Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Coronavirus flotsam and jetsam

Here is a bunch of stuff that doesn't really play together, but I've tossed into a sack for you.

Italy has had extremely high influenza deaths for a long time.  This study is of the 2013-2014 and 2016-2017 flu seasons in Italy.  They had a much higher mortality rate than in the US - fully 50% of our total deaths from a population about 20% as large.  Not precisely Coronavirus, but it sure seems related.  (Hat tip: Aaron)

The virus may have been here weeks - or maybe months - before it was identified as Coronavirus:
So to recap: The current coronavirus “curve” cannot be accurate since it does not include suspected cases of the illness before late February. (It’s unclear why scientists have not yet produced any models that attempt to calculate the virus’ presence here until testing was available.) A big increase in symptoms very similar to coronavirus occurred a few weeks after the first case was recorded, a timeline in accordance with the estimated trajectory of the illness’ spread. And roughly 70 percent of those expressing flu-like symptoms did not have the flu. So what was it?

It’s not unreasonable, in fact, it’s necessary and responsible, to consider that COVID-19 has been in the states since the first of the year; that people suffering similar symptoms to the flu actually had COVID-19; and that the peak of the outbreak occurred last month. The number of people now testing positive for the virus does not mean that the outbreak is accelerating because the data is incomplete.
I've been talking about the gaps in our data for a while now.  This certainly seems plausible; if so, then it might be good news for both speed of infection and lethality.  Or not.  I guess we'll see.

A lot of the reaction is making things worse.  Case in point: shutting down Universities:
In particular, it is clear that the mortality rates for people aged 18-25 from COVID-19 are trivial -- and would be even more trivial except that we don't measure most of the COVID-19 cases in this age group because they are so mild (this from the South Korean experience where they had more measurement and they found many asymptomatic cases in this age range). When in university, these students are gathered together in a pocket of other people in their same age range and also with minimal mortality risk.

By sending these kids home, you have created a massive diaspora of folks from one of the US viral hotspots (Boston) all over the country. Students that would have been living with other low-risk people are now living with parents and grandparents who are very much at risk. Add to this the anecdotal evidence I see on the news and social media of young folks of college age flaunting quarantine and social isolation rules, and I believe that Harvard and other institutions have increased risk rather than decreased it.
There's a whole lot of bureaucratic ass-covering on display here, most of it from people who consider themselves to be out "betters" (cf: Harvard and Yale).

Congress is an assembly of idiots (I think that the formal term for a gathering of morons is a "Congress of idiots".  Well, it should be.):
Sen. McConnell unveiled a roughly $1 trillion stimulus package on Thursday to help “mitigate the economic pain that tens of millions of Americans are already feeling”.

That trillion dollars won’t put the wheels back on. It won’t get us rolling again. It just pays us for the losses already suffered.

Do you ever think how many ventilators and hospitals and test kits and testing personnel we could buy for A TRILLION DOLLARS OF YOUR AND MY GAD FARKING TAX MONEY!!

Typical ventilator cost US$25,000, in normal times. Say you have to pay double in scarce times. Say we want a half million of them, big number, more than we’ll ever need, but why not? How much of our trillion pinche dollars of tax money remains?

Ninety-seven percent. We’ve bought a half million ventilators and have hardly dented the pile.
BTW, there's a daily update of Coronavirus statistics at that page.  Check back for the latest on what we know, which is starting to get better.  This is interesting:

Iceland has tested all 300,000 Icelanders, so they have the best (most complete) data, and they're only up to 0.2% of the population.  I expect the USA percentage to be much higher than shown (see first link at the top of this post), but there's still more that we don't know than we do.  The Surgeon General is warning us that this week will be ugly; liquor stores are classified as critical services so maybe he knows something that we don't ...


ASM826 said...

Shutting down the universities doesn't protect just the students. Significant portions of faculty and staff fall in high risk categories, along with other members of their families. Telling me not to worry because this is only dangerous to people over 60 made me take vacation last week, which was the last week of normal operations, so that I could start working from home this week. Because, I'm over 60, she's almost 70.

So, a bunch of asymptomatic college students going to class, spreading this virus to each other, isn't the main issue for me. It's damn personal.

aczarnowski said...

liquor stores are classified as critical services so maybe he knows something that we don't...

They damn well better be. Americans were fired up enough to pull the Constitutional Amendment process out of the safe for that one!

Aesop said...

1) Of course it was here before we had kits.
Anecdotally, we were routinely admitting much higher numbers of atypical pneumonia from the ER to the ICU since late January. Were it possible to go back in time, we would probably find that many if not all had Kung Flu.

2) As ASM noted, college was closed to keep der dumpfkinder from killing the faculty, not to mention mom & dad, and grams and grandpa, along with any ten other older people with whom they came into contact as barristas, drive-thru window workers, and such.

3) What would the .Gov do with half a million ventilators?
Without 100,000 Respiratory Technicians to run them, they might as well blow the money on hookers and booze. It's as silly as buying 100,000 tanks for your army, and not having anyone who knows how to drive one. usually that takes Arab oil sheik levels of stupidity to accomplish.

Rick C said...

"Typical ventilator cost US$25,000, in normal times. Say you have to pay double in scarce times. Say we want a half million of them, big number, more than we’ll ever need, but why not? How much of our trillion pinche dollars of tax money remains?"

Sure. But that's not going to help all the people who are out of work because the restaurant or whatever went out of business, and also don't need a ventilator. (Good thing for the answer to the question, which I didn't bother quoting here.)

As for before we had testing: both I and my son got sick in February: I had a couple of days of headache that turned into a sore throat, then about three days where I spent the entire time in bed with a fever, and on the fourth day I woke up almost feeling well. At the time I figured it was just the cold or a flu, but now I wonder if it could've been the Kung Flu. It seems like that might be a short time to be sick, but who knows.

LSP said...

Thanks for the "grab bag" -- "Congress is an assembly of idiots" especially stood out.

Further to the "do they know something we don't theme," have you seen the videos of cellphones coming out of China? Sobering if true.

Kurt said...

Just google "whiskey rebellion" - that'll tell you all you need to know about it being essential

The Real Kurt

Richard said...

@LSP It used to be said that a group of baboons was a congress. That seems to have fallen out of fashion now. It is said that baboons protested the insult.

Weetabix said...

"flaunting quarantine"? Ostentatiously observing quarantine?

I think he meant "flouting quarantine".

Sirs! We may all die, but let us die with good diction.

Roy said...

I think this virus might have been with us here in the US since even as early as December. After reading the descriptions of the symptoms I wonder.

Back in early December, my wife and I both got sick. For me, it had me in bed for one full day and feeling funky for a couple more. I’ve had colds and flu and this just felt different. At the time, I wasn't sure what I had caught. Nobody had even heard of this Chinese virus at the time, so I figured I had a mild case of the flu. (However, I did get a flu shot back in September.) I had a cough for about a week or so afterward and then completely recovered.

My wife, on the other hand, got sick that same day but was in bed for TWO whole weeks. I started getting really worried about her and after about 5 days, I took her to the Doc-in-the-Box. They looked her over and said she had the flu. At that stage, they told us there was not much that could be done so they gave her a script for Tamiflu and an inhaler and sent her home. She toughed it out - the inhaler help a lot - and she got better in about another week.

Now, this is the weird part. Both of our symptoms were the same. High fever, dry cough, sore throat, aches all over, physical exhaustion, and shortness of breath.

Sounds like some sort of flu, right? Well, it also sounds like the COVID-19. Read the articles about the COVID-19 symptoms and they match ours pretty well. In light of the fact that I did indeed get a flu shot, and that I have not had the flu for over 10 years since I started taking the shot, what do you think the odds are that both my wife and I had actually contracted and subsequently weathered the COVID-19 virus?

I could be completely wrong. (Anecdote is not a synonym for data.) It could indeed have been a weird strain of flu that we had. But I’m also wondering if there might indeed be a lot of people out there who have already gotten this COVID-19 months ago but don’t know it. Only testing the general population would tell.