Perspective On The Coronavirus: Sanity Check

Regular readers: no post on Saturday.

Here’s a nifty plot showing the percent of the world’s population rubbed out by various epidemics. The percent population makes sense as a natural measure of disruption: the higher the number, the greater influence on those left alive, and even those yet to be born.

The list of epidemics is from Wikipedia, so only the Lord knows the accuracy of it. A glance through shows no obvious whoppers.

There is uncertainty in all these numbers. Whoever made the entry for the Spanish flu, for instance, took his number from among the higher estimates (some estimates are about half of this).

I plotted the median date of each plague, epidemic, and pandemic against the median of the estimated killed. For the world population estimates, I again used Wiki and Google. I used the R function approxfun to interpolate missing numbers (feeding it with logged population and then exponentiating), and used a sanity check plot to see how well the extrapolation worked (just dandy).

Somebody was epidemic happy on Wiki, for after about 1900 or so, clusters of deaths of sizes even in the 20s were counted as “epidemics.” This is silly, so I only used data where the body count is at least 2,000.

This illustrates another point. Measurement availability bias. There are many, many more observations from modern times than in historical. This is for two reasons: ignorance on the part of Wiki editors, and indifference or bad memories—meaning lack of records from earlier times. We’re much more sensitive to death than our forebears. It’s only we moderns who are hypernumeric, assigning hard quantitative value to everything.

That’s the kind of thing you find out when you go back to civilization: what date it is and time of day, how many mile from Fort Leavenworth and how much the sutlers is getting for tobacco there, how many beers Flanagan drunk and how many times Hoffmann did it with a harlot. Numbers, numbers, I had forgot how important they was. —Little Big Man

This chart, then, is only illustrative of major events, deaths on scales large enough our ancestors thought to record. Since we lack early records on death counts, it will seem as if death and destruction from disease occur more frequently now. This might even be true, but we can’t know it. There is certainly the possibility that because there are so many of use alive now, the chance of at least some people coming down with a fatal cough is larger than in historical times.

There are many plagues recorded without death counts. Only just over half the noted epidemics have death tolls. Early ones, such as the 412 BC epidemic, are listed as having happened, but we (or I) don’t know how many died. The plot is therefore incomplete.

Some of the events are far spread out in time, like the smallpox pandemic, which ran from 1877 to 1977, but which is plotted as happening in just one year midway through. In one sense this is fair, because the huge body count needs to be emphasized. In another sense it is not fair, because the deaths ebbed and flowed over a century.

Pandemics were also harder to come by in ancient days, owning the lack of widespread travel. That doesn’t mean death didn’t have a grand old time. Just look at that Plague of Justinian, which almost matched the scale of the Black Death.

At last, here it is: click here to embiggen.

It’s there, but you can’t see 2009’s swine flu pandemic, which whacked 364,000 (estimated range 151,700-575,400), which was 0.005% of the population. You can see, barely, the 1957-1958 pandemic, which killed 2 million.

SARS? Break out your electron scanning microscope and zoom in on 2003: 0.00001% of the world’s population bought it then. Zika? Which I wouldn’t mention, except that the headline to death ratio for this disease might best them all: 53 dead, untold numbers of headlines.

The other spike, oddly positioned at 1960, is the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which has killed 32 million, and is still going strong. It’s at 1960 because Wiki insists it began in 1920, and I picked the median between that and 2020. Well, HIV is a very political disease, and in politics common sense is verboten. Ignoring all that, the wee blip to the left of the HIV line is the 1958 pandemic.

The coronavirus panicdemic of 2020 is at the end. So far it has killed about 0.0003% of the world’s population. But many experts (with wondrous credentials) say it’ll slaughter at least a million, if not more.

Suppose it’s Spanish Flu strength and make it 60 million. That would make it 0.8% of the population. Whereas the Spanish Flu itself muertaed 3%. Proving the Chinese are wimps next to Spaniards.

All right, that’s too many years ago. How about since 1900, and cutting out the smallpox. Which doesn’t count because—well, because the media has never heard of it. I made this one lower-res, but you can still embiggen.

The bubonic plague from 1908 comes into focus. Probably nobody remembers it anyway, even though it assassinated 12 million. If they didn’t remember that, who’s even heard the term encephalitis lethargica? A.k.a. sleeping sickness. Whacked 1.5 million.

The ’58 Asian flu is now visible (2 million bodies), as is the Hong Kong chop suey fluy from 1968-1969 (1 million bodies).

HIV/AIDS is, of course, more concentrated in the 1980s, but it’s not shown there.

The Wuhan flu—anybody sensing a pattern here—is at the end. Can you see it? No?

Let’s cut out HIV, which can be controlled by avoiding such things as sodomy and dirty drug needles, and also cut out the Spanish Flu. Let’s look only at the post-WWII era, the era of sparkling hospitals and sterling medical care.

Enlarge.

Ebola has arrived! Many blood-curdling journalism pieces on that one. Movies, too, if memory serves. Just one drop of infected blood is enough to make you bleed out. They said. Here, ebola has to share billing with the Haitian cholera outbreak, which edged out ebola in body count: 10 thousand for ebola, about 12 thousand for cholera. Don’t count out the classics!

What happened to SARS in 2004? Fairly decent media panic for that one. No Pulitzers or anything, but a respectable number of what-about-the-children crying coverage. Not enough of a corpse pile to show. It didn’t even make 1,000! An anemic 772.

We can finally see our latest Chinese export at the end, for now tying ebola/cholera.

Coronavirus will certainly increase. Our naive model (which will be updated next Tuesday) has total deaths now about 58 thousand. Probably too small, because we haven’t hit the peak yet. We’re at 25 thousand now. Quadruple that to 100 thousand. If that holds, even the nobody-panicked Swine Flu’s lower estimate would still emerge victorious.

The coronavirus columnists’ cataclysm we know. Yet why didn’t we see the same level of flaming hair hysteria for Swine Flu? Nobody’s scared of pigs, from which comes bacon, but people are alarmed by bats? Twitter? Increase in the power of the matriarchy? Different American President? All of these? None? Others? Tell me. I’m listening.

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65 Thoughts

  1. “Yet why didn’t we see the same level of flaming hair hysteria for Swine Flu?”

    Elementary my dear Briggs: “Different American President….”

    Dem Panic. Spread fear and nurture hatred. Destroy the economy. Poof! All the brewing scandals are gone! Biden bribed by Ukraine? Gone! The CIA/FBI/State/White House manipulation of foreign espionage partners in a failed attempt to frame Trump as an “agent of Putin?” Poof! Gone! Biden a decrepit doddering senile groper? Gone!

    There’s an election coming and it was not looking good for them.

    Just as all their schemes though, unintended consequences will prevail.

    Graph it!

  2. Briggs
    Privately you asked me “WHY I AREN’T PANICKING”
    The answer is simple.
    Because I read your blog and I understand a little bit about statistics courtesy of you.
    Keep up the good work.

    Cheers

    H

  3. Your perspective is heartening. So few know much about which they write.

    “Embiggen” makes us wince; “enlarge” far less so.

    Comments on your recent story about the appalling church you visited in San Francisco lacked empathy. Your depression is understandable.
    The Church of Grace, a cathedral, about a mile from your offending church, has (a copy of) one of the most beautiful pieces of art in North America: “the doors of paradise”. Don’t think of going anywhere else in the short term. It is an incredibly soothing experience, up on top of the hill. Few were there when we last visited.

    Please notify me when your new book is a reality (one only, hard copy please).

  4. People who can actually asses risk by something other than the word of the Devil Worshippers of CNBC and CNN and the latest internet “health site” are not panicking (Tiny number, I should point out.). Again, as I have said before, SARS CoV 2 is a disease, Covid 19 is a political destruction tactic being tested, quite successfully, on the entire world. It is amazing how STUPID the public is. I swear, we are in the 1500s and shamans rule the world. Science was skewered and eaten for lunch to keep the idiots quiet and conforming. It’s certainly working. Humans are completely superstitious morons. Just type “health remedies” into Google and you are met with the ignorance of ages.

    HIV is completely political. Interesting that wiki says it started in 1920. That would mean that the “liberation of perversion” was why it spread far and wide to the point it could not be hidden anymore, so that blood is ON THE LIBERALS. Got it? Actually, doesn’t matter. HIV/AIDS was the death squad the left needed and the money suck when drugs were developed. Wash your frigging hands but have sex with two dozen perverts at will. How completely utterly incomprehensibly brain dead humans are.

    Ebola was fatal, expecially the Marburg variant. That killed up to 90 percent of those who have it. Interestingly enough, we have always exaggerated death rates. Bet you thought tetnus caused immediate lock jaw and death. That was what parents told kids. WRONG. Survival rate is over 50 percent in countries with good health care. The only disease that is fatal at near 100 percent is rabies if no vaccination is given. Yet people remain terrified of the diseases that probably won’t kill them as quickly as their car will. Human risk evaluation died with the industrial revolution and remains dead to this day. It’s 100 percent emotional, no thought whatsoever.

  5. This one is more exciting because it is so infectious that a cough can/will infect everyone within earshot. This virulence means infections spread at a mysterious rate called “exponential” which is a new word – never before observed. Finally, the greatest threat is aimed squarely at baby boomers (and their parents). Anything that impacts baby boomers is still the most significant event of its kind, ever.

  6. “British scientist Neil Ferguson ignited the world’s drastic response to the novel Wuhan coronavirus when he published the bombshell report predicting 2.2 million Americans and more than half a million Brits would be killed. After both the U.S. and U.K. governments effectively shut down their citizens and economies, Ferguson is walking back his doomsday scenarios.”

    Oops!

    That whole “flatten the curve” thing. You know, so the hospitals won’t be “overwhelmed.” Yeah, forget it. I misplaced a couple decimal places in my “models.” It’s not 20 “million” dead, it’s 20 “thousand.” You can open up the economy again. Thanks!

    “Ferguson is now retracting his modeling, saying he feels “reasonably confident” our health care system can cope when the predicted peak of the epidemic arrives in a few weeks. Testifying before the U.K.’s parliamentary select committee on science and technology on Wednesday, Ferguson said he now predicts U.K. deaths from the disease will not exceed 20,000, and could be much lower.”

    https://thefederalist.com/2020/03/26/the-scientist-whose-doomsday-pandemic-model-predicted-armageddon-just-walked-back-the-apocalyptic-predictions/

    “The Imperial College report was also the basis for the modeling used by the website COVID Act Now, which local and state officials in the U.S. then used to issue “shelter-in-place” mandates. COVID Act Now, which was founded by a handful of Democratic activists in Silicon Valley, is an online mapping tool that generates models predicting coronavirus hospitalizations, which have also already proved to be wildly inaccurate.”

    Never mind….!

  7. I should point out that the ‘data’ will be getting more and more corrupt (i.e. manipulated in line with what They want it to be) as matters proceed. the most obvious one would be which deaths are attributed to this virus – by adding people *with* the disease to people who died *from* the disease.

    When the disease is much commoner than the deaths from it, with lots of people infected, but only a small proportion dying; this can inflate deaths attributed to the disease massively – because the elderly sick people dying of the corvids are people who are at highest risk of dying from all the many other things that kill people such as cancer, strikes, heart attacks, dementia and other infections (ie. conflating killed-by the birdemic of corvids, versus killed-while-showing-evidence-of a corvid attack).

    To be honest, I think the Global Establishment now have enough power simply to invent whatever numbers they like best. Who would contradict them – who would believe any contradiction? They could tell us that there are corvid-ravaged corpses heaped to the sky in burning pyres situated in national parks, and now we couldn’t check for ourselves – not being allowed out of the house, nor to take long journeys, nor to visit remote countryside.

    In sum, we are reaching the point when statistical analysis will be placed in the GIGA situation.

  8. Dr Ioannidis anticipated your headline:

    “Perspectives on the Pandemic” with Dr. John Ioannidis

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEr4rmjwd0g

    “In this extended interview, Dr. John Ioannidis of Stanford University cautions that we do not have reliable data to make long-term decisions about COVID-19, and that an extended lockdown might have far graver effects than the disease itself.

    “Dr. Ioannidis is Professor of Medicine and of Epidemiology and Population Health at Stanford University and Co-Director of the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS).”

  9. Dr. Briggs,

    All this is well and good, but for me it does not shed much light on the critical question(s).

    What is the root cause of the response that has been implemented all round the world. Clearly the raw numbers do not in any way justify what has happened.

    Maybe we would have seen some countries implement such measures knowing the economic destruction and associated human suffering and death that would result. But all have used the same approach.

    For me, it is impossible, and I do mean actually impossible, for all countries to arrive at the same solution based solely in the raw numbers. Everyone knows that the case rate is off by factors of 1000 from all previous experiences. I also consider it impossible that all the world governments that have joined in have done so merely/simply as a part of a totally baseless panic attack. World-grade governments and organizations do not create baseless panic attacks.

    Maybe I have not looked in the correct places, but the crucial scientific/health aspects that would provide defense of the implemented response, have not been clearly spelled out.

    I have finally decided, after being confused for about a month, that it is the extent of the severe illness of those that develop the sickness that is the missing piece. I might be wrong, again. It happens.

    That illness seems to require significantly more intense medical attention and hospitalization and specialized equipment than previous illnesses of a similar type. If that is the case, what I need to be looking at is the HR, the Hospitalization Rate.

    Also, if that is the case, why have we not been so informed? Maybe we have, but it is far from clear to me that we have been. The public focus is almost entirely on the numbers of cases and deaths.

    Andy Cuomo has from time to time, using what at the times seemed to be greatly inflated numbers, focused on this aspect. Maybe he is right, but I think he should have started earlier, if he was aware of the real problem.

    ps
    Now that the 2009-2010 situation has been brought back to light, I do vaguely recall that whenever pork, especially bacon, was on the menu there were light-hearted comments about ‘catching’ the swine flu.

    pps
    It is ironic that the ’shortages’ of masks can be traced to the secret 2009-2010 situation. While that was going in the complete absence of any public acknowledgement that the regularly-scheduled flu season was experiencing an upgrade, the masks in the national medical/pandemic stockpile (I did not know we had such a thing) were all used up. The Obama administration failed to re-order. I’m guessing that won’t happen this time 🙂 Actually, I’m expecting millions of left overs.

    ppps
    Why is Germany having so few deaths per case??

  10. Perhaps the graph should only include the past 20 years and have that ordinary yearly killer “influenza” added for comparisons. Thanks for the numbers.

  11. The coronavirus panicdemic of 2020 is at the end. So far it has killed about 0.0003% of the world’s population. But many experts (with wondrous credentials) say it’ll slaughter at least a million, if not more.

    When that doesn’t happen, the experts and politicians will take credit that their mitigation efforts worked! You and everyone on here have pointed this out. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

    As a counter to this argument, I note that the Japanese, the Mexicans, the Indians, and everyone else are going on with life and the sky is not falling.

  12. “World-grade governments and organizations do not create baseless panic attacks.”

    Wow! Haven’t been paying attention for the last couple decades have we?

    “New York City underwater? Gas over $9 a gallon? A carton of milk costs almost $13? Welcome to June 12, 2015. Or at least that was the wildly-inaccurate version of 2015 predicted by ABC News exactly seven years ago. Appearing on Good Morning America in 2008, Bob Woodruff hyped Earth 2100, a special that pushed apocalyptic predictions of the then-futuristic 2015.

    “The segment included supposedly prophetic videos, such as a teenager declaring, “It’s June 8th, 2015. One carton of milk is $12.99.” (On the actual June 8, 2015, a gallon of milk cost, on average, $3.39.) Another clip featured this prediction for the current year: “Gas reached over $9 a gallon.”

    https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/scott-whitlock/2015/06/12/flashback-abcs-08-prediction-nyc-under-water-climate-change-june

    Actual “world-grade governments” have been pushing a “forecast-based” fantasy to generate panic in the citizenry for a couple decades.

  13. This virus is the latest invisible weapon fired against Trump in the continuing coup.

    The Russian collusion was invisible as were the articles of Impeachment; No there there in either former coup attempt.

    ABS wonders if Trump is woke to the serial coup attempts yet, this one from the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service which, we can safely assume, is as worthy of belief as The CIA

    John Rappoport’s Blog is another (This one of course) sane island in the crazy seven seas of the establishment (Govt and media)

  14. Flattening the curve is cultural country song appropriation with, of course, the attendant error.

    Straightening the curves and flattening the hills apples only to “Good Old Boys” by Waylon Jennings

  15. Not to worry it will all be deemed a great success and even if a bit
    overstated will serve to prepare the oyster bed for the next new and
    improved pandemic that’s trotted out of a soup bowel. The really
    good news is that legislation curbing your right to assembly, habeas
    corpus, and indefinite detention will be on the books ready to serve
    the needs of the greater mollusk community.

  16. Malaria is a chronic epidemic and doesn’t make the headlines, but some medical historians estimate that malaria has killed 10% of humanity; that is, one out of every 10 people who have ever been born.

    Wiki reports:

    The WHO estimates that in 2018 there were 228 million new cases of malaria resulting in 405,000 deaths/ The majority of cases (65%) occur in children under 15 years old.

    WHO also estimates that during the first half of the 20th century, the world sustained around 2 million deaths from malaria each year, again most of them children. However, India alone experienced more than 100 million annual malaria cases as recently as 1962 (before DDT was first widely used to kill mosquitoes).

    Malaria causes weakness and immune system complications including pneumonia and kidney failure. Those attendant mortalities may not be attributed to the causal malaria.

    Malaria has affected our DNA. Some gene lines have evolved resistance to the disease, such as sickle cell anemia.

  17. Ioannidis – “…an extended lockdown might have far greater effects than the disease…”

    Isn’t that equivalent to “…might not have …”

    How much do we really know about this virus, how contagious, and all the effects?

    Death rate is relatively high — 1+% of those infected, weighted to the older but not limited there. To use Briggs’ Minimax example of driving: For those that drive to & from work every week day that’s roughly experiencing a traffic accident with severity of producing life-ending, or crippling, effects every three to six months. If much younger & healthier maybe every couple of years. If THAT was the real risk of driving oneself you know that Mass transit would be used orders of magnitude more than now.

    For a sizable minority (20%?) that get severe infections that damage lung tissue—is that reversible? Some reports indicate this is permanent. That for a much larger population than those killed.

    Even for those that recover, the burden on hospital resources is far greater than for flu because the recovery time is orders of magnitude greater.

    This is a war of sorts with killed & wounded—citing casualty statistics based on only death figures misrepresents the effects.

    And we are still learning basic features and effects of this — we don’t necessarily know what we don’t know.

  18. If you actually click through to the newscientist article (referenced by thefederalist) about Ferguson’s model, he is not retracting it. He is saying that given the actions taken by the UK, he expects them to be able to handle the case load:

    “He said that expected increases in National Health Service capacity and ongoing restrictions to people’s movements make him “reasonably confident” the health service can cope when the predicted peak of the epidemic arrives in two or three weeks. UK deaths from the disease are now unlikely to exceed 20,000, he said, and could be much lower.

    The need for intensive care beds will get very close to capacity in some areas, but won’t be breached at a national level, said Ferguson. The projections are based on computer simulations of the virus spreading, which take into account the properties of the virus, the reduced transmission between people asked to stay at home and the capacity of hospitals, particularly intensive care units.”

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2238578-uk-has-enough-intensive-care-units-for-coronavirus-expert-predicts/#ixzz6HufesPm3

    But I guess that’s too much to ask.

  19. A better comparison of pandemics would be to judge deaths as of the same time past the start. It’s stupid to compare the HIV pandemic at this point in time to the coronavirus after just 3 months. What was the body count on HIV/AIDS after just 3 months? I would bet it was much, much lower. Not that I think this coronavirus will exceed HIV. But just a naive comparison.

    Speaking of naive, if you had applied the same type of naive model that Briggs is applying to coronavirus to HIV in 1987, it would have predicted total infections of 200K:
    https://mobile.twitter.com/CT_Bergstrom/status/1241551432811085825

    Not claiming that’s the exact same model, but it’s similar.

    Briggs on the one hand caveats his terrible under predictions endlessly to cover himself, when it already missed very badly from just two weeks ago (see here: https://wmbriggs.com/post/29734/), and yet claims supreme knowledge of the future of this virus, calling others “sissies.” I’m not saying this will be a big deal relative to historical pandemics, but I am saying that Briggs acts much more confidently in his proclamations about this coronavirus than his models warrant. Maybe his latest predictions will be true; I don’t know, but I hope so. But Briggs doesn’t know either.

  20. If you actually read through the study, it’s very clear that Ferguson is trying to save face with his response. The study predicts that if extreme measures are taken for five months, cases will peak and 20,000 deaths are possible.

    That’s not the same thing as what he says now, which is that 20,000 deaths or less are expected at the peak, which is now two weeks away.

    Here’s more detail from someone who read the whole thing:
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/did-fergason-really-just-reiterate-what-he-had-already-said

  21. Dave and Josh, from looking at the Imperial College paper, I do suspect that a lot of people claiming that he has walked back his predictions are confusing his idea of mitigation strategies vs. suppression strategies and getting it wrong this way, and I also am not sure that what you’re saying Josh about 5 months is entirely correct for reasons I’ll explain below. From the standpoint of what he defines as mitigation, 20,000 would be a walk back, even with the mitigation in place. He does provide tables which show how to get to 21,000 deaths with suppression, though it is counting on the idea of the UK continuing with their nationwide shutdown for about 13 out of the next 24 months, something which I am unsure was made clear in his remarks or if the context of the discussion even necessitated him making that clear. Nevertheless, let’s give the benefit of the doubt on that point and I would say so far we can consider his remarks consistent.

    However, there is still one problem, and this is what I said I’d explain below. I don’t think the paper says that suppression must be in place for 5 months *before* the peak, but rather at that point it’s assuming they’re in place for 5 months which covers time before and after. More than that, the paper actually calls for much longer periods of suppression. Getting to 20,000 death even with suppression in place is, in his tables, based on a lower R0 value. He gave projections for R0 of 2.2, 2.4, and 2.6. For an R0 of 2.6, he give a way to get the death total as low as 12,000, but only by continuing suppression policies for more than 20 months out of the next two years. The best case for an R0 of 2.6 he gives is 16,000 deaths at *still* more than 20 months over two years. However, he said that it is not practical to keep the UK locked down for even just 12 to 18 months, so it seems that he couldn’t be basing his expectation of under 20,000 deaths on the idea of maintaining a 20 month suppression strategy – AND on top of all of this, he said that the R0 now appears to be greater than 3, meaning that it might not even be possible to get as low as 20,000 deaths according to the strictest suppression strategy the original paper projects for.

    Now I don’t have his model so this is entirely my own speculation, but if we plot the lowest possible death count against the R0 value, it appears to closely follow an exponential trend. Doing a regression on these values and extrapolating, the curve hits almost exactly at 20,000 deaths as the lowest possible value for an R0 of 3, but he says it is now thought to be more than 3.

    So although I agree that the most common claim being made that he has walked back his projections appears to be wrong, there still appears to very much be a problem in that according to his original data, for an R0 of 3+ it appears to be either impossible or difficult beyond what Dr. Ferguson believes is practically possible to achieve a death total of lower than 20,000, which he is saying is now expected even as he’s also saying that he doesn’t expect the UK to keep these strategies in place for even 12-18 months.

  22. Ioannidis – “…an extended lockdown might have far greater effects than the disease…”
    Isn’t that equivalent to “…might not have …”
    How much do we really know about this virus, how contagious, and all the effects?
    Death rate is relatively high — 1+% of those infected, weighted to the older but not limited there.

    The death rate is not that. That’s the death rate of confirmed (tested) cases. For every case tested, there are and unknown number that aren’t tested. So the death rate is the total number of deaths DUE TO COVID divided by the estimated number of total cases. For example, there were 61,000 flu-related deaths in the US in the 2017/2018 flu season and an estimated 35,000,000 flu illnesses.

    Saying we should have a lockdown because we don’t know the virulence of this disease is a posture and not supported by data. As an alternative to this posture, consider all the countries not freaking out about this who aren’t making a pyramid of dead bodies due to this disease: Japan, Mexico, India, all of Africa, LatAm, etc. Japan is particularly interesting because it has the same median age and smoking rate as Italy, yet no one is freaking out and the disease is not bad there. The trains are full and everyone’s going to work. It’s almost as if the manful, stiff upper lip approach is the best one, not our effeminate shrieking.

  23. Dr Birx, on the CDC task force, says, “Relax! Don’t panic! The models are nonsense!” (Summarize.)

    “DR. DEBORAH BRIX: I’m sure you have seen the recent report out of the U.K. about them adjusting completely their needs. This is really quite important. If you remember, that was the report that says there would be 500,000 deaths in the U.K. and 2.2 million deaths in the United States. They’ve adjusted that number in the U.K. to 20,000. Half a million to 20,000. We are looking at that in great detail to understand that adjustment.”

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2020/03/26/dr_birx_coronavirus_data_doesnt_match_the_doomsday_media_predictions_or_analysis.html

    “Models are models. We are — there is enough data of the real experience with the coronavirus on the ground to really make these predictions much more sound. So when people start talking about 20% of a population getting infected, it’s very scary, but we don’t have data that matches that based on our experience.

    “And the situation about ventilators. We are reassured in meeting with our colleagues in New York that there are still I.C.U. Beds remaining and still significant — over 1,000 or 2,000 ventilators that have not been utilized.

    “Please for the reassurance of people around the world, to wake up this morning and look at people talking about creating DNR situations, Do Not Resuscitate situations for patients, there is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion. You can be thinking about it in the hospital. Certainly, hospitals talk about this on a daily basis, but to say that to the American people and make the implication that when they need a hospital bed it’s not going to be there or a ventilator, it’s not going to be there, we don’t have evidence of that.”

  24. It’s funny how people look at the numbers today and act as if they are final.

    New York confirmed total cases are at about 38K and growing at over 20% per day still, but the growth has been slowing. Not sure if that is related to a testing capacity issue (steady capacity for a growing base will look like declining growth rate). Or hopefully the lock downs are having the intended effect.

    re: Japan — the governor of Tokyo gave a stay at home request yesterday:
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-in-japan-could-spike-as-tokyo-cases-jump-today-2020-03-26/
    “The worrying jump in infections prompted Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike to hold a video conference with her counterparts in neighboring prefectures, asking them to help the greater Tokyo region to isolate itself.

    Six prefectures responded quickly, asking citizens to avoid all nonessential trips into the capital, or even to stay home altogether. The region is home to about 40 million people — about a third of Japan’s total population.”

    “About 70% of firms belonging to Japan’s chamber of commerce, the Keidanren, said they have or plan to introduce working from home because of the coronavirus outbreak.”

    There are also rumors (without hard evidence) that Japan was reluctant to test much until they officially postponed the Olympics.

  25. Regarding the paper by Ferguson, I don’t doubt that he’s updating his model as he gets new data. That’s what he should be doing. It may be updated parameter estimates partly leading to new estimations, along with the actions in the UK and US. But “walking it back” is not accurate. People need to do a little more critical thinking that just taking politically motivated news sources at their word.

    Have a good — and safe — weekend, everyone.

  26. It may be updated parameter estimates partly leading to new estimations, along with the actions in the UK and US. But “walking it back” is not accurate.

    Dave,
    I doubt anyone would walk back their models completely. That would be a public embarrassment that would discredit him. (Is Stephen X. Li doing financial modeling anymore?) Rather, he has effectively saved face by saying that mitigation efforts have been effective and, if we heed his admonishments to continue them, will reduce the fatalities and burden on the medical system. “My advice has saved you all from certain doom!” His uncertainty is larger than the points in his model (big red flag), so he can effectively claim whatever he wants and it will still be right.

    He has no real proof that the mitigation has been effective, or if it has, how effective. THis must be inferred with great difficulty. Rather, he’s engaging in post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    I can’t even find his new paper.

  27. Two points on epidemiology vs modeling….

    My impression is that it isn’t uncommon for epidemiologist to stay with the same computation and ignore changes, as that way it can be used as a baseline for vaccine assessments. So the aren’t really ever wrong in their minds. It’s not how they work.

    Statisticians, actuaries, and data scientists don’t have that luxury – all models are wrong, but some might be useful if model updates are made.

    The other concept that doesn’t seem to exist in epidemiology is a concept of a large seeding group for the model, as opposed to a single unit (eg, person) source which epidemiologist always seem to use. This concept of starting vitality is more common in networking and Internet propagation.

    Think of it this way – you had large groups of infected people coming together in close proximity with uninfected population at New Year’s festivals in Wuhan and in New York City. In northern Italy, you had large groups of Chinese workers and Chinese tourists coming back from festivals in China, and later you have a large group of people together at the beginning of Mardi Gras. This kind of super networking event would make the R0 look higher than it really is in reality in normal groupings. It also would help explain outcomes we see as outliers.

  28. @Kent
    I have followed Ioannidis’s work and enjoy it. He pointed out many under-powered (statistical power) studies in medicine and brings some sanity to the flawed NHST (null hypothesis statistical testing). It’s all good.

    However, this time the price for type 2 error is too great. It’s not like we are debating whether eating 12 blueberries will extend your life by 5 days and such, as they do in useless ‘nutrition science’, which he rightfully criticizes.
    This is different. We don’t know how this virus works, spreads, etc. It’s just too new and we can’t afford the luxury of being too wrong.

  29. I don’t think it’s really “fair” to call AIDS or Smallpox “pandemics” in the same way as a sudden-onset event that spreads rapidly and then fades away. And, more to the point, pandemics are usually infectious diseases that kill quickly and are particularly spread in cities and through cities. AIDS doesn’t really qualify on any count.

    Smallpox is an interesting case. It’s been around and an issue for a long time, but tends to occur in “outbreaks”. But when doing “pandemic” stats, we should be looking at any single outbreak of Smallpox, not the long term aggregation.

    By way of contrast, Wikipedia (insert grain of salt) claims that “Shigella (dysentery bacteria) results in about 165 million cases of diarrhea and 1.1 million deaths a year with nearly all cases in the developing world”. Or “In 2018, there were more than 10 million cases of active tuberculosis which resulted in 1.5 million deaths.”. These are primarily “third world” diseases, but are have infection and death rates way above anything predicted for CoVid.

  30. Yeah, he walked it back. I read the original paper and read what he said. He’s claiming that the lockdown worked…after two days.

    But no, it was the SOCIAL DISTANCING that made him 2500% off! He just didn’t realize how effective it would be!

    Sure, buddy, that was it.

  31. @Kalif

    It’s true that the consequences for being wrong are higher here than analyzing blueberry consumption or whatever, but the thing is that the consequences for being wrong in the other direction are *also* very high. It’s not like if we overproject for the virus and implement these suppression strategies when it turns out we didn’t need to it’s no big deal. No, what we’re doing in response is an *enormous* deal with very severe consequences, consequences that beyond a doubt can rival or even surpass the harm the virus could cause.

  32. Here is a REAL virus to strike terror into the hearts of men. Rabies. Saddest video you’ll ever see. A man dying of rabies. 99.999% death rate once it gets to the brain. Global annual rabies deaths are at 60,000. And they die intermittently fully lucid, choking, seizing… and swallowing even a cup of water is like swallowing razor blades. The slightest breeze of air on the skin is like fire. Again, bats. I asked someone the other day what do we needs bats for? We need to develop a genetic bioweapon to wipe out the global bat population, bats might have killed more humans than even liberal pregnant women…

    https://youtu.be/OtiytblJzQc

  33. So happy to find your site. A sane voice over a din of madness. Was surprised to see people go running back to the fake news media lapping up their doomsday message.

    To their credit the carnival barkers stampeded the herd once again. My hope is once this latest farce is over with it will completely discredit them once and for all.

  34. Thanks, Widodo. That is a great context setter.

    There are multiple diseases that sweep through the human population every year, or “break out” every now and then. Some are infectious, some are lifestyle-related. They kill millions–rabies, malaria, influenza, alcoholism, drug addiction, diabetes, and many more.

    Every single one of those diseases could be made into a horror movie, or a tear-jerker, featuring victims dying and suffering and lives destroyed. Every one of them could be used as justification to control the population.

  35. Is it possible that the 1918 flu was so deadly because so many people had just spent years fighting WWI, rotting in trenches, and freezing and starving – things that are known to worse one’s immune response? Is it possible that WWI affected the deadliness of the disease? If so, is it possible that we shouldn’t be comparing ANY seasonal influenza or coronavirus to the 1918 flu?

  36. @WAlt
    No, none of those things contributed greatly. It was a novel virus, unrecognized by the organism then, due to the lack of prior exposure. Actually, old people (I believe 78 or so and over) had seen it before so the mortality in that cohort wasn’t a big deal.
    If the same strain was circulating today, it wouldn’t be as deadly. That’s all.

    @Kent
    One doesn’t need to ground the airlines worldwide to combat diabetes and other stuff you are comparing to COVID. STDs don’t transmit if someone sneezes on your salad. On the other hand, very deadly ones don’t spread far either. It’s well known which class of diseases have the potential for great pandemics: easy spread, long incubation, low mortality, difficult recovery (you’re on a ventilator 10-20 days with COVID, only a few days with flu, etc., etc.).

    Those are the things that cripple the economy, not high mortality.

  37. How bad would the Black Death have been if the people of the fourteenth century had modern healthcare, including ICs.

    You cannot compare the numbers because the circumstances are different. Now people recover after three weeks on breathing support. They would have died in the fourteenth century. And on the other hand, people live now to die of Corona, while those people would have died much earlier in the fourteenth century.

  38. Kalif:

    Correction – You MAY be on a ventilator 10-20 days with COVID, but you probably aren’t.

    I’d buy that argument a lot more if all of the gloom and doomers weren’t trying to convince me we’re getting millions dead in the states.

  39. “One doesn’t need to ground the airlines worldwide to combat diabetes and other stuff you are comparing to COVID. STDs don’t transmit if someone sneezes on your salad. ”

    Sorry that my writing is somehow unclear to you. I did not say that grounding airlines would combat diabetes. What I said was: “Every single one of those diseases … could be used as justification to control the population.”

    Those killer diseases could be used as justification to control the population.

    The media/UN/globalist/statist power centers could choose any one of those diseases and gin up a “CRISIS!” to justify controlling the population. Choose one: alcohol.

    Publish a study: “The study, published Thursday in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet, found that alcohol, such as beer and wine, is a leading risk factor for death and disease, associated with 2.8 million deaths each year and the seventh-leading risk factor for premature death and disability globally in 2016. ”

    Oh no! 2.8 million DEAD every year! Completely preventable deaths.

    Gin up enough panic about the deaths. Blanket media 24/7 with related stories. Profile a young mother dead at 24 from alcohol poisoning; a promising dancer’s life cut short; show the carnage, blood, guts in the aftermath of a drunk-driving crash that killed 6; zoom in on the decayed liver of a woman, dead at 48 from cirrhosis, etc, etc, etc.

    Gin up panic. Gin up fear. 2.8 MILLION DEAD! Swoop in with regulations, rules, suspend freedom, outlaw liquor, destroy bars, lock up distillers, illegal for people to congregate in groups greater than 4 because they might drink, etc, etc.

    That’s the point. The insane precautionary principle can be used to gin up panic about ANY cause of death. And then to control the population.

    Hope that clarifies it.

    Control is the goal.

  40. I think one site to pay attention to is covidactnow[dot]org. The website is designed to predict the number of hospitalizations a state will have based on the policy that state implements.

    The Federalist had an exposé on this website (link: https://thefederalist.com/2020/03/25/inaccurate-virus-models-are-panicking-officials-into-ill-advised-lockdowns/) with three interesting observations: (A) the site was founded by Democrat activists with the explicit purpose of influencing policy decisions (mission statement in part reads “This model is intended to help make fast decisions, not predict the future.”) (B) this website’s predictions were the justification many states used to implement their policies, and (C) as documented by screenshots, their initial predictions were grossly over-stating the danger of the virus; in all but one example, the numbers were before states had delivered ‘shelter in place’ orders.

    They update their model every four days, but without any transparency as to what their previous models had predicted. They now have a “worst-case” and a “best-case” scenario for states that have “shelter in place” active. You should keep a close eye; I would expect that many states are going to have even better outcomes than their ‘best-case’ scenarios predict.

  41. Consider 9/11 . Researchers like Dr Judy Wood eventually built a body of evidence to refute the official narrative. 9/11 was an attack on consciousness.

    With coronavirus what evidence can we look at?

    Speaking as an individual with zero trust in mainstream media how can you check that what you are being told is true? How do you independently confirm whether there is a coronavirus? If there is one how do you independently confirm how many cases there are? And how many have died?

    The answer is: you can’t.

    We could even ask what causes a virus to appear in your body? Is it caused by virus DNA being transferred from one person’s body to another? Or is the mechanism by which a virus manifests inside the body different to what mainstream medicine claims? This is something I’d like to see thrashed out.

    Many people claim that a virus and the symptoms that appear can be caused by the body’s cells reacting to toxins. Others claim that viruses and symptoms can result purely from psychological triggers such as being in fear and being isolated. There is an ample body of research to suggest this is the case

    Is fear itself the actual virus?

    Something which is toxic to the human body is electromagnetic radiation which can cause certain symptoms. Can anyone think of a new and different kind of electromagnetic radiation which is global and recently appeared on the scene? Is 5G capable of producing the same symptoms which are said to be caused by the so-called coronavirus? I guess nobody knows the answer to that one because according to them they haven’t tested it.

    Even if the official figures are correct, which I very much doubt, they suggest a slightly more deadly virus than seasonal flu. Therefore the measures being imposed are completely disproportionate to the risk. One piece of evidence we might look at is a meeting called Event 201 which was held in October 2019 where a number of global organisations carried out a tabletop exercise planning for a global coronavirus pandemic!

    http://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/

    The discussions at this event have to be seen to be believed and any rational person would conclude that this exercise must be linked in some way to the current fear campaign. It was reminiscent of the London bombings tabletop exercise which aired on BBC 1 a year before the 7/7 attacks and also reminiscent of the PNAC document produced a year before the 9/11 attacks.

    https://www.newstatesman.com/node/192545

    At Event 201 it was stated that their exercise should not be seen as a health event but a global crisis. This was in October last year. The WHO, UN, the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation all laid plans at that meeting for a global coronavirus pandemic. Also involved were the Chinese and American CDCs. So the Chinese were all part of this exercise.

    But I wonder if Event 201 was all part of a wider plan to suck in those that will not accept the official coronavirus propaganda? Did they need something for the conspiracy theorists (a term used to ridicule truth-seekers) to latch onto? In my opinion, it is obvious the whole coroavirus event is a meticulously planned global operation and is being used for an ulterior purpose or purposes.

    The Chinese government released the DNA genome sequence of the alleged coronavirus and experts pored over the data and concluded that the virus was artificial. Was this just another breadcrumb? Because even if there is a virus that is artificial it doesn’t remove the fear. Nor does it remove the claim that there is a virus or the claim that the virus is causing illness. It’s just a slightly different source for the same type of fear.

    Is this a depopulation event or a cull? I don’t think so. I think the global LGBT psyop and other measures have already caused population growth to drop. We are seeing a problem-reaction-solution unfold which includes the following “solutions”: restricting travel and movement, banning of mass gatherings, lockdown of buildings, increased control of internet and information, more money for vaccines, more money for the PR of vaccines, military personnel on standby, removing powers from national governments into global bodies and removing money from national governments into global bodies.

    Draconian measures reported from China which includes public surveillance using tracking software on mobiles, use of drones and detainment of citizens in internment camps. It looks very much like a move to grab power by globalists. And it is clear that the world’s media is in globalists hands not in the hands of people within nations.

    There may be other agendas at play which may include the following: forced vaccination or electronic tagging of citizens, the disguising of health effects of 5G, the collapsing of the economy and hence theft of assets from citizens, a change in the money system itself, removal of powers from national governments, towards a global government.

    Was this event a reaction to the Brexit referendum result and the likely re-election of Donald Trump? Both Brexit and Trump are bastions of national government against globalist forces. Is this a psyop about attempting to crush national governments? The UK Royal Family is pretty far down the power tree and are being used to prop up psychological operations. What a perfect example when it was announced that Prince Charles has the so-called coronavirus. Are you really believing this hubris?

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-52049039

    The current measures in my opinion are totally unnecessary. My advice is that there is no need to feel fear. Stay calm in the knowledge that this is blown out of all proportion and is most likely a psychological operation. Stay healthy by eating a varied diet and doing exercise

    It is your fear these people need.

  42. Fredo,
    You may be confusing Japanese citizenship, with the lack of diversity. Just because someone united hundreds of ethnicities from who knows where, by beating them with wooden sticks, doesn’t mean Japan is not diverse. It is as diverse as any other place, genetically.
    Meanwhile, in reality, everything and everybody in existence right now has the same level of diversity, by definition. Diversity is the name of the game, at any level of observation. What do you think the origin of the narrator’s brother is? A mishmash of who knows who. Within group variability is way larger than that of b/w groups.
    Regarding the lack of hygiene of the narrator’s brother, which is reflective of most of the western world even today, we may only conclude that other older cultures (non-western) will have lower infection rates in any pandemic. However, it’s really of little help when we have airborne/droplet disease like this one.
    Throughout history though, the cultures with higher hygienic norms always had some advantage, when it came to infectious diseases.

    During various plagues in Europe, Jews would be burned at stake, all with women and children, accused of witchcraft. The reality was that they were the only ones washing themselves and thus preventing various illnesses. It was considered a bad omen to bathe and wash hands in medieval Europe.

    Islamic conquerors (I believe in Spain) documented unbelievable stench coming from the local population. ‘Flushing’ mean dumping a bucket full of excrement out the window. No concept of running water, hygiene, bathing, etc.
    Interestingly, it continued until very recent times and some of if (wearing shoes inside) is still present.

    Finally, in the video you posted, all one can conclude is that Japan decided not to declare the shut-down, unlike us. How it was spun to show the diversity as an issue, is beyond me. These guys need to learn the art of subtle propaganda from the best.
    The agenda of this video is obvious from a mile away.

  43. Congrats, everyone. You got your wish. According to the Trump administration, 100 million dead is the LOW estimate, JUST for U.S. deaths. The high estimate is in the millions. So we’re getting shut down for another month minimum. I suspect two.

    If we reach the low estimate, abstain from voting. That would be a tremendous failure by the Trump administration.

  44. Hi,

    first of all – kind thanks to Dr. Briggs and everyone who has participated (no matter what the opinion, I didn’t notice any trolling) – it’s really nice to have this island of sanity.

    I’m writing this from Europe. In my country we have limited movement. One part of the country is in quarantine (police and army control the traffic) and there are lots of restrictions (but the death toll is really limited in comparison to e.g. yearly influenza). Lots of people have moved to their summer cottages and recreational forests have big amount of visitors. Not that the government suggest it, but walk in the park is highly recommended if you feel anxiety!

    Some remarks
    —-

    In US there is lot of discussion, that this is a media attack agains Trump’s government.

    We’ve center-left government with social democrat prime minister and our media has the same rabies. It’s the same in many European country.

    The economy of EU, which is not Trump’s US Economy, is taking huge shelling too. Also Norway and Great Britain (non EU) are in lock step. Where we go one, we go all.

    We lived next to Soviet Union for many decades. They had huge influence in our politics and media. The whole country was pretending, that they were a friendly neighbor. You simply couldn’t operate in the politics if you were strict. Some people of course took friendliness too far. With EU… well, pretty much the same thing happened.

    If someone believes that there ever has been totally non biased mass media she might be dreaming. When times are rough expect more biases and spin doctoring. Everyone is doing it and they’re clever people.

    So… I guess the options are

    1) Every country is doing the right thing.
    2) It’s worldwide and especially US/China/Europe political affair
    3) Every country has gone crazy.

    If the first one the options are

    1) There’s something we don’t know about the virus.
    2) Virus is real, but there are some other reasons for the huge intervention, which cannot be told at the moment.

    If second

    1) Virus is real, but there are some other reasons for the huge intervention, which cannot be told at the moment.

    …and third one

    Does someone really believe so?

    Ok, let’s suppose there are some political affairs, which might give explanation to this weird situation in our planet. What kind of things they might be?

    Big. Major level. Serious.

    What are major level affairs?

    Currency.
    Trade and debt.
    Wars and large scale terrorism.
    Coup d’etat
    Religion

    What are the biggest happenings regarding above during past 20 years? And from the beginning of 20th century? Could this virus and reaction to it be somehow related to those issues? How?

    I was in Berlin after the wall collapsed. Sometimes history just happens. It feels weird – if you’ve a worldview part of it will be gone. This might be such time.

    Have a great week everyone, stay strong and be kind to each other.

  45. Briggs actually created a new logical fallacy here, in comparing the numbers-to-date of something that recently started to things from the past that ran their full course. As mentioned above, the appropriate comparison would be a count of [infections, deaths, whatever] at the same period of time after the start. In this case, about 3 months into it.

    Imagine taking Briggs back to early 1942, just after the Holocaust started.

    “How many bodies are there so far?” he would ask. “Just a few thousand? Well that’s relatively small compared to other historical genocides, so what’s the big deal, you sissies?”

    I hereby name this logical fallacy as The Briggs Fallacy. Congratulations!

  46. And just to be extra clear: I am not comparing the coronavirus to the Holocaust. That’s just an illustrative example of how the fallacy would work.

    I’m also not implying that the coronavirus will be one of the worst pandemics of all time; the point is simply that it’s too early to judge it against others from the past that ran their full course.

  47. Then it’s still a fallacy, b/c he’s not comparing actual death counts.

    He needs to compare coronavirus after 3 months to Spanish Flu after 3 months, or HIV after 3 months, or H1N1 after 3 months, etc.

  48. I’d imagine finding 3 months of data for each epidemic in history would be quite hard and impossible in many cases.

    In lieu of that, he’s making a projection of total death count by quading the current deaths, a very reasonable assumption if we are near or at peak virus spread, as Briggs claims. Your gripe should be that quadrupling is not enough because we aren’t near the peak, lock down isn’t accounted for, etc. and this is the evidence why.

  49. So essentially you seem to be making the argument we are in the beginning stages of virus spread. Briggs is saying we are at the peak. What is your evidence we are only in the beginning stages?

  50. I don’t need evidence we are at the beginning stage. It is widely agreed upon that we were, at the time of this post, roughly 3 months into it.

    Go back and quadruple the death count of HIV, Spanish Flu, etc after just 3 months and tell me if it’s an accurate estimate of the final toll. Hint: it’s not. Might there be an example of a disease where the final total is about 4X the 3 month mark? I’m sure. But there’s no evidence to support that in this case.

    Given that Briggs’ own model raised its total case estimate one order of magnitude in just 3 weeks, I don’t know why the burden of proof should disproportionately fall on me. If we were to stick with facts and make an apples-to-apples comparison, find the numbers for the first three months (relatively easy for more recent pandemics), and do the comparison.

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