In an ongoing discussion with a friend about the virus, he raised an interesting point. In the US, the focus has been on providing expensive treatment options for patients with severe cases of Covid. In much of the rest of the world, the focus has been on stopping people from getting a severe case of Covid in the first place.
That’s a bit like two approaches to road safety. Approach (a) is “We’ll teach everyone to drive and require a high standard of competency before we issue a license”. Approach (b) is “Anyone can drive anything, but we’ll make seatbelts and airbags mandatory”. Which strategy do you think is better?
Ideally of course, the best strategy, both for road safety and public health, is “both”. But, if forced to choose, which would you personally prefer? Not to be infected by the virus? Or to be infected, end up hospitalized, and suffer a stay in the ICU as part of that stay? Even with health insurance, you’re probably up for some hefty amount of copay, deductible, and medication costs, and may emerge (with your internal organs) literally scarred for life.
There actually is a rational reason for focusing not on severe-case treatment, but instead on reducing the spread of new cases and the severity of them. You see, there’s a “positive feedback loop” – the more active cases out there, the easier it is for more active cases to be passed on. Currently it seems that perhaps one in every hundred people might have the virus in an active/infectious state. If you are in a store with 99 other shoppers, someone is probably infected, making it more likely you’ll catch the virus yourself. The risk of becoming infected is obviously lower if the number of infected people “out there” at present is lower. It is better to start at that end of the “disease funnel” and lower the number of people at risk and with early infections, than it is to focus on the end of the funnel, the number of people at risk of dying.
One more point. Our focus on late stage care isn’t working significantly better than other countries and their different strategies. We’re running around a bit below a 2% mortality rate, and the average is a bit above 2%.
It might seem to be unhelpful to observe the difference between the worst affected and least affected countries, because there are probably many different factors that combine to cause such a spread between the worst and least affected countries. Actually, the more unrelated factors there are that influence these rates, normally the more closely you’d expect all rates to be, because the different factors would tend to average each other out. The fact that the rates are so widely spread argues against random chance. There is something, or several things, that are massively changing how countries are experiencing this virus.
As you can see from the tables below, the ten worst affected countries are showing total case rates around the 50,000 – 60,000 cases per million people, and the ten least affected countries (see Worldometers) are showing rates around the 100 – 200 cases per million – rates that are 300 – 500 times lower. In terms of deaths, the spread is between about 1,000 at the high end and 1 or 2 at the low end, an even larger spread of 500 – 1000 times between best and worst.
If we reduced our numbers 500-fold, we’d have a mere 33,000 cases in total (instead of 200,000 new cases every day) and 613 deaths. Is one of these important factors a different approach to public health and disease control?
We can’t close our eyes to this enormous difference. We must track down the reason, and use it in our fight. Here’s a suggestion to the CDC and (ugh) WHO. How about taking a few measly millions from your multi-billion dollar budgets to investigate this. How is it that Southeast Asia and Africa has such low rates of the virus, while Europe and the Americas have such high rates?
There have been three explanations proposed already. Greater HCQ use in the least affected countries, widespread ivermectin use in those countries, and the BCG vaccination which also seems to have been more widely adopted in the better performing countries.
It is as likely that the big changes are based on public health matters or some other matters of national policy, because sometimes there are huge differences between two countries that share a common border and otherwise seem to be very similar. The starkest example of that is in Africa, with very bad numbers in South Africa, and very good numbers in the states adjacent.
How much money and manpower is being spent on evaluating these three possible explanations at present, and seeking out other possibilities? How much money and manpower is being spent on trying to find other factors that have reduced mortality rates by up to 1,000-fold in these regions compared to in the US, even though our public health spend is so much greater than in those regions as to make comparisons almost impossible?
We’re subsidizing big pharma with billions of dollars to come up with wonder-drugs and unproven vaccines. But maybe a better answer is available, at massively lower cost, somewhere in SE Asia and Africa?
One other introductory comment. I urge you to read some of the submissions given to a Senate Committee hearing last week. While I don’t agree with all the comments in all the submissions, there’s a common thread running through many of them about how the US is spurning low cost safe treatments that have been available and known about for months in favor of unknown futuristic “vaccines” about which very little is known, and which are being developed at high cost.
Oregon has improved and swapped places with NH in the case rate table. CT and LA swapped in the death table.
Slovenia’s brief appearance in the minor country table has ended, and Georgia is now present, in ninth place. Poland has appeared on the major country table, while Chile has dropped off. The US is slowly closing the gap between itself and the two worst nations of all, and also passed through the point of having 5% of the entire US population having been infected this weekend.
On the death list, the US is now firmly in sixth place, but the UK is keeping ahead of the US, so fifth place remains out of reach for some time. Italy rose two places at the bottom of the list, while Mexico dropped two.
US Best and Worst States
|A week ago||Now||A week ago||Now|
|1 Best||VT (8,037)||VT (9,220)||VT (127)||VT (152)|
|5||OR (20,033)||NH (22,767)||OR (245)||OR (274)|
|47||WI (70,791)||WI (75,016)||LA (1,416)||CT (1,504)|
|51 Worst||ND (108,890)||ND (115,307)||NJ (1,965)||NJ (2,015)|
Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Andorra (91,181)||Andorra (94,903)|
|4||French Polynesia||San Marino|
|5||San Marino||French Polynesia|
|10||Slovenia (41,271)||Aruba (47,200)|
Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Czech Republic (51,022)||Czech Republic (54,029)|
|3||USA (45,683)||USA (50,432)|
|12||Italy (28,613)||Poland (30,022)|
Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Belgium (1,486)||Belgium (1,542)|
|8||Mexico||Czech Republic (890)|
|10||Czech Republic (831)||Mexico (878)|
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Items below include a new section on vaccines, due to all the new data coming in, and four items to kick it off, with news of vaccines from China, Australia and Europe. We also note the US stick/carrot approach proposed to “encourage” people to be vaccinated, point out yet another case where political correctness rather than public health policy dictates what WHO does, and we wonder what the difference between “soft” and “hard” is, and just how hard “hard” actually is (we’re talking about lockdown measures, of course!).
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3 thoughts on “Covid-19 Diary : Sunday 13 December, 2020”
How about info on how to get early scheduling to get the vaccine? Is there a Sign Up process?
Please keep in mind that, as far as I’m aware, the vaccine has been tested/proven on ZERO people of your age. Just saying……
I don’t have details of how to get in line for the vaccine, I suspect it is being handled on a state or even lower level rather than nationally. Ask your doctor how to do so in your state.
Hey, you might encourage people to read online. I have previously only read from my Gmail client. I’m sure I missed out on a fair amount of content. Now I can see that I can pop off my unsolicited opinions now. 🙂
Thanks for the great articles.