We Need to Change Our COVID-19 Strategy

We would like to think that we can eliminate COVID-19, but doing so is far from certain. The medical system has not been successful in eliminating HIV/AIDS or influenza; the situation with COVID-19 may be similar.

We are discovering that people with COVID-19 are extremely hard to identify because a significant share of infections are very mild or completely without symptoms. Testing everyone to find the huge number of hidden cases cannot possibly work worldwide. As long as there is hidden COVID-19 elsewhere in the world, the benefit of identifying everyone with the illness in a particular area is limited. The disease simply bounces back, as soon as there is a reduction in containment efforts.

Figure 1. One-week average new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel, Spain, Belgium and Netherlands. Chart made using data as of August 8, 2020 using an Interactive Visualization available at https://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/ based on Johns Hopkins University CSSE database.

We are also discovering that efforts to contain what is essentially a hidden illness are very damaging to the world economy. Shutdowns in particular lead to many unemployed people and riots. Social distancing requirements can make investments unprofitable. Cutting off air flights leads to a huge loss of tourism and leaves farmers with the problem of how to get their fruit and vegetable crops picked without migrant workers. If COVID-19 is very widespread, contact tracing simply becomes an exercise in frustration.

Trying to identify the many asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 is surprisingly difficult. The cost is far higher than the cost of the testing devices.

At some point, we need to start lowering expectations regarding what can be done. The economy can protect a few members, but not everyone. Instead, emphasis should be on strengthening people’s immune systems. Surprisingly, there seems to be quite a bit that can be done. Higher vitamin D levels seem to be associated with fewer and less severe cases. Better diet, with more fruits and vegetables, is also likely to be helpful from an immunity point of view. Strangely enough, more close social contacts may also be helpful.

In the remainder of this post, I will explain a few pieces of the COVID-19 problem, together with my ideas for modifications to our current strategy.

Recent News About COVID-19 Has Been Disturbingly Bad

It is becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 is likely to be here for quite some time. The World Health Organization’s director recently warned, “. . . there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.” A recent Wall Street Journal article is titled, “Early Coronavirus Vaccine Supplies Likely Won’t Be Enough for Everyone at High Risk.” This article relates only to US citizens at high risk. Needless to say, creating enough vaccine for both high and low risk individuals, around the world, is a long way away.

We are also hearing that vaccines may be far less than 100% effective; 50% effective would be considered sufficient at this time. Two doses are likely to be needed; in fact, elderly patients may need three doses. The vaccine may not work for obese individuals. We don’t yet know how long immunity from the vaccines will last; a new round of injections may be needed each year.

new report confirms that asymptomatic patients with COVID-19 are indeed able to spread the disease to others.

Furthermore, the financial sector is increasingly struggling with the adverse impact shutdowns are having on the economy. If it becomes necessary to completely “write off” the tourism industry, economies around the world will struggle with permanent job loss and debt defaults.

Shutdowns Don’t Work for Businesses and the Financial System 

There are many issues involved:

(a) Shutdowns tend to lead to huge job loss. Riots follow, as soon as people have a chance to express their unhappiness with the situation.

(b) If countries stop importing migrant workers, there is likely to be a major loss of fruits and vegetables that farmers have planted. No matter how much money is printed, it does not replace these lost fruits and vegetables.

(c) Manufacturing supply lines don’t work if raw materials and parts are not available when needed. Because of this, a shutdown in one part of the world tends to have a ripple effect around the world.

(d) Social distancing requirements for businesses are problematic because they lead to less efficient use of available space. Businesses can serve fewer customers, so total revenue is likely to fall. Employees may need to be laid off. Fixed costs, such as debt, become more difficult to pay, making defaults more likely.

Shutdowns cause a major problem for the economy, because, with many people out of the workforce, the total amount of finished goods and services produced by the economy falls. Broken supply lines and reduced efficiency tend to make the problem worse. World GDP is the total amount of goods and services produced. Thus, by definition, total world GDP is reduced by shutdowns.

Governments can institute benefit programs for citizens to try to redistribute what goods and services are available, but this will not fix the underlying problem of many fewer goods and services actually being produced. Citizens will find that some shelves in stores are empty, and that many airline seats are unavailable. They will find that some goods are still unaffordable, even with government subsidies.

Governments can try to give loans to businesses to help them through the financial problems caused by new rules, such as social distancing, but it is doubtful this approach will lead to new investment. For example, if social distancing requirements mean that new buildings and vehicles can only be used in an inefficient manner, there will be little incentive for businesses to invest in new buildings and vehicles, even if low-interest loans are available.

Furthermore, even if there might be opportunities for new, more efficient businesses to be added, the subsidization of old inefficient businesses operating at far below capacity will tend to crowd out these new businesses.

People of Many Ages Soon Become Unhappy with Shutdowns

Young people expect hands-on learning experiences at universities. They also expect to be able to meet possible future marriage partners in social settings. They become increasingly unhappy, as shutdowns drag on.

The elderly need to be protected from COVID-19, but they also need to be able to see their families. Without social interaction, their overall health tends to decline.

We Are Kidding Ourselves if We Think a Vaccine Will Make the Worldwide COVID-19 Problem Disappear

Finding a vaccine that works for 100% of the world’s population seems extremely unlikely. Even if we do find a vaccine or drug treatment that works, being able to extend this solution to poor countries around the world is likely to be a slow process.

If we look back historically, pretty much all of the improvement in the US crude death rate (number of deaths divided by total population) has come from conquering infectious diseases.

Figure 2. Crude mortality rates in the United States in chart from Trends in Infectious Disease Mortality in the United States During the 20th Century, Armstrong et al., JAMA, 1999.

The catch is that since 1960, there hasn’t been an improvement in infectious disease mortality in the United States, according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Society. As progress has been made on some longstanding diseases such as hepatitis, new infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS have arisen. Also, the biggest category of infectious disease remaining is “influenza and pneumonia,” and little progress has been made in reducing its death rate in the United States. Figure 3 shows one chart from the article.

Figure 3. Mortality due to influenza or HIV/AIDS, in chart from Infectious Disease Mortality Trends in the United States, 1980-2014 by Hansen et al., JAMA, 2016.

With respect to HIV/AIDS, it took from the early 1980s until 1997 to start to get the mortality rate down through drugs. A suitable vaccine has not yet been created.

Furthermore, even when the US was able to reduce the mortality from HIV/AIDS, this ability did not immediately spread to poor areas of the world, such as Sub-Saharan Africa. In Figure 4, we can see the bulge in Sub-Saharan Africa’s crude death rates (where HIV/AIDS was prevalent), relative to death rates in India, where HIV/AIDS was less of a problem.

Figure 4. Crude death rates for Sub-Saharan Africa, India, the United States, and the World from 1960 through 2018, based on World Bank data.

While the medical system was able to start reducing the mortality of HIV/AIDS in the United States about 1996-1997 (Figure 3, above), a 2016 article says that it was still very prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2013. Major issues included difficulty patients had in traveling to health care sites and a lack of trained personnel to administer the medication. We can expect these issues to continue if a vaccine is developed for COVID-19, especially if the new vaccine requires more than one injection, every year.

Another example is polio. A vaccine for polio was developed in 1955; the disease was eliminated in the US and other high income countries in about the next 25 years. The disease has still not been eliminated worldwide, however. Poor countries tend to use an oral form of the vaccine that can be easily administered by anyone. The problem with this oral vaccine is that it uses live viruses which themselves can cause outbreaks of polio. Cases not caused by the vaccine are still found in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

These examples suggest that even if a vaccine or fairly effective treatment for COVID-19 is discovered, we are kidding ourselves if we think the treatment will quickly transfer around the world. To transfer around the world, it will need to be extremely inexpensive and easy to administer. Even with these characteristics, the eradication of COVID-19 is likely to take a decade or more, unless the virus somehow disappears on its own.

The fact that COVID-19 transmits easily by people who show no symptoms means that even if COVID-19 is eradicated from the high-income world, it can return from the developing world, unless a large share of people in these advanced countries are immune to the disease. We seem to be far from that situation now. Perhaps this will change in a few years, but we cannot count on widespread immunity any time soon.

Containment Efforts for a Disease with Many Hidden Carriers Is Likely to Be Vastly More Expensive than One in Which Infected People Are Easily Identifiable 

It is easy to misunderstand how expensive finding the many asymptomatic carriers of a disease is. The cost is far higher than the cost of the tests themselves, because the situation is quite different. If people have serious symptoms, they will want to stay home. They will want to give out the names of others, if they can see that doing so might prevent someone else from catching a serious illness.

We have the opposite situation, if we are trying to find people without symptoms, who might infect others. We need to:

  1. Identify all of these people who feel well but might infect others.
  2. Persuade these people who feel well to stay away from work or other activities.
  3. Somehow compensate these people for lost wages and perhaps extra living expenses, while they are in quarantine.
  4. Pay for all of the tests to find these individuals.
  5. Convince these well individuals to name those whom they have had contact with (often their friends), so that they can be tested and perhaps quarantined as well.

Perhaps a few draconian governments, such as China, can handle these problems by fiat, and not really compensate workers for being unable to work. In other countries, all of these costs are likely to be a problem. Because of inadequate compensation, exclusion from work is not likely to be well received. Quarantined people will not want to report which friends they have seen recently, if the friends are likely also to lose wages. In poor countries, the loss of income may mean the loss of the ability to feed a person’s family. 

Another issue is that “quick tests” are likely to be used for contact tracing, since “PCR tests,” which tend to be more accurate, often require a week or more for laboratory processing. Unfortunately, quick tests for COVID-19 are not very accurate. (Also a CNN report.) If there are a lot of “false positives,” many people may be needlessly taken out of work. If there are a lot of “false negatives,” all of this testing will still miss a lot of carriers of COVID-19.

A Major Benefit of Rising Energy Consumption Seems to Be Better Control Over Infectious Diseases and a Falling Crude Death Rate

I often write about how the world’s self-organizing economy works. The growth in the world’s energy consumption since the advent of fossil fuels has been extremely important.

Figure 5. World Energy Consumption by Source, based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects, together with BP Statistical Data on 1965 and subsequent

The growth in world energy consumption coincided with a virtual explosion in human population.

Figure 6. World Population Growth Through History. Chart by SUSPS.

One of the ways that fossil fuel energy is helpful for population growth is through drugs to fight epidemics. Another way is by making modern sanitation easy. A third way is by ramping up food supplies, so that more people can be fed.

Economic shutdowns lead to reduced energy consumption, partly because energy prices tend to fall too low for producers. They cut back on production because of unprofitability.

Figure 7. Weekly average spot oil prices for Brent, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Given this connection between energy supply and population, we should not be surprised if shutdowns tend to lead to an overall falling world population, even if COVID-19 by itself is expected to have a small mortality rate (perhaps 1% of those infected). Poor countries, especially, will find that laid off workers cannot afford adequate food supplies. This makes poor members of those economies more susceptible to diseases of many kinds and to starvation.

Epidemiologists Based Their Models on Diseases Which Are Easily Identifiable and Have High Mortality Rates

It is clear that an easily identifiable illness with a high mortality rate can be easily contained. A difficult-to-identify disease, which has a very low mortality rate for many segments of the population, is very different. Members of segments of the population who usually get only a light case of the disease are likely to become more and more unhappy as containment efforts drag on. Models based on very different types of pandemics are likely to be misleading.

We Need to Somehow Change Course

The message that has been disseminated has been, “With containment efforts plus vaccine, we can stop this disease.” In fact, this is unlikely for the foreseeable future. Continuing in the same direction that has not been working is a lot like banging one’s head against a wall. It cannot be expected to work.

Somehow, expectations need to be lowered regarding what containment efforts can do. The economy can perhaps protect a few high-risk people, but it cannot protect everyone. Unless COVID-19 stops by itself, a significant share of the world’s population can be expected to catch COVID-19. In fact, some people may get the disease multiple times over their lifetimes.

If we are forced to live with some level of COVID-19 (just as we are forced to live with some level of forest fires), we need to make this situation as painless as possible. For example,

  • We need to find ways to make COVID-19 as asymptomatic as possible by easy changes to diet and lifestyle.
  • We also need to find inexpensive treatments, especially ones that can be used outside of a hospital setting.
  • We need to keep the world economy operating as best as possible, if we want to stay away from a world population crash for as long as possible.

We cannot continue to post articles which seem to say that a spike in COVID-19 cases is necessarily “bad.” It is simply the way the situation has to be, if we don’t really have an effective way of containing the coronavirus. The fact that young adults build up immunity, at least for a while, needs to be viewed as a plus.

Some Ideas Regarding Looking at the Situation Differently 

(1) The Vitamin D Issue

There has been little publicity about the fact that people with higher vitamin D levels seem to have lighter cases of COVID-19. In fact, whole nations with higher vitamin D levels seem to have lower levels of deaths. Vitamin D strengthens the immune system. Sunlight raises vitamin D levels; fish liver oils and the flesh of fatty fishes also raise vitamin D levels.

Figure 8 shows cumulative deaths per million in a few low and high vitamin D level areas. The death rates are strikingly lower in the high vitamin D level countries.

Figure 8. COVID-19 deaths per million as of August 8, 2020 for selected countries, based on data from Johns Hopkins CSSE database.

The vitamin D issue may explain why dark skinned people (such as those from Southeast Asia and Africa) tend to get more severe cases of COVID-19 when they move to a low sunlight area such as the UK. Skin color is an adaptation to different levels of the sun’s rays in different parts of the world. People with darker skin color have more melanin in their skin. This makes the production of vitamin D less efficient, since equatorial regions receive more sunlight. The larger amount of melanin works well when dark-skinned people live in equatorial regions, but less well away from the equator. Vitamin D supplements might mitigate this difference.

It should be noted that the benefit of sunlight and vitamin D in protecting the immune system has long been known, especially with respect to flu-like diseases. In fact, the use of sunlight seems to have been helpful in mitigating the effects of the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918-1919, over 100 years ago!

One concern might be whether increased sunlight raises the risk of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. I have not researched this extensively, but a 2016 study indicates that that sensible sun exposure, without getting sunburn, may decrease a person’s risk of melanoma, as well as provide protection against many other types of diseases. Non-melanoma skin cancers may increase, but the mortality risk of these skin cancers is very low. On balance, the study concludes that the public should be advised to work on getting blood levels of at least 30 ng/ml.

(2) Other Issues

Clearly, better health in general is helpful. Eating a diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables is helpful, as is getting plenty of exercise and sunshine. Losing weight will be helpful for many.

Having social contact with other people tends to be helpful for longevity in general. In fact, several studies indicate that church-goers tend to have better longevity than others. Churchgoers and those with many social contacts would seem to have more contact with microbes than others.

A recent article says, Common colds train the immune system to recognize COVID-19. Social distancing tends to eliminate common colds as well as COVID-19. Quite possibly social distancing is counterproductive, in terms of disease severity. Epidemiologists have likely never considered this issue, since they tend to consider only very brief social distancing requirements.

A person wonders how well the immune systems of elderly people who have been cut off from sharing microbes with others for months will work. Will these people now die when exposed to even very minor illnesses? Perhaps a slow transition is needed to bring families back into closer contact with their loved ones.

People’s immune systems can protect them from small influxes of viruses causing COVID-19, but not from large influxes of these viruses. Masks tend to protect against large influxes of the virus, and thus protect the wearer to a surprising extent. Models suggest that clear face shields also provide a considerable amount of this benefit. People with a high risk of very severe illness may want to wear both of these devices in settings they consider risky. Such a combination might protect them fairly well, even if others are not wearing masks.

Conclusions – What We Really Should Be Doing

Back at the time we first became aware of COVID-19, following the recommendations of epidemiologists probably made sense. Now that more information is unfolding, our approach to COVID-19 needs to change.

I have already laid out many of the things I think need to be done. One area that has been severely overlooked is raising vitamin D levels. This is being discussed in the medical literature, but it doesn’t seem to get into the popular press. Even though the connection is not 100% proven, and there are many details to be worked out, it would seem like people should start raising their vitamin D levels. There seems to be little problem with overdosing on vitamin D, except that sunburns are not good. Until we know more, a level of 30 ng/ml (equivalent to 75 nmol/L) might be a reasonable level to aim for. This is a little above the mean vitamin D level of Norway, Finland, and Denmark.

Social distancing requirements probably need to be phased out. A concern might be temporarily excessive patient loads for hospitals. Large group meetings may need to be limited for a time, until this problem can be overcome.



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.

2,353 thoughts on “We Need to Change Our COVID-19 Strategy

  1. Gail mentioned a while ago about the hardship for old people not being able to see their families and loved ones. That is very true in my family and has lead to the mental decline of my mother I believe. She is 91 lives in an extended care facility in Canada and was doing well before the pandemic, managing her hearing and vision loss quite well and was very happy in her life. She had family visits almost every day.

    Then months of meals served only in her room, no more group activities, no visits from family or friends, staff with masks having minimal contact. Now family visits are allowed for 30 minutes once a week, and the cafeteria is again open. But now she is confused, anxious, not able to remember very simple things, does not know how to use the phone. The facility has told us she no longer meets the requirements of the facility and she should be moved to a higher level of care facility, eg. nursing home.

    The ironic thing is she was never worried about Covid, She didn’t mind taking her chances with it, but was protected from it anyway. And paid the price in a big way, as loss of mental ability rarely reverses. I knew this sort of thing would have happened to elderly with isolation, but didn’t even speak of it to my family, as I knew they were all on board with the official narrative that elderly and society in general must be aggressively protected. What a shame as I doubt this case is unique.

    • It seems like there are a lot of versions of this story. I don’t think visits are allowed even now in nursing homes here. If the person cannot manage the technology for Zoom or even a phone call, that is a problem.

    • “In 2017, scientists at UNC-Chapel Hill provided a critical clue about the limitations of the influenza vaccine. In a paper published in the International Journal of Obesity, they showed for the first time that vaccinated obese adults were twice as likely as adults of a healthy weight to develop influenza or flu-like illness.

      “As weeks passed and a clearer picture of who was being hospitalized came into focus, federal health officials expanded their warning to include people with a body mass index of 30 or more. That vastly expanded the ranks of those considered vulnerable to the most severe cases of infection, to 42.4% of American adults.”

    • There is a recent Nature article that examines the relationship of greater death of obese people in the UK.

      Click to access s41586-020-2521-4_reference.pdf

      The risk of death, relative to “normal” are:

      BMI 30 to 34.9 –1.05 times normal risk
      BMI 35 to 39.9 –1.40 times normal risk
      BMI 40 or over — 1.92 times normal risk

      I don’t think I would worry much about the higher risk unless the BMI was over 35. For the BMI 30 to 34.9, the risk they gave was barely elevated at 1.05 (Range 1.00 to 1.11). I am sure if the author only looked at US population with BMI above 35, he would get a smaller number of people at risk.

      This study had quite a number of other categories of risk it was looking at as well, such as diabetes, ethnic group, and “IMD quintile,” which seems to relate to low income/crowded housing. Considering BMI alone, without adjusting for the expected impact of all of these other categories, the risk factors were

      BMI 30 to 34.9 –1.23 times normal risk
      BMI 35 to 39.9 –1.81 times normal risk
      BMI 40 or over — 2.66 times normal risk

  2. Here’s the video where Mike Maloney discusses China (2 weeks old), specifically, the Chinese housing bubble, and explains why it is a bubble – 65 million empty, newish properties held by individuals for investment purposes, presumably on borrowed money. That’s at the end of the presentation. Prior to that Mike presents about 15 news items that suggest the USA is headed for financial Armageddon over the next few months.

    Will USA Trigger Chinese Armageddon?

    • Brace yourself for the debt doesn’t matter argument this is on the best seller right now

      • The real assessment of the situation is likely located in the middle of these opposing extreme ends. Namely, the fiats role is not exhausted yet (and there is little/no incentive to rock the boat anyway by the various competing players), there are numerous tricks to be employed for extending the unreality for few more years, most likely even decades to come.

        These above linked hard money advocates are mostly gamblers-scammers with leverage on small mining companies etc, having little insight into the path dependency sequencing (past history/evolution is not to be reversed) for near mid term future of somewhat stalled – fractured globalization. It has been and will be much more prudent to follow tech stocks or energy price swings (“triangle of doom”) as in for past several decades if your are onto the greed – speculation factor in the mean time.

        As long as the ever smaller managerial class could be placated by supply of semi-luxury goods (via robotized manuf) and simultaneously the increasing pool of poor kept bamboozled-corralled by various political, social and cultural schemes, it doesn’t matter much if the cost of energy to get energy to the economy spikes over today’s sub 10% perhaps even up to 25% or higher threshold. Simply, former lower-middle classes will be stripped of excess energy sinks like distant recreational or local frivolous travel activities, food variety, consumer trinkets, .. etc, in order to let the system live for yet another year..

        In zoomed out historical macro view, such few extra decades are less than blink of an eye moment anyway. New scams are being tried as we speak, I guess Tagio wrote at Surplus about new Japanese method of bank easing just phased in..

        The recent US riots were very illustrative, hoards of impoverished+brainwashed looting targeting downtown “exclusive” apparel stores.. completely useless. Similarly, the middle yet to be fully juiced out classes will be preoccupied in other yet incoming rounds of poverty triage treadmill, like still believing (prioritizing) for the myth of future pension availability, keeping illusion of social status at the expense of everything else of potentially higher precautionary value or activity.

        • Bah, those looters were paid mercenaries in addition to the loot they stole.

          The gold “rush” is just looting of China by the CCP taking physical assets out of China.

          • Yes, the are evidently “Soros/DemHQ/Swamp” mercenaries (and or trainees) among the BLM/antifa ring leaders.. when unleashed then it snowballs organically with unaffiliated opportunity looters suddenly appearing and joining in swarms from nowhere etc.

            I was referring more to that displayed total madness factor of looting useless wares, I saw videos of entire families going organized style in car to the looting scene and filling it up. They did not attack hardware stores, food warehouse, seed banks etc. Hence, apart from wearing these stolen sneakers and shirts the very next day “to impress neighbors”, they will mostly exchange it for few bucks and this pocket change to be used immediately for fast food chain (empty) calorie input, rinse and repeat.. It’s pathetic (and sad). And as alluded previously other classes in suspended free fall are not mounting much coherent response to their predicament either.

            Thanks for the first page of comments bellow Gail’s article about the immunity boosting trace elements, vitamins etc, it confirms and enlarges the discussion / inquiry into it as we have done here in the early Q1 of this year. We had it right from the first weeks. It’s kind of puzzling that professional authorities in many countries kept that basic info for themselves or were not interested anyway.. most likely the usual amalgam of partly sinister plot of insiders and general incompetence in these structures.

        • WofH. Great to see you posting and great post! Agree the gold silver sellers are just selling their wares. And lots of tricks up the players sleeves. Still how far can the ponzi go… MMT must be backed by somthing and that somthing is military force IMO. How long can that work.. Maybe a long time. MMT basically is hey if imaginary money works i want a yaht. MMT = MY magic trinkets

          • “MMT must be backed by somthing and that somthing is military force IMO. How long can that work.. Maybe a long time.”

            I agree. US has been able to run a big balance of payment deficit for a long time. Military force is behind this.

          • Nah, it is technological omnipotence at the end of the day that rules. And of course cheap natural resources to put it into service in the economy and military.

            Unbeatable combo. A double whammy.

            Yes, the finance racket is imploding. Cant have too many rentiers leeching of the middle class. It challenges the basis for the omnipotence. The same holds true for relentless consumerism and waste of natural resources.

            Can’t have neither of those anymore.

            The rush to gold is laughable. The corrupt and degenerates scrambling to “cash” out.

            Nope, just not enough physical assets. And the tech stocks can just go that high.

        • WofH, I am also glad to see you posting again, and I hope you’ll continue to do so. Your contributions in the past have been invaluable.

        • “there are numerous tricks to be employed for extending the unreality for few more years, most likely even decades to come.”

          Not on the planet I inhabit. Unless of course you are referring to a controlled demolition job where the military / police are in charge, a lot of (most) people die from starvation, pestilence etc. and only a small elite do well?

          I get the impression that you are being critical on the above video, without having actually watched it?

        • Completely disagree with your assessment of “hard” money advocates. Currency is always replaced by money in every collapse, if you survive. I still believe those that move their fiat wealth out of the system into hard assets will fair better.

      • “Birth of the People’s Economy”

        obviously, this book is based on the past few centuries of economics, in which economies prospered because those were centuries of huge growth in net (surplus) energy.

        the author is probably totally cluueless about this.

        so perhaps the ideas in this book would have some validity if net (surplus) energy was still increasing, but unfortunately it is now decreasing.

        what we are actually seeing is an economy that is creating money (Deficit Myth!) and handing it out in chunks of $1,200 or in $600 per week for a while.

        this is the Magic Money Tree in action.

        the shrinking energy economy will be supporting less and less jobs, and gov transfer payments will be more desperately needed to keep millions above the poverty line.

        capitalism will be more ineffective year by year, and MMT will be a part of the growing socialism of handouts to the poor and jobless.

        this will not end well.

        • MMT is not building a new foundation, as the apostles of the theory like to pretend, but merely holding up a tottering and crumbling mansion, built in the days of real wealth, with clamps and props, while the interior is subdivided to house ever more impoverished tenants.

        • Agreed. Economists in general, and academic economists in particular, which in includes Stephanie Kelton, tend to avoid the subject of resource depletion completely. If her book had a chapter that discussed oil prices so low that oil companies cannot economically develop new fields, I’d be a bit more confident that she knew what she was writing about. Not that I have read the book or intend to, but I am reasonably confident resource depletion is not on her agenda. Which is the top reason why we are in the mess that we are.

        • If only the payments to the people were all this is. Where do i start? All the cities and states that have suddenly had their revenue cut like half that have borrowed . They all need their cut. the zombie corps. soon the medical services as they are losing $ right and left. the universities when kids decide uh no if i cant attend summer camp its not worth it. there were no jobs waiting b4 but there was sex at college. no jobs x10 plus no sex equals no students. Thats just the guv side. The fed. Massive purchase of bonds and corps all sorts of financial instruments. And just getting started. Not to mention funding the MMT via bond purchases.
          The assumption is China comes back on line and continue to trade manufactured goods for the funny money. IMO without China accepting the magic money there is no MMT.

      • I’m not sure how Stephanie Kelton views resource depletion, but I have watched several of these MMTers over the last five years give talks and they actually do say that the amount of money creation does depend on available resources and available labor. They intend that the money creation be put back into the hands of government directly and eliminate the middle man and the attached compound usury which is a big cause of the need for constant growth to pay it back.

        Money would be created to fund projects as long as there were people needing a job and resources were available to complete these projects. Taxes would shrink the monetary base as needed and expand it with funded work projects as needed.

        I don’t think the bankers would go along with destroying their rentier gravy train and anything leaving them in control of the purse strings seems to defeat the MMT purpose. So what you might get will be a hybrid that actually speeds up the use of resources and TEOTWAWKI.

  3. Canadian dietary guidelines have removed dairy as an essential food group and lists it as an optional protein source only. By comparison, US dietary guidelines, which will be released by years end, are expected to continue to recommend 3 dairy servings per day. Four time NBA champion John Salley urges US government to ditch racist dietary guidelines. This article was released yesterday. You may find it interesting.


    “The nearly 500 health care professional signatories – including 300 physicians – cite ‘scientific evidence linking dairy products to heart disease; breast and prostate cancers; and asthma, diseases that Black Americans die from at a disproportionate rate’.”

    Improving overall health may be our best covid-19 strategy.

    Be well,

    • “Health: According to Census Bureau projections, the 2015 life expectancies at birth for blacks are 76.1 years, with 78.9 years for women, and 72.9 years for men. For non-Hispanic whites the projected life expectancies are 79.8 years, with 82.0 years for women, and 77.5 years for men. The death rate for African Americans is generally higher than whites for heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and homicide.”

      76.1 years, so this dairy issue is minor.

      health efforts to reduce the things that kill old folks are basically useless.

      most efforts should be focused on things that kill younger people, and also on things that will enable (younger) people to live healthier (better) lives.

      which goes right back to the fattty issue that has been discussed here lately.

      become a fattty, and die younger in general, and specifically be at a higher risk of a covid-19 related death.

      covid-19 is a new penalty for being overweight.

    • There is a different problem, I expect, which may be a bigger problem. Vitamin D supplementation is done with respect to dairy products in the US. In the US, both milk and yogurt are supplemented with Vitamin D, if they contain fat. Soy milk is also supplemented with Vitamin D. People who don’t drink milk or eat yogurt (and don’t eat fatty fish or consume cod liver oil) often don’t get enough Vitamin D.

      Darker skinned people tend to have lower Vitamin D levels because the melanin in their skin tends make Vitamin D production less efficient. They tend to have more need for supplementation than others. In fact, the higher rates of the diseases listed may be related to Vitamin D deficiency, rather than to milk consumption. One article I read said that blacks tended to consume less in the way of milk products, because they are lactose intolerant.

      I agree that it doesn’t make sense to recommend a high quantity of diary products in the diet, when we have significant groups who are lactose intolerant.

      But it is also important to figure out how to do Vitamin D supplementation, if the milk approach doesn’t work for many.

    • I’m not trying to knock John Salley, and I’m sure he’s a wonderful human being who has thought a lot about how to help people be healthier, but why should the government or anyone else pay attention to dietary advice from a four-time NBA champion?

      Does he have any other credentials, apart from being amazingly good at basketball that would tend to lend credence to his claim that US dietary guidelines are racist?

      John is also a vegan activist and has appeared on PETA’s testimonial videos. He has very commendably IMHO called for alternatives to massive factory farming. In December 2015, he encouraged Michelle Obama to go vegan “for the planet” – setting a lifestyle example of reducing environmental impacts from greenhouse gas release. Wearing his vegan hat, he has stated:

      “Vegan eating is not just a slam dunk for human health; it’s also the most effective way to combat climate change.”

      My question is, do the views he espouses re. veganism and the environment make him a more or a less credible spokesperson on US dietary guidelines?

      Lastly, Salley is an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry, launching his own cannabis brand Deuces22 and taking an ownership stake in the cannabis testing company GreenSpace Labs. Salley is also and advisory board member with cannabis social networking platform BudTrader.

      Although legalization activists and many marijuana users believe smoking pot has no negative effects, scientific research indicates that marijuana use can cause many different health problems.

      The short-term effects of marijuana include:
      Difficulty thinking and problem-solving
      Distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch)
      Increased heart rate
      Loss of coordination
      Problems with memory and learning
      Sometimes marijuana use can also produce anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic.

      Many cannabinoid receptors are found in the parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. When high doses of marijuana are used, usually when eaten in food rather than smoked, users can experience the following symptoms:
      Impaired memory

      Within a few minutes after smoking marijuana, the heart begins beating more rapidly and the blood pressure drops. Marijuana can cause the heartbeat to increase by 20 to 100% and blood pressure is slightly reduced.

      According to a review published in 2017, marijuana users’ risk for a heart attack ranges from four to five times higher within the first hour after smoking marijuana, compared to their general risk of a heart attack when not smoking.

      Research published in 2017 found that people who smoke large amounts of marijuana on a regular basis have reduced bone density, which can increase the risk of bone fractures.

      Smoking marijuana, even infrequently, can cause burning and stinging of the mouth and throat, and cause heavy coughing. According to a review published in 2019. scientists have found that regular marijuana smokers can experience the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers do, including:
      Daily cough and phlegm production
      Increased risk of lung infections
      More frequent acute chest illnesses

      According to a review published in 2015, one study found that marijuana smokers were three times more likely to develop cancer of the head or neck than non-smokers, but that study could not be confirmed by further analysis. Because marijuana smoke contains three times the amount of tar found in tobacco smoke and a number of carcinogens, it would seem logical to deduce that there is an increased risk of lung cancer for marijuana smokers.

      Based on the above data, the evidence is unequivocal hat consuming cannabis habitually is a great way to injure human health. My question is not whether this drug should be prohibited or restricted or commercialized, but simply, should a person who is an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry—making money out of the promotion and sale of cannabis as a recreational drug—be considered a credible source of information on any matter related to human health?

      • How to build a slave population in 2020: switch the population to a vegan diet, encourage them to smoke marijuana, and demote dairy to an optional protein source. Your slaves will be too weak, confused and disoriented to revolt.

        • What? I switched to a vegan diet and cranked out about 40km/day on a bicycle?

          The ideal slave is carb powered. It is called fossil fuels.

          Smoking weed seems a waste of time when there is a thing called awareness. Thinking is so much fun.

          • Most people don’t last more then 2 years on a Vegan diet without health issues. Sure, some do good for their entire life with supplements, but most don’t. There are no primitive vegan societies, it is a luxury of our oil age.

            • BS, I cranked about 40km/day for 3 years. And I am not talking about a slow pace, rather going full bore with a heart rate of 170-190.

              Until my work place relocated. Now it’s 10km/day.

              There isn’t one LCHF yahoo that could keep up with me. Not even close.

              Sucrose for a human is like nitromethane for a car. 🙂

            • Research by Kowalainen indicates that a vegan diet need not result in health issues if supported bicycling 40/km a day, apart from getting a bit saddle-sore from time time.

            • When I looked at mortality rates by BMI, several different studies show a “J-Shaped” mortality risk. High BMIs are a problem, but low BMIs (sub 20, or perhaps lower than that) are also a problem. Studies show that very low weight individuals are prone to more infections and other complications following surgery, for example. We hear about “frail elderly.” These people are often low in weight, having lost weight from an illness (such as cancer) or from depression.

              Mortality rates for people on vegan diets also seem to be higher than average, although I am not sure that many studies have been done.

              I think that too low weight may very well be an outcome of a vegan diet.

            • That is great that a Vegan diet works for you. But there are many more stories of how Veganism does not work. The problem with Vegans is they think their diet will work for everyone. How many supplements do you take to get the needed B vitamins? How many pounds of lettuce do you need to eat to get 4000 calories a day?

              We live in a great time where we can experiment will all types of diets and supplement with anything we want. Usually humans just had to eat what grew or lived near them.

              I don’t follow biking, but I am into Ultrarunning. There are Vegans and LCHF runners that do well on both diets. The current 100 mile record holder follows a LCHF in training, but uses Sucrose during his races, just like you describe.

      • Its better for you than booze. No one plows their 1985 datsun into a family on pot. I cant stand drunks. Potheads I can tolerate. Pot is a decent aphrodisiac. No one is really making $ on it anymore. Way way to much supply. That being said. Lots of people addicted. Is it good? No. If it keeps them of the booze or opiods its good. WAY good. Pot is not a good thing but its 10x better than any other recreational drug. Judging somones argument because they are in the industry is rather silly. Show me a industry thats squeeky clean. Uh huh.

        • No disagreement on your post. However, I will stick to booze. My Caucasian ancestors spent about six thousand years drinking it, and in the process developed a lot of tolerance for its effects mental and physical. Also, it tastes good, especially the very dry prosecco that costs me EUR 7 a bottle, and the smooth, smooth Latvian vodka at EUR 12.50 a litre. By the way, the latter is called “Laika”; it is hard not to be partial to a drink named after the first dog in space.

          However, I have no objection to people smoking whatever they wish, as long as they do not do so within smelling distance of me. Vegans, however, should be retrieved by the Mother Ship and taken back to Vega. And good riddance.

          • Now wait a second here Robert.

            I do occasionally enjoy the US and Scottish fine distillates. Yes indeed, they are vegan. 😉

            • My apologies. I did not intend to denigrate either you or the fine distillates of two countries. I’m not a whisk(e)y drinker myself, but understand the skill and loving care that goes into most good brands. Slàinte mhath!

  4. I posted a link on this thread a few days ago to a news story from Europe about some preliminary positive reports from hospital trials taking place in Italy and Spain using Ozone Therapy as a treatment for Covid-19 patients. Ozone has been used by alternative practitioners and some medical doctors as a treatment for various viral and bacterial infections and inflammatory conditions since the early 1900s. In fact Nikola Tesla obtained one of the first patents on an ozone generator in 1896. The process involves injecting a mixture of regular oxygen “O2” with a small part of ozone “O3” into the bloodstream of a patient. The practice is somewhat more recognized as a legitimate therapy in Europe than in the the USA, where it seems to be regarded by many allopathic medical practitioners as an untested fringe practice at best.

    The procedure is not medically complex, and the equipment needed is relatively cheap compared to the cost of most of today’s high-tech hospital equipment. Also the proponents of Ozone Therapy claim only very minimal side effects with no major harm to patients have ever been noted from the procedure over the many years it has been in use. The treatment is also not patentable, which is the reason many Ozone Therapy practitioners claim it has not had the large scale double-blind placebo trials run on it that would confirm to the FDA’s satisfaction that it is a viable treatment for such a wide range of diseases. The large scale, medical, double blind placebo studies and trials used to test new drugs for safety and effectiveness are very expensive to run costing many millions of dollars and are usually paid for by drug companies expecting to recoup the cost of running the trials and then to make an additional, handsome profit by patenting and selling a newly invented drug – impossible with Ozone Therapy.

    The medical doctors running the relatively small scale Italian Ozone trial (with no patients getting a placebo) recently had a paper published in the peer reviewed medical journal, International Immunopharmacology, in which they claim a high success rate treating elderly ICU patients suffering from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) using Ozone Therapy while also suggesting that other scientists follow up and do their own investigation to further confirm the positive findings from the Italian trial.

    Note that I am not a medical professional, nor do I have any academic qualifications in biological sciences to expound in any detail on how or why Ozone Therapy works or give a professional opinion as to the effectiveness of the treatment. However there is, as in most things today, information on the internet for anyone with a search engine looking for more detailed information.

    Here is the abstract from the Italian doctors’ paper as published in the journal of International Immunopharmacology:

    Oxygen-ozone (O2-O3) immunoceutical therapy for patients with COVID-19. Preliminary evidence reported



    This study evaluated the potential efficacy of a novel approach to treat COVID-19 patients, using an oxygen-ozone (O2-O3) mixture, via a process called Oxygen-Ozone- Immunoceutical Therapy. The methodology met the criteria of a novel, promising approach to treat successfully elderly COVID-19 patients, particularly when hospitalized in intensive care units (ICUs) Experimental design: We investigated the therapeutic effect of 4 cycles of O2-O3 in 50 hospitalized COVID-19 subjects suffering from acute respiratory disease syndrome (ARDS), aged more than 60 years, all males and undergoing non invasive mechanical ventilation in ICUs.

    Following O2-O3 treatment a significant improvement in inflammation and oxygenation indexes occurred rapidly and within the first 9 days after the treatment, despite the expected 14–20 days. A significant reduction of inflammatory and thromboembolic markers (CRP, IL-6, D-dimer) was observed. Furthermore, amelioration in the major respiratory indexes, such as respiratory and gas exchange markers (SatO2%, PaO2/FiO2 ratio), was reported.

    Our results show that O2-O3 treatment would be a promising therapy for COVID-19 patients. It leads patients to a fast recovery from ARDS via the improvement of major respiratory indexes and blood gas parameters, following a relatively short time of dispensed forced ventilation (about one to two weeks). This study may encourage the scientific community to further investigate and evaluate the proposed method for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

    Source with a link to download the article in full:

    • Thanks! If it works, maybe it is another inexpensive treatment to try. Trying to get the health care system to look at inexpensive treatments is sometimes a challenge. The focus is on new, more expensive drugs and new vaccines.

    • New Zealand will have over 40,000 deaths this year.
      About 30% of them will be cancer deaths. E
      very year the big C is NZ’s biggest killer by far.
      Lung cancer alone kills 1,500 to 1,800 each year, mostly caused by smoking tobacco.
      Heart disease claims more than 6000 lives every year – or one person every 90 minutes.
      And so far this year, how many NZ deaths have been listed as due to Covid-19?
      The answer is 22.

      Imagine how far the NZ Nanny State could go in curbing deaths from cancer and heart disease if Nanny banned tobacco products and forced every Kiwi to embrace a diet and exercise program to keep them fit and trim?

      In the two other “major” viral epidemics of recent decades, they lost 20 people due to swine flu in 2009 and 90 to the influenza epidemic of 1996.

      One thing that 1996, 2009 and 2020 have in common is that they were at or around the time of solar minimum, when sunspots are rare. Precise minima are recorded as having occurred in August 1996 and December 2008. The latest Solar Cycle 25 minimum is too early to call as yet, but the consensus prediction is for April 2020 (plus/minus six months).

      Does our star influence diseases here on earth? Apparently, some of our ancestors thought something similar. Rampaging around online, I read that the English word influenza to describe a specific infection dates to the mid 18th century and was adopted from the Italian word for ‘influence’, from medieval Latin influentia, which was an Italian folk word that attributed colds, cough, and fever to the influence of the stars. Later the term evolved into influenza del freddo—“influence of the cold.” The term was was applied specifically to an influenza epidemic which began in Italy in 1743.

      Was 1743 a solar minimum, I hear you all asking. Good question. It might well have been. It is established that Solar Cycle 1 began with the solar minimum of February 1755. Solar Cycles average about 11 years, so 1743 was probably quite close to the minimum, but no cigar. The problem is, the more data we gather and examine on diseases and solar cycles, the less conclusive the correlations become. Still, it’s a good game. There’s a lot of “play” in it.

    • Good luck! Now, we will get to see that this approach doesn’t really fix the problem either. Instead, imports become an increasing problem, as do lost jobs.

  5. Wow, we are going to get our clock cleaned. In our neck of the woods here in CA,
    Fri 104/70, Sat 102/69, Sun 102/71, M 104/71, T 107/71, W 104/66, TH 103/67, F 102/65, S 98/62
    So not until next Saturday will our daytime high be below 100 or the overnight low be below 65. Ouch, good thing we a quad mini split AC system and back up generator. Good luck to those with weak AC systems or can’t afford AC or if the power goes out due to a fire or threat of fire.

    • Those daytime temperatures are scorching. I wish you luck surviving them. But your nights at the Hotel California are blessedly cool.

      Here in Kyoto we have enjoying daytime highs of around 95ºF and nighttime lows of 77ºF and sometimes remaining above 80ºF for the past couple of weeks since the end of the rainy season, along with high humidity levels that are not fit for man nor beast.

    • You are correct that it is in your neck of the woods.
      Meanwhile Greenland is adding huge amounts of ice to its ice sheet at the beginning of its summer melt season. 4 GTons in one day where normally it would be losing 4 GTons per day in summer. This is a record uptick.
      As always, local records will be broken….only cumulative records matter.
      Here in the southeast, we are having a cool summer.

      • There was a big snowfall event in Greenland in early June but we are a long way into the summer melt season now. Greenland’s 2020 ice-loss has so far been significantly worse than the 1980 to 2010 average but not as bad as some years in the past decade, thanks in part to that snow.

        Overall Arctic ice-melt was looking pretty catastrophic in July but has slowed since, so that it has now fallen into second place behind 2012. This is more or less what it did in 2019, which was unexpected at that time.

        It gives one cause to hope that perhaps there are poorly understood negative feedbacks making the ice more resilient than a simple eyeballing of the yoy melting trend-line had implied up until last year.

        Having had so much open water up there relative to high albedo ice in June and July when solar radiation is at its zenith is still a concern though and Greenland may have crossed the rubicon:

        “Greenland’s glaciers have passed a tipping point… where the snowfall that replenishes the ice sheet each year cannot keep up with the ice that is flowing into the ocean from glaciers.”


        • “It gives one cause to hope that perhaps there are poorly understood negative feedbacks making the ice more resilient than a simple eyeballing of the yoy melting trend-line had implied up until last year.”

          yes, the entire hypercomplex chaaotic solar/global weather system is poorly understood.

          I bet that Judith Curry would agree.

  6. “Rarely has the metaphor been more apt: Washington is fiddling while America burns. Congress and the Trump administration are barely negotiating anymore while unemployment remains at levels rarely seen since the Great Depression.

    “Do not be fooled by the stock market’s vitality (which reflects the strength of a handful of stocks that now dominate the indexes): The conditions for tens of millions of Americans are bleak, with few jobs, low incomes and a soaring number of business failures. And despite these emergency conditions — worse than during the crisis of 2008 — Washington simply cannot get its act together.”


    • ““For the first time in U.S. history, American consumers are facing an imminent economic collapse because of political gridlock in Washington D.C.,” said LegalShield CEO Jeff Bell.

      ““The earlier actions of Congress and the Federal Reserve forestalled a full meltdown of the U.S. economy, but without additional economic aid now our data suggest that we are on the precipice of an epic wave of small business and personal bankruptcies.”


      • “Over the past few weeks, the expiration of the extra $600 in enhanced unemployment insurance… has dominated headlines.

        “But it’s not just the enhanced benefit that is on the line — millions could run out of jobless benefits altogether by the end of the year if Congress does not pass legislation extending eligibility, according to an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.”


        • According to the article,

          The CARES Act substantially increased the number of weeks those out of work can collect jobless benefits, from most states offering 26 weeks to all states providing a total of at least 39 weeks. However, that 13 week extension, called Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and the provision extending 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to gig and contract workers and the self-employed, called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), expire at the end of December 2020.

          This is especially important in states like Georgia and Florida that only paid benefits for very short periods, before the extension. Other short benefit states are North Carolina, Alabama, and Kansas.

          • yes, apparently it is now the duty of the gov to provide huge handouts to the newly unemployed, perhaps indefinitely.

            Trump is not a conservative and the D side is socialist.

            bring it on.

            work it out, and increase the level of socialist transfer programs.

            in a shrinking energy economy, capitalist ideas are much less effective and socialism perhaps can extend the time for most Americans to stay above the poverty line.

            • US (and European/UK) politics, social structure and daily life will most probably become much more like that of Latin America or Africa.

              Some way will have to be found to pacify the increasing mass of unemployed and impoverished people and maintain existing institutions.

              So this necessarily implies some form of ‘socialism’ ie life support detached from any labour performed by the recipient, and for companies and institutions regardless of their ability to generate any profit. It also implies a very heavy-handed state presence in all aspects of life, until the state itself collapses.

              However, the core ideas of Socialism (redistribution of ‘wealth’, and mass provision of public services, usually employing perhaps the majority of the population) – just as with Capitalism itself – are themselves poorly adapted to dealing with a crumbling industrialised system (and ecosystem) which is ever less able to produce adequately the goods and services necessary to life..

              19th-century ideas can only fit poorly, if at al, with 21st-century reality.

              Neither Socialism nor Capitalism can really function, they are both outmoded, ‘dead men walking”: but it’s a characteristic of human beings to think -if they think at all – in such familiar frameworks long past the time when they were useful.

      • “For the first time in U.S. history, American consumers are facing an imminent economic collapse because of political gridlock”

        If we are only avoiding an economic collapse because the government is sending out currency, I would say the real economy has collapsed already.

    • Perhaps the strength of the stock market has encouraged complacency. Also, with “regular” unemployment benefits available until December, people are not necessarily penniless.

  7. “…, the Federal Reserve didn’t just maintain corporate America’s access to credit — it allowed it to enjoy historically cheap borrowing costs in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression… All else equal, it is a good thing that the Fed saved Wall Street.

    “Unfortunately, though, all else is not equal — because Congress failed to do Main Street the same favor.

    “The CARES Act provided America’s small-business sector with significant support. But Congress failed to make that support an open-ended entitlement for all U.S. businesses and attached strings to the program that rendered it useless for the most vulnerable small firms.”


    • “Thierry Hombert [is] selling his Paris home to make ends meet. While millions of employees across Europe have been cast lifelines by government furlough programs meant to limit mass unemployment, Mr. Hombert and legions of other workers on precarious irregular contracts were excluded from that support.

      ““It’s people like us who are falling through the cracks — and we are many,” said Mr. Hombert, 50…”

    • “”The confusing patchwork of bans, quarantines and uncoordinated international testing and tracing measures, have deterred many people from traveling at all with the peak summer 2020 travel season all but being wiped out,” it added.”

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