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Gordo

Just curious, anyone have a plan, or preps for global pandemic?

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So how are we to interpret what Sweden is doing? I suppose it's a natural experiment, and the future will show us how well their course of action worked for them. Of course, we'll only be able to compare to other countries. Norway, Finland and Denmark (plus Iceland) all have much smaller populations compared to Sweden.

Interestingly enough, I've read that they ran all sorts of simulations, and one of the factors was the impact of economy on death rates:

"you cannot prevent it from spreading. It is already out. The purpose of measures is to limit the peak so the health system does not collapse [...] I am pretty sure they did modelling based on their ICU capacity and behavioral patterns of their population [...] They protect the vulnerable, that is the old and sick, but also take into account the potential increase in death rate because of economic collapse (depression, alcoholism worse quality of medical services in the future). [...] the Swedes ran such simulations before this pandemic had even started."

It seems to me that there's an impact from the economy, but it's hard to quantify. 

 

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I wonder how many people with serious underlying conditions such as end stage kidney disease, end stage heart failure, treatment resistant hypertension, etc. who are infected by the virus are described by doctors or coroners to have died from the virus versus other disease.

Re the flu -- Covid-19 comparison, I thought that information in https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/3/13/21176735/covid-19-coronavirus-worse-than-flu-comparison pertained.

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Won't we be able to disentagle this to a degree, down the line? I mean, there's a certain number of people per year, or per segment of demographic who die of end stage KD, HF, resistant hypertension etc. - we take those numbers and subtract them, and the excess mortality could be COVID-19 related (regardless of what the "cause of death" on the certificate says). Of course this is not something that can be done immediately, it's something that'll only be possible once we have accumulated some numbers so that we're not mislead by small sample variation.

Edited by TomBAvoider

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Leading into the pandemic we already had sky high debt both corporate and personal, and stock valuations near all time highs or exceeding all time highs by some measures. I'm really beginning to think this is going to get very ugly as far as the economy/markets go.  Several states including my own have already announced schools will be closed "indefinitely" but at least through April (many think the whole rest of the school year will be remote). I wonder if the bailout bill is enough to prevent a wave of defaults, or bank failures like 2008. Why did CapitalOne already need a bailout? Small businesses shutting down everywhere, at least individuals have good unemployment benefits for 4 months... The shale oil industry is imploding and anyone holding their debt is in big trouble. But there are so many other industries dying right now, like every business that requires crowds of people or even one on one closeness - movie theaters, concerts, sporting venues, kids places, bounce places, fitness centers, massage, restaurants (only a few seem to be doing well with "take out only") the list is nearly endless. The housing market is also in trouble, air b-n-b businesses, hotels, travel industry, the drop in business is devastating.

Goldman Sachs said today the second-quarter U.S. economic decline would be much greater than it had previously forecast and unemployment would be higher, citing anecdotal evidence and "sky-high jobless claims numbers" They are now forecasting a real GDP sequential decline of 34% for the second quarter on an annualized basis! -34% GDP WOW we've never seen anything like this in any of our lifetimes. 

"It also cut its first-quarter target to a decline of 9% from its previous expectation for a 6% drop, according to chief economist Jan Hatzius. The firm now sees the unemployment rate rising to 15% by mid-year compared with its previous expectation for 9%. Jobless numbers show an even bigger collapse in output and labor market than Goldman previously expected, which Hatzius wrote "raises the specter of more adverse second-round effects on income and spending a bit further down the road."

I know things will improve when the virus subsides, but the damage short term is so severe that I don't see how markets can avoid further deep losses.  I shifted my 401k back out of stocks, but the bounce was certainly nice, made my year in just a few days so can't complain.

Edited by Gordo

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This is why I think it's irresponsible to keep the economy locked up for months on end. Really, if this goes on beyond June, you'll have trouble, and not just in the sectors you mentioned, Gordo. Because you'll have scores of people unable to make rent or mortgage payments, and that will have a domino effect on banks and lenders. Now, I know Congress is talking about bailing out the banks vs mortgages and helping out consumer mortgages too - but that's unsustainable in the long run, which is why I keep repeating you can't have this last beyond June. Already people are having trouble with April. Even if you bail out and freeze May and June, what happens in July? And remember, with the consumer debt levels, that can hit the credit card industry and therefore the banking industry too if it goes on for months.

I don't understand why there isn't a serious discussion about timelines and how we propose to handle this. You can't just shout "lockdown" endlessly.

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A New Enemy In The Battle Against Coronavirus: Lockdown Fatigue

In a possible sign of what’s to come in the U.S., solidarity has given way to unease and anger as Italians face a prolonged period of isolation.

 

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It’s been weeks since Italy declared a nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and tensions are starting to rise.

“We don’t have a single euro left. We won’t last another week like this,” one resident of Palermo, in Sicily, said in a video that has circulated online in recent days, warning that “revolution will break out” if the government fails to provide more relief.

“I can’t take it anymore. I’m about to collapse. They’re starving us,” said a shopkeeper in the southern city of Bari.

In another video, a group of people shouted at police officers stationed outside a closed bank in the city.

“We don’t have any more food or money. My store has been closed for 20 days now. How am I supposed to live?” a man said.

“Please, come home with me and see for yourself. I have nothing left. I need something to eat,” said a woman.

Particularly in Italy’s poorer southern regions, there is evidence that the initial solidarity that Italians displayed in response to the coronavirus outbreak appears to be fading, as residents chafe at the ongoing restrictions on daily life. Scenes of Italians singing from their balconies have given way to frustration and anger.

Last week, a man in Naples sparked a confrontation between customers and staff at a grocery store when he tried to obtain a few essential items — pasta, tomatoes, bread, oil — but was unable to pay. “This man has no money to pay, he can’t eat, he didn’t buy any champagne or wine, he bought the basics,” an onlooker argued with staff members.

Police were also called to a Lidl supermarket in Palermo last week when a group of about 20 families loaded shopping carts with food and attempted to leave without paying.

Two weeks ago, the Italian government unveiled a 25 billion-euro stimulus package, which included provisions to help workers facing temporary layoffs. But the benefits leave out the large number of Italians who work in the country’s vast informal economy, and residents and public officials say more needs to be done.

“We need to act fast, more than fast,” Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando told the La Stampa newspaper, according to Bloomberg. “Distress could turn into violence” [...]

 
Perhaps Mccoy can comment on this.
 
 
Edited by Sibiriak

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Yes, Sibiriak, I can see this happening in the states too. Wouldn't surprise me in the least. People got to eat. If you don't pay rent, an eviction moratorium might be enough to keep a roof over your head, but when food runs out, people go for barricades. I hope the ones in charge understand this danger sufficiently, so that we won't reach a stage where people feel like they have nothing to loose. I think there'll be widespread measures beyond the standard unemployment benefits and random checks - it may get down to the equivalent of the Great Depression era bread lines and soup kitchens - some kind of food distribution program. At some point savings get drawn down and the middle class gets affected, then you have a revolution on your hands. I trust they won't let it deteriorate to that degree. So again, I ask: when is there going to be a serious discussion about the timeline for restarting the economy and ways of handling a pandemic that's being managed and minimized to a realistic degree of what's possible and not some unattainable standard. Time is not on our side wrt. the economy.

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1 hour ago, TomBAvoider said:

... So again, I ask: when is there going to be a serious discussion about the timeline for restarting the economy and ways of handling a pandemic that's being managed and minimized to a realistic degree of what's possible and not some unattainable standard. ...

Groupthink will not allow such discussion, until there is a greater crisis. Anyone who compared Covid-19 to the flu, expert or not, has been shouted down and dragged through the mud. It's impossible to have a reasoned debate, when there is such polarization and divisions are exploited by increasingly populist political leaders.

After WHO's meeting with Xi and the subsequent sanctification of China's methods, which were likely a show of force to cover up the two months of denials and secrecy, the Italians followed, goaded by the Right. In the US, the Chinese contingent are the Democrats, and they used China's (and later, Italy's) example to attack Trump for incompetence. They shut the economies of the two largest states, partially to stick it to Trump and to show "leadership," while pressing for the federal government to effectively pay for it. The Democrats went for $800 billion, Trump, never to be outdone, went for more than a trillion. So, we ended up with over two trillion, with more to come. But, from where? Maybe China can lend us some?

As an example of how inconsistent the WHO's "DO Like China" message is, here is an interview with Tedros Ghebreyesus from early March, when the fear was being spread:

"On Monday, Tedros said, “We have never seen before a respiratory pathogen that’s capable of community transmission but at the same time which can also be contained with the right measures. If this was an influenza epidemic, we would have expected to see widespread community transmission across the globe by now and efforts to slow it down or contain it would not be feasible.

People should try to protect themselves individually from flu strains, said Mike Ryan, the head of the WHO’s emergencies program, but at a societal and global level, “we don’t necessarily attempt to contain or stop them because we fundamentally believe they will spread unabated.”

At the briefing Tuesday, Tedros outlined the similarities that do exist between the coronavirus and influenza: Both cause respiratory symptoms and are primarily spread through small droplets from the nose or mouth. The burst of cases of the coronavirus — more than 90,000 around the world as of Tuesday morning, Tedros said, with more than 3,100 deaths — has also earned it comparisons to flu, given that the case numbers of MERS and SARS remained much lower.

But Tedros listed a number of differences as well. For one, people who have been infected with influenza but are not yet showing symptoms drive a lot of the spread of that virus. WHO officials have said that, based on data from China’s outbreak, only a tiny fraction of infected people do not show symptoms and that they do not seem to be accounting for much transmission. (Some experts have questioned the finding of limited spread from either asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic infections. Studies that could capture the full extent of such mild cases, which rely on tests that detect antibodies to the virus, are just beginning. )

Another difference: Covid-19 generally seems to lead to more severe disease than seasonal flu strains, in part because people have no immune protection against the new virus, Tedros said. Flu infections generally kill “far fewer than 1% of those infected,” Tedros said, but as of now, about 3.4% of Covid-19 cases have been fatal."

The key points here being that:

We are OK to do nothing about the flu, because it spreads so easily and it kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.”

But now we know that Covid-19 spreads even easier than the flu and based on today's numbers, it kills fewer than 0.5% of those infected.

And the trend is that as we test more, the mortality rate will be considerably lower.

So, what exactly was WHO's justification for its call for the world to stop, extolling the China model, which China applied to only a limited area. And what exactly is the justification for plunging most of the world into a major depression?

I guess at the end of this cycle, those who drove this madness will claim that they saved the world because of the lock up. By the time this virus makes a few rounds and we figure out that yeah, it's more like the flu, our collective memory will fade and we'll have forgotten who led us into the depression.

Again, my hat off to those in charge in Sweden.

Edited by Ron Put

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11 hours ago, Ron Put said:

I did a search and this seems to lend some support to my understanding:

“[W]e should not forget that the architect of Italy’s China-friendly policy shift … is Michele Geraci, a League member who was personally picked by Salvini as undersecretary for economic development,” she said. “While Salvini has adopted a tougher rhetoric on China, he has so far not done anything concrete to prevent Rome from pursuing closer political ties with Beijing.”

OK, that article makes sense, but its focus is on the 5-stars and PM Conte supporting business relationships with China, with Salvini not too happy about it. All other things are ancient, presently the political scenario in Italy is very, very fast-paced, I just could not understand your references to China, Russia, Trojan horses and so on.

If you want to start to understand present Italian policy ( I'll point out that I myself do not understand it fully), 4 points will suffice:

  • Salvini is the strongest, he was able to raise its party from a  limited 4% in Lombardy to a 34% consensus in whole Italy. He has won 8 regional elections out of 9.  He gambled and lost in August, to become PM. Now he's at work to become a PM with renewed energy. He started as a nationalist, he may be called a populist but he also may be defined a socialist (in the etimological sense), since is supported by blue collars and low-income classes.
  • Conte is a non-elected PM, supported by the Vatican. He's not very popular among Italians. 
  • The present government is an unnatural one. The 5-stars, from populist and huge enemies of the left-wing, eventually allied with them, aware that with new elections Salvini would win. 5-stars are an incompetent lot, they lost huge consensus, from 40% to presently less than 10%. They accepted the unnatural alliance because with new elections most of them would loose their congressional seat and money. Most of them do not have a job outside the parliament. They are the real populists, who deceived their voters with the alliance with the anti-populists. 5-stars and left wings hate each other, they sued each other in the past, but agreed to the allinace not to let Salvini become PM. They are also trying to politically kill Salvini by sending him to trials.
  • An emerging figure is Giorgia Meloni, theoretically more right wing allied with Salvini but who is apparently eroding some of Salvini's consensus. 

 

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More data about this unusual symptom being more prevalent than previously reported:

Loss of taste, smell key COVID-19 symptoms -British scientists' study

Almost 60% of patients who were subsequently confirmed as positive for COVID-19 had reported losing their sense of smell and taste, the data analysed by the researchers showed.

That compared with 18% of those who tested negative.

These results, which were posted online but not peer-reviewed, were much stronger in predicting a positive COVID-19 diagnosis than self-reported fever, the researchers at King's College London said.

Of 1.5 million app users between March 24 and March 29, 26% reported one or more symptoms through the app. Of these, 1,702 also reported having been tested for COVID-19, with 579 positive results and 1,123 negative results.

Using all the data collected, the research team developed a mathematical model to identify which combination of symptoms - ranging from loss of smell and taste, to fever, persistent cough, fatigue, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and loss of appetite -was most accurate in predicting COVID-19 infection.

"When combined with other symptoms, people with loss of smell and taste appear to be three times more likely to have contracted COVID-19 according to our data, and should therefore self-isolate for seven days to reduce the spread of the disease," said Tim Spector, a King's professor who led the study.

Spector's team applied their findings to the more than 400,000 people reporting symptoms via the app who had not yet had a COVID-19 test, and found that almost 13% of them are likely to be infected.

This would suggest that some 50,000 people in Britain may have as yet unconfirmed COVID-19 infections, Spector said.

_________________________________________________

Interestingly a coworker just yesterday told my wife he thought he was infected because he was changing his baby's poopy diaper and could not smell it.  I guess there are some benefits then 😉

Also note the above says Britain is only doing 7 day isolation?  Does this mean they have a different strategy there where they are just trying to slow the spread but accept that everyone will get it?  Similar strategy is mentioned here.

Edited by Gordo

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Just yesterday the news in Italy have officialized the 'loss of smell+taste' symptoms, citing 30% of occurrence in confirmed cases which have been followed-up in Lombardy.

It's probably related to the neurological effects of SARSCOV2 cited in a previous post. Probably soon something more will come up in the scientific literature.

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It's important to keep in mind how the CDC estimates influenza-associated deaths when comparing those figures to reported coronavirus-associated deaths.

Quote

What methods are used to estimate the number of influenza-associated deaths in the U.S.?

The methods to estimate the annual number of influenza-associated deaths  have been described in detail elsewhere (1-2). The model uses a ratio of deaths-to-hospitalizations in order to estimate the total influenza-associated deaths from the estimated number of influenza-associated hospitalizations.

We first look at how many in-hospital deaths were observed in FluSurv-NET. The in-hospital deaths are adjusted for under-detection of influenza using methods similar to those described above for hospitalizations using data on the frequency and sensitivity of influenza testing.

Second, because not all deaths related to influenza occur in the hospital, we use death certificate data to estimate how likely  deaths are to occur outside the hospital.  We look at death certificates that have pneumonia or influenza causes (P&I), other respiratory and circulatory causes (R&C), or other non-respiratory, non-circulatory causes of death, because deaths related to influenza may not have influenza listed as a cause of death. We use information on the causes of death from FluSurv-NET to determine the mixture of P&I, R&C, and other coded deaths to include in our investigation of death certificate data. Finally, once we estimate the proportion of influenza-associated deaths that occurred outside of the hospital, we can estimate the deaths-to-hospitalization ratio.

Data needed to estimate influenza-associated deaths may lag for up to two years after the season ends. When this is not yet available for the season being estimated, we adjust based on values observed in prior seasons (e.g., the 2010-2011 season through the 2016-2017 season) and update the estimates when more current data become available.

Why doesn’t CDC base its seasonal flu mortality estimates only on death certificates that specifically list influenza?

Seasonal influenza may lead to death from other causes, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It has been recognized for many years that influenza is underreported on death certificates. There may be several reasons for underreporting, including that patients aren’t always tested for seasonal influenza virus infection, particularly older adults who are at greatest risk of seasonal influenza complications and death. Even if a patient is tested for influenza, influenza virus infection may not be identified because the influenza virus is only detectable for a limited number of days  after infection and many people don’t seek medical care in this interval.

Additionally, some deaths – particularly among those 65 years and older – are associated with secondary complications of influenza (including bacterial pneumonias). For these and other reasons, modeling strategies are commonly used to estimate flu-associated deaths.

Only counting deaths where influenza was recorded on a death certificate would be a gross underestimation of influenza’s true impact.

.

 

Figure 1: Illustration of Influenza Burden Estimates Model

Graphic Illustration of Influenza Burden Estimates

 

 

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508 Text Description of Image

Starting on the left, there are two sequential boxes with arrows that lead to a pyramid. The left-most box is labelled “Reported rate of hospitalization”. There is an arrow leading right to the next box, which is labelled “Adjusted rate of hospitalization”, and over the arrow is a label “1. Correct for under-detection”. From the box, labelled “Adjusted rate of hospitalization”, is an arrow leading right to the middle of the pyramid, which is labelled “Hospitalized” and over the arrow is a label “2. Extrapolate to U.S. population”.

In the pyramid, the base is labelled “Symptomatic Illness”, the middle section is labelled “Hospitalized”, and the top is labelled “Died”. On the right-side of the pyramid are arrows coming from the middle section, with one leading up to the top section, labelled “Died”, and another arrow leading down to the bottom section, labelled “Symptomatic Illness”.

Next to the arrow leading up to “Died” is a label stating “3. Calculate deaths equals multiply by ratio deaths to hospitalizations”. On the arrow leading from the middle of the pyramid down to the base, which is labelled “Symptomatic Illnesses”, there is a label stating “4. Calculate illnesses equals multiply by ratio of cases to hospitalizations”.

 

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I'm hoping this California company comes up with a COVID-19 solution. It would be another "iPhone moment" for Silicon Valley. (and a redemption after the Theranos disaster).

Coronavirus: Distributed Bio CEO on developing therapeutic antibody treatment

 

 

 

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Blame China

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16:46    US intelligence believe China has underreported the total number of cases and deaths from Covid-19 in its country, according to US officials.

The conclusions of a classified report from the intelligence to the community to the White House were revealed to Bloomberg by three anonymous officials who declined to detail its contents.

They said that the thrust was that China’s concealment was deliberate and that the report was received by the White House last week.

 

Quote

 

Vice President Mike Pence blamed the delayed US response to coronavirus on China’s reporting about the outbreak.

“We could’ve been better off if China had been more forthcoming,” Pence said in a CNN interview.

 

 

Edited by Sibiriak

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1 hour ago, Sibiriak said:

Only counting deaths where influenza was recorded on a death certificate would be a gross underestimation of influenza’s true impact.

Now, this aspect begs the question: are Covid-19 deaths being corrected for underestimation? Or are they on the contrary being overestimated?

I think that both is happening, but we don't know exactly how and where the only clue is CF ratio. Too high= likely overestimation, too low, likely underestimation.

Sounds obvious, but probably it's as simple as that. Other factors may contribute, but again, some abysmal differences may not be due to the advocated causes of older population, more numerous hospital beds and ventilator units.

And, sorry for being suspicious, there is the political factor: underestimating deaths may be a political advantage for a nation, a pretty strong one.

Edited by mccoy

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6 hours ago, Dean Pomerleau said:

[Connor Harris:]  Sweden took a laissez faire approach...we're finally seeing the results. (Graph is cumulative deaths...

Dean,  the essence of the "laissez faire" argument is not that a protracted lockdown strategy won't save lives,   but rather that  those lives are not worth  the high cost of saving them.

Example:

Has the government overreacted to the Coronavirus Crisis?
 

Quote

Like a growing number of people, I’m beginning to suspect the Government has overreacted to the coronavirus crisis. I’m not talking about the cost to our liberty, although that’s worrying, but the economic cost.

Even if we accept the statistical modelling of Dr Neil Ferguson’s team at Imperial College, which I’ll come to in a minute, spending £350 billion to prolong the lives of a few hundred thousand mostly elderly people is an irresponsible use of taxpayers’ money.

That may sound cold-hearted, but this isn’t a straightforward trade-off between public health and economic health. People are killed by economic downturns just as surely as they are by pandemics and more years of life will be lost than saved if the lockdown is prolonged. The Government should end it as soon as possible and encourage people to return to work, limiting social distancing measures to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions [...]

Edited by Sibiriak

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15 minutes ago, Sibiriak said:

Dean,  the essence of the "laissez fair" argument is not that a protracted lockdown strategy won't save lives,   but rather that  those lives are not worth  the high cost of saving them.

Sibiriak,

I think it's a false dichotomy to think we can either save lives or save the economy. The idea that we could "let it rip" and attempt to go about our lives as usual as the number of infections and deaths grows exponentially is untenable. As Bill Gates said recently:

It’s tough to tell people ‘keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner.'

The impact of the lockdowns around the world will be devastating to the global economy, no doubt about it. But the global economy is going to be devastated by this pandemic regardless of whether we attempt to "let it rip" or try to tamp it down with social distancing measures and non-essential business closures.

Hopefully once this first wave of the outbreak has passed countries around the world can find a way to slowly reintroduce normal activities while keeping flare-ups of new infections contained. While I'm definitely concerned about first world countries, I'm hopeful we'll get through it. What I find more troubling from a humanitarian perspective is the very real possibility that this virus will rip through developing and war-torn countries (like India and Syria) with a ferocity that will make the eventual death toll in the US look tiny by comparison.

--Dean

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5 minutes ago, Dean Pomerleau said:

What I find more troubling from a humanitarian perspective is the very real possibility that this virus will rip through developing and war-torn countries (like India and Syria) with a ferocity that will make the eventual death toll in the US look tiny by comparison.

That's my main concern as well. Situation in India is now unthinkable to us westerners. People are walking back to their villages for hundreds of miles (in the process propagating the virus most efficiently everywhere).

 

 

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2 hours ago, Dean Pomerleau said:

I think it's a false dichotomy to think we can either save lives or save the economy.

First of all,  let me clear-- I'm not making the "laissez faire" argument myself, I'm just trying to clarify what it is.

In fact, if you read the article I cited, the author explicitly rejects the dichotomy of save lives/ save the economy (" this isn’t a straightforward trade-off between public health and economic health"),  pointing out that damaging an economy kills people as well.

Moreover,  "laissez faire" or "let it rip"  really does not accurately describe the argument  being made. It's just as much a false dichotomy to say we must either "let it rip" or submit to the most protracted draconian lockdown regime possible.  There is plenty of ground between those extremes,  and the devil is often in the details.

(And btw, I referred to that Bill Gate's argument you cite myself in a previous post: "Bill Gates argues that extended shutdowns are necessary,  and that if they are ended before absolute numbers of infections are brought way down,  widespread fear will still stop people from returning to  normal economic activity. see link to video.)

2 hours ago, Dean Pomerleau said:

Hopefully once this first wave of the outbreak has passed countries around the world can find a way to slowly reintroduce normal activities while keeping flare-ups of new infections contained

I agree.

2 hours ago, Dean Pomerleau said:

What I find more troubling from a humanitarian perspective is the very real possibility that this virus will rip through developing and war-torn countries (like India and Syria) with a ferocity that will make the eventual death toll in the US look tiny by comparison.

Again,  I agree completely.   But here we are seeing that  the effects of ill-planned draconian lockdowns have a  class dimension:   for the wealthy and middle class the lockdowns may be tolerable;  for others,  they are just impossible and may simply accelerate the onslaught of misery and death:

Quote

NEW DELHI — In a densely packed neighborhood of Delhi, hundreds of homeless people queued up this week as volunteers doled out rice and peas from a vat in the back of a van.  Only a handful of the people in the crowd wore masks. There were no hand sanitizers or wash basins in sight and no social distancing.

"I need the food," said a man in the queue, Shiv Kumar.

"If I stand apart, someone else might come in between."

Volunteers say such scenes are playing out daily across India, as laborers and waste pickers - most of them homeless or too poor to afford a meal - are among the hardest hit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's three-week nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Most of the estimated 4 million plus homeless people in India have had no way of earning a living since the lockdown began on March 25. With streets deserted, even begging is not an option. Many wander aimlessly, some find refuge at homeless shelters where ranks of people sleep beside each other.

While the plight of India's migrant workers has garnered headlines, with thousands forced to walk miles to reach home since the lockdown began, many aid workers say the millions of homeless in India face a bigger risk.

Officials say the shutdown is necessary to stem the spread of the coronavirus. India has reported more than 1,500 cases and 38 deaths from the outbreak.

But rights groups have criticized the government over what they say has been inadequate planning ahead of the lockdown.

"You cannot impose such drastic measures on a population the size of India all of a sudden," said Shivani Chaudhry, executive director of Housing and Land Rights Network, a non-profit group that works with the homeless.

"In shelters, we face serious challenges such as the lack of adequate space and sanitation," she said. "If one person in a shelter gets infected, it's going to be very hard to control its spread."

While some cities like Delhi and Chennai have several homeless shelters, in other parts of the country, like Mumbai, many are stranded on the streets, rights groups say.Some states are now scrambling to put the homeless in tents in parks, or at schools and other vacant spaces.

In the eastern city of Kolkata, a municipal councillor said government-run homeless shelters were all packed and there was no way of keeping people apart as a coronavirus precaution.

The Delhi government said in an order last week that social distancing must be "strictly followed" at the 200 odd night shelters across the city. But at least four shelters Reuters visited this week said they were struggling to follow the orders given the numbers of people seeking help.

"How do we do social distancing? If we separate them we will have to let many of them go," said a manager at one shelter with a capacity of 500 people.

The federal Ministry of Urban Affairs only issued an order on March 28 – four days after the lockdown began – telling state governments there was "an urgent requirement" to support the homeless, according to a copy seen by Reuters.

While the government has outlined a $22.6 billion stimulus plan that provides for direct cash transfers and food security measures for the poor, many activists say it is unclear how many homeless, many of whom lack documentation, would get any aid.

Doctors and health experts say the homeless are among the most at risk from the virus as many already suffer from illnesses such as tuberculosis, and their morbidity rates are higher than for the general population.

"How does one quarantine someone who has no home, or someone who lives cheek to jowl with 10 others in a small room?" said Dr Zarir Udwadia, an infectious diseases specialist in Mumbai, who has been treating coronavirus patients.

"Poverty and overcrowding like ours are likely catalysts for the COVID-19 explosion we anticipate with trepidation," he said.

The spread of coronavirus among such a population would be terrifying, warned Indu Prakash Singh, a member of the Supreme Court's urban poverty monitoring committee.

"In any pandemic these are first people to be hit," he said calling efforts to tackle the issue "slipshod".

Many of those on the streets view the coronavirus with a grim fatalism.

"Some of us will die, some of us will live to suffer," said Zakir Hussain, a 45-year-old laborer, standing near a homeless shelter in Delhi.

"We are poor. We've been left here to die. Our lives are of no value to anyone."

 

Edited by Sibiriak

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I was interested to read that the Italian Society for Virology has postponed their June 8-10 meeting to a date to be determined once the coronavirus emergency has subsided. This says to me, that top Italian scientists in this area do not have a time frame for when one could expect this to be over:

http://siv-isv.org/

"Si comunica che, a causa delle condizioni straordinarie legate all’emergenza Coronavirus e delle disposizioni dettate dal D.P.C.M. 23 marzo 2020, il Consiglio Direttivo della Società ha deciso il rinvio del  4° Congresso nazionale della SIV-ISV, previsto in data 8-10 Giugno 2020 presso il Centro Congressi Federico II di Napoli, in data da destinarsi."

If top Italian scientists have no idea when this will be over in Italy, it means nobody in Italy knows.

 

Edited by TomBAvoider

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1 hour ago, Sibiriak said:

Vice President Mike Pence blamed the delayed US response to coronavirus on China’s reporting about the outbreak.

“We could’ve been better off if China had been more forthcoming,” Pence said in a CNN interview.

With all due respect though, look at the start date of this very thread.  Everyone knew the Chinese government was doing a big coverup, but you could see video of the mayhem on twitter, people dropping dead on the streets, hospitals looking like war zones, etc. Our intelligence people had a decent amount of advanced warning.  That said, there wasn't a whole lot that could be done, in retrospect it is obvious now that we need to have massive stockpiles of supplies (PPE, ventilators, medicines) but if you didn't have them at the time the Chinese were dropping dead in the streets, you were already too late for the most part.  I guess we could have closed boarders even faster, but it only would have delayed the inevitable and its likely it was spreading in NYC before the start of this thread even.

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Ah, the gloating on Twitter about infections in Sweden...! How some would love to see Sweden suffer, so that their own beliefs and actions be justified. 

It's the reason why a rational politician can just give in, order a lock down and be sure that their career is safe, no matter what's prudent, or what they believe is prudent. The fact is, Denmark has considerably more infections than Sweden per capita, but that wouldn't make for a scary graph, would it?

Also, it's notable that there are no screaming headlines heralding that the mortality rate in the US is currently at less than 0.02% and likely significantly lower, since there is no universal testing. Instead, today's headline is that "The number of Covid-19 victims surpassed the toll of 9/11!"

And the false dichotomy is that there must be a complete shutdown of the economy, or "lives will be lost." Apparently we make different decisions about the flu. Interestingly, there are no headlines about the misinformation spread by Tedros Ghebreyesus and WHO, which was used to absolve China's cover up and to justify the urging by WHO that the world should follow China's model. Instead, there are headlines about Boris Johnson and Trump changing their mind.... And gleeful attacks on Sweden.

Edited by Ron Put

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6 minutes ago, Ron Put said:

...there are headlines about Boris Johnson and Trump changing their mind

Bolsonaro and Lukashenko seem to be holding firm. You can take some solace in that.

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