450 Million Dead Possible? Something To Take Seriously, Right Away.

COVID 19 Is A BIG ONE. We are under attack by the worst infectious disease since 1918!

Today I will endorse my hat of panicker-in-chief. I will attract attention on a point not mentioned in the media: the potential global lethality of SARS 2/COVID19. The question of the potential global lethality of the Coronavirus is ignored. We hear whining all over about not endangering economic activity, so France and the US have not gone in panic mode yet (what the French call stage3 epidemic). 

Anyway, here are the scary numbers, as of March 8, 2020:

ACTIVE CASES, Currently Infected Patients: 43,975

37,998 (86%) in Mild Condition

5,977 (14%) Serious or Critical

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CLOSED CASES, Cases which had an outcome: 66,110

62,280 (94%) Recovered / Discharged

3,830 (6%) Deaths

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Another unexpected exponential strikes!

At first sight this seems to indicate a lethality of 6% [1]. However that maybe an overestimate: lethality has been above  5% in Wuhan, in the first three months of the epidemic there, according to Chinese medical authorities. That high rate is due to the effect of surprise and the medical system being overwhelmed: 2,000 medical personnel got infected. In the rest of China, the death rate has been much lower: a number of treatments are tried and perhaps working. Just providing mechanical oxygen saves half of the patient who would otherwise die. China is now able to try to cure patients by giving them antibodies in serum of recovered patients.

Now it’s cold in China in winter, people gather in warm places. So it remains to be seen whether the virus will spread as effectively in tropical areas. If it does, this means that an expected slowdown after cold winter months will not happen.

During the famous Black Plague of 1348 CE, around half of Europe died… But no nobles: armed with cats, civettes, and knowledge about transmission, European nobles kept the plague bacillus, and its vectors, fleas from rats, at bay. The economic impact and the impact of civilization was, weirdly, neglectable, or even positive: salaries went up. technology accelerated.

We have in some ways a similar situation. First, humanity has no immunity against Corona viruses… except for the few who got SARS 1, MERS, Ebola, and now SARS2 and recovered. This is different from the Flu A, B, C, etc… The Flu is always around, and people can keep, partly a life long immunity. Those exposed to the Avian (?) Flu of  1918 (so-called Spanish Flu which seems to have started in Kansas military camps…) kept a life long immunity against Avian Flus, sort of. Enough to prevent a repeat of 1918, when at least twenty million died.

Because nearly nobody has immunity against SARS 2 aka COVID 19, one may reasonably expect, in the worst case, a worldwide infection. That would be a bit more than 400 million dead.

I am not saying that this will happen. I am saying political leaders worldwide should assume that the death of many millions will happen… If they don’t take extreme measures to augment distanciation between individuals… as the People Republic of China succeed to do. But the case of China is special: a very powerful Communist Party and very advanced science and technology.

I have condemned China for having made the situation worse with its closed society, by keeping the infection secret too long. However now that the catastrophe is upon us, China was able to turn the catastrophe around as very few countries could… Singapore was able to. Singapore is an independent Chinese country, saw its first case January 23. Six weeks later it is barely above 100.

Italy, belatedly copied China sort of, with a country-wide ban on unnecessary travel (under the threat of jail). It remains to see if it works. Other most advanced countries have been too slow: France on 8 march banned gathering of more than 1,000 people: France and all of Europe should have followed Switzerland, which did it a week earlier. Clearly all gatherings should be banned, worldwide, except if absolutely necessary.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1994, recommended basically no air travel and “absolutely no cruise ships“… on Fox News, March 8…

Sometimes, panic is the wisest course. This is one of these times. 

With maximum, aggressive distanciation, a few millions will probably die. Without, several dozen millions dead are guaranteed [2].

As far as the biosphere is concerned, humanity was the ultimate disease. SARS 2-COVID 19 is a first counterattack. As far as humanity is concerned, an interesting twist is that the older people (above 80) get affected around 100 times more than those below 40. Hence an occasion for the young to kill the old. This time. Next time may be different. So are we in this this together? A litmus test is in sight[3].

Patrice Ayme

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[1] Lower estimates of lethality have been obtained through the optimistic, yet erroneous computations where the number of death is divided by the total number of cases… Then getting something like 3.5%. Stupid. A smarter approach is to claim that 2/3 of the cases go undetected: that would give a lethality rate of 2%. To get the rate down to 1%, one would have to assume that the Chinese detected only one case out of six…

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[2] HIV killed 35 millions… But over decades.

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[3] One has to change the economy, fiscally and investment-wise: one needs to shrink the billionaire class and augment the carbon free economy and the science based economy. In 2009, Obama just reflated the plutocracy and its banks, and their monopoly powers, say on Intellectual Property; doing nothing, in other words.. Now the viruses have come to roost: the Coronaviruses. SARS, MERS, Ebola, have been warning for more than 20 years… and precious little was done.

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3 Responses to “450 Million Dead Possible? Something To Take Seriously, Right Away.”

  1. Gmax Says:

    Sure is scary. Merkel said 2/3 of Germany could get virus. Why the disparate mortality rates among countries?

    Like

  2. Don Kemerling Says:

    Good article. I think they have made some advances in bio-tech that are important. It might be what saves lives, and the economy.

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks, Don. Research is everything. Notice that China and INDIA took the virus very seriously since the essay was written. If India had not imposed a lockdown, one could have expected dozens of million dead, in India alone. It’s a form of self-destroying racism that the West didn’t take COVID 19 seriously, for many weeks…

      Like

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