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John Derbyshire Is Still A Coronavirus Agnostic, But He’s Wearing A Mask
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I know you’re all on tenterhooks waiting to hear what Radio Derb, the civilized world’s most authoritative source of news and opinion, has to say…about what we should call the current flu pandemic!

Wednesday our President squashed a distraught snowflake reporterette at his news conference:

Snowflake: “Why do you keep calling this “the Chinese virus”? There are reports of dozens of incidents of bias against Chinese-Americans in this country. Your own aide, Secretary Azar, says he does not use this term. He says ethnicity does not cause the virus. Why do you keep using this? A lot of people say it’s racist.”

President: “Because it comes from China. It’s not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China, that’s why. It comes from China.”

But while indeed the virus originated in China, it’s become a world-wide concern due mainly to the reflexive lying and thuggery the Chinese Communist Party. So it would be a bit fairer to the great mass of Chinese people, who don’t want the filthy thing any more than you or I, to call it “the ChiCom virus.”

In fact, since the Communists still revere the guy whose portrait looks down across Tiananmen Square, we could be even snappier and just call the virus “Mao Flu”

But as the virus is unlikely to kill as many people as Mao did—estimates start at forty-five million—that would be unfair to the virus.

People are still arguing, though. There is a considerable movement afoot, led by the World Health Organization, to stop naming diseases and pathogens after places, and to re-name those that have customarily been so named.

The guardians of our culture are hard at work on this. Neocon Never Trumper David Frum will rap you across the knuckles with a ruler if you refer to the 1918-19 pandemic as “the Spanish Flu” even though, as his Twitter followers documented devastatingly, he’s done so himself:

This is petty, low-grade stuff—evidence that the horrid plague of Political Correctness has done far more damage to our minds than this current virus will to our lungs. The Babylon Bee caught the absurdity of it all with their suggestion that we start referring to the Black Death as the Death of Color.

They didn’t offer an alternative for Yellow Fever, and perhaps that’s just as well.

OK, OK, so what are we going to call it? The virus causing all the trouble is named SARS-CoV-2. The condition it causes in those afflicted is named COVID-19. But I don’t see much sign that “COVID-19” is catching on in ordinary talk. People mainly seem to just say “coronavirus.” That’s a bit loose, as the villain here is just one member of the coronavirus family.

So what happens next? I’m still agnostic. The reason it’s hard to tell: we’re working with a poor and debatable quality of data, from which all kinds of contradictory things can be deduced.

There don’t seem to be any international standards for data reporting, either. Germany’s reporting a mortality rate of 0.3 percent. Italy’s reporting 7.9 percent. Wha?

So I open my Friday New York Post and it tells me there are 5,645 cases of coronavirus in New York State. CITE My state has a population of 19½ million, so that would be point zero two eight percent and change—something like one in thirty-five hundred.

That doesn’t seem too bad at all…except that the number is meaningless without context.

Hoo-kay: 5,645 people were tested and found positive. But out of how many tested altogether? If all 19½ million of us were to be tested, what would the number be then?

And what, by the way, is the rate of false positives?

The whole area of testing for the virus is an embarrassment. The CDC and the FDA, given the task of creating and distributing tests, went at it with all the efficiency and finesse of the proverbial monkey trying to get intimate with a football. [Coronavirus: US is failing on testing, says Fauci, BBC, March 12, 2020] South Korea tests ten to twenty thousand people a day; the U.S.A. tests two thousand on a good day.[ U.S. Lags in Coronavirus Testing After Slow Response to Outbreak, by Larry Buchanan, K.K. Rebecca Lai and Allison McCann, NYT, March 17, 2020]

The testing fiasco has generated a small genre of op-ed columns by people describing their efforts to get tested, usually without success. Journalist Tim Herrera had a good one in the New York Times Wednesday : My Coronavirus Test: 5 Days, a Dozen Calls, Hours of Confusion [March 18, 2020].Herrera was one of the lucky ones, being in New York City with half a dozen first-rank hospitals nearby. Still it took him hours working the phone, getting bounced from one healthcare drone to another.

The previous Wednesday Herrera had woken with symptoms—cough, fever. He called his doctor’s office. They gave him the number of a clinic doing tests. He called the clinic. No, they weren’t doing tests. Could they refer him to someone that was? No, they couldn’t.

He called New York City hospital system and was put on hold. Meanwhile his girlfriend called the CDC. They got back first, took his details, and said someone would call to check later. Nobody ever did. Then the hospital system called back. They took his details all over again, told him to quarantine for two weeks, and hung up…but later they called back with a test date for the next day.

Herrera got his test at last; but the results were posted online, which they shouldn’t have been, and late. (They were positive, but he seems to be recovering).

Recognize our healthcare system? It sure sounds familiar to me. In my February Diary I narrated the time-wasting fandango I had to go through just to get the right co-pay on a routine medication.

ORDER IT NOW

We all quickly got used to the jargon. “Social distancing” was the order of the day. We had to “flatten the curve.” That’s the curve you get if you plot number of infections day by day. Do nothing and that curve soars upwards, overwhelming your medical facilities. By social distancing—minimizing our contacts with other people—we get a much gentler upward curve, allowing medical facilities time to catch up.

That’s what we’ve settled on: social distancing to flatten the curve. Was it inevitable that we should? Might we have taken some other course of action?

Certainly we might. One of the interesting features of public conversation this past couple of weeks has been the healthy skepticism expressed by many commentators. VDARE.com reported an example: Heather Mac Donald’s March 13th piece at the New Criterion, . Here Heather is scoffing at the fuss about rates of infection being exponential.

Even if my odds of dying from coronavirus should suddenly jump ten-thousand-fold, from the current rate of .000012 percent across the U.S. population all the way up to .12 percent, I’d happily take those odds over the destruction being wrought on the U.S. and global economy from this unbridled panic.

Compared To What?

In the same spirit, in a good thoughtful piece about the public appetite for risk and the quality of our scientific leadership, Dennis Saffran retails a quote from New York State Senator Vincent Graber, in a debate on related issues:

We could really reduce the death rate if we lowered the speed limit to 21 and raised the drinking age to 55.

Prepare, Don’t Panic, March 13, 2020

It hasn’t been just journalists, either. Constitutional Law Professor Richard Epstein did a good quantitative analysis of the data, such as it is, on March 16th at the Hoover Institution website. Sample quote:

Even though self-help measures like avoiding crowded spaces make abundant sense, the massive public controls do not. In light of the available raw data, public officials have gone overboard.

Coronavirus Perspective

What’s that you say? None of these people are credentialed epidemiologists? OK, here’s John Ioannidis, professor of medicine, of epidemiology and population health, of biomedical data science, and of statistics at Stanford University:

The data collected so far on how many people are infected and how the epidemic is evolving are utterly unreliable…Three months after the outbreak emerged, most countries, including the U.S., lack the ability to test a large number of people and no countries have reliable data on the prevalence of the virus in a representative random sample of the general population.

This evidence fiasco creates tremendous uncertainty about the risk of dying from Covid-19. Reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4 percent rate from the World Health Organization, cause horror—and are meaningless.

A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data, March 17, 2020

Professor Ioannidis’ piece got a polite, collegial rebuttal from Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at Harvard—I quoted some previous comments of his in my February 28th podcast. Prof. Lipsitch, responding to Prof. Ioannidis

There are two options for Covid-19 at the moment: long-term social distancing or overwhelmed health care systems.

We know enough now to act decisively against Covid-19. Social distancing is a good place to start, March 18, 2020

So…we have a leaky, dubious mass of data and a wide range of opinions from thoughtful analysts, including specialists. What are we supposed to do with that?

What you and I do with it is of course up to us as individual citizens. I’m very lucky here. I live in a spacious outer suburb of New York with my wife and son, never have to get close to anyone else at all. My wife works from home three days a week, and that’s just been extended to four. My son’s a college student; but classes are suspended. He fills his time quite happily working out at the home gym, playing computer games, and chatting on the phone with friends.

So the Derbs are well-nigh self-quarantining. I wash my hands a lot and avoid touching my mucous membranes. For trips to the drugstore I wear a mask—I bought a big supply back when the whole thing started. I eat sensibly and exercise: Basil gets a 45-minute walk every day, on the vague superstition that viruses don’t like fresh air. We pass other dog-walkers at ten feet distance, waving in a neighborly way.

I’ve cut back on consumption of ardent spirits in accordance with Kipling’s advice to the young British soldier:

When the cholera comes—as it will past a doubt —
Keep out of the wet and don’t go on the shout,
For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
An’ it crumples the young British soldier.
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier …
[Bursts into song]
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier,
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier,
So-oldier OF the Queen!

Sorry, I always get carried away with Kipling.

Other people seem to be coping sensibly in the face of massive dislocation and inconvenience—worst of course in the cases of those laid off from their jobs. This category may include our own daughter; we’re waiting to hear.

But what are our politicians, legislators, and administrators doing with it?

They’re following the social distancing / flattening the curve paradigm.

It looked for a while as though the British government might take a different tack, just letting the virus burn through the population fast, creating a big mass of people gifted with immunity by having had a mild case. Then a report by a panel of experts came out modeling the consequences of that nine ways to Sunday. [Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand, Imperial College, March 16, 2020]The consequences were all terrible. The Brits turned on a dime and are now social distancing and flattening the curve with the rest of us.

That was the choice our leaders faced: Drive the economy off a cliff, or…geezers on gurneys.

The best advice our leaders could get was: Either do a full-court press on social distancing, or face scenes of hospital parking lots filled with hundreds of geezers on gurneys, coughing their lives away because we don’t have the staff or equipment to deal with them.

Given the likelihood of that appalling spectacle, you can’t blame our leaders for what they are doing.

Will it prove in the end to have been unnecessary? Shall we have crashed the economy for nothing?

Possibly. The underlying data here is, as I’ve said, iffy.

Among all the unknowns here, the scariest, it seems to me, are long-term. What happens in the Fall?

ORDER IT NOW

If we can get a handle on things these few weeks, then the warmer weather causes the virus to quiesce, with maybe just a mild resurgence in the Fall, we’ll be able to ride out the economic consequences and get the economy back on track in a year or two, as we did after the 2008 Crash.

On the other hand, if the virus comes roaring back in the Fall, perhaps in some variant form, then it’ll be: Katy bar the door.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by VDARE.com com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. People mainly seem to just say “coronavirus.” That’s a bit loose, as the villain here is just one member of the coronavirus family.

    Most strains of E. coli are harmless. But one bad apple…

    My state has a population of 19½ million, so that would be point zero two eight percent and change—something like one in thirty-five hundred.

    But two-thirds of them are crammed into eight or nine counties in the southeast. I’d like to see a comparison by county of cases per hundred thousand and pistol permits per hundred thousand.

    Heck, even the hamlets downstate– Ossining, Elmont, Huntington Stationn– can have 30,000 people.

    If we can get a handle on things these few weeks… we’ll be able to ride out the economic consequences and get the economy back on track in a year or two, as we did after the 2008 Crash.

    The world turned upside-down. Derb is the optimist now.

    But then, he works in the attic, and Sailer in the basement.

    • Replies: @jamie b.
  2. Franz says:

    Toss the mask, Derb.

    Let this guy sober you up. (Worked for me.) And he knows what he’s talking about.

    Stanford Professor: Data Indicates We’re Severely Overreacting To Coronavirus

    http://www.cuzzblue.com/2020/03/stanford-professor-data-indicates-were.html

    A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.”

    Etc. Mentions the cruise ship too.

    • Thanks: Kali
    • Replies: @jeff stryker
  3. We had to “flatten the curve.”

    I still prefer “Squash the Sombrero.”

    • Replies: @SFG
  4. Realist says:

    All death statistics are from government data.
    Is anyone checking to see if the data is correct?
    Does anyone know the name of one person who died from Covid-19?
    Has anyone checked to see what the death certificate states as cause of death?
    Is anyone checking…anything?

    Or are people just running around like chickens with their head cut off?

    • Replies: @dearieme
  5. Realist says:

    But while indeed the virus originated in China, it’s become a world-wide concern due mainly to the reflexive lying and thuggery the Chinese Communist Party.

    How do you know the virus started in China? Have you seen the data? Where did the data come from?

    • Replies: @Alfa158
  6. dearieme says:
    @Realist

    The British death reports refer circumspectly to people who died having tested positive for the virus.

    Almost everything we want to know will be known only in retrospect or perhaps never known at all.

    • Replies: @Realist
  7. So…we have a leaky, dubious mass of data and a wide range of opinions from thoughtful analysts, including specialists. What are we supposed to do with that?

    Well, for starters we can assert without evidence that “indeed the virus originated in China.” Despite the fact that the US CDC did not notice the H1N1 outbreak for 6 months and, since Covid-19 became a thing, blocked testing for three months and has since refused to identify Patient Zero, despite international pressure to do so.

    Our leaky, dubious mass of data virus also allows us to say that Covid-19 “is unlikely to kill as many people as Mao did—estimates start at forty-five million.” What a load of codswallop! If anyone knew how to keep millions of people alive fo decades under dreadful circumstances it was Mao.

    The the US National Institutes of Health[1] says life expectancy under Mao, “Ranks among the most rapid, sustained increases in documented global history. These survival gains appear to have been largest during the 1950s, with a sharp reversal during the 1959-61 Great Leap Famine, followed by substantial progress again during the early 1960s.”
    Curb your inner Pat Buchanan, Derb. You’re better than that (though not by much).


    [1] An exploration of China’s mortality decline under Mao: A provincial analysis, 1950–80. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4331212/

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    , @Kali
  8. LOL, the only reason Blumpf is calling it the China Virus is because successfully portraying this as a war and diverting attention from his early stance that Corona was a nothingburger is basically his main chance of averting a massive loss in November.

    He’s not doing it to humor the MAGA cultists, nor to “trigger to libs” (amusing that is to observer).

    • Troll: Achmed E. Newman
    • Replies: @Anon
  9. @Franz

    The fatality rate is 4%. Four percent, mostly people over 80.

    One wonders what would happen if something like Spanish Flu were to hit. Of course back in 1917 people died all the time.

    I am 46 and I can remember when people retired at age 55. Gen Y has not moved out of their parents house at age 55.

    Back in the day, people died left and right. Polio, cholera, pneumonia. Heck, I can remember when AIDS killed people in a year.

    So yes, it is an overreaction-I would not be surprised if Trump engineered it in order to do what trying to pass border bills could not do-solve the problems of the New World Order.

    • Replies: @Commentator Mike
  10. Realist says:
    @dearieme

    The British death reports refer circumspectly to people who died having tested positive for the virus.

    Exactly, the data is from a government…is it true?

    • Replies: @Keypusher
  11. I’m partial to “The Kung Flu” – see The Kung Flu – SHTF or Infotainment Panic-Fest?. No, I didn’t make that term up, and yes, it’s kinda silly. However, if calling it this pisses off 7% or even only 0.028% of the Politically Correct, it’s the safest course of action for me.

    Mr. Derb, I took a few sick days due to being sick of hearing about this crap, and now I’m hearing about it from home. The wife doesn’t even want me to hang out OUTSIDE the coffee shop for a hot chocolate with my friends. She wants me to self-quarantine in an airplane hangar (speaking of “hanging out”).

    School is out, hopefully For Ever!, but we have to buzz through a couple of hours of the on-line schooling BS before I can go on and teach my elementary school boy latitude and longitude. We took 3 days to nail down adding/subtracting/multiplying fractions, while the school had been dicking around with just the concept of fractions for over a month!

    Keep up the good writing, Kung Flu or no Kung Flu!

    .

    PS: Great Babylon Bee graphic. I will borrow that. Still, I have maintained for years that to be PC, “Indian Giver” should simply be changed to “Native American Giver”.

  12. @Godfree Roberts

    Another Commie heard from …

    … with a sharp reversal during the 1959-61 Great Leap Famine, followed by ….

    Yes, after a Mao-induced famine with death by starvation of 30 to 40 million, you want to be the guy doing the follow-up act.

  13. People are still arguing, though. There is a considerable movement afoot, led by the World Health Organization, to stop naming diseases and pathogens after places, and to re-name those that have customarily been so named.

    Predictable when you hand such institutions to third world dross.

    Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of His Excellency President Robert Mugabe as WHO goodwill ambassador for NCDs in Africa. As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment.

    – @DrTedros (Tedros Adhanom)

  14. Sean says:

    1918 Flu Pandemic That Killed 50 Million Originated in China, Historians Say.

    Historian Mark Humphries of Canada’s Memorial University of Newfoundland says that newly unearthed records confirm that one of the side stories of the war—the mobilization of 96,000 Chinese laborers to work behind the British and French lines on World War I’s Western Front—may have been the source of the pandemic. Langford has shown that China suffered a lower mortality rate from the Spanish flu than other nations did, suggesting some immunity was at large in the population because of earlier exposure to the virus. In the new report, Humphries finds archival evidence that a respiratory illness that struck northern China in November 1917 was identified a year later by Chinese health officials as identical to the Spanish flu.

    He also found medical records indicating that more than 3,000 of the 25,000 Chinese Labor Corps workers who were transported across Canada en route to Europe starting in 1917 ended up in medical quarantine, many with flu-like symptoms.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
  15. Anon[392] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    I was a total skeptic. I’d lost respect for Sailer, Karlin, Taleb, Atul Gawande, et al. But I have a few family members, very smart family members, on the front lines in medicine in Boston, New Jersey, and a well-known medical school. Yesterday I was listening in (on speakerphone) to their discussion, and cases and deaths they are seeing and became alarmed at the catastrophic risk of COVID-19. I’m now a believer and now have even greater respect than before for Sailer, Karlin, Taleb, Gawande, et al.

    • Thanks: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @utu
  16. Alfa158 says:
    @Realist

    Because the first cases of the disease appeared in China.
    The source of that data is the Chinese authorities.
    The Chinese government would not propagate information that reflects badly on China unless it is an irrefutable truth they can’t get around.

    • Replies: @Realist
  17. Realist says:
    @Alfa158

    Because the first cases of the disease appeared in China.
    The source of that data is the Chinese authorities.

    How would Chinese authorities know that??? There may have been numerous cases outside of China…earlier in 2019…that the Chinese did not know about and were misdiagnosed…intentionally or otherwise.

    The Chinese government would not propagate information that reflects badly on China unless it is an irrefutable truth they can’t get around.

    Do you know the exact wording of the Chinese statement on the subject?

    You are just propagating US propaganda.

    • Replies: @Anon
  18. Based on the questions posed by Realist in his comment No. 4, I am sharing the link for an article/interview on Wired with Dr. Larry Brilliant who helped eradicate smallpox.

    https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-interview-larry-brilliant-smallpox-epidemiologist/?utm_source=pocket-newtab

    According to Dr. Brilliant, the current statistics will not give us a true picture of the situation until testing is done on the same scale as South Korea did/is doing (over a quarter of a million tests) in order to determine where the virus is and then take the appropriate steps.

    As for masks, he recommends that they should go where needed most: health care personnel.

    • Replies: @jack daniels
  19. utu says:
    @Anon

    They do not care about your respect. Donations, otoh, yes, they do care.

  20. “Then a report by a panel of experts came out modeling the consequences of that nine ways to Sunday. [Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand, Imperial College, March 16, 2020]”

    What they failed to include in their simulation was the incredible long time it obviously took for a team of world-class statisticians and epidemiologist to write down a report about their simulation.

    Everybody understands that it just takes time to create new or test old drugs for the disease or develop a vaccine. That is because those scientists in life sciences to real, physical things.

    But why does it take a statistician who uses a already developed model to write his report? The UK administration changed their course directly after the reported had been published. If they would have had published the report 1 or 2 months early UK would obviously never tried this project of mass infection.

  21. anonymous[117] • Disclaimer says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Even a running dog revisionist like me can’t deny the progress, Mr. Newman.
    After Mao killed millions of them, he did not do it again, so the trend is for steady improvement.
    Also, the chocolate ration has been increased from five ounces per week to three.

    Honestly, when I see how my progressive brethren and sisteren think, I despair. They can vote, you know.

  22. @Sean

    No it didn’t. It originated in Haskell County, Kansas.

    And the corona originated in Fort Detrick, Maryland.

    Grow up and get real.

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @davidgmillsatty
  23. jamie b. says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Most strains of E. coli are harmless. But one bad apple…

    You’re comparing an entire family to a single species. And even as far as that goes, it seems that human taxonomists are definitely lumpers when it comes to viruses.

  24. Kali says:
    @Godfree Roberts

    Your comment deserves a shiny golden frame. Just my opinion.

    Some great links and information in this piece and in the comments too.

    Many thanks all,
    Kali.

  25. Dumbo says:

    There don’t seem to be any international standards for data reporting, either. Germany’s reporting a mortality rate of 0.3 percent. Italy’s reporting 7.9 percent. Wha?

    As I read somewhere else (but no one has been informed), the Germans are only counting as “coronavirus death” those who die from respiratory issues, while the Italians are counting anyone who has coronavirus and dies from any complications (which may be caused by other diseases). Thus the big difference. I think the Italian counting makes more sense, because even if you have other diseases, a new virus on top of that can finish you off.

    So, even though German UTI is superior, I’m sure there are a few more old people with the virus dying in Germany, they are just not going into the C-19 statistics, so they are “invisible”. No one seems to care if the official death is diabetes, or heart attack, it’s just C-19 that counts for the media.

  26. “Radio Derb, the civilized world’s most authoritative source of news and opinion…” You have not been able to civilize your third-world, brown Chinese family. I suspect you tried it once, but they told you to STFU.

    “So it would be a bit fairer to the great mass of Chinese people, who don’t want the filthy thing any more than you or I…” I give a rat’s ass about Chinese opinion and am not interested in treating them fairly. The Chinese are a low IQ, parasitical race. They are not Western. You are just trying to justify your Chinese poontanging.

  27. Sean says:
    @obwandiyag

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805838/

    Origins of the Spanish Influenza pandemic (1918–1920) and its relation to the First World War

    An article from that time (Vaughan, 1921) indicates that the epidemic began on 5th March 1918 among the Chinese workers contracted at the Fort Riley military base in Funston (Kansas). […] The Asian origin of the Spanish influenza has only meagerly been considered in the many books and papers, which have been written about this pandemic. Nevertheless, this hypothesis should not be lightly ruled out since links between the Spanish influenza and Asia can be established in terms of the Chinese workers at Camp Funston and the Indochinese soldiers of the French army affected by the Annamite Pneumonia. Thus, the spectacular virulence of the autumn 1918 epidemic wave could well have been contributed to by the recombination in Europe of viruses of Chinese and Indochinese origin.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
  28. Dumbo says:

    The main problem with coronavirus, which we are seeing also in Spain (1300 deaths so far) is that it overwhelms the UTIs and many people die because there’s just no way to treat all. Perhaps the Germans have been luckier and a bit more efficient (they seem to have more beds and ventilators, because their quarantine measures are not much different than in other places), but we still may see mayhem in third-world countries such as Brazil, Malaysia, UK and the USA.

    It’s also possible that much more people than we know have the virus, as many are asymptomatic and those are not tested. Hell even most of those with symptoms are not tested, they are just told to “self-quarantine for two weeks and call if you can’t breath”.

  29. Keypusher says:
    @Realist

    Oh, Jesus. 90% of the statistics on which every aspect of your life is based, from the inflation rate to tomorrow’s weather forecast, is based on data gathered, organized and crunched by the government, and you’ve relied on that data without question your whole life. Especially mortality numbers. But you apparently want to be able to think whatever the hell you want about coronavirus, so you’re taking up an attitude of radical skepticism. “Does this data come from the government?” Yes, like all the rest. And if you want private-sector mortality statistics, set about getting them organized. Do let us know how you get on.

    You really should change your handle. It’s a disgrace to the word.

  30. @Sean

    What you do is called “slanting.” Intelligent people know that “slanting” is when you deliberately omit opposing arguments or alternative information.

    In your own article, which draws no conclusions, by the way (like you do), and which simply presents the conclusions of the important scholarly papers written on the subject, it says that Haskell county farmers got it in February, and the Chinese workers got it in March. So you are not so much wrong as disingenuous.

    “Fragmentary information from this period refers to distinct outbreaks of influenza in the USA and in other countries during the period 1915–1916. Barry (2005) and others mention an acute infectious outbreak among young farmers in a locality of Kansas called Haskell County. This occurred in February 1918 and, due to its clinical gravity, was compared to the Spanish Influenza. Many of these young farmers were called to arms and incorporated into the Funston military camp.

    An article from that time (Vaughan, 1921) indicates that the epidemic began on 5th March 1918 among the Chinese workers contracted at the Fort Riley military base in Funston (Kansas)”

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @Hippopotamusdrome
  31. The latest Radio Derb is not to be found on Youtube. Have you been deplatformed?

  32. Realist says:
    @Keypusher

    Oh, Jesus. 90% of the statistics on which every aspect of your life is based, from the inflation rate to tomorrow’s weather forecast, is based on data gathered, organized and crunched by the government, and you’ve relied on that data without question your whole life.

    That’s not true..I am always suspect of government sources…as any intelligent person would be. You have no idea what I rely on…you are making an assumption.

    But you apparently want to be able to think whatever the hell you want about coronavirus, so you’re taking up an attitude of radical skepticism.

    When it comes to government data an intelligent person will always be skeptical, and a less intelligent person will always be a sucker for propaganda…it’s obvious which you are.

    • Replies: @keypusher
  33. @Achmed E. Newman

    The NIH is careful with its public utterances and, if you parse its statement, you can identify an important antecedent:

    Life expectancy under Mao, ranks among the most rapid, sustained increases in documented global history. These survival gains appear to have been largest during the 1950s, with a sharp reversal during the 1959-61 Great Leap Famine, followed by substantial progress again during the early 1960s.

    The gains were rapid then the gains reversed then accelerated again.

    It was not life expectancy, but the gains in life expectancy that reversed.

    The chart supports this reading, too.

    I’ve explained why the gains reversed here: https://www.unz.com/article/mao-reconsidered-part-two-whose-famine/

  34. Do I have the Kung Flue? How would I know? I’m told you can have it for weeks without symptoms. How many people have the Kung Flue in the U.S.? Nobody knows. Most of the articles I read contain some kind of arithmetic. None of which means anything because we are not testing. Testing is too hard. Maybe someday.

    I have heard that a lot of people have died in China, Italy and Iran. A lot is not data. But it has meaning. It means I could be next. When it’s over we will have reliable data. For now I suggest taking whatever steps seem reasonable.

    How is it that we can invent new diseases but cannot cure them? Cannot even test for them. And what sort of person gets up in the morning and goes to work inventing new diseases? This is why I am a misanthrope.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  35. Sean says:
    @obwandiyag

    That paper says too little consideration has been given to the possibility that it came from Asia. The more recent one nails it.

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/1/140123-spanish-flu-1918-china-origins-pandemic-science-health/
    1) A respiratory illness that struck northern China in November 1917 was identified a year later by Chinese health officials as identical to the Spanish flu.

    2)[M]ore than 3,000 of the 25,000 Chinese Labor Corps workers who were transported across Canada en route to Europe starting in 1917 ended up in medical quarantine, many with flu-like symptoms.

    3) British and French officials were forming the Chinese Labor Corps, which eventually shipped some 94,000 laborers from northern China to southern England and France during the war. So desperate was the need for labor that on March 2, 1918, a ship loaded with 1,899 Chinese Labor Corps men left the Chinese port of Wehaiwei for Vancouver despite “plague” stopping the recruiting for workers there. In reaction to anti-Chinese feelings rife in western Canada at the time, the trains that carried the workers from Vancouver were sealed, … kept in camps surrounded by barbed wire. The Chinese laborers arrived in southern England by January 1918 and were sent to France, where the Chinese Hospital at Noyelles-sur-Mer recorded hundreds of their deaths from respiratory illness.

    4) Historians have suggested that the Spanish influenza mutated and became most deadly in spring 1918, spreading from Europe to ports as far apart as Boston and Freetown, Sierra Leone. By the height of the global pandemic that autumn, however, no more such cases were reported among the Chinese laborers in Europe.

    “This is about as close to a smoking gun as a historian is going to get,” says historian James Higgins, who lectures at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and who has researched the 1918 spread of the pandemic in the United States. “These records answer a lot of questions about the pandemic.” “I would say that the takeaway message of all of this is to keep your eye on China as a source of emerging diseases”, Higgins says.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
  36. But as the virus is unlikely to kill as many people as Mao did—estimates start at forty-five million—that would be unfair to the virus.

    Mao wouldn’t have come to power if the West hadn’t built up Japan as a co-imperialist power working with the West to carve up China. Japan destroyed KMT, US destroyed Japan, and Mao took over.

  37. @WorkingClass

    Do I have the Kung Flue?

    I don’t know. I am not familiar with your chimney, Sir. If you do, I guarantee that it was made in China. See what I mean …

    (Nice comment, though, WC.)

    • Replies: @WorkingClass
  38. This article could have been cut by 75%.
    What most strikes me about response to the virus is
    a) Nearly all the talking heads on TV are clueless.
    b) Those who actually know stuff like govt. officials and even scientists refuse to say anything revealing.
    c) There is a general sense that bromides and slogans are always valuable contributions to the discussion.
    d) The Republicans are eager to shovel free money at corporations even if it costs Trump the election. But they would rather face Torquemada than cut a check to a prole..
    e) Hiding the truth to avoid panic is likely to cause panic. Every time the question of available beds, ventilators, masks and tests come up we get the answer “we’re working on it and there’s nothing to worry about. Our big corporations are so kindly that they are actually VOLUNTEERING to help!” The universal answer to pointed questions is: “That’s a good question. I don’t know and if I did I couldn’t get away with telling you.” What a condescending and dishonest communication strategy.

  39. @Achmed E. Newman

    Never could spell. It drove my mother nuts. The spell checker can spell. But that’s all it can do. I have a brother in law who used to moonlight as a proof reader. He read everything backward and forward. I would rather hug a hot stove.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  40. @Three of Swords

    These masks are not exactly quantum computers. Hard to believe Johnson and Johnson couldn’t make a million in a week. The govt is willing to spend billions bailing out some airline but not on building hospitals or making masks or ventilators. To defeat the virus we need to prepare for contingencies, not wait for them to become realities that we fumble and scramble to respond to, costing lives.
    Derbyshire’s uncertainty is irrelevant to policy, which must take uncertain conditions as if they were certain and prepare for them.

    • Replies: @Three of Swords
    , @dfordoom
  41. @Keypusher

    Keypusher, The problem is that the government statistical amassing, analysis, and reporting systems are sometimes quick and accurate reports of existing states of affairs, and sometimes entirely made up, shaped by economic and political interests, and expressly designed to mislead the public. Sometimes they are a mix of both. The wise and prudent man (a realist, perhaps?) is very, very skeptical. He carries an umbrella when rain is forecast, but does not contribute to ark construction every time rain is forecast, or in the event that a Biblical rain may come to his town on the Plains..

    Me? I see this whole Coronavirus® thing as 10% illness and 90% hoax/scam. I believe that many though not all “government” reports of data collection and analysis are at least misstated, if not made up out of whole cloth. I believe that “media” are openly and notoriously being used as agents of propaganda, and happily so. I do not force my beliefs on anyone, and encourage people to learn all they can, and keep their eyes open while keeping mother wit and common sense at the ready.

    I think Realist is actually about correct in approach to government supplied data about this, and the media analysis and reporting of it.

  42. @WorkingClass

    I didn’t think this was a spelling error. I do the same thing very often when my fingers type up the sound in my head, but a different version.

    I really am not the one to correct people on this, but I couldn’t resist. Some have called me a homo …

    [MORE]

    .

    .

    .

    … nym Nazi.

  43. Should you now, in this time, catch a cold or the flu, what you’re gonna do, to get to see an MD and get a prescription to go buy your medication? Let alone anything more serious. Looks to me that they’re only interested in wheeling you into a hospital once you’re a lost cause, or almost. So you’ll call up some number and be put on hold listening to some generic electronic music until … until … months later they break down your door and find your rotting corpse once this “emergency” is over.

  44. @jeff stryker

    The fatality rate is 4%. Four percent, mostly people over 80.

    Going by the worst possible case by far, the Diamond Princess, with the most favourable conditions for transmissions of this virus and with a far higher percentage of elderly passengers than anywhere else on-shore, the fatality rate is 1%. Elsewhere it should be far lower; the higher figures are probably due to lack of testing in the general population.

  45. @Sean

    So you admit you were wrong about how you spun your initial post.

    Yeah, National Geographic. That’s the end-all be-all.

    I bet you don’t think the current virus came from the US either.

    Well, it did.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/947867908642430/permalink/2855048134591055/

  46. @jack daniels

    It appears then that J&J and others do not have the people’s interest in mind. We shall see.

    There are a plethora of think tanks plotting hegemony and the regime change, but if there are any preparing contingency plans for situations like the one we are currently in, I have never heard of them.

    Regarding your comment #39 – e, any time I hear “don’t worry”, I think, “Be afraid; be very afraid!”

  47. MEH 0910 says:

    THE MASK (1961) – Original theatrical trailer

  48. keypusher says:
    @Realist

    That’s not true..I am always suspect of government sources…as any intelligent person would be. You have no idea what I rely on…you are making an assumption.

    Where the hell is that private-sector mortality report, “Realist”?

    • Replies: @Realist
  49. Realist says:
    @keypusher

    Where the hell is that private-sector mortality report, “Realist”?

    Exactly…it doesn’t exist…we only have the government report. The news media does not do its job.

  50. geezers on gurneys

    That could be your fate Derb since you meet all the conditions to be an extremely high risk person, Geezer Check, severe health condition Check, so please stop blowing statistical smoke out your ass regarding this Pandemic,

  51. OK, OK, so what are we going to call it?

    ” The Holocough ” raised a sensible chuckle from me.

    Monday morning, and the A30’s been about as busy as the Appian Way. Normally it’s a madhouse.
    Footy’s off, and the pubs ordered shut. Even the soaps have stopped filming. Boris is playing with fire. The buggers might all sober up, simultaneously.

    • LOL: Achmed E. Newman
    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  52. so the derb turned out to be just another conservative, just like the vdare people and almost everyone else…
    c ya

    • Replies: @attilathehen
  53. @propagandist hacker

    If Derb couldn’t preserve his genetic inheritance, how can one expect him to preserve and save the West?

    • Replies: @europeasant
    , @Truth
  54. Anon[171] • Disclaimer says:
    @Realist

    If the first cases were outside of China, and if they were unreported, that country surely would have had an insane, uncontrollable, unknown epidemic that would have commanded the world’s attention.

  55. Realist says:

    If the first cases were outside of China, and if they were unreported, that country surely would have had an insane, uncontrollable, unknown epidemic that would have commanded the world’s attention.

    I didn’t say they were unreported, I said they may have been misdiagnosed.

    Perhaps this epidemic is not as insane and uncontrollable as advertised.

  56. dfordoom says: • Website
    @jack daniels

    The govt is willing to spend billions bailing out some airline but not on building hospitals or making masks or ventilators.

    If the airlines are not bailed out rich people will lose money. That’s a much greater tragedy than the deaths of a few tens of thousands of people.

    Won’t anyone think of the suffering of the billionaires?

  57. SFG says:
    @The Alarmist

    Sombreros are a little too leptokurtic to model that curve, I think.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  58. @attilathehen

    “If Derb couldn’t preserve his genetic inheritance”.

    BS, he preserved half of it. At least he didn’t dilute it with African DNA.

    • Replies: @attilathehen
    , @Truth
  59. @europeasant

    He preserved nothing. The Chinese wife and daughter voted for Obummer. They like the dark meat. The son and daughter are barely average in intelligence. The daughter will mostly likely marry a black guy. The son will mostly likely marry a Chinese female. Derb’s genetic history will be history.

  60. Truth says:
    @europeasant

    LOL, he preserved half of his heritage, ain’t that like being half-pregnant?

    • Replies: @europeasant
  61. @Keypusher

    90% of the statistics on which every aspect of your life is based, from the inflation rate to tomorrow’s weather forecast, is based on data gathered, organized and crunched by the government

    Inflation LOL. Totally not altered to not look as bad. Weather. New York still isn’t submerged, and there is still sea ice in the Arctic.

    • Agree: Achmed E. Newman
  62. @SFG

    Hmmm… I would have thought sombreros are Platykurtic….

    BTW, how about “Stomp the Sombrero?”

  63. @Truth

    Half is better than nothing!

    BTW Someone asked me if was afraid of the Corona Virus?

    I responded;

    Corona Virus? Corona Virus ?
    I ain’t afraid of no Corona Virus,
    The Corona Virus is afraid of me!
    I’ll bitch slap that Corona Virus left and right
    Like if she were a two-bit whore
    And I ain’t jokin’
    Cause I’m comin’ out smokin!

    • Replies: @Truth
  64. @Expletive Deleted

    ” The Holocough ” raised a sensible chuckle from me.

    So, the predicted mortality will be six million? Seems like we can turn the world economy back on if it is that limited.

    🎶
    Obladi, oblada, life goes on, bra,
    la la la life goes on
    🎶

  65. @obwandiyag

    With there being possibly as many as 5000 bat corona viruses in the wild, any one of which could jump to an intermediary animal, and then to a human, like they had done several times already since 2003, well then this one obviously had to come from some bioweapon fiend at Ft. Detrick who deviously managed to get it to Wuhan and let it loose on some unsuspecting Chinese human.

    That is just pure logic, right. Occams Razor.

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