APPLES & ORANGES: DON’T MAKE THIS ARGUMENT – An article in STAT News puts it nicely. “Much of the current discourse on — and dismissal of — the Covid-19 outbreak focuses on comparisons of the total case load and total deaths with those caused by seasonal influenza. But these comparisons can be deceiving, especially in the early stages of an exponential curve as a novel virus tears through an immunologically naïve population.”[i] I’ll get more to the point. Comparing influenza numbers to those of Covid-19 is like comparing apples and oranges. Making the argument that it is not as dangerous as the flu based upon the raw number of deaths is a fool’s argument! The Corona virus has NOT RUN ITS’ COURSE yet through the population. We are way too early in the process to understand how it will develop. Now, there are two huge factors that make this a very dangerous animal right now. The first is the mortality rate. The mortality rate for the flu is about 0.1%. The World Health Organization puts the mortality rate for Covid-19 at 3.4%. China claims 2.3%.[ii] Even that is 23 times more lethal than the flu. The second concern is the R0 factor, that “describes how many new people get infected by an infected carrier.” The flu’s R0 factor is 1.3. The Coronavirus is believed to be between 4.5 and 6.0, much more contagious.
Scientists in the field are not unaware of these dangers. In February, the American Hospital Association hosted a presentation by Dr James Lawler of the University of Nebraska Medical Center on what to expect from the new virus. The models showed that 96 million Americans are expected to be infected by the virus requiring 4.8 million hospitalizations. Of those, about 480,000 would die.[iii] And those aren’t the worst of the projections. Those numbers reflect a death rate of just .5% – well below the WHO’s numbers and those of Italy which stand at a full 5%.
MIKE ADAMS PROPOSES A RADICAL SOLUTION – Mike Adams of Natural News conducted his own analysis of the spread of the Coronavirus. He came to this severe, headlined conclusion. “New analysis reveals President Trump must lock down the USA just like Italy in order to break the chain of exponential spread of the coronavirus… all air traffic and road traffic must be halted.” The reason, he argues, is that “social distancing” must be imposed. Assuming a R0 factor of 6.0, that would mean that “social distancing measures must achieve a 83% suppression of new infections to stop the coronavirus from exploding across America…. But merely getting close to that tipping point isn’t enough. You have to meet or exceed those percentages or the virus continues to replicate beyond your control.” Adams argues that in order to “break the exponential cycle” the US, like Italy, would have to go all out. All international flights should stop. Borders fully closed. Domestic air travel stopped. Schools, universities, churches and government offices closed. Public events cancelled. Quarantine cities, blocking roads in and out. Enact medical martial law. He believes such severe action “might achieve a 90% suppression factor, which would break the cycle of the coronavirus within 3-4 weeks. In other words, America would have to endure a month of hell to stop the virus in its tracks.”
Adams acknowledges the economic fallout. The “economic consequences would be catastrophic. Imagine shutting down the entire US economy for a full month. What would that do to the stock market? The GDP? How would Americans survive without paychecks for a month? But if you don’t shut down the country, sooner or later your hospitals are overrun with infections and you end up with a national health crisis that gets even worse than just shutting everything down for a month in the early weeks of the pandemic.” According to the model he developed, if no travel restrictions are put in place, by July 4th we will have “24.3 million actively infected” and 2.16 million dead. If travel were suppressed by 25%, the deaths would drop to 1.1 million. But should President Trump take “aggressive action to lockdown the USA” those numbers – according to the model – drop to 1,322. Is this just fear porn? In Adam’s case, I doubt it. He is generally a Trump supporter, a conservative and a Christian. He is also a man of science who is following his craft. Is it the right solution? Only time will tell….if it is even tried. Such radical steps would come with a cost. Plans would need to be put in place to maintain some order in the urban areas and move supplies to the totally unprepared. And there is always the danger that the control of government will increase and become, in some areas and ways, permanent. Adams believes the government has only a short time to act before it will be unable to control the spread of the virus. That same calculus was apparently performed by both Italy and China in enacting the measures they did.
THE LOOMING HEALTH CARE SHORTAGE – STAT NEWS is a “health-oriented news website….produced by Boston Globe Media” that has run expose’s against both Dems & Republicans. They presented a sobering piece on the ability of the healthcare system to handle the Corona outbreak. They report: “We can expect a doubling of cases every six days, according to several epidemiological studies…. That means we are looking at about 1 million U.S. cases by the end of April; 2 million by May 7; 4 million by May 13; and so on. As the health care system becomes saturated with cases, it will become increasingly difficult to detect, track, and contain new transmission chains. In the absence of extreme interventions like those implemented in China, this trend likely won’t slow significantly until hitting at least 1% of the population, or about 3.3 million Americans.”
With only 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000, the US ranks far behind South Korea and Japan who have about 12 per thousand. Now, they “have seemingly thwarted the exponential case growth trajectory.” Right now in America there are about 300,000 available hospital beds. “The majority of people with Covid-19 can be managed at home. But among 44,000 cases in China, about 15% required hospitalization and 5% ended up in critical care. In Italy, the statistics so far are even more dismal: More than half of infected individuals require hospitalization and about 10% need treatment in the ICU.” If we assume a conservative 10% hospitalization rate, “all hospital beds in the U.S. will be filled by about May 10. And with many patients requiring weeks of care, turnover will slow to a crawl as beds fill with Covid-19 patients.” The author, Liz Sprecht writes: “If I’m wrong by a factor of two regarding the fraction of severe cases, that only changes the timeline of bed saturation by six days (one doubling time) in either direction. If 20% of cases require hospitalization, we run out of beds by about May 4. If only 5% of cases require it, we can make it until about May 16, and a 2.5% rate gets us to May 22.” The same analysis predicts a severe shortage of masks, protective equipment, medical devices and supplies.
STEPS WELL TAKEN – Steps taken by sports leagues and municipalities to limit large gatherings will go a long way toward fighting this virus. And President Trump’s travel ban, from not all of Europe, but from something called the Schengen Zone, a group of nations that do not require passports or have border controls, is a necessary step to limit the flow of the disease into the US from overseas. FOX News contributor, James Carafano put it this way. “Simply put, it is hard to empty the bathtub while the water’s running.”[iv] The cumulative effect of the moves have already moved the needle on some of the predictive modeling. The morning after President Trump issued his travel ban, Mike Adams of natural news updated his predictive model. Because of “actions by Trump and other government officials, we are now estimating that a 30% social distancing suppression factor has been achieved. Plugging that number into the… pandemic projection model spreadsheet….we see that the number of US deaths from the coronavirus plunges from 1.1 million by July 4th to just 283,000 by July 4th thanks to these new actions.”
Adams went on. “Still, 283,000 deaths is a lot of casualties, so we urge President Trump and state-level officials to continue to get aggressive with social distancing factors, shutting down large-scale public events, blocking commercial air traffic, ramping up testing and isolating those who test positive.” He concluded with a call to send the military to close down the southern border[v] where large numbers of Chinese illegals have been detected in recent days.
MORE GOOD NEWS: IS THE MORTALITY RATE DROPPING? – Report from The Hill, carried the new projection of Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The flu has a mortality rate of 0.1 percent. This has a mortality rate of 10 times that. That’s the reason I want to emphasize we have to stay ahead of the game in preventing this” If that is the literal number, it is good news indeed! But Fauci went on to warn: “It’s going to get worse. If we don’t do very serious mitigation now, what’s going to happen is we’re going to be weeks behind.”[vi] The problem is that Fauci’s number is at variance with other numbers being published, including in the story by The Hill. As of 2:08 PM Thursday, March 12th, Worldometers.com had the global numbers at 133,065 cases and 4,947 deaths. That comes to 3.7%. The US numbers were 1,401 cases producing 40 deaths. That percentage comes out at 2.85%.[vii]
[i] Liz Specht, What does the coronavirus mean for the U.S. health care system?, Stat News, March 10, 2020
[ii] Rachel Rettner, How does the new coronavirus compare with the flu?, Live Science, March 6, 2020
[iii] US hospitals are preparing for 96 MILLION coronavirus infections and nearly HALF A MILLION deaths, leaked documents
reveal, Daily Mail, March 6, 2020
[iv] James Carafano: Trump’s coronavirus travel ban makes sense — here’s why, FOX News, March 12, 2020
[v] Mike Adams, Trump just changed the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic, Newstarget, March 12, 2020
[vi] Coronavirus 10 times more lethal than seasonal flu, top health official says, The Hill, March 11, 2020
[vii] COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK, Worldometers, March 12, 2020