Covid-19 Diary : Monday 4 May, 2020


News came out today that the Administration has projections suggesting there may be a near doubling of the daily death toll by the start of June.  This is a big surprise – if anything, the death numbers have been weakly trending down, although the relaxation of lockdown rules may see the numbers lift again.  The alleged document, apparently from FEMA, also anticipates 200,000 new cases every day by the end of May.

The Administration is currently denying this.  We’d certainly be surprised to see the daily new case rate grow from the present 25,000 or so to 200,000 in a mere 25 days, but everything about this virus surprises us, and none of them are good surprises.

I’d observed yesterday that there is a huge discontinuity between the people most at risk of dying of Covid-19 (people 70+ years old) and those in younger age groups, while at the same time, the people in younger age groups are suffering the most from the protective measures that they hardly benefit from.

This is a statistical fact.  But to dare to even mention it, or to wonder if there is a more sensible way to strategize how we implement our lockdown requirements, is apparently being ageist.  Here’s an article that quickly resorts to emotion rather than logic and hopes we’ll all pretend that age has nothing to do with one’s susceptibility to the virus.

Is it any wonder there’s a danger our virus cases might be about to increase eight-fold and our deaths double when we have to be politically correct and “non-ageist” rather than rational and scientific in how we respond to the virus threat?

I’ve mentioned several times the myriad of governmental agencies with overlapping and conflicting involvements in our virus (non)response.  Here’s just one set of such agencies, all reporting through the Health and Human Services Department.

It is fascinating to drill down into some of the departments and their respective organization charts to get more of a feeling of the magnitude of people who could be/should be doing something to solve this problem.

What are all these thousands/tens of thousands of people doing all day every day at present.?

Current Numbers

Here are the rankings for the eight states of any size with the highest infection rates.  There was no change in ranking today.

  • San Marino/582 cases/the equivalent of 17,152 cases per million people (unchanged)
  • Vatican City/11 cases/13,733 cases per million (unchanged)
  • Andorra/75048/9,707
  • Luxembourg/3,828/6,115
  • Qatar/16,191/5,620
  • Spain/248,301/5,311
  • Iceland/1,799/5,272 (unchanged)
  • Ireland/21,772/4,409

Here are the top six major countries, showing death rates per million of population in the country  :

  • Belgium/7,924 deaths/684 deaths per million
  • Spain/25,428 deaths/544 deaths per million
  • Italy/29,079 deaths/481
  • United Kingdom/28,734/423
  • France/25,201/386
  • Netherlands/5,082/297

To put those numbers into context, the death rates per million in the US/Canada are 211/102.  The world average (not a very reliable number) is 32.4.

For major countries and/or outbreaks, and in general :

Same Day
Last Week
Total Cases3,063,1613,564,1103,643,271
Total Deaths211,534248,151252,241
Active Cases (ie not yet died or cured)1,930,2582,162,9472,196,291
US Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million1,010,356/56,797/30521,188,122/68,598/35891,212,835/69,921/3664
UK Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million157,149/21,092/2315186,599/28,446/2749190,584/28,734/2807
Canada Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million48,500/2,707/1,28559,474/3,682/157660,772/3,854/1610
Worst affected major country/case rateSpain/4,907Spain/5,285Spain/5,311
Second worst country affectedBelgium/4,028Ireland/4,355Ireland/4,409
Third worstIreland/3,979Belgium/4,306Belgium/4,337

I have greyed out the data line showing active cases.  I should have done this a long time ago.  It is clear that many resolved cases are not being reported, and this number isn’t really meaningful or helpful.  Tomorrow I’ll delete it entirely.

If there’s something you’d like me to add instead, by all means ask!

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

Here’s an interesting statistic.  373 workers at a meat processing plant tested positive for having an active coronavirus infection.  But – and here’s the interesting part – all 373 of them were without any symptoms.  That is a hugely significant finding.

First, it puts the value of thermal scanning into stark clarity.  I’d earlier estimated that these expensive devices may miss as many as 95% of unknown cases.  Now it seems a better estimate is they would miss all unknown cases.  In other words, they’d be almost completely worthless.

But try telling that to the companies selling the thermal scanners, or to the companies eagerly buying them.  Modern day snake oil.

The other interesting point is these 373 workers represented 17% of the total workforce.  This begs the question – what is the situation with the other 83%?  It would be so enormously helpful to know if the other 83% have already had the disease and recovered from it, or have simply been lucky so far.

If the other 83% have not (yet) had the disease, it in turn begs another question – why haven’t they?  Is there something in their medical histories that has given them greater resistance?  For sure, when one in every six people have the virus, all the uninfected people are quite literally brushing shoulders with several infected people, multiple times, every day.  Why have they not been infected?

Such information can help us tremendously as we try and guess the overall extent of the virus in our country.  So why weren’t the rest of the employees tested for antibodies to see if they have had the disease already?

Why is no-one else curious to know if these people have had the disease before, and if not, why they haven’t?

On the other hand, testing for anti-bodies is apparently only slightly more reliable than tossing a coin.  In this article the suggestion is made to go for the best of three rather than to rely on a single test.  It is worth noting that many (most?  all?) of these tests are US developed.

The FDA, after first allowing tests out there prior to any sort of certification, in the interests of expediency, is now requiring these tests to be certified.

Perhaps we shouldn’t slang off quite so much about Chinese standards when it seems our own standards and quality is somewhat problematic.

CNN has now motivated itself to gently enter the remdesivir debate.  But you’ll not see, on CNN, this positive story about another outstanding success due to the use of hydroxychloroquine.

We continue to be perplexed at the rush to praise remdesivir after its only official set of refereed test results showed it to be a failure.

Timings And Numbers

France’s official “Patient Zero” was a case reported in Bordeaux on 24 January.  This was also the first reported case in all of Europe.  But now they have confirmed an earlier case, in the northeastern suburb of Bondy in Paris, on 27 December.  They retested samples from the patient twice to be certain.

It seems likely this new first patient may have been infected by his wife (who worked at a sushi stand), but she has not been tested for anti-bodies.  Their two children both came down with the Covid-19 disease, but his wife either did not, or was asymptomatic.

So it seems the disease was active by mid December in France.  There are rumors of early cases in other countries, too.  Given that the virus seems to have been spreading in China in December (possibly even earlier), this is unsurprising.  But what is surprising is that these cases seem to be “outliers” and didn’t lead to an earlier obvious outbreak during those happy times of no social distancing, no masks, and so on.

This is important, for the very reason it is a mystery.  We need to chase down every mystery about this scourge and resolve it, because within these mysteries may be valuable clues for the present and how we respond.

But our “researchers” seem to be astonishingly uncurious about the topic they’re being paid to research.

Closings and Openings

Another massive hospital that was never needed – this time a “Nightingale” hospital that was erected in London’s ExCel conference center, with 4,000 beds.  Although open for a month, it only treated 54 patients in total, and had not received a single patient at all in the last week.

Four other hospitals were opened in other cities in Britain.  Three of them have never admitted a single patient.

Details here.

Who Should Pay

Today’s least surprising news – China lied about origin of coronavirus, leaked intelligence report says.

Logic?  What Logic?

Yes, there are times when we despair about our country’s ability to ever rid itself of this virus.  When we read this article, two things strike us.  First, the incredibly inappropriate behavior of people who don’t want to wear masks, but who then blame shop owners, rather than the town’s mayor, for the requirement.  Second, the capitulation by the town’s leadership after some people got belligerent about the requirement.

Why is it that people speeding doesn’t result in an abolition of speed limits; people murdering doesn’t result in murder being made legal, but people getting belligerent about wearing a mask means the requirement to wear masks is hastily dropped?

And here’s another crazy woman licking things in stores.


The Dow dithered and ended having climbed a negligible 26 points today, a 0.11% gain, to close at 23,750.


We’ll put President Trump’s confidence of there being a vaccine by the end of the year in the rumor section.  We hope he is right, but it would be beating the odds and the timings to an astonishing degree if it happens.  And even if it does, there’s the definitional issue of what actually is he expecting by the end of the year.  For sure, he is not expecting that all 330 million Americans will be vaccinated by then.  And doubly for sure, almost the entire nearly 8 billion people worldwide won’t have had a chance to be vaccinated.


Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again tomorrow


Please click here for a listing of all our Covid-19 articles.



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