Remain calm, all is (not) well

Bearing in mind the uncertainty factor—that we don’t really even know what we don’t know as of yet—stepping back for a dose of level-headed perspective seems like it might come in useful.

I’m a recently-retired Professor of Pathology and National Health Service consultant pathologist, and have spent most of my adult life in healthcare and science — fields which, all too often, are characterized by doubt rather than certainty. There is room for different interpretations of the current data. If some of these other interpretations are correct, or at least nearer to the truth, then conclusions about the actions required will change correspondingly.

The simplest way to judge whether we have an exceptionally lethal disease is to look at the death rates. Are more people dying than we would expect to die anyway in a given week or month? Statistically, we would expect about 51,000 to die in Britain this month. At the time of writing, 422 deaths are linked to COVID-19 — so 0.8 percent of that expected total. On a global basis, we’d expect 14 million to die over the first three months of the year. The world’s 18,944 coronavirus deaths represent 0.14 percent of that total. These figures might shoot up but they are, right now, lower than other infectious diseases that we live with (such as flu). Not figures that would, in and of themselves, cause drastic global reactions.

Initial reported figures from China and Italy suggested a death rate of 5 percent to 15 percent, similar to Spanish flu. Given that cases were increasing exponentially, this raised the prospect of death rates that no healthcare system in the world would be able to cope with. The need to avoid this scenario is the justification for measures being implemented: the Spanish flu is believed to have infected about one in four of the world’s population between 1918 and 1920, or roughly 500 million people with 50 million deaths. We developed pandemic emergency plans, ready to snap into action in case this happened again.

At the time of writing, the UK’s 422 deaths and 8,077 known cases give an apparent death rate of 5 percent. This is often cited as a cause for concern, contrasted with the mortality rate of seasonal flu, which is estimated at about 0.1 percent. But we ought to look very carefully at the data. Are these figures really comparable?

Cause for concern? Sure. Taking reasonable, appropriate precautionary measures? Of course. The kind of irrational panic response we’ve seen of late—upending society wholesale, wrecking the economy, throwing millions out of work, passively forsaking rights and liberties that can never be regained without bloodshed? Sorry, I just can’t see it. The good doctor makes a lot of sense to me here. But YMMV.

(Via Larwyn)

2 thoughts on “Remain calm, all is (not) well

  1. To understand where this is going, we  need trend data along with overall numbers.  But data on who has it is unreliable, since it’s based as much on testing as it is on infections.  The only reliable trend data is on deaths (except Italy, where anyone with COVID-19 who dies of something else is called a COVID-19 death), and that only from advanced countries that are reporting accurately.  What’s the trend line in  deaths in the US?  What’s the trend in other countries doing lockdowns?  What can we learn from other places taking this seriously and doing reasonable things, like Taiwan and South Korea?

Comments are closed.

Comments policy

Comments appear entirely at the whim of the guy who pays the bills for this site and may be deleted, ridiculed, maliciously edited for purposes of mockery, or otherwise pissed over as he in his capricious fancy sees fit. The CF comments section is pretty free-form and rough and tumble; tolerance level for rowdiness and misbehavior is fairly high here, but is NOT without limit. Management is under no obligation whatever to allow the comments section to be taken over and ruined by trolls, Leftists, and/or other oxygen thieves, and will take any measures deemed necessary to prevent such. Conduct yourself with the merest modicum of decorum, courtesy, and respect and you'll be fine. Pick pointless squabbles with other commenters, fling provocative personal insults, issue threats, or annoy the host (me) and...you won't. Should you find yourself sanctioned after running afoul of the CF comments policy as stated and feel you have been wronged, please download and complete the Butthurt Report form below in quadruplicate; retain one copy for your personal records and send the others to the email address posted in the right sidebar. Please refrain from whining, sniveling, and/or bursting into tears and waving your chubby fists around in frustrated rage, lest you suffer an aneurysm or stroke unnecessarily. Your completed form will be reviewed and your complaint addressed whenever management feels like getting around to it. Thank you.

Categories

Archives

Notable Quotes

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

"There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." — Daniel Webster

"It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." - GK Chesterton

"The only way to live free is to live unobserved." - Etienne de la Boiete

"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." — Dwight D. Eisenhower

"To put it simply, the Left is the stupid and the insane, led by the evil. You can’t persuade the stupid or the insane and you had damn well better fight the evil." - Skeptic

"There is no better way to stamp your power on people than through the dead hand of bureaucracy. You cannot reason with paperwork." - David Black, from Turn Left For Gibraltar

"The limits of tyranny are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Frederick Douglass

"Give me the media and I will make of any nation a herd of swine." - Joseph Goebbels

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.” - Ronald Reagan

"Ain't no misunderstanding this war. They want to rule us and aim to do it. We aim not to allow it. All there is to it." - NC Reed, from Parno's Peril

"I just want a government that fits in the box it originally came in." - Bill Whittle

Subscribe to CF!

Support options

Shameless begging

If you enjoy the site, please consider donating:

Best of the best

Neutral territory

Alternatives to shitlib social media:

Fuck you

Image swiped from The Last Refuge

2016 Fabulous 50 Blog Awards

Rss feed

RSS - entries - Entries
RSS - entries - Comments

Contact


mike at this URL dot com

All e-mails assumed to be legitimate fodder for publication, scorn, ridicule, or other public mockery unless otherwise specified

Boycott the New York Times -- Read the Real News at Larwyn's Linx

Copyright © 2020