All this takes is people. People to call up random citizens and interview them, people to call up their contacts and interview them, people to get them over to the tests. If you don’t even have the testing capacity, you just quarantine the infected people. The only final concern is limiting the number of new outbreaks that get seeded in your community. You can cut it by at least half by screening entrants for fever. Easy.

              This is. Not. Hard. Or expensive. Why do people keep telling me that it’s impossible, so we should just spread our legs and wait for the inevitable? As far as unconstitutional: so the fuck what? How many divisions does the Supreme Court have? Do it, get sued, keep doing it anyway and ignore whatever injunction gets filed. When it finally winds its way upward, say “Yeah, I did do that. Also, the number of deaths in my city was 1/10 of what our neighbor city’s was.”

              • gothamette says:

                ” If you’re flush or have donated hotel rooms, offer a free room with food delivery and internet to quarantine from their family. ”

                We’re finally doing that in NYC – quarantining the sick (not sure about the merely infected) in empty hotel rooms. And we’ve got a lot of empty hotel rooms.

                Yep, we’re doing it. Two months after the first bombs hit. So I hope that smarter governors will learn from our experience.

                BTW check this out, altho it’s prob nothing you don’t already know:

              • gothamette says:


                None of this will happen because the Federal government under Trump has totally abdicated responsibility. I just heard some bigwig (forgot his name) describe how the Feds have to help the states do this. They can’t do it on their own. This all comes down to Trump. He’s a monster.

              • How many times do I have to say “a small town could do this with volunteer labor” before people start listening to me?

              • gcochran9 says:

                I hope you get somewhere with this. But… being right doesn’t make people listen.

              • gothamette says:

                Yes they couldn’t but a small town in an island of infection cdn’t survive very long – could it?

            • Frau Katze says:

              @arguably wrong I’ve thought about this a lot. Vancouver Island would be a perfect test.

              First note.
              I am high risk because of age. I am not enjoying this. I live alone and while that’s comforting from a viral viewpoint it’s also a bit lonely. I’m currently trying to decide if it is safe to meet a good friend for a short outing. It would involve driving.

              I have not left my condo in several weeks and expect to stay here for months, even years. My son has dropped by once or twice to assist with heavy chores but a long time might pass before the grandchildren could visit.

              The problem is the sheer inertia of a lowly citizen trying to initiate something like this. No one in authority is going to listen to me. Why would they? I used to work for the provincial government and citizens did not stop by with suggestions. It just wasn’t done.

              Any ideas on how to bring about pressure? Maybe form a group? But groups are anathema now.

              Did you see that New Zealand has achieved near eradication but they are going to throw it away to accept tourism. Apparently it’s 15% of their income. But before calling them idiots I have to think of all the people out of work because of the loss of tourism.

              I don’t have any connections with anyone who could advance your plan. What are you doing in your own city?

          • John says:

            Maybe a few towns with good enough organization would be able to pull that off. But even if it did, how long would it maintain this if all the neighboring towns are on fire? If the town is rich, you will have gardeners and pool guys who live in a different area. If the town has a lot of elderly you will have caretakers who live in a different town. If the town has a lot of kids, you will have people taking care of your kids living in a different part of town. After the lock down is over and you go back to work, who would take care of your lawn, your elderly, your kids? Who and how would you enforce the travel ban after the coast is clear? I think it is very difficult to pull this off in our current political system. Even if a small number of towns can pull this off, it is very hard to maintain if all your neighbors are on fire.

            • “We’ve tried nothing, and we’re all out of ideas.”

              • John says:

                There are plenty of ideas. The devil is in the execution. In our political system, you either have the top leading and convince the rest of the country to join, or someone very convincing need to step forward and convince the population to follow a path against their short term interests. Furthermore, you have to keep them on this path when things don’t look so bad and after a long slog where people are losing their income and their homes. If, as bad is it is now in NY, there is no consensus, if as bad as it is in New Jersey and Michigan, people still come out with their guns to protest the lockdown, then the best we can do is what is currently done. You have a cognitive bias where you are convinced that the virus is going to be very bad (as do I) and you believe that the rest of the country share your views. You also believe that they agree on your prescription of actions. Many don’t. Right at this moment, there are young people who are having Covd-parties where they want to “get it over with”. The world is made up of people with varying abilities and believes. The left side of the bell curve have the same say as you or I. They may see the same information, but will come to very different conclusions.Just look at the spectrum of people on this thread, which are, on average, at least 1-2 std deviations to the right of the mean, to say nothing of the left side of the curve. There are still a lot of different opinions on Covid-19 right here in this thread.

              • I will say this one more time, loudly, in hopes that you actually read it the third time.


                Town X can:
                1) Spin up an effective contact tracing team with a couple dozen volunteers, along the lines I described above. Maybe some additional rules on local businesses to make contact tracing more effective (e.g., have them keep a ledger with names and visitation times of customers)
                2) Use available testing resources to test traced contacts as well as random community members.
                3) Set up central quarantine for those infected. Appropriate some hotel rooms if you have to.
                4) Limit ingress of outsiders to those with a reasonable need to be there and who pass temperature checks. Hand out a dashboard sticker to residents and stop cars on the main inroads. If you have a fever with a sticker, you get a test. If you have a fever without a sticker, you’re not allowed through.
                5) Standard public health measures: wear masks, socially distance, etc., etc.

              • John says:

                For small towns that are relatively affluent, your idea has a good chance of working if you can convince the town to put out the resources for the volunteers and testing. One variable that is difficult to handle is how to deal with the asymptomatic walking around, infecting people. I think if a town is still in a very early stage of infection, that may not be a big problem. For a larger area, contact tracing will be very difficult without the aid of cell phone records. We are talking about 14 days. I don’t remember where I went three days ago, let alone two weeks. Limiting the entry point would also become very difficult for a large metro area.

              • Frau Katze says:

                @arguably wrong. I suspect you will meet suspicion, perhaps loaded guns if you to do contact tracing. At least in the US.

                I read a 1949 account of a man who was in a major US city and he had smallpox. The account was written by either a doctor or an epidemiologist.

                Citizens promptly cooperated, one and all on a mass vaccination program plus contact tracing. It was stamped out successfully.

                But in 1949 there were people alive who had encountered smallpox and remembered the 1918 pandemic. You bet they cooperated.

                These events seem real to me because I read a lot of history. But it’s seems I’m in the minority.

                There’s a huge number of people who say it’s no worse than the flu. They won’t consent to contact tracing.

              • Oh well then, I suppose we won’t be able to do contact tracing, better to just give up, I guess.

              • Frau Katze says:

                @arguably wrong On not needing a lockdown in the first place: It does seem, now, looking back, that it was too strong of an action. But it’s too late now.

                Plenty of people would agree and go for them being lifted (including me). Perhaps people would accept contact tracing in return for lifting the lockdowns.

                Covid is proving worse than the flu: in some cases (not common at the moment) it can cause strokes in young people.

                I’d be willing to load an location recording app to my phone. I suspect I’m in the minority.

              • Frau Katze says:

                @arguably wrong. Is it correct to say everything is going to plan in your town? They’ve listened to you, and you’re in charge of the project?

                I doubt you’re a professional or you wouldn’t recommend that a 68-year old woman, identified as at risk, with no experience in the field, should be running the show at Town Hall.

                You seem like a smart guy. But don’t you see the huge obstacles?

              • I’ve emailed the local city council. I’ve reached out to a couple local docs who might be interested in helping organize. I’ll call the council tomorrow if I don’t hear back. If I still can’t get any traction, I’ll see if the county health department will help, or the local healthcare group.

                What on earth is wrong with you?

              • Frau Katze says:

                @arguably wrong. I’m 68 years old. An at risk group. We are to stay home unless there’s a compelling reason to go out. I’m hoping not to die of Covid, that’s what’s wrong with me.

              • There are better things to be doing than hoping. Hoping is for after you’ve tried everything else.

          • Frau Katze says:

            I just finished reading an article on the woes of the meat packing industry in the US. I don’t know why it’s so bad, but it is. Same in Canada. (Also saw an article for BC).

            It’s worst with beef. It’s being felt: this morning I hear Wendy’s no longer offers hamburgers.

            Some animals could wait at source for slaughter, but apparently not hogs. You have to get them at the right time, the article said.

            So a major source of food is under threat. Now. This problem has been building. Even just scanning the headlines is enough to follow it. Something should have been done earlier I presume but I don’t know much about it or how it could have been prevented.

            • John says:

              Yes, I think hog processing plants have weight limits with their equipment, so if a pig gets too big, it damages the equipment. I our hood, costco already is rationing meat.

              • Frau Katze says:

                I forgot to mention that there have been big Covid outbreaks in the plants with hundreds of workers off sick. This is causing the backup in the supply chain.

                The plants are having trouble finding new workers and some unions are involved.

                I don’t know why meat packing plants are prone to Covid outbreaks on such a scale.

              • gothamette says:

                I don’t know why meat packing plants are prone to Covid outbreaks on such a scale.

                I’ve never been in a meat-packing plant but I suppose (a) it’s hard labor that makes you huff and puff and (b) you huff and puff on other people in an enclosed environment.

                There’s tons of stuff about how being inside is way worse than being outside w/r to this virus.

              • An interested reader says:

                Re meat packing, Nicholas Christakis tries to put the pieces together:

              • Frau Katze says:

                @interested reader Thank you for the link to a long Twitter thread with links to reports and some tweets from workers at the end. Re: Covid at meat packing plants.

          • John says:

            The question also would be, what percentage of your town is willing to follow the rules for the sake of their fellow townsmen. If enough people flouts it, what recourse would you have to enforce the rules?

          • Frau Katze says:

            Here’s another story: Commentator and Stanford History Prof Victor Davis Hanson gave an interview with someone from the Hoover Institute.

            He lives on a farm in central California that’s been in his family for many generations. He knows life in the small rural towns in that area.

            The subject of his interview wasn’t primarily the pandemic, but he mentioned, with apparent admiration for the how the enterprising Hispanics in his town were dealing with lockdown. They were ignoring it. They had set up shops of their own to substitute for the closed ones, such as barber shops. He didn’t see a problem.

            At that point no one had taken action to shut them down. I know nothing about the area myself.

      • rgressis says:

        I thought something like that would have had to have been done. So, let me ask you something, even though I don’t think anyone is well-positioned to know the answer: is there some number of deaths such that if we reached that number, we’d be willing to impose those measures? And if we were willing to impose them after, say, 1 million deaths, do you think it would be too late?

        • gothamette says:

          some number of deaths

          But you’re not getting the point. We didn’t do it. So the cat’s out of the bag. We won’t have a choice to impose measures. We lost the opportunity.

          @Arguably Wrong:

          Given that fact, how do you see this playing out? In the whole of the US and of course, 20% infected NYC?

          • rgressis says:

            I am second to none in my ignorance or stupidity compared to even the dumbest commenter on this website. I’m a 44-year-old philosophy professor at a California State University, for God’s sake. Of course I don’t get the point!

            But anyway, it’s good to know, if dispiriting, that it’s now fruitless to do the stuff that Arguably Wrong recommended. But, uh … why is it fruitless?

            • John says:

              It is not too late to do a lock down and it would work if everyone comply. Even if 5% of the people do not comply, then it would not work. Because there would always be that 5% that do not comply, a lock down is only possible if we are dealing with a localized epicenter that has not metastasized, so a resource of the entire nation could be used to enforce the lock down in a small geographical area, as was done by the entire nation of China to a city like Wuhan. In the U.S., the percentage of people who would not comply is higher and they have guns. Our politicians panders to the voters and a lot of infighting and jockeying for position make it even harder.
              If the number is low enough, contact tracing would work, I think we are talking about a few hundred to a thousand cases. Beyond that, you can only do lock down of the entire area.

              • rgressis says:

                I think if Trump were to suddenly realize the gravity of the situation and then realize what’s needed, that he, more than any other politician, would be able to enforce those draconian measures. After all, the people who hate him have staked their identity entirely on harsh lock-down measures (making it somewhat hard for them to say, “hey, y’know what? We were wrong, let’s open everything up and let ‘er rip”), and the people who love him trust him, so may think, “if he said we need harsh lockdowns then he must know something we don’t.”

                But of course, precisely the reason they love him is that he’s not the kind of guy to say stuff like that. Indeed, an article on the ever-honorable describes Trump as having concluded that there’s not really need for a coronavirus task force anymore, because the rough stuff is over. On the assumption that the article was accurate (big assumption, given its source), I could only laugh.


                By the way, is there any viable politician in America right now whom people on this blog would trust to be our president right now?

              • John says:

                I don’t expect that much “grasp the gravity of the situation” from someone who wanted to try putting bleach in the body. His only concern is re-election, so I don’t expect him to do anything to contradict the wishes of the voters, another words, I don’t expect any leadership in this area from him.

            • gothamette says:

              No no, I’m dumber than you! Many people here say so, so it must be true!

              • rgressis says:

                I have objective criteria on my side: have you ever heard a smart thing come out of a contemporary philosopher’s mouth?

              • gothamette says:

                I can’t say I’ve ever heard anything come out of a contemporary philosopher’s mouth. Analyze that, Mr. Logic!

              • rgressis says:

                Fine. You’re dumber than I am.

                THIS TIME.

              • gothamette says:

                See you at the OK Corral then. Next February 30th.

              • gothamette says:

                Wait a minute, I said I was dumber than you before I read this I think if Trump were to suddenly realize the gravity of the situation and then realize what’s needed, that he, more than any other politician, would be able to enforce those draconian measures.

                You’re dumber. It’s official.

                Trump doesn’t care. OK? Is that clear? He. Doesn’t. Care.

              • rgressis says:

                Aha! I win!

                More seriously, here’s one way it is very remotely possible that Trump could wake up to the gravity of the situation: he gets it and lives, but it’s a close call; all his children die from it. I think that could work. Not saying it would. But I put the odds at a non-negligible 10%.

              • gothamette says:

                He wouldn’t care about Eric or Marla. But Junior or Ivanka – yes.

      • Frau Katze says:

        How about restricting travel? I’m on Vancouver Island, BC and we don’t have that much of the virus…yet. I read about New Zealand and starting thinking about it, if we could apply it to Vancouver Island.

        After a terrible time in some Quebec care homes, the Quebec provincial government closed the bridge at Ottawa, Ontario. I don’t where that stands legally but there you go. No one had stopped them although a few people are stranded on wrong side, according a friend in Ottawa.

        The Haida natives on what used to be called the Queen Charlottes wouldn’t let a ferry dock. I don’t blame them. The government could get a boat to drop food off and leave food.

        Vancouver Island and is a lot bigger, with its own farms. More like New Zealand. But it has no political authority. Even on the mainland, some remote areas could be blocked.

        Canada doesn’t have a constitution like the US.

        • Craken says:

          Lemoine’s main point is that he doubts that the epidemiological models have sufficiently accounted for population heterogeneity. All else being equal, more heterogeneous populations have lower R_0’s. It looks like the epidemiologists minimize this concern because the natural R_0 is so high for Covid, and because in the case of respiratory viruses individuals are connected to so many different networks that can facilitate transmission (work, home, school, friends, shopping). Aside from the population’s existing heterogeneity, engineered heterogeneity in the form of isolating the elderly is probably the main way it would have much impact on mortality. It’s not clear how practical this notion is.

          This issue has been discussed by a Professor Miller, who wrote a book titled “Mathematics of epidemics on networks” He’s a math/physics guy turned epidemiologist. Here he notes that heterogeneity is implicitly accounted for in current models:

          Another thread on some of the ways heterogeneity is relevant:

      • Frau Katze says:

        I’m really joking about Vancouver Island. It would be politically impossible.

        But the federal government let did Quebec close a bridge between two provinces. Only after a really bad experience.

      • Paul in NZ says:

        Please let me correct a number of inaccuracies about NZ’s lockdown. Citizen, engineer, have lived in Auckland for 40 years.

        Our lockdown went (over 5 days) up to Level 4 exactly 6 weeks ago. That lasted 33 days. It’s now been on the lower Level 3 for the past 9 days.

        Level 4 was simple – no industry, no commerce, no school, no travel. If you were an essential service (fire, police, medical) you could move & work. One member of every household could go and buy essential items at a big supermarket – with queues to enter (spaced out at 2m / 6′) and very limited numbers in the store at once. Grocery carts were ‘sanitized’ between each use. Absolutely no other stores were open at all. Some stores could sell ‘essential’ items via couriers (who had to deliver ‘socially distanced’).

        Workers up the grocery chain were ‘essential’ – but no small food stores, (eg: bakers, butchers). Exercise was recommended but limited to local walking / biking. No swimming, surfing, MTB – nothing that would risk emergency service involvement. Local parks were closed. Not a single restaurant, bar, fast food outlet opened. Zero. No Uber eats… nada.

        This level (4) of lock-down crashed our daily new cases to single digits. Originally planned for 4 weeks, it was extended by a few days to be sure – then the move to Level 3 was notified for the end of the following weekend – so we had a few days to get ready.

        Under Level 3, fast food is now able to be picked up or delivered. No sit-down anywhere.
        No stores have opened. You can buy & pay online, receive a ‘time-to-collect’ and drive over to pick it up – ie: be your own courier. Because almost no businesses are efficient at this, ‘delivery’ delays are running 2-5 days. Courier companies are at Christmas peak x1.5.

        Under Level 3, The only industry that has re-opened is construction (residential & commercial). My residential site (like all) now has a Covid Site-Specific safety plan – and every worker / delivery is logged in and out via a mobile app (or paper list). Where have you come from ? Have you read the plan ? Where are you headed when you leave ? Data collected for future tracking – if required. Workers closer than 2m / 6′ are masked.

        So far, so good. We are bumping along at close to zero new cases per day – after 9 days at Level 3. More to the point, they’re happy that they know where/how/why the new cases caught it. If this continues well, we’re promised Level 2 in a week.

        Long term – if we keep the drawbridge up, we could remain virus-free forever – or long enough for emerging treatments or vaccines. Shipments in and out of NZ can be sanitized. Tourists not so much. Tourism is huge for us – so that’s a problem. But it’s a lesser and more welcome size of problem.

        • Frau Katze says:

          When the tourists return, so will the virus.

          China won’t allow a ship to dock without 14 day quarantine and two negative tests for the crew.

          • gkai says:

            Seems like the NZ lockdown was too strong. Many European countries went to R0<1 with something similar to NZ level 3, without the tracking. Maybe level 2.5…. I think only Italy and Spain did something similar to level 4. There is of course a faster decay if you manage to get R0 to 0.5 instead of 0.8, for example, and thus less death during the decay, but I am not sure how many people would find that enough to justify the stronger measures (that also have an effect, for example on divorces 😉 ). In fact, with so little new cases, not even sure upping R0 from 0.5 to 0.8 would result in additional deaths…

            But that’s assuming R0 would behaves in NZ like it did in Europe. Likely it will not, cause it seems it was already different between neighbor European countries….

            • gothamette says:

              How was NZ too strong? They did the job. At least for now.

              • gkai says:

                If a milder/shorter lockdown wound have been enough to get R0~0.8, with few case enough so that hospital were not on the verge of collapse so the decreasing exponential tail was not a danger, then imho it was not a good policy to implement an even stricter lockdown: it does not bring you much. Except if your plan is to eradicate the virus as quickly as possible so that you do not need to monitor the covid illness anymore, and you prefer hard and short measures instead of milder/longer ones. That would also mean you plan to isolate NZ, or strictly quarantine any incoming visitor for as long as virus has not been eradicated everywhere, or >70% of NZ residents got an effective vaccine shot. That’s at least 2y, does not seem very realistic

              • Frau Katze says:

                @gkai Yes, that’s the problem. It isn’t practical to keep NZ so isolated…. they need tourism. Would tourists still come if a two week quarantine and two negative tests were required? That’s China’s standard.

                I just read an article on how the electronic tracking in China is working out. It’s very intrusive. By failing to contain the virus, China is creating a world that their repressive governing style can be justified.

              • gothamette says:

                “Would tourists still come if a two week quarantine and two negative tests were required? That’s China’s standard.”

                If you could do the quarantine in a remote, secluded nature retreat, why not?

        • Peter Shaw says:

          Tourism is 20% of the NZ economy (the vast majority external).
          If there is one country that has/will have torched its economy (and freedom) more than mine (Australia) its NZ.

          • Frau Katze says:

            “torched economy and freedom”

            They had to get rid of the virus. It’s not something anyone WANTED.

            Lethal Commie Chinese virus shows up. What are you going to do? Ignore it?

            They can reopen for tourism anytime.

            • Peter Shaw says:

              But you can’t reopen tourism unless you have herd immunity or a vaccine. It will just come back.

              It’s not some super lethal virus btw. Just have a sensible Sweden like strategy. Protect the vulnerable and let the rest of us get it.

        • Excellent summary. Thank you.

  19. Greg,

    Are you getting a bit tired of these enthusiastic, dishonest, and painfully stupid assholes? I sure am.

    The most absurd and infuriating part of their serial dishonesties is that they are masquerading as practical hard-headed men and women who just want to keep the economy alive, and yet it is they who are doing the devil’s work in keeping large parts of the economy closed for business. Their delaying tactics, which they push under the guise of freedom, have just put off the day of reckoning. As some cynical wag put it, “who knew that freedom smelled so much like death?”

    Had they listened to people like you in the beginning, we would already be coming out of this mess. Not sometime soon, but TODAY. Restaurants would be open for business at full capacity; movie theaters would be showing new releases; it’s even possible that malls would be open. Probably the only parts of the economy which would still be moribund would be those businesses connected to international travel and any which cater to large gatherings like sporting events and concerts. But most of life would be coming back to normal.

    We know this because we can already see it happening in those countries which took the virus seriously from the beginning.

    Instead, we get this silly claptrap about what a model Sweden is for the United States. I can see several models around the world which the U.S. might emulate in fighting this virus. Not one of them has Stockholm as its capital.

    I’m fed up with this lockdown. I want to get past this thing as soon as we can. But I don’t blame the lockdowns on the people who are trying to save lives. I blame the people who didn’t take the virus seriously from the beginning and who have found every excuse to not take it seriously since. They are the ones who have prolonged this crisis.

    First they didn’t want the lockdown. Then they poked as many holes into the lockdown as they could. Then after a few weeks they claimed there’s no evidence that the lockdowns are even slowing the spread of the virus. They then discovered the words “herd immunity” and found all kinds of way to abuse the concept. Finally, in the irony of ironies, these right wingers – and most of them are our fellow travelers – discovered Sweden, and for the first time since Libertarians discovered Swedish pornography in the nineteen-sixties, men on the right found something they liked about how Sweden conducted its policies.

    • Frau Katze says:

      The Wall Street Journal notes this, a lot more deaths, yet their economy is still not that great:
      While its neighbors and the rest of Europe imposed strict lockdowns, Stockholm has taken a relatively permissive approach. It has focused on testing and building up health-care capacity while relying on voluntary social distancing, which Swedes have embraced.

      The country isn’t a free-for-all. Restaurants and bars remain open, though only for table service. Younger students are still attending school, but universities have moved to remote learning. Gatherings with more than 50 people are banned, along with visits to elderly-care homes. Even with relatively lax rules, travel in the country dropped some 90% over Easter weekend.


      This is important context as Sweden takes heat for its relatively high infection rate and death toll. The country of 10 million has 22,721 confirmed cases and 2,769 deaths. Compare that to 240 deaths in Finland, 214 in Norway, and 493 in Denmark—countries with populations under six million. The numbers seem much worse, but Swedish officials say they already are stabilizing.


      Sweden, deeply intertwined in the global economy, unfortunately shows that some pandemic-caused economic pain is inevitable. The country’s central bank predicts gross domestic product will contract 6.9% or 9.7% in 2020, depending on how long the virus lingers. Its neighbors expect similar numbers. Unemployment could rise to 8.8% or 10.1%, up from 7.2% today. The Swedish hope is that its economy may pick up faster after its less damaging restrictions are lifted.

      • Frau Katze,

        I read that article, but it has some misleading information.

        [Sweden] has focused on testing and building up health-care capacity while relying on voluntary social distancing, which Swedes have embraced.

        This is not true. Sweden tests less than any of its smaller neighbors except Finland, and it tests less than Finland on a per capita basis.

        Denmark – 270K tests

        Norway – 190K

        Sweden – 148K

        Finland – 108K

        When you see those stats, you realize how irresponsible Sweden is being in this crisis. How can you even tell if you are close to herd immunity if you aren’t testing? The entire justification for their response falls apart as just a bunch of ad hoc reasoning.

        Unemployment could rise to 8.8% or 10.1%, up from 7.2% today.

        Those stats are outdated. Sweden’s unemployment rate was 7.5% before this crisis began. They then had some weird drop in the unemployment rate in March (to 7.1% unadjusted) which many economists simply don’t believe. Perhaps that’s because they had record numbers of Swedes filing for unemployment.

        The Swedish hope is that its economy may pick up faster after its less damaging restrictions are lifted.

        Yeah, good luck with that.

        • Frau Katze says:

          I am surprised by Sweden’s behaviour. This is the country where large numbers of foreigners were welcomed without even an attempt to determine if these people were really refugees. They morally preened about their virtue.

          [Pre-Covid, they were having a lot of problems with angry young Muslim men, who used grenades on police. No idea how that’s going now.]

          They bragged about extreme (by Anglo standards) efforts to equalize men and women. The Foreign Minister lectured the Saudi Arabians over their treatment of women and said that Sweden was a “moral superpower.”

          Now they’re just ordinary money grabbers. So much for criticizing “Anglo-Saxon capitalism” (a term actually used in parts of the Continent.)

          OTOH let’s not forget that they sold iron ore to Hitler all through WW 2. Their country wasn’t treated to scorched earth tactics like Norway and they emerged from WW 2 quite well off.

          • gkai says:

            In different countries the immediate cost is not shared the same way between gov and the different part of the population, it depends how much salary loss is compensated (in Sweden, I guess it would be a lot, maybe fully compensated), how easy the gov can print new money, and how it can finance it’s debt, how population earn a living (investment? savings? rent/salary/…).
            But more importantly, economic issues are not the only ones. Even when working from home or fully compensated, people do not enjoy lockdown.
            Assigned to residence is a punishment just a step less than prison. What is a mild annoyance for someone with a large home, nice garden, and a happy family life, becomes a nightmare if you remove one or more of those conditions: Imagine yourself in a small appartment where people barely get along with each other in normal condition…
            Incidently, the later is more common for young, low income people. The young that do not have much to fear from the wuflu. Also those who would riot.

            But I agree that if you are retired in the countryside enjoying gardening with your wife/husband, a full lockdown, maybe long enough to get rid of the virus, seems like the best idea since sliced bread…

        • Frau Katze says:

          Mind you, my country Canada, has a prime minister who is even more of a virtue signaller. When Trump banned flights from China (too late) Trudeau preened about continuing to permit them. He’s awful.

          He was finally forced to ban the flights.

          • ogunsiron says:

            At some point, even the open borders intersectional commie mayor of Montreal had enough and publicly complained about the free for all at Montreal airport! Things aren’t going great in Quebec wrt covid but it looks like it could have been much, much worse.

            • Frau Katze says:

              I didn’t know about open borders intersectional commie mayor of Montreal. I’ve been negligent in keeping up with all the news. (Despite reading news most of my time).

              That sounds… terrible.

              • ogunsiron says:

                I am slightly, just slightly exaggerating when I call her that 🙂 She’s definitely the kind of person I found very ironic to be seen complaining about lack of controls on who was coming in. It didn’t sound like her usual self.

        • Peter Shaw says:

          Instead of being patronising try actually looking at the statistics and the facts.

          Swedens economy is in better shape than its neighbours, will bounce back quicker and they have not destroyed their quality of life or liberty.

          There is no guarantee this lockdown will work, but Sweden’s approach looks like it has worked and the price looks like about 5 K deaths with (not from) coronavirus. That’s 0.05% of their population

          Adults realise there are trade offs, they realise the lockdown causes deaths of its own, they look at stats, and realise there are trade offs.

          Grow up

          • Frau Katze says:

            Grow up? Children are fairly rare targets of this virus. They’re not worrying. The most vulnerable are people over 60.

            How old are you? Maybe you need to grow up to understand the threat posed by Covid.

            You’ll be committing suicide as you reach middle age I take it. That will eliminate the possibility that tax payers will have to shell out to save you. The virus will still be around then since you’re opposed – on the grounds of “freedom” – efforts to get rid of it.

            • Peter Shaw says:

              Can you read statistics?

              By the time this is over Sweden will have around 5,000 dead with (not from) coronavirus. That is 0.05% of the population

              You do know that the harm caused by the lockdown will kill a FAR higher percentage than that through poorer testing, missed elective surgeries and a higher number of suicides.

              I say grow up, because adults can read statistics and understand the big picture

              • Frau Katze says:

                Please tell me where in this post that I have opposed lifting lockdowns. I’m all in favour.

              • By the time this is over Sweden will have around 5,000 dead with (not from) coronavirus. That is 0.05% of the population

                More of your fake stats, Peter. I would guess based on Sweden’s excess death stats and its lack of testing that the country already has around 5,000 dead because of coronavirus.

                That would be more than triple the number of Swedes who die from the flu every year – and the year is just getting started. Plus, I’m pretty sure the Swedes don’t issue social distancing guidelines for the flu.

          • Instead of being patronising try actually looking at the statistics and the facts.

            You haven’t shown any statistics or facts, other than one absurd guesstimate about what you believe the ultimate death toll in Sweden will look like. (More on that later.)

            Swedens economy is in better shape than its neighbours, will bounce back quicker and they have not destroyed their quality of life or liberty.

            No, it’s not. Sweden had no lockdown but its economy is expected to suffer just as badly as its European neighbors

            If you read the article, you’ll see that Sweden’s central bank expects a contraction from 7% to 10% this year.

            How does that compare to the economic expectations for Sweden’s neighbors?

            The International Monetary Fund predicted earlier in April that Germany and the U.K. will see their economies contract by 6.5% and 7% this year, respectively. France is expected to see a 7.2% contraction, Spain an 8% contraction and for Italy to see its economy shrink 9.1%.

            Sweden’s neighbors Finland and Denmark, which also imposed lockdowns, are also expected to see their economies contract by 6% and 6.5%, respectively.

            So it appears that at the end of the year, Sweden will have a lot more dead than its neighbors and not anything to show for it economically.

            There is no guarantee this lockdown will work, but Sweden’s approach looks like it has worked and the price looks like about 5 K deaths with (not from) coronavirus. That’s 0.05% of their population

            Sweden already has 3,040 deaths from COVID-19, and that is likely a significant undercount based on excess death numbers. There’s also no evidence that Sweden has significantly slowed down the number of excess deaths, although it appears to have peaked.

            Adults realise there are trade offs, they realise the lockdown causes deaths of its own, they look at stats, and realise there are trade offs.

            That’s true. But for a tradeoff to work, you must first understand the balance of what’s at stake on both sides. As I’ve shown above, there’s no evidence you understand that.

            • Peter Shaw says:

              Actual real (official) figures show the swedens economy shrank by just 0.3pc in the first three months of 2020, a far smaller decline than most forecasters thought. Who knows how it will perform in April and going forward but common sense says Sweden will do better than the locked down economies (and actual figure so far show it).
              Some other (real) stats for you. Here is Australia cancer screening is down 50% and elective surgery is cancelled.

              If you don’t think this will cost more years of life in aggregate than the 0.05 % death rate in Sweden (with not from), average age circa 80.
              Then you can’t add up.

              • Actual real (official) figures show the swedens economy shrank by just 0.3pc in the first three months of 2020, a far smaller decline than most forecasters thought.

                Preliminary GDP figures aren’t very accurate. They’re often go through significant revisions when all the data is in. Most countries haven’t even reported their first-quarter growth figures yet. Perhaps only a fifth of the OECD member countries have posted GDP data for 2020.

                What also makes the first quarter of this year particularly hard to work with is that the first two months of the quarter were normal for most countries outside Asia. Sweden didn’t have its first reported death from COVID-19 in the middle of March. The Swedish government only started issuing guidelines for restaurants and bars on March 24th when there was just one week left in the quarter. Even the Italian government didn’t fully respond with quarantines and other economy-strangling measures until early March when there were already hundreds of dead Italians. So it’s difficult to say what the first-quarter stats will tell us about the various economic responses even when those stats are all in, since they will be at best a limited view of what governments have done.

                Who knows how it will perform in April and going forward but common sense says Sweden will do better than the locked down economies (and actual figure so far show it).

                Common sense suggests no such thing. I’d much rather be running a bar or restaurant or movie theater or yoga studio or gym or small retail store in a country which has pushed the virus down to basically nothing than I would in a country which is still letting it rip. You no longer have to practice social distancing or wear masks or keep people from congregating in your place of business, nor do a significant potential segment of your customer base fear going out.

                As for the international side of business – hotels, tourism, etc. – there’s nothing any country can do about it right now.

    • Gavriel M says:

      Following on from my question to Arguably Wrong, this entire question should have been framed as a choice between two mutually exclusive options. First, to ‘nuke the curve’ and keep it nuked until a vaccine. Secondly, to implement mild social distancing measures to stop hospitals being overwhelmed and then wait until herd immunity.

      Instead, most people, including most politicians, seem to view it as a sort of linear relationship between the severity of the lockdown and the number of lives saved. Thus you end up with a ‘compromise’ between letting it rip for the good of the economy and destroying the economy to save every single life. But the compromise is actually far worse than either of the extreme positions.

  20. dave chamberlin says:

    Good link for following the Covid19 modelers here It looks like that IHME model finally wised up and realized they have no goddamn clue what is happening beyond 30 days. Now they are predicting 110,000 dead in the USA by the end of May with the daily death count still rising. 538 does a great job of aggregating 6 models and putting them on a graph through the end of May.

    If anybody out there still thinks the death toll is going to be only let’s say 200,000 then they are magical thinkers assuming something like Quinn the Eskimo is arriving here with an effective vaccine for everybody sometime before the end of June.

    Most readers here can visualize that graph arcing up until it is finally curbed not by a vaccine but by herd immunity. Things can change but I think it is the most likely scenario at this point.

    Henceforth this is another go to link for me along with my Youtube Docs John Campbell and Seheult of Medcram.

  21. gothamette says:

    We can argue until the cows come home but the fact is that the US is heading down the road to herd immunity. BAD IDEA. But here it is.

    Now what?

    Greg? Arguably Wrong? Look into your crystal balls & tell us what you see.

    • John says:

      If we are headed that way anyways, it seems we should give the best candidate vaccines a try. If it does not kill you, what is the harm? I see only upside.

      • gothamette says:

        I agree. But see my answer to Frau Katze.

      • gothamette says:

        If I could be sure I’d only get a few aches & pains, I’d agree. But I can’t.

        • John says:

          For vaccines that are untested or somewhat tested, I think there is a danger of autoimmune diseases, however, given that we have at least 1% death rate in the best of circumstances with Covid-19, I think the likelihood of catching autoimmune illnesses from a somewhat tested vaccine should be orders of magnitude less. I realize it is not zero. The other issue is that it may not do anything to protect. Since we are headed to the infernal, it is a small price to pay. Obviously, if you are the one with the reaction, it would be no fun. However, if you are still healthy, nowadays they have steroids that will help you get through that most of the time.At the end of the day, you take the less of two evils.

          • Peter Shaw says:

            The death rate is not even 1% in NY (worst in the world). The data shows nyc is close to herd immunity atm.

            Across the USA it will max out around at around 200k deaths in the USA (with not from). Around 0.06 % per capita death rate. This is slightly higher rate per capita than Sweden who had sensible policies only because older Americans are unhealthy.

            In the long term this is a blip. The damage from the lockdown will kill far more long term. Cancer test are down, domestic violence already up and a rise in suicides will follow with the recession.

            Most people don’t even know they have had it btw

            • gcochran9 says:

              The death rate in NYC is indeed about 1%, nor is NYC at all close to the herd immunity level.

              NYC has 8.4 million people: the most recent estimate of the percentage infected, from a serological survey, is 20%. 0.2 x 8.4 = 1.68 million

              How many died from this? well, at peak, the death rate in NYC was six ( 6) times normal. ” More than 30,700 people have died since mid-March — 23,000 more than normal, and 4,300 more than have been captured by official death statistics.”

              23000/1.68 million = 1.36%.

              As for the herd immunity level, theory ( confirmed by experience) says it is 1 – 1/R0, and with most estimates of R0 at 3 or higher, that means 70% or higher. New York City is not yet close to herd immunity.

              Perhaps you are from another world, an alternate history where things have gone differently. Cross-lines communication is apparently fairly common on the internet.

              • John says:

                We are not even counting the number of sick out of the 1.68 million that are alive but will eventually die. When it is all said and done, it could be close to 2%. With the medical facilities more overwhelmed, death rate from opening up nationwide could be a lot worse.

              • Peter Shaw says:

                One look at the graph shows nyc is close to herd immunity.

                New cases are tailing off very rapidly (although that is happening everywhere are the weather warms up)

                As I said previously 70% is not required for herd immunity, people are not equally social.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Your ‘one glance’ is nonsense: the number of new cases is shrinking because of social distancing, not because New York is close to herd immunity. If we relaxed – and it looks as if we will – they’ll begin growing in New York again.

                I’ve let you speak here because your views illustrate a certain common flavor of stupidity and mendacity, not because they’ve ever made any sense.

    • Frau Katze says:

      Why do you consider herd immunity as a negative? You New Yorkers will be all through the lockdowns whilst more isolated areas can only wait till the virus gets here in strength.

      We’ll likely be forced by sheer economics to lift the lockdowns, with a very low infection rate. There will be large scale sickness to follow.

      • gothamette says:

        “as a negative”?

        Because I’m scared I’ll be infected & die a miserable death.

        Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

        • Frau Katze says:

          But the whole concept of herd immunity is that your chances of getting the infectious disease are greatly reduced because the virus can’t get a good transmission stream going: too many members of the herd (ie residents of NYC) are immune to it.

          It’s considered a positive step.

          • gothamette says:

            Um, who gets infected on the way to herd immunity? The chickens?

            I think you’re misunderstanding the concept in terms of vaccination. Since there is no vaccine for COVID19 we’d have to get infected on the way to that magicke 70%.

        • Frau Katze says:

          My situation on Vancouver Island is the exact opposite. Almost no one is immune.

          If the government opens up tourism again we’d just need one infected cruise ship and it would take off like fire in a dry forest.

        • Frau Katze says:

          OK, maybe I misunderstood your question. You don’t fear herd immunity itself, you fear the process of getting to herd immunity? Because it will involve, at first, lots of infected people?

          First, I’d say the planned opening of the economy is not being done to achieve herd immunity. It’s being done to ward off economic collapse.

          Say all food runs low (already happening with beef). What do you think people will do? They’ll go out and take it. Looting, civil unrest. I find that just as scary as Covid.

          As for people like us, it means more time sheltering in place. There’s just no alternative that I can see.

          Maybe Greg would start a post on it. I would be interested in what other people think.

          • gothamette says:

            You don’t fear herd immunity itself, you fear the process of getting to herd immunity? Because it will involve, at first, lots of infected people?

            Right. See above. Herd immunity w/C19 has to be achieved with many infections, not w/a vaccine. (yet)

            First, I’d say the planned opening of the economy is not being done to achieve herd immunity. It’s being done to ward off economic collapse.

            I dunno. I think that Trump/Johnson were after herd immunity the whole time. It just slipped out in Britain & there was an outcry so they shut up but I think that was the goal. To be fair, it’s probably impossible to completely shut down societies like the UK and the US. We don’t have what it takes. We’re just going to drag it out.

            • Frau Katze says:

              Herd immunity is the same if by vaccine or actual infection (assuming it’s not a vaccine that wears off and you need boosters.

              The concept does depend on Covid-19 not mutating so much that you can’t do a vaccine. I think that’s a problem with the flu vaccines.

              Right now we don’t know what it might do.

            • Frau Katze says:

              My replies were all assuming no vaccine.

              I notice you have zero fear of civil unrest. I would say I’m more afraid of it than the disease. I’d rather die of Covid than take my chance in a collapse.

              People don’t have guns up here. I’ve never known anyone ever who owned a handgun. Criminals have them though.

  22. j says:

    Let’s hear different opinions. Ofer Shelah is chairman of the Israeli Congress (the Knesset) Coronavirus Committee. “Government action had nothing to do with the country’s success in the battle against the novel coronavirus. Clearly, this virus behaves in a way that is related to weather, genetics and especially the age of each country’s inhabitants… COVID-19 has a periodicity of a classic Gaussian bell-curve shape wherever it appears”, he told The Jerusalem Post. “In probability theory, the Gaussian distribution is a continuous function that approximates the exact binomial distribution of events. This bell’s life cycle is around six to eight weeks.”

    I am so proud that our politicians are familiar with probability theory…

    • gcochran9 says:

      Nonsense, of course. Wasn’t this originated by some Israeli scientist-dipshit?

      • j says:

        Yes, of course. I suspect Dr. Ran Namerode, but could be somebody else. You could answer like that King of the Phillistines meeting David from Judea: Why do you bring me this idiot, don’t I have enough idiots in my country?

    • Frau Katze says:

      I have not seen any bell curves since I started pouring over many many graphs related to the virus.

      The most depressing, deaths vs age, show a hideous skew for older people.

      (I do consider that we got lucky children mostly spared however).

      I also doubt the weather link, based on a current raging case in the Amazon jungle in Brazil (city, Manaus). Another city, hot and steamy, at sea level close to the equator also had a bad outbreak, Guayaquil, Ecuador. Quito, Ecuador (high elevation in the Andes) had a noticeably milder case.

      • j says:

        This virus has proved that it is not afraid to colonize tropical infernos like Guayaquil. But it seems to me that his preferred habitat is well-refrigerated meat packing plant. In Argentina, the workers are so afraid that most plants had to close. The same seems to be the case in the USA. Why meat packers and not ice cream factories? I don’t know.

        • Frau Katze says:

          I must admit I don’t understand why these plants have become hot spots. Crowding, one article suggested. The workers have to be close together if they’re on the same animal. The workers are now being given PPE, at least in the photograph I saw.

          It’s not occurring in chicken places (or maybe it has and I missed it). Chickens are small enough that one person could handle one animal.

          There are few small outlets doing free range, organic beef. They slaughter on site. I predict they will soon be swamped with orders.

          I’m not much of a meat-eater myself.

  23. Frau Katze says:

    The out and out deniers haven’t showed up on this post. (They still exist, I’ve seen them elsewhere).

    Now the people obsessed with.losing their inalienable right to die of Covid have shown up. Lockdowns are for losers. Don’t take away my “rights”.

    I think they’re mostly Americans. I haven’t run into any here in Canada. Of course, I don’t get out much since I prefer not to die of Covid, so I’m staying home.

  24. Frau Katze says:

    This is an appalling video by the Youtubers who used to complain about political correctness.

    Now he’s found a new cause. It’s not the first video on this topic. He’s getting worse.

    Actually saying, “How did children survive before vaccines?” Doesn’t he know common death in childhood used to be? Ranting about a “mandatory” vaccine. He doesn’t seem to realize that there might be no vaccine.

    • Rosenmops says:

      “Forever Computing” seems to have gone off the deep end. What’s really scary is that he has 3.3k likes and only 78 dislikes for this video on YouTube. The Youtube comments are aweful, too.
      “Find me a single 70+ year old grandparent who isn’t prepared to possibly die so their grandchildren can live a normal happy life. I’ll wait.”

      Sure, a grandparent would sacrifice their life to save their grandchild, but this makes no sense in this pandemic. Until there is a vaccine or a cure , the grandparents can stay home and self isolate while the young people go about their merry way. Why should the grandparents risk death when they can stay home, or at least stay away from other people. I say this as a grandparent myself. Maybe I’m an introvert, but I like being at home. I hate crowds.

      I didn’t hear the part were he was talking about vaccines, though. Was that in another video? Here he is mostly talking about some foolish rules someone in Quebec thought up for re-opening schools. Quebec would be much better to keep schools closed. If you compare how different countries of the world are doing with the virus, Canada doesn’t look all that good, and this is being driven almost entirely by Quebec. With only 22% of the population, Quebec is responsible for about half of the covid deaths in Canada. I’m not sure what the hell is going on with Quebec. It seems almost like a 3rd world country sometimes. It would be a 3rd world country if not propped up by English Canada.

      • Frau Katze says:

        He just made a short reference to the (currently nonexistent) vaccine. I can’t face listening to it again.

        He used to be a sensible guy just criticizing political correctness. That’s when he accumulated all the followers.

        He just went off the rails recently, maybe 3 weeks ago. His ideas are based on thinking that Covid is just another seasonal flu.

        So why all the lockdowns? “They”, the powers that be, are working on a plan for total domination. That’s where he goes crazy.

      • Frau Katze says:

        I got so annoyed I only listened to the first half. I’ll read the link about Quebec. It doesn’t look like a third world country. The buildings and roads are OK.

        Most of my news sources aren’t Canadian. I’ve been following BC on CTV lately.

      • Frau Katze says:

        At a bit after 5:00 he says, “how did we cope before Big Pharma vaccines?”

        He referenced another video on the Covid vaccine (that doesn’t exist at present) at a bit after 14:00, it’s on Bitchute. He’s worried that Youtube will take it down. Anti-vaxxers get their stuff taken down.

        He complains about the restrictions on children without realizing that Covid is not “just another flu.”. Sure it may create fear, but it’s normal to fear dangerous things. This is caused by the 100-year gap in major pandemics, plus it’s been 70 years since antibiotics.

        Contagious diseases are regarded as trivial now. I remember feeling disconcerted by pictures of children with polio in iron lungs in the 1950s.

        “We’re so afraid of death we will live like drones.” – near the end.

      • Frau Katze says:

        The Bitchute vid is here. It’s about the coming vaccine that most of us desperately hope for while the audience leave comments about how they won’t take it.

    • People on the political right have (with some exceptions) done a terrible job responding rationally to this crisis. To some extent you can blame the media, academic experts, and other cultural elites for being so consistently deceptive on other issues. It has reached the point that conservatives instinctively deny any big narrative push from the mainstream media. Even so, it’s surprising just how extreme and widespread the reality-denial has become. We no longer live on the same planet.

      • Frau Katze says:

        Well, I’m sure not on same planet as him.

        • Rosenmops says:

          I don’t even understand why the covid shutdown is a left/right issue. It is a public health matter. It is as if everyone has gone insane.

          • Frau Katze says:

            There are deniers and crazies off all political persuasions.

          • mcdemarco says:

            I think the left is more negative about the economy in general (I saw some redditor happy about job losses because it will mean less global warming), and more willing to sacrifice it for a good cause. The right is more positive about the economy and more concerned about long-term damage to it. They’re also the side of civil liberties nowadays (for whatever strange reason), and don’t like to see them eroded for non-traditional reasons, such as non-traditional restrictions on the non-ill during a pandemic.

      • dearieme says:

        “To some extent you can blame the media, academic experts, and other cultural elites for being so consistently deceptive on other issues.” You’ve got it in one there, old fruit.

        “Why is this lying liar lying to me?” is often was wise response to the sayings of the mighty. But not always.

      • ogunsiron says:

        People on the political right have (with some exceptions) done a terrible job responding rationally to this crisis. To some extent you can blame the media, academic experts, and other cultural elites for being so consistently deceptive on other issues

        I find this extremely tragic, as a member of the political hard right. I somewhat understand what’s going on, though. It’s us reflexively not trusting classes that are largely declared enemies. There is a crisis, but how do you trust these people who habitually lie about you and to you, even if those people aren’t totally lying right now?

        • ogunsiron says:

          The 1st paragraph above is a quote. Sorry.

        • Frau Katze says:

          The political right has a lot of examples in which they are furious over someone being punished for, say, reopening their hair salon.

          It’s being exacerbated by large areas with few cases of Covid. Here’s an example (the man lived in Montana).

  25. dave chamberlin says:

    Covid19 Models

    538 is the place for one stop shopping if you want to know what the modelers are predicting. They are not predicting more than one month ahead nor should they be. Huge fluctuations can be caused by one single factor that simply cannot be predicted. Social distancing behavior. The infection rate of Covid19, commonly referred to as the Ro, varies tremendously by small changes in social distancing behavior. It’s probable that this is due to 90% of the infected that are asymptomatic or just a little sick and guess it’s just a common cold. Ten people are spreading it instead of one, the Ro that can be approximated for other infectious diseases can’t be placed on Covid19 or more accurately has to be given a very wide range. In other words the models have very little predictive power beyond one month and even then it’s sketchy. The doubling time of cases changes daily because of slight changes in group behavior. They are scared shitless in New York City so the numbers there are crashing. In other states the social distancing rules are being relaxed and the increases in cases and deaths can be expected to follow shortly thereafter.

  26. Abelard Lindsey says:

    Have any of you here looked at Todd Rider’s DRACO approach to viral disease?
    I have not read of any technical reason why DRACO would not work.

    • TB says:

      According to that article DRACO works specifically against double-stranded virus, Corona are single strand.

      • Abelard Lindsey says:

        Finally I get an answer. I’ve been asking around for two weeks and got nothing. I’ve got another source I can ask if this is the case.

      • Abelard Lindsey says:

        Actually that is not an issue. This is what I got elsewhere:

        There are seven fundamental types of virus detailed in the Baltimore classification. These types include:
        1)double-stranded DNA viruses
        2)double-stranded RNA viruses
        3)single-stranded DNA viruses
        4)positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses
        5)negative-sense single-stranded RNA viruses
        (and there are two other fundamental types of virus)

        The Baltimore classification simply indicates what type of DNA or RNA is used to encode the viral genome (the genes of the virus). So for example, a double-stranded DNA virus contains double-stranded DNA to encode the genome. The genome is located within the viral capsid (the capsid is the outer shell of the virus).

        However, most viruses irrespective of Baltimore type will produce double-stranded RNA as a by-product while they replicate inside cells. It is this double-stranded RNA by-product which DRACO targets. A positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus like coronavirus will produce double-stranded RNA when it replicates inside a cell. And DRACO will target that.

  27. Joanne L. says:

    “However, most viruses irrespective of Baltimore type will produce double-stranded RNA as a by-product while they replicate inside cells. It is this double-stranded RNA by-product which DRACO targets. ”

    So you mean DRACO will work on Coronavirus? If so, why no one is testing DRACO then??

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