Archive for the ‘Coronavirus – Covid 19’ Category

Even more unsettled (and unsettling) science…

October 20, 2020

After the WHO & CDC have done a couple of u-turns (and full 360s) on masks, what’s the current “truth”?

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Let’s start with a basic question, how is COVID transmitted?

Initially, the science community (think: Fauci channeling the WHO and China’s disinformation) told us not to worry … that COVID was not transmitted human-to-human.

Then, we were told that it was transmitted human to human (to human) … via large droplets that contaminate surfaces (think: countertops and doorknobs) and hands … and transfer by handshaking and face-touching.

We bought into that … we started washing our hands and cleared store shelves of hand sanitizers and surface disinfectants (which are still in short supply).

Then, we were told that COVID is transmitted via large droplets that are delivered when infected people cough, sneeze and spray-talk on us.

That conclusion ushered in social distancing and masks went from “won’t help, might hurt” to “best line of defense”.  Most recently, CDC Director Redfield — apparently auditioning for a role as the village idiot –testified that wearing a mask is more of a viral deterrent than vaccines.

Then, a short-lived CDC guidance revision threatened to upset a big apple cart.

Here’s the back story…

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“What the Pandemic Has Taught Us About Science”

October 15, 2020

Bias, overconidence and politics can sometimes lead scientists astray.
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That’s where the WSJ comes out in an essay by Matt Ridley — author of “How Innovation Flourishes”.

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Mr. Ridley makes a couple of transcending points:

> Organized science is indeed able to distill sufficient expertise out of debate in such a way as to solve practical problems. But, science is a flawed and all too human affair.

> Scientists are fallible.They are not omniscient demigods whose opinions automatically outweigh all disagreement.

> There is no such thing as “the science”.  Rather, there are different scientific views that need to be tested and debated.

More specifically…

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NYT: “Pandemic will be over sooner than expected”

October 14, 2020

Begrudging credit finally given to Trump’s Operation Warp Speed
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Donald G. McNeil Jr. is a science reporter who has covered epidemics and diseases for the NYT since 1976.

He confesses that he has been “a consistently gloomy Cassandra, reporting on the catastrophe that experts saw coming: that the virus would go pandemic, that Americans were likely to die in large numbers.”

His view now: After taking the obligatory Trump-shot that, “with stronger leadership, the death toll would have been far lower”, McNeil concedes that:

Experts are saying, with genuine confidence, that the pandemic in the United States will be over far sooner than they expected, possibly by the middle of next year.

Why the sudden gush of optimism?

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Even more unsettled (and unsettling) science…

October 8, 2020

The CDC does another u-turn, turning a near-full 360 on how COVID is transmitted.

Spoiler Alert: It has to do with masks.
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So, how is COVID transmitted?

Initially, the science community (think: Fauci channeling China’s disinformation) told us not to worry … that COVID was not transmitted human-to-human.

Then, we were told that it was transmitted human to human (to human) … via large droplets that contaminate surfaces (think: countertops and doorknobs) and hands … and transfer by handshaking and face-touching.

We bought into that … we started washing our hands and cleared store shelves of hand sanitizers and surface disinfectants (which are still in short supply).

Then, we were told that COVID is transmitted via large droplets that are delivered when infected people cough, sneeze and spray-talk on us.

That conclusion ushered in social distancing and masks went from “won’t help, might hurt” to “best line of defense”.

That’s where we were, but a short-lived CDC guidance revision threatened to upset a big apple cart.

Here’s the back story…

(more…)

Did Trump “lie” and “cause” thousands of deaths?

October 7, 2020

That’s likely to be a major charge that Harris will be repeatedly lobbing at Pence in tonight’s debate.

For background, let’s reprise a past “must read” post that drilled down on Woodward’s “bombshell” book … which provided fodder for Harris-Biden’s campaign mantra.

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Bob Woodward certainly set the media’s collective hair on fire with his “bombshell” that Trump “knew” that the coronavirus was more serious than he was telling the American people … and, that confusion and delay resulted in “thousands of unnecessary deaths”.

The Biden campaign quickly shifted gears from “Build Back Better” to “Trump lied, people died”.

Really?

Bottom line: Save for the dramatic impact of the audio tapes, Woodward’s “bombshell” is old news that has been debunked by the science (and scientists) … and the data.

Specifically, the NY Times ran an  article dated April 11 that detailed practically all of Woodwards’s “scoops” … and subsequently “the science ” — voiced by none other Dr. Anthony Fauci — and “the data” provided context, explanations and refutations.

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Let’s start by flashing back to our April 13 post that analyzed the Times’ story…

Note: Trust me, the analysis is as relevant today as it was in April.  It’s long, but IMHO, well worth the reading time. 

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Which scientists to believe & to follow?

October 7, 2020

Over 6,000 public health scientists and medical practitioners have declared for Focused Protection.

Their full Declaration is a MUST READ… and, it’s only 1 page.

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Here are the key points being declared

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CDC: 95% survivability rate if over 70 … higher with no symptoms, no co-morbidities.

October 2, 2020

Pres. Trump has tested COVID-positive… here are his medical odds.

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Last week, the CDC updated its so-called Pandemic Planning Scenarios.

English translation: They revealed the key parameter settings for their “Current Best Estimate” of COVID outcomes.

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Buried in the details (and minimally reported by the MSM) were IFRs — “infection fatality rates” … the odds of dying of you get COVID-infected.

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Here’s the key exhibit from the CDC report.

There are 3 sets of numbers presented: a best case, a worst case and a “best estimate” (where “best” might be more appropriately called “most likely”).

Below, we’ll decode the numbers.

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Let’s focus on the far right column — the “current best estimate” of the IFR — the  “infection fatality rate”.

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The rates are very low … indicating that the likelihood of dying from COVID is very, very low … even if a person gets infected.

Let’s make those numbers a bit more understandable…

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The 3rd column is the ISR — the “infection survivability rate” … the inverse of the IFR.

For example, if you’re in the 50 to 60 age group and you get infected, there’s  a 99.5% chance that you’ll survive … that you WON’T die.

Even in the most vulnerable age group (the over 70 crowd) the probability of surviving a COVID infection is over 95% … over 07% in the best case and over 91% in the worst case (see charts below).

The 4th column — the F-Odds — are read, for example, that the current best estimate is that 1 in 20 infectees who get infected succumb to the virus.

The grain of salt: COVID deaths are a reasonably accurate number .. but the number of infections is a wild guesstimate given the unknown number of asymptomatic infectees who don’t get tested.

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Flashback: Ohio Gov. DeWine tested negative … after testing positive.

October 2, 2020

Not a surprise according to Bayes’ Theorem
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According to the NYT and many other sources…

As part of a screening by the White House, Mr. DeWine first received an antigen test, a newer type of test that provides faster results but is less accurate than traditional laboratory testing.

He tested positive for Covid-19

He was later twice-tested using a more standard procedure known as polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., an accurate but time-intensive method that requires samples to be processed at a laboratory.

That test result was negative for the Covid-19.

DeWine’s experience is a classic “false positive” … to be expected based on Bayes’ (Statistical) Theorem.

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Let me explain…

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If I test positive for COVID, am I infected?

October 2, 2020

The answer may surprise you, and it has big implications for test & trace.
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In a prior post, we reported that “Asymptomatics” are not rushing to get tested and provided some subjective reasons why that might be (e.g. no doctor referral, high hassle factor, privacy concerns).

OK, let’s up our game a notch or two and throw some math & economics at the problem.

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I’m a fan of “Freakonomics” … the popular call sign for a discipline called Behavioral Economics … the study of the rationality that underlies many seemingly irrational decisions that people sometimes make.

And, in my strategic business analytics course, I used to teach something called Bayesian Inference … a way to calculate probabilities by combining contextual information (called “base rates” or “priors”) with case-specific observations (think: testing or witnessing).

Today, we’ll connect Freakonomics and Bayesian Inference and apply them to the COVID testing situation…

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The most incredible COVID statistic…

September 25, 2020

I’ve heard or read this stat several times:

29 large universities including Notre Dame, the University of North Carolina, and Illinois State had reported some 26,000 cases by Sept. 9 yet no hospitalizations.

I used to frequently remind my students that incredible means not credible … and, this stat certainly sounded incredible … so, I largely ignored it.

But, when the statistic was repeated in the WSJ, I decided that it was worth looking into.

Here’s what I found…

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Biden demonstrates how NOT to wear a mask…

September 22, 2020

For the can’t-make-this-stuff-up file
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Remember a couple of months ago when the WHO, CDC, NIH (Fauci) and Surgeon General were advising against wearing masks?

At the time, among their arguments were that mask-wearing might give people a false sense of security — so they wouldn’t socially distance from others … that people would wear masks incorrectly — letting them slip down, breaching the protection … and that people would frequently touch their masks — transferring surface droplets to the “kill zone”.

I pooh-poohed that logic … until yesterday when I watched  Joe “National Mask Mandate” Biden give his speech in Manitowac, Wisconsin.

During the speech, Biden literally provided a demonstration on how not to wear a mask … and why their effectiveness may be overstated.

click to view the 30-minute speech
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Specifically

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Remember when Trump advised us to use scarves during mask shortage?

September 18, 2020

Of course, he was eviscerated by the med-science community and the mainstream media
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Flashback to late March when community spread of the coronavirus was ramping up.

The WHO, the CDC and US Surgeon General were advising against wearing masks … saying that they were, at best minimally protective, could exasperate the problem if worn incorrectly and would distract people from handwashing and social distancing.

“The science” was unsettled.  Scientists were unsure how the virus was transmitted. There were published peer-reviewed studies on both sides of the issue.

That said, the  real reason for the science community’s advisories: masks were in short supply and the supply chain was impaired by Chinese hoarding and off-shored manufacturing.

In a Task Force press conference, Trump cut to the chase … said the real reason was the need to supply hospital workers with masks first … and he casually opined that, in the short-run, folks could stop-gap by using scarves or other face coverings as a make-shift protective shield.

click to view video (90 sec.)
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Of course, Trump said it — and  he’s an MSM-certified idiot, so the media pounced:

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Of course, there’s more to the story…
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Did Trump “lie” and “cause” thousands of deaths?

September 14, 2020

Let’s drill down on Woodward’s “bombshell” (and Biden’s new campaign mantra)
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Woodward certainly set the media’s collective hair on fire with his “bombshell” that Trump “knew” that the coronavirus was more serious than he was telling the American people … and, that confusion and delay resulted in “thousands of unnecessary deaths”.

The Biden campaign quickly shifted gears from “Build Back Better” to “Trump lied, people died”.

Really?

Bottom line: Save for the dramatic impact of the audio tapes, Woodward’s “bombshell” is old news that has been debunked by the science (and scientists) … and the data.

Specifically, the NY Times ran an  article dated April 11 that detailed practically all of Woodwards’s “scoops” … and subsequently “the science ” — voiced by none other Dr. Anthony Fauci — and “the data” provided context, explanations and refutations.

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Let’s start by flashing back to our April 13 post that analyzed the Times’ story…

Note: Trust me, the analysis is as relevant today as it was in April.  It’s long, but IMHO, well worth the reading time. 

(more…)

More: Fauci confirms “Trump was saying what we were telling him”

September 11, 2020

MUST READ: This post was updated Sept.13 with a substantially expanded timeline of who said what, when they said it … and how Trump responded at the time.

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Woodward certainly set the media’s collective hair on fire with his “bombshell” that Trump “knew” that the coronavirus was more serious than he was telling the American people.

Biden: “Clear evidence of incompetence and dereliction of duty”.

Trump: “Listening to the scientists, and didn’t want to prematurely cause a panic”.

How to settle the question?

Let’s start with what Dr. Anthony Fauci had to truth-tell on the matter:

click to view 4-minute video
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By Fauci’s own admission, Trump was “following the science” … contemporaneously channeling what Fauci and other “scientists” were telling him at the time. 

Let’s dig a little deeper on that and look hard at the timeline…

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Fauci: “He was saying what we were telling him”

September 10, 2020

Fauci diffuses Woodward’s “bombshell”

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Woodward certainly set the media’s collective hair on fire with his revelation that Trump “knew” that the coronavirus was more serious than he was telling the American people.

Biden: “Clear evidence of incompetence and dereliction of duty”.

Trump: “Listening to the scientists, and didn’t want to prematurely cause a panic”.

How to settle the question?

Here’s what Dr. Anthony “My Word is Gospel” Fauci had to say on the matter:

click to view 4-minute video
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By Fauci’s own admission, Trump was “following the science” … channeling what he and other “scientists” were telling him at the time. 

Let’s dig a little deeper on that and look at the timeline…

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How effective are vaccines?

September 9, 2020

Answer: Not as much as you might expect.
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Excerpted from a September 2019 White House report which looked specifically at flu and coronavirus vaccines ….

There is considerable variation from year to year in how much the flu vaccine reduces the risk of contracting the seasonal flu and flu-related illnesses.

Over the past 14 years, influenza vaccine effectiveness has ranged between 10% and 60%.

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Much of the variability depends on which viral strains predominate in a given year and, more specifically, whether the vaccine matches the viral strain that is circulating in a given flu season.

Although a mismatch between the vaccine and the virus circulating during a flu season reduces efficacy, vaccines still provide some protection against flu illness and decrease the severity of the illness, due to immunologic similarity between the viruses.

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When it comes to pandemic viruses

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More: What did Trump know, when did he know it?

September 4, 2020

Most important: What did he do about it?
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In a prior post, we channeled an op-ed authored by members of a team that wrote a September 2019 White House report … and then we drilled down on the report’s details.

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The report’s fundamental conclusions:

  • Large-scale, immediate immunization is the most effective way to control the spread of pandemic viruses
  • The current government-centric approach to vaccine research,  development and deployment is far too slow.
  • To provide adequate risk mitigation for pandemics, public-private partnerships are needed to speed up the development and deployment of vaccines.

So, how did the Trump respond to the report?

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According to the authors of the aforementioned WSJ op-ed

“The administration was well aware of the threat of a pandemic before the novel coronavirus emerged … and there was “immediate presidential action” to implement the reports recommendations.

Specifically, they report:

On Sept. 19, a few days after the CEA issued its report, the president signed Executive Order 13887.

The essence of the Executive Order:

It is the policy of the United States to modernize the domestic virus vaccine enterprise to be highly responsive, flexible, scalable, and more effective at preventing the spread of viruses.

This is a public health and national security priority, as viruses have the potential to significantly harm the United States and our interests, including through large-scale illness and death, disruption to military operations, and damage to the economy.

The EO created several initiatives to modernize vaccine production, including “incentives for the development and production of vaccines by private manufacturers and public-private partnerships.”

In other words, the September 2019 White House report and the EO that quickly followed laid the groundwork for Operation Warp Speed — perhaps, the most critical component of the coronavirus response, hastening the development and launch of therapeutic drugs and vaccines.

More specifically …

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Operation Warp Speed (OWS)

Directly from the HHS site:

Goal: Operation Warp Speed (OWS) aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021.

Approach: To accelerate development while maintaining standards for safety and efficacy, OWS has been selecting the most promising development candidates and providing coordinated government support.

Rather than eliminating steps from traditional development timelines, steps will proceed simultaneously, such as starting manufacturing of the vaccine at industrial scale well before the demonstration of vaccine efficacy and safety as happens normally. This increases the financial risk, but not the product risk.

The federal government is making investments in the necessary manufacturing capacity at its own risk, giving firms confidence that they can invest aggressively in development and allowing faster distribution of an eventual vaccine.

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Bottom line: “Flattening the Curve” was intended to slow the spread of the virus to avoid blowing past hospital capacity while awaiting a virus-blasting vaccine.

Trump placed a big bet on Operation Warp Speed … and the clock is ticking.

What did Trump know and when did he know it?

September 2, 2020

Trump’s pandemic response triggered by a Sept. 2019 Report.
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During the DNC, Gov. Cuomo echoed the Dem talking point that the Trump administrations Covid-19 response has been “dysfunctional and incompetent” … that the federal government “couldn’t fight off the virus. In fact, Trump didn’t even see it coming.”

With that in mind, an op-ed in the WSJ a week ago caught my eye:

The White House Prepared for a Pandemic: A September 2019 report laid the groundwork for Operation Warp Speed

The authors  were on the team that wrote a September 2019 White House report that (1) calibrated the likelihood of a pandemic (2) identified rapid vaccine development as the key to an effective response, and (3) recommended policies and actions to speed vaccine development.

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Based on the report and its follow-up, the authors assert:

“The administration was well aware of the threat of a pandemic before the novel coronavirus emerged … and there was “immediate presidential action” to implement the reports recommendations.

Specifically, they report:

On Sept. 19, a few days after the CEA issued its report, the president signed Executive Order 13887.

The essence of the Executive Order:

It is the policy of the United States to modernize the domestic virus vaccine enterprise to be highly responsive, flexible, scalable, and more effective at preventing the spread of viruses.

This is a public health and national security priority, as viruses have the potential to significantly harm the United States and our interests, including through large-scale illness and death, disruption to military operations, and damage to the economy.

The EO created several initiatives to modernize vaccine production, including “incentives for the development and production of vaccines by private manufacturers and public-private partnerships.”

In other words, the September 2019 White House report and the EO that quickly followed laid the groundwork for Operation Warp Speed — perhaps, the most critical component of the coronavirus response, hastening the development and launch of therapeutic drugs and vaccines.
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Coming: A drill down on the Dec. 2019 White House Report

The consequences of Big Science’s bad bet…

August 27, 2020

Minimal research into coronaviruses and no drugs or vaccines in the pipeline.
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In a prior post, we channeled a report titled “The Road Not Traveled” by investigative reporter Christine Dolan.

For details, see: 15 years ago, scientists bet that the next pandemic would NOT be a coronavirus and Why the bad bet?

In a nutshell, Dolan concludes that circa 2003:

The scientific world bet that the next big pandemic would emanate from a more traditional flu and not a coronavirus like Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Obviously, that bet proved wrong … deadly wrong!

And, the implication of the bad bet:

“Although coronaviruses have been recognized as human pathogens for about 50 years, no effective treatment strategy has been developed.”

The fundamental reason: economics.

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The science community’s bad bet left us unprepared for the coronavirus.

August 26, 2020

Why the bad bet?
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In a prior post, we channeled a report titled “The Road Not Traveled” by investigative reporter Christine Dolan.

For details, see: 15 years ago, scientists bet that the next pandemic would NOT be a coronavirus …

In a nutshell, Dolan concludes that circa 2003:

The scientific world bet that the next big pandemic would emanate from a more traditional flu and not a coronavirus like Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Obviously, that bet proved wrong … deadly wrong!

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How did the science community collectively miss the mark?

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15 years ago, scientists bet that the next pandemic would NOT be a coronavirus …

August 25, 2020

That bad bet left us scientifically unprepared for the current crisis.
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Christine Dolan is a former Political Director for CNN and is now an Investigative Journalist, for a site called Just the News.

One of her latest reports provides some important context for this year’s response to the coronavirus.

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Dolan’s story starts way back, circa 2003…

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Let’s end the week on a high note…

August 21, 2020

B of A says “the Coronavirus is rolling over”.
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If you’ve been following our Daily C-19 Data Dashboard, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that the 7-day moving average of confirmed cases has fallen by over 30% since its peak on July 23.

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That’s good news but the case counts– as we oft repeat —  are a very fuzzy-math number since they are impacted by the number and mix of people being tested.

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Positivity Rate

Dr. Birx says to watch the percentage of people testing positive — the so-called “positivity rate”.

It’s currently at 6.5% — about 1/3 of the rate during the NY-area outbreak.

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That’s also good news but, again, “positivity” is an equivocal metric since it’s impacted by the mix of people being tested.

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So, the B of A analysts say to focus on hospitalization rates.

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What do New York and Sweden have in common?

August 20, 2020

Hint: Glance at the covid-19 death curves.
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Let’s reprise the oft-cited “Flattening the Curve” concept one more time…

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…. and, we presented data that strongly suggests (i.e. proves) that NY didn’t flatten the curve at all — it conformed to the “no mitigation curve” … while press-maligned Florida does seem to fit the flattening curve model.

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For details, see A covid tale of two states

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Now, let’s look at NY’s Cuomo-claimed “beautiful response” from still another angle

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Survey: Trusted medical experts.

August 19, 2020

Coincidently, I received 2 related emails this morning.

The first was a Georgetown broadcast email to faculty (even retired ones) and students:

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Reasonable advice from Dr. Anthony “Wide Left” Fauci:

“Trust respected medical authorities”.

Hard to disagree with Fauci on that one.

But, begs the question: Who are the medical authorities to be trusted?

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A second message came from a reliable HomaFiles’ source.

He reported that a survey was conducted asking people: “Which  medical authority do you trust most?”

And, there was a clear-cut winner…..

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About Cuomo’s “beautiful” response to the coronavirus…

August 19, 2020

Hardly a model of “flattening the curve”
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Talk about Chutzpah…

NY has amassed over 30,000 covid-related deaths (about 20% of the US total) … and, almost 1,700 deaths per million residents (2nd only to NJ’s 1,800; almost quadruple Florida’s 455).

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Cuomo was bold enough to commemorate New York’s death toll (chart above) on an anatomically accurate “Victory Poster” (image below). Note the shape of the deaths’ curve.

Today, I want to make a very simple (and irrefutable point)….

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Blood tests ID covid patients most susceptible to rapid health deterioration and death…

August 13, 2020

Five “biomarkers” can alert docs to the need for aggressive, immediate treatment

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According to an article published in Future Medicine by George Washington Univ. researchers

Currently, physicians determine risk for COVID-19 health deterioration and death based on age and certain underlying medical conditions, like having an immunocompromised state, obesity, and heart disease.

People over the age of 65 and those with underlying conditions are typically less able to fight off any infection, not just COVID-19.

But coronavirus has proven deadly to scores of otherwise healthy, relatively young people too – and scientists are still not sure exactly why some COVID-19 patients quickly spiral downward and others have no symptoms at all.

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George Washington University (GW) researchers found five biomarkers, medical indicators found in the blood, associated with higher odds of clinical deterioration and death in COVID-19 patients.

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A covid tale of two states…

August 12, 2020

One flattened the curve, the other didn’t … which is which might surprise you.
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Let’s start with the basic concept that has been the basis for the slow-the-spread lockdown and other covid mitigation initiatives: flattening the curve.

The concept is simple and intuitively appealing: Try to contain the spread of the virus so that the hospital system isn’t overwhelmed … and to “buy time” for the development of vaccines and other therapeutic drugs and treatment protocols.

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Makes sense, right?

OK, so let’s throw some actual data against the problem and see what we get…

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Ohio Gov. DeWine tests negative … after testing positive.

August 11, 2020

Not a surprise according to Bayes’ Theorem
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According to the NYT and many other sources…

As part of a screening by the White House, Mr. DeWine first received an antigen test, a newer type of test that provides faster results but is less accurate than traditional laboratory testing.

He tested positive for Covid-19

He was later twice-tested using a more standard procedure known as polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., an accurate but time-intensive method that requires samples to be processed at a laboratory.

That test result was negative for the Covid-19.

DeWine’s experience is a classic “false positive” … to be expected based on Bayes’ (Statistical) Theorem.

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Let me explain…

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The good C-19 news that the MSM will likely ignore…

August 10, 2020

Data indicates that the worst may be behind us … at least for now.
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The 7-day average for new cases has been trending down for more than two weeks, from more than 67,000 on July 22 to 47,849 on Sunday.

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There are 49,039 Covid-related patients currently hospitalized.  Hospitalizations are trending down and are below the 60,000 peaks reached on April 21 and July 27.

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The 7-day average for new reported deaths has also apparently peaked., trending from 1,246 on July 31 to the current 1,036, which is less than half of the peak reached on April 23 (2,229).

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The arrows are pointing in the right direction!

How many people are walking around infected with Covid-19?

August 7, 2020

Finally, some C-19 “prevalence” estimates…
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Loyal readers know that I’ve been frustrated by the lack of practical, personally-relevant data that the public health “experts” have been gathering, analyzing and disseminating.

For example, I’d like to know how likely I am to bump into a person who is infected with C-19 if I leave my house.

Reasonable question, right?

In infectious disease speak, that number is called the “prevalence rate” … the percentage of people in an area who are infectious-likely at a specific point in time.

Current testing procedures don’t answer the question (see: Why is COVID testing still so haphazard?) … so, the “experts” fixate on metrics that are muddled and potentially misleading (see: Birx: “Key metric that I watch is the positivity rate”).

Finally, I’ve stumbled on some “machine learning” analyses that take a stab at answering my question: What’s the Covid prevalence rate?

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OK, let’s get to work…

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C-19: State-level Cases, Deaths, Rates

August 6, 2020

Today, let’s drill down for some perspective…
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First, as oft-reported, NY & NJ lead the list for total deaths … the 2 states represent about 30% of the US total.

The Top 10 states account for 2/3’s of the US total.

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Let’s dig deeper…

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Gov. Cuomo says to follow the data, so…

August 5, 2020

Let’s compare NY (and its North East neighbors) to the spiking  Sun Belt states. 
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According to Gov. Cuomo, the fawning  MSM and  Dr. Anthony “First Pitch” Fauci:

Gov. Cuomo did a stellar job managing the covid crisis … and, all of the Sun Belt governors (except CA’s Gov. Newsome) are reckless dufasses.

Really?

I hate to ruin a good narrative with data, but since Gov. Cuomo says to follow the numbers…

Below is a current Covid recap for 4 North East states (NY, NJ, MA, CT) … 4 Sun Belt states (TX, FL, AZ, GA) … and California.

click to enlarge chart
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Here are a couple of takeaways….

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Have Covid cases peaked?

August 3, 2020

Let’s drill down on some numbers today…
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For the past 2 or 3 weeks, the number of new cases reported each day seems to have peaked … maybe plateaued, maybe turned the corner and is starting to decline.

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Over the same time period, the daily death rate has trended up from its previous trough … or, as the MSM media likes to say “in recent weeks, the daily death rate has catastrophically doubled from 500 per day to over 1,000 per day”.

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Putting those numbers into context, the daily case counts have more than doubled since the prior peak in mid-April … while daily deaths have hovered around 50% of their mid-April level.

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In numbers: New cases were running at about 30,000 per day in mid-April … and there were over 2,000 new deaths each day … a ratio of deaths to cases of about 6.7%.

During the recent spike, cases have been running at about 60,000 per day … and  new deaths each day have been averaging about 1,000  … a ratio of deaths to cases of about 1.7%.

That’s a 75% drop in the deaths to cases rate.

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Keep a watchful eye on the daily death rate …

I was very disappointed with Dr. Birx’s interview answers…

July 23, 2020

Old paradigms, lack of data, inconclusive.
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Yesterday, Bret Baer in-depth interviewed Dr. Deborah Birx.

For the record, I think that Dr. Birx is a trusted source: smart, experienced, knowledgeable, “clued in”, well-intended, apolitical, honest, etc.

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click to view video

I thought that Baer’s questions cut to the chase:

  • Where do we stand right now on the virus?
  • What is the key statistic that you track?
  • What’s the purpose of testing if it takes 3 or 4 days to get results?
  • Specifically, what do we know about kids catching and transmitting the virus?
  • What is your recommendation re: re-opening schools?
  • How susceptible are people to getting re-infected?
  • How good is the data that you rely on?

Unfortunately, Dr. Birx’s answers to these pivotal questions were, in my opinion, very disappointing.

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From “flattening the curve” to “learning curves”…

July 22, 2020

A conceptual rationale for why COVID cases are surging but deaths aren’t.
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All along I’ve been arguing that the truest and most relevant measure of COVID-fighting is the death rate.

MUST READ: How will we know when we’ve turned the COVID-19 corner?

And, I’ve recently been showcasing the relationship between confirmed cases and deaths.

See: Where’s the case-related spike in deaths?

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The data says: Since mid-April, the number of daily confirmed cases has more than doubled, but the number of daily new reported deaths has apparently stabilized at about half of mid-April levels.

How can that be?

Here’s a way of thinking about the how & why…

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Let’s end the week on a C-19 high note…

July 17, 2020

Some reasons to be optimistic
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WaPo ran an op-ed by Joseph Allen — a Harvard prof specializing in “exposure assessment science”.

Prof. Allen offers up 6 “positive developments to remind us that there is hope in this crisis”.

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Here’s Prof Allen’s list:

1. Therapeutic treatments

in addition to what we already have for most sick patients, more targeted therapeutic treatments will arrive — probably before vaccines.

Scientists have now engineered synthetic clones of coronavirus antibodies —  called monoclonal antibodies — and they are showing to be effective both therapeutically and to prevent infection.

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Coronavirus deaths spiking … or, are they?

July 16, 2020

The liberal media has been downright giddy this week, trumpeting an AP headline:

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The source of the gidddyness: An uptick in the number of daily new reported deaths … the 7-day average of daily new deaths troughed at 517 on July 6 … since then,  the 7-day M.A. has increased to 757 … or, as the press likes to say: “increased a catastrophic 50%”

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Those are the numbers … and, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the huge spike in sun belt cases is finally working it’s way through the system … catapulting the death rate upward. Right?

Well, maybe.

But let’s add some perspective to the numbers…

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Should you send your kids back to school this fall?

July 10, 2020

It’s hard to follow “the science” when it’s inconclusive.
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It appears that most school systems are on a path to open their schools either fully or partially (e.g. rotating students every other day or every other week) … and, to mitigate the risks by capacity limiting busses, socially distancing students in classrooms, wearing masks, etc.

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In a couple of weeks, many parents will be forced to make a very big decision: Do they send their K-12 children back to school or not?

Classical public health thinking would say to focus on four questions:

1. Are kids susceptible to the coronavirus?

2. If yes, will mitigation actions sufficiently reduce the risk?

3. Are infected kids vulnerable to severe outcomes?

4. Do infected kids transmit the virus to others?

Unfortunately, “the science and the data” don’t provide much guidance…

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During this week’s White House briefing on school reopening…

Sally Goza – President of the American Academy of Pediatrics said:

Children are less likely to become infected and they are less likely to spread infection.

But, White House health advisor Dr. Deborah Birx countered that there’s not enough data to arrive at that conclusion:

The U.S. data is incomplete, because the country has not been testing enough children to conclude how widespread the virus is among people younger than 18 and whether they are spreading the virus to others.

If you look across all of the tests that we’ve done, and when we have the age, the portion that has been the lowest tested portion is the under-10-year-olds.

Our data is skewed to people with symptoms, and then skewed to adults over 18.”

Bottom line: “The science” doesn’t know whether kids are susceptible to the coronavirus or not.

The mitigation actions are likely to reduce contagions risks, but it’s unrealistic to expect that they will eliminate the risks.

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Perhaps the best news so far is that there have been practically no coronavirus deaths among children.

A lot of people are hanging their hats on the apparently low fatality rate as an indicator that severe outcomes are unlikely.

But, keep in mind that kids have been sheltered-in-place since schools closed in the spring, so they have been minimally exposed to the virus.

Some health “experts” warn that’s a double-edged sword since kids haven’t had a chance to develop immunities that counter the coronavirus.

So, when schools open, the proverbial dam may break.

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That gets us back to whether or not infected kids are likely to transmit the virus to others.

This is, in my opinion, the pivotal decision factor.

Again, the evidence is, at best, equivocal.

“While some scientists fear schools could act as accelerators for the pandemic, no country where schools have reopened has so far reported a sharp increase in infections.” WSJ

That said, I side with Dr. Birx that “there’s not enough data to conclude whether kids are spreading the virus to others.”

So, I’d apply a variant of Pascal’s Wager to the transmission question.

See HITS: Pascal’s Wager … perhaps, we should be more righteous.

That is, assume that kids are susceptible to the virus, that mitigation actions will reduce but not eliminate contagion, and that infected kids do transmit the virus.

Then, the critical question is:

Are there vulnerable people potentially exposed to infected kids?

If there are vulnerable caretakers at home (e.g. are elderly or suffer co-mobidity factors) … or anyone with compromised or underdeveloped immune systems (e.g. chemo patients or newborns) … then Pascal’s Wager kicks in.

In those cases, the risks of going back to school increase substantially, maybe reversing the decision calculus.

It may be less about whether the kids will suffer bad outcomes … and more about who the kids might infect — and what the consequences will be on them.

Hmmm…

Finally, a Covid testing plan that makes sense to me…

July 8, 2020

Tip of the hat to Georgetown on this one.
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Last week, I did some reading re: the Herculean challenges facing colleges as they contemplate when and how to re-open.

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In a nutshell, residence colleges face three major challenges:

  1. Staying afloat financially
  2. Delivering a valuable education
  3. Keeping their campuses healthy

One aspect of healthy campuses is instituting a comprehensive Covid testing program.

Many schools are rationalizing  away the need for testing, arguing that tests aren’t sufficiently accurate and that they cost too much to administer. Source

That’s not the approach that Georgetown is taking…

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HCQ: The drug that won’t die…

July 7, 2020

New peer-reviewed study finds hydroxychloroquine’s life-saving benefits.
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The results of a large-scale analysis, conducted by the prestigious Henry Ford Health System, was published last week in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The study examined 2,541 patients who had been hospitalized in six Henry Ford hospitals between March 10 and May 2, 2020.

More than 90% of the patients receiving hydroxychloroquine were treated with the drug within 48 hours of admission to the hospital.

The study’s fundamental finding:

26.4% of patients who did not receive hydroxychloroquine died.

But among those who received hydroxychloroquine, fewer than half that number — 13% — died.

The difference in mortality is, by all measures, statistically significant.

How can that be?

(more…)

Things to worry about…

July 6, 2020

Channeled from the Visual Capitalist

Just in case your 4th of July weekend was too celebratory, welcome back to reality.

The World Economic Forum surveyed 347 risk analysts on how they rank the likelihood of major risks we face in the aftermath of the pandemic.

In the survey, a “risk” is defined as an uncertain event or condition with the potential for significant negative impacts on various countries and industries.

These were the 10 risks considered most likely to occur:

  • 7 of the 10 most likely risks are economic
  • #5 is restriction of cross-border movement of people and goods
  • #9 is the risk of cyberattacks & data fraud
  • #10 is another coronavirus or other disease outbreak

click to enlarge image
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The risk analysts were also asked which of these risks they considered to be of the greatest concern for the world.

Here’s what they said…

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Remember when Trump advised to to use scarves during mask shortage?

July 3, 2020

Of course, he was eviscerated by the med-science community and the mainstream media
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Flashback to late March when community spread of the coronavirus was ramping up.

The WHO, the CDC and US Surgeon General were advising against wearing masks … saying that they were, at best minimally protective, could exasperate the problem if worn incorrectly and would distract people from handwashing and social distancing.

The real reason: masks were in short supply and the supply chain was impaired by Chinese hoarding and off-shored manufacturing.

In a Task Force press conference, Trump cut to the chase … said the real reason was the need to supply hospital workers with masks first … and he casually opined that, in the short-run, folks could stop-gap by using scarves or other face coverings as a make-shift protective shield.

click to view video (90 sec.)
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Of course, Trump said it — and  he’s an MSM-certified idiot, so…

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Shocker: Virus spreads on crowded buses and subways…

June 30, 2020

So, how are urban workers going to get to work?
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Remember when NYC Mayor de Blasio hopped on the subway to reassure people that they need not worry about catching the coronavirus by riding the trains? Source

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Well, a couple of recently published studies debunk de Blasio’s “not to worry” … and raises some very thorny issues…

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Remember when the med-science community told young adults that the virus wouldn’t hurt them?

June 29, 2020

Apparently, that’s a bell that can’t be unrung … and young “invincibles” are driving current coronavirus case spikes
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There’s no denying that that confirmed Covid cases have bumped back up to prior peak levels … about 30.000 new cases per day.

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Digging a little deeper…

New cases have dropped from sky-high levels in the Northeast … and held relatively constant in the Midwest.

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But, cases have exploded in the West and the South

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Source: WSJ

One obvious point: hot weather doesn’t seem to kill off the virus.

And, there is some chatter that virus-spreading air conditioning systems may be spreading the virus (think: Legionnaires disease).

But, most determining,, there has been a huge shift in the demographic profile of the cases which suggests that young invincibles aren’t so invincible after all…

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Shocker: NYC contact tracing program off to a “slow start”

June 25, 2020

Infected people are hard to locate and reluctant to give up their contact info.
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According to the NY Times…

Since June 1, NY has been ramping up its Covid test & trace program.

About 50,000 people are being tested each day.

  • Note: Scant info is reported on who is being tested … People with symptoms? Curious people without symptoms? Random samples?

The goal is to contact everybody who tests positive … and then identify and contact everybody who has recently come in close contact (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) … and urge the contacts to get tested and self-quarantine.

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Sounds easy enough, right?

So, what’s the problem?

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Cases up, deaths down … huh?

June 24, 2020

Let’s start with the data …

The 7-day average of Covid cases is up 30% in past week

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The 7-day average of deaths is down 10% in past week.

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How can this be?

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Re-opening schools may not be as easy as it sounds.

June 22, 2020

Complying with CDC guidelines may be cost prohibitive and logistically impossible.
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One of my biggest coronavirus concerns has been the school-shut-down impact on kids … both socially and educationally.

Since children are negligibly hurt by the virus (i.e. lower infection vulnerability, minor or no symptoms when infected, low transmission-forward rate),  I’ve been a advocate for re-opening schools ASAP.

I’ve been implicitly assuming that “cleaning” the schools’ environment would be no big deal … just move the desks further apart and double down on nighttime deep-cleaning.

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I’ve been glossing over the economics and the logistics…

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WSJ: Not to worry, hospitals have capacity.

June 19, 2020

Today, the  WSJ concedes that  cases have spiked in some areas but advises us to…

Focus on the burden on hospitals, not on models’ oft-mistaken forecasts .

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Specifically, the WSJ points out that — even in currently reported hot spots — hospitals have substantial unused capacity (beds) to cope with spikes …and, medical staffs are better prepared to treat patients more efficiently and more effectively.

Here are the numbers…

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WSJ: The data are in …

June 17, 2020

Compelling for “group distancing”, not so much for shelter-in-place
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According to a WSJ op-ed…

Four new analyses of actual results show how the initial projections overestimated the value of lockdowns.

Fortunately, economists no longer have to rely on inherently flawed projections. They can use real data.

In what might turn out to be the best paper on the economics of Covid-19, a team of economists from the University of California, Berkeley carefully evaluated empirical data on social distancing, shelter-in-place orders, and lives saved.

And, here’s what the real data is saying…

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Covid death risk: Some good news.

June 15, 2020

Today, let’s put Covid death rates in perspective…
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By now it’s clear that people older than 65 are the most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, and the age penalty is severe for the elderly nursing home patients with underlying health conditions.

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Source: WSJ, CDC

According to the WSJ:

  • About 2/3s of Covid deaths have been over 65
  • The median age of death 80.
  • About 1/4 Covid deaths have been folks over 85.
  • 95% of deaths involved at least 1 chronic condition
  • 60% of deaths had three or more comorbidity factors
  • About 1/2 of all Covid deaths have been nursing home patients

Here’s some good news that puts those numbers in perspective…

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