Close window  |  View original article

Politically Incorrect Virus Solutions

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

By Will Offensicht  |  March 23, 2020

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.