Politically Incorrect Virus Solutions

We don't have to destroy our economy to protect people if we don't want to.

We at Scragged do our best to follow whatever evidence we can find wherever it goes regardless of political correctness.  We've run across a thought that is extraordinarily non-PC, but we thought we'd point it out anyway.

In order to give our coming assertion credibility, however, we need to look at some recent facts about the worldwide spread of the Chinese flu.

Just the Facts...

As of March 22, 2020, the Telegraph reported that Italy had 59,138 cases and 5,476 deaths.  Taken at face value, these numbers put the Italian fatality rate of 9.25% which gives it a higher fatality rate than the Spanish Flu of 1918 that killed millions around the globe.

This is a little odd.  China has almost twice as many cases, 81,397, but only 3,265 deaths, for a fatality rate of just over 4%.  Italy has reported more deaths from the Wuhan virus than any other country, including China, where it originated without warning, and which hasn't had a first world level of medicine for decades as has Italy.

On face value, this simply underscores how untrustworthy Chinese numbers might be: from the beginning, we suspected that the Chinese had more deaths than reported, and that's widely recognized.  But the Telegraph's report suggests that some of this may also result from a difference in how data are collected.  Using different protocols and rules that aren't equivalent to what we use, the Italians may have overstated deaths due to the virus:

... Prof Ricciardi [scientific adviser to Italy's minister of health] added that Italy's death rate may also [in addition to Italy having the oldest population on earth] appear high because of how doctors record fatalities.

"The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus."

"On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity - many had two or three," he says.  [emphasis added]

Even the 12% figure may be too high.  Bloomberg reports that 99% of the Italians who died either with or from the virus suffered from other diseases.

The average age of those who've died from the virus in Italy is 79.5. As of March 17, 17 people under 50 had died from the disease. All of Italy's victims under 40 have been males with serious existing medical conditions.  [emphasis added]

More than 48% of the Italian fatalities had 3 or more other serious medical issues.  How much did the virus shorten their lives?

Correlation versus Causality

My grandfather-in-law suffered from a slow-moving prostate cancer for years before dying at 92.  He also had a number of other ailments which were typical of his age, any one of which could have killed him at any time, and ultimately would have if nothing else got him first.

Did he die of the cancer or with the cancer?  He certainly died with the cancer; he had it when he died.  However, it wasn't specifically the cancer that finished him off.

When someone that old dies with a variety of ailments, filling in a single cause of death is a matter of medical judgment and flipping a coin.  Years ago, doctors simply wrote "Extreme Old Age" and left it at that, but our modern scientific preferences want something more definitive.  Doctors want to keep their licenses to practice.  If they can't actually be definitive, they pretend to be.

His son, my father-in-law, had a fast-moving prostate cancer which killed him at age 93.  Although he had other conditions, there's no doubt that he died of the cancer and not with the cancer.  His other ailments also would have killed him eventually, but absent the cancer, he'd have likely gone on for several more years.

Reports from other countries agree that the virus is most likely to kill people 70 or older.  Equally important, the reports also say that pre-morbidity conditions which makes it easier for the virus to kill include such ailments as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a variety of breathing issues which can also be fatal.

In such cases, it would be equally reasonable to write down any of these illnesses as the cause of death.  If the victim hadn't caught the virus, they'd probably still be alive.  But it's equally true that, if they hadn't been morbidly obese, chain-smokers for 50 years, or suffering from leukemia, they probably would have survived the virus.

That suggests that Wuhan flu isn't very deadly by itself: it generally only kills people who have been weakened by some other illness.  This is exactly what happened to the much-publicized 21-year-old Spanish soccer coach who died from the coronavirus: it turned out he was also suffering from leukemia.  It was precisely because he was in such excellent physical shape that his body had been able to wrestle the leukemia into a standstill without him even knowing it.  But it couldn't handle that and the coronavirus at once, and nobody sensible would expect to: people with leukemia can die from a bout with the common cold.

Reducing the Numerator

In the early stages of the Wuhan epidemic, the Chinese Communist government ordered the police to come down very hard on doctors who talked about s new virus.  If you were a doctor in such an atmosphere, which way would you spin a death certificate?  Chinese men are notoriously heavy smokers; at least half the time, the doctor has a politically-correct cause of death that wasn't even a complete.

We'd like to think that we're above such shenanigans, but the last few years ought to have taught all Americans otherwise.  What are the politics of reporting deaths in deep-blue New York, California, or Washington?  Assuming that there aren't any political considerations would be infantile.

To cite but one possibility, Congress has been making noises about the Federal government picking up the medical tab for people who die of this disease.  If you're a doctor identifying the cause of death as "COVID-19" in which case the Feds will pay and the newspapers can criticize Mr. Trump, or "advanced liver disease" because the deceased was a homeless alcoholic with no insurance and nobody to pay his bill, which are you likely to fill in?

Assigning deaths to the virus which it didn't really cause increases the numerator of the fraction of people who die from it.  When someone suffering from many different conditions dies, the manner in which the death is recorded makes all the difference in the world if there is systematic bias in a specific area.

Prof. Ricciardi asserts that the Italian medical system was biased toward recording death as due to the virus no matter what other conditions the patient may have had.  If 88% of Italian deaths were not due to the Chinese virus and only 12% of the reported deaths were due to the virus, the number of deaths drops to 657.  On that basis, the fatality rate in Italy would be 1.1% which is a lot lower than commonly reported for Italy.  If Bloomberg's 1% estimate of patients who had no other conditions is accurate, the death rate is 0.11%.

Increasing the Denominator

The American Association for the Advancement of Science reports that as many as 82%-90% of all Chinese cases were not reported due to limited testing capacity, and that undocumented carriers were the infection source for 79% of the documented cases.

"We estimate 86% of all infections were undocumented."

If 86% of Italian cases have not been identified, the 59,138 reported Italian cases is only 14% of the total and the actual Italian case count is 422,414.  Based on that increased case count and the reduced fatality count of 657, the Italian fatality rate is .15%, which is just about what we expect from our annual flu.  If Bloomberg's 1% is closer to the truth, the fatality rate would be 0.015% - a rounding error compared to normal seasonal diseases.

We aren't the only group to claim that the Wuhan pandemic is no worse than the usual flu.  The Gateway Pundit published a lengthy analysis of the American CDC's figures which shows that it's no worse than the flu.  As with the Chinese infection, everyone has to guess at the number of actual cases since most people who get it never show up to be tested, a phenomenon we're equally seeing with the Wuhan version.

American Thinker analyzed data from the Diamond Princess, the cruise ship which was quarantined in Yokohama, and found that 83% of the 3,711 people on board were never infected.  Slightly less than half the people who tested positive for the disease showed no symptoms and many of the rest had only mild symptoms which they would normally ignore.  This supports the AAAS assertion that 86% of cases go undetected.

Only seven people died, all of whom were over 70, for a fatality rate of .18%, which is close to the adjusted Italian figure and to the CDC's rate for our annual flu as reported by the Gateway Pundit.

The Testing Solution

The Guardian described an experiment in Vo, a small Italian town near Venice that worked with researchers at the University of Padua and the Red Cross.

Beginning on March 6, everyone in the town of 3,000 was tested for the virus.  This made it possible to quarantine people before they showed signs of having the virus.  Blocking "stealth carriers" from spreading eradicated the virus in under 14 days.

Vo is a special situation - it had the first Chinese flu death in Italy and was small enough for two rounds of mass testing.  The whole town was quarantined.

In the first round of testing, 89 people tested positive. In the second round [9 days later], the number had dropped to six, who remained in isolation. In this way, we managed to eradicate coronavirus from Vo, achieving a 100% recovery rate for those previously infected while recording no further cases of transmission.  [emphasis added]

The first round of testing showed that about 3% of the population was infected at the time of the first death, and most of them were completely asymptomatic as on the Diamond Princess.  Isolating spreaders blocked the virus completely.

This is a major difference from our normal flu - sick people don't spread flu for weeks on end without showing symptoms.  This "stealth" aspect of the Chinese version makes mass testing the only means of control.

For now, with everyone in the US more or less quarantined, stealth carriers can't spread it widely because they aren't moving around.  Unless we have mass testing by the time people start moving, however, it will spread to people who did not get immunity because they weren't exposed to it the first time around.  This will increase the number of cases and make the problem seem to be worse.

A Different Approach

A lockdown slows the spread of the virus but imposes devastating economic costs.  CCN published "Panicking into Recession Could Kill More Than Coronavirus" which asserts:

It's smart to take reasonable measures to prevent coronavirus from spreading. But studies show a recession could be even more deadly.

... That's because recessions are as deadly as pandemics[emphasis added]

A 2016 study by researchers at Imperial College London found that the last global financial crisis caused 500,000 cancer deaths worldwide between 2008 and 2010. They found a correlation between each percentage increase in unemployment, and an uptick in cancer deaths.

Another study in 2014 by University of Oxford researchers found over 10,000 suicides tied to the Great Recession in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Keep recession-caused deaths in mind when anyone urges stronger measures against the virus.

In addition to being spread by people with no visible symptoms, this virus has another characteristic - The New York Post reported that it doesn't kill people unless they're ill or old.

More than 99% of coronavirus patients who died in Italy suffered from other, pre-existing health issues, according to a study by the country's health officials. ...

The average age of the victims was 79.5, and the number of deaths in the country surpassed 2,500 this week.

This is particularly relevant if you consider that the reaction to the virus is primarily harmful to people who aren't themselves likely to be affected by the virus itself: young, healthy, working-age folks.  Nursing-home retirees have left their earning years behind, and are already collecting Medicare and Social Security, which can best be funded if everyone else is out working and paying taxes.

What will the likely reaction be when people years from retirement find their lives destroyed over a disease that would almost certainly not affect them?

Briebart reports that Israeli's defense minister Naftali Bennet suggests that Israel take a different approach.

[He] posted a video to social media on Friday [march 20, 2020] suggesting that the country's long-term strategy should involve most of the population becoming infected with, and immune to, coronavirus while isolating the elderly.

Mr. Bennet notes that the fatality rate among young people is very low and the the economic cost of isolating everyone is catastrophic.  It makes more sense to isolate people 70 and older - there's fewer of them, and it costs less.

Isolating the elderly is the best we can do while waiting for a vaccine or for treatment to improve, either of which could take a year or more.

The most important thing - more than general social distancing; more than testing, testing, testing; is to separate old people from younger people. The single most lethal combination is when a grandma hugs her grandson. Why is that? Because corona is a unique virus, in the sense that it's way more lethal for old people than for young people. In many countries, zero young people died. Countries that many people died have 0% or 0.1% of folks under the age of 30 or 20 [dead]. Where old people over the age of 80 and 70, one out of five, one out of seven of them that get the virus, die. So what we need to do over the next period of time is take care of grandma and grandpa, but from far away[emphasis added]

It's these well-attested facts that leads us to our non-PC idea.

Four Sources, One Conclusion

We've examined four different sources, all of which suggest that the Wuhan virus, even if it was created artificially as the conspiracy theorists would have you believe, isn't a particularly effective bio-weapon.  Instead, it's turned out to be a staggeringly potent economic weapon, by triggering the societal equivlent of an AIDS-style autoimmune disaster response.

We reach this conclusion based on the following:

  1. Adjusting Italian fatalities downward based on information from the Telegraph.
  2. Adjusting Italian cases upward based on information from the AAAS.
  3. Analysis of CDC case data for both the virus and the flu as reported in the Gateway Pundit.
  4. Detailed analysis of the Diamond Princess data reported in American Thinker.

The danger of this new virus is roughly comparable to what happens during our annual flu, except that it spreads faster because so many infected people have no symptoms.  It's just about as dangerous overall as the H1N1 virus which struck during the Obama administration - 300,000 people were hospitalized with H1N1 - except that it kills far more older people who are already ill than younger people.

Mr. Obama did far less in terms of shutting down economic activity than the Trump administration has done, yet his handling of the situation was praised whereas Mr. Trump has been vilified.  Mr. Biden described his first travel ban as xenophobic and fearmongering.  Now, Mr. Trump is being criticized for not doing enough.

As we've reported, our MSM reporters and Democrat politicians are gleefully hoping that the virus will kill enough people and damage the economy badly enough that Befuddled Biden might win the White House - or better yet, Chairman Sanders.  As Eddie Glaude Jr., an African American Studies professor, joyfully said, "And so it seems to me that this is an event that could take down the president."

Sure enough, we see lies pouring out faster than we can count them.  Mayor Mini Mike Bloomberg falsely claimed that the Trump administration cut funding from the Center for Disease Control.  Bernie Sanders and many other Democrats claimed that the coming vaccine would be available only to the rich.  There is no vaccine yet, so not even all of Mike Bloomberg's $50 billion fortune could buy him a single dose.

The Washington Post reported that Democrats plan to blame Mr. Trump for the Corona virus:

A Democratic super PAC said Tuesday it would spend $5 million on digital advertising flaying President Trump for his response to the novel coronavirus, one of several groups that planned to devote resources to this type of messaging.

Is there a political purpose behind our panic which is far out of proportion to the actual threat?  After all, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed "counter-revolutionaries" had plotted to shut down economic production to put stress on the government and make it easier for the unnamed revolutionaries to take over.

Where We Get Politically Incorrect

Our suggestion is similar to Mr. Bennett's plan - we think that the quarantine should be lifted in at most two more weeks, with as powerful a warning as possible that older people and anyone with certain medical conditions should self-isolate.  Letting everyone else get back to work will save the economy; keeping the economy locked down will soon start killing more people than the virus.

Over the next few months, the rest of the population will get the virus, most of them without even knowing it.  Once about 70% of the population is immune, the epidemic will be over.  At that point, older people can start to circulate again, although we might want to continue to be careful about visitors to nursing homes.

That's totally against the Democrat's desire to take the economy down for political purposes, but trashing the economy is not in anyone's true interest except possibly people like George Soros.  It may turn out to have been a good idea to defer peak demand on hospitals, but now that we know that most people with the virus have mild symptoms or none at all, we know to keep mild cases out of hospitals and focus on severe cases as the Koreans did.

Quarantining and protecting the elderly who are most at risk, and telling people not to come to the hospital unless they have trouble breathing, would offload hospitals and save many lives without trashing the economy.

Democrats would howl, but if the economy started to recover and death rates held steady, people would ignore them, which would be a good thing.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for Scragged.com and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Economics.
Reader Comments

We read here, some common sense in a time when common sense is scarce, replaced by hyperbole and hysteria. Vitriol and vituperation are the order of the day, spread willingly and willfully by a press and media that have sacrificed any semblance of real reporting. America, America, where have you gone?

March 23, 2020 6:44 PM

Well formed set of thoughts. I think we have to do something like this. Otherwise we simply set our economic house on fire.

March 23, 2020 8:28 PM

I think there is one other variable that makes Wuhan/Chinese virus more deadly.... a history of smoking. One other “ fact” about this scourge is that affects men more than women. As I recall + 60% of Chinese men smoke or have smoked. That number is less than 10% for Chinese women. In Italy, I am told that Italian men ( especially older ones) are more likely to have a smoking history than women in the same cohort. The virus is a disease of the lungs and we know smoking weakens the lungs. If accurate, we would have free/mandatory virus test( available at Walmart !) of folks with lung challenges including smoking. Everybody else does so if needed. If this turns out to be a severe disease for smokers but “ just the flu” for everybody else, then our response should be a lot different.

March 23, 2020 9:43 PM

The Boston Herald agrees with you about the political spin themedia are applying


Every once in a while, the liberal journalists at PolitiFact grant President Trump a rare rating of “Mostly True.” Most recently, they verified a Trump tweet about Joe Biden: “During the 2009 swine flu outbreak, Biden made reckless comments unsupported by science & the experts. The Obama Admin had to clean up his mess & apologize for his ineptitude.”

They explained that on April 30, 2009, Biden was interviewed by then-NBC host Matt Lauer on the “Today” show. Lauer asked, “If a member of your family came to you and said, ‘Look, I want to go on a commercial airliner to Mexico and back,’ within the next week, would you think it’s a good idea?”

“It’s not that it’s going to Mexico. It’s you’re in a confined aircraft,” Biden said. “When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft.” He added that he wouldn’t advise taking the subway, either: “If you’re out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, that’s one thing; if you’re in a closed aircraft or closed container or closed car or closed classroom, it’s a different thing.”

One reason PolitiFact wrote this up is that it rated Biden’s claim “Pants on Fire” back in 2009. In an airplane, the experts said, a sneeze might travel a row or two but not throughout the whole plane.

[Note: They forget how thoroughly the aircraft air circulation system mixes the air.]

The @TrumpWarRoom Twitter account found a 2009 video of then-White House press secretary Robert Gibbs trying to spin what Biden “meant to say” — that if you’re feeling ill, don’t get on a plane. Next you hear Jake Tapper, then with ABC, shooting back saying, “With all due respect,” Gibbs’ statement wasn’t “even remotely close” to what Biden said.

Here’s the important part: The networks energetically circled the “news” wagons to protect Biden. They helped “clean up his mess,” as Trump said.

Then-CBS anchor Katie Couric brought a doctor on “CBS Evening News” and said, “The vice president created a bit of a brouhaha … but that’s not terrible advice in certain situations, is it?” In 2008, Brent Baker at NewsBusters noted how Couric had earlier been so protective of Biden that she didn’t correct him during an interview when he said Franklin Roosevelt “got on television” when the stock market crashed.

On ABC’s evening newscast, then-anchor Charles Gibson ran the “Today” show clip of Biden and asked then-ABC medical editor Dr. Tim Johnson, “Is he overreacting?” Johnson admitted Biden was off-base, but then spun it into a positive: “In an ironic way, the reaction — the information that has come out in reaction — has been very informative.”

Fox’s Chris Wallace wasn’t so sanguine in a New York talk radio interview with Steve Malzberg. “This just is very reckless, and, and, it just makes you wonder, ‘What’s the matter with this guy?'” he said. “I’m able to get on and off the air without saying — I hope, most times — without saying something stupid. He doesn’t seem to be able to do that.”

It’s worth remembering that the media’s coverage of infectious diseases resembles their coverage of every other potentially controversial topic. Verifiable facts are often secondary, and political spin dominates. Liberal media outlets find it boring to merely organize and recite facts. It’s in their nature to nurture and protect the people they locate on “the right side of history.”

March 23, 2020 10:58 PM

the Israeli defense minister isn't the only one who agrees with you.


As (mostly) blue-state governors trip all over themselves trying to test the limits of what a real totalitarian police state would look like if their Bolshevik wet dreams ever came true, reasonable Americans wonder if the proscribed “cure” to stopping the Wuhan virus might, in the long run, be infinitely worse than the disease itself.

Leftists and even some big-government type conservatives have taken advantage of what they clearly see as a great opportunity to virtue signal on this issue, because nothing says “I’m a good person” better than a condescending tweet or pajama-clad quarantine video. ‘We’re saving lives,’ they say, so any action is justified. ‘SHUT IT DOWN,’ they implore all over Twitter. Yes, everybody should be taking precautions and no, nobody should be gathering in large crowds or partying it up on Spring Break at the beach, but New York, New Jersey, California, and others are taking things to the point of unworkable absurdity, and goading President Donald Trump and thus-far noncompliant red-state governors to join them on the tyrannical bandwagon - one that, in the name of saving a few, could end up sinking the entire ship.

But some are pushing back. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, has been one of the few Republicans to criticize the president on this issue and call for a more “measured” response. “You don’t shut restaurants down for 30 days,” he said last week. “I have no problem with (stopping) sporting events or things that don’t impact our civil liberties and don’t impact everyday life. Those are things that I think we can suspend for a period of time. But it’s just craziness to shut down businesses or parts of the economy that are absolutely necessary.”

“We are in the midst of a panic that is creating irrational responses,” Buck said, calling the closures “an overreaction to a very serious situation” which is now causing “some serious civil liberties issues.”

In an article titled “Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown,” The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board posited last week that “No society can safeguard public health for long at the cost of its economic health.”

“Even America’s resources to fight a viral plague aren’t limitless—and they will become more limited by the day as individuals lose jobs, businesses close, and American prosperity gives way to poverty,” they wrote before calling for a strategy that’s “more economically and socially sustainable than the current national lockdown.”

In a normal recession, the WSJ argued, the country would lose around 5% of output over a year, but this crisis may cost “that much, or twice as much, in a month.” Scary stuff, but to seemingly most of those in charge at this point, the Chinese coronavirus is way scarier. Yes, the death toll has been relatively small so far, but if left unchecked hundreds of thousands, if not millions, could die, they tell us. Should the curve be successfully flattened, they say, we’ll save upwards of a million American lives.

But even if all that is true, and it may very well be, at what cost is this curve truly flattened? As Tucker Carlson noted last week, an epidemiologist - like Dr. Fauci - would tend to believe “the answer is simple: shut it down, close every public space until the virus passes.” Yes, we could do that, conceivably. It’s certainly what the left wants, although arguably for entirely different reasons.

The WSJ’s many supporters on Twitter included names like RNC member Harmeet Dhillon, economist Brian Wesbury, conservative writer Ann Coulter, former NBC host Megyn Kelly, Fox News host Laura Ingraham, and even NYT White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, all of whom were among many tweeting out the article and, in some way, wondering what we are doing


March 23, 2020 11:19 PM

Here's another article that argues that the shutdown is counter-productive


It's becasue of the stealth carriers. If only 1 in 1000 goes to the hospital, by the time anyone notices it, the virus has spread to most people already.

They have to test for serum / antibodies in the blood. If lots of people are actually immune, all this locking down is silly.

March 25, 2020 1:49 PM

why did Trump severely weaken our ability to fight pandemics? Why is he STILL cutting their budget, deep into this disaster of his making?

Are YOU going to church with him on Easter?

March 25, 2020 3:36 PM

Even the leftist media fact checkers admit that it is not true that Trump cut the CDC's budget. And it sounds like the Feds just agreed on a $2T spending bill for the coronavirus, so it's hard to see how your comment could be more thoroughly wrong.


And yes, it would be an honor to go to church with Donald Trump on Easter - regardless of my personal opinion of his spirituality, there would be no better place for him to be than hearing religious preaching. Whether he would care to attend church with *me* is a different question.

March 25, 2020 3:41 PM

"one day it's like a miracle, it will disappear."

March 25, 2020 3:43 PM

The history of the adoption of the N95 mask is interesting. The doctor who first proposed that a particular pandemic was spreading through the air was ridiculed just as Semmelweiss who first proposed that disease could be spread by not washing hands was ridiculed.

Cultural change is VERY HARD.


The article also discusses the difference between normal hospital masks, which protect other people from the wearer, and the N95 which protects the wearer from other people.

March 26, 2020 2:49 PM

Once we solve this problem we need to start thinking about how we can get even with China for starting this mess. And I don't mean President Blowhard enacting more tariffs. It needs to be more than that

March 26, 2020 3:20 PM

I really suspect that a low-paid janitor in the Wuhan virus lab was ordered to incinerate a used monkey after a test of a prototype virus and decided to sell that yummy monkey in the wet market instead. If that's what happened, and the authorities were able to identify the perpetrator, he's been reduced to component atoms by now.

This article seems to be closest to the truth:


It points out that the Chinese government was embarrassed by those earlier viruses and would have badly wanted to come up with a vaccine against them or their future cousins. The article observes that the new flu acts more or less like a normal vaccine except for 2 factors:

1) It is itself contagious, but that would be cool - no need to jab people and no back-chat from anti-vaxxers.
2) It has a somewhat higher death rate than one would desire for a drug which is intended to be given to people who are not ill, but there are MANY vaccines which we don't give to old people or to pregnant people.

Read it all - the details hold together rather well.

March 27, 2020 12:17 AM

Patiebce: President Blowhard usually likes t spend sunday mornings humping hookers. But maybe you could go to church with his wife.

March 28, 2020 5:42 PM

https://www.justfacts.com/news_covid-19_crucial_facts has a neat graph showing projected lifespan lost due to the virus if some of the more pessimistic projections turn out to be true. It shows that the virus costs fewer person-lives than many other causes, and wonders why we're cratering the economy because of it.

Given the spread of misinformation about Covid-19, Just Facts is providing a trove of rigorously documented facts about this disease and its impacts. These include some vital facts that have been absent or misreported in much of the media’s coverage of this issue.

This research also includes a groundbreaking study to determine the lethality of Covid-19 based on the most comprehensive available measure: the total years of life that it will rob from all people. This accords with the CDC’s tenet that “the allocation of health resources must consider not only the number of deaths by cause but also” the “years of potential life lost.”

The CDC emphasizes that the Covid-19 pandemic “is a rapidly evolving situation,” and as such, this article will be updated each weekday as the CDC publishes new data.

On one hand, the facts show that:

the death rate for people who contract Covid-19 is uncertain but is probably closer to that of the seasonal flu than figures commonly reported by the press.

the average years of life lost from each Covid-19 death are significantly fewer than from common causes of untimely death like accidents and suicides.

the virus that causes Covid-19 is “very vulnerable to antibody neutralization” and has limited ability to mutate, which means it is very unlikely to take lives year after year.

if 240,000 Covid-19 deaths ultimately occur in the United States, the virus will rob about 2.9 million years of life from all Americans who were alive at the outset of 2020, while accidents will rob them of about 409 million years—or about 140 times more than Covid-19.

On the other hand, elderly people and those with chronic ailments are extremely vulnerable to Covid-19. Furthermore, the disease is highly transmissible, which means it could spread like wildfire and overwhelm hospitals without extraordinary measures to contain it. This would greatly increase its death toll.

However, such precautionary measures often have economic and other impacts that can cost lives, and overreacting can ultimately kill more people than are saved.

April 3, 2020 10:03 AM

Here is anotehr skeptic who agrees with you.


That brings us to today, when the country and the world are shut down over what is expected to happen with the coronavirus. Like everything else, the predictions aren’t panning out. Were this just $2 wasted on a lottery ticket it wouldn’t matter. But are we hurting millions of people and spending trillions of dollars on nothing more than a hunch based on computer models that are wildly inaccurate?

There’s no question the coronavirus is deadly and dangerous, but is it going to kill hundreds of thousands in the US and millions around the world? We have no idea. All we have are guesses. But if you’re going to destroy the economy and severely restrict people’s lives, you’d better have some damn good information backing up your actions. There are questions about the computer models being used to impose just that.

One prominent model in the shutdown is from the University of Washington, from their Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), funded by Bill and Melinda Gates. How closely does what they predicted track with reality so far? Turns out, not so well.

While the reporting data from some states are lagging, others have provided information that calls into question the validity of the whole model, and with it, all the actions taken by government.

On April 4th, for example, the IHME model predicted there would be between 120,963 and 203,436 Americans requiring hospitalization, with the average of that range being 164,745. In reality, there were 18,998.

That’s just hospitalizations, when it comes to intensive care beds, the difference between the projections and reality show an equally large gap. The average projected ICU beds needed on April 4th was 31,057; the reality was 4,686. That’s across the country, not just New York. Even after factoring in the caveats about missing states, that’s a miss akin to swinging and striking out on a pickoff to second base.

As of this writing, there are 7,810 deaths in the United States attributed to the pandemic. More than 7,000 Americans die every single day, on average, of everything. Over the course of this pandemic, this has amounted to a noticeable but still mild uptick above that average over the course of it. Add to that the directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to count any death tangentially related to COVID-19, and you have to wonder if that number actually holds. That directive reads, “COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death.” (The emphasis in bolding is theirs.)

So what is going on? Where is the truth? Are we on the verge of a massive crush of cases and deaths, or are we destroying ourselves over the equivalent of tarot card reading gone wrong? I don’t know, but I do know we need answers and we need them now.

April 5, 2020 6:07 PM

So far, Coronavirus does not seem to be nearly the threat to our society posed by severe TDS.

April 16, 2020 6:39 AM

George Kamburoff, the guy who got banned from YELLING on the WSJ comment pages.

April 19, 2020 3:12 PM

Good thoughts and opinions. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts. Your theories become suspect when you politicize a virus.

May 2, 2020 7:42 AM
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