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Monday, 17 February 2020

Covid-19 modellers on the ball, despite Chinese lies

It is now beyond doubt that China has been lying to the world about the numbers of Covid-19 cases in Wuhan. The Lancet estimated that we should multiply all Chinese announcements by a factor of 10, but an even more detailed analysis is provided in online Biopharma mag Stat. Working backwards from cases outside China, Imperial College, advisors to the WHO, estimated some 1,000 to 9,700 cases when China was reporting 440. And so for the 1,700 reported deaths to date - read 17,000.

It now seems beyond doubt that Covid-19 is out and now cannot be contained. In the UK we will stop testing once we have 100 confirmed cases - at this point we will have a pandemic. It is likely it has taken hold in London already and we will see many more cases in the next 7 days. An estimated R0 of 2 to 3 means it spreads very easily - it is highly infectious. How quickly it will spread is determined by the serial interval - the time it takes for people to get sick, and the period during which they can infect others. Toronto University has got a useful online modelling tool with sliders - try reducing the serial interval from 7 to 6 days to see the astonishing effects.

Bottom line is that some 60% of us are likely to be infected, and 1% are likely to die prematurely as a result. That's between 300,000 and 400,000 for the UK. Olders will take the brunt, as will those with impaired lung function or impaired auto-immunity. The only glimmer of good news is that economically we can take the hit; Ross Clark in the Speccie reports that a death toll of this scale will cause GDP to drop only by about 0.75% this year. He compares that to the 3.5% to 6% drop in GDP forecast by George Osborne in 2016 if we voted for Brexit.

The other glimmer of hope is the weather. Pandemic viruses spread best when it's cold and dry - the warmer and moister the air, the less chance the virus has of being transmitted in droplets. It's counter-intuitive, but high humidity is a good thing as far as reducing spread. On an personal basis, reducing contacts to the absolute minimum possible is the most effective protection. Not much comfort to those commuting on crowded public transport in London, but for those of us who have the choice, reducing the trip to the shops from twice to once a week and cutting out leisure travel will have a significant effect. Try as much as you can to stay in the 40% who avoid infection, and hope for an early hot Easter.

As for the government, they will have plans for hospitals to maximise survival for those worst hit, but otherwise will pursue a policy of carry on as normal, to minimise economic damage. We're past the point of heroic action, and into taking the hit. As for the Millennials, for whom this will be their first experience of a mortal threat, let's see how far that open borders stuff lasts when the death toll in Africa hits the tens of millions.

Smuggled video showing the dead put out for collection in China. Satellites have also picked up chemical and spectroscopic signatures of vast funeral pyres on the outskirts of big cities.

Ah, they removed that quickly. Must be Huawei servers ;(
For those that missed it, it was filmed on a phone from a moped driving past a stretch of footway outside apartment buildings with many (I counted over 20) bodies wrapped in sheets left out for collection. 


Stephen J said...

Don't panic, average annual death rate from influenza is between 300,000 and 600,000, the current special flu... aka Bat flu is apparently not as serious as the usual one. It is typically like the common cold and its usual symptoms.

Statistically your chance of developing symptoms or dying from Coronavirus that now threatens global human populations Is 0.0000017482% symptoms... 0.0000001137% death....

The most susceptible are people like me with severely compromised immune systems, and personally and, I am not going to panic on those odds. I will stay clear of tubes, I think, but I do that most winters, the bus is more healthy, and one's hair doesn't turn black.

The garbage that we see coming out of China is guaranteed to be manipulated, and in which direction depends on the whims of the worst government on the planet.

Bloke in North Dorset said...

Good piece in the Speccie about government preparations:

JPM said...

Maybe they aren't telling all the facts but are not lying either?

They nailed SARS though.

We don't know, for sure plain and simple.

Raedwald said...

r-w Flu is a good comparator, but not too close. Average annual premature deaths from flu in the UK are about 600. Flu pandemics -

1957/58 Asian flu 33,000 dead in UK
1968/69 Hong Kong flu 30,000 dead in UK

1918/19 pandemic is closest - 250k premature deaths, but then our population was rather smaller.

600,000 die every year in the UK from all causes - I suspect this is what you meant. Covid-19 may increase this to 1m in 2020 in the worst case - but we are well prepared for all contingencies.

Stephen J said...

I was quoting average world figures R, not UK, I looked at several sources and my figure is pretty broad with a 50% margin for error... What seems like a large figure is relatively small when viewed in context.

e.g. the death rate from the 1918 event was close to 80,000,000, special circumstances being that many people were at the time of the outbreak displaced due to one reason or another related to WW1. Not only were they displaced but their condition was deplorable, these people were badly fed, badly clothed and overworked with marching and battle stress etc.

Indeed some people have suggested that the average British soldier/tommy was not fit enough at the outbreak of war, let alone the end.

jim said...

The wheels tend to fall off most problems long before they meet the doomsayer's prognostications.

Then it is an ill wind that blows no-one any good. A surge in elder deaths would take the pressure off the NHS and future care home services, free up housing and liberate cash into the economy and a bonanza for the funeral parlours. What is not to like.

For now I will assume it is a load of woo and not worry about it.

Jack the dog said...

There was an article on Zero Hedge (so usual disclaimers and caveats apply...) regarding the danger of re-infection and how it seems to be more deadly second time around.

Dave_G said...

Much concern is now centred on the economic impact to manufacturers outside China that rely heavily on parts and materials from there.

Even the smallest item missing from, say, a car inventory can stop production. Such missing items can't (economically) be retrofitted so it's going to have a serious knock on effect everywhere.

On top of existing economic woes this could result in the tipping point.

Charles said...

Well Africa is going to be interesting. Massive Chinese presence, pore medical infrastructure, you can draw your own conclusions. I used to transit via Joburg 10 times a year and it was always busy with Chinese workers, and I mean busy. Given that Joburg is the regional hub for sub Saharan Africa it means that the disease is probably widespread and largely unseen. I would avoid Africa if you don’t have to go.

Smoking Scot said...

@ Dave_G

Hyundai were the first; now it's rapidly taking effect with Nissan and others halting production.

Couple of days ago Fiat stopped production of their 500L because their radio is sourced from China.

In Fiat's case that's probably a convenient truth because the 500L is not a big seller.

And although hardly of any consequence to MSM, the small commuter scooter product line is dominated by factories in China. Honda Vision being the pizza delivery favourite as well as most small, low margin scoots with the Piaggio badge.

But most will be up to capacity by mid March... they say.

Liberista said...

"Don't panic, average annual death rate from influenza is between 300,000 and 600,000, "

mortality rate for common flu is less than 0.1%
if the real mortality rate for covid 19 is 2% as i see mentioned around, we have a LARGE problem

Raedwald said...

Liberista - which is why China must give full access to WHO teams to find out the truth.

APL said...

Yes. China has been lying.

We knew that from the moment they quarenteened fifteen cities for a few tens of casualities.

But we don't yet know the mode of transmission. There is one point of view that the likely mode of transmission is via fecal matter, and most urban dwellers in China are only one generation from living in a shed with their livestock. Hygene standards aren't what we'd think of as basic.

Charles: "well Africa is going to be interesting"

Yep! And India.

On the bright side, China will meet its GREEN targets this quarter.

Raedwald said...

All credible medical and scientific sources identify this SARS variant as an air-borne respiratory virus. We do know the mode of transmission, with a reasonably high degree of certainty. It isn't faeces.

Anonymous said...

All very worrying stuff R, I'd like to gainsay it but cannot. It's only an uneasy feeling and I hope that I am so wrong but my gut instinct tells it, that it is going to be a bad do and because human beings cannot, do not live as 'islands'.

APL said...

Raedwald: "All credible medical and scientific sources identify this SARS variant as an air-borne respiratory virus."

Haven't you just finished complaining that China has been lying. They refuse to allow foreign agencies in, f.e.g. US CDC to make their own estimation of the situation

So, basically. You don't know.

Span Ows said...

The MERS camel fucker virus in 2012, also Bat corona like SAR-CoV-2 (aka COVID-19) had 779 deaths from 2229 total infections, mortality 35.5%...

The following is interesting:

Raedwald said...

APL - I'm not as green as I am cabbage looking. I can spot a crude moslem-baiting toilet-habits trope at 500 yards ;)

APL said...

raedwald; " I'm not as green as I am cabbage looking. I can spot a crude moslem-baiting toilet-habits trope at 500 yards"

Silly reply.

And what's the winky face for? If you intend to insult a fellow. Do it like a man.