Information regarding COVID-19
The last 3 weeks have been a whirlwind of new COVID19 Information. What I thought I knew before, was no contest to what I know now. I now know that Novel means no one has any antibodies for the virus. In fact some people have gotten re-infected after getting over it. I know that 2 weeks after you are over it, you still test positive to having it. I even know that this lockdown in the USA, won’t last just 1 month. It’s likely to last 15-18 months. Heck, I even know the true numbers of the virus, the ones the CDC isn’t sharing with people. For example, at noon today (20 March 2020), that there were 16,500+ known cases (source), and 8 hours later, almost 20k. The CDC is only reporting a few thousand. The main difference is that the CDC only shows their own tests, versus county health clinics and drive-ups, which the CDC doesn’t count. I know that if we don’t keep social distancing until a working vaccine is made, then the USA is likely to have 4.4 million deaths. Some people have transmitted COVID19 to their pets in China. Its rare, but can happen. There is a mutation! We now have 2, possibly 3 different versions of the virus running rampant on US soil!
COVID19 Information – What’s in a name?
You know in regard to this COVID19 Information, the virus is known by many names. China Flu, China Virus, Corona Virus, COVID19, even SARS-CoV-2. They all refer to the same virus. The difference is that before we had a name for it, we simply called it China Flu or China Virus. Then, we learned that it was a new SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) so it was called SARS-CoV-2 because it was effectively a new SARS and CoV still stood for Corona Virus. Corona Virus in itself is actually a family of viruses which includes SARS and MERS. There is even a form found in Carp, in the region of China. Corona Viruses are actually believed to be specific to this region in China. COVID19 is now the official name of the virus, but it stands for COrona VIrus Disease 2019. Pretty simple lableing, if you wanted to be derogatory, calling it China Flu, does seem to piss of the Chinese, even though thats where it originated. We do know that it came from bats, maybe Bat-Man Disease would have been more accurate, but no one wants to piss off DC Comics and get hit with a slander suit. Meanwhile, Corona Beers are going through a loss of sales.
COVID19 Information – What the virus actually does
Here’s a summary of the write up by National Geographic. I think it’s imperative to understand this COVID19 Information.
First, for the first few days, you show no symptoms, but you are sharing the disease. You cough into your hand and touch a surface. You blow your nose, and don’t wash or use sanitizer. Then, after a period of 5-21 days, you develop a low grade fever and a dry cough. It lasts for a few days, maybe a week. Then it starts to mimic a flu, you get body aches, maybe diarrhea or nausea. The body aches are worse then you have ever felt before. It also gets in your lungs. It creates honeycomb like glassy structures which show up on XRays. Hopefully you get tested now, so you can try some treatments. If not, then you might deteriorate into a period where your symptoms make it hard to breathe. Your oxygen saturation state drops to 80% – seek medical services, you’ve got pneumonia. If it gets to 60-70% that’s worse, and if you’re wearing a mask, you might just drop dead. That’s still not the worst. The worst, is when your internal organs start to die, because they are not getting enough oxygen. Your kidneys, your liver, your heart gets overworked. If they incubate you, which is to pump oxygen right into your lungs, you have a 50% chance of living. Some people have had lung transplants.
We do know that some people, are asymptomatic. This means they have COVID19, but don’t show symptoms. So they still spread the virus. Kids tend to be this, that is anyone under 19. Of course just because you are under 19, doesn’t mean you can’t die. In fact, you have a 1 in 500 chance of dying. My mother, has a 1 in 7 chance of dying from it. This is why social distancing is important for her.
COVID19 Information – Imperial University Study
So there was a recent study which was done this month, that found that 4 million people would die, if COVID19 were allowed to run rampant in the USA alone. It was done by Imperial University. The full report can be found here. A summary is below written by Jeremy C Young.
The Imperial College team plugged infection and death rates from China/Korea/Italy into epidemic modeling software and ran a simulation: what happens if the US does absolutely nothing — if we treat COVID-19 like the flu, go about our business, and let the virus take its course?
Here’s what would happen: 80% of Americans would get the disease. 0.9% of them would die. Between 4 and 8 percent of all Americans over the age of 70 would die. 2.2 million Americans would die from the virus itself.
It gets worse. People with severe COVID-19 need to be put on ventilators. 50% of those on ventilators still die, but the other 50% live. But in an unmitigated epidemic, the need for ventilators would be 30 times the number available in the US. Nearly 100% of these patients die. So the actual death toll from the virus would be closer to 4 million Americans — in a span of 3 months. 8-15% of all Americans over 70 would die.
How many is 4 million people? It’s more Americans than have died all at once from anything, ever. It’s the population of Los Angeles. It’s 4 times the number of Americans who died in the Civil War…on both sides combined. It’s two-thirds as many people as died in the Holocaust.
Americans make up 4.4% of the world’s population. If we extrapolate these numbers to the rest of the world (warning: MOE is high here), this gives us 90 million deaths globally from COVID-19, in 3-6 months. 15 Holocausts. 1.5 times as many people as died in all of World War II.
Now, of course countries won’t stand by and do nothing. So the Imperial College team ran the numbers again, this time assuming a “mitigation” strategy: all symptomatic cases in the US in isolation. Families of those cases quarantined. All Americans over 70 social distancing.
This mitigation strategy is what you’ve seen a lot of people talking about when they say we should “flatten the curve”: try to slow the spread of the disease to the people most likely to die from it, to avoid overwhelming hospitals.
And it does flatten the curve — but not nearly enough. The death rate from the disease is cut in half, but it still kills 1.1 million Americans all by itself. The peak need for ventilators falls by two-thirds, but it still exceeds the number of ventilators in the US by 8 times.
That leaves the actual death toll in the US at right around 2 million deaths. The population of Houston. Two Civil Wars. One-third of the Holocaust. Globally, 45 million people die: 7.5 Holocausts, 3/4 of World War II. That’s what happens if we rely on mitigation & common sense.
Finally, the Imperial College team ran the numbers again, assuming a “suppression” strategy: isolate symptomatic cases, quarantine their family members, social distancing for the whole population, all public gatherings/most workplaces shut down, schools and universities close.
Suppression works! The death rate in the US peaks 3 weeks from now at a few thousand deaths, then goes down. We hit but don’t exceed the number of available ventilators. The nightmarish death tolls from the rest of the study disappear.
But here’s the catch: if we EVER relax suppression before a vaccine is administered to the entire population, COVID-19 comes right back and kills millions of Americans in a few months, the same as before.
After the 1st suppression period ends in July, we could probably lift restrictions for a month, followed by 2 more months of suppression, in a repeating pattern without triggering an outbreak or overwhelming the ventilator supply. Staggering breaks by city could do a bit better.
But we simply cannot EVER allow the virus to spread throughout the entire population in the way other viruses do, because it is just too deadly. If lots of people we know end up getting COVID-19, it means millions of Americans are dying. It simply can’t be allowed to happen.
How quickly will a vaccine be here? Last week three separate research teams announced they had developed vaccines. Yesterday, one of them (with FDA approval) injected its vaccine into a live person, without waiting for animal testing. That’s an extreme measure, but necessary.
Now, though, they have to monitor the test subject for 14 months to make sure the vaccine is safe. This part can’t be rushed: if you’re going to inoculate all humans, you have to make absolutely sure the vaccine itself won’t kill them. It probably won’t, but you have to be sure.
Assuming the vaccine is safe and effective, it will still take several months to produce enough to inoculate the global population. For this reason, the Imperial College team estimated it will be about 18 months until the vaccine is available.
During those 18 months, things are going to be very difficult and very scary. Our economy and society will be disrupted in profound ways. And if suppression actually works, it will feel like we’re doing all this for nothing, because infection and death rates will remain low.
It’s easy to get people to come together in common sacrifice in the middle of a war. It’s very hard to get them to do so in a pandemic that looks invisible precisely because suppression methods are working. But that’s exactly what we’re going to have to do. /end
A couple of clarifications/corrections.
1) An error on my end: 45 million global deaths would be the most from a pandemic since the Spanish Flu of 1918, not since the Middle Ages. Apologies for the mistake.
2) “The Holocaust” can refer to either the 6 million Jews killed by Hitler (that’s how I use it here) or everyone he killed (around 17 million total). 3) WWII lasted 6 years in Europe, but 12 years in Asia, if you treat the invasion of Manchuria as its starting point (most do).
There is another summary of the write up, a bit longer if you want a few more details. Clicky. Here’s some more information on what happens when infected people grow exponentially.
COVID19 Information – Imperial University Study TL;DR
What does this all this COVID19 Information mean? It means that even though businesses/schools are closing, for a month, its more likely we will need to keep them closed for much longer. If we test whether or not a vaccine works, then we need to wait at least 1 year, testing to make sure it doesn’t kill everyone or make them sterile. Then we have to make sure it can be administered to all people, within the USA, before we are allowed to socialize again.
COVID19 Information – Treatment
So while the social distancing and home quarantine will mean around 7% of the population who gets the disease will die (probably around 7k to 13k), this is better than 4.4 million. But on that note, you should know a couple of things. There is a treatment that works, and has been tested in both China and India. The main one is Chloroquine Phosphate. Its an anti-malaria drug, and there are now tight restrictions on who gets it. Most people can only get a 2 week supply. It stops the replication of the virus in your body.
Now I did say in this COVID19 Information that “most people” can’t get it. There are 2 work arounds. Well, 3, but who wants to pay $2500 for one week treatment on eBay when there are better, cheaper options. The other 2, I will share with those willing to subscribe to this site – which I am working on.