Posts Tagged ‘Pandemic’

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

March 9, 2020

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.

A Closed Society (China) is More Open To PANDEMICS (Coronavirus)

February 2, 2020

LACK of INFORMATION & DEBATE in NON OPEN SOCIETY FOSTERED DISASTROUS PANDEMIC

The Wuhan coronavirus spreading from China is now a pandemic that circles the globe. The prospect is daunting. A pandemic will have global consequences, despite the extraordinary travel restrictions and quarantines now imposed by many countries.

Science does not yet know how lethal the new coronavirus is. However, I can compute: we have less than 15,000 official cases and more than 300 dead so it seems the death rate is at least 3% (on the face of it that would be 5%). That means if one billion people get infected, 30 million will die. 

To these preliminary considerations, several caveats: first, out of the 15,000 infected, much more than 300 will die: the virus is known to kill patients who were improving for days in hospital beds. Second, and on a more positive note, information is exchanged between doctors, and methods to mitigate the effects of viral pneumonia are no doubt found. Even more important, the governments in the leadership of the world, the so-called “West”, governments are highly organized and have huge means: the USA has installed its first quarantine in 50 years, and uses large military bases to isolate potentially infected people.     

The Wuhan coronavirus is spreading more like influenza, which is highly transmissible, than like its slow-moving very lethal coronavirus cousins, SARS and MERS. [1]

How did we get there? It’s not just about markets mixing humans, live bats and live snakes, all infecting each other in a weird bat-snake-human ecology.

It’s also about China being huge, way too closed, and thus, too stupid for its own size. 

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China is not an Open Society. The concept of Open Society was originated by Aspasia, a philosopher married to Athenian general and politician Pericles, who famously declared, quoting his famous funeral oration as reported by Thucydides:

“Our political system does not compete with with institutions which are elsewhere in force. We do not copy our neighbors, but try to be an example. Our administration favors the many instead of the few: this is why it is called a democracy. The laws afford equal justice to all alike in their private disputes, but we do not ignore the claims of excellence. When a citizen distinguishes himself, then he will be called to serve the state, in preference to others, not as a matter of privilege, but as a reward of merit; and poverty is no bar.

… The freedom we enjoy extends also to ordinary life; we are not suspicious of one another, and we do not nag our neighbor if he chooses to go his own way. … But this freedom does not make us lawless. We are taught to respect the magistrates and the laws, and never to forget that we must protect the injured. And we are also taught to observe those unwritten laws whose sanction lies only in the universal feeling of what is right….

Our city is thrown open to the world… We are free to live exactly as we please, and yet, we are always ready to face any danger…. We consider a man who takes no interest in the state not as harmless, but as useless; and although only a few may originate a policy, we are all able to judge it. We do not look upon discussion as a stumbling block in the way of political action, but as an indispensable preliminary to acting wisely.”

Debate is crucial to advancing understanding. Debating with oneself is indispensable, but debating with others enables debating with others enables one to go where none thought of, and thus to advance understanding. 

Beautiful words, yet, disastrously, Pericles didn’t act accordingly to them! Just the opposite. 

Chinese Dictatorship Politicians with advanced specialized N95 masks (which stop the virus particles which are 10^7 meter across, so 5 billionth of a meter bigger than the meshes in these N95)… Whereas the doctors welcoming them have pitiful masks which can’t do that. Best masks out there stop at 300 billionths of a meter, 3 times too big to stop the 2019 Coronavirus, Some chinese doctors had to make masks out of garbage bags, due to penury.

Instead in a dictatorship, few decide; the brain power is if not minute, drastically reduced. Actually it’s the multi-debating aspect of Western Europe which enabled most of the advancement of civilization in the last millennium. China, which used to be very advanced scientifically and technologically missed the debating aspect, motivated by mighty intellectual passions. Lack of fierce debate, independently of social hierarchy, is the main missing link of Confucius philosophy, which views the respect of one’s “station” in life, the most important feature of society. Hence Confucius is most compatible with Xi’s regime.

Let alone that Xi got his job in part from his parents’ station in life… 

Whereas intellectual debate and its descendants, in particular scientific, medical and technological advancement, are the exact opposite: they respect only truth, and, more generally, the search thereof. To equal the West, China will have to accept to see truths, and love thereof, be hurled around. 

Tribalists come to me and they whine; if you are not blue, you have got to be red. Their simplicity is hurt, their minds are reeling, they are looking for something to color their bland lives. Well, children, I am campaigning for the truth. Not for a particular potentate to satisfy his or her greed for power.

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PANDEMICS FROM TYRANNICAL STUPIDITY:

On a great historical scale, one is struck by the fact the Roman State was wrecked by pandemics in the Second Century, The Third, and the Sixth. The first pandemic, during Marcus Aurelius’ reign, weakened the empire considerably. It’s not clear what happened. Clearly the army was struck as Marcus died. The lack of information is, by itself, an indictment: an Open Society would have debated and found ways to fight the epidemic. Instead, the tyrannical empire behaved as if the disastrous pandemics were no more than bad air not worth commenting upon. (By comparison, we know of the authorities in London abating pollution from coal burning already in the Fourteenth Century.)

We have more information from democracies than from the wretched Roman dictatorship. At the onset of the Thirty Years Peloponnesian war, a (highly) predictable pandemic (typhus?) hit Athens. All the population of the Attica peninsula was within the walls, thus very crowded, while armored Spartans roamed outside, destroying the land. Pericles ordered the Athenian fleet to sail to go attack the other side of the Peloponnese. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic exploded in the hyper crowded ships. The expedition became a disaster.

Pericles was recalled and tried for this, under the accusation that everybody knew crowding would make the epidemic terrible. Thus Athens was an open society, but not so open as to be able to avoid such an obvious blunder (much of the population died)… Pericles admitted he “had anticipated everything, but not not this”. Maybe if there had been more of a debate, when planning for war with Sparta, the pandemic could have been anticipated. 

Interestingly, when the dictator Napoleon attacked Russia, a similar situation developed. Apparently the Grande Armee suffered from typhus. In a democracy, the situation would have been revealed, and debated. The obvious solution was to take measures to stop the epidemic, and put off the assault against the Czar to another year. Instead, the dictator kept everything secret, and the idealistic young soldiers from Poland, Germany and other countries, in close quarters, infected each other. So efficient was the dictator that the scandal was kept secret for two centuries (archeology revealed the contaminated corpses recently). Napoleon thus undermined the spreading of revolution to Russia, and enabled the likes of old enslaving aristocrats such as Tolstoy to gloat.

If Rome had been a democratic state in the Second Century, perhaps it would have been able to mitigate considerably the pandemics which weakened it so much. 

During the terrible plague of 1348 CE, not one European aristocrat seems to have died: the nobles knew what was coming and took efficient counter-measures. However around half of the population, often ignorantly crowded praying in churches, died. So obscurantism doesn’t help.

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SPACESHIP EARTH NEEDS TO BE OPEN TO DEBATE:

In the case of the present Coronavirus, some authorities loudly proclaimed the virus could not be transmitted from human to human, when doctors already knew with certainty that was a lie. So no timely measures were taken in Wuhan, a city of eleven million. 

We are all sharing a small planet, our common spaceship. No country owns the spaceship. No country can endanger the spaceship. Obscurantism and closed societies, anywhere, endanger us all. It was telling that Russia, Mongolia, Vietnam and even North Korea closed their borders to China: when they got informed, they acted as Open Societies should have. More generally, increasing more cooperation, by making the world more of an Open Society will enable to decrease suspicion, hence military spending, and thus augment spending on science, and in particular biology, medicine.

They said “Climate Change”. We said: WORLD CATASTROPHE. They scoffed. Now they are going to sneeze. They will sneeze because the world’s ecology has been all open, and kicked around to new possibilities, while the old biosphere dies. The intellectual climate needs to change and warm up. The time for imagination and passion has come.

The Open Society is not just a choice anymore, it’s a duty. A world duty. Not just a world moral duty, a world survival duty. China can’t ship out, so it will have to change. And not just China. As in China, throughout the West politicians and potentates have confiscated decision power. Debate needs to grab it back.

Wars used to be made about territory. It’s time to have one about fostering the proper open attitude.

Patrice Ayme

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[1] Together SARS and MERS caused less than 11,000 official cases. Their lethality rates were 10% (SARS) and 33% (MERS). The 1918 “Spanish flu” killed only about 2.5 percent of its victims — but because it infected so many people and medical care was much cruder then, and disorganized by World War One, 20 to 50 million died. The evidence is that it started in crowded US military camps.

The highly transmissible H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic of 2009 killed about 285,000, fewer than seasonal flu normally does, and had a relatively low fatality rate, estimated at .02 percent. It is hoped by authorities that 2019 Coronavirus has a death rate of less than 2% (when more mild cases surface). The argument was made by Chinese authorities that Wuhan is more disorganized than the rest of China. Thus a death rate of 4% in Wuhan, 2% in the rest of China.

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P/S: February 6, 2020. The Chinese doctor who tried to warn other medics about the coronavirus has been reported dead after contracting the infection in Wuhan. According to local state media, Dr Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist, died from the virus on Thursday.

#Breaking: Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, one of the eight whistleblowers who tried to warn other medics of the #coronavirus outbreak but were reprimanded by local police, dies of coronavirus on Thursday in Wuhan, the Global Times has learned. Li sent a message to fellow medics in a group chat on 30 December, and days later was summoned to the Public Security Bureau to sign a letter in which he was accused of making “false comments”.


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www.grrrgraphics.com

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