Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 28 May, 2020

 

Yesterday’s new version of the “facts and figures” table showed some opportunities for improvement.  I’ve reformatted it for today, let’s see what it looks like, and we’ll continue to adapt, adopt, and improve as seems necessary.

Current Numbers

Here now is a “full table” with all of two days’ data.  There have been no changes of position today.


Small Country
Case Rate

Large Country
Case Rate


Large Country
Death Rate

Today Yesterday Today Yesterday Today
(The World Average) 743 758 45.2 46.4
San Marino 19,749 Spain  6,071 Spain  6,096 Belgium 808 Belgium 810
Qatar  17,701 USA 5,277 USA 5,346 Spain 580 Spain 580
Vatican City
unchanged
14,981 Belgium  4,971 Belgium  4,993 UK 552 UK 558
Andorra
unchanged
9,877 Chile 4,308 Chile 4,552 Italy 547 Italy 548
Luxembourg 6,413 Peru 4,127 Peru 4,306 France 438 France 439
Mayotte 6,136 UK 3,939 UK 3,966 Sweden 418 Sweden 423
Bahrain 5,929 Italy 3,822 Italy 3,832 Nether-
lands
343 Nether-
lands
345
Singapore 5,687 Sweden 3,476 Sweden 3,540 USA 309 USA 312
Kuwait 5,654 Portugal 3,068 Portugal 3,098 Ecuador 186 Ecuador 188
Iceland

unchanged
5,293 France 2,803 France 2,854 Canada 179 Canada 182

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

I’ve several times written about studies suggesting that gargling with a 1% – 2% hydrogen peroxide solution each evening (and possibly more frequently if you’ve been in high risk areas during the day) might help prevent the virus infection from making its way down into your lungs.  This is something you’d do as a preventative measure, every day at present, not something you’d start if you got an infection – it would be too late then.

There is another similar study now, pointing to a nose spray and mouthwash using povidone-iodine (PVP-I) as a similar preventive.  We like the incorporation of a nose spray.

I wonder if you’ve also picked up on the amusing aspect of these two suggested procedures.  Remember when President Trump mused in a “stream-of-unfiltered-thought” as to if there might be some sort of way we could clean our insides?  Remember how all the “experts” split their sides laughing at him for several weeks for having speculated about this?  Guess what these two processes are?

While there are many things to dislike about Mr Trump, we respect his open-minded lateral-thinking about these issues.

Timings And Numbers

A survey suggests that only 49% of Americans will definitely choose to be vaccinated, if/when a vaccine is released.

That is a surprisingly low number, and has a problem associated with it.  It is generally thought that for “herd immunity” to stop the virus from growing in numbers, we need at least 60% of the population to be protected, either by vaccination or past infection and no longer being at risk of reinfection.

It seems I’m not the only person anxious about a rush to get vaccines to market, and decisions being based on press releases rather than medical science.


What color is your state? The above map is an interesting way of showing which states are doing well or not so well at present.  The depictions don’t entirely reconcile with the data on this site, but they are within the accuracy tolerances.


Are we overly cynical/suspicious, or might we be correct that in some jurisdictions where the authorities have been very lax in their response to the virus, they are now keen to downplay the number of Covid-19 deaths so as to “confirm” there was no need for a greater response?

We can understand the logic of that, but we think the opposite scenario may also apply – in other jurisdictions where the authorities may have reacted more strongly than perhaps necessary, they may sometimes now be keen to show as large a count of deaths as possible, in a somewhat illogical desire to “prove” the virus was/is a big deal and needed all the measures they instituted.

We wrote yesterday about WA state counting any sort of death at all – car crash, suicide, homicide – as a Covid-19 death if the deceased was or formerly may have been infected with the virus.

Today here’s another extreme example, relating to practices in England.  This is a fairly lengthy read, and you need to get more than halfway through before you get to the “meaty” part, starting with this paragraph (which I’ve split into more paragraphs here for easier reading :

Normally, two doctors are needed to certify a death, one of whom has been treating the patient or who knows them and has seen them recently.  That has changed.

For Covid-19 only, the certification can be made by a single doctor, and there is no requirement for them to have examined, or even met, the patient.  A video-link consultation in the four weeks prior to death is now felt to be sufficient for death to be attributed to Covid-19.

For deaths in care homes the situation is even more extraordinary.  Care home providers, most of whom are not medically trained, may make a statement to the effect that a patient has died of Covid-19.  In the words of the Office for National Statistics, this ‘may or may not correspond to a medical diagnosis or test result, or be reflected in the death certification’.

From 29 March the numbers of ‘Covid deaths’ have included all cases where Covid-19 was simply mentioned on the death certificate — irrespective of positive testing and whether or not it may have been incidental to, or directly responsible for, death.  From 29 April the numbers include the care home cases simply considered likely to be Covid-19.

The writer, a physician, pathologist and professor, makes the point that in deliberately distorting the death count, the British government is making it harder to accurately understand the true nature and extent of the virus spread, and the reality of the most at-risk groups of people.  These are important things to understand, so that public policy can be appropriately shaped to recognize the true extent and prevalence of the virus and who are most at risk, and so care regimens can be updated to reflect what has and hasn’t worked.

He adds that conducting autopsies on victims to better understand what actually killed them would also be invaluable and assist in determining risks and treatments, but these are seldom being done, either.  We know that things were a bit rushed for a while, but consider this – there are 1257 hospitals in the UK, and there’s never even been 1,000 deaths in a single day in the UK.  Today saw only 377 deaths – one for every 3 1/2 hospitals.  Surely, at that modest level of mortality, it would be possible to perform more autopsies?

But for reasons we can only guess at, the British government would rather inflate its Covid-19 death count as aggressively as possible, while losing much of the validity that could have been present.


We started watching a seemingly credible YouTube video earlier today.  Our interest picked up when the lady presenting showed a slide of regular influenza related deaths in the US.  Her point was that if the lockdown was a success, we’d have reduced both Covid-19 cases/deaths and also regular ‘flu cases/deaths too.

That’s a brilliant point, and a great way to use a better known data series to measure the implications and impacts of our lockdown.  She showed a chart with a red line pointing drastically upwards, and used that line to suggest that the lockdown was a total failure.

That seemed like a very conclusive bit of proof.  But, remembering the words of that great President (not actually first uttered by him) – “trust, but verify” – we hurried off to verify her chart and claim.

The reality appears to be totally different.  Look at the chart above (taken from this interesting article).  It shows lines for a number of recent ‘flu seasons, and the red line is the ‘flu season just now officially ended.  How do you interpret it?

I see it as unremarkable until about week 10/11 of 2020, which is sometime in the mid-March sort of time-frame, at which point it plunges down much more steeply than any other year, and stays very low, compared to its highs, for the rest of the season.  Mid-March was when people started socially distancing.

Rather than seeing proof that social distancing was a failure, it seems to me it had some positive and visible impact.  What that means in lives saved is anyone’s guess, but clearly it changed the curve for ‘flu and therefore almost certainly for Covid-19 too.

We can understand how different people can interpret the same set of numbers in different ways (remember the example of the fishing analysis), but we can’t understand how people start off by distorting the numbers before then proceeding to wrongly analyze them to prove a point they already held.  If the numbers don’t support your hypothesis, shouldn’t you change your hypothesis rather than monkey with the numbers?

Medical

We’re from the government and we’re here to help you.  So said the men in Customs uniforms while seizing “unauthorized medicines” (360 pills of a traditional Chinese medicine, Lianhua Qingwen) that had been shipped from Canada to Seattle.

Note the use of the terms in the article “unauthorized” and “unapproved” (and also that, like many other medicines, it has been approved in some other countries including Canada).  That isn’t the same as saying “banned”, is it.  Doesn’t the US constitution mean that anything not expressly forbidden is generally approved?

On the basis of “we know better than you do and we’re here to protect you from yourself” the CBP virtue-signaled and said “the use of unauthorized medications can give consumers a false sense of security and can be dangerous or fatal”.

We’re far from convinced that Linhua Qingwen will work wonders as a Covid-19 cure, but noting the description of what it contains, it seems benign rather than dangerous, and the sort of thing often sold as health supplements already.  Here’s a more recent article specifically addressing its efficacy for Covid-19 treatment.

And, in the interests of balance, a more negative article, too.

We feel we should be allowed to make our own choices when it comes to these types of supplemental products, rather than have Big Brother decide for us.

 Money

After some huge leaps upwards, the Dow paused today to think about where it is going, and whether it should.  It eased back 148 points and declared at the end of the day that 25,400 felt like a comfortable place to hang its hat overnight, a 0.6% drop for the day.

Other

We understand the benefit in having a robot do the sample-taking from people being tested for the virus – no need to worry about them getting infected.  But we also hesitate for the briefest of seconds before allowing a mechanical arm to stick something down our throats, especially when we learn that the device in question was rushed together in a mere four weeks.

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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