If a billion people believe something (and are terrified) does that make it true? Apparently a billion people (or more) believe that Covid-19 threatens humanity, and by executing upon that belief their leaders have created an unprecedented social financial crisis that reaches nearly everyone in first- and second-world countries, and many in third-world countries. But are these actions warranted? Is the “cure” worse than the disease?
Much action has been predicated on the media’s dark portrayal of the risk (remember, most people just read the headline):
- “Experts Simulated a Coronavirus Pandemic Last Year and It Killed 65 Million.” New York Magazine, Feb 27
- “AI Predicts Coronavirus Could Infect 2.5 Billion And Kill 53 Million.” Forbes Magazine (If the premise is flawed why that headline?)
- “WHO Says The Coronavirus Global Death Rate Is 3.4%, Higher Than Earlier Figures.” ScienceAlert
- “COVID-19’s Death Rate: Why It Can Be as High as 12% or as Low as 0.25%.” Real Clear Science
- Governor Newsome … projects 56% of Californians Could Get Coronavirus, NBC San Diego.
Constant comparison is made to the Spanish Flu. However, no one really knows what the impact was from the Spanish Flu, apparently; the wrong math has been quoted for decades. In “What 1918 Spanish Flu Death Toll Tells Us About COVID-19 Coronavirus MedicineNet stated prominently 600 million people were infected, 50-100 million died, with CDR (Case to Death Rate) of 2.5% (as do DOZENS of other journals and sources). Run the math. The numbers would equal an 8-16% CDR. Thanks to the tech geeks at Wired for pointing this out in “Covid-19 is Not the Spanish Flu.” (I love the way every scary statistic — global warming, ocean plastics, etc — is a single or double digit followed by a whole string of zeros.)
The sound bites being provided by the major TV networks reinforced the panic that these false numbers created.
At the same time a handful of rational sources were either publishing accurate data or are now beginning to, the main data source, the WHO, has been found to be seriously flawed… “Why we stopped relying on data from the World Health Organization.” Our World in Data, Mar 18.
Here’s some of the facts:
The fatality rate of cases to death is NOT EVEN CLOSE TO 3.4%. The media repeatedly list confirmed cases wrongly as all cases. Nobody knows the actual cases, and it is estimated that there are at least 3-4 times (and up to 10x) the number of asymptomatic and other mild symptom unreported cases. As a example, South Korea has done more per capita testing than any other country, and their fatality rate is much less than 1%. And that is with them testing just a fraction of the population.
We will NEVER have any idea of the total unreported cases. There is no way currently to easily test to see if someone has unknowingly had Covid-19 and recovered. Many agree the infection rate is grossly underestimated.
A Stanford University epidemiologist makes the point that, “One of the bottom lines is that we don’t know how long social distancing measures and lockdowns can be maintained without major consequences to the economy, society, and mental health. Unpredictable evolutions may ensue, including financial crisis, unrest, civil strife, war, and a meltdown of the social fabric. At a minimum, we need unbiased prevalence and incidence data for the evolving infectious load to guide decision-making.” If you only read one article top to bottom, this is the one.
“Though there is disagreement about this, some studies have suggested that it is approximately 10 times too high. This would bring the death rate in line with some strains of influenza.” – Prof. Mark Woolhouse, Professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, U.K.
“Early estimates of fatality rates tend to be higher and then drop as the outbreak progresses,” says biological anthropologist Jennifer Cole, from the Royal Holloway, University of London, U.K. “This is mainly because early figures are based on the more severe cases only — those that seek hospital treatment — and so don’t capture mild cases.”
FiveThirtyEight.com notes that nobody has any idea how many unreported cases are out there. Researchers think there were actually about 29,000 infections in the U.S. as of March 15, more than eight times the known tally. That means a death rate of 4% for confirmed cases is really more like 0.6% for all cases.
Italy is the big scary region spotlighted right now. The virus seems to be out of control. But the key is age, and health complications. Bloomberg reports that 99% of Italians who died had other illnesses.
The median age of the world population is 30. Italy’s median population is one of the highest in the world at 45 years old. THAT’S A BIG DEAL, when this disease targets the elderly. The US median age is 38, and that’s a huge difference from Italy.
But as a point of reference, Italy currently has a little over 4800 deaths from Covid-19 total so far in the space of four weeks. Heart disease alone kills 109,000 Italians each year. That’s 2000 a week. And heart disease only accounts for one-fifth of deaths in Italy in 2017. I cannot find data on this but I would guesstimate that over half of the deaths attributed to Covid-19 are in patients already bedridden.
At least a significant percentage of those who died “of Covid-19” should have been listed as, “died of heart disease complicated by an infection of Covid-19.” “Died of diabetes complicated by an infection of Covid-19.” It’s like when we have a serious snowstorm in the US and the reports of death come in: “The first casualty of the storm was a man shoveling snow who died of a heart attack.” The storm was a contributing factor, not the cause.
By the way, the median age in Florida is still well below Italy at 42.
The OVERALL fatality rate of Covid-19 as of this writing is 0.0001675%.
That is 167 millionths of one percent, based on a world population of close to 8 billion. We aren’t going to die out as a species.
But we have shut down our economy over this relatively bad cold. Our world leaders are behaving in exactly the same irrational manner as the people hoarding toilet paper. The Madness of Crowds is not new; the curse of a connected society is that madness spreads at the speed of light. The bad news:
Nothing*: You have nothing to worry about; You’re gonna die. Everyone does.
I’ve replaced the word “war” with “Coronavirus” in theses thoughts from C.S. Lewis:
“What does Coronavirus do to death? It certainly does not make it more frequent; 100 percent of us die, and the percentage cannot be increased. It can put several deaths earlier, but I hardly suppose that that is what we fear. . . . Yet Coronavirus does do something to death. It forces us to remember it. . . . Coronavirus makes death real to us, and that would have been regarded as one of its blessings by most of the great Christians of the past.” (Learning in War-Time)
“How are we to live in the age of Coronavirus?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the Coronavirus was discovered: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anaesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
“This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by Coronavirus, let that disease when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about disease. It may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”
From “Present Concerns,” written in the 60s, published in 1986 after his death.
You have nothing to Fear**: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) Put your trust in Christ Jesus and maintain due reverence to Him, and you have nothing to fear.
The vast majority of victims will have lived a full life (the average age of victims in Italy is around 80 years old.) The average victim will have had plenty of time to make his peace with God.
People will continue to die, of coronavirus and other things. 1,300,000 will die this year from traffic deaths alone worldwide. Add another 50,000-100,000 from snakebite worldwide. 650,000 will die from heart disease, in the United States alone. The difference is that every death from coronavirus will be announced on a daily basis, by a media that profits off fear, and governments that survive by control.
All these things you can do are important. But the most important thing you can do is, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NASB