Easily overlooked issues regarding COVID-19

We read a lot in the news about the new Wuhan coronavirus and the illness it causes (COVID-19), but some important points often get left out.

[1] COVID-19 is incredibly contagious.

COVID-19 transmits extremely easily from person to person. Interpersonal contact doesn’t need to be very long; a taxi driver can get the virus from a passenger, for example. The virus may be transmissible even before an infected person develops symptoms. It may also be transmissible for a few days after a person seems to be over the virus; it is possible to get positive virus tests, even after symptoms disappear. Some people may have the disease, but never show symptoms.

[2] The virus likely remains active on inanimate surfaces such as paper, plastic, or metal for many days.

There haven’t been tests on the COVID-19 virus per se, but studies on similar viruses suggest that human pathogens may remain infectious for up to eight days. Some viruses that only infect animals can survive for more than 28 days. China is reported to be destroying paper currency from the hardest hit area, because people do not want to accept money which may have viruses on it. Clearly, surfaces in airplanes, trains and buses may also harbor viruses, long after a passenger with the virus has left, unless they have been thoroughly wiped down with disinfectant.

[3] Given Issues [1] and [2], about the only way to avoid spreading COVID-19 seems to be geographic isolation. 

With all of today’s travel, geographic isolation doesn’t work very well in practice. People need food and medical supplies. They need to keep basic services such as electricity and garbage collection operating. Suppliers of food and other services need to come and leave the area and that tends to spread COVID-19. Also, the longer a geographic area is isolated, the larger the percentage of the people within the area that is likely to get COVID-19. The problem is that the people need to have contact with others in the area for purposes such as buying food, and that tends to spread the disease.

[4] The real story regarding the number of deaths and illnesses seems to be far worse than the story China is telling its own people and the world.

The real story seems to be that the number of deaths is far greater than the number reported–perhaps 10 times as high as being reported. The number of illnesses is also much higher. At one point, facilities doing cremations in the Wuhan area were reported to be doing four to five times the normal number of cremations. Some of the bodies in the Wuhan area now need to be sent to other areas of China because there is not enough local cremation capacity.

China doesn’t dare tell its people how bad the situation really is, for fear of panic. They want to tell a story of being in control and handling the situation well. The news media in the West repeat the stories that the government-controlled publications of China provide, even though they seem to present a much more favorable situation than really seems to be the case.

[5] Our ability to identify who has the new coronavirus is poor.

While there is a test for the coronavirus, it costs hundreds of dollars to administer. Even with this high cost, the results of the tests aren’t very reliable. The test tends to produce many false negatives. The virus may be present somewhere inside the person being tested, but not in the areas touched by swabs of the throat and nose.

[6] Some people get much more severe symptoms from COVID-19 than others.

Most people, perhaps 80% of people, seem to get a fairly light form of the COVID-19 illness. Groups that seem particularly prone to adverse outcomes include the elderly, smokers, those who are obese, and those with high blood pressure, diabetes, or poor immune systems. Males seem to have worse outcomes than females.

Strangely enough, there is speculation that people with East Asian ancestry (Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese) may have a higher risk of adverse outcomes than those of European or African ancestry. One of the things that is targeted by the disease is the ACE2 receptor. The 1000 Genome Project studied expected differences in ACE2 receptors among various groups. Based on this analysis, some researchers (in non-peer-reviewed studies, here and here) predict that those of European or African ancestry will tend to get lighter forms of the disease. These findings are contested in another, non-peer-reviewed study.

Bolstering the view that East Asians are more susceptible to viruses that target the ACE2 receptor is the fact that SARS, which also tends to target the ACE2 receptor, tended to stay primarily in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. While there were cases elsewhere, they tended to have few deaths.

Observational data with respect to COVID-19 is needed to determine whether there truly is a difference in the severity of the illness among different populations.

[7] China has been using geographical quarantine to try to hold down the number of COVID-19 cases. The danger with such a quarantine is that once the economy is down, it is very difficult to come back to the pre-quarantine state.

Data shows that China’s economy is not reopening quickly after the extended New Year holiday finished.

Figure 2. China daily passenger flows, relative to Chinese New Year. Amounts are now down more than 80% and have not increased, even as some businesses are theoretically reopening. Chart by ANZ, copied by WSJ Daily Shot Feb. 17, 2020.

Figure 3. China property transactions, before and after Chinese New Year. Chart by Goldman Sachs. Reprinted by WSJ Daily Shot, Feb. 17, 2020.

All businesses will be adversely affected by a lack of sales if they need to continue to pay overhead expenses. Small and medium-sized businesses will be especially adversely affected. Bloomberg reports that if a shutdown lasts for three months, there is a substantial chance that these businesses will run through their savings and fail. Thus, these businesses may be permanently lost if the economy is down for several months.

Also, restarting after a shut-down is more difficult than it might appear. Take, for example, a mother who wants to go back to work. She will likely need:

  • Public transportation to be operating, so she has a way to get to work;
  • School to be open, so she doesn’t need to worry about her child while she is at work;
  • Masks to be available, so that she and her child can comply with requirements to wear them;
  • Stores providing necessities such as food to be open, or she may be too hungry to work

If anything is missing, the mother is likely not to go back to work. Required masks seem to be a problem right now, but other pieces could be missing as well.

Businesses, too, need a full range of workers to restart their operations. If the inspector doing the final inspection is not available, the business may not really be able to ship finished products, even if most of the workers are back.

[8] A shutdown of as little as three months is likely to be damaging to the world economy.

Multiple things are likely to go wrong:

(a) Commodity prices are likely to fall steeply, because of low demand from China. Oil prices, in particular, are likely to fall steeply, perhaps to $30 to $35 per barrel. Besides cutbacks in oil demand from China, there is the issue of a general reduction in long distance travel, because of fear of traveling with other passengers with COVID-19.

(b) US businesses, such as Apple, will find their supply chains broken. They won’t know when, and if, they can ship products.

(c) Debt defaults are likely to become more common, especially in China. The longer the slowdown/shutdown lasts, the greater the extent to which debt defaults are likely to spread around the world.

(d) The world economy is likely to be pushed into recession, without an easy way to get out again.

[9] The longer the shutdown lasts, the more likely there is to be a major collapse of the Chinese economy. 

In the event of a long-term shutdown, it would seem likely that, at a minimum, a new leader would take over. In fact, there would seem to be a significant chance of major changes within the economy. For example, the provinces of China that are able to restart might attempt to restart, leaving the more damaged areas behind. In such a case, instead of having a single Chinese government to deal with, there might be multiple governmental units to deal with.

Each governmental unit might consist of a few provinces trying to provide services such as they are able, without the benefit of the parts of the economy that are still shut down. Each governmental unit might have its own currency. If this should happen, China will be able to provide far fewer goods and services than it has in the recent past.

[10] Planners everywhere have been guilty of “putting too many eggs in one basket.”

Planners today look for efficiency. For example, placing a large share of the world’s industry in China looks like it is an efficient approach. Unfortunately, we are asking for trouble if the Chinese economy hits a bump in the road. Using just-in-time supply lines looks like a good idea as well, but if a major supplier cannot provide parts for a while, then having inventory on hand would have been a better approach.

If we want systems to be sustainable, they really need a lot of redundancy. Redundant systems are not as efficient, but they are much more likely to be sustainable through difficult times. There is a recent article in Nature that talks about this issue. One of the things it says is,

A system with a single cycle is the most unstable because the deletion of any cycle-node or link breaks the sustaining feedback mechanism.

“A system with a single cycle” is basically similar to “putting all of our eggs in one basket.” “Deletion of any cycle-node or link” is something like China running into coronavirus problems. We probably need a world economy that consists of many nearly separate local economies to be certain of long-term world economy stability. Alternatively, we need a great deal of redundancy built into our systems. For example, we need large inventories to work around the possibility of missing contributions from one country, in the case of a problem such as a major epidemic.


The world economy may become very different, simply because of COVID-19. The new virus doesn’t even need to directly affect the rest of the world very much to create a problem. The United States, Europe, and the rest of the world are very much dependent on the continued operation of China. The world economy has effectively put way too many eggs in one basket, and this basket is now not functioning as expected.

If China is barely producing anything for world markets, the rest of the world will suddenly discover that long supply chains weren’t such a good idea. There will be a big scramble to try to fill in the missing pieces of supply chains, but many goods are likely to be less available. We may discover quickly how much we depend upon China for everything from shoes to automobiles to furniture to electronics. World carbon dioxide emissions are likely to fall dramatically because of China’s problems, but will the accompanying issues be ones that the world economy can tolerate?

The thing that is ironic is that it is possible that the West’s fear of the new coronavirus may be overblown–we really won’t know what the impact will be with respect to people of European or of African descent until we have had a better chance to examine how the virus affects different populations. The next few weeks and months are likely to be quite instructive. For example, how will the Americans and Australians who caught COVID-19 on the cruise ships fare? What will the health outcomes be of non-Asians being brought back from Wuhan to their native countries on special planes?


This entry was posted in Financial Implications and tagged , , , , by Gail Tverberg. Bookmark the permalink.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.

2,589 thoughts on “Easily overlooked issues regarding COVID-19

  1. Here’s an interesting video on the topic of virus mutation, with questions posed to a virologist regarding the Corona Virus’ ability to mutate. She says it’s RNA, not DNA so it is inherently less stable, but then later she says it’s probably more stable than an influenza (flu) strain.

    Still no clear indication of whether this virus has mutated, however some are now wondering about that because of the speed it is spreading in places like Italy, Iran and SK and high death rate in Iran.

    • There has been some information posted before that is somewhat related to this.

      A Zerohedge article that Dennis L. linked to gives some background about mutations of the coronavirus showing where it came from.


      The Zerohedge article links to this academic article:
      Decoding evolution and transmissions of novel pneumonia coronavirus using the whole genomic data

      It talks about how the authors have been able to trace back various strains of the coronavirus, based on the mutations that have occurred.

      The article is free for download. It hasn’t been peer reviewed, but that seems to be standard when dealing with coronavirus issues.

        • “The phylogenetic tree of the currently available complete genomes is given in Figure 1. This shows that there is limited genetic variation in the currently sampled viruses but more recent ones are showing more divergence as is expected for fast evolving RNA viruses. But the lack of diversity is indicative of a relatively recent common ancestor for all these viruses.”

          “… as is expected for fast evolving RNA viruses.”

          • “This shows that there is limited genetic variation in the currently sampled viruses but more recent ones are showing more divergence as is expected for fast evolving RNA viruses. “… as is expected for fast evolving RNA viruses.”

            Thanks for all the posts related to this fascinating topic, and certainly for the above quoted information which goes to this recent idea the virus may be evolving in places like Iran, SK & Italy where it is transmitting very fast, yet remaining very deadly. This is likely going to be very difficult to come up with a vaccine that accounts for a fast evolving RNA virus.

        • The conclusion seems to be, we really don’t know very much with certainty about the origin, and probably never will.

          The genomic features described here may in part explain the infectiousness and transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 in humans. Although genomic evidence does not support the idea that SARS-CoV-2 is a laboratory construct, it is currently impossible to prove or disprove the other theories of its origin described here, and it is unclear whether future data will help resolve this issue. [Emphasis added] Identifying the immediate non-human animal source and obtaining virus sequences from it would be the most definitive way of revealing virus origins. In addition, it would be helpful to obtain more genetic and functional data about the virus, including experimental studies of receptor binding and the role of the polybasic cleavage site and predicted O-linked glycans. The identification of a potential intermediate host of SARS-CoV-2, as well as the sequencing of very early cases including those not connected to the Wuhan market, would similarly be highly informative. Irrespective of how SARS-CoV-2 originated, the ongoing surveillance of pneumonia in humans and other animals is clearly of utmost importance.

          I notice it also talks about other animal hosts, including cats, pigs, and other primates.

        • “me thinks the lady doth protest too much” 🙂

          The first argument is that computer models of its affinity to ACE2 are poor while in actuality it binds exceptionally well and therefore is not by design. They could have discovered this anomaly during the bsl4 research and been investigating it.

          The second argument is that the virus displays characteristics found in viruses that evolved naturally not in viruses that evolved in the laboratory. This is a stronger argument to my mind. Woudnt this plausible deniability be a desirable characteristic however?

          None of this precludes the possibility that the virus was found in nature collected and stored via propagation in the lab where is subsequently escaped containment.

          The article provides a argument that is supposedly cut and dry that cv19 is not from the wuhan bsl4 lab. It conspicuously avoids mentioning the bsl4 lab and its research.

          We know that the bsl4 was engaged in research in viruses while possibly not an exact match for cv19 were virtually the same. Statistics are part of science too. I am not a statistician. The odds of the virus spontaneously developing in such close proximity to one of the only laboratory in the world that research the same type of virus without any connection to the at laboratory would seem to be so low as to be insignificant. Any argument that expects us to believe that cv19 has no connection to the wuhan lab while conspicuously ignoring both the existence of the wuhan lab and the probability of the same type virus evolving naturally in such close proximity is suspect . Not to mention clear case of fox guarding the henhouse. Never the less the argument the article makes is strong argument if limited in scope either purposely or otherwise.

          Certainly any persons involved in science understand the value of statistics and probabilities. That the base issue of the virus outbreak source being so close to the wuhan bsl4 lab is dismissed summarily as speculation by the authors makes their argument very suspect. The authors obviously understand the issue it is the reason for the article. The argument that only virologists can understand that virologists are innocent is also very suspect as well. Without addressing the very low probability that the virus emerged in such close proximity to the lab without connection to the lab the argument provided is limited in scope and the fact that the base issue and the probabilities it presents are dismissed is telling. Particularly so since none of the argument precludes the possibility of the virus having being found in nature and stored via propagation at the wuhan lab.

          If the article provided addressed the base issue instead of conspicuously dismissing it in any sort of meaningful way it would be much more compelling. The fact that the base issue is omitted and dismissed without analysis speaks instead to the opposite, an argument that is patently suspect.

          • I agree with your assessment. This article strikes me as a politically motivated attempt to dispel the idea of an engineered virus. The authors did not cite or discuss the recently published research, by Chinese scientists no less, that imply or indicate the laboratory origin of the version of the virus infecting humans. That suggests to me that they don’t want to confront the idea and evidence directly. Also, the authors don’t address the unique emergence of this virus. Virulent and efficiently transmitted viruses that originate in animals and jump to humans almost always require long histories of infection in animal hosts and persistent intermingling with humans (such as ducks and pigs in China for influenza), or transmission modes that breach normal body and immune defenses (such as bloodborne transmission through unhygienic puncturing exposures in health care, as represented by HIV, Ebola, Marburg, and others). This respiratory virus seems to have emerged in neither of these circumstances. Plus it came out with characteristics unmatched, it seems to me, by almost any other respiratory virus: highly infectious, long latency period, asymptomatic transmission, and (perhaps) high virulence and lethality. Natural viruses face many selection pressures that force them to make trade-offs between these factors. That’s not the case here, apparently.

    • Still, just think how quickly ‘winter bugs’ spread through a town – very fast! A few people are coughing at the supermarket and streets one day, and soon nearly everyone has it – I’ve always noticed that.

      So nothing special about this virus, it does not necessarily imply mutation yet.

      As for Iran, Dr Campbell says the physicians he is in touch with there say that they are relying very heavily on the use of steroids to treat patients.

      These are certainly useful when dealing with respiratory problems – I was prescribed them when I had pneumonia – but they do have the side-effect of weakening the immune system and great care has to be taken with them.

      • There was one paper I read a while ago that said early treatment in Wuhan relied on steroids, but later review showed this seemed to be counterproductive. I think the use of steroids needs to be looked at carefully. They are a two-edged sword. They are cheap and readily available, but this may be all that they have going for them.

      • Iran seems to have much higher death rates than other countries. In part, this is likely due to underreporting of cases. But it could also be the result of counterproductive treatments. A doctor has to do something. If a cheap drug produces a temporary benefit (but a long-term worse outcome), that is not something that the patient will be aware of. It will look like a “win” for the system.

      • What often appears to be a bug going around more likely is many (dozens/hundreds/thousands) different bugs going around. There is very little good research on how common respiratory viruses are transmitted in real life (“in the community” as doctors and researchers say). It would require genetic sequencing of the bugs infecting people (including those without symptoms) and intensive investigation of who is in contact with whom and the objects, surfaces, and places they come into contact with. Not easy to do at all, so researchers tend to just make assumptions about how things really occur.

        The waves of illness may be better explained by common vulnerabilities. For example, vitamin D deficiency plays a major role in illnesses caused by respiratory viruses. Illness rates correspond fairly well with seasonal variation in vitamin D levels.

  2. Concerning the Covid-19 case in Solano Co. CA. Five Covid-19 patients from the ship, Diamond Princess, were flown to Travis AFB in Solano Co. Three were transferred to isolation rooms in Tracy, CA, which is very close to Travis. Two others were admitted to isolation facilities at the hospital in the city of Napa, which is close to Tracy.
    Subsequently a woman was found to be sick with Covid-19 in the city of Tracy (adjacent to Travis AFB) and had had no known contact with the disease and had not left area of Tracy essentially. She was taken to an isolation ward in Davis, CA. At the time, it was known that she lived in close contact with two other people, but neither of them were considered to be sick with the disease.
    These latter two are now confirmed to also have Covid-19 and have been hospitalized.
    Now then, it seems awfully suspicious to me that this lone women who was found to have the disease, supposedly “out of the blue” just happened to live in the same town where the Diamond Princess patients were housed.
    It took a relatively long time to get her into a hospital, was because DHS refused to supply a test kit, reportedly because she had not been to China.
    CA Senator Diane Feinstein was queried as to what was exactly the policy that did not allow the female to be tested. Feinstein says she knows nothing! Come on Feinstein, what use are you if you can’t ferret this out? (Not too long ago it was found that her chauffeur of many years was a CHINESE COMMUNIST AGENT, she herself is the daughter of White Russians who escaped to Hong Kong, as is her husband.)
    So, if this stuff is so damn dangerous and catching, why were the women’s companions left to run around loose?
    Now we have three people with Covid-19, of unknown provenance that have been running around loose, and still no test kits. (CA has approximately 60 kits in Sacramento at this time.)

    • If it is any consolation, early test kits didn’t really work very well. Maybe the newer ones will work less badly. There is a tendency for all test kits to miss a lot of cases in which people have the virus.

      We really cannot tell very well who has the illness and who does not. This has been a frustration everywhere.

    • This things a damn escape artist. The host that the women caught it from may still be unaware that they have it.

      • “This things a damn escape artist.”

        Reminds me of sci-fi movies in which there is a shape shifting monster, but in this case it’s microscopic.

  3. Here are a couple of informative sites to follow COVID-19 – even though the virus incubation time of several weeks necessarily makes these sites backward looking several weeks – regarding the current actual state of real infections and coming mortality stats:

    This one is being updated by Johns Hopkins CSSE:

    The demographic break down below was last updated on Feb. 23rd, but probably still provides a good demographic representation of the infection:

      • Even if China (and the rest of the world) were spot on (assuming that they had ways of accurate diagnoses – which they don’t) the infections reported today were largely infected and incubated some time about three weeks or so. In the best case – our projections of the COVID-19 will always be several weeks behind and very inaccurate – until test kit accuracy and production approximate the numbers much greater than actual infections. Apparently, not a realistic probability based on what we know about test kit accuracy and production limitations now. We’re basically waiting for the virus to burn itself out and we have no clue when that might be using the current inaccurate data.

        • opinion piece about the future of this coronavirus:


          “Most influenza pandemics last two to three years,” said Peter White, a professor of virology at the University of New South Wales. “That’s how long it takes before herd immunity is built up.”

          we also have no clue about when and how this virus will mutate…

          “We’re not on the brink of doom. As we’ve written, taking modest and sensible precautions should keep most people safe. In time, Covid-19 may be remembered not so much with dread as with historical curiosity. But the coming months, and years, will change us.”

          I think he’s assuming most of us will be “safe”…

          the author is no Doomer…

          • Two to three years for herd immunity? I was wondering how long……

            At that rate, I’m going to look rather wild when I emerge from the woods.

            Move over Agafia, the Russian hermit lady!

        • The peak will likely come in the next 6 or 8 months, I would guess. The illness will keep going around for longer–perhaps two or three years. Or maybe it will keep mutating enough so that it can go around longer, hitting the same people over again.

          • Based on other respiratory illness/flu models – the virus will moderate when temperatures stabilize locally and the temperature stress that screws with our immune system effectiveness comes back to normal. Considering this – I think most of the new infections will have disappeared by June or July.

            That doesn’t mean COVID-19 or as you point out – its mutations are done with us. Because it doesn’t get warm and temperature stable in all parts of the world at the same time – so there will be continue to be CVD-19 infection pockets/reservoirs for next winter infection in the N. Hemisphere. The Spanish flu spanned several years (1917-1920) and was complicated by mass global people movements (troops civilian displacements from WWI), concentration in camps, hospitals and returning home. Because of WWI, it also explains some of why the Spanish Flu was demographically atypical in that it killed more young and prime age adults than young children and the elderly – because they were less like to be involved with WWI – though some believe that the SF higher death rate among prime age adults with the SF was because they had a stronger immune response – meaning more mucus production and resulting fatal pneumonia.

            Remarkably, it will be the internet that saves a lot of infections that might have otherwise occurred in the past – when people did more face to face socializing, business and communicating in their daily lives.

            • We don’t really know whether longer periods of sunlight will temporarily put an end to this virus. People in very humid climates might also get a break. I am not certain whether the issue is heat, per se.

              The internet might reduce the exposure of some white collar workers, but I expect that many will likely get the illness anyhow, when they are buying groceries or riding on public transit.

            • Warmer conditions work against the virus by having more UV reaching the earths surface killing virus on direct sunlight exposed surfaces – lower infection rates. Warmer conditions produce less temperature stress in humans which means their immune systems are generally stronger and more capable.

              Varying temperatures play more havoc with the immune system than we are aware – which is why we have a lot more colds and opportunistic infections in the winter time. It’s not just humans. I’ve done animal studies where just slight variations (as little as two degree variance) in the daily temperature will reduce growth by as much as 50% and increase opportunistic disease infections in young animals with statistical significant differences in survival. Warmer and more stable temperatures will show exactly how bad and or aggressive COVI-19 really is.

            • That is interesting. I didn’t realize that temperature made that much difference.

              One thing that most people here do not realize is that the people in Wuhan generally do not have heat in their apartments in winter, even though the temperature goes below freezing. This may influence their susceptibility to the COVId-19.

              The way the system works (as I understand it) is that heat for homes and businesses has historically been provided mostly by “cogeneration,” but only in the northern half of China. With cogeneration, excess heat created by electric power plants is piped directly to homes and businesses from November 15 to March 15. For people in the southern half of China (including Wuhan), people need to provide heat themselves, if any is provided. Most people just bundle up in their homes. People in the northern half need to bundle up before November 15 and after March 15, if it is still cold out.

              I was in Beijing in March 2015 and witnessed first hand how the system worked. Up until March 15, the classroom where I taught was overly warm, thanks to sunlight streaming into the classroom, the body heat of 80 students, and the piped-in heat. As soon as the heat was cut off, students needed to wear their coats during class. The apartment I stayed in had a heat pump, which I could turn on, so I stayed warm at night. But most people, including graduate students, did not have the heat pump setup. They complained that their rooms were very cold once the central heating disappeared on March 15.

            • As a point of clarification, the animal studies I refd. previously – were with poikilotherms (can’t regulate body temperature) and may be more sensitive to temperature changes than warm bodied animals like us human – homeotherms. That said, we can’t deny the impacts of all kinds of stress (including temperature variance) on at least the non-specific immune function in humans. The human non-specific immune system is coincidentally responsible for much of the cytokine storms that cause the flood of mucus production and resulting respiratory failure in the flu and CVD-19. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflammatory_cytokine)

            • Exercise does seem to limit inflammation in general and or offset/modulate it with increased serotonin production. I’m don’t know about the limiting viral/immune cytokine storm responses. I suspect we are talking about two different messaging systems and different responses. Do you mean cytokine production in general – or cytokine storms specifically – which are different? I do know that extreme exertion produces stress that reduces immune function and generally increases susceptibility to many viral infections – including the Rhino Virus (Colds) and various flu virus. Immune response as well as injury/healing messaging are very complex and not completely understood – including – by me.



            • It sounds like if we catch the virus, we want to make certain that we stay in a warm room, to help our immune system along as much as possible. Sometimes treatments like this get overlooked.

  4. It was/is important to some faction for CV19 to be a BIG scare. Who? Why? My son who works in a hospital micro lab is completely unimpressed. I looking at the number of dead am completely unimpressed. I am willing t wait until May 1 too make my final call. Time will tell.

    • Stopping the world economy for the virus becomes a huge problem. It is the fact that we think we can stop the virus that messes us up. We can’t. But we try and try, and we are very close to popping the debt bubble that is holding the world economy up, anyhow.

      If a person can get around the possibility of being exposed today, another exposure to the virus will likely greet the person within a few days. If there are mutations, new cures may be needed.

      • I heard a radio talk today that stressed various “protective” measures (like staying home and having a little store of necessities, etc, wherever possible) not as a way to prevent getting the disease, but instead to slow the rate of spread, allowing health facilities a little more space and time to not break them. Since our “system” could not be infinite, something drastic to “adjust” it was inevitable anyway. This is just sooner than expected, and slowing down, planning, and cooperating better were always going to be preferable to the relative nothing we’ve been doing (IMO). What we need to do for COVID is what we needed to do all along. There’s always a way to justify the total, bloody nonsense we’ve been up to as being inevitable. Whatever floats your boat.

        • I am not convinced that the “protective” measures do much besides buy a little time to try to find adequate treatments, so the symptoms kill fewer and so that people can somewhat avoid the need for hospitalization and ICU treatment. Hopefully, these treatments can reduce the load on hospitals somewhat. The spread will be whatever it is, unless we truly find a vaccine quickly, which seems exceedingly unlikely.

          Closing businesses has a very harmful impact on the economy. They may have to be closed because of the spread of the disease. If we close them simply because of fear of spread of disease, it would seem like the economic impact would be multiplied.

          • Thanks, Gail. For over 20 years, I’ve been thinking that business could work quite well if half of current on-site workers worked online. There’s always some economic loss to making any change at all, but it seems possible to muddle through just the same. As in what is the best of the bad choices to make? This virus is certainly a chance to move the needle in less obviously futile direction, if ever I saw one.

    • “I looking at the number of dead am completely unimpressed.”

      Chinese leadership wants you to be unimpressed…

      have a good weekend, comrade…

      I hope you are alive and well on May 1st to make your final call… 😉

      and me, also… time will tell… indeed…

    • Im a conservative. The current “conservative” meme that the threat of cv19 is being communicated as a means to discredit trump is ridiculous in the extreme IMO.

      Certainly trump has faced sham persecution. That he would regard cv19 as more of the same if he does, would make me question his judgment.

  5. Well my kids are all under 39 so good for them. My Dad is 89 well 1 in 3 shot but he is amazingly resilient.

  6. JHK made this point on Monday:

    ” It’s not inconceivable that an American city, or more than one, will be subject to quarantine, or that a whole lot of people just won’t leave their houses for a period of time. Will the truckers still truck things that people need? We don’t know. How do you hold a political convention in a situation like that, or even an election?”

    what gets cancelled?

    conventions, elections, sports (Olympics), concerts, movies, schools/colleges/universities, churches, restaurants etc?

    Switzerland did this today:


    until at least March 15th…

    do they think events of 800 or 900 people will be safe?

    • I know, amusing isn’t it: two people getting together to play chess could do one another in.

  7. I thought this Zerohedge article was interesting:

    Is The Coronavirus Pandemic About To Become Another Spanish Flu

    Summary at beginning of fairly long article:

    COVID-19 vs The Spanish Flu


    In light of the recent outbreak in Europe, it appears a question of when –rather than whether– the COVID-19 epidemic will be declared a global pandemic

    Countermeasures such as quarantine or travel bans remain necessary to contain the virus’ spread.

    This will continue to cause disruption, as policy makers chase a moving target

    There is an increasing interest in the 1918-19 Spanish flu, and there are indeed some similarities in terms of virulence, infectiousness, and the potential attack rate.

    Anecdotal evidence suggests a similar economic impact both despite and because of changes in society.

    The key lesson from COVID-19 is the same as with the financial sector: complex interconnected systems greatly increase underlying risks, which are multiplicative and exponential, rather than additive and linear.

    • a good read… part of the conclusion:

      “For now we can see that in the short-term there will undoubtedly be far less global travel and much less trade: we already see that. In the long-term it all depends on how COVID-19 plays out.

      If it passes quickly, then just as in 2008-09 the key structural lessons on systemic risk of globalization will arguably be ignored in favour of the obvious near-term benefits, while lip-service is paid to the risks in public. However, should COVID-19 spread and linger, meaning that each new journey, each new encounter means a risk of infection with a 1 in 5 chance of serious illness and a 1 in 50 chance of death (based on data so far), then things may change very significantly on many socio-economic fronts.”

      he undoubtedly does NOT know about the inevitable and permanent economic decline that has already begun and will only get more severe as this decade proceeds, due to declining net (surplus) energy…

      so whether or not “it passes quickly”, there is a guarantee that things WILL “change very significantly on many socio-economic fronts”…

      the virus news these past two months had me forgetting the much more grave scenario which the world faces…

      this author has reminded me…

  8. New England Journal of Medicine:


    “Citing an analysis of the available data from the outbreak in China, the authors note that there have been zero cases among children younger than 15; and that the fatality rate is 2% at most, and could be “considerably less than 1%.”…”

    first of all, they are fully trusting the Chinese data… the authors may be extremely naive…

    and they seem to be contenting themselves with their analysis that “the fatality rate is 2% at most”…

    again, based on their total acceptance of the Chinese data…

    in coming weeks, European data will be interesting to see…

    • Well, no doubt it is about 2% or so with prompt and full treatment (drugs+ oxygen+ proper nursing in isolation): but such treatment will not be available as services are swamped, so 5-15% will probably be more realistic, tending towards the worst outcomes.

  9. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

    “1 new case in Japan: a 70-year-old male in Sendai City (Tohoku region) who, having tested negative to the virus, got off the Diamond Princess cruise ship on Feb. 20. On Feb. 28, however, he complained of low-grade fever and sore throat. On Feb. 29, he tested positive to Covid-19. He is in mild condition.”

    in 9 days, how many did he infect?

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