Mike Fumento, An update on his view of the virus, from Realclearmarkets, April 1, 2020.
You’ve heard the apocalyptic claims. Imperial College in London – in a claim that would later get walked way back to far less fanfare* – estimated as many as 2.2 million U.S. deaths, depending on how drastically the population is locked down, locked out, and locked in. To reduce that figure to a “mere” 1.1 million, we would need to live a gulag life “until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more),” they said. The CDC has issued an estimate of as many as 1.7 million American deaths.
Do we really need to destroy the country to save it?
Consider that China has had fewer than 3,300 deaths even though the virus struck a country with a lousy healthcare system wholly unaware. Their epidemic peaked over five weeks ago, with almost no new cases now. So with a vastly better health care system, the U.S. can expect a per capita death rate about 666 times higher than the Middle Kingdom? Seriously, Imperial College?
EPIDEMICS ALWAYS FLATTEN AND DECLINE ON THEIR OWN
Fact is, the epidemic worldwide, far from “growing exponentially,” is slowing. And that was to be expected per what’s called “Farr’s Law,” which dictates 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. COVID-19 peaks have already been reported in China, South Korea, and Singapore.
Importantly, Farr’s Law has nothing to do with human interventions such as “social distancing” to “flatten the curve,” and indeed 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 subsequent fruit harder and harder to reach. Until more or less now, COVID-19 has been finding that fresh fruit in new countries, but it’s close to running out. So while many people assume that China contained its epidemic with draconian regulations, we actually have no evidence of that. Even the New York Times admitted South Korea recovered far more quickly with measures nowhere on the scale of China, although of course the Times still attributes that to human intervention, which assigning no role to Mother Nature.
When the coronavirus epidemic ends and the public health zealots inevitably slap themselves on the back for having prevented their own ridiculous scenarios, don’t buy it.
…without the authoritarian and economically-devastating measures the U.S. and other countries are taking that are wrecking the world economy, there will be no Apocalypse Now or in the future. The streets are empty not because of direct effects of the disease, but from fear and from government dictates; as in a cognate of “dictatorship.”
Mind, right now we’re seeing a spike in cases because only now is testing becoming readily available in the U.S. due to a delay in the CDC developing its own assay.
First, we’re now picking up a lot more asymptomatic people who will be counted as “cases” just as much as people on death’s door. This will further contribute to hysteria.
Second, many who test positive will suddenly develop “nocebo” symptoms; the opposite of placebo. As I observed long ago, nocebo symptoms come from the mind but can be very real. They definitely can mimic COVID-19 symptoms.
…the more you test, the lower the death rate becomes because the denominator grows faster than the numerator. Rather than the 3.4% rate the WHO put out, the current crude U.S. death rate is ABOUT 1.6% and will probably drop to less than half that as we’ve seen so far in South Korea at 0.6%.
But why is this happening in Italy? Partly it’s because Italy just doesn’t have a particularly good health care system. Even more specifically, last year the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security ranked the U.S.the best-prepared country in the world to handle a pandemic in late 2019, whereas Italy came in at only 31 – below Mexico.
Beyond that, Italy has the fifth oldest population in the world (whereas the U.S. ranks 61). We already knew from Chinese data that COVID-19 is overwhelmingly a killer of the old and infirm. An analysis by China’s Center for Disease Control & Prevention found that most deaths occurred in those aged 80 and over.
Further, almost all those elderly dead had “comorbid” conditions of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or hypertension. Similarly, almost everyone who has died in Italy has been over age 70, and virtually all had comorbid conditions: In fact, half of those who died had three or more.
And it appears a major factor may be how cases are recorded, which makes the assumption that dying from COVID-19 is the same as dying with it. Given the strong overlap between the population susceptible to flu and COVID-19, it’s certain that many who actually succumbed to flu are marked as coronavirus cases. We can expect that in the U.S. as well.
But as always we follow the dictates of the public health zealots, the media and power-hungry pols. Shame on us that after all these years we are once again ignoring reality for the dubious benefits of hysteria.
*Note: As this article was being written, Neil Ferguson, the head of the Imperial College study, simply threw his model away. Along with the U.S. one of 2.2 million deaths, he predicted the U.K. would have as many as 510,000 deaths. In an oral presentation he reduced the U.K figure slightly… to 20,000. So the model that launched a thousand articles wasn’t worth anything more than the pixels it appeared with.