May 14, 2020
Dr Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford has been making waves recently with a different assessment of the Covid-19 outcome.
A study conducted in New York revealed, allegedly, that 25% of the population tested positive for antibodies to the coronavirus. But of these people, 70% of those who showed the presence of antibodies were asymptomatic–they never showed symptoms. The majority never will. As he says:
This testing also places the death rate at somewhere between 0.1- 0.5%. This is orders of magnitude lower than originally thought.
This is important because, according to Dr. Bhattacharya, containment strategies are not likely to be effective and the virus is not going to disappear:
“I think in the back of people’s heads there is this idea that somehow we can eradicate this disease if we just stay locked down. That is not possible. The serologic evidence, even the MLB study, suggest this. It suggests the epidemic is too widespread to eradicate. It spreads via asymptomatic contact. Like people who don’t have very many symptoms, even mild cold symptoms can spread the thing. They aren’t going to show up for testing. They aren’t going to show up at a hospital or a doctor.”
So despite the idea floating around that it’s all going to be hunky-dory after the wave passes, Bhattacharya disagrees:
“There is no safe option. If you think that having a lockdown will provide you safety, you are mistaken. Because the problem is this lockdown has had enormous negative effects on the health of people in the United States and around the world.”
It means that we must all accept living with a higher degree of risk. It has to be. We now know how better to avoid infection (hand washing, masks in confined public places etc.); destroying economies is not going to help.
When asked, Dr. Bhattacharya clearly understood the political calculations that leaders are making. He said leadership is what is needed because politicians are going to face the consequences of COVID-19 or the problems caused by economic collapse. According to his assessment, a vaccine is an open-ended question. None of the other coronaviruses that infect humans have one and there is no guarantee this one will.
On the world front, it still seems like Sweden is not really any different from other major countries in number of cases per million of the population. Stay tuned on that.
Either way, it’s going to be a bumpy ride and it’s quite a way until touchdown.