COVID Link of the Day

  • UK policy on lockdown and other European countries is not evidence-based
  • The correct policy is to protect the old and the frail only
  • This will eventually lead to herd immunity as a “by-product”
  • The initial UK response, before the “180 degree U-turn”, was better
  • The Imperial College paper was “not very good” and he has never seen an unpublished paper have so much policy impact
  • The paper was very much too pessimistic
  • Any such models are a dubious basis for public policy anyway
  • The flattening of the curve is due to the most vulnerable dying first as much as the lockdown
  • The results will eventually be similar for all countries
  • Covid-19 is a “mild disease” and similar to the flu, and it was the novelty of the disease that scared people.
  • The actual fatality rate of Covid-19 is the region of 0.1%
  • “Certain” that at least 50% of the population of both the UK and Sweden have already had the disease

Here’s the whole thing.

10 thoughts on “COVID Link of the Day”

  1. My friend who is pre-med offers his opinion:

    “So, from everything I’ve heard, they’re sacrificing the front end to mitigate deaths at the back end. Frankly, I haven’t been bothered to read into how exactly they’ve executed it, but I’m astounded by that number they’ve come up with regarding the mortality rate. They’ve had 1k deaths across their 13k cases. 0.1%? Come on. I also think the bigger problem here is Sweden isn’t the United States. Sweden’s population density is far lower, and their plan may work for them, but Korea handled it much better while actively mitigating the amount of spread. They had 10k confirmed cases and 232 deaths as of last reporting.”

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    1. I agree completely that population density should be taken into account. This is why it’s so maddening that here in Illinois we are all treated like it’s one huge Chicago. Chicago has its own situation and should have a separate set of measures. But why does rural Illinois get destroyed because something is going in Chicago? It’s 6 hours away by car!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Similarly, California is not New York: we have nothing like the populations density of NYC anywhere, except maybe Chinatown in SF. We also have lots of sunshine and nice weather, which make transmission of typical air- and surface-borne viruses much more difficult. So, why, again, are we locked down? Is it some sort of sister-city thing?

        Also, I think his ‘protect the old and frail’ policy allows for fairly extreme steps – in places like NYC, and in nursing homes and hospitals generally. What is maddening is the one-size-fits-all solution of lockdowns and closures in California suburbs and rural Illinois.

        Finally, he, unlike the pre-med student above, is not confusing cases with infections: the Swede is asserting that 50% of the Swedish population has already been infected – not at all an outrageous claim, as, under similar assumptions, over 99% of infections are asymptomatic or mild. Thus, he’s anticipating 5M infections across a population of 10M, of which under 50K would have serious enough symptoms to even potentially end up as cases. Under this scenario, which nothing in the known data contradicts, an actual fatality rate (which is ALWAYS going to be a fraction of the case fatality rate) of 0.1% would yield about 5K deaths total. If they are already past their peak, such that maybe another 1,000 already sick people are going to die, the actual fatality rate might end up as 0.04%.

        This endless confusion of cases with infections, and thus case fatality rate with the real fatality rate, is maddening. It leads to idiotic assertions that millions of Americans will die if a hundred million Americans get infected, because the CFR is 2.5 or whatever. Once you process that only serious infections are likely to become cases, and that the vast, vast majority of infections aren’t serious, this becomes patently nonsensical. Only if every infected person becomes a case does the CFR = the true fatality rate – and we know that’s never happening.

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  2. “Covid-19 is a “mild disease” and similar to the flu, and it was the novelty of the disease that scared people”

    Well early on it also appeared that treatment was going to be extremely costly in terms of time and resources. Later it turned out that ventilators (which need constant monitoring) aren’t the best treatment protocol.
    It also appeared to be far more contagious and durable than it actually is (almost all transmission apparently came with prolonged close contact in a closed setting).
    Of course had the totalitarian Chinese Communist Party not been obsessed about face and secrecy most of the worst effects (in terms of both mortality and economic damage) could have been avoided.
    The Chinese Communist Party has lost a massive amount of face.

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  3. Doesn’t make sense to criticise decisions made without being evidence based regarding a novel virus, since there can’t be any evidence by dint of it being novel. Also, Italy lost more than 100 doctors in 4 months to this disease. That kind of very high acute fatality rate doesn’t seem to match the 0.1% number that this person is saying.

    Personally I’m guessing that the rate will end up being something like 1%-5% depending on the nation, but it’s a long explanation.

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  4. This is so wrong that I have to reply.

    “UK policy on lockdown and other European countries is not evidence-based”

    No, this policy is there because of failure to test (like Korea is doing since 1.5 months ago) and lack of evidence about this new Chinavirus. Proof of non-existence is not the same thing as non-existence of proof!

    “The correct policy is to protect the old and the frail only”

    Yes, but we should have massive testing first.

    “The initial UK response, before the “180 degree U-turn”, was better”

    This is too stupid to comment, especially without massive testing.

    “The Imperial College paper was “not very good” and he has never seen an unpublished paper have so much policy impact. The paper was very much too pessimistic. Any such models are a dubious basis for public policy anyway”

    I’m an epidemiologist, and I can tell you this: NOBODY IN THE SERIOUS HEALTH SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY TOOK THOSE FEARMONGERING STUDIES SERIOUSLY. This is political/journalistic stuff.

    “The flattening of the curve is due to the most vulnerable dying first as much as the lockdown”

    This is correct: a broken clock…you know the rest. I agree with this.

    “This will eventually lead to herd immunity as a “by-product”. “Covid-19 is a “mild disease” and similar to the flu”

    Of course, death rates are grossly overestimated, but NO, NO, AND NO, this is not “similar to the flu”. We have reactivation (infection-mild symptoms-“recovery”-hospital-ICU-death) cases, hopefully this is not frequent (and it seems since today that this is not contagious), but we don’t know the magnitude right now. We don’t know how much we are immunized (so even herd immunity in uncertain) after being recovered (I have some hope that quick reinfection is a rare thing, though). We don’t even know what recovery really is right now. And Covid-19 is at least a two-stage disease: first, a respiratory phase, second a circulatory/brain damage (causing even some heart problems) phase (which is the most lethal phase).

    ” and it was the novelty of the disease that scared people.”

    Yes, as it should have been even more! Ask the South Koreans if they were too much prepared…

    “The actual fatality rate of Covid-19 is the region of 0.1%”

    We don’t know this.

    ““Certain” that at least 50% of the population of both the UK and Sweden have already had the disease”

    We don’t know this, but at least, this is consistent with a 0.1% death rate. I hope he’s right (R0 is about 5.7 according to some studies, so there’s a chance) but we don’t know this right now. We should have serious diagnosis testing (which South Korea have done since 1.5 months ago, this is the biggest failure by Western democracies in my life, we suck!) AND serious randomized serological testing BEFORE evaluating death and infection rates.

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  5. 25% of the cases in Illinois are outside of the Chicago area and are found in all university communities in the state including yours.
    Deaths in NJ include newborns, firefighters and baseball players and coaches, so the point in the article about protecting the elderly is so obsolete as to suggest absolute ignorance. The median age of fatalities in the Princeton area is 40.
    In the absence of universal testing, we don’t know how many people have the virus and are contageous. Iceland suggested that it might be 50%. The USS Truman suggested 75%.
    Korean and Chinese research suggests that immunity to the virus is very short-term, and Korea has “recovered” patients who are now testing positive for the virus again. If so, herd immunity for this virus doesn’t exist.

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  6. I’m so glad there are more of these tests being done! We need more information on this thing.

    I really want to be hopeful, that it’s not really that bad, that the lockdown is mostly overreaction, and I’m encouraged by these studies. But I’m also seeing some nagging bits and pieces around that suggest… maybe it’s too early to be optimistic.

    Today it was this one: https://twitter.com/g_mountzios/status/1251125771021811719

    Is that true? Is the source reliable? I mean, it’s Twitter: God knows. But if that’s true, he’s saying this patient was infected with COVID, had the symptoms, nasty big fluid pocket in the lungs and everything… and tested negative on a nasal swab, twice. The fluid they drained out of his lungs tested positive. So… how good is the data we’re getting from the tests? Is this a thing that can hole up inside your lungs and hide, like TB?

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