One of our club members, Brett Gordon, has
written an essay about the coronavirus to share with members. He did
this on his own and he provides a unique prospective that is thoughtful
and not being discussed. We may vary in our opinion with what Brett
writes however, it is important that we consider all angles as we come
to grips with the changing reality of what is going on.
I want to personally thanks Brett for doing this as he did it solely
to assist members during these harsh times. The club is “my tribe” and
members like Brett care about “the tribe”.
Pandemic of Virus or Pandemic of Fear
Why are we reacting like the sky is
falling? Why are governments reacting so violently to this
Coronavirus? Is this pandemic fact based or fear based? Is it hype or
reality? It’s all a matter of perspective.
Early on in the history of this
Coronavirus (COVID-19) (SARS-CoV-2) or “THE VIRUS” each mass media
player presented some facts and then hyped the stories into warp speed
to ensure they got to the audience before their competitors. Then as
more information and data came out, scientists began publishing
experiences and reports. Then statistics from China and Italy were
tallied and compared and with death tolls rising, the “Pandemic” came to
life. March madness, without the basketball.
The entire world is now in a frenzy. Ok,
there is no doubt the virus spread fast, but not as fast as the media
coverage. Now the world is in a panic. Whoa, lets slow down, review
what we know and compare to some numbers of the influenza outbreak that
we experience every year.
This paper pulls together facts from
public and published sources and organized in a way to make things a bit
easier to understand.
The United States president and other
world leaders are taking unprecedented actions and creating massive
economic and societal stress based on estimated death tolls and actions
outlined in Imperial College COVID-Response Team, 16 Mar 2010 report,
“Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19
mortality and healthcare demand”.
Now that we are getting more real
numbers, we need to re-look at death toll numbers attributed to “The
Virus” and compare them to the flu. Based on the numbers and looking at
death rates by population versus death rate of only those
symptomatically identified as having the virus, the projected death toll
in the U.S. drops from the estimated 2.2.million indicated in the study
to a more manageable 109,230.
Yes there will be higher death tolls,
possibly 2-3 times higher than other flu seasons, but is the “Treatment”
worse than the Disease? Are the consequences of the current actions of
isolation, social distancing and shutting down the U.S. economy worth a
potential loss of some lives?
We have put the lives of our military on
the line many times and lost more lives to protect our economy and
freedom. Should we not consider this a war that the world wages to
protect the future of our global economy and global society?
These are the questions our President,
our politicians and our country must make now before it’s too late.
“The only thing we have to Fear…Is Fear itself” – Franklin D Roosevelt
I have likened some of the current
situation to the Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First” skit, not to make
light of the issues, but to lighten our spirits as we contemplate our
Coronavirus – What is it?
Coronavirus is a general term for viruses
that have a lot of points sticking out with knobs on top that resemble
the top of a king’s crown. It is not the specific virus affecting us
today. The strain of the virus is SARS-CoV-2 “Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome Coronavirus 2”, named by some international committee that
makes up names for viruses, or COVID-19, meaning the Coronavirus Disease
discovered in 2019 named by WHO, (No not the WHO from the Abbott and
Costello skit “WHOs on first and WHATs on second…”), the World Health
Not only is this a Coronavirus, but it is
a novel Coronavirus (No not because they’ll be writing books on this
forever), but because it a new type of coronavirus that humans have
never encountered in the past. Why is this important? Because
scientists say the human being has no specific antibodies from past
exposures to fight off this virus. Therefore, this virus can spread
faster than Usain Bolt can run the 100m dash. All the body has to
combat this virus is its normal, powerful immune system which defeats
most illnesses AND cancers throughout a person’s life.
How fast and strong is the Coronavirus?
OK, we know it moves fast, it got around the world in about 80 days (hey I think Phileas Fogg and Passepartou did that
in a hot air balloon) and is continuing to infect more and more people
every day. Well how did it travel so far and infect so many so fast?
Well, most people that have “The Virus” don’t even know they have it.
“The explosion of COVID-19 cases
in China was largely driven by individuals with mild, limited, or no
symptoms who went undetected,” says co-author Jeffrey Shaman, Ph.D.,
professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University
In fact, in most people (80% or so) it
will be defeated by their natural immune system and if they get
physically ill it appears a lot like a cold or the “normal” flu, so they
treat it like the flu and move on with their lives and pass it on to
other people. Also, people may have “The Virus” from 1-14 days before
showing any symptoms, if they show any signs at all.
There is, however, a difference in who is more likely to get seriously ill or have a greater risk of dying from Covid-19. While 80% of people will have mild (or even no) symptoms,
it’s thought that about 20% will get seriously or even critically ill.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high-risk groups include older adults along with people who have serious chronic medical conditions.
Now some people’s (20% or so) immune
system is not too strong and they will get further complications like
pneumonia and possibly more severe respiratory problems that put them in
the hospital. Even so, most of these will recover, but some will die
(maybe as low as around 1% – more than 3%, the jury is still out as to
the real mortality rate). So now we know why it’s fast and can be
What are the numbers?
Well even though scientists and
statisticians use numbers to support their positions, sometimes the
numbers are fuzzy, SWAGS (Scientific Wild Ass Guesses), or just not
really known. There can be wide ranges of estimates of the numbers of
people that get the flu or might get “The Virus”, but here are some
The CDC estimates 3%-20% of the United States population gets the flu every year.
The commonly cited 5% to 20% estimate
was based on a study that examined both symptomatic and asymptomatic
influenza illness, which means it also looked at people who may have had
the flu but never knew it because they didn’t have any symptoms. The 3%
to 11% range is an estimate of the proportion of people who have
symptomatic flu illness. (Source: CDC Website)
The numbers for “The Virus” are more like
WAGS (Wild Ass Guesses) since there is not enough solid data to even
scientifically guess how many people have or will have “The Virus”.
(These numbers are like Abbott and Costello’s “I Don’t Know” is on third
Why? (“WHY” is the player in left field
and some of the numbers you see in the media and reports are also from
left field) Remember many if not most of the people with “The Virus”
won’t show any signs or will think they have a cold or the normal flu
and never go to a doctor. That stated you might hear that anywhere from
20%-80% of the population will get “The Virus”.
Now let’s talk about mortality rate. So,
the CDC has lots of numbers and data for the mortality rate for the
flu. Each year from 2010 – 2019 the number of deaths in the U.S. range
from around 12,000 to over 60,000 with illness numbers ranging from 9.3
million to 45 million. See diagram below from the CDC’s website.
The higher numbers come from the H1N1
pandemic in 2009 where the CDC estimated 60.8 million symptomatic cases
(range: 43.3-89.3 million), with around 12,469 deaths in the U.S.
(range: 8868-18,306) and between 151,700 – 575,400 deaths from
flu/pneumonia worldwide. The greatest number of deaths between 2010 and
2019 was in the flu season of 2017-2018 where the CDC estimated about
45 million symptomatic illnesses and around 61,000 deaths due to
flu/pneumonia. The overall U.S. population in 2010 was approx. 306
million and in 2020 approx. 330 million.
The approximate death rate due to flu/pneumonia ranges from 0.0038% to 0.019% when compared to the total U.S. population.
Now let’s look at the numbers for “The
Virus”. In the Imperial College COVID-Response Team, 16 Mar 2010
report, “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce
COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand” the study predicts 81% of the
U.S. (and Great Britain(GB)) population will be infected during this
pandemic. They also predict the death rate in the U.S. to be 2.2
million (510,000 in GB) if nothing is done to slow the rate of infection
across the populations.
Unmitigated epidemic scenarios for GB and the US. Projected deaths per day per 100,000 population in GB and US.
Why are the U.S. and State Governments shutting down schools and businesses?
The death rate in the report is predicted
to be extremely high and will be compounded by the hospitalization
numbers being 30 times higher than the critical care bed capacity in the
nations. To reduce the number of deaths, the study recommends several
courses of action to reduce the spike in hospitalizations the demand for
critical care beds.
The U.S. and State governments are
implementing the actions recommended in the report to include: Closure
of schools and universities, Isolating anyone that shows signs of “The
Virus”, Household Quarantine and Social Distancing, as well as
combinations of those actions. The results of the different actions are
predicted to flatten the curves as indicated in the diagram below.
As indicated in the Figure 2 above, the
more severe the restrictive actions, the flatter the curve. That
stated, the red line at the bottom of the figure shows the surge
critical care bed capacity. Every scenario indicates demand far exceeds
the capacity and that by implementing the most restrictive recommended
actions, the impact of “The Virus” on society and the economy extends
until February 2021. As indicated in the report, “Since the aim of
mitigation is to minimise mortality, the interventions need to remain in
place for as much of the epidemic period as possible.” The report
does state, keeping the most restrictive actions in place for the
extended timeframe is unlikely since it means locking down businesses,
schools and the population for over 11 months.
The Study estimates versus reality?
- Let’s look as a few more numbers before we make decisions.
Based on the actual numbers being
reported, the death toll in Wuhan, the initial epicenter of “The Virus”,
per NBC News reporter Elizabeth Chuck in the article “Wuhan study
offers new insight into fatality rate of Coronovirus” published 19 March
2020, the total rate of the people symptomatically identified as
infected is 1.4%. That stated, the death rate compared to the
population of Wuhan is currently is only around 0.0099% (2169 deaths/22
Now let’s look at Italy. As of 19 March
2020, there are 3405 death attributed to “The Virus” which when compared
to the population of Italy, the death rate is 0.0056% (3405
deaths/60.55 million population). Yes, there will be more deaths, so
let’s bump the number of deaths to 20,000. At 20,000 deaths the death
rate compared to Italy’s population would be 0.033% (20,000 deaths/60.55
Now let’s compare that to the death rate
from the Imperial College COVID-Response Team, 16 Mar 2010 report. The
study estimated 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. That would mean the
death rate is 0.66% (2.2 million deaths/331 million population), which
is 20 times greater than the exaggerated death toll of 20,000 deaths in
Italy. If we apply the .033% to estimate to the U.S., the fatality toll
will be 109,230 deaths which is magnitudes less than the study’s
estimate of 2.2 million.
Is the “Treatment” worse than the disease?
If the death toll rate of deaths compared
to the population of Wuhan and Italy are correct, the impact on the
U.S. will be orders of magnitude less than the death toll projected in
the “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce
COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand” report, 109,203 deaths
compared to 2.2 million. This is a huge difference on society and would
make the years 2020 a terrible year for flu and virus related deaths,
but it is nowhere near the loss of over 2 million people in the United
Now I ask, are the governments of the
United States and the world, overreacting to the perceived threat of
“The Virus”? Is it worth putting the entire world’s economies into the
worst global recession or depress in the history of mankind? Do we risk
potential violence, turmoil and rioting that could erupt as the
dis-ease of modern society grows to a boiling point.
Maybe we should reconsider the current
direction now and re-examine the foundation of the decisions being made
namely, the death toll projected in the Imperial College COVID-Response
Team, 16 Mar 2010 report. We have already rocked the core of our
economic system, but we can reverse course before it’s too late.
“The only thing we have to Fear…Is Fear itself” – Franklin D Roosevelt
Let’s put GIVE A DAMN at short
stop, and ask our left fielder WHY and not just accept the answer from
our Center fielder BECAUSE, in order to enable our catcher TODAY to
throw the ball back to our pitcher TOMORROW so he can throw the curve
ball to win the World Series.