Saturday assorted pandemic links


2. Love this bit “ Countries have shut down some of the institutions they hold dearest. Japan has closed all schools. Saudi Arabia has halted pilgrimages to Mecca. And the Chinese government has postponed indefinitely its two big annual political assemblies.”

They are charging people $4000 for their quarantine stay. Held against your will and forced to pay. Let's hope these tests are accurate as they will deprive you of life (you might catch the real one if you got false positive test), liberty (they take you away), and property (it's not cheap). Hospital testing now holds the keys to your freedom.

In order to fight an epidemic, medical services have to be near free. Otherwise nobody will take the financial risk because of our bloated health costs. Market incentives seem to go against the public interest here.

"here"...when it comes to health, market incentives _always_ go against the public interest.

One thing that is in plentiful supply is fear and its sick cousin panic
We go mad in herds come to our senses one by one.

Score another point for universal healthcare.

In Germany, people are paid while in quarantine, as part of the Infektionsschutzgesetz - IfSG. This is separate from paid sick leave, which applies whenever someone is sick. In other words, not only do you not receive a bill, you would actually receive payment for following the quarantine provisions.

How rational.

Taleb is right. China is the safest place in the world from the coronavirus. The failure to address this crisis makes Trump look weak like a pussy.

How much will the tests cost? How much are we going to waste on this virus?

Current best estimate is 86 thousand cases worldwide, that's a paltry number. Its basic reproduction number is not known to be exceptionally high. It's fatality rate is not known. Its amazing to me that the world is losing its mind over this virus.

Is it possible that it will be a disaster? Of course. But the data we have today is that this is a highly localized issue with a handful of cases. I think that fear of the unknown, the internet, and the fear mongering of those seeking the spotlight are driving us collectively insane.

People are freaking out precisely because we don't know much about this yet, but that it has killed thousands in a short period. Eighty six thousand is definitely an undercount, but by how much we don't know. We don't even have tests here, so how many people do you think Iran is testing? Nigeria?

California has 8400 under quarantine and only 200 test kits. The incompetence of this administration is staggering.

California has about 20 in quarantine

I've never been worried.

We don't know yet how dangerous this virus will be. The early numbers don't yet give the end result of deaths and recoveries. It is foolish to under estimate this virus. The worst characteristic is that we probably cannot isolate it and it will become pandemic world wide. Do the math! Even at the lo-ball estimate of .2 deaths per hundred if most people in the world become infected the total deaths may exceed the death toll from socialism and THAT is a really big number.

Are you saying that the corona virus deaths would be the same people that would die from regular flu so it doesn't matter OR are you saying people die every year so another million or two won't matter OR do you not know what you are saying???

Anon - what I am saying is that every year the flu takes out many many people in many different ways. This year, we know the name of one of the more lethal strains, but in most years there are other lethal strains that have faded into obscurity without being named.

That being said, there are many experts on coronavirus deaths who think this one is unique, so far they do not have the numbers on their side in any country, but they are intelligent and might be right.

Because they might be right, and because they might be wrong, there is no "low-ball" figure. It is nonsense to say there is such a figure when we have no idea about what the effects of what we are studying are. The object of our study could be worse than the Spanish flu, if it were designed to be worse than that, or it could be the exact same thing as many strains that have killed tens of thousands and never been named.

And if you do not know that there are viruses that have killed tens of thousands in recent times and have never been given a specific name, stop reading, because you are too short for the f**king ride.

My best guess is that in China, this year, the flu (all flus considered together) will take out triple the usual amount. In other countries, the death toll will be anywhere from the usual amount plus a couple tenths of a hundred percent (for example, flu season has about 6 more weeks to run here in America) to as bad as ten times the usual amount (Iran - I hope that is not true, I have lots of friends with family in Iran).

Rather than mock me, try and understand me.

Lubos Motl and Nassim Taleb have interesting things to say about this, and they are both fluent in numbers. As am I.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is not a flu, as the name coronavirus makes plain. Flu viruses wax and wane in their lethality from year to year. This year's variant isn't anything extraordinary in that regard, though it has lead to the deaths of many thousands worldwide.

The fact that the subject virus is a coronavirus has huge implications for the ability to make a meaningful vaccine (likely to be less effective compared to a typical flu vaccine, which are never close to 100% effective), and potentially huge implications for reinfection (our immune systems tend to have a poor memory for coronavirus antigens, and so we can catch the same common cold strain multiple times).

I think you're making the point that we shouldn't jump to the conclusion that this won't really be so bad, as many poorly informed people are suggesting, and in that I agree. But it's a mistake to extrapolate from influenza outbreaks.

I think what you fail to understand is that the flu will "take out" the same number of people while the Corona virus will take out it's own set of victims too. This isn't a zero sum game.

Kevin and anon, you both make very good points.

One action that would help all of us would be China eliminating wet market practices improving their public health standards...China's biggest export seems to be viruses..different variety every 10 years...this one will work it's way through global population ..more infectious than SARS less deadly

Don't touch your asshole either. It's very stinky.

"a highly localized issue with a handful of cases"

... and exponential growth. If your job doesn't involve exponentials in some way, you are guaranteed to underestimate what that means.

The underlying dynamics of viral transmission create exponential growth. The fact that the number of cases is falling below a given exponential trend is because the rate of retransmission is decreasing, because individuals, companies and governments are becoming aware of the danger and taking measures to protect themselves/the public. For individuals, this includes things like avoiding gatherings even if they aren't in the localized areas with handfuls of cases.

“Underlying dynamics” ... no kidding. It reproduces. Most people on this that this leads to an exponential when not checked.

But it is checked through various frictions, and the curve, right now, looks very tame.

Yes, the panic is getting out of hand. I was at Wal-Mart today and it had the longest lines I’ve seen in my life with people buying all kinds of goods in bulk. You’d think it was the apocalypse coming. I felt bad for the people who were just going about their regular business, like the older couple in line with me who commented “What’s going on? Are they giving away the store or something?” My friend, an emergency room doctor, said someone showed up to the emergency room with a mild cold that they thought was coronavirus just because they sat next to a Chinese person on a bus.

This pandemic has morphed into a PANICdemic...Goering was so right...if you can make people afraid they will join the herd and follow it over a cliff.. Internet was supposed to provide a counterweight to has turned out otherwise...

I went to lunch in Chinatown, so I guess I'm not that scared. (Not my idea, but I went along with it.)

Good news if testing is ramping up.

Were people wearing masks? Around here if there is someone wearing a mask they usually are asians. I suspect there is a deep cultural memory in China of epidemics due to the population density and relatively recent wealth that affords health care responses.

There was one guy waiting in front of our restaurant in a mask.

The guy who took us said it was usually much more crowded.

"How much will the tests cost?"

Ie, paying workers to work is a very very bad thing!

Much better to have people simply spread disease so people die, thus eliminating the cost of supporting people with food and housing.

If enough people die, burial costs will be cut by using bulldozers to dig trenches where the sick and dying are dumped and burned.

That article about Australia is clearly written by a tame journalist fir the government to paint their decisions in the best light.

I wonder whether holding off the virus so it’s spread corresponds to the start of flu season will prove a good idea...

I found the article verbose, plodding, and boring. Funny that I actually read it before TC mentioned it here (great minds read alike).

Can you provide a two sentence summary. I started reading it and got impatient when there was nothing like a summary in the first few paragraphs. I tried to skim it but the thing is written like a mystery novel.

"With the ongoing China travel ban, I'm very sympathetic about the impact on tourism and farmers, but I'm much less so with the universities," he [Senator Paterson] began. "Because they have been warned for years that they are over-reliant on the Chinese market, and for years they've reassured us that it was all fine, and that if anything happened they'd be able to withstand it. They rode the cycle up, now they can ride the cycle down. ...there should be no financial bail-out for the universities."

Ditto for American universities.

No one warned tourism businesses and farmers? Should they have been warned?

So far, I haven't heard anything about making sure everyone gets the flu jab. It seems like a simple precaution.

Covid-19 is in the family of cold viruses and a flu shot doesn't help.

The point is, it's exceptionally bad news if you happen to come down with the flu and the new coronavirus at the same time.

That's a good point, though I don't think this year's flu vaccine is that great. I got the vaccine about a month before getting the flu, and it's really kicked my ass. Very glad I got the vaccine, as it likely helped somewhat. And the thought of getting COVID-19 on top of the flu is a really scary thought.

Minimizing the number of flu cases also reduces the burden on the medical system (and the fears of people who will conflate the two).

"defy" global health authority: How can one defy an authority that doesn't exist? The Australian government *is* the authority in Australia.

You'd think that once you got yourself in charge of an actual continent you could relax a little and maybe feel a little confident, but no, the party with the Parliamentary majority and no president to worry about feels they need to pretend they can't do anything or it's some sort of herculean accomplishment they deserve a medal for when they actually decide to do something. This sort of behavior is of course why Brexit is a thing.

Our Waterloo. America has officially been beaten by the Taliban.

Bismarck would have said: The trick is knowing when to stop. :-)

Here's why this time may well be different:

Bill Clinton would have said, "The secret is knowing when to pull out."

In your dreams Trumps will be shipped off to St. Helena.

Thwt is besides the point. Neither Gorbachev nor Brezhnev were sent to St. Helena either. Yet the Soviet Union does not exist anymore.

I'd settle for The Hague.

I'm not sure making jokes about a sexual predator such as Bill isn't the greatest move.

The Dutch bishops have announced the following measures for the time being (google translate):

During celebrations in parishes and institutions, receiving communion on the tongue is not possible;
Communion can only be received by hand and should only be given by the celebrant;
The Chalice Communion is reserved for the celebrant;
Churchgoers do not shake hands with each other in the blessing for peace;
No use is made of holy water on entering and leaving the church.

Same procedures that have been in place in The Diocese of Allentown since January (pre current scare - seasonal flu).

The first implementation of these measures led to great hilarity in church as people improvised to wish each other "peace" without a handshake. And a longer waiting time for communion as there were no assistants.

#3 a country can survive without football ;)

But the living will ency the dead.

2. It’s debatable that banning travel from China was a good idea. Italy was the first country in Europe that banned travel from China and now it has an outbreak. Meanwhile, many countries that have not banned travel from China such as Canada have had no outbreak. As the Canadian health authority noted during the 2009 swine flu epidemic, cutting off 60% of air travel from Mexico only slowed the spread of the disease by 3 days but caused massive economic damage. China has already locked down the affected areas (and most parts of China have had no recent cases) so a travel ban on the other parts of China has no additional benefit to justify the disruption. It also encouraged racism against people and businesses of Chinese origin even when they had no physical connection to China, and complacency about non-Chinese sources of the disease such as the lack of testing in the US and the now proliferation of Italy-linked cases. Many conservative politicians are simply using this epidemic to score political points, like the senators who recently said this disease could come in through the southern border with Mexico (even though Mexico had far fewer cases than the US right now). There should be strong empirical evidence of causation and impact to justify measures that directly create so much disruption.

Air Canada has suspended flights to China, though, so there is a de facto partial travel ban up there.

"Partial travel ban" = just rebook with a Chinese airline instead.

China has been a bad actor in this (and all sorts of other issues). China owes the rest of the world compensation.

I demand gunpowder and the compass!

Letting Hong Kong (which was better off under British rule), Tibet, and the Uighur go free would be a good down payment.

It is China's government that loves to play the victim, but now is the time for the U.S. and the rest of the world to display some strategic nous and find ways to exploit the vulnerability of China's government created by its own incompetence.

"How China’s Incompetence Endangered the World":

The only thing more incompetent than the Chinese government is the American one.

Nothing gainsays the fact that It is the incompetence of China's despotism that unleashed SARS and the coronavirus on the world. That record by itself is worthy of imprisoning the entire CCP leadership in the concentration camps they created for the Uighurs.

So, being worried about contracting a potentially fatal disease is now racist.

How dare you.

Cable news warnings re: COVD-19 related shortages of drugs from China are misleading. Shortages have existed for years.
The FDA drug shortage database currently has 145 medications on it.
Hospitals get drugs from Group Purchasing Organizations
Started in 1910 as co-op buying groups to save money on supplies, GPOs changed in 1987 when *Congress* enacted a “safe harbor” provision, allowing the companies to be paid by the medical-supply vendors rather than the hospitals. The idea was to save hospitals money, but legalizing these kickbacks totally changed the incentives. GPOs were the only entryway into the hospital, and they played a gatekeeper role.”

This is recent and good.

If Canada is any indication, sensible precautions such as self isolation, limiting travel and a reasonably testing protocols, and rational hospital infectious disease protocols seem to work. BC has 8 cases, 4 have recovered fully. Canada has 15 in total. Vancouver and Toronto have large ethic populations that travel. There were four times more killed on that flight out of Iran than living Coronavirus cases.

Of course we shall see.

"Of course we shall see." Depending on our age and health condition.

I hope your right that those measures limit the spread of the virus. But right now it looks like the virus is just getting started spreading outside of China. So it is much too early to think that any nation (except maybe Greenland) will not have outbreaks.

Canada's big advantage is that it's not particularly dense, that major population centers are reasonably isolated from each other, and that its borders are relatively controlled. It's also a wealthy country with an educated population.

Rate of onset will matter a lot. If they continue to get a trickle of cases through limited travel, they'll be okay. If they get a bunch at once, their healthcare system will have trouble.

As a parent, I'm happy that this thing seems to be relatively kind to children. But as somebody's son, I'm worried about my elderly parents.

Has Dr. Cowen joined the media and Democrats in spreading fear and panic. Not sure if this qualifies as trolling or not, but I think it is.

Trump has failed to protect America from that which harms her; that is worth another impeachment. This time for treason.

All my life I've held the opinion that chief executives absolutely are held accountable for things beyond their control.

I call this "throwing the chief in the volcano."

I picture an island tribe deciding that the gods must be displeased and the chief has to go.

We think we are more advanced than this but we are really not. Or perhaps I should say too many voters really do operate at that level.

Why exactly was Jimmy Carter bad? Did he make the oil crisis? Or was he the chief that had to go in the volcano?

That said there are of course reasonable criticisms of an executive in a crisis, and I certainly refuse to shy from those.

For instance, Jimmy Carter should have sold his message of adaptation with more positive energy.

Perspective: The Spanish flu, which killed 50 million, 675,000 in the U.S., didn't start in Spain. The flu hit during WWI, and spread in large part through soldiers, but governments of the countries in the war kept it a secret because they didn't want to hand the enemy a potential advantage. Spain was neutral in the war, so the government and Spanish media reported it accurately. When the flu swept across the globe, it became known as the Spanish flu simply because Spain had reported it accurately. Media were under intense pressure in the U.S. not to report bad news during the war, including bad news about the flu. While Philadelphia was planning the largest parade in the city's history, physicians pleaded with the city to cancel the parade, to no avail. 300 returning soldiers attended the parade and within 48 hours the flu spread throughout the city, one of the hardest hit in the U.S. More than 12,500 residents died. "The dead lay in their beds and on the streets for days; eventually, they were buried in mass graves."

Terrible. My great-grandmother was one of the many victims in Philly.

Now imagine for two moments:

weeks or days after WHO formally declares a "global pandemic" or days and hours after the 10,000th victim succumbs to the Wuhan coronavirus, light from the star Betelgeuse arrives to light daytime and nighttime skies in supernova spectacle as plague ravages the globe. (Don't forget all the dead livestock and pets, too.)

Although this could well prove a perverse cosmic coincidence, it could also illumine any continuing human capacity to impute cosmic significance to our provincial affairs.

If Betelgeuse is soaking the earth with enough gamma rays to kill livestock then the message from the Lord to humanity is very clear.

What is the risk of TC's links... going viral?

(Sorry, couldn't resist!)

So presumably Chinese manufacturing also down by 10 to 30% in line with pollution reductions.

Either that or they’ve mastered fusion and have coincidentally just gone live.

How Australia went along with the global not cost benefit filtered corono virus 🦠 panic :(

It is hard to believe cancelling events in Switzerland is cost effective.

More testing will drive down the infection, severe reaction, and death rates and encourage countries to implement fewer costly and futile efforts to prevent spread of the disease.

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