Friday, April 24, 2020

COVID-19 Antibody Tests ARE Good News

I guess I want to argue again with Scott Adams.  He disparages the news that antibody tests show large portions of the populations of California and New York had corona virus but were not included in the official number of 'cases.'

His argument took two hypothetical bugs (reasonable since we don't know anything really about COVID-19 statistics).  One was a low spreading flu with low mortality rates.  Another was a quickly spreading corona virus with high mortality rates.  He claimed it was ridiculous to compare the two, that the corona virus was a blight on humanity while the flu was an inconvenience.  Those are my words, not his.

But he was making the same case about the antibody test results that showed it fast spreading.  He said it didn't mean anything because it was still a killer and a killer that spreads fast.  That the antibody results are not good news.

The point he doesn't seem to take into account is that the mortality and hospital rates are a lot lower than anticipated.  They should be compared to the earlier assumptions about COVID-19 and not some lesser flu.  He persists in comparing apples to oranges, when all the antibody data does is refine our understanding of COVID-19.

If the antibody results showed that no one else had gotten the virus that wasn't an official case tested at hospitals, then the mortality rate would have been high, and you could just argue that mitigation efforts (lock downs and hygiene) successfully retarded the spread and kept the death rate down.  You would have to remain fearful about the virus' effects in rural America.

But now we know that mitigation was not nearly as successful as we expected.  That mortality rates are lower.  And that hospitals, at least of the quality of those in New York, can handle a widely spread epidemic of COVID-19.

Now we have data that we can apply to more sparsely populated counties and states.  We know what the hospitalization and mortality rates could be if they get a 20% infection rate.

What I don't know is whether those areas have sufficient hospital capacity.  Yet even so, it is useful data that can inform state and local managers on how fast they can afford to reopen.

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