Thursday, February 27, 2020

putting COVID-19 in perspective

As several docs on YouTube have been saying, keep in mind that, compared to COVID-19, the regular old flu virus is doing far worse damage around the world right now. In the US, the current stats for all types of influenza (CDC weekly report) are these:

Raw number of hospitalizations = 280,000
Confirmed illness = 29,000,000 people (you read that right)
Deaths from influenza this flu season = 16,000

Why aren't we freaking out about the flu?

Anyway, I hope this makes you feel better. The above information is not, however, meant to make you feel so comfortable that you become complacent and oblivious. Infection control is actually something you should practice at all times, and for the most part, it comes down to basic hygiene and common sense. Wash your hands often; disinfect surfaces with which you're in frequent contact; stay away from sick people. The CDC has not been recommending the use of masks, but as discussed earlier, a mask might help reduce the probability of spreading aerosolized pathogens through coughing and sneezing. That's about as much as a mask can be expected to do. I don't have a mask, and at this point, all the local stores and pharmacies are out of them, so I couldn't get one even if I wanted one (which, to be honest, I don't). But for those of you who do have masks, keep in mind that they're not magical talismans, shielding you from all pathogens. They're only one of several measures you can take to reduce the possibility of infection. Stay safe, stay sane, and stay healthy.


Anonymous said...

Hey Kevin, I do not get the flu comparison. As far as I know, the flu season that America is experiencing now is the worst in modern times, and has a CFR of .1 or so. It has an R0 of about 1.1? This new thing seems to have a CFR of 3% and r0 of at least 2, although there is a preprint saying that it is as high as 6.6. Either way, those are panic numbers. A flu that's 30 times as strong and spreads at least twice as quickly is going to make flu season go from difficult to impossible. Ever read stories from the 1880s and the trouble they had with sicknesses shutting down towns and cities on a regular basis? We could be headed for that sort of life again. Some kind of bug just hit our family actually. The local clinic turned us away, the local health office referred us to the national office which refused us treatment on the basis that we had no travel to Wuhan. We all turned out fine though, and it put my keto into overdrive. It took me about a month and a half to lose 6 kilos, and I lost 5 more in the two weeks I have had this thing.


Kevin Kim said...

Yikes, Ross. Get well soon!

Kevin Kim said...


As for your first remark re: not getting the flu comparison: I was simply going by raw numbers. Here's an article that begins with the same comparison. Opening paragraphs:

The new coronavirus outbreak has made headlines in recent weeks, but there's another viral epidemic hitting countries around the world: flu season. But how do these viruses compare, and which one is really more worrisome?

So far, the new coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, has led to more than 75,000 illnesses and 2,000 deaths, primarily in mainland China. But that's nothing compared with the flu, also called influenza. In the U.S. alone, the flu has already caused an estimated 26 million illnesses, 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Later in the article, things like R-naught factors do get discussed, so the piece does take a nuanced view.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kevin, thanks for your well wishes!

I noticed that the article you linked to is dated for 7 days ago? I think that is important for a couple reasons. As most laymen, I sort of scour the internet for reliable info. It is a hopeless quest, but its good for getting a general feel for things. I noticed when this thing started the experts in general seemed pretty sanguine about things. The first semi expert ( to lose his cool was ceaselessly bullied by a lot of others. As time went on the bullying became desperate but then collapsed. All the experts I read seem to agree with him now. In general the consensus seems to be that this is straight holy mother of fuck! territory. Although most of them put it more sensibly. But you can see the panic at the corner of their collective beady little eyes.

I think the upshot is that if this thing becomes endemic like the flu we are absolutely and totally boned. When a student at my school gets the flu it is mandatory they spend 5 days at home. The teacher has to visit them to give assignments and check in on the student. This year in one class we had 11 students absent from one class at the same time. The total number of missed days due to flu was really high. It makes running the school really difficult. Now imagine the effect if the sickness was twice as infectious and kills or puts all the old people on ventilators for a couple months. As a bonus it seems to persist longer than the flu so rather than 5 days let us say 10. I just do not see how you make a public school or even big corporations work in the face of something that spreadable and lethal.

With this in mind I am preparing a little differently than what most people suggest. To confront this new mad max level flu threat I have constructed a duct tape loincloth and goggles with barbed wire spikes. fashion is important and if nothing blocks this thing then really why bother? I also constructed an Aztec club, but instead of wood and sharp bits of obsidian on the edges I used cardboard and broken shards of JAV DVDs. 5 minutes after quarantine is established I will wander the abandoned city looking to construct my own version of the kingdom the last madmax villain had constructed. With my new keto body I hope to fit the role!

One more note have you seen this guy? I love his updates.


Kevin Kim said...

You sound prepared!