Monday, March 9, 2020

Speculation on Coronavirus IV - Nonsense Reporting

I was about done with my series on the corona virus.  But today's lead posts on Fox and the New York Post made me reconsider.  For example, on Fox, one post said coronavirus is very transmissible.  The next one said it is less than that of the flu.  Which is right?

But first of all, I'm tired with 'the panic is worse than the virus.'  Tell that to the people that died, or the people stuck on infected cruise ships, or locked down in their apartments for over a month in Wuhan.

I'm also tired of comparing world-wide flu strain deaths (68,000 to 80,000 per year??) with a new virus (3,400+ deaths).  The comparison is just nonsense unless you are trying to convince someone that covid-19 is not that bad.  Even then, the comparison remains nonsense.  We have flu vaccines that almost anyone can afford.  Everyone knows they have a chance of getting the flu, and they know the process to seek medical care.  I defy anyone to effectively defend the flu infection numbers they report.  The deaths are probably pretty accurate, but no one has ever tested anyone I've known for the flu.  If they don't have a fever, they claim it's a virus instead of bacteria.  In either case, they treat the symptoms.

With the new coronavirus, they have tested a relatively small group of people, and for some reason, say they are "presumptively" positive.  That tells me they are making a guess.  When they come down with the coronavirus and enter the hospital, they claim an active case.

My point is, it is presumably (I'm guessing too), early in the spread of coronavirus.  It appears that no one knows whether it is actually worse or not as bad as the flu.  Though the high incidence of death among the elderly and those with existing health conditions suggest it is significantly worse.

Maybe it will slowly decline as warm (and humid?) weather comes to the northern hemisphere.  But that is a guess; maybe a good guess based upon experience with other viruses like the flu strains.

But the flu comes back every fall and winter.  It's quite possible coronavirus will spread out through the population and come back harder next fall.  Will we have a vaccine?  Some reports have indicated that early reports of vaccines for previous viruses like SARS have not come about.  They complained that funding was dropped, and I suppose there was no profit anticipation for the pharmaceutical companies.  Will vaccine efforts be dropped in this case too?

Finally, a few words about the Wuhan lockdown.  From what I've read, China also locked down each apartment complex in the city.  People were getting their food by large scale delivery from the groceries.  That is a much more extensive lockdown than I think is feasible in about any US city.  New York might be the possible exception.  In most cities, most people do not live in mass apartment complexes.  Instead, they are in individual dwellings.  A city like San Antonio has a huge population, but I would guess that over 75% of the population lives in individual dwellings throughout the county.  In such a situation, people either have a stock of 2 months of food, or they all have to go to the grocery.  And much of the population won't have the opportunity to stock for that long, or the resources or space to do it.

Further, no US governor or mayor wants to inconvenience their voters or damage the economy in their area.  That doesn't mean that some democrats wouldn't be unhappy causing mild panic with ineffective states of emergency that might hurt President Trump.  But actually locking down neighborhoods, towns, or cities with criminal penalties isn't something most politicians in the US will do until it is too late.

My take away is that we just don't know.  Be as prepared as you can, but don't hoard.  Take precautions to minimize your chance of infection.  Don't attend large functions just because your mayor or governor says the risk is low.  If they actually develop and offer a vaccine, take it!

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