Welcome To BizzaroWorld

      65 Comments on Welcome To BizzaroWorld

Well, aren’t these some interesting times?

My girls haven’t been in school for two weeks, although this week would be spring break anyway.  They won’t return to school until at least April 3rd.

I haven’t been in the office either. We’re all working from home until at least March 30th, when the company bigwigs will decide whether it’s safe for us to breathe the same air. I don’t mind doing my programming job at home, of course. I do it half the time anyway. But it feels a little weird to be ordered to stay home.

I’m not sure what to make of all this. Part of me thinks we’re committing economic suicide for what will turn out to be little worse than the flu that goes around every year. Dennis Prager wrote a column recently that’s in line with my thoughts on the issue:

Some perspective:

Chinese deaths (3,217) account for half of the worldwide total. If you add Italy (1,441) and Iran (724), two countries where many Chinese were allowed in until recently, that totals another 2,165. In other words, outside of China, Italy and Iran — with 5,382 deaths collectively — 1,018 people have died.

Those numbers have gone up a bit since the column appeared, but keep in mind that the flu – run-of-the-mill flu – kills 30,000 or more people per year in the U.S. alone. The H1N1 swine flu of 2009 killed roughly 12,500 Americans.

Meanwhile, according to this article, 99 percent of the people who died in Italy suffered from previous medical conditions, and most were elderly. The average age of those who died was 79.5 years.

Back to Prager:

The thinking is that we must shut down the Western world to prevent the exponential growth of the virus. If we don’t, our hospital systems will be overwhelmed. Many thousands, maybe more, would die, as doctors have to make grisly triage decisions as to who gets care and who doesn’t. This latter scenario is reported to have already happened in Italy.

Though there is no longer an exponential growth in the United States, they may otherwise be right.

Is this thinking correct? The truth is we don’t know.

We have no idea how many people carry the COVID-19 coronavirus. Therefore, the rates of either critical illness or death are completely unknown. Perhaps millions of people have the virus and nothing serious develops, in which case we would have rates of death similar to (or even below) the flu virus. On the other hand, perhaps not many people carry the virus, but the rates of illness demanding intensive care and of death are much greater than those of the flu.

We can only be certain that shutting down virtually every part of society will result in a large number of people economically ruined, life savings depleted, decades of work building a restaurant or some other small business destroyed. As if that were not bad enough, the ancillary effects would include increased depression and divorce and other personal tragedies.

That’s what concerns me: we may be scaring ourselves into tanking a lot of businesses and jobs. If government officials and news anchors breathlessly reported all the people dying from run-of-the-mill influenza each winter, would we be any less scared? If every fatal auto accident ended up on the news — complete with pictures and press conferences by police describing the deaths -– would you ever want to take a casual drive again? Maybe not, considering you’d be hearing about roughly 100 people dying in their vehicles every day.

I’ve mentioned Dr. John Ioannidis in several posts, speeches, etc. He’s the doctor and researcher who studies the studies on diet and health and points out how unreliable most of them are. He wrote an interesting piece on our reaction to the coronavirus as well. It’s long, but here are a few quotes:

The current coronavirus disease, Covid-19, has been called a once-in-a-century pandemic. But it may also be a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco.

At a time when everyone needs better information, from disease modelers and governments to people quarantined or just social distancing, we lack reliable evidence on how many people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 or who continue to become infected.

Bingo. You’re probably heard people on the news talking about the infection rate or the death rate. You can ignore whatever numbers they’re citing for the simple reason that we have no friggin’ idea how many people have the virus. An article I read last week quoted a woman who contracted the virus on a cruise ship. How awful was it? It wasn’t. She had a fever for a couple of days and that was it. For all we know, hundreds of thousands of people have already been infected and experienced a few symptoms they wrote off as a common cold.

This evidence fiasco creates tremendous uncertainty about the risk of dying from Covid-19. Reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4% rate from the World Health Organization, cause horror — and are meaningless. Patients who have been tested for SARS-CoV-2 are disproportionately those with severe symptoms and bad outcomes. As most health systems have limited testing capacity, selection bias may even worsen in the near future.

The World Health Organization could do their credibility a huge favor by sticking to what they actually know.  These are the same people who told us (with “evidence” that’s beyond laughable) that meat causes cancer.  Hey, WHO: if you want me to listen to you about the threat posed by a disease, don’t lie to me about the threat posed by a hamburger.  You remind me of this headline from the satirical site The Babylon Bee.

Anyway, Ioannidis crunches some numbers and says what while we don’t know what the death rate would be in the general population, he suspects it would be somewhere between 1.0 percent and 0.5 percent.

If we assume that case fatality rate among individuals infected by SARS-CoV-2 is 0.3% in the general population — a mid-range guess from my Diamond Princess analysis — and that 1% of the U.S. population gets infected (about 3.3 million people), this would translate to about 10,000 deaths. This sounds like a huge number, but it is buried within the noise of the estimate of deaths from “influenza-like illness.” If we had not known about a new virus out there, and had not checked individuals with PCR tests, the number of total deaths due to “influenza-like illness” would not seem unusual this year. At most, we might have casually noted that flu this season seems to be a bit worse than average. The media coverage would have been less than for an NBA game between the two most indifferent teams.

Makes sense to me.

On the other hand, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author Antifragile and The Black Swan, made his fortune by understanding and calculating risk. He believes social distancing for a few weeks is exactly the right thing to do.  Maybe, but I hope it doesn’t stretch into months.

It’s been interesting watching the run on food and other supplies at the local grocery stores. I’m not sure why people wait until a real (or perceived) threat is announced to start preparing for a lockdown. Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, malevolent hackers, an electromagnetic pulse … there are all kinds of potential threats to the supply chain. Keeping some extra food and supplies around is a good idea in any year.

About a year after we moved here, our part of Tennessee was slammed by The Great Flood of 2010. When we bought the mini-farm, we asked the previous owner how she fared during the flood. The house stayed dry (it’s on a hill), but the creek that cuts through the front pastures turned into a river for about a week. She couldn’t leave the property.

With that and other potential Black Swan events in mind, we’ve made it a habit a keep a good stock of non-perishable foods and emergency supplies on hand. When the coronavirus panic finally ends, do yourself a favor and assume there’s another lockdown on the horizon somewhere.

Stay well, my friends.

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65 thoughts on “Welcome To BizzaroWorld

  1. Less Antman

    Playing it safe = Destroying economies, encouraging the worst power-grabbing instincts of politicians & destroying the lives of independent contractors. Makes sense to me.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      That’s what worries me. I’m reminded of Rahm Emanuel’s instruction to statist politicians: Never let a good crisis go to waste.

  2. Martin Levac

    Hey Tom, you ever heard of what’s called catastrophization? Check out Jonathan Haidt’s lecture at UCCS, it’s on youtube, he explains how it works. I’ll summarize it here. Basically, we percieve things worse than they are, and we percieve them as the worst version of it. An example is the front page of a local newspaper a few days ago that said, among other apocalyptic bullet points, “30% of people may be affected”. I kid you not, that front page would fit right in as the opening for any zombie movie, but it’s an actual genuine printed newspaper in real life. An important aspect of catastrophization is that it bounces back and forth between any two individuals, so that in the end, whatever information was given about any particular thing gets distorted to such a high degree that it no longer represents reality. And due to the manner in which this happens, social media and online immediacy, it occurs in a matter of hours.

    Personally, I’m not worried one bit. Not. One. Bit. I trust the WHO about one iota less than zero, precisely because of that meat-cancer BS. I trust my local, provincial and national health organizations one iota less than that, but for other reasons. On the other hand, what are we not talking about? I don’t mean related to like the economic consequences you’re talking about, I mean unrelated stuff that may be going on yet is still very much important to us?

    Ironically, my national health organization (Sante Canada) did something in the recent past that could help with that virus, but it would require them to do some mea culpa first. Basically, they made us scared to death of a particular substance that is otherwise the most effective anti-pathogenic substance on the planet today. It’s so effective that it’s used in every potable water treatment plant on the planet. Not a joke. If that’s not enough of a hint, the name of this substance is chlorine dioxide, or chlorine dioxide gas, depending on context. You got a pool? That’s the stuff you use to disinfect the water in it. Your house was in a flood? That’s the stuff you use to recover that house, and everything in it. You got a city and a potable water treatment plant? That’s the stuff you use to make water potable. You got a food factory? That’s the stuff you use to make it pathogen-free. Oh, and you got some blood you need to disinfect cuz you gonna use it for a transfusion, like if you feared it was infected by some nasty virus like AIDS? That’s the stuff you use for that too.

    On a side note, ever considered that we may all be neurotic, purely as a function of our diet? Check out my blog, latest post, for an idea on that.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I read Haidt’s book “The Coddling of the American Mind,” which included quite a bit about catastrophizing. I definitely think we’ve got some of that going on.

  3. Firebird7479

    “Meanwhile, according to this article, 99 percent of the people who died in Italy suffered from previous medical conditions, and most were elderly. The average age of those who died was 79.5 years.”

    Italy has one of the largest senior citizen populations in the world. I suspect that speaks well to their version of The Mediterranean Diet.

    330 million Americans. The number of infected and dead are so small. It is baffling why there is this hysteria. Perhaps this line from the Don Henley song, “Dirty Laundry” sums it up best:

    “We got the bubble-headed bleach-blonde who comes on at five
    She can tell you about the plane crash with a gleam in her eye
    It’s interesting when people die, give us dirty laundry”

  4. Matt

    Thank you Tom for posting this. It is truly stupefying to see otherwise thoughtful and intelligent people getting swept up in this without a critical thought to be had. This is obviously just one guy’s anecdote, but here something that happened to us recently:

    We live in southern PA and about 6 weeks ago we were visiting my wife’s parents on a Sunday afternoon like we normally do every other week or so. Her father, a man in his sixties who had just been doing work in Baltimore, started developing a cough while we were over. The over the next few days it developed into something he said felt like bronchitis and the flu. He was pretty sick, but recovered fine after a week or so of rest at home.

    Meanwhile, the next week, my two oldest boys (3 and 2) each developed a nasty illness with serious lethargy, dry cough, high fever, and breathing issues. My 2 year old’s breathing was quite labored and we were on the verge of taking him to the doctor, but both ended up recovering fine at home.

    Perhaps most interestingly, my wife, who has been sick maybe once in the five years I’ve known her, came down with something similar. High fever, chills, muscle ache, weakness, and noticeably difficult breathing. She recovered after 48 hours or so. Myself (34 y/o healthy male) nor my newborn developed anything more than a cough.

    Recently we’ve been informally asking around both in person and on social media and it seems like a lot of people have a similar story to tell as far as symptoms and timing.

    Now given the following:

    1) The first KNOWN case of the China flu was as early as December 1st in Wuhan

    2) The seeming high level of contagiousness

    3) Real travel restrictions have only been enacted somewhat recently

    What are the odds that the corona virus HASN’T been circulating in the US for at least the past month or two?

    And if that is the case, what are the implications? Where are the piles of bodies? Where are the overwhelmed hospitals and clinics being forced to ration care? Does that mean that life can, in fact, go on while the coronavirus is in our midst?

    Its also quite interesting that the same Very Serious people who have been showing us their models predicting that the world is going to be overpopulated in X years or climate change is going to end civilization in 5 years if we don’t do something immediately are now insisting we take their models seriously or else 10’s of millions (or more) will die

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      That’s what I keep wondering myself: have we shut down the economy to prevent the spread of a virus that’s already been spread? I had what felt like a cold with a cough in November as well. There was definitely something hanging around deep down in my lungs. I generally felt okay after a week, but for the next six weeks, if I took a deep breath, it triggered a coughing fit.

      Could’ve just been a common cold. Or maybe I had the virus and it didn’t produce much of an effect.

      1. Firebird7479

        My sister works in a doctor’s office here in NJ. She messaged me last night to warn me to stock up on food for two weeks because within the next day or two, the state will be in full shut down…no stores will be open for two weeks. She said the virus travels really fast “It’s gonna get really bad.” That didn’t scare me. It pissed me off! Especially with all the conflicting information of how long it will last. Some say it will be over when the weather warms up. Others say it is immune to the heat. Could last until May, could last 18 months. WTF?!

          1. Firebird7479

            That is encouraging. I know in China and other parts of Asia, they are successfully treating this with high dose Vitamin C via I.V. — but Facebook and Twitter will not let you share that information because it has been determined to be “fake news” by their “independent fact checkers”. Makes me wonder who checks the fact checkers?

    2. Debi

      “What are the odds that the corona virus HASN’T been circulating in the US for at least the past month or two?”
      Exactly! Any idea how many expats living and working in China returned to the US for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays? Hundreds. Which means there could be thousands of cases that never got diagnosed or reported.

    3. egocyte

      Hey, a French guy here.
      We are roughly 10 days ahead on you on the disease. And the country is in lockdown (though I’m still at work because I’m in the food industry, and you can’t make it from home). I hope you guys are right, but here the numbers are still going up, following an almost perfect mathematical exponential curve. And the same happens in every country in Europe. Twice more dead people every 3 days. For now it’s still low compared to the global mortality of a whole country, but make an excel sheet and simulate a +30% exponential curve and see where it goes in a few weeks…
      The problem might not be in the end the total death count compared to the whole population, but the fact they all happen at the same time and flood the hospitals. Here in France we are supposed to have one of the best public medical service, and we started to build military hospitals in places where the disease began first, because they can’t handle all the cases. From what I understand, the medical system in the US in not especialy very good, so I don’t want to be pessimistic, but prepare for a flood in your hospitals in a few days.

  5. Cameron Hidalgo

    >Though there is no longer an exponential growth in the United States, they may otherwise be right.

    A bad premise though. We are still seeing an exponential growth. So its not a “May otherwise be right”, its a “they are right”.

    Along with the “this article is old”, means that every assumption is not just based on a bad model, but a severely outdated bad model.

  6. Bret

    Pretty amazing that we have ground the world economy to a slow crawl over this, threatening innumerable jobs.

    Of course the “overwhelmed hospital” hysteria is largely true, but not because this is some big spooky scary virus, but because our health care system is an inflexible mess due to heavy control by special interests and government interference. That system can only adapt to a crisis if government spends our children into another few trillion in debt.

    South Korea has sanely limited the isolation efforts to those truly at risk over contracting this virus, and it seems to be working. I am going to hope that our politics- and media-obsessed Washington establishment can figure out how to move us toward that posture after a couple weeks of this overreaction.

    1. Kla9107

      You left out the lawyers/liability laws. Some hospitals are reporting critically low supplies of masks and face shields. So, it takes a special act (not sure which branch of government), to allow construction supply companies to provide “millions overnight”. At least according to yesterday’s presidential briefing.

      Shame, we need a crisis to address appropriate supply chain solutions in one of the richest countries in the world.

  7. Lori Miller

    If you take the floating petri dishes aka cruise ships Grand Princess and Diamond Princess as models, I think the perceived threat has been overstated. However, I could be wrong, so I am going along with social distancing, etc. It’s my normal way of life, anyway.

    If you go to worldometer.com and scroll down, critical and serious cases are 5% of the currently infected worldwide. In the US, we have 64 serious and critical cases. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

    Taleb has been shouting down as an idiot anyone who disagrees with him. When the dust settles, I think he’ll have ended up on the wrong side.

    On the positive side, this may bring about more options to work and study from home. It might also finally get people to stay home when they’re sick. Maybe it will even get people to be better prepared for emergencies.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Taleb is usually combative towards people who disagree with him. Seems to be part of his personality. But having read all his books, I wouldn’t say he was on the wrong side even if it turns out the coronavirus isn’t much worse than the flu. What he calls Black Swan events are statistically quite rare but disastrous if they occur. He seems to view this as a potential Black Swan event and believes we should act as if the cost of not taking it seriously could be huge.

      1. Lori Miller

        I think he’s looking to make his name as The Guy who Saved us from the Black Plague. Considering South Korea has seen 94 COVID-94 deaths–yes, ninety-four, in a country of over 50 million–I think he’s more likely to become known as The Guy who Shut Down the Economy over the Flu.

        1. egocyte

          The South Koreans didn’t react the same way, they test as much people as they can, so that the persons with the virus are in quaranteen, and not the whole country, and the cirus spreads slower. In Europe we didn’t do this: more than 4000 deaths in Italy (60 millions inhabitants), 1000 in Spain (47 millions), 500 in France (68 millions). You already have 240 deaths in the US (as of march 20), and the curve is exponential. Brace yourselves. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_coronavirus_pandemic_in_the_United_States#Statistics

          1. Lori Miller

            You have to reconcile this with low test rates in Japan and Norway (and relatively few deaths there) and other countries where testing rates are higher. The main pattern in deaths I see is they’re mostly in densely populated areas of the northern hemisphere that have been chilly but not horribly cold for the past month. Looking at tropical basket cases on the Johns Hopkins map, I don’t see many deaths there outside of southeast Asia.

  8. June

    It’s not the numbers, it’s the concentration of patients.

    With so many procedures that used to require hospitalization being done on an outpatient basis modern hospitals have much fewer inpatient beds than in the past. You basically have just enough beds and equipment for normal patient needs. When you get a huge influx of patients, you got trouble. That’s what we are seeing in Italy. Health care workers have gone online to tell how overwhelmed they are at getting all these patients in at once. That’s the real problem. That’s why you are hearing so much about “flattening the curve” when it comes to patient infection: You want a slow, steady number of infections over a few months, not a huge spike of patients over a few weeks.

    Imagine two little towns in different states. Both towns are on a river and are in somewhat hilly terrain. The first town has a miserable weather system set in at the beginning of April and they get day-long showers that result in an inch of rain falling every single day. The second town has a horrible weather system blow in and for three consecutive days they get ten inches of rain over two hours every day.

    The first town is fine. The surroundings can easily absorb an inch of rain. Run-off is mild, the ground get a little soggy and mainly everyone just wants to see the sun again. The second town is devastated. There is no way the environment can accommodate that much rain in so short a period of time. There is massive run-off, cars are swept away, houses are damaged, trees are falling because the ground is saturated and can’t support the weight. Then all the water flowing into the river is too much and the river floods, sending massive waves of water through the streets of the town causing even more damage. On May 1st the residents of the first town are happy to see the sun come out at last and go about their business. The residents of the second town are trying to deal with all the damage and are wondering if they town will even survive. Both towns got a total of 30 inches of rain over 30 days, but the outcomes are very different. Usually our healthcare system deals with a sort of constant shower of illness and patient needs, but when there’s an epidemic it’s like getting hit with a monsoon.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      That’s why I’m not so much opposed to the social-isolation idea as I am questioning the effects if this goes on and on.

  9. Deb

    I have been waiting for you to weigh in on this topic; thanks for your perspective! According to Worldometer (spelling?), the number of new cases in the US is half what it was yesterday, and the new cases in other countries other than Italy and Iran are similarly dropping. Light at the end of the tunnel!

  10. Anne

    It’s all so extrordinarily bizzare and irrational, I just have to think that it is intentional, there is some hidden agenda using this non-crisis. I’ve heard that “they” are trying to usher in the dependence on AI and to switch us over to digital money, but we can only guess at what’s going on. For all the reasons mentioned in previous comments, I can’t believe that “they” would bring the economy to it’s knees for this virus which even the worst reported statistics tell us, is just not that serious.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I don’t know if there was a planned hidden agenda, but politicians are certainly going to take advantage of the situation now that it’s here.


    Could this be an opportunity to check our current trajectory and course correct? If the majority of citizens and small businesses are running so lean that 2-3 weeks of social disruption will bankrupt them, maybe the current method of capitalism needs tweaking. We can only expect more events such as this or other natural disasters will inevitably interrupt the precarious order of things. We’ve survived and evolved this long because of our adaptability. Why are we now expecting the natural world with its host of viral and biological creepy crawlies to adhere to our comfortable way of life?

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Capitalism works just fine. Back in the day, saving money was expected. We just don’t do enough of it anymore.

      1. Anand Srivastava

        Not really. The problem is that we have been saving into the banking system. Not Americans, but the rest of the world. The saving in the banks requires that the bank find good people to loan that money so that the savers can be paid. Since there are not enough worthy debtors, it is given to unworthy ones. This results in increasing non-performing assets and makes the bank insolvent. The problem is that enough people are not saving their money into assets like physical gold. Till people do that the banks will not be safe.

        When the banks start to collapse the govt has to save them, otherwise savers will lose their money.

        Why do you think the interest rates are below the inflation level. Because the banks need to pay interest. This economy was ready to collapse a decade ago. China saved by accumulating US Treasuries. Which allowed US to print more. But now the US economy is at the end of its rope.

        Covid19 is just a good scapegoat. Social distancing is an absolute necessity to prevent overwhelming the hospital system. The problem is that 5-10% people need ICU and ventilators. This is a big problem. This is why it overwhelms the hospital system. And the only solution is to delay the spread of the disease as much as possible. But yes it is triggering the debt unwind. And ushering in the helicopter front lawn dump. It was inevitable, but Covid19 has brought the timeline near and precipitously.

    2. j

      That’s the problem. The majority of us have gotten too comfortable and we expect outside forces to take care of us when things go south. Our priorities are way off. While capitalism isn’t perfect, it’s the only -ism that gives us the most freedom to decide what’s best for ourselves. So, although we can never plan for everything, personal responsibility and accountability goes a long way. Make better decisions.

  12. j

    I feel like this is just a wake-up call or practice round for how quickly things can go bad.
    Now think about the millions of Americans with virtually zero situational awareness and who couldn’t do a pull-up or push-up to literally save their life.
    If things ever got really bad, they’d be the first to go. Survival of the fittest, anyone?

  13. Michele

    I think you are probably right that the percentage of deaths will be much lower than we are currently estimating, because the number of cases being reported is actually way too low. But the problem is the rate of infection is so high, and the number of people needing hospitalization has the potential to be very very high. This will be devastating to our health care system, and will result in many unnecessary deaths. We do need to isolate for a time, and we do need to slow the spread. But I am also afraid of the effect this is going to have on our economy. It’s going to be bad.
    It’s a tough situation to be in for all of us. The comparison to H1N1 is also a little faulty. There were 12,500 deaths, but this was in a 12 month period. I am not sure it’s a good comparison. And the actual percentage of deaths and hospitalizations compared to infections is quite low.
    They are reporting now that the percentage of serious cases/hospitalizations is actually high in the younger population. A friend of mine is life long friends with a couple in their 30s that were infected. They have both been in ICU. He is still on oxygen. She is still in the ICU, and is slowly improving. They have no other health issues.

  14. Bill Robinson

    Add up all the risks you undertake when you go
    out each day. e.g. being hit by a car, catching
    hepatitis, or such. Let’s randomly say those
    risks add up to 100. The increased risk from
    the covid virus is added on top of that number
    and it’s probably less than an increased risk
    of 1. This isn’t the actual numbers, but
    the accumulated daily risks are probably a factor of
    hundreds of times the added risk from this
    virus. The question stands: At what risk
    should the government step in and protect
    us from ourselves?

    I say, give us good information (sadly lacking
    in this mess) and let us make up our own
    minds whether to take on any added risk.

    My late father would have called what is
    happening “the nanny state.”

  15. Margaret

    It’s interesting to ponder the test to positive ratio. Here in Colorado currently, about 3300 tested, about 360 were positive. That means that out of 3300 people who were feeling sick, 90% HAD SOMETHING ELSE other than COVID19.

    1. Firebird7479

      My friend’s wife, in her 60s and with COPD, tested positive. The flu went through the house. She felt better but got sick again. It makes me wonder if even the slightest head cold diminishes the immune system JUST ENOUGH for this virus to come in and make things worse. The same can be said for the 25 year old who got infected while in Spain on vacation. He didn’t show symptoms until he got on the plane. He hadn’t eaten in 12 hours and had been doing a fair amount of drinking. Think being drunk doesn’t compromise the immune system?

      Had he had eaten and been sober, things might have been different, IMO.

  16. Jerica

    I was going back and forth on this once it escaped China. We knew so little at the time and I live with people who are immunocompromised. Targeted quarantines made sense at first. But now that we are thinking back on a flu our family of five had back in February, we think we may have already had it. Whether we did or not, we are no longer really afraid of the virus. I’m more afraid of other things happening right now. Like idiots buying up so much food and toilet paper that they’d never even use in a month.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I see people buying all that toilet paper and can’t help but wonder how much time they spend in the bathroom on a normal day.

  17. Anne

    Give us good information; yes. But from what I can tell, there is a lot that they just don’t know. My son is a respiratory therapist in a hospital, treating COVID patients, and he tells me they just can’t figure this virus out. My intuition is that what the medical system can’t figure out, has something to do with the allopathic medical model that treats symptoms rather than root causes. The fact that so many people have serious disbiosis, compromised gut issues and autoimmune conditions is slowly dawning on them but it is hard to overcome the old way of thinking. But then, the functional medicine doctors, like Chris Kressor seem to be pretty much on board with the social distancing, hyper-cautious approach as well. Anyway, let’s hope that the fact that they are so puzzled by this one, opens them to some of the creative thinkers outside of the fossilized understanding of human health. I know, I’m ridiculously optomistic.

  18. Sean

    That 1% infection rate and 0.3% CFR is insanely low, and is not even close to what happened on the DP which was way more ideal than what would happen in a nationwide pandemic (like we are seeing in Italy). It’s so insanely low that one has to wonder at Ioannidis’ motivations for pushing it.

    See Cochran’s takedown:


    “He suggests a scenario in which 1% of the population gets infected and 0.3% of that 1% die. We are not seeing that low level of fatality in China, or Korea, or Italy. As for 1% getting infected, where the fuck does that come from? When a new pathogen shows up, no-one is immune, and the only limiting factor ( barring intelligent human action) is having enough contract it, recover, and develop immunity that the virus has trouble find vulnerable hosts. The limit, in a simple model, is when R0, multiplied by the fraction of never-infected people, is less than 1.0 . Since R0 is something like 3 ( assuming no major efforts at social distancing etc), that would require infection of 2/3ds of the population of the United States – with a death rate well above the 1% we’re seeing in places like South Korea. More like 4%, or even higher.”

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Not sure. Korea has apparently done the most per-capita testing. Latest figure I saw was 8,400 people tested positive out of 300,000 total tested, which would be 2.8%. So the question I’d ask is: is Korea testing everyone, or giving priority to people who might be infected?

      The level-of-fatality figures we get from any source at this point are highly suspect. We don’t know how many people are infected, which means we don’t know the fatality rate. Rand Paul, for example, tested positive but has zero symptoms. There could be millions like him who aren’t counted in the “infected” category because they’ve never been identified.

      Back to Korea: The latest death toll I saw was 100. Even if the 8400 people identified as infected are the ENTIRE population of infected people, that’s a death rate of 1 in 840 people, or 1.1%. But of course, they’ve only tested 300,000 people out of 51 million. Let’s suppose the 2.8% infection rate identified among those tested applies to the whole country. That would mean 1.4 million people are infected … and they’re reporting 100 deaths so far. Do the math.

      The most recent worldwide figures I could find are here:


      382,108 cases identified, 16,574 deaths. Yes, that’s a death rate of 4.3% … among people IDENTIFIED as positive for the virus. The vast majority of people who have the virus haven’t been identified. According to what I read on Healthline, the majority of people infected aren’t identified unless tested because they experience no symptoms or only very mild symptoms. When all the numbers are finally available and have been crunched, we may find out this is no deadlier than run-of-the-mill flu.

      1. Firebird7479


        Almost all diseased in Denmark (as of now 32 of 5,8 million, i.e 0,00055%) had severe co-morbidities, were older and some of them where even terminally ill. That is why our press keeps reporting that “Breaking: xx people have died with Corona” (not from Corona) …. they love doing this, knowing very well that its scaring and intimidating the less-critical reader (such as young and older people…that we should protect, not scare to depression and anxiety…FU MSM).


        Just like your expert said in “Fat Head”…guy dies in a car crash who was on a low carb diet, and they use that stat to show death by low carb diet.

  19. Firebird7479

    Found another use for my sous vide stick. Filling a pot of water and heating it with the stick until the water reaches 135 degrees F. Fill a cup, add some salt, then gargle the water and/or fill each nostril. The bacteria in the throat is destroyed at 133 degrees.

    I’ve always done nasal flushes when I have a cold and sore throat but getting the temp up to over 133 makes a difference. Upon doing this today, I felt a wheeze in my lower chest that I did not feel recently. What happened was the flush and gargle loosened phlegm down deep and I was able to cough it up and out.

    Not a pleasant experience but, too me, it is a preemptive strike on whatever this thing is. Thought I’d share it with everyone. A hair dryer is also suppose to work, but I didn’t want to spend money on a hair dryer.

  20. Geoff

    A local talk show host here in Denver would talk about various laws that government would try to inflict on peoples freedom under the guise of, “If it saves just one life, isn’t it worth it?” This seems like that type of situation. At some point we need to decide, like we have with flu, car accidents, suicides, etc…what the acceptable death rate for this virus will be.

  21. Firebird7479

    I’ve been saying this for two weeks. Facebook’s “Independent fact checkers” blocked me from posting China’s results as “Fake News”.

    Yet here we are. Even my hematologist has given me the go ahead to use VItamin C temporarily to boost my immune system, even though it is a contributing factor to hemachromatosis.


  22. Robert

    “The Vision of the Anointed” was truly a fascinating book. And I’m see lots of Anointedness going on in the coronavirus bill being debated by the overpaid, squabbling children aka the US Congress. Things the lefties have been trying to sneak into the bill such as new emission standards for airlines. Just what we need. More burdensome, costly regulations on an industry that is barely solvent now because of the massive drop in travel. And another one, labels on how much “greenhouse gas” each individual flight admits. Because we all know that warning labels on emissions of aircraft will save us from global warm…er climate chang…climate catastrophe. Just as calorie counts on all the menus of restaurants saved us from overeating and becoming obese. As did Mikey Bloomberg’s soda ban.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yup. As soon as Congress started talking about a stimulus package, I knew it would be polluted with wish-list items they can’t normally get passed.

  23. Don

    Purely anecdotal, so take this with a grain of salt. Since I started taking my health seriously, eating low carb and taking supplements, I haven’t had so much as the sniffles in over a year now. No one in my family has. I take about 20 grams of Vitamin c a day, 10,000 iu. of vitamin d in the winter, twice the RDA of zinc, magnesium, and selenium. I take a host of other supplements as well. In all, I swallow about sixty pills a day. Crazy? Maybe, but I feel incredible. At 56, I’m up and down ladders all day with no pain whatsoever. I sleep six or seven solid hours a night and wake up ready to go, like I did in my twenties, if you catch my drift. No more waking several times a night to urinate. I’m nearsighted and my vision actually improved a drop and I can read the tiniest print up close with no reading glasses. My blood pressure is normal, dropping from around 180/90 to 115/70. All this and I’m on no medications whatsoever. I am absolutely unafraid of the Corona virus.

  24. Mike

    Prager writes “Though there is no longer an exponential growth in the United States, they may otherwise be right.”

    If you look at the log plots for the US on the Worldometers page, it sure looks like exponential growth to me.

    Something unusually is going on. Italy has a flu season every year, and they don’t fill their hospitals to bursting with respiratory patients. On the plus side, it looks like the log plot of deaths in Italy is flattening.

    I agree that the 3.7% fatality rate is unlikely to be correct with medical treatment. On the other hand, if the US suddenly fills its medical system beyond capacity, a fair fraction of the 5% who need critical care to survive won’t make it.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      The exponential growth is a function of testing, not of people actually being infected. As for hospitals being filled to bursting, if you think that hasn’t happened before, see today’s post.

  25. MIke

    My computer posted before I was finished

    If millions of people have already had Corona, over the past two months, why are we now seeing a significant growth in cases serious enough to detect now?

    My understanding is that the Koreans had enough test kits in the early stages to do contact tracing, and trace the people with whom the infected people had contact. If they did that successfully, then they likely don’t have a huge body of infected people who weren’t identified, and their reported death rate is a reasonably good estimate.

    Like Italy, something is now filling ERs in the US, in a way that doesn’t happen in a normal flu season. Flu infects something like 8% of the population, with a fatality rate of .1%. Novel Corona, has much better prospects of infecting a much larger fraction of the population if nothing is done.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      We’re seeing more cases serious enough to detect now because we have the test kits to detect them now.

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