A Journal of the Plague Year (31)

April 16, 2020

How widespread is the corona virus in the general population? An important question still unanswered. Some research is suggesting that the virus is way more common in the population than previously thought with some saying that up to 40 or 50% have been infected. If this were true, this would mean that a large proportion of the population had the virus, produced antibodies to defeat it, and suffered no symptoms or ill effects.

Dr Jack Siemiatycki is Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Montreal. In a timely article in today’s Ottawa Citizen, he draws attention to the highly relevant fact that:

…we don’t know such key information as the prevalence of the infection in the population, the trend lines of this prevalence and the proportion of infected people who are asymptomatic.
Although testing for the virus is being focused on the most vulnerable such as those in care homes and other institutions, and those diagnosed with symptoms or hospitalized, this tends to skew the data towards the sickest and does not give a picture of the general prevalence in the population.

…We see the tip of the iceberg; we need to know how many infected people are below [the] water line. We do not know if confirmed cases represent 10 per cent, 50 per cent, or 90 per cent of the truly infected cases in the population. We cannot use the numbers of “confirmed cases” to estimate prevalence or to track the progress of the epidemic. Similarly, we cannot compare the numbers across provinces or between Canada and other countries. Nor do we know what the case fatality rate is for COVID-19 because we do not know the denominator for such calculations – namely the number of people with the infection.

Here’s the rub. Only a random sampling of the general population can tell us this. Knowledge of this number is crucial to forming a correct idea of the real lethality of the virus and, not only how many people may be immune, but how soon the economy can be opened up again and in what order.

We would only need between 100 and 400 people tested each day in Ontario. This, carried out from as soon as possible to the end of the epidemic, would provide adequate statistical power to obtain adequately precise and accurate estimates of the prevalence and the trend in prevalence over time, as well as the proportion of asymptomatic cases.
The testing most commonly carried out now in Canada is a genetic test for the presence of COVID-19 virus in the body. Alternative tests measure antibodies to the virus in blood. The two types of tests are complementary, not redundant. As soon as the antibody test becomes available, it should be added to the proposed testing protocol.
Hopefully, this opportunity to track the epidemic will not be lost; time is of the essence.

Indeed. Until we get good data, further projections are subject to large errors.

A piece by Dr Nan Hayworth (Fox News) focused in on how the projected fatalities have been rapidly declining over the past few weeks. When President Trump instigated the travel band against China in January, and was roundly condemned by the usual suspects, the Democrats and the “press” (the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party), experts were projecting that 2.2 million Americans might die if radical measures were not adopted.

On April 1st, projections were for 100 000 to 240 000 deaths.

…Further progress was evinced on April 7, when projected mortality fell significantly in a widely respected model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), to between 49,431 and 136,401 American coronavirus deaths, with a median of just over 80,000. A day later the IHME’s median was adjusted downward again, to about 60,000.

Interesting. Again, “all models are wrong; some may be useful.” Only time will tell, but an inordinate fear can do more damage than a reasoned acceptance of risk. Now that’s something journalists don’t understand.

Another little snippet from Rebel Media today: Dr Theresa Tam, Canada’s El Supremo in public health, has been working for the Chinese-Communist controlled World Health Organization. Really.

Not just as a low-level doctor or bureaucrat. She’s actually one of only seven people on the WHO’s oversight committee for health emergencies.
So the WHO’s well-documented political corruption happened on her watch — when it was literally her job to stop it. She either approved of China’s meddling or was wilfully blind to it….
What’s so crazy is that Tam is still on the WHO’s oversight committee. That puts her in a conflict of interest — whose side is she on, Canada’s or China’s WHO?
Her loyalty to the WHO is why she has given such bizarre advice to Canadians — like telling us not to wear masks. That never made any sense — until you realize she was taking orders from China’s WHO…

…But it’s worse now because the WHO itself is the issue — can we trust them? Well, how could Tam even answer that: she was one of the seven people tasked with keeping them trustworthy. She can’t very well admit she rubber-stamped their corruption, can she?

Why aren’t the Fake News Media in Canada doing their job?

Rebel Yell