My first introduction to Michael Fumento is this article from Issues & Insights dated March 17, 2020. His explanation of Farr’s Law is worth the time invested in this article.
Fumento is a former national issues reporter for Investor’s Business Daily. He’s also an attorney, journalist, and author who has been documenting epidemic hysterias for 35 years. He may be reached at Fumento[at]gmail.com.
COVID-19 is just the latest, albeit the most extreme, in a long series of epidemic hysterias I have covered going back to the “heterosexual AIDS explosion”
To put epidemics in context:
- AIDS in the 80s
- Avian Flu
- Ebola I and II
For perspective, at least 22,000, and perhaps more than 50,000, Americans have died from this season’s flu so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a recent year, it estimated there were 80,000 flu deaths. Worldwide, flu grimly reaps about 291,000 to 646,000 annually. As in all past hysterias, you hear about exceptional cases such as Tom Hanks and wife. But how many famous actors have gotten the flu? Who knows? Nobody cares.
Alarmists will say the comparison isn’t fair in that we have some natural immunity to the flu, plus a flu vaccine. Yet, the opposite case can be made: These people are getting the flu and dying of it even though many of us have some natural immunity to it and there’s a readily available vaccine.
For all the talk about the alleged lethality of coronavirus, that’s not what those figures just provided show. It’s definitely worse than “a bad cold,” but whether or how much worse than the flu we don’t know. We do know that it very much depends on the individual and the country.
Regarding those dire predictions of future cases, as with all those aforementioned panics it’s sheer nonsense. Far from an exponential explosion, COVID-19 cases are following the normal pattern of “Farr’s Law.” First promulgated back in 1840 and taught in Epidemiology 101, it states that all epidemics tend to rise and fall in a roughly symmetrical pattern or bell-shaped curve. AIDS, SARS, Ebola, Zika – all followed that pattern. So does seasonal flu each year. In America, it usually appears in September-October, and is completely gone by April-May.
Importantly, Farr’s Law has nothing to do with human interventions and predates public health organizations. It occurs because communicable diseases nab the “low-hanging fruit” first (in this case the elderly with comorbid conditions) but then find the fruit harder and harder to reach.
Therefore, coronavirus will, and indeed is following Farr’s Law, too. But rest assured, wherever it does health authorities will take credit instead of saying the disease followed its natural course.
…individuals, companies, and governments continue to act like the horses that run into the flame during a barn fire. The OECD predicts global GDP growth could plummet this year to as little as 1.5%, almost half the 2.9% rate it had earlier forecast. Hysteria begets hysteria, and while it too probably has a Farr’s Law, we don’t know when it will peak or how vast the damage before it does.