Saturday, April 18, 2020

There's Something Happening Here

And what it is ain't exactly clear. Stacy McCain on the Chinese Lung Rot: Good News: More Evidence COVID-19 Is Less Lethal Than Most People Believe
For some time now, it has been apparent that a large percentage of people infected with COVID-19 are either asymptomatic or have such mild symptoms that they have never been tested for the virus. From an epidemiological perspective, this is a double-edged sword. If you’re infected but asymptomatic, you can spread the disease without knowing it. This probably explains, for example, why New York City went from having just one known case in early March to having hundreds of cases within a couple of weeks. It’s possible that many who spread the virus never knew they were infected because they never had symptoms.

However, there is a bright side to this double-edged sword: If a substantial percentage of Americans have already been infected by COVID-19 without becoming sick (and never getting tested) then the fatality rate would be much lower than is suggested by the simple arithmetic based on reported cases and reported deaths from the disease. Nationally, the U.S. has 683,786 reported cases, and 34,575 reported deaths, which would mean 5% death rate. The rate is much lower in some states; Florida reports 24,119 cases and 686 deaths, which is a 2.8% death rate. If there are many asymptomatic people who have never been tested, however, the death rate is actually much lower. And . . .

Sweeping testing of the entire crew of the coronavirus-stricken U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt may have revealed a clue about the pandemic: The majority of the positive cases so far are among sailors who are asymptomatic, officials say.
Roughly 60 percent of the over 600 sailors who tested positive so far have not shown symptoms of COVID-19, the potentially lethal respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, the Navy says. The service did not speculate about how many might later develop symptoms or remain asymptomatic.
“With regard to COVID-19, we’re learning that stealth in the form of asymptomatic transmission is this adversary’s secret power,” said Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham, surgeon general of the Navy.
The figure is higher than the 25% to 50% range offered on April 5 by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now “actively looking into” results from universal COVID-19 testing at Pine Street Inn homeless shelter.
The broad-scale testing took place at the shelter in Boston’s South End a week and a half ago because of a small cluster of cases there.
Of the 397 people tested, 146 people tested positive. Not a single one had any symptoms.
“It was like a double knockout punch. The number of positives was shocking, but the fact that 100 percent of the positives had no symptoms was equally shocking,” said Dr. Jim O’Connell, president of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, which provides medical care at the city’s shelters.
O’Connell said that the findings have changed the future of COVID-19 screenings at Boston’s homeless shelters.
“All the screening we were doing before this was based on whether you had a fever above 100.4 and whether you had symptoms,” said O’Connell. “How much of the COVID virus is being passed by people who don’t even know they have it?”
The first large-scale community test of 3,300 people in Santa Clara County found that 2.5 to 4.2% of those tested were positive for antibodies — a number suggesting a far higher past infection rate than the official count.
Based on the initial data, researchers estimate that the range of people who may have had the virus to be between 48,000 and 81,000 in the county of 2 million — as opposed to the approximately 1,000 in the county’s official tally at the time the samples were taken.
“Our findings suggest that there is somewhere between 50- and 80-fold more infections in our county than what’s known by the number of cases than are reported by our department of public health,” Dr. Eran Bendavid, the associate professor of medicine at Stanford University who led the study, said in an interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer.
You see that the emphasis in media reporting on these results is on the negative aspect — a large number of asymptomatic cases means that spread of the infection is wider than we knew, and more difficult to detect — so that they completely ignore the upside. In the Boston homeless shelter story, for example, this is a population that, to say the least, has less-than-optimal access to health care, and yet you have 146 case in which none of the infected people even had symptoms? Similarly, in Santa Clara County, the random testing suggests there have already been tens of thousands of asymptomatic coronavirus cases in the community — people who were infected, but never got sick. And the Navy’s testing on the aircraft carrier, where most of the sailors are young people in prime physical condition, the large number of asymptomatic cases indicates that very few such people will experience anything more than mild symptoms from this coronavirus. This is good news.
I suppose in these three cases, it's possible that they caught a spike in the process of occurring, and that many of the people who test positive now with no symptoms, will develop them later. Given the trajectory of WuFlu, onset of symptoms (when they occur) 3-14 days following exposure (averaging about 5), with hospitalization, when needed occurring and average of two weeks after onset of symptoms, with the few deaths occurring after a week of hospitalization, this is possible, but seems unlikely.

Example #4 Coronavirus: 668 infected on French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle
A third of the sailors serving with France's aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle - 668 out of nearly 2,000 - are infected with coronavirus.

Nearly all are on the carrier itself, the navy says. An escorting frigate and carrier pilots are also in quarantine.

The carrier returned to the French port of Toulon early from Atlantic exercises. Twenty sailors are in hospital, one in intensive care.

The infection total looks set to rise, as 30% of test results are not yet in.

The navy is investigating how so many sailors caught the virus. Last week the aircraft carrier was brought home 10 days early from its Atlantic deployment after some sailors showed symptoms.
We keep seeing these examples where under ideal circumstances for transmission, crowded ships, with people sharing all kinds of activities, this supposedly highly infectious disease infects less than half of the available pool. It's almost as if more than half of humanity is not susceptible to the virus, for some unknown reason. Could many be immune from a fairly recent non-WuFlu coronavirus infection, that they may have simply ignored as a common cold? Or could some large fraction of us simply have some kind of cellular protection; a wrong (or right, from our point of view) piece of the site where the virus attempts cell entry? Just throwing shit against the wall here.

I'm still considering whether the shut down of the economy was an appropriate response. In the worst case, New York, with people jammed together like sardines, and sharing public transport, the medical system reached a testing point, but not a breaking point. Clearly, those us who are at risk (I'm on the far side of 65, more than a touch overweight despite Skye's best efforts, and suffer mild asthma) need to be extremely careful, but for the bulk of the population? I'm still not sure. I do know that forbidding me to take my own personal boat out for recreational fishing was an overboard reaction, by a Governor wielding too much power, and too little common sense.

1 comment:

  1. Somewhere down the road somebody's gonna need a smack in the back of the fuckin' head for the way the entire world has grossly over-reacted to this thing.

    Juss sayin'