A Journal of the Plague Year (34)

April 19, 2020

Making sense of the data coming in is a huge problem for the decision makers. So much is contradictory. Only if you are a “journalist” can you blame people for not seeing the future.

In Ottawa, in the Frozen North, 22 deaths are reported  in total, of which 19 are in one care home facility west of town. Non-essential border crossings to the US are to be extended for another 30 days. Also, the Élizabeth Bruyère research institute reported that

…’“Outbreak is a very scary word, so we need you to know two things. The first is that in the response to COVID-19, given the vulnerable nature of our long-term care population, one staff member having a positive result is enough to declare an outbreak, regardless of where they acquired the virus,” the statement said.’

So an outbreak may be one case.

Just how some figures can be misleading, consider the figures for New York City, about which much raving nonsense is available on the Fake News media. The graph below shows the distribution of cases between NYC and other cities:


Note the vast difference between NYC and any other place in the US. At the time President Trump was shutting down travel to and from China, Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo were driveling on about …”travel on the subway, go out and mix, there’s no problem”. Meanwhile, real men were getting down to work.

Of course, it was exactly the wrong position to adopt and NYC is paying the price. Mayor de Blasio, don’t blame others for your bad call.

On another front, Nature  reports that:

…An analysis of the blood of some 3,300 people living in Santa Clara county in early April found that one in every 66 people had been infected with SARS-CoV-2. On the basis of that finding, the researchers estimate that between 48,000 and 82,000 of the county’s roughly 2 million inhabitants were infected with the virus at that time — numbers that contrast sharply with the official case count of some 1,000 people reported in early April, according to the analysis posted today on medRxiv. The work has not yet been peer reviewed.

Here, antibody testing seems to reveal that vastly more people have been infected, without getting sick, and, presumably, generated antibodies in their blood. If that is true, then the infection fatality rate (IFR) is very much less than the case fatality rate (CFR).

The Santa Clara team estimated an IFR for the county of 0.1–0.2%, which would equate to about 100 deaths in 48,000-82,000 infections. As of 10 April, the county’s official death count was 50 people. The study’s IFR is lower than the IFR used in models by researchers at Imperial College London, which estimated an IFR for Great Britain on the basis of data from China to be 0.9%. In another study, the same group estimated an IFR for China of 0.66%, and a study of deaths on the Diamond Princess cruise ship estimated an IFR of 0.5%.

All of which indicates a significantly smaller death rate than heretofore presumed. Which brings us to the point of considering when the economy should be opened up and wound up: people need to get moving. Some doctors, Jonathan Geach https://medium.com/@jbgeach/changing-the-goalposts-four-more-reasons-it-is-safe-to-open-america-560cfc0ab4c3 MD on Medium, are claiming that…

…The purpose of “Flatten the Curve” was to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed with patients suffering from COVID-19. The reality is that the healthcare system is now underwhelmed and healthcare workers are being laid off and furloughed in droves as a result of healthcare centers having neglected patient care not related to COVID-19 in fear of a COVID-19 surge that failed to materialize on a nationwide basis. This means tens of millions of patients are failing to receive the medical care they need in a timely manner. Almost every hospital outside of the hotspots is empty.


If the goal of the shutdown was to flatten the curve and prevent healthcare system utilization, why are we still under a shutdown when the healthcare system is significantly underutilized and tens of thousands of healthcare workers are being terminated or furloughed? Why are we still denying non-COVID-19 patients the care they need when hospitals are sitting idle and laying off staff in droves? The only surge we’ve seen thus far is with respect to initial weekly jobless claims; tragically, there’s a good chance we will see a surge in suicides later this year as well.

Well, yes. When will there be a cool analysis of the situation? And from Neurologica blog, some mixed feelings about the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO has long been in the back pocket of the communist tyranny in China. But that’s not the worst part. By kowtowing to the PC world and “respecting” cultural differences, for instance, like “traditional” medicine, aka quack medicine, they have done a huge disservice to the developing world. As Neurologica points out:

…Perhaps most outrageous was then they straight-up endorsed traditional Chinese quackery. They [WHO] wrote:
The goal of this policy “is to promote the safe and effective use of traditional medicine by regulating, researching and integrating traditional medicine products, practitioners and practice into health systems, where appropriate”.

But we have heard this defense before – you cannot regulate nonsense. You cannot mix quackery with real medicine without destroying the scientific standards of medicine. This move only served to validate unscientific medicine. I cannot tell you how many times people have used the WHO position to justify their own use or endorsement of quackery, both personally and institutionally. It has had the exact effect that we warned about.

Medically speaking, this is malpractice of the first order. There is no way Western governments should be contributing to an organization that is undermining the first principles of scientific modern medicine. “Alternative medicine” is an alternative to medicine.

And these guys in the WHO were supposed to be the experts? All their recommendations at the beginning of this unpleasantness were wrong.

At least we know why now.

Rebel Yell