Doing the Work – EOH 9/1

Every time you think the expert class knows what they are doing, you are soon quickly corrected. The return to school will cause a spike in deaths? Nope.As we have known since March,children are far less likely to die or have a severe outcomes of COVID-19 . Lockdowns saved lives? Peru enacted the strictest lockdown in the world but is dealing with 600,000 cases  and has the highest deaths per capita at 900 per million. A COVID-19 vaccine will take 18 months? A vaccine will come out most likely at the start of next year. Never underestimate human ingenuity.

The main issue isn’t that “scientists make less mistakes”. Instead, it is the moralization of “listen to the ‘science’, or else!”. Science does not say things; scientists say things. Quashing dissenting views is not “science”. Instead, looking at the data and willing to change your mind based on new evidence is the best way to end the pandemic with a minimal amount of societal damage and loss of life..

COVID News

Your Coronavirus Test Is Positive. Maybe It Shouldn’t Be.

Coronavirus testing is not as reliable as we thought; something lockdown skeptics have argued since April.

“Some of the nation’s leading public health experts are raising a new concern in the endless debate over coronavirus testing in the United States: The standard tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus. Most of these people are not likely to be contagious, and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time. But researchers say the solution is not to test less, or to skip testing people without symptoms, as recently suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, new data underscore the need for more widespread use of rapid tests, even if they are less sensitive.“The decision not to test asymptomatic people is just really backward,” said Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, referring to the C.D.C. recommendation.”

Let’s Talk About the Encouraging COVID Experience of U.S. Child Care Programs

Children should be allowed to go to school in person. 

“One of the most frustrating aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to act with incomplete information, like driving along a twisting road in deep fog. Frustration turns to folly, however, when clarifying information is ignored, the brights kept off. The headache-inducing debate about children and COVID is a sharp example: there are enough studies to make theoretical arguments that kids are either relatively shielded from the virus or just as infectious as adults. Bizarrely, though, the national conversation has sidelined the real-world experience of U.S. child care programs, which have encouragingly seen few outbreaks. Indeed, for once, we don’t have to drive blind. We don’t have to rely on computer models or unclear laboratory evidence or tiny sample sizes or even comparisons to other nations. We have evidence about young children and COVID right here at home — and it tells us that done right, with an eye on community spread, group settings for little kids and their caregivers can be pretty darn safe.While public schools are just starting back up or preparing to begin after Labor Day, child care programs have been operating en masse since May or June, albeit with reduced enrollment.”

More Than 1,200 Students At The University Of Alabama Have Tested Positive For The Coronavirus

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/clarissajanlim/university-of-alabama-students-coronavirus

“I am deeply disappointed that our reopening plan – premised on college kids not acting like college kids – has failed due to college kids acting like college kids.” 

“More than 1,200 students and 166 employees at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa have tested positive for the coronavirus in the two weeks since in-person learning for the fall semester began, the school announced Friday. The university’s main Tuscaloosa campus recorded 481 new cases from Tuesday to Thursday alone, according to its COVID-19 tracking dashboard. There are a total of 157 cases among students at its Birmingham campus and 10 at Huntsville. Classes began on Aug. 19, and university officials said the positive rate for student reentry testing was around 1%. But by Aug. 21, after hundreds of new cases were reported, the university issued a 14-day ban on social gatherings, including off-campus parties, and fraternity and sorority meetings. University of Alabama President Stuart Bell admonished the student body in a statement for not following university guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. “I am deeply disappointed that those guidelines are not being followed by each and every member of our student body,” he said.”

Covid Threatens Bigger Death Toll From Starvation Than Infection

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-08-31/hunger-is-threatening-to-kill-more-people-than-covid-this-year

Shutting down the economy is leading to nasty unintended consequences: starvation.

The world is hurtling toward an unprecedented hunger crisis. As many as 132 million more people than previously projected could go hungry in 2020, and this year’s gain may be more than triple any increase this century. The pandemic is upending food supply chains, crippling economies and eroding consumer purchasing power. Some projections show that by the end of the year, Covid-19 will cause more people to die each day from hunger than from virus infections. What makes the situation unmatched: The massive spike is happening at a time of enormous global food surpluses. And it’s happening in every part of the world, with new levels of food insecurity forecast for countries that used to have relative stability.In Queens, New York, the lines snaking around a food bank are eight hours long as people wait for a box of supplies that might last them a week, while farmers in California are plowing over lettuce and fruit is rotting on trees in Washington. In Uganda, bananas and tomatoes are piling up in open-air markets, and even nearly give-away prices aren’t low enough for out-of-work buyers. Supplies of rice and meat were left floating at ports earlier this year after logistical jams in the Philippines, China and Nigeria. And in South America, Venezuela is teetering on the brink of famine.”

Research

The coronavirus is most deadly if you are older and male — new data reveal the risks

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02483-2

The young and working-age people are very unlikely to die from COVID-19, so why do governments apply the same restrictions to everyone? 

“For every 1,000 people infected with the coronavirus who are under the age of 50, almost none will die. For people in their fifties and early sixties, about five will die — more men than women. The risk then climbs steeply as the years accrue. For every 1,000 people in their mid-seventies or older who are infected, around 116 will die. These are the stark statistics obtained by some of the first detailed studies into the mortality risk for COVID-19. Trends in coronavirus deaths by age have been clear since early in the pandemic. Research teams looking at the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in people in the general population — in Spain, England, Italy and Geneva in Switzerland — have now quantified that risk, says Marm Kilpatrick, an infectious-disease researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “It gives us a much sharper tool when asking what the impact might be on a certain population that has a certain demographic,” says Kilpatrick. The studies reveal that age is by far the strongest predictor of an infected person’s risk of dying — a metric known as the infection fatality ratio (IFR), which is the proportion of people infected with the virus, including those who didn’t get tested or show symptoms, who will die as a result.”

When will the Covid-19 vaccine arrive?

Operation Warp speed at work.

“Over the past few months there has been one central question on everyone’s mind — when will we have a vaccine for Covid-19? Back in March, pundits and experts were not hopeful: some were confident that it would take over 18 months, some thought at least two years, and others predicted several years. Five months on, with over 165 vaccines in development, Dr Anthony Fauci, the American epidemiologist advisor to the White House, says that an effective vaccine will be available in the US early or midway next year. And superforecasters – the paid experts whose job it is to successfully predict events – tend to agree. Are we really on the verge of achieving something that was previously inconceivable: a vaccine for an entirely new disease, developed within a year? And who can make that prediction? On the one hand, there are scientists, who have deep knowledge of viruses, infectious disease, immunology, epidemiology and biology — but they may be unfamiliar with the global economic and political events that could influence vaccine development in a time of crisis. On the other, there are superforecasters, who have broad knowledge of global issues, and skills and experience in their approach to making forecasts — but they may be unaware of certain quirks of viruses or the immune system that influence how difficult or easy it may be to develop an effective vaccine.”

Charts and Graphics

Daily New Cases vs Deaths in the Netherlands

The “case-demic” continues in the Netherlands as cases rise but deaths don’t follow.

United Kingdom: Cases & Deaths

The UK sees a similar rise in cases without an increase in deaths.

CDC Provisional COVID-19 & All Cause Deaths

The kids are going to be alright

COVID-19 in unequally ageing European regions

Age differences in Europe are likely to account for the variations in COVID-19 infection/death ratios.

How Often Do You Drive Before and After COVID-19?

COVID-19 caused a drastic shift in people’s commuting styles.

NY VS FL – COVID Deaths – Normalized for NY Population

Much like the other post-March “hotspot” states, Florida had far, far fewer deaths than New York. So, who flattened the curve?

International News

Covid-19 concern dissipates after Scottish schools reopen

https://www.ft.com/content/b664b421-4839-4c00-b353-f0855132d26d

It turns out the media was pushing a false  narrative of COVID-19 spreading in schools Are you shocked?

“Most English schools return this week after almost six months of coronavirus closure and top of many headteachers’ priority lists are concerns about a renewed spread of Covid-19 and preventing further lockdowns. In the nearly three weeks since Scotland’s schools returned, the nation has been forced to announce new requirements for pupils’ use of facial coverings and experienced an overwhelming surge in demand for Covid-19 testing. But at the James Young High School in Livingston, 25km west of Edinburgh, headteacher Tricia Gallagher said initial staff concerns had dissipated. “It was unknown territory for all of us, but now that we are living and breathing the new normal every day, it’s going well,” Miss Gallagher said at the school where pupils follow a one-way system between classes, and start and end each lesson with a squirt of hand sanitiser. “Five months into a global epidemic everyone is on edge [and] schools going back feels like a big step because it is a big step,” Jason Leitch, the Scottish government’s national clinical director, said on Friday.”

Investigation: African migrants ‘left to die’ in Saudi Arabia’s hellish Covid detention centres

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/investigation-african-migrants-left-die-saudi-arabias-hellish/

Some countries are using COVID-19 lockdowns as a smokescreen to violate the human rights of vulnerable populations .

“Saudi Arabia, one of the wealthiest countries on earth, is keeping hundreds if not thousands of African migrants locked in heinous conditions reminiscent of Libya’s slave camps as part of a drive to stop the spread of Covid-19, an investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has found. Graphic mobile phone images sent to the newspaper by migrants held inside the detention centres show dozens of emaciated men crippled by the Arabian heat lying shirtless in tightly packed rows in small rooms with barred windows.  One photo shows what appears to be a corpse swathed in a purple and white blanket in their midst. They say it is the body of a migrant who had died of heatstroke and that others are barely getting enough food and water to survive. Another image, too graphic to publish, shows a young African man hanged from a window grate in an internal tiled wall. The adolescent killed himself after losing hope, say his friends, many of whom have been held in detention since April.  The migrants, several displaying scars on their backs, claim they are beaten by guards who hurl racial abuse at them. “It’s hell in here. We are treated like animals and beaten every day,” said Abebe, an Ethiopian who has been held at one of the centres for more than four months.” 

The country with the world’s strictest lockdown is now the worst for excess deaths

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/south-america/peru/articles/peru-strict-lockdown-excess-deaths/

How can lockdown advocates defend it when the country with the strictest lockdown has the worst fatality rate? 

“Far below the immaculately tended park perched spectacularly atop Lima’s sea cliffs, wetsuited surfers once again dot the shimmering South Pacific. For a fleeting moment, as beams of sunlight pierce the “winter” cloud cover and locals jog, workout or just take in the view, it is easy to forget that Peru remains in the grips of what may be the most intense Covid-19 outbreak in the world. Officially, there have been more than 28,000 deaths, in a population of 31 million. But when all fatalities are taken into account, including those without a formal coronavirus diagnosis, the Andean nation now has the world’s highest rate of “excess” deaths compared to historical averages. Peru also just hit 600,000 cases, a grim tally that puts it behind only five other countries, all with significantly larger populations. Polls show that nearly seven in 10 residents personally know someone who has died from Covid-19.”

Liberty in lockdown

https://thecritic.co.uk/liberty-in-lockdown/

The Critic has become the  “WSJ in the United Kingdom” as one of the few publications consistently anti-lockdown. 

“‘‘When tyrannies take over it is because people volunteer their liberty voluntarily.” A bold pronouncement, but what we have come to expect from Lord Sumption, former Supreme Court judge, in his campaign to defend civil liberties under lockdown. What could persuade people to volunteer their liberty? Fear, in a word. Emergency situations call for emergency measures. The government responded swiftly to a pandemic despite scant evidence of the infectiousness and severity of Covid-19. The regulations were nodded through parliament to applause rather than opposition. But have the UK’s emergency laws and regulations been proportionate, the least intrusive available, strictly necessary and based on scientific evidence? Sumption was one of four lawyers and a civil rights campaigner to whom I talked who have been vocal in their opposition to the lockdown laws. All were outspoken about their concerns for the rule of law and democracy.”

New Tools

We recently added a new interactive tool on our website to look at states where COVID-19 infection has run its course.