How far we’ve come

Not very. So, far cov-19 has mostly not infected a terribly high percentage of the population , with the exception of some places in Lombardy where it likely reached saturation( > 60%). NYC, about 20%.

Spain: 5%. Major League Baseball employees : 0.75%.

Indiana: 2.8%

Percentage infected in the US has to be lower than in Spain: I’d guess something like 3%. So far,  > 80,000 dead out of that 3%. What can we expect if A. we let it rip and B. herd immunity is at ~70% ?


The people arguing that it had already spread very far and had a very low mortality were wrong, like I said a while ago.  Obviously wrong, to me, and to a few others that could actually do the required back-of-the-envelope calculations.   This means, by the way, that the IFR was > 1% in Spain.  Not obvious to the authors of that Stanford study, though: I thought that surely they had been paid off, but they were apparently just dense.

But old bullshit is being replaced by new bullshit, due to popular demand.  The new notion is that a more detailed analysis of viral propagation ( roughly, considering networks of fast-spreaders) suggests that it is possible to achieve herd immunity at far lower percentages infected than simple SIR theory predicts –  instead of something around 70%,  more like 15 or 20%.

Sometimes people are saying something not altogether crazy: like saying that we could achieve herd immunity at fairly low % infected if we made significant social changes (masks , distancing, Scotchguard everybody) that interfere with viral transmission and stuck with those changes indefinitely.   When repeated, people usually leave out those behavior-change details and suggest that,  soon,  we will all be dancing in the streets. Swinging, swaying, records playing.  Or, they’re saying that a more complete analysis predicts 60%, instead of 70%: might be so. But we know that simple SIR models have worked decently in the past – they can’t be too far off.

But mostly they’re just saying that herd immunity has to be possible at low incidence because it’s GOTTA be, the same reason they knew that Cov-19 was ‘just another flu’.  The Swedish government is saying that Stockholm is close to herd immunity: they’re lying.

The numbers in Lombardy falsify this.  But, go ahead, explain that Italians are special, not subject to same principles as other human populations.

These low numbers show that we’ve controlled the spread to a very  significant degree.  But we surely seem to be getting ready to stop doing so:

Guess what happens then!










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277 Responses to How far we’ve come

  1. Steve Sailer says:

    What are the most authoritative reports on percentage infected from antibody studies in the worst-hit places in Italy? I’ve seen a number of newspaper reports, but between Google Translate having what seems like a harder time with Italian than some other languages and my stereotypes of Italian reporters, I’m not all that confident in the reliability of what I’ve come across so far.

  2. Frau Katze says:

    Another person saying it’s just another flu. I’m trying to track this woman’s background.

    But there’s an upfront problem: why did the Chinese behave the way they did? They’re not stupid. The Chinese spent a fortune, after ignoring it at first. They destroyed their reputation too. I don’t think would have done this without a good reason.

    On the origin: Bret Weinstein has guessed accidental release from lab. If so, why didn’t the Chinese jump on it right away? One solution: the worker was too scared to report it. This is consistent with Chernobyl, where the senior reactor operator was afraid to disobey the man doing rundown experiment.

    Of course the worker might not have known he was infected. Or maybe it did come from the market.

    • Le Ed says:

      The conspiracy theories is answered in this video, the professor being interviewed is imo the best communicator on the Covid -19 issue. I very much want to know Greg´s opinion on this professor Kim. I have not noticed any contradictions to what Greg has written on the subject.

        • minosp says:

          That Korean virologist is completely bullshitting about the origin of the virus not possibly being the BSL-4 lab in Wuhan. This fucking dork (who apparently has no idea how modern molecular biology is conducted) says “the genetic makeup of SARS-CoV-2 is not something man can create artificially.” An utter lie. It became possible years ago to order over the web ANY SEQUENCE ANY PERSON COULD EVER DREAM UP from one of numerous “gene synthesis” companies by simply pasting the sequence of interest into a form, providing a PO or credit card number, and then waiting for the thing to arrive in either plasmid or BAC DNA form. If you don’t want to your sequence to include “evidence of artificial genetic manipulation,” you’d just ORDER A SEQUENCE LACKING SUCH EVIDENCE – since there’s nothing to keep you from doing so!!! Generally speaking, you’d then simply transfect your constructs into susceptible host cells, and voila, there’s your gd frankenstein virus – assuming your design confers replication-competence. It’s almost fucking child’s play. This shit makes me furious.

          • j says:

            Dr Woo-Joo Kim says that no country would disperse a bioweapon that it does not control, and even less in the center of its own country. He notes the periodicity of former epidemics, 6 and 6 and 5 years, so the next may hit us 4 years from now. I cannot see such pattern in the sequence, but he certainly has a bigger head.

            • gothamette says:

              If I were designing a bioweapon, I wouldn’t design one that killed the old, the infirm, the obese, the diabetic, the you get the point. I’d design a bioweapon that killed people 25 and younger.

              But I’m a fucking dork who knows little about molecular biology.

              • Peter Akuleyev says:

                If my plan was to not to destroy other countries, but to reduce the non-productive elements of the population to free up scarce resources for the young, I would definitely design a virus that killed the old and the sick. In a country like China with an aging population that someone is going to have to support, it makes a sick kind of sense. It makes even more sense in a very old country like Italy or a country like Sweden where people aren’t particularly emotional.

                Not saying that is what is happening, but it would make a good movie plot.

              • BB753 says:

                Unless you were the leader of a country with an ageing and potentially expensive population. In which case, it makes a lot of sense.
                For the record, I don’t think the Chinese unleashed covid-19, at least not intentionally.

          • Dieter Kief says:

            Huu, minosp, this sounds like the absolutely credible basis to write a mind-boggling science-thriller.
            Your text could be part of a dialogue and the character, revealing these facts could be whatever the author wanted him to be – from a 12-year-old nerd to an 85-year-old drug addict with a never-ceasing sexual appetite for kids being strangled during the act and their mortal remains fed later on to some ugly creatures he breeds in his living room or
            some such phantasies for the tension hungry masses.

            If what I wrote might sound weird – it’s meant as a compliment.
            In even fewer words: Interesting, thanks.

          • gothamette says:

            “This fucking dork (who apparently has no idea how modern molecular biology is conducted)”

            Says who?

    • gothamette says:

      She is a fruitcake who runs a small Eurosceptic party in Ireland.

      Why do you pay attention to such people?

    • Tim says:

      1) To understand the Chinese reaction we need to know the standard Chinese protocol. It is significantly different from the Western one. And I guess, much similar to the old Soviet one where quarantine is one the major responses.
      2) We need to understand Chinese priorities and cultural bias. I’m not from China, and I’m not an expert. But in my country there is a common belief that panic causes more damage, than a small outbreak. On the other hand big danger should be caught in the beginning.
      3) We need to know what information Chinese officials where getting at that time. That we have to guess. They clearly could not know everything, because we do not know everything even now. And we know that some facts takes time to discover, like identifying the virus from the samples or collecting statistics from the hospitals.

      So, I’d be trying to evaluate when official got first info about a medical anomaly in the stats. When they could realize that it is a serious thing. And when they could understand that this is a new disease, not a good old flu. Then if we put these evaluation on the same timeline with known facts like WHO reports and lockdown dates, we could reasonably guess why.
      I’m sure such analytical reports exist, but I never seen them published.

      • Frau Katze says:

        Even if they knew of an accidental release they still wouldn’t have known how it behaved in humans. Maybe when larger numbers of older people started dying they realized that wherever it came from they had to act.

    • Hugh Mann says:

      Israel imposed one of the most extreme border shutdowns as well as closing schools. Not a stupid country.

      Israel announced Wednesday that it was barring all foreigners from entering the country to curb the spread of COVID-19. As of March 12, only non-Israeli nationals who could prove an ability to self-quarantine in accordance with Health Ministry directives have been allowed into the country. Under the new ban, which took effect immediately, even those able to self-quarantine will be denied entry to Israel.

      On the other hand, if you want to see what happens when you ease lockdown, surely the best time to do it is at the start of summer, not at the start of winter.

      • j says:

        That is what we are doing here. The summer arrived with a screech and midday temperature in Tel Aviv is 45.5 Centigrades (114 F). The school girls are protesting modesty rules and walk around in hot pants. The epidemic suddenly disappeared and the economy is reviving, except tourism. All the corona here is from the American variety, none Chinese.

        • gothamette says:

          Plus I read that Bibi went on TV every night, with stern lectures about the dangers of the virus.

          When I get into a discussion with Trump supporters about the “plandemic” which the Dems are dragging out for the elections (we have a few even in Manhattan) I tell them about Bibi, and freak out. They can’t believe it. It completely shatters their worldview.

          Bolsonaro imitated Trump in every way and Brazil is now a shitshow.

  3. MSG says:

    If I read you correctly, Dr. Cochran, based on 1% fatality, 3% of our 330 million population infected so far, herd immunity at 60 to 70%, and 80,000 dead already, something like 1.5 to 2 million Americans will die before this over. I am of course inspired to think of some reason why this projection may be wrong. One reason occurs to me.

    Inmates of nursing homes are doubly endangered. They are extremely elderly and often have other problems. They are therefore extremely susceptible to dying from the disease, far more so than most other large segments of the population. They are also packed together and sometimes cared for (so to speak) in a way that promotes contagion, more so than most other segments of the population. Can it be that they are therefore grossly overrepresented among that 3% of our population who have been first to get the disease? Would such an overrepresentation suggest that the 1% fatality expectation for the general population may be a significant overestimate?

    If you have already addressed this thought, or have considered it so obviously wrong as not to have been worth addressing, I apologize.

    • Frau Katze says:

      There’s a chart here that shows the fraction of cases for care home / home / hospital. But some of the hospital deaths may have come from care homes.

      • TB says:

        Yup. Every time a nursing home resident gets a low fever, they get shipped to us in hospital. In the past that was usually urinary tract infections or pneumonia.

      • Tim says:

        Just applying that data to the US population structure gives 5 million deaths before reaching 70% (potential herd immunity). Of course, it is a kind of model simplification. Still that number is very high.

    • Frau Katze says:

      But the senior care business has never been easy. With coronavirus, it is becoming far more difficult: occupancy levels are falling at many senior communities and nursing homes as potential residents shy away from facilities that have been ravaged by the virus — and many that have not. According to a New York Times tabulation, at least 27,600 residents and staff have died so far, accounting for about a third of all US fatalities.

    • gothamette says:

      Note: I’m not an infectious disease expert by any means.

      The 1% infection fatality rate would likely skew old and the usual underlying conditions.

      But the thing about this virus is, we don’t know. What we don’t know far outweighs what we do know.

      I suggest you all read this emergency doc’s website:

      Esp this:

      There was a period of a couple weeks where the demand for intensive care resources so exceeded supply that the shifts felt like walking through a fog, moving from one dying patient to the next. The absence of any scientific guidance made us feel and behave like helpless homeopaths. We had no effective therapies so we threw all sorts of likely ineffective therapies (azithromycin, hydroxychloroquine, zinc, vitamin C, steroids, nitric oxide, prostacyclin, convalescent plasma, remdesivir, tocilizumab) at them. No one in the world knew when these patients needed to be intubated or how to manage the vent once they were intubated.

      We just don’t know who this will be killing before this is all over. Do we really want to find out?

  4. Frau Katze says:

    Herd immunity is certainly a long way off. A vaccine is uncertain and unlikely to materialize anytime soon.

    Can we do a mild lockdown, with the sick and the aged continuing to stay locked up?


    There a threat to children, with it not appearing very common at the moment.

    There is the stroke problem that can hit healthy young adults.

    There is the way some people can’t shake it off.

    For what it’s worth, a WHO scientist gives a bleak assessment, four or five years to get it under control

    • gcochran9 says:

      I doubt if there wiull be much problem developing a vaccine, and it is certainly possible to do so in a lot less time than people are talking about.

    • luisman says:

      The often quite different symptoms of younger people keeps me wondering, if our standard vaccination protocol has something to do with it, especially flu vaccines. A sot in the dark, but may antibodies cause blood clotting?

      • Frau Katze says:

        There are ideas about it. It’s discussed here but I frankly don’t understand it. I don’t know enough about the subject of what causes blood to clot.

      • Daniel says:

        The Wuhan virus enters cells through the AC2E2 protein. ACE2’s purpose is to make a hormone that dilates blood vessels. It stands to reason that cells related to vasodilation might be affected.

  5. How do you get the 5% infected number for Spain, which I assume is your basis for thinking IFR is higher than 1% there?

  6. What statistics are you all using to track the covid situation? I’m tracking a rolling 7-day average of the daily reported deaths and the change in daily deaths from 7 days ago (because there is a large day-of-week effect in the numbers that get reported.)

  7. Dieter Kief says:

    Hospitals in Spain and Italy (to a lesser extent in France (Mulhouse) had no masks, no proper clothing, no disinfectants – and did become death-multiplying traps.
    That should be over.
    Plus: antibiotics-resistance is a death-enhancer in Italy and Spain, which is not so common in other countries. Italy and Spain are top-performers in this regard 
    View at
    This is from November 2019 – an alarm cry of Italian doctors not to prescribe such insane amounts of antibiotics
    A warning which is almost as dramatic – just not in the case of Italy but – in that of Spain – from February 2019  

  8. akarlin says:

    Greg, I agree with you – that said, what are your practical proposals?

    I don’t think we have the capacity to build a cyber panopticon or ubiquitous testing infrastructure if it took the US two months just to get testing above Third World levels.

    Lockdowns are ending. That’s just political reality.

    Not enough competence, broken institutions. You don’t fix that in a few months. Just getting to 80%+ mask usage must be considered to be a great achievement at this point.

    • rgressis says:

      I’m not Greg, but I recall the philosopy professor Lawrence Sklar telling me that all it took to convince the Iranians of the awfulness of theocracy was living under it for thirty years. If the point generalizes, then one thing that might convince Americans that we need to do more about this than we’re doing is 1 million dead Americans. You’d think 900,000 would do the trick, but people like round numbers.

      • david says:

        A million dead boomers? If the greatest generation were living, theyd tell everybody to take it on the chin and get back to work.

        • Myth. Whenever you hear someone talking about how much better we were in the Good Olde Days, you will notice a lack of hard data but lots of anecdote about sainted grandmothers and manly men.

        • Rosenmops says:

          The Greatest Generation were fighting Hitler with the support of their countrymen. They weren’t fighting, as I am, a daughter thrilled that her yoga class is opening back up next week, and maybe the playgrounds, and who still thinks her daughters can visit me and my husband and stay overnight. We are both 65 with underlying conditions.

          I might have taken it on the chin to defeat Hitler, but I’m sure not sacrificing my life for a God damned yoga class.

    • very interested in the response.

      i’ll just add that we’re probably looking at good, old-fashioned tragedy. as such, the warnings are just a necessary part. it’s not like they could change anything.

    • 415 reasons says:

      I will venture a response on Greg’s behalf. We need to figure out what parts of the economy can be reopened safely with social distancing and/or masks and build a massive test/trace capability. For the moment, only jobs that can be safely done with all employees wearing a mask, keeping distance, and never eating lunch together can be done. Technological countermeasures need to be rolled out as fast as possible. Greg talks about a Manhattan Project for COVID, but there is an extant technology that would make a huge difference. Fang Zhang at MIT (as well as a group at UCSF and biotech partners of both groups in Cambridge and San Francisco) have developed a CRISPR based test that has already shown proof of principle for use as a dipstick style rapid assay that could be used by the consumer on saliva samples. It’s tough to develop, commercialize and mass produce such a product in 2-3 months but it must be possible. If you could then buy a pack of 100 tests it would make a lot more possible. If you could have a high quality test result in under an hour you could imagine, say, every student in a classroom gets a test. Or every patient at a dentists office. Or every patron at a barbershop. It makes it much easier to have a normalish life and keep R well below 1. And then we muddle through like that for 6, 9, 12 months until there is a vaccine. It’s not normal, but it beats the heck out of the alternative.

      • gothamette says:

        This all presupposes a sane person in the White House. Trump is a man of overwhelming pathologies. All he cares about is power, keeping it, and using it to enrich himself and his disgusting family.

        • He has lost money hand over fist since becoming president. Please show me some measurable evidence that his interst in gaining and keeping power is greater than any other political candidate of either party over the last fifty years. Bringing in your visceral reactions his family gives away the game that it is thee who art beset by overwhelming pathologies. You are projecting. You seem an intelligent person. Learn to be a less tribal one as well.

          • gothamette says:

            Learn to think. Before that, you’d have to learn to see.

            • reiner Tor says:

              Accusing your interlocutors of being blind and unable to think (basically, imbecility) is not a very good argument.

              For the record, I think Trump is a buffoon lacking any intellectual curiosity who never read a single book out of his own volition. (One not entirely implausible theory I heard is that he’s dyslexic.)

          • gothamette says:

            “He has lost money hand over fist since becoming president. ”

            We have laws prohibiting presidents from profiting from their time in office, you fucking moron.

            The fact that you’d write something like that as a defense of the Criminal-in-Chief depresses me, and I need to keep my immune system optimized.

            I can’t take people like you anymore. I’ll be checking this website but only for the posts. The idiocy is depressing.

            • jbbigf says:

              The last President to retire poor was Truman. Your boy Barky is a multi-millionaire.

            • Julian says:

              How is billionaire Donald Trump going to profit from the presidency? I’m sure he’ll find a way, but let’s hear your take.

          • Peter Akuleyev says:

            Trump is a not a billionaire. His net worth is well south of that because his business interests are highly leveraged. The Presidency keeps Trump’s creditors like Deutsche Bank at bay, and has already encouraged the Saudis to make big loans to Kushner. So financially Trump has benefitted quite nicely. His businesses are also getting bailed out at the moment by the US taxpayer, but I suppose to be fair you can assume that most politicians are benefitting handsomely from the trillions the government is printing, not just Trump.

        • Tl Howard says:

          Bull shit.

        • Hugh Mann says:

          It has to be said Javanka are a disgusting couple, working against Trump as often as for him, but do you really think a Hillary presidency would have been better? If you want a disgusting family of self-enrichers, try the Clintons.

          We’re all agreed that Candidate Trump was much better than President Trump, but we are where we are. I can’t think of any other President who’s had pretty much the entire establishment against him as Trump has – the strain must be tremendous. A lesser man would have cracked up long ago.

          Furthermore, how much power does Trump have once CV19 is in the country? Cuomo is responsible for the NY toll – he governs the place, not Trump.

          • gothamette says:

            I am so sick of this kind of dipshittery.

          • gothamette says:

            It has to be said Javanka are a disgusting couple, working against Trump as often as for him

            You have to have the sense God gave a flatworm to believe this.

            *, but do you really think a Hillary presidency would have been better?*

            Why are you even talking about this? TRUMP IS PRESIDENT, NOT THEM.

            I can’t think of any other President who’s had pretty much the entire establishment against him as Trump has

            Oh God, you guys. You dumb dipshits.

            He has the entire Republican establishment sucking his nether quarters.

            The strain must be tremendous.

            There is no strain. He’s a property shark. There isn’t five minutes in his life that he hasn’t been in litigation.

            Furthermore, how much power does Trump have once CV19 is in the country? Cuomo is responsible for the NY toll – he governs the place, not Trump.

            Federal power overrides state power. The governors stepped in to a vacuum.

            It’s clear to me that the vast majority of guys who comment on these sorts of blogs, although they claim to be worldly and masculine, have never worked for a boss and have no idea what hierarchy is.

    • Frau Katze says:

      Elderly and ill must lock themselves up. I’m prepared to stay by myself in my condo for a while yet. Months or years. (Age 68). It’s not that bad given the Internet. There is still come exposure but it’s the best we can do

      We have to keep the economy going or we’ll starve.

      We will have to hope the cases of younger healthy people getting strokes stay uncommon Same with whatever is hitting a few children.

      There is no solution that doesn’t have some downsides.

      • Hugh Mann says:

        “Elderly and ill must lock themselves up”

        Yup, the young and fit need to live. If nothing else, how are they to pair up if they can’t touch each other?

      • gothamette says:

        I’ve gone out every day except the days when weather is bad. That may change when flu season comes, and I expect that we will be hit with both flu (for which I’ll take a vaccine) and a 2nd wave of the virus. Observe precautions (mask, hand-washing, distancing), and I think the benefits of going out far outweight the risks.

    • SamGamgee says:

      Definitely seems like one of cases where you must either go all in or do nothing. Anything half-assed will result in the worst possible outcomes. Either force everybody inside and shoot them if they try to come out or just give up and let it spread. Wrecking the economy while not preventing the virus from eventually spreading everywhere doesn’t save lives in the long run – just impoverishes everyone for nothing.

      • Frau Katze says:

        I’ve seen this discussed a lot. The unfortunate consensus seems to be that there’s no good solution.

        We can’t lock people up until there’s a vaccine. That would wreck the economy totally. It might also lead to civil unrest. (I’m speaking of the democracies).

        Yet as one can see from the comparison of Sweden (modest measures, not a true lockdown) with its neighbors Norway and Finland, the lockdown has saved lives. The Swedish economy isn’t doing that well either, although that may be because they’re surrounded by countries who did lockdowns.

        So we’re muddling along as best as we can.

  9. gman says:

    What’s going on then as death rates have peaked in the majority of countries?

    Also noting the Spanish have been back at work for almost three weeks and death and infection rates there have kept dropping.

  10. Eponymous says:

    Though I will say this — deaths have been steadily trending down. This is roughly the 3rd week with declining deaths, and they’re declining by around 10% per week. So that suggests national R* around 0.7 or so. Not as good as we might hope, but we’ve done enough (so far).

  11. pyrrhus says:

    It seems likely to me that the figures from Lombardy are an anomaly…… but in any event there is no way that the US, with half the population living from paycheck to paycheck and no savings, can continue with a widespread shutdown of business and the resulting unemployment…’s the proverbial rock vs hard place…..

    • ASR says:

      My take on things is at least partly the same as yours, Pyrrhus. Arguably Wrong has suggested what I think is a reasonable policy for local governments in the USA, taking into account both what we now know about SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-18 and the economic, social, cultural, and political realities, which policy makers must eventually address.

      In earlier posts I did a back of the envelope calculation suggesting that, in the absence of some as yet undeveloped medical intervention, e.g., a vaccine, somewhere between 600,000 and 2,000,000 Americans might have to die before we achieve herd immunity in this country. This is in-line with what others here and elsewhere seem to be suggesting.

      The Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919 inflicted comparable losses on the USA, over half a million deaths in a much smaller population. The impact was actually much worse than that of the current pandemic, since deaths were concentrated in the most productive portion of the population, working age males. And this was after WW I had taken a small bite out of this same crucial subpopulation. Despite this the country quickly recovered and enjoyed an economic and social boom during the 1920s.

      The Depression had a far more drastic and long lasting effect on the country. My parents’ generation lived through both the Pandemic of 1918-1919 and the Great Depression. They hardly remembered the Pandemic but were clearly traumatized by the Depression. Historians suggest the same.

      The point I want to make is that if policies to reduce or spread out SASR-CoV-2 ultimately have disastrous economic consequences then we may end up worse off than if we just let the Pandemic burn its way through the population. Furthermore, if effective medical interventions do not arise, the intended humanitarian and demographic effects of such policies may be largely futile, just delaying inevitable deaths, the natural culling of the herd, natural selection in action.

      BTW, I’m into my seventies, living in the Boston area, have a number of risk factors, and am in close contact with medical and public health people working to deal with the pandemic, so my last paragraph is not that of a callous, indifferent or unaware individual. I’m just pointing out that the current crisis has multiple dimensions. Focusing purely on the public health dimension is just as counterproductive as ignoring it.

      The immediate crisis is the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Public health and medical experts are focusing solely on this. The less immediate crisis is a looming economic catastrophe, that will happen partly as a result of current public health measures, and will bring in its wake widespread misery and social disorder. Experts in other areas than public health and medicine are focusing on these issues.

      The same problem arises whenever one-sided expert panels are formed. The experts are usually blind to concerns outside their fields of expertise and do not take them into consideration. Even if concerns outside their immediate fields of expertise are considered, members of one-sided panels lack the knowledge set and experience to appropriately address these concerns, and ultimately craft appropriate policies.

      What are desperately needed at this point in time are joint expert committees that can craft short and long term policies which appropriately address all aspects of the currently unfolding crisis. At a minimum such committees’ memberships should include expert representation from public health, medicine, economics and finance, public safety, national security, small business, and major industries including agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, recreation, entertainment, tourism, et al.

      Debates, disagreements and resolutions should be occurring in these committees and at least partially resolved before politicians get involved.

      • gothamette says:

        ” in the most productive portion of the population, working age males.”

        Women have babies, not men. They are the more important sex.

        • ASR says:

          A debate over which sex is “more important” is pointless and IMHO rather stupid. My point is that the number and demographics of those who died in the Pandemic of 1918-1919 seem to have had little discernible impact on the economy and general well-being of the nation. The current pandemic, were it allowed to run its natural course, would likely have a comparable death toll, but the demographic profile of those dying would not impact the economy and society as badly as the demographics of those whom died in 1918-1919. Since the deaths in 1918-1919 seem to have had little discernible impact on economy and society then, we should expect the same today if the current pandemic were allowed to run its natural course. .

          • gothamette says:

            There is no debate. You were wrong.

            Compare a village w/999 men and 1 woman to a village with 999 women and 1 man. Even if the guy were 75 and gay, the latter would survive. The former, no.

            Stop with the spergposting.

            • rgressis says:

              “Spergposting” sounds like what that 1 man would constantly be doing.

              I’ll see myself out, folks.

              • gothamette says:

                I’m back. I couldn’t stay away.

                What do all the places that were devastated by a first wave have in common?

                Dense population, large number of “seeds,” rampant spread, no mitigation.

                What do all the places that stamped it out have in common?

                Early mitigation.

                I think what “J” said about Israel bears analyzing, because they had clusters in populations that were resisting. And they stamped that out very well, with cops on horses and dogs.

              • Frau Katze says:

                @gothamette Due to the obvious dangers to Israel, the crazy left is a smaller fraction of the population than in a place like Canada or New Zealand. I guess the ultra-Orthodox are a different type of crazy but they seem to respond to a strong hand.

            • Hugh Mann says:

              “Compare a village w/999 men and 1 woman to a village with 999 women and 1 man. Even if the guy were 75 and gay, the latter would survive. The former, no.”

              No, the 999 men would kill the 1 man and take the women. How many women were in the Icelandic longboats that went a-viking to Ireland and the west coast of Scotland?

              “Stop with the spergposting”

              Must say you have a very combative posting style, quite like our host’s in fact.

      • Frau Katze says:

        Read the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times for lots of reporting on the economy. It’s depressing to read. Many small businesses that closed with the lockdown will never reopen, for example. Big chains are better able to weather the storm. Even there, some sectors have a grim outlook. Cruise ship companies. Even freight shippers are seeing a downturn.

        • Rosenmops says:

          And here I thought I was single handedly shoring up the fright shippers with my Amazon orders.

          • Frau Katze says:

            Even Amazon has had challenges. They’ve had Covid at some warehouses. They’ve hired thousands of people to help with the spike in orders. They have to worry about third party sellers, some of whom may be dodgy.

            This new business will likely translate to more closings of brick and mortar stores. Amazon is likely to benefit in the long run.

          • Frau Katze says:

            Anything involving travel is not going to bounce back anytime soon. Especially overseas travel. Airlines have parked planes and furloughed staff.

            Just read an article on Egypt. Tourism (and the jobs it provided) is completely gone.

            A large scale rebound in tourism likely won’t occur until there’s a vaccine (if there ever is).

            Local parks are likely to see lots of traffic as it becoming clear that transmission in the outdoors is not as likely. Locals visiting local parks: not going generate much business.

            Business travel? There will be some although the Financial Times says they just held their first Zoom meeting.

            • Rosenmops says:

              On the Dark Horse podcast today they were saying the virus might improve at being transmitted outside, given the opportunity. They said people must be cautious and use social distancing even outdoors.

        • gothamette says:

          Many small businesses that closed with the lockdown will never reopen, for example. Big chains are better able to weather the storm.

          It didn’t have to be that way, Frau. The big boys all have us convinced that they deserve everything and the little guy deserves shit but that’s false.

          Google Chamath Palihapitiya. He explains how it’s all rigged, and how we can change it. We won’t, but we could.

          • gothamette says:

            PS JC Penney, huge American chain, is closing. They were on their last legs before COVID and this did them in.

            • Frau Katze says:

              Department stores have been doing poorly for years. I’ve noticed them closing. We are down to one company in Victoria.

              For a store on the brink, Covid could definitely push them over.

            • An interested reader says:

              Actually, JC Penney is filing under Chapter 11 and intends to reorganize. But yes, they’ve been in decline for so long, one is inclined to be skeptical. We’ll see.

          • Frau Katze says:

            Yes, the emphasis on short term gains is a serious flaw. It justifies bringing in illegal immigrants with zero thought about the future of the country, for just one example.

            You pretty much have to legislate against this and it varies by case. Many chemical firms moved overseas because the environmental rules became too strict. I wonder if anyone wants them back from China (if China hasn’t already moved them too even poorer countries).

            The US and Canada successfully legislated again unfettered immigration in the 1920s because the leftist unions were strongly on board. But in the present day unions have sharply declined and the left is dominated by crazy people.

            • gothamette says:

              “But in the present day unions have sharply declined and the left is dominated by crazy people.”

              Unions in the US have always been on the receiving end of conservative/Republican hostility. It’s only when they became the one way for white workers to fight back that I heard some respect for unions on the right.

              • Frau Katze says:

                That sounds about right. The obsession with short term profits is really destructive.

                But we have a crazy left leader. Bad leadership can undo a lot.

                Quebec has so far been the worst affected province, leading the pack in cases and deaths (Ontario has a larger population, Quebec is second.)

                Care homes are big factors. In fact the army is now running some of them after the staff disappeared en masse. I can’t really blame the staff though.

                Strangely enough, Montreal’s Commie open-borders mayor is useless. What a surprise!

              • gothamette says:

                Governor Cuomo is finally getting flack for having forced care homes to take COVID cases, thus killing a lot of people.

                This is worth reading. k is as important as R. And SARS2 can be spread by aerosolized droplets as well as bigger boogers.


    • Give me real data that half the American population is living paycheck to paycheck and has no savings. The study too years ago that something like 40% of Americans could not withstand an unexpected expense of $400 was flat dishonest. What was asked was whether they could write a check for it that minute or whether they would have to move money.

  12. In England, 0.27% have the virus, so not much acquired immunity yet. Household sample, 11,000 swab tests.

  13. jbbigf says:

    If the choice is between a free society with a life expectancy of 75, and a totalitarian society run by the likes of Governor Whitmer with a life expectancy of 78, I’ll take the former. And so will a lot of other people.

    • gothamette says:

      I truly hope that one day you get the opportunity to live under a genuine totalitarian society, even if I am cutting off my own nose to spite my face.

      • jbbigf says:

        Hoping won’t do much good. Perhaps you should petition our overlords.

      • gothamette – Agree with you on this one. jbbigf, that is not the actual choice being presented here. Reality is nothing like the possible outcomes you just set.

        When presented with things they do not understand, folks often try to fit it into something they do, even if there is no basis for that.

        • jbbigf says:

          The vast majority of those dying are over 60 (like me), with most over 70, and many over 80. So, that is the actual question before us. I don’t recall anyone but you saying we have a choice.

  14. dearieme says:

    My wife and I have been assiduously “shielding” ourselves (British term) for weeks. Yesterday we both discovered we’d started a new cold. How? Is there some aspect of self-isolating that keeps out the Wuhan virus but lets through the usual viruses? A Maxwell’s Demon?

    I’d be interested to know whether it’s common to have caught a cold while cowering.

  15. gothamette says:

    I took an antibody test at a walk-in clinic in Manhattan on May 8.

    Tested negative, which was sort of a bummer, but there it is. Just one data point among 8.5 million, for your information, Dr. Cochran.

    The 20% level in NYC is pretty obviously NOT distributed equally among the boroughs, as the infection and death rates indicate. Manhattan must be infected at a lower rate than Bronx and Queens.

  16. dave chamberlin says:

    538 has a simple version of how the variables Ro, death rate, and immunity duration interact here. . Cool tool. You can fiddle with those variables and watch how the disease plays out over time. Let loose the imaginary disease Fictionitis with the variables adjusted to whatever you set them to and see what happens.

    Play with it. It’s worth at least a thousand words in helping one conceptualize what exactly happens when social distancing is removed. The higher the Ro the higher the proportion of the population that needs to be immune to stop its spread. I keep reading a sprinkling of stupid comments that say we face a choice between a free society verses a totalitarian society. Just play with the above graph and see what happens when a disease with an R0 of 3.0 runs through a population with an expected mortality rate of 1%. The “free society” where everybody acts “free” has just a few immense problems. The hospitals are completely overwhelmed, the food supply chain breaks, 90% build up immunity to it after 100 days and 3 million die, but it could be much higher because the hospitals are overwhelmed and all hell would break loose if the grocery stores run out of food. Fortunately that isn’t going to happen because we aren’t all that stupid to live that version of free.

    The Covid19 models that 538 tracks finally got smart and stopped projecting beyond 30 days out. Huge variation in outcome with small changes in social distancing that simply can’t be predicted at this point.

    • Frau Katze says:

      The people ranting about “freedom” are young and healthy.

      Or stupid. I read about a 60 year old man at a protest over lockdowns. He caught the virus and died.

      • Tim says:

        Giving young and healthy a chance to catch a virus on the protester’s rally is not that bad. It gives us a chance to reach herd immunity with less losses and much faster. If only elderly people stay home safe. Doing smart thing while others go crazy becomes more and more important.

        • Frau Katze says:

          Perhaps this guy couldn’t face that he was “old.” Turning 60 is kind of mixed.

          Or maybe he didn’t know about the risk. My sister visited her daughter and family. The son-in-law ordered pizza delivered, then proceeded to start eating without washing his hands. He doesn’t seem really stupid either. How could he not know?

          I guess he’s not compulsively reading the Covid news.

          • rgressis says:

            Forgive my ignorance, but I was under the impression that nowadays experts (whatever those are) thought that the vast majority (something like 90%) of infections were caused by being in an indoor-space for an extended period of time with someone who has it. If that’s right, then it seems like washing hands and disinfecting surfaces isn’t as important as we thought it was back in March (not to say that it’s not worth doing–spending 20 seconds each time you eat to reduce your risk of catching it even by 1% seems to be a rationally obligatory trade-off).

            • Frau Katze says:

              We started out knowing little about the virus. It is turning out that catching it outside seems far less likely than catching it indoors. As for the danger of surfaces, the risk may be less. You have to inhale it, AFAIK.

              Still, we are learning quickly. I will err on the side of caution, being 68.

          • random observer says:

            Interesting- I’m alarmed by anyone who didn’t always wash their hands before eating. Yuck. But leave that aside.

            I had been hearing that food surfaces were not significant means of COVID delivery, and also that the human digestive tract could pretty much kill it, as it does to most viruses not specifically targeting it. In that case, even the digestive form of COVID would have to be an extension of an infection initially entering through the respiratory tract.

            It actually made me wonder- what is it about COVID that it can survive so well outside an organic host, but only on selected highly inorganic or long since post-organic substances like plactic and some metals? Why not some lifespan in food? Or did they really mean just cooked food? Maybe a stupid question, but not one I’ve seen much detail on.

            • Frau Katze says:

              I’m a bit confused too.

              It could be that if you get it on your hands, you can easily touch your face. That was the reasoning given about the danger of the virus on surfaces.

              Let’s just say, being at risk due to age, I will stay on the safe side.

            • gothamette says:

              “the human digestive tract could pretty much kill it,”

              First I’ve heard of this. I suppose the nasal tract is the most hospitable environment and the acids in the mouth would disrupt it, but I await the experts (of which I am not) to weigh in on this.

              What about creating a nasal spray to disrupt virus replication? Is there anything like that on the horizon? Stupid idea? Worth spending money on?

  17. bob sykes says:

    The shutdowns have produced an incipient Great Depression. The longer they continue, more businesses close permanently, and the depression takes on a life of its own and resists stimulus attempts. The Great Depression of the 30’s and 40’s only ended when the war economy took hold in 1942.

    At least one economist calculates May 17th is the date the Second Great Depression takes hold.

    As to the effect of the shutdown, it should be remembered that the argument was it would reduce the daily number of new cases and thus protect the medical system. It was never argued that it would reduce the cumulative number of cases or deaths. So Dr. Cochrane worst case of a million or so deaths happens regardless of when the shutdowns end

    • John says:

      The inverse is also true. Even if we end shutdown today, if there are enough death and illness following the open up, people are going to self isolate and the impact would be similar to the shutdown.

    • John says:

      If, following the shutdown, the number of new cases skyrockets, the people will self isolate and the impact on the economy will be similar to the shutdown.

      • Frau Katze says:

        I would assume only the vulnerable would isolate themselves. They should have stayed isolated. One has to rely on people knowing the risks and making their own decisions. A large fraction of the vulnerable are past retirement age.

    • gcochran9 says:

      It would in fact reduce the total number of cases. You make me tired.

      • jbbigf says:

        It was made abundantly clear that the idea was to “flatten the curve”, not to reduce the area under it. That may not have been your idea, but it was the argument that was used to justify the measures taken.

    • gothamette says:

      Which economist predicted the 2nd Great Depression?

      You assholes are getting what you wanted. Why do you fucking whine so much? You are sick bastards. You have all the freedom human beings can possibly have. And you’re choking on it.

      NY State is opening up tomorrow. Come on down.

    • rgressis says:

      I can’t speak for Cochran, but Thomas Pueyo, in his much-circulated The Hammer and the Dance, argued that keeping the lockdowns going will end up with a lower number of fatalities because it gives researchers more time to make treatments, vaccines, figure out the most prevalent way c19 spreads, etc.

  18. Daniel says:

    Greg, does your model account for clusering in nursing homes? The egregious Governor Cuomo in New York forced nursing homes to accept Wuhan virus cases, turning them into viral amplifiers. The workers then became infected and spread the virus far and wide. NYC was lackadaisical about sanitation in the subways until recently. The virus seems to depend on mass gatherings to be really dangerous.

    Here in Oklahoma, the number of deaths hit zero yesterday. It’ll be back though – the idiots are reopening restaurant dining rooms and the like.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      So that egregious governor forced nursing homes to take old people infected with that chink flu and the NYC subways are disgusting breeding grounds for God knows what.

      WTF Daniel, sharpen up or shut up.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      What is it like for Greg Cochran to read these posts, I wonder. You make a blog, you try to make some points, and a flooding river of blab overflows the banks of anything logical and washes away reason, logic, and hope for the truth to be understood in anything like the detail it requires.

      Hells bells….I once knew an old fart named Elmer Conte. A state representative to Illinois. He was smart charismatic and did a lot of good for a lot of people. But he never got famous. He used to say I don’t do anything anymore than counteract the stupid. My ambitions have retreated. In the state legislature I just get rid of stupid bills, that’s it.

  19. I understand that there has been a lot of death already, and much more to come, unfortunately, but even a tiny rate multiplied by millions yields some very large numbers.

    It’s hard to know what the IFR really is because unless there has been widespread testing, you don’t know if you’ve got the right denominator.

    Iceland has some data:
    10 deaths, 1780 recoveries = 0.056% IFR as of today (May 14, 2020)

    I’ve seen a number of 0.77% for the IFR in Austria from the Wall Street Journal, though that article is now pretty old.

    But of course, the fatality rates vary tremendously based on age. What is the IFR in the normal young, working-age population? 0.1%-0.2%? I don’t know. Is that number high enough to force all age groups into isolation?

    Probably what bothers me most is that policy is being made based on an abiding conviction that a vaccine is possible/practical and will arrive shortly. That’s a huge gray area/uncertainty to me. If a vaccine doesn’t arrive, then these isolation measures will be pretty meaningless… we’ll have all gotten to the same destination; just having driven there at different speeds, and having trashed our economy and possibly the U.S. dollar as a consequence. If the U.S. dollar’s status as the reserve currency of the world goes, our country is finished for the rest of our lifetimes.

  20. James B. Shearer says:

    “… 10 deaths, 1780 recoveries = 0.056% IFR as of today (May 14, 2020)”

    Actually that’s .56%.

  21. saintonge235 says:

    Yes, some people are completely innumerate, or refusing to face reality, or both.

    Look at the March 1 and March 31 total case numbers on, and the total death numbers. They both expand by slightly over 2,570 times in 30 days. And note, this is the month social distancing measures went into effect.

    Two months expansion at that rate would mean we’d have over six and a half million cases, three months would yield over 17 billion. Yet I argue repeatedly with people who believe that the virus was loose in the U.S. in Nov. or Dec. of last year, and infected large numbers people, who are now immune!

    It has to be that way, because they want it to be that way!

    • But death rates and infection rates are heading down in most countries including Spain (who went back to work 3 weeks ago) and Sweden (which has never had a full lockdown).

    • Alexander says:

      I have never seen so much desperate wishful thinking displayed on a subject in my lifetime (now entering mid-thirties).

      It is quite a spectacle. One I will not soon forget.

      • Frau Katze says:

        I find it surprising because such thinking could get you infected, perhaps fatally. But the belief that one is already infected and thus immune is common.

        There was an earlier variant you may recall: saying the virus did not infect people of European background. I just read the other day that the idea that Africans won’t be infected is currently circulating in sub-Saharan Africa.

        • Alexander Coleman says:

          I do indeed recall this. And I have also read stories out of sub-Saharan Africa where many inhabitants are claiming it is “a white man’s illness” and that they have some sort of special immunity against it.

          As of late, I know someone who has been trying to kick the habit of smoking for years but recent reports of smoking nicotine being beneficial versus the virus has him lighting up more frequently again.

          Hope is a potent psychological shield for many, however irrational it may be.

      • rgressis says:

        If I were you, I would start cataloguing the people are displaying desperate wishful thinking. I would bet a fair bit of money that, a few months from now, the people who were thinking desperately wishfully will not recall their having done so, and will remember themselves as having been level-headed. There will be more of them than there will be of you, and they will pressure you, intentionally or unintentionally, into feeling that you’re misremembering things. But if you have your list, you can avoid that.

        Hindsight bias is a motherf****r.

        • Alexander Coleman says:

          I appreciate the advice. Thank you.

          As an aside, there has been something of an underlying sentiment of, “The lady doth protest too much,” out of Hamlet with many of the people saying, “DO NOT PANIC!” One of the reasons I’ve found Gregory Cochran to be such a worthwhile voice is that he presents a stark case but in sober fashion.

  22. Martin says:


    To the best of your guesstimation:

    1–do you think that COVID antibodies are: a–basically ironclad like smallpox antibodies, b–moderately useful like polio antibodies, or c–an utter joke like HIV antibodies?

    2–what do YOU currently guess the true IFR is, considering known deaths, probable deaths, known cases, estimates of seropositivity, and the pesky fact that this thing takes a really long time to kill some of its unfortunate victims (look at the Diamond Princess subjects for instance)?

    • Frau Katze says:

      I’ve never heard that antibodies for polio were only “moderately useful.”. It can’t be true or the polio vaccine wouldn’t work. But it does.

      • Martin says:

        You are only immune to the major subtype of polio that you got (I believe there are at least three, and many minor ones) and I don’t think it is lifelong. Greg can fill us in better.

        Also, it is possible you never clear polio like herpes (note the emergence of post-polio syndrome in later life)

        • gcochran9 says:

          Lifelong immunity, and you do clear it. Post-polio syndrome is a case of moderate damage to motor nerves showing up late in life, as your tank gets lower.

          • Jim says:

            I have post-polio syndrome and my neurologist tells me that it is not due to any residual polio virus. He says everybody has neuron dropout as they age but people who had polio don’t have as many undamaged neurons to begin with.

  23. Jonathan Graehl says:

    What do you make of the claim that there are significantly different (in IFR or virulence) strains to the extent that what a country does should depend on which strain dominates? To me these differences have always been most likely explained by measurement error (though in principle they could exist).

    • gcochran9 says:

      I think we don’t really know, but it is certainly possible. And if it hasn’t happened yet, still may.

      • Martin says:

        I used to think Italy was hit with a super-potent strain but now it looks to me like Italians are genetically vulnerable–witness the mass mortality and severe illnesses in Italian-Americans in NYC and NJ, including some very young, fit ones.

        • Dieter Kief says:

          Socially vulnerable too. Young and old live close together and are physically close a lot of times. And they talk (and sing) quite a lot.

        • Frau Katze says:

          Weren’t they the first big outbreak in Europe? There wouldn’t be the knowledge and experience that built up later. They also have an old population. Lots of seniors.

        • Joachim Strobel says:

          You need to look at the crude death rates. Spain and Italy enjoyed a low number, 9-8 per 1000. Germany is 12-13. Now, Corona did hardly change Germaniens already high rate, while it brought Italy and Spain into the German range. Germany had 30000 excess deaths in the 2018 influenza session. So, Spain and Italy who enjoy a healthy health style got hit by a sort of mega influence that happens in Germany all the time. The famous Euromomo statistic is wrong as Germany is not really a part of it, but swings 20-30000 every year. Global Warming statistics have similar flaws, in that they paint doomsday were Mother Earth just has a bad day.

  24. Gordo says:

    Greg, very curious on your opinion of Alex Berenson, as I’m sure a few of us are.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I’ve seen the name mentioned, but know nothing about him. Haven’t read anything by him.

      • rgressis says:

        How about Eric Winsberg? He’s a philosopher of science who specializes in the philosophy of climate modeling. He’s recently made the claim that between 500,000 and 1,000,000 new people get infected every day in the USA. This is why he doesn’t think that contact tracing will work.

        Why does he think between 500,000 and 1,000,000 new people get infected every day in the USA? Here’s his reasoning, which he posted in comments 23 and 24 on Brian Leiter’s blog here (

        “The US gets a minimum of 500,000 new infections a day. Look at Boston. 2 months into lockdown and we find out today that 1 out of every 40 people with no symptoms in the whole city is actively infected. That probably means literally every person in Boston has come into contact with an infected person in the last 14 days. You cannot test and trace your way out of that.

        “Brian [Leiter] asked me to provide some support for those claims. The Boston one is easy.

        “The one about the US as a whole is harder. But I think its conservative. A typical number of confirmed new cases in the US is 30,000 (see the worldometer.) Everywhere we have systematic data, we see that somewhere between 30-50x cases are infected. We get that in all the Califonia studies, in the Florida study. We almost never see less than 20x cases. but you only have to assume 15x cases to get 500,000 new infections. But assume I am overestimating that by a factor of 4. It would still be 125,000 cases per day. Many of these people, when you caught them, would give you a list of 100 people they came into contact with in the last 7 days. Can the US track down 12M to 48M new contacts every day?”

        Where does his reasoning go wrong?

        • gcochran9 says:

          Who needs reasoning when we have data? We know that a reasonable estimate of percentage the infected in Spain is 5% ( serological data) , and we know that Spain was hit harder ( earlier) than the US. Us rate can’t be higher than 3%. And more-accurate measurements in the US confirm that: 0.75% in MLB, 2.8% in Indiana. etc

          I had this approximately figured out before we had these more representative data sets, but then I’m no philosopher.

          What he did wrong is his problem, not mine.

          On average philosophers are perhaps not very useful.

          • Gordo says:

            Even with expansion in testing, it seems that states which should have had an explosion in growth of cases, hospitalizations, and death, have not.

            Georgia and Florida stand out as examples.

            Is it possible that maybe, whatever circumstance is causing this, will continue to be so? Perhaps population density, public transportation use (or lack thereof), and similar factors are more relevant than we give them credit for?

            Just curious is all. Really thought most places would look like Lombardy or Hubei, but that’s just not the case outside of the greater NYC area (and this is even with Georgia easing almost completely and Florida being so late to it).

            • dave chamberlin says:

              When Covid19 really took off in NYC, Lombardy, and Wuhan social distancing behavior was far far different than it is in Florida, Texas, and Georgia right now. Sit down restaurants are opening back up in those southern states but they are barely getting any business. 2% of business they had a year ago. People are very cautious and avoiding indoor locations outside of their homes as much as possible. So I disagree with you that states should have had an explosion in Covid19 growth. Will things tick up again because of relaxed social distancing? Highly likely.

              As Cochran said serological data is key to understanding how many people have been exposed so far. This article explains. The data derived from these ongoing serological surveys should dictate the degree of social distancing that is practiced by the public. Not politics, not ideology, not beliefs, hard data.

              You raise a good point that population density and poverty will be huge factors going forward in infection breakouts. We are not headed towards herd immunity anytime soon but it isn’t going away. With just 3% of the population exposed we are in it for the long haul so get used to it.

              • gothamette says:

                Long story short, for the month of March 2020, NYC was flying blind, on the road to herd immunity – and look what happened. A near disaster. Don’t anyone do what we did. Politico and NatRev are running exposes about how brain-dead both Cuomo and de Blasio were. Look them up.

                On 3/25 Cuomo forced nursing homes to accept infected patients from hospitals.

          • rgressis says:

            But he also pointed to studies—California studies, a Boston study, and a Florida study. How come we should disregard all these studies but accept the MLB study, the Spain study, and the Indiana study?

            And I think even if you have data, you still have to use reasoning, no? Especially if you’re wondering whether test and trace will work before it’s tried.

          • NumberOneCustomer says:

            “philosopher of climate modeling”.

            • rgressis says:


              Keep in mind, Karl Popper was a philosopher, and, while I’m not saying he or any philosopher (e.g., Frank Ramsey, Bertrand Russell, Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam, David Z. Albert) is as smart as a physicist, it’s still possible they can make observations that are useful to scientists or mathematicians.

  25. Frau Katze says:

    Anyone care to comment on how their area (state, province, whatever) is handling the retreat from lockdown? The information is hard to put in graphical form because every place is doing it somewhat differently.

    There is also the phenomenon of mass breaking the rules. One noticeable situation concerns beaches and parks, in some places.

    There should be some attempt at gathering information as we expect some rise in cases.

    I keep hearing about South Dakota, that never locked down. It’s pretty sparsely populated, though, making it a poor example.

    California has a much higher density, is doing fairly well compared to other states but the mayor of Los Angeles is being very strict.

    • gothamette says:

      Lots of people walking around the streets in my area, FK. It was never anything close to post-Apocalyptic. As the weather gets better, you see more people. I haven’t been on the subway since Feb 22. Buses were very sparse but yesterday I got on one & most seats were taken. I may avoid them now. Non-essential shops are closed until at least June 1. I had a regular dental check up on April 7; obviously cancelled. No further notice about that.
      Luckily, and I realize how lucky I am, I’ve had no accidents or emergencies. I can only imagine how awful that would have been at the height of the inundation in mid-April.

      • Frau Katze says:

        Good to hear. I wouldn’t go near a bus or any other crowded vehicle.

        My friend here wants to go for a drive (the outskirts of Victoria are quite scenic). We used to go to A & W afterwards (patronizing A & W goes back decades). She says get takeout.

        I would very much like to get out. But I’m slightly worried about her home situation. She lives with her husband, who is not working presently. But they’re in regular touch with his daughter and kids. She is a care worker for elderly who still live in their home. It’s considered essential.

        She doesn’t know as much as we do about the disease. Still, there isn’t much of it here.

        I sent her the article by Peter Piot, that’s pretty scary. He’s only a couple of years older than us. If she isn’t scared off, I’ll go. What do you think?

        • gothamette says:

          I’d be leery because of the daughter who is the care worker.

          • Frau Katze says:

            Yes, I’ll ask how often the daughter comes over.

            Even delivery people are a problem. My sister & her husband use a strict protocol. They shop online and pick it up. But non perishables are left for three days in the garage. After that everything is washed.

            I’m being careless compared to them.

            • gothamette says:

              I used to wash everything in bleach. I’ve calmed down. Maybe I’ve gotten sloppy, but I think if I avoid prolonged exposure to a carrier I’ll be OK.

              I also wonder if (per variolation) some exposure to small amounts of the virus might help. Not that I’ll purposely looking for it….

      • Frau Katze says:

        Isn’t it the NY governor wanting to drag out the lockdown? Or is that the California governor?

        • gothamette says:

          NY State is coming out of lockdown in stages. I have no idea about the city – we are being kept in the dark. It’s annoying. You know as much about CA as I do!

          • Frau Katze says:

            I heard some complaining about Los Angeles by Ben Shapiro and some stuff from Tim Pool.

            Tesla has said it will leave California because the county (or is it LA) are overriding the CA governor who said they are allowed to reopen. Elon Musk is very angry.

  26. j says:

    Population density does not seem to affect the epidemic. High density countries like Macau, Singapur, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Israel, Bahrain, etc. seem to have vanquished the disease. If anything, liberal democracies are impotent in face of the virus. Iran, the apparent exception, is not. It is a mild, inefficient dictatorship.

    • Frau Katze says:

      Still, when you get sparsely populated areas, often rural, you may get low numbers. There are several US states like this. For example, South Dakota never locked down.

      Many people live in towns that could get a transmission chain going. But it largely hasn’t.

      Another thing about South Dakota: it’s on no ones list of places to visit. It’s not on a major trans continual highway either.

      It’s a rural state and it wouldn’t have a large population of well-to-do people travelling around the world.

      It’s not a scenic state and the climate is cold in winter.

    • Frau Katze says:

      Here’s the data for the US

      One might ask, if the state isn’t testing much, can one trust the stats?

      The most accurate estimate of deaths are the excess deaths counts. But few charts or graphs use this number. Could there be people in South Dakota dying of Covid and no one knows?

    • Frau Katze says:

      Still, I am not saying these small densely populated areas haven’t done a good job.

      I agree that the liberal democracies are failing.

      We spoke about deniers earlier. Those are pretty much gone by now. But they’ve been replaced by what I would call “minimizers”.

      They admit the virus exists but insist on their right to die of Covid. Well, they proudly announced they would NEVER take “Bill Gates’ vaccine.”

      They’re obsessed with lockdowns being unconstitutional (they’re all in US, but US trends drift into Canada easily.)

      Actually, they still have denial points : “I don’t believe these stroke occurring in young people are due to Covid. They’re attaching that label to everything.”

      • luisman says:

        We’re 3 months in and we’re still mainly dealing in beliefs. As the article is titled – the answer is: not very far.

        Live free or die.

        Yes, imo, you should insist on your right to die from Covid, because for many, despite the fear of death, a life under lockdown, a “new normal” is not worth living. Most people still believe, there will soon be an “it’s all over now” moment, and Covid-19 disappears. Viruses don’t disappear, they mutate.

        Everyone must have the freedom to decide, if he takes a Covid-19 vaccine, without repercussions. If these vaccines are as “good” as the yearly flu vaccines, most will probably decide against them.

        Lockdowns may literally be unconstitutional in a few countries, but they have one thing in common everywhere: They are just wrong. People are not cattle to be told what to do by the “more equal” people and with a prod. Maybe the excess death rate in a few months will tell us, if lockdowns were helpful or harmful. Nobody gets criticised for “shelter in place” if he’s doing this voluntarily.

        It’s not useful to decry others as deniers, minimizers, whatever label you come up with. Everyone weighs evidence (the little we have, distorted by propaganda), weighs his values against the made up “rules”, how much freedom he is willing to give up for fata morgana security.

        I smoke for over 40 years. I’ll also continue to have a drinking spree every other week. I’m aware of the risks and it will be MY funeral, sooner or later (statistically in around 20 years). Until then, I do what I please, even if I have to move states or countries (which I did twice already). I also don’t blame others for my own misfortunes or bad decisions.

        • gcochran9 says:

          “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

          • luisman says:

            Yes, that’s hippie, and redneck and totaly un-German. And for the other fraction: Better dead than red.

            • Pincher Martin says:

              Who knew that freedom smelled so much like death?

              “The U.S. Constitution is not a suicide pact.”

          • gothamette says:

            Does that mean that “slavery’s just another word for something left to lose.”

            Buddhists would say yes.

            OK, about this virus. Density has something to do with it. It’s a big picture with many dots. Look at what happened in NYC and Bergamo, and don’t do it. There’s also some evidence that one superspreader can do way more damage than 50 people who get the virus and stay home. That might explain the demographics of NYC’s epidemic. All the strains “came” from Europe. I cannot believe that not one person from China didn’t come to NYC infected. But they stayed home. If you look at the demographics of who died in NYC, Latinos first, blacks second, whites third, and Asians last. Asians repped in death rates half their proportion to NYC’s population. They stayed home and self-quarantined.

            It’s a lot of things, of which only one is density.

        • Frau Katze says:

          I don’t think they want to literally die. I think they don’t realize how much worse Covid is compared to flu. They don’t realize the risks they’re taking. They’re not spending time pouring over articles about it.

          They’re all young and in good health and death seems distant at that age, I haven’t heard those sentiments from older people.

          • luisman says:

            My experience is totally different here in the Philippines. The young are scaredy cats (no pun intended) and overly controlling. The old farts in my apartment building, most around their mid 70’s, would rather enjoy their last 5 or so years in freedom, than be forced to stay at home or wear masks outside. They are well informed about the risks, they rather want to take these risks, like the last 75 years, than to suffer a “new normal”.

            • Frau Katze says:

              There might be a cultural difference. I read that in Israel. people from Western countries are safety conscious when driving, wearing seat belts, driving at the posted speed and so on. Those from other places drive like lunatics.

        • shadow on the wall says:

          Yes, imo, you should insist on your right to die from Covid, because for many, despite the fear of death, a life under lockdown, a “new normal” is not worth living.

          LOL. Only few weeks or months without your precious “society”, and you are breaking down like addicts gone cold turkey.

          The true individualists, the true free people were already self isolating themselves for their whole lives. To get away from you and your society. Because your normie “society” is the real virus.
          These people have the last laugh.

        • Frau Katze says:

          One of the Youtubers saying she would never take a vaccine (at least not one financed by Bill Gates) is a young woman two weeks from her due date for giving birth to her first child.

          I very much doubt she wants her baby to be an orphan. Hearing her say that simply stunned me.

          • luisman says:

            As for being infected with SARS-COV-19 or being vaccinated with sth. new, I’d rather be the last one, than the first one. There’s too much believing for my taste. I’d leave the believing to the churches, not for medicine and science. There have already been too many vaccines with unintended “side effects”, due to the mix with inflammatory agents, and contamination if produced very cheaply (India, China, etc.). And we might need a new vaccination every year, for COV-20, 21, 22,…, which costs more than the average 3rd worlder earns per month. If a vaccine would be available before the start of the next flu season, and distributed worldwide, to 7 billion people, for the price of an egg, then maybe it would work. But that’s not realistic.

            If the protocol of Prof. Didier Raoult proves to be sth. like 99% efficient (Hydroxychloroquine+Zinc+Antibiotic), if taken early enough, the panic will probably subside. Lots of doctors all around the world already follow this protocol, but keep quiet, because TDS.

            And there hopefully will be a study, if low dose Hydroxychloroquine as prevention, like many RA patients use it (e.g. 200mg once or twice a week) has the effect of killing the virus (and a number of other viruses), before it gets into tissue.

        • random observer says:

          I’m a relatively big fan of the right to take risks for oneself, to thumb one’s nose at cops asking me who I am in public as though it’s their business [to date, not a thing in Canada unless you’re black, and then only occasionally; give it time, we’re more statist by the day and trying to stamp out racism sooo hard, I expect it to happen to me eventually on egalitarian grounds], and so on. If it could once be described [by those so inclined] as a traditional right of Anglo-Saxons in their own country, I’m pretty on board with it. More so than most AS people left outside the US.

          OTOH, if you’re going to have a government/state, then have one. War, rebellion and plague are core functions that can and often do justify emergency measures. Every constitution that doesn’t make it explicit has left it out because the drafters assumed it obvious. Including the Founders, considering what Lincoln or Wilson could get away with. Or FDR. For the US, I can see the federalism issues, but if you’re a state government this is what the “police power” is all about.

          funny thing- in the 80s when I was in high school in Toronto all my teachers were left-wing, of course. In discussing AIDS one of them laid out differences between conservative and liberal approaches, in general and in the areas of security and public health. For him, “liberal” heavily included civil libertarian, and “conservative” leaned statist. For him, “public safety” would often be the argument from the right, civil liberties from the left.

          It stuck with me as a reminded that it isn’t always a clean line between right/libertarian and left/authoritarian. Never was. Nor should it be. Sometimes the statist solution is right.

          The economic arguments have real merit, including if one has lost personal income. It’s just that too many people I’ve stumbled across on social media are the kind who think two lousy months of restrictions on their ability to go to movies or clubs or restaurants or to travel, or to cross state lines to visit family on Easter, are equivalent to Communism. Two months is not long to forego such trivia, and that’s what they are.

          • Frau Katze says:

            “ OTOH, if you’re going to have a government/state, then have one. War, rebellion and plague are core functions that can and often do justify emergency measures. Every constitution that doesn’t make it explicit has left it out because the drafters assumed it obvious.”

            Exactly. This is NOT a normal time,. The Americans who wrote the constitution assumed that people will use their common sense.

  27. John says:

    Now Trump is talking about taking Hydroxycloroquine as a “preventative” measure. Hydroxychloriquine was never that effective against Covid-19 and was not supposed to be used as a prevention. We now have the president of the U.S. acting as a quack medicine salesman (I am sure there were some deal made). This is shameful. Not only do we have someone who is clueless, he is trying to make some extra cash (as if he does not have enough already) and prioritized that over the health of the naton. Just when things could not get any worse.

    • shadow on the wall says:

      Shameful. As past as January it was known that only bleach is the miracle cure for all illnesses, including Covid.
      If (((they))) hadn’t suppressed this knowledge, the whole pandemic could have been avoided.

    • gcochran9 says:

      There’s no way to make money with chloroquine.

      • John says:

        How do you explain what Trump did? Is it really a preventative medicine that he is selling?

        • Rosenmops says:

          Trump is not selling it. Who knows why he is taking it or why he told us about it. He is a weird guy. It is a very old medicine originally used to treat or prevent malaria, I believe. . No one can patent it or make money off it. I took it for awhile in the 1990’s for rheumatoid arthritis. It was considered an old fashioned drug back then.

        • j says:

          The Koreans use it and as a bonus, it works against malaria. Anyway, what is the alternative?

          • John says:

            “Anyway, what is the alternative?” Imagine if HIV was ravaging the population and condoms were not invented yet, the president said to the nation, I used Vaseline during sex as a preventative. Anyways, what is the alternative?

          • gcochran9 says:

            Plasma from recovered people is the practical alternative. A much, much better bet than chloroquine. But in a moderate dose, chloroquine is no big deal: people in Africa used to take all the time.

            Suppose we didn’t have convalescent plasma: in that case, the best current alternative might be taking nothing, while screening the hell out of the White House staff, wearing a mask, and doing your stuff over video, like Emmanuel Goldstein.

            • John says:

              Yes, that is my point. If something does not work well, the president of the U.S. should not be seen promoting it. Even if he did not make money from it, giving people false sense of security does way more harm.

            • j says:

              I took chloroquine against malaria. Using doublethink, I can add that it is effective and causes mood changes.

              • j says:

                This Haredi Doctor definitely supports President Trump’s antimalarial treatment. Interviewed from a moving car, , he explains why no doctor will recommend cloroquine (although is very safe), why it is politically incorrect to take it as a preventive medicine.

        • shadow on the wall says:

          Donald Trump is the product.
          Donald Trump was always about selling Donald Trump and nothing else.

          See his whole life. Trump is not about money – there is no evidence he had ever been a billionaire. Trump does not want power – holding true power is hard work and DT is lazy as fuck.
          Trump always wanted only thing – to be famous. To be superstar.

          Look at his failed business ventures – the point was not to make profit in monetary terms, but to keep Trump’s name in the news, to keep Trump’s orange face on TV screens and on glossy magazine covers. And they were extremely succesful from this point of view.

          Now, Trump’s wishes were made real beyond his wildest imagination.
          Whole world knows who is Donald Trump, whole world talks about him, whole world sees his orange mug every day, and he will be talked about and remembered as long as history lasts.

          All who voted for him, all who supported him, you can be proud of your good work.

          • factor says:

            We support him because the alternative is far worse.

          • dave chamberlin says:

            Forbes investigated his assets thoroughly and estimated his wealth to be 3 billion, but before this latest recession. Daddy died worth 300 million in 1999 and Trump did a pretty good job of building that further. He hustled and he cheated people to do so. He has a fourth grade vocabulary, now a bright guy can have that but not with his background. It means he never reads, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is stupid. Reading to understand the world around you is absolutely crucial. A bright person can read five times as fast as he can listen to someone talk. A reader can get right to the points he wants to assimilate thanks to the internet. I would guess he has learning disabilities. That answers both questions as to why he doesn’t read and has such deep insecurities. Something made him very insecure when he was young.

            Political bashing and flag waving divert people’s attention from the points Cochran is trying to make and it draws flies. Meaning troll like comments that contribute nothing to the conversation.

            • gothamette says:

              “Forbes investigated his assets thoroughly and estimated his wealth to be 3 billion, but before this latest recession. ”

              I don’t believe that, Dave. We may see his tax returns yet. So stay tuned. And, if he doesn’t end up dying of Epstein-Barr syndrome, Mitchell Cohen has now been released from jail to his Park Ave co-op and will be spilling some beans in the upcoming months.

          • Frau Katze says:

            Please don’t start arguing about Trump. He’s not the subject unless it’s related Covid. Readers aren’t here for this.

  28. @ Dave Chamberlain. Whenever someone closes an argument with “period,” or your slightly original version “cease,” it means they don’t have an actual intellectual argument at hand but want to shut down discussion via social shaming instead. That’s a general rule you can keep for further discussions, keep an eye out for it.

    It wasn’t a dumb argument. It is not the discussion here, but the evidence that Obama isn’t all that good at math is actually pretty good. He likely had over 700 SATV, but his academic career took off at precisely that moment no one was ever going to check his math again. Before that he floundered at a midlevel college despite being a double affirmative-action candidate from the best prep school in his state.

    As for Trump, he is a boaster and shit just comes out of his mouth. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes not. People who pretend to know what his motives are are worse.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      7th grade math would be a piece of cake for anyone capable of being president of Harvard Law review. One is very easy and the other is difficult in the extreme and as Cochran has said there are not different types of intelligence. It is a dumb argument and what I want to cease is conversation on Trump or Obama.

      • Rosenmops says:

        So you think Shakespeare, Newton and Mozart all had the same type of intelligence?

      • Ilya says:

        Being de facto affirmative-actioned into Harvard Law review is not super-hard, as long as your mom comes from a connected family and as long as you’re not obviously-dumb.

      • Yes, you want to stop talking about Trump or Obama. Right after you’ve gotten your last point in. Sorta similar to your first comment.

        Lots of people had high verbal SAT’s but not math. One sees them in word professions like journalism or politics. The reverse is less often true. Solid math nearly always means solid verbal.

        There is a g-factor intelligence, yes. Within that, differences remain.

  29. Frau Katze says:

    Some info on Sweden: (a mild semi-lockdown only)

    I think this article is free.

    Sweden’s rising death toll unnerves its Nordic neighbours

    Sweden has the highest mortality rate per capita [in Europe] at this stage of the epidemic, according to a Financial Times tracker that uses a seven-day rolling average of new deaths. It has overtaken the UK, Italy and Belgium in recent days…

    As of Tuesday, 3,743 people had died from Covid-19 in Sweden, a country with a population of 10m. Denmark, Finland, and Norway — which each have about 5m inhabitants — have recorded death tolls of 551, 233, and 300, respectively. Swedish authorities argued that a lockdown and closed borders would bring relatively few benefits at a high cost to public health and the economy…

    But the numbers are still low overall.

  30. Frau Katze says:

    This sounds bad: I am going to include it all. NY Times has a “landing page” for all short Covid stories meaning it is not a permanent link.

    Churches that reopened are closing again as the virus spreads

    After briefly reopening for in-person worship services, a few churches have had to close again as the virus spread in their pews.

    Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Houston closed after five leaders tested positive last weekend, following the death of one priest, Rev. Donnell Kirchner, who had been diagnosed with pneumonia. His immediate cause of death was unknown.

    The church had reopened for limited Mass on May 2, and two of the priests who tested positive had been active in celebrations. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston recommended that people who attended get tested.

    In Ringgold, Ga., Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle started in-person services again in late April but stopped on May 11 after learning that members of several families had contracted the virus. Local health officials have been investigating three cases connected to the church. Services are currently closed indefinitely.

    Officials remain concerned that worship gatherings could be particularly susceptible to viral spread.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday released a report about an outbreak in March at a rural Arkansas church. Of the 92 people who attended the church between March 6 and March 11, 35 tested positive and three died, the report said. The report said investigators found that 26 other people who were in contact with the people from the church events later tested positive. One person died.

    Allison James, an author of the C.D.C. report, praised the pastor for closing the Arkansas church as soon as he heard of people getting sick.

    “They were very proactive in closing the church to prevent further transmission,” Dr. James said. “At the time, they knew people were getting sick, but they didn’t know necessarily that it was Covid or flu or any other infectious disease. They just knew they had a cluster of something going on, and they wanted to prevent transmission. I really commend them for acting quickly.”

  31. Jon says:

    John Ioannidis is out with a new paper suggesting that the Covid-19 IFR is typically quite low. Of course Greg has already pointed out that he is a psychotic idiot, so it can be ignored.

    • gcochran9 says:

      It’s nonsense. Ioannides ignores a large, national random serological survey in Spain: he ignores data from New York City.

      • Jon says:

        Ioannidis specifically addresses the NYC data in his paper, and I expect that the Spanish survey you refer to does not meet his quality standards. And if you take a look at Greg’s responses to comments to his March 20 post, you will see that “psychotic idiot” is a fair summary of what Greg said about Ioannidis.

        • gcochran9 says:

          You’re probablyt just a garden-variety idiot.

          The Spanish study is the best one done yet. National, random, large.

        • gcochran9 says:

          There is no way to “address” the NYC numbers: about 1% of those infected died. The fraction infected was about 20%, which means it’s a good number, not significantly messed up by false positives.

          I remember Peter Duesberg.

          • Jon says:

            Ioannidis is looking at typical IFRs from a global perspective. He suggests that the IFR in NYC is an outlier for several possible reasons, not that the numbers are wrong. This is his overall conclusion: “The infection fatality rate of COVID-19 can vary substantially across different locations and this may reflect differences in population age structure and case-mix of infected and deceased patients as well as multiple other factors. Estimates of infection fatality rates inferred from seroprevalence studies tend to be much lower than original speculations made in the early days of the pandemic.”

            What exactly do you disagree with about this statement?

            • gcochran9 says:

              Look, we now know that the seroprevalence in Spain, a whole fucking country, was 5%, which makes for an IFR of 1.2%
              You get similar numbers for towns with known oprevalence in Lombardy. Around 1%.
              The whole fucking United States is something like 3% prevalence: 95,000 / (0.03*3.3 x 10^8) = 0.96%.

              • Jon says:

                Is it fair to say the your view is that hard evidence shows that the worldwide IFR for Covid-19 will turn out to be approximately 1.0%? Ioannidis is more cautious about committing himself, but he suggests that it is more likely to be around 0.2%, with a lot of local variability. It will be interesting to revisit this debate in a few months.

              • gcochran9 says:

                It’s going to vary with the age profile: should be much lower in a place like Nigeria, where the average age is 17. Barring unfortunate evolutionary change in the virus.

                Ioannides is wrong – more than wrong. For example, the Spanish data is best we’ve got – a random serological survey of 60k people. Random, so it avoids the kind of recruitment bias you saw in the first stupid survey Ioannides signed on to. Large enough to be reasonably accurate. The incidence in Spain high enough to mitigate problems with false positives in the test. They found an IFR of 1.2%.

              • gcochran9 says:

                The US is NOT one of those countries with low average age.

              • gothamette says:

                “Visualization is often used for evil – twisting insignificant data changes and making them look meaningful. Don’t do that crap if you want to be my friend. Present results clearly and honestly. If something isn’t working – those reviewing results need to know.”

                “A random selection of three people would have been better than a group of 300 chosen by Mr. Kinsey.”

                John Tukey

            • Frau Katze says:

              @Jon The number of cases is strongly influenced by the age, as you know. An overall rate might be low… unless you’re in one of the age or comorbidity category. Then is it’s at least an order of magnitude greater.

    • rgressis says:

      Greg never said he was a psychotic idiot. Just a (probable) liar. There’s a difference!

  32. minosp says:

    Any half intelligent person doing any sort of genetic engineering work over the past decade.

  33. Frau Katze says:

    I was told that this was no worse the flu!

    Returning to Exercise After Recovery From Coronavirus
    Two new expert consensus statements urge caution for athletes with coronavirus who are returning to serious training.

  34. Felix_ says:

    Hi Greg, this is unrelated to the topic at hand but I don’t know how to reach out to you another way. I’ve read the 10,000 years explosion and the West Hunter ebook, and I wanted to ask whether you intend to publish the rest of this blog in a similar fashion – I find reading a book on a device a lot more practical than browsing through a blog and well, I find the content you publish worth paying for.
    I also like paper books better but I’ll settle for an ebook haha.

  35. BB753 says:

    White women of late havent been very productive in the baby-making business.

  36. j says:

    Follow Up November 25 2020. Greg you were right “The Swedish are lying about having achieved herd immunity.” We lived six month more and see that Sweden is facing the third wave of the COVID-19 plague. If not the Swedish, who can be trusted?

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