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Draco was a democratic legislator in 622 B.C. who moved Athenian law from an oral tradition known only to the elite, to a written code of law, which could be called upon by any citizen. A reformer. However, his laws were very harsh, applying the death penalty for minor offences, and his code was repealed by Solon in the early 6th century BC, save for his section on homicide. Law is born out of despair at human nature, and Draco despaired.

It would be interesting to know if Draco’s laws led to better behaviour among Athenians, with less stealing of cabbages, and whether Solon subsequently ushered in an age of depravity, but I merely mention that severe measures are now described as draconian, and this condemnation is expected be understood and agreed by all.

How should countries respond to this coronavirus? Doing nothing is the base case, and no country has openly adopted that policy. Perhaps failed states would be an interesting test case. The two current options are Contain or Mitigate. Palpably, nations failed to contain the virus, though China after an uncertain start in which the severity of the problem was denied, did a fast catch-up and imposed, er, Draconian measures. That is, the relevant ones. Singapore took a more nuanced but effective approach. Taiwan seems to have done well. South Korea was doing OK when one deluded believer jumped hospital quarantine to attend a religious meeting, infecting many, matters being made worse by the reluctance of the religious leaders to say who had attended their service.

Here in the UK the key modelling work is being done by Imperial College, and here is a recent interview with the team leader, and then a much more detailed argument from the same group.

The key picture is the estimate of intensive care beds required under various policy scenarios, which will be closely related to death rates, since those beds are very limited in number.

Basically, we are now able to model something which more advanced principalities in Mediaeval Europe knew instinctively: the way to stop an epidemic is to deny it its stepping stones. You have to block the vector, and deny the enemy its next host. Scorched earth, in fact.

In contrast, here is a podcast with Greg Cochran, in person a mild and courteous companion, and in the abstract an acerbic commentator on all muddled thinking.

For those of you in a great hurry, his main points are:

You have to get the R0 down by whatever means you can; that the main vector of spread is sneezing, coughing and breathing, with hand touching secondary; that closing schools helps reduce the vector, and the children are the vectors, not the victims in this case; UK policy is wrong: if you allow any proportion of the population to get infected you very quickly get a small proportion of that infected proportion who get very ill, and that swamps the intensive care facilities anyway, and hospitals overflow. Respiratory facilities are very limited. Wuhan thought people had acquired immunity, but they were wrong. A few people, just a few, caught the virus, and that was sufficient to swamp facilities, even with the extra hospitals. What the Chinese achieved they did by limiting social interactions. Taiwan and Singapore also succeeded in the same way. Testing for fever and Covid is the way forward. If you let the virus go through the population in the hope of getting immunity you kill a lot of people.
UK advisors seem to take it as gospel that what China did can’t be done in the UK. They are wrong. Furthermore, you don’t have to regard finding a vaccine as the only way forwards. Some old drugs may work partially. Serums will probably work. We need to use any avenue to reduce cases and to reduce death rates.

Now: ship cruises. After I die, I intend to go on one.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship had the misfortune to be boarded by a person already showing symptoms, who was later tested and shown to be infected with Covid-19, by which time he had infected 634 other passengers. This shows that using average figures for the reproductive index can be highly misleading in settings where many people are close together in confined circumstances.

Among those infected, the death rate was 1.2% 12 times worse than ordinary flu. Not nice, as my Granny used to say.

Worse, among those over 70, the death rate was 9%. Definitely not nice. For those whose infection becomes symptomatic and reaches case level, the death rate doubles to 18%.

So, at least two weeks too late, in the UK we are keeping the most vulnerable away from obvious harm, and keeping the fit and young from needless infection. The key error was to keep planes flying, and to keep borders open so that the virus could hitch a ride and use every country as stepping stones to the next victim.

As someone in self-isolation I can tell you that food home delivery systems are struggling, their websites crashing, and deliveries are being cancelled. Pharmacies have local shortages, supermarkets as well. The neighbourhood is pretty deserted, few people about, few of the usual construction workers about, fewer cars on the road, but still a fair number of cyclists. Neighbours who are either younger, fitter or simply more courageous are willing to do errands.

Has the UK goofed? Like other countries it made the fundamental error of running an open house with airlines, visitors, tourists, cruise ships for far too long.

Only the death rate per million will give us the answer as to how badly we have done, in 2021, or 2022, or 2025, depending on how many waves hit us.

• Category: Science • Tags: Coronavirus, Disease 
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  1. Sean says:

    Neighbours who are either younger, fitter or simply more courageous are willing to do errands.

    If you are answering the door to them that rather defeats the object doesn’t it? From what I understand shedding the virus left right and centre precedes symptoms .

    Didn’t Greg say being in the same room is enough for transmission of the virus. After I heard that I told my parents 80 and 84 not to open the front door or let anyone in the house, once someone is in actually the house they are using cutlery, towels and the toilet. including my sister bringing groceries; she can go through the side gate and they can meet in the garden and sit out there to talk. It can survive for hours on plastic apparently, but not in sunlight. Handy thing, a garden.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  2. Open society capitalism seems to invite the Virus.

    What signal is Nature sending us?

  3. dearieme says:

    J|IDEA looks very much like JUDEA. So it’s all a Jewish plot.

    There: at last I’m getting the hang of commenting like an Unz nutter.

    Now then, in non-nutter mode: as an ex-mathematical modeller I shall opine.

    Two things to remember: (i) It’s just a model.
    (ii) Don’t forget (i).

    By this I mean that the more uncertain the science that you are modelling, the less certainty you should claim for your results. It’s obvious that Vallance understands this. I don’t know about Ferguson: he describes what’s happening elsewhere as if there were data that, as far as I know, don’t exist. For example, are the tests and the use of other diagnostic procedures good enough – with few false positives and false negatives – that we can trust the results?

    OK, suppose the tests are good enough for epidemiological purposes. Has anyone (expected answer – “no”) taken random samples of the population and tested them at, say, weekly intervals so that a sound measure is available of the progress of the infection? I can see why nobody has done it but it does mean we are flying blind. Second only to testing hospital personnel this may be one of the best uses available for the test kits if you’ve got enough of them.

    The 2011 Strategy report explained that (a) Stopping flights, and so on, can work under two conditions viz (1) you stop virtually all of them, and (2) you do so as soon as the epidemic has begun.

    (b) But in the principal example it pointed to, condition (2) was violated because the epidemic was not reported internationally until it was well underway. And that’s exactly the problem we’ve had with China in 2019/20: they lied, bullied, and covered up for weeks. Basically that’s why we are in the soup. In other words, Chinese citizens had already spread the infection before other countries had time to react usefully. I’m struck that one country that has done well is S Korea, which was blessed with the import of the infection being effected by only a small number of people so that tracing and quarantine worked well. Success was thanks also to the high level of competence exhibited by S Korean government and society. It’s surely no coincidence that it’s S Korean car manufacturers that offer seven year guarantees.

    I’m also struck by the success of Taiwan. Lots of applause is merited for their efforts. Additionally, to quote a chap I read earlier today “a little credit should also go to China for banning its own people from visiting Taiwan as individual tourists in 2019, in addition to limiting Chinese tour groups to Taiwan from 2016.”

    I encourage Boris to “follow the science” as long as the math modellers emphasis how uncertain things are. Maybe they do. The other thing to do is somehow to learn to shut out the whines of the ignorant, the dimwitted, and the dishonest, and of the hindsight merchants. Probably some politicians are thick skinned enough to do so: I’m not sure Boris is. Fingers crossed.

    In case of doubt I must emphasis that I do not consider you, dear blogger, as ignorant, dimwitted, or dishonest. Quite the contrary.

    Also in case of doubt I incline to agree with you that stopping inward flights sooner would have been wise: I don’t think I’m guilty of hindsight in saying so. Among politicians maybe only an oaf like Trump has the brass neck to do that sort of thing, indifferent to the accusation from the woke of being a racist, xenophobic, racist, xenophobic, Literally Hitler. Oafs have their uses.

  4. res says:

    Good comment. Thanks. I wonder if some of Taiwan’s success can be attributed to its climate. Current dew point in Taipei is over 15 C and it is at 25 N latitude. Contrast South Korea. Much discussion of specific humidity in the Steve Sailer and Audacious Epigone blogs for anyone interested so I won’t repeat that here.

    P.S. Dr. Thompson, are you self-isolating as a precaution or because you are ill? I am doing the latter, but don’t know if it is actually COVID-19.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  5. ” This shows that using average figures for the reproductive index can be highly misleading in settings where many people are close together in confined circumstances.”

    The cruel irony is that if anyone could inform us as to how to deal with viral infections in populations dwelling in confined circumstances, it would have been the camp administrators of the Third Reich. They became experts at prevention, mitigating and ameliorating the typhus, diphtheria et al. that were responsible for the majority of deaths in the camps.

    Unfortunately for us, their expertise was lost to history when they were mass executed post WW2 in a frenzy of false allegations, misunderstandings, blood lust and vindictive revenge.

    The last of the camp personnel, a former Nazi soldier, being recently seized and illegally rendered to Israel must bring a smile to the Goddess of Irony.

    • Replies: @Hugh
  6. dearieme says:

    The Contagion from Cathay; the Oriental Awfulness; the Plague from the People’s Republic.

  7. More on the Diamond Princess. n=3711

    100% exposure to infection for 4 weeks
    83% uninfected about 400 left the ship after testing negative.
    9% infected but no symptoms
    8% infected with mostly mild symptoms. The few severe cases needed 3 weeks to recover.
    0.18% (1/500) of total died, all with 3 underlying conditions. Death in 1st week of infection.

    Ship population was heavily skewed to old people. Adjusting age for profile of general population this is a death rate of 1/1000 at most. Annualised, it could well be less, say 0.5/1000 because those with underlying conditions were due to die anyway.

    UK annual death rate is about 9.3/1000. In social terms, this is not a big surge and is bringing forward the deaths of the already ill. The real problem is that they might all die at the same moment. Dying at home is no longer done so a lack of hospital capacity has political costs. Thus mitigation.

    Supress or mitigate. Supression is a great way to fight the last war against SARS. However, CV19 may have a long incubation period and as we see above many asymptotic cases. CV19 can go undergrond for ages in a young population. Spanish Flu did that. It came back in a colossal 2nd wave. Places that had dealt with the first wave by suppressing it were the most vulnerable this time.

    Somewhere in Syria, stressed people with MERS infected camels are hardly noticing this (for the young) moderate disease. Next October they will send it out again.

    The superspreaders in mitigated populations will already be immune. Infection will be spread over time. In suppressed populations the whole fury (perhaps too strong a word) will hit in a few weeks.

    We won’t know which is right Supress/Mitigate until October.

    Meanwhile I need a G&T

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  8. dearieme says:

    Another point of view.

    Question: this may sound awfully elementary, but has anyone demonstrated that the dread virus does actually kill people? I mean, tests show its presence (though I don’t know how well they do so). People die who have the virus (but, for all I know, plenty of other viruses too). But cause as distinct from correlation: it has actually been well established, has it?

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  9. @res

    As a precaution. Although in good health, I am in the 70+ risk group, and also in a temporary sole carer role, so don’t want to fail in my duties.

    • Thanks: res
  10. The people doing the modeling are, of course the same bought and paid for statist whores who brought us the climate change bullshit.

    • Disagree: James N. Kennett
    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    , @The Alarmist
  11. @dearieme

    “But in the principal example it pointed to, condition (2) was violated because the epidemic was not reported internationally until it was well underway. And that’s exactly the problem we’ve had with China in 2019/20: they lied, bullied, and covered up for weeks. Basically that’s why we are in the soup.”

    I believe that one host country did what you describe, but it was not China.

    Here’s the WHO’s Timeline:

    Dec 26, 2019, in Wuhan, Jixian Zhang notices a cluster of 4 anomalous cases of pneumonia, 3 within the same family, and reports them to the local CDC the next day.

    December 28, 2019. After Beijing pathologists confirm Dr. Zhang’s diagnosis, they report it to WHO.

    December 31, 2019 WHO reports this to the world.

    January 7, 2020 China had identified the virus,

    January 12, 2020 the first 2019-nCov (later renamed to SARS-CoV-2) and by

    January 13, 2020 the first test kits were available.

    Dr Bruce Aylward, head of the Who International Mission said,“In the face of a previously unknown disease, China has taken one of the most ancient approaches for infectious disease control and rolled out probably the most ambitious, and I would say, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history. China took old-fashioned measures, like the national approach to hand-washing, the mask-wearing, the social distancing, the universal temperature monitoring. But then very quickly, as it started to evolve, the response started to change . . . So they refined the strategy as they moved forward, and this is an important aspect as we look to how we might use this going forward. WHO has been here from the start of this crisis, an epidemic, working every single day with the government of China… WHO was here from the beginning and never left. What’s different about this mission is it’s complementing with a lot of other external experts.”

    • Replies: @dearieme
  12. Factorize says:

    What’s the Euro view on corona? Are the British glad that Brexit happened before the pandemic?

    Is there griping within Europe concerning the centralized decision making process and how best to respond to the virus in relation to sensitivity to local conditions? As a guess having the flexibility to respond to the crisis from the viewpoint of the UK probably would have a comforting feeling. Did they maintain open intra-European borders longer than some individual member states wanted?

  13. @dearieme

    Germany has a very low death rate for cv19 because they record the underlying cause. So, No. If your heart or kidneys aren’t already in trouble it will be pneumonia that gets you. Reports vary but high blood pressure seems to be the biggest risk factor.

  14. @Bill Jones

    They model on the same principles. In this case the model is designed as a lobbying vehicles for Labour party politics. Note the drama of hospital bed capacity shown as hopelessly overwhelmed by massive factors.

  15. Anon[196] • Disclaimer says:

    Part of the reason Taiwan has managed well is because there was no “coverup” by China. Taiwan was doing temperature checks at the airport in early January because China had reported on the virus.

    The Chinese “coverup” meme seems to have been promoted in US media to coverup the Trump admin’s downplaying of the virus and the CDC’s strange sluggishness to test for the virus over the past couple of months.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  16. Hugh says:

    “Only the death rate per million will give us the answer as to how badly we have done, in 2021, or 2022, or 2025, depending on how many waves hit us.”

    I would expect a reliable vaccine and / or effective treatments to be available within one year. But maybe I’m wrong.

  17. Papertree says:

    Draconian measures like lockdowns go only so far in explaining China’s success in containing the virus. Outside of Hubei province, which contains Wuhan, the epicenter for coronavirus, there are 30 other provinces that each had hundreds or even thousands of confirmed cases. Yet new cases have gone down to a trickle in these places thanks to well-orchestrated public health measures like mass testing, isolation of infected individuals, identification of their contacts, and limits on mass gatherings. In fact, China has 1,800 teams that track down infected individuals and everyone they contacted, and then everyone those people contacted.

    Maybe you don’t trust the China figures, or perhaps you believe that the kind of tracking of everyone and their contacts to exhaustion would never happen in a democracy–or that citizens of non-authoritarian countries lack the discipline of those in places like China. So, look at Taiwan, a democracy that also has been able to contain the virus, despite being a densely-populated country close to China. They have drawn on their national insurance database and immigration data to identify infection risks among travelers and keep tabs on infected individuals and contacts. In fact, there is a JAMA article by Stanford researchers that details Taiwan’s ‘Big Data’ approach to the crisis. They note that Taiwan employed 124 action steps to corral the virus:

    What this shows is that a well-coordinated, thoughtful response may make massive shutdowns unnecessary.

  18. Thanks for summarizing the Cochran interview.

  19. Sean says:

    Germany successfully eradicated the virus in Munich, Bavaria in January by tracing and isolating all contacts of the 14 people who tested positive. There were no further cases for weeks. Then came the Italian epidemic in Codogno, Lombardy. The re-infection of Germany came from the epidemic in Italy, which originated with with Mattia the Marathoner of Codogno who was infected by meeting a friend coming back from China on 21 Jan and first complained of symptoms on Feb 14.

    In Italy there had been emergency rules about people presenting with certain symptoms in place for weeks before Mattia began going to the hospital and these meant Mattia ought to have been admitted isolated and tested for coronavirus. Instead the hospital gave him flu medicine and sent him home. He was not tested for coronavirus until after he developed pneumonia on the 20th February.

    Italy had 475 coronavirus deaths yesterday, and 319 of them were in Lombardy.

    The Lombardy health services appeared to be “strongly affected” by the ‘Ndrangheta. This mafia’s families managed to penetrate various segments of the public health system, from bidding for supplies to the management of important local health offices, the distribution of medicines and the control of pharmacies.

    China is a totalitarian state police state with concentration camps. Paul Ewald, professor of biology at the University of Kentucky on virulence.

    Unlike what we’re seeing with COVID-19 now, where people must be more or less mobile to infect others, in a detention camp this constraint on the virus disappears. There it can evolve high specialisation and virulence in the species it’s infecting – in this case, people.

    If the Chinese government cannot or does not curb the transmission of the novel coronavirus in Xinjiang, it’s possible that it will evolve, as the influenza virus did in 1918, to become even more dangerous to humans.

    When the millions of Muslim human battery chickens in Chinese camps result in a super lethal coronavirus, China will be best placed to cope, because only they have the immediately available productive capacity to make things like masks.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  20. Anonymous[146] • Disclaimer says:

    …CDC’s strange sluggishness to test for the virus over the past couple of months.

    Very strange indeed. I was shocked when the commenter “anastasia” posted this yesterday:

    The number of corona cases in New YOrk grew from one to 2500 in the last three days.

    If true (I didn’t check), the official history of the virus spread in the US is completely unreliable and it’s difficult to see it as an honest mistake.

  21. @Bill Jones

    The people doing the modeling are, of course the same bought and paid for statist whores who brought us the climate change bullshit.

    Is COVID-19’s spread related to Climate Change?

  22. “depending on how many waves hit us”

    There’s the rub. The 1919 pandemic came around in multiple waves lasting more than 12 months.

    The pressures of economic necessity dictate that people have to leave their homes and get back to work.

    As the structure begins to falter, we’ll be implored to ignore the crisis and keep working, spending, and paying interest.

  23. dearieme says:
    @Godfree Roberts

    I’m not interested in the WHO’s sucking up to China. The bloody thing seems to have started in mid November.

    • Replies: @Godfree Roberts
  24. dearieme says:
    @Philip Owen

    I’m not clear what you mean, Philip. Are you suggesting that where the Germans write down “kidney failure” the Italians would write down “Wuhan virus”?

    I notice that British reports say something like “the number who have died after testing positive for COVID-19”. Measured and suitably tentative, I’d say.

    • Replies: @LondonBob
    , @Philip Owen
  25. LondonBob says:

    The first reported death we had here was careful to say she had COVID 19 when she died, not that she died from it, they also stated she had had a serious of serious illnesses.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  26. dearieme says:

    Bob, by ‘here” do you mean UK?

    • Replies: @LondonBob
  27. Sean says:

    Germany’s death rate from confirmed cases of coronavirus is 0.26 %, the UK’s 3.7 % and Italy’s 7.9 per cent. Just like the war: Germans are incredibly good, the British do nothing until it is too late then muddle through, and the Italians are astoundingly bad for reasons no one can really understand. Italy had a thousand deaths when it had twelve thousand odd confirmed cases, that is people ill enough to come the the attention of the hospital and German figures for seriously ill from coronavirus is in line with their deaths. So it is not just the death certificates. There would be no hiding the fact if there had been a thousand excess deaths in Germany in a week; the idea is preposterous.

    Hypertension is the condition that makes you most likely to die of the coronavirus, and German doctors are the only ones in the world to treat low blood pressure as a bad thing. I think German doctors are likely to undertreat high blood pressure and thus not put people on ACE inhibitors. Italians being relatively prone to living in crowded multi-generational households with old people in them, while German elderly (just as common) are more isolated, is doubtless a factor too.
    Indeed, based upon the clear-cut evidence of an ACE inhibitor-induced upregulation of ACE2 previously shown in murine models (7), this could additionally speed-up viral uptake and host’s pulmonary tissue colonization, should a similar mechanism of ACE2 upregulation take place also in SARS-CoV-2-infected humans”

    So to be clear, German doctors are less likely to have their patients on a certain treatment for high blood pressure in the first place, their elderly are more isolated, and the Germans are just bloody efficient.

    • Replies: @NPleeze
  28. NPleeze says:

    Among those infected, the death rate was 1.2% 12 times worse than ordinary flu. Not nice, as my Granny used to say.

    Worse, among those over 70, the death rate was 9%. Definitely not nice. For those whose infection becomes symptomatic and reaches case level, the death rate doubles to 18%.

    As is typical for hysterical fear-mongers, the crucial facts are omitted.

    First, 80% of those stranded in “terrible” (from a contagion POV) conditions on the Diamond Princess with the extremely sick for 6 weeks (2 weeks before reaching Japan, then 4 weeks in en masse quarantine) did not get sick at all.

    Second, only 6 (possibly 7) folks died, or about 0.2% of the ship’s population, despite being the worst case scenario in terms of contagion (and limited medical care). The full demographics of the Diamond Princess, in terms of age, are available at this report by the Japanese National Institute of Infectious Diseases. It shows 25% of the population was in their 60s, 28% in their 70s, and 58% 60 or above. All of the 6 dead were, I believe (could not find data on a couple), in their 70s.

    In the US, compared to the Diamond Princess, about 11.5% (vs. 24.9% for DP) are in their 60s, 7% (vs. 27.4% for DP) are in their 70s, and 3.8% (vs. 6.1% for DP) are 80 or above.

    Thus, the DP presented not just extremely favorable conditions for contagion, but it also had a massively disproportionate number of the vulnerable group on board. Yet the death rate was only 0.2%, all old folks.

    Those are the facts that matter when it comes to public policy. Not the fear-mongering and pretending all people are equally susceptible or these absurd 5% death rates claimed (which are so high only because only the very sick are tested for the disease – so yeah, maybe 5% of the very sick die, but that’s simile with the flu).

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  29. NPleeze says:

    Germany’s death rate from confirmed cases of coronavirus is 0.26 %,

    The outbreak just started there – vast majority of cases reported in the last week. As the disease takes some time to kill, those numbers are completely unreliable.

    Statistics at:

    On Mar. 4, there were 262 confirmed cases; on Mar. 18, 12,327 (has been growing exponentially).

    Also the denominator (number of infected people) in death rates is always utterly wrong, that’s why these numbers don’t mean anything. Death rate is always of “confirmed cases”, which has absolutely nothing to do with actual cases.

    It’s like being in a nail salon and observing “95% of the people are female” and then concluding: “95% of society is female”. Yes, it’s that dumb.

    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
  30. Factorize says:

    Should we now start thinking about a parallel economic system to deal with the current situation? Modern capitalist economies are not structured to cope with what is unfolding. To cope with our current circumstances a fairly simple workaround could be to nationalize (or otherwise strongly regulate) those most essential aspects of the economy vital for basic survival and provide ration vouchers for all citizens. This is simply a recognition that a money based economy might no longer be realistic at this time. How can you have a money based economy if over the medium term there is no nominal economy? Voucherization would simply make this obvious, while providing the basis for a “real economy”.

    Everyone would benefit from such vouchers. Knowing that everyone was provided for would be highly comforting. The consequences for not doing this could be serious. If people have no access to food and lack a means of earning a wage, then our civilization and civility could begin to fray. Reports from America indicate that Americans are panic buying guns and ammunition. Such fears are entirely unnecessary. Modern economies require minimal efforts to provide the basics such as food. Building confidence in the community that a base level of support will be provided to all as a matter of right would seem to be a very useful signal to send.

    • Replies: @NPleeze
  31. @dearieme

    I know that it’s rare for an international body to refuse to bend to American pressure, but you’ll just have to get used to it.

    As to your mid-November suspicion, can you say in which country it occurred and why you give that date?

  32. NPleeze says:

    Give people a dash of choice and that’s the Universal Basic Income system. And yes it’s being proposed again. B/c we don’t have enough debt, debt to infinity!

    • Replies: @Factorize
  33. Factorize says:

    I was thinking of this more within the context of the emergency style economy that currently is evolving. In our present economic circumstances it would be very helpful to send a clear signal that everyone will be provided with a subsistence level of economic support. Universal Basic Income is more related to a normally functioning consumer economy which is no longer present. It is in everyone’s self-interests to now extend such an offer in order to signal that there is no valid reason for a descent into disorder to occur. With everyone guaranteed of subsistence, what is there to worry about (besides the virus)?

    My idea was not meant as a continuation of typical left-right economic argumentation, but is related to voucherizing basic needs which can easily be produced by our modern and highly efficient economies. When you look through all the hollow conspicuous consumption present in typical economies, there is not a great deal that remains. I would find a policy of providing the necessities to all to be highly comforting.

    • Replies: @NPleeze
  34. NPleeze says:

    By “emergency economy” you mean “arbitrary and capricious martial law economy”? Republicans are proposing a 1-time $1,200 payment ($2,400 for couples), subject to some max. income rules.

    Universal Basic Income is more related to a normally functioning consumer economy which is no longer present.

    How’s that? Not everywhere has imposed martial law – in fact it’s mainly Democratic areas FWICT.

    Let the states/cities that declared martial law deal with the consequences of their own tyrannical idiocy. Countless businesses will go bust.

    With everyone guaranteed of subsistence, what is there to worry about (besides the virus)?

    The biggest danger of all: the government.

    I’m a taxpayer because I work hard. Now I should pay more taxes because some buffoons the idiot citizens “voted” into office are taking dramatic tyrannical action to destroy the economy? I already work 9 months of the year for the State, should we make it 12? Then I can be a full slave instead of a 75% slave. Yipeee!!

    voucherizing basic needs which can easily be produced by our modern and highly efficient economies

    What is so easily produced? Oil? Food? Clothes? You seem not to work for a living. Nothing is “easy to produce”.

    The UBI is coming, your voucher system is not (vouchers make sense only in time of rationing – we may get there, but not yet). UBI will probably be tied to your “social credit score”, like China has – as long as you lick government boot and take it deep between your cheeks without complaining, you’ll get your monthly check. Meanwhile, the AI “smart grid” will be monitoring your every move and adjusting your “social credit score”. “Hate speech” (i.e., speech your rulers hate) will cost you a week’s food supply.

  35. Agree button used up.

    They say the lockdown is to protect the vulnerable (old) people but it will now kill more of them due to other causes than the coronavirus. Also now they publicise and sensetionalise deaths due to the coronavirus in an emotive personalised style they never bothered when reporting other deaths (like deaths of people due to flu or whatever else, sick people dropping dead in the street, the horrors of someone dying in intensive care, etc.) while now they show you nurses crying because some old codger died gasping for breath.

    The recent David Icke interview is very good. He says that when you know what their final goal is it all becomes clear what is going on.

    • Replies: @Commentator Mike
  36. @NPleeze

    On Mar. 4, there were 262 confirmed cases; on Mar. 18, 12,327 (has been growing exponentially).

    I wish people would stop pretending that “confirmed cases” are a useful metric, or using changes in “confirmed cases” over timeframes of days as the basis for calculating the appropriate growth factor for the now ubiquitously-referenced “ZOMFG It’s exponential!!1!!Eleventy!!” growth stage (which is actually better-modelled by the pre-midpoint segment of a logistic function).

    The number of individuals being tested is growing more-than-linearly; what would be very useful (but is not readily available) is a way to reconcile ‘confirmed cases’ with total completed tests.

    Here’s ‘tests’ vs ‘confirmed’ for a range of countries…

    Notice that it looks approximately linear in log-log space, which means that

    Δln(‘Confirmed’) – Δln(‘Tested’)

    is approximately constant across countries (a decent hint that it’s going to be the same as the number of tests increases in a given country).

    These numbers will still be biased, because the testing protocols are not generating a random sample – but it shows that increased test numbers are the primary contributor to the growth in ‘confirmed cases’.

    This is entirely expected, and is a key reason why ‘confirmed cases’ are an irrelevance in the absence of data about numbers tested.

    (I’m labouring the point deliberately).

    Consider if you decided to test for people who had zits.

    Day 1 you test 1 15 year old boy, and sure enough he has zits. Confirmed cases =1. Confirmed/Tested = 1. Headline: ZOMFG we’re all going to be pizzafaces, says Science.

    The next day, you test 20 people aged between 12 and 20; 5 of them have zits. Confirmed cases = 6; C/T: ~0.28

    The next day you test 100 people aged between 12 and 60; 10 of them have zits. Confirmed cases: 16; C/T: ~ 0.13; Journalists: ZOMFG confirmed cases have gone exponential.


    And so on and so on. The ‘confirmed cases’ chart – as interpreted by an innumerate fuckwit (e.g., journalist) – looks like zits are spreading exponentially… when all that’s happening is that more people are being tested.

    Why aren’t we being given Δln(‘Confirmed’) – Δln(‘Tested’)? (The data can be had – see Our World in Data’s Country Sources and Tests vs Confirmed Cases (cross-sectional).

    Why aren’t we being given Δln(‘Asymptomatic’) – Δln(‘Confirmed’)?

    Why aren’t we being given Δln(‘Serious’)[t-4] – Δln(‘Confirmed’)[t-4]?

    (That last one uses lagged values due to a temporal confounder: it’s not possible to know when the ‘Confirmed’ actually contracted the disease, but 4 days is a enough for symptoms to ramp if they’re going to).

    Those who are prepared to obtain data on a daily basis and build their own analytical tools, can get all the data they want: I’ve been doing this for weeks now, and what has been made clear is that none of the ‘authorities’ are keen to present data that shows how non-apocalyptic this gigantic fucking nothingburger is (ignoring the deleterious effects of .gov flailing around, getting its dick wet and pretending it knows what it’s doing)

    • Replies: @NPleeze
  37. NPleeze says:

    I wish people would stop pretending that “confirmed cases” are a useful metric

    I’ve made a similar point numerous times, probably in this thread as well, but here I was using it to say: “it’s much too early to say Germany’s death rate is much lower than Italy’s”.

    You seem to agree with the substance but are nitpicking my way of illustrating it. Congrats.

  38. @dearieme

    Naming conventions
    Politicized naming conventions
    Test kits
    Herd immunity
    Hand wash
    yak yak
    yak yak yak some more

    While everybody is busy jumping on the bandwagon,

    How about a frigging effective treatment?

    Turns out one has existed all along:

    Now 3 International Studies Find Chloroquine with Azithromycin Shows 100% Success Rate in Treating Coronavirus in 6 Days!

    “Rep. Mark Green, a former Army Flight Surgeon, [said] that the combination of Chloroquine with Azithromycin cleared the virus in 3 days in 100% of the patients in the study.

    That is THREE international studies now that show the success of the Chloroquine treatment.

    Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) : The old reliable Malaria drug chloroquine, the newer version hydroxychloroquine has shown really good, three studies, one in Australia, one in China and now one in France mixed with azithromycin, just the old Z-Pac that we take for bronchitis, has had 100%. It cleared the virus, in some cases in three days, that cocktail in every one of the patients in that study… It’s very promising, 100% of the virus gone in six days!”

    NEXT STEP: Find out who and why this Panic was begun in the first place: It is the equivalent of shouting FIRE in a crowded theater.

    Propaganda-driven panics have got to be exposed and condemned, and their perpetrators punished severely, six ways to Sunday.

  39. dearieme says:

    Here’s an interesting one. This chap says that in Wuhan only 5% put into ICU treatment survived.

    (i) Is he right?
    (ii) What %age of patients in ICU survive in normal times?

    If it turns out that very few people survive ICU anyway, basing our whole policy on avoiding saturating the ICUs is daft.

  40. @Sean

    Food delivery is normally done in a way that they just leave it in front of the door while ringing the doorbell. (He doesn’t need to touch it by hand, he can use a disposable tissue to protect his skin, and disinfecting the doorbell might be required of the inhabitants. Moreover, he can just call you on the phone instead of ringing the doorbell.) By the time you open the door, they are already far away, and only need to watch that you opened the door. If the delivery guy sees the door open, that’s enough for him to assume the delivery has been taken. But worst case, the food gets cold. (If it’s warm food. Which might not be recommended. Instead, you need to eat cold food or cook yourself, to reduce the possibility of transmission from the cooks.)

  41. @dearieme

    It would certainly be good to be able to confirm those figures.
    For comparison, I think that resuscitation procedures have a 8% success rate, but we train citizens anyway because it is not ruinous to have people spend 20 minutes assisting breathing and trying to start a heart of another person in trouble.

  42. @Sean

    Forget Xiniang. Refugees in Syria and Bangladesh (Rohingas) have no defences all.

  43. @NPleeze

    And the Imperial College model assumed 50% infection rate (cf DP 17%) with hours rather than weeks of exposure. There may be an apocalypse but nothing like the politically motivated one from Imperial College.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  44. @Philip Owen

    Explain that a bit more, please.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    , @Philip Owen
  45. @dearieme

    It was claimed that several percent of cases ended up in ICU, and 1.x% (where x varies by study) died. So I pretty much doubt this claim.

  46. @James Thompson

    This is heavy reading but if you can stay with it, it is the best try at analysing the Imperial Model that I have found. (I have done finite element modelling since 1970’s so I get what he is talking about).

    Pay attention to what he says about exposure period and exposure’s rate of the exposed population. Imperial College use periods of hours and 50% exposure which predicted an Apocalypse compared to other projections at a time when mitigation/suppression was very controversial, in particular school closure policy. Pro & cons here.
    Turns out they all went on an early Easter holiday. The caravan parks around here are full. This was anticipated but the Imperial College model was set up to justify suppression. The press panic pushed the government into going ahead with school closure at least a week early.

    The Diamond Princess data involving two weeks exposure of everyone to infected kitchen staff, prior to four weeks quarantine fed by the same people (the early period of quarantine is considered ineffective) for many resulted in a 17% infection rate. If the asymptotic were false positive (there is an argument for that) the infection rate after weeks of exposure is only 8%.

    As for Italy, there is a legacy of TB in older poorer from once rather poor, indeed rural, countries. There is a small sample Chinese paper showing a high correlation between resident TB breaking dormancy and promoting pneumonia.

    In the late ’50’s at the age of 5, my brother spent 18 months in a children’s TB hospital (with another condition). 5 years previous to that antibiotics were still not that available. Children died even in the UK. Iraq will not have had such rigorous testing as had. In my rural school, BCG testing had results. I predict countries that were poor 50 years ago will have larger death rates relative to population & perhaps even CFR (easy to say multi factors but TB carriers may be an important one).

    There are still huge uncertainties. The Diamond Princess remains the best we’ve got without some specifics about tower blocks and families in Wuhan. Imperial College was scaremongering. They should have known better if they didn’t have an agenda.

    • Replies: @dearieme
    , @Anonymous
  47. I’ve just heard about the Costa Luminosa. 1427 on board. 24 crew & up to 50 passengers infected after three weeks. Need a 2nd source on the numbers but infection rate comparable to Diamond Princess, which is to say bad but not the Apocalypse.

  48. dearieme says:
    @Philip Owen

    Excellent link, Philip, thank you.

    “Up until 10 days ago, hardly anyone was taking this epidemic seriously, which was driving me crazy. That’s why I ended up writing a post about the threat and staying up all night to finish it quickly. But today I’m afraid that many people suffer from a kind of groupthink that goes in the opposite direction and from a confirmation bias that makes them consider only the data that support the pessimistic scenario.”

    Yeah, that’s pretty much my position. ‘They’ underrated the problem and then (possibly) overrated it.

    The thrust of his piece – beware models that have been under-criticised – is spot on. In his shoes I might have emphasised another shortcoming of models – the stuff omitted. There is always stuff that’s omitted because our knowledge is limited. But often we have no logical way of dismissing the omitted stuff as unimportant because, after all, we don’t know anything about it.

  49. @Philip Owen

    Deaths in Italy may be undercounted.

    Provincial mayors are sounding an alarm that the virus-related toll fails to reflect a spike in deaths in the general population among those who have not been tested. Last week alone, 400 people died in Bergamo and 12 neighboring towns — four times the number who died the same week the previous year, according to the Bergamo mayor’s office. Only 91 of those had tested positive for the virus.

    By the way high blood pressure is something most people can live with for decades.

  50. @Philip Owen

    for 4 weeks

    I might be wrong, but I think most people plan for a longer future, though.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  51. @Philip Owen

    This seems to be misreporting. The Robert Koch Institute says that Covid-19 is being reported as cause of death.

  52. @reiner Tor

    MY grandmother for example.

    Nevertheless it is reported as a risk factor. New today from Wuhan. Smokers were at 14x higher risk of dying.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  53. dearieme says:
    @Philip Owen

    ‘Smokers were at 14x higher risk of dying.’

    But is that after correction for smokers usually being male and (I speculate) being older?

    Perhaps you shouldn’t correct for those already suffering from disease caused, or worsened, by smoking because then you’d “correct” away the very thing that interests you.

    Anyway, it’s maybe another contribution to rational decision-making by triage docs.

    By the way, “14”. Really? I find that surprisingly high and I write as someone who has never been daft enough to smoke a cigarette. Still, the pitiless universe is indifferent to my state of surprise.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  54. @dearieme

    It was a Twitter fact with no explanation of circumstance. I seized on it as a device to encourage certain family members to quit. I don’t know the pathology but I will guess the 14x applies to current smokers and even a month off will improve your chances enormously.

  55. dearieme says:

    If you want to frighten people off smoking look up the figures for people who smoke and are exposed to asbestos fibres. The effect is multiplicative!

    (There’s no need to explain that it’s Brown and Blue Asbestos that are dangerous, and that the white asbestos removal industry is essentially a government-organised scam.)

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  56. @dearieme

    My Dad was a plumber. He used a lot of white asbestos. So did I as a teenager helping him. We treated it with respect, even in the ’60’s but none of us (Grandfather as well) had probelms despite a lot of exposure.

    Oh, and the filling station + car maintenance garage next door but one to our house was made entirely of white asbestos open to the air.

    Quite frankly, most of it would have been safer left in place. (Not the garage though).

  57. @James Thompson

    It turns out that he isn’t releasing the code for his model either. Shades of climatology. Actual science, as developed by the Royal Society requires methods to be set out clearly and indeed, demonstrations witnessed.

    I suspect he thought an over dramatic model would be a means of claiming more funds for the NHS and this has got away from him thanks to alarmist journalists with school teacher wives and sisters. The “attack rate” for influenzas (% population showing symproms) is 50%. SARS-CoV2 is managing 8% for Covid-19.

    Having been recently No Platformed for no obvious cause, certainly none to do with me, I am not inclined to give academics the benefit of the doubt right now.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  58. dearieme says:

    A change of direction: we are told that everything being done at present is to stop swamping the ICUs, the only places that can save lots of lives of those seriously affected.

    In Wuhan “invasive mechanical ventilation” saved 3% of those on whom it was tried. Non-invasive did better at 8%, ECMO worse at 0% (but the sample for that is tiny).

    Scroll down to table 2 of

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  59. dearieme says:
    @Philip Owen

    If you’re right, Philip, this chappy may have done economic damage on a scale that counteracts all the economic good done by British universities across the last two generations. Is “two” too modest? Is “British” too modest?

    I do warn people not to worship models. Fat chance that they’ll listen, though.

    • Agree: Philip Owen
  60. @dearieme

    I picked that up earlier. It seems that if you are near to death, nothing is going to save you. You can make it with some oxygen to help or you are gone anyway. Cytokine attack aka inflammation closes down your airways, especially if you are diabetic. The disease finishes the job by blocking them with glue. Not much a ventilator can do. Better do some high intensity sprinting tomorrow. The park is very big. It was gardening today. Still haven’t got the potatoes in. The only fresh veg this summer will be the ones we grow (overdoing it but quality matters).

    Running out of food. Can’t log on to Ocado long enough to make an order. Will have to go out on Friday.

  61. There is another model out. Universtiy of Oxford Medical School. This is far less apocalyptic than Imperial College. To be fair it is recent and models SARS2/Covid-19. It suggests that as high a proportion as two thirds of the UK population has already been infected! The core suggestion is, that many of those testing negative have in fact already had the disease in an exremely mild form. Young and socially active got it first? In Italy, they speculate that as many as 80% of the population already have been infected.

    The inference is that SARS-CoV2 infection will be largely over in 3 months from the initial cases coming to attention. This is far less dramatic than the Imperial College model (based on flu). It is much more consistent with the cruise ship data except that the people testing negative for the virus, in large part, had already had an asymptotic infection that had been cleared by the body before testing.

    Deaths will continue to rise for a while due to a slow burn rate but Apocalypse Not Yet.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  62. dearieme says:

    Somebody well known to me had a horrible fever – had never felt so ill – in mid/late January after a trip to Loas. Not malaria, not dengue, lungs OK on an x-ray (or maybe a CT scan).

    Anyway, recovered. Spouse had a whiff of illness, presumably spousal infection – lost a day or two at work but much, much milder. They are looking forward to the availability of antibody tests so that they will know whether they are currently immune.

    I’m still keen to see what happens in Wuhan as people return to work.

    As for food we could raise some Jerusalem artichokes and make what we call “farty soup” – it is delicious but anti-social. We could search the tattie patch in hopes of finding the odd tuber. Alas, we didn’t grow any leeks. Messrs Sainsbury’s offer to deliver to codgers and the ill has been no help to us at all – there seems to be no effective way to register with them. If they don’t pull their finger out they’ll lose our custom forever. Assuming we have a forever.

  63. Anonymous[278] • Disclaimer says:
    @Philip Owen

    The Diamond Princess data involving two weeks exposure of everyone to infected kitchen staff, prior to four weeks quarantine fed by the same people (the early period of quarantine is considered ineffective) for many resulted in a 17% infection rate. If the asymptotic were false positive (there is an argument for that) the infection rate after weeks of exposure is only 8%.

    So a single infected person has managed to spread it to hundreds in just 6 weeks – despite all the efforts to stop the virus after the second week. That sounds like a fairly high R0 ratio to me.

  64. Factorize says:

    I have had something of a brain wave; I am not sure whether others are thinking along the same lines, though I find this quite exciting. I remembered how back in 2018 there were the CRISPR babies born with CCR5 mod genotype. The below article notes the different global frequencies of CCR5 genotype. Of particular interest is that China has nearly 0% CCR5 mod — one of the lowest in the world. There is a helpful map included with the article. Several far Eastern European nations have notably high mod genotype. What is of particular interest to the current circumstances is that there is some evidence to suggest that CCR5 mod has protective effects against Covid. Is this possible genetic protection reflected in the numbers? Might need to go within nation to see the effect.

    The UKBB might be a highly useful resource to probe such potential associations. With half a million genotypes on file and with a public NHS, there could be near real-time computer analysis that processed Covid hospitalizations etc. amongst the UKBB participants. What a tremendously powerful health resource for the 21st Century! Answers to questions that artificial intelligence asked (that perhaps mere humans would overlook) could emerge almost spontaneously. Would be nice if UKBB moved up to 1 M.

  65. Factorize says:

    Whoa! This is very interesting!

    I needed to play around a bit with index and match functions in my spread sheet program, though I was able to make a chart of CCR5 mod allele frequency versus per million mortality. When I just included the entire global dataset (I used the worldometer mortality and the article I cited previously for the allele frequency), I found a correlation of ~0.14. First strange thing to notice is that this is a positive correlation, that is, more CCR5 variant more mortality. I had understood from the research that this should have been negative.

    I then started removing the outlier nations (that is those with extremely high reported per million mortality from Covid). When I removed about 10 of these nations the correlation moved up to around 40%. After removing all nations with per million mortality over 25 per million correlation was ~.32. The motivating idea here is that once the health care system has reached the break point, then mortality is probably no longer driven by the genetic driver (potentially CCR5 genotype).

    I would want to double check whether the nations that I removed (including many from Europe) actually are under such stress. Yet, removing these nations did not greatly change the correlation. The problem with this approach is that different nations are at different points in the evolution of their own national epidemics; it would be best to try to correct for this. Also different nations appear to be using different inclusion rules for mortality etc.. Using a large scale national genotype bank coupled with Covid illness phenotypes within a single payor national health care system could be highly revealing.

    Would be interesting to know whether this back of the envelope approach actually got it right. Does higher CCR5 mod genotype actually associate with higher per million mortality?

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