War on Corona Could Be a Fiasco – Politicians Rush to Drastic Measures Without Reliable Data

John P. Ioaniddis – Russia Insider March 19, 2020

  • “If we had not known about a new virus out there, and had not checked individuals with PCR tests, the number of total deaths due to “influenza-like illness” would not seem unusual this year.”
  • “We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300”
  • “Projecting the Diamond Princess mortality rate onto the age structure of the U.S. population, the death rate among people infected with Covid-19 would be 0.125%.”
  • “Three months after the outbreak emerged, most countries, including the U.S., lack the ability to test a large number of people and no countries have reliable data on the prevalence of the virus in a representative random sample of the general population.”
  • “A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational.”
  • “These “mild” coronaviruses may be implicated in several thousands of deaths every year worldwide, though the vast majority of them are not documented with precise testing. Instead, they are lost as noise among 60 million deaths from various causes every year.”
  • “If we had not known about a new virus out there, and had not checked individuals with PCR tests, the number of total deaths due to “influenza-like illness” would not seem unusual this year.”
  • “In the absence of data, prepare-for-the-worst reasoning leads to extreme measures of social distancing and lockdowns. Unfortunately, we do not know if these measures work.”
  • “If the level of the epidemic does overwhelm the health system and extreme measures have only modest effectiveness, then flattening the curve may make things worse: Instead of being overwhelmed during a short, acute phase, the health system will remain overwhelmed for a more protracted period.”
  • “One of the bottom lines is that we don’t know how long social distancing measures and lockdowns can be maintained without major consequences to the economy, society, and mental health.”

The current coronavirus disease, Covid-19, has been called a once-in-a-century pandemic. But it may also be a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco.

At a time when everyone needs better information, from disease modelers and governments to people quarantined or just social distancing, we lack reliable evidence on how many people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 or who continue to become infected. Better information is needed to guide decisions and actions of monumental significance and to monitor their impact.

Draconian countermeasures have been adopted in many countries. If the pandemic dissipates — either on its own or because of these measures — short-term extreme social distancing and lockdowns may be bearable. How long, though, should measures like these be continued if the pandemic churns across the globe unabated? How can policymakers tell if they are doing more good than harm?

Vaccines or affordable treatments take many months (or even years) to develop and test properly. Given such timelines, the consequences of long-term lockdowns are entirely unknown.

The data collected so far on how many people are infected and how the epidemic is evolving are utterly unreliable.

Given the limited testing to date, some deaths and probably the vast majority of infections due to SARS-CoV-2 are being missed. We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300.

Three months after the outbreak emerged, most countries, including the U.S., lack the ability to test a large number of people and no countries have reliable data on the prevalence of the virus in a representative random sample of the general population.

This evidence fiasco creates tremendous uncertainty about the risk of dying from Covid-19.

Reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4% rate from the World Health Organization, cause horror — and are meaningless. Patients who have been tested for SARS-CoV-2 are disproportionately those with severe symptoms and bad outcomes. As most health systems have limited testing capacity, selection bias may even worsen in the near future.

The one situation where an entire, closed population was tested was the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its quarantine passengers. The case fatality rate there was 1.0%, but this was a largely elderly population, in which the death rate from Covid-19 is much higher.

Projecting the Diamond Princess mortality rate onto the age structure of the U.S. population, the death rate among people infected with Covid-19 would be 0.125%. But since this estimate is based on extremely thin data — there were just seven deaths among the 700 infected passengers and crew — the real death rate could stretch from five times lower (0.025%) to five times higher (0.625%). It is also possible that some of the passengers who were infected might die later, and that tourists may have different frequencies of chronic diseases — a risk factor for worse outcomes with SARS-CoV-2 infection — than the general population. Adding these extra sources of uncertainty, reasonable estimates for the case fatality ratio in the general U.S. population vary from 0.05% to 1%.

That huge range markedly affects how severe the pandemic is and what should be done. A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.

Could the Covid-19 case fatality rate be that low? No, some say, pointing to the high rate in elderly people. However, even some so-called mild or common-cold-type coronaviruses that have been known for decades can have case fatality rates as high as 8% when they infect elderly people in nursing homes.

In fact, such “mild” coronaviruses infect tens of millions of people every year, and account for 3% to 11% of those hospitalized in the U.S. with lower respiratory infections each winter.

These “mild” coronaviruses may be implicated in several thousands of deaths every year worldwide, though the vast majority of them are not documented with precise testing. Instead, they are lost as noise among 60 million deaths from various causes every year.

Although successful surveillance systems have long existed for influenza, the disease is confirmed by a laboratory in a tiny minority of cases. In the U.S., for example, so far this season 1,073,976 specimens have been tested and 222,552 (20.7%) have tested positive for influenza. In the same period, the estimated number of influenza-like illnesses is between 36,000,000 and 51,000,000, with an estimated 22,000 to 55,000 flu deaths.

Note the uncertainty about influenza-like illness deaths: a 2.5-fold range, corresponding to tens of thousands of deaths. Every year, some of these deaths are due to influenza and some to other viruses, like common-cold coronaviruses.

In an autopsy series that tested for respiratory viruses in specimens from 57 elderly persons who died during the 2016 to 2017 influenza season, influenza viruses were detected in 18% of the specimens, while any kind of respiratory virus was found in 47%. In some people who die from viral respiratory pathogens, more than one virus is found upon autopsy and bacteria are often superimposed. A positive test for coronavirus does not mean necessarily that this virus is always primarily responsible for a patient’s demise.

If we assume that case fatality rate among individuals infected by SARS-CoV-2 is 0.3% in the general population — a mid-range guess from my Diamond Princess analysis — and that 1% of the U.S. population gets infected (about 3.3 million people), this would translate to about 10,000 deaths. This sounds like a huge number, but it is buried within the noise of the estimate of deaths from “influenza-like illness.”

If we had not known about a new virus out there, and had not checked individuals with PCR tests, the number of total deaths due to “influenza-like illness” would not seem unusual this year.

At most, we might have casually noted that flu this season seems to be a bit worse than average. The media coverage would have been less than for an NBA game between the two most indifferent teams.

Some worry that the 68 deaths from Covid-19 in the U.S. as of March 16 will increase exponentially to 680, 6,800, 68,000, 680,000 … along with similar catastrophic patterns around the globe. Is that a realistic scenario, or bad science fiction? How can we tell at what point such a curve might stop?

The most valuable piece of information for answering those questions would be to know the current prevalence of the infection in a random sample of a population and to repeat this exercise at regular time intervals to estimate the incidence of new infections. Sadly, that’s information we don’t have.

In the absence of data, prepare-for-the-worst reasoning leads to extreme measures of social distancing and lockdowns. Unfortunately, we do not know if these measures work. School closures, for example, may reduce transmission rates. But they may also backfire if children socialize anyhow, if school closure leads children to spend more time with susceptible elderly family members, if children at home disrupt their parents ability to work, and more. School closures may also diminish the chances of developing herd immunity in an age group that is spared serious disease.

This has been the perspective behind the different stance of the United Kingdom keeping schools open, at least until as I write this. In the absence of data on the real course of the epidemic, we don’t know whether this perspective was brilliant or catastrophic.

Flattening the curve to avoid overwhelming the health system is conceptually sound — in theory. A visual that has become viral in media and social media shows how flattening the curve reduces the volume of the epidemic that is above the threshold of what the health system can handle at any moment.

Yet if the health system does become overwhelmed, the majority of the extra deaths may not be due to coronavirus but to other common diseases and conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, trauma, bleeding, and the like that are not adequately treated.

If the level of the epidemic does overwhelm the health system and extreme measures have only mod

est effectiveness, then flattening the curve may make things worse: Instead of being overwhelmed during a short, acute phase, the health system will remain overwhelmed for a more protracted period. That’s another reason we need data about the exact level of the epidemic activity.

One of the bottom lines is that we don’t know how long social distancing measures and lockdowns can be maintained without major consequences to the economy, society, and mental health. Unpredictable evolutions may ensue, including financial crisis, unrest, civil strife, war, and a meltdown of the social fabric. At a minimum, we need unbiased prevalence and incidence data for the evolving infectious load to guide decision-making.

In the most pessimistic scenario, which I do not espouse, if the new coronavirus infects 60% of the global population and 1% of the infected people die, that will translate into more than 40 million deaths globally, matching the 1918 influenza pandemic.

The vast majority of this hecatomb would be people with limited life expectancies. That’s in contrast to 1918, when many young people died.

One can only hope that, much like in 1918, life will continue. Conversely, with lockdowns of months, if not years, life largely stops, short-term and long-term consequences are entirely unknown, and billions, not just millions, of lives may be eventually at stake.

If we decide to jump off the cliff, we need some data to inform us about the rationale of such an action and the chances of landing somewhere safe.

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Original source Anti-Empire

12 responses to “War on Corona Could Be a Fiasco – Politicians Rush to Drastic Measures Without Reliable Data”

  1. ‘…with lock downs of months, if not years, life largely stops, short-term and long-term consequences are entirely unknown…and billions, not just millions… of lives may be eventually at stake. I think that’s the general idea, what’s been planned a long time ago!!! When the population gets to 500 million, then it will stop, assuming, in the meantime, Earth is not struck by a giant meteor!

  2. The death rate figures are given as a percentage of those tested positive for CV. A more realistic figure would be as a percentage of the population, which in Britain is about 65 million, which would give a a figure of ………….

    65 million/300, whic is 2.16 million. So 1 in 2.16 million people have died of coronovirus over the past 3 months, and most of them were ove 75.

    More people have died in traffic accidents over the same period.

    This thing is no worse than typical winter flu.

  3. I believe the lockdown is the goal, governments have never cared about the people.What happens when we lock down the world? Which countries will suffer most when the world reduces it’s fuel usage and trade? Is the western world prepared to temporally trash their economies to completely destroy other countries? Is this the reason for the complete overreaction to the virus.
    Would countries that go broke be forced to borrow and then fall under the control of world bankers?
    Will broke countries start wars?

  4. Sheeple don’t riot. They live in cities and they would stay in their pens until they starved to death if any dog dressed in a uniform told them to. They believe everything the MSM says and they are afraid to entertain any view which is not from the authorities. They believe they are here to be fleeced and they eagerly follow the Judas goat to their slaughter. It is because of sheeple that there is no true democracy and we are in this mess. 

    None of this could have been pulled off (the COVID shutdown) without the direction of the international central banking cartel. You would never get all the leading nations in the world playing the same game, and especially nations that are each others’ throats like the US and China, without some higher authority. There is no need to shut down everything when for over a week in North America the independent experts are saying this is only a Level 2 contagion, and that the 5% at risk for serious symptoms (not death) have been identified. Yet, our leaders keep up the hype following someone else’s marching orders.

    The smoking gun is the government of China. Their government made their fake news  videos go viral to the world, with the Russian and Western governments and media responding on queue. They knew it had a low contagion risk and only the very elderly or those with serious immune, heart &/or lung disorders made up those really at risk. The PRC government of President Xi tightly controls all news in and out of China. We know that. Xi and his government deliberately and blatantly exaggerated the outbreak with fake-news footage of people keeling over in the streets as if stricken with the Black Plague and dying, then crowds of people being herded into buildings by police in virus-protective gear and locking them in from the outside, and government people in Hazmat-type suits spraying down people, streets  and subway cars, with some mysterious spray.  It was all bullshit and deliberate to make the real contagion spread, which was fear in the sheeple. 

  5. Belarus President Alexandr Lukashenko says that any sick person should go to a doctor (Belarus has quality Soviet-style public health system).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8gAPtMAv0k

    Lukashenko says that he was not forced to take drastic Italy/China-like precautions to stop pandemics in the country.

    Lukashenko shows masonic hidden hand sign. I believe he is playing with Jews, like Joseph Stalin did. 🙂

    https://i.pinimg.com/474x/4a/40/b5/4a40b5a713e3de285410d3c969eeb066.jpg

  6. Actually, 65 million divided by 300 equals 216666. So you are out by a factor of 100 John

  7. Actually I should have said factor of 10 Shows we can all make mistakes!!

  8. CORRECTION, I got the decimal point in the wrong place. It should be 1 in 216,000 of the general population will die of CV.

  9. Fred B. Excellent summary about the sheeple – a supermajority of the proles.

  10. Drastic measures here: https://nikopolnews.net/region/25-proisshestviya/15028-gromko-kashlyal-v-avtobuse-vo-lvove-izbili-passazhira-i-vykinuli-na-ulitsu

    Coughing passanger on bus in Lviv brutally beaten. Video from the bus in the text. Translation below.

    =========
    Due to coronavirus, quarantine in Ukraine led to a traffic collapse and caused a lot of conflict situations due to restrictions on travel in minibuses, buses, trolleybuses and trams, where only 10 people are allowed.

    Another incident occurred in Lviv, where bus passengers attacked a man in the cabin for a cough, writes NNS with reference to styler.

    The conflict and brutal actions in public transport were filmed, after which the video went online.

    The footage shows how one of the passengers attacked a man with fists – the victim received a blow in the face. After that, he was seized by the leg and began to drag him out into the street from the passenger compartment. The unfortunate man grabbed the handrail with his hand and resisted, but in the end he was dragged out of transport to a stop, where the brawl continued.

    Eyewitnesses of the incident were divided into two parties – some demanded that the man leave the bus, while others called for him to stop beating.

    It is noted that such aggressive actions on the part of passengers were simply caused by a man’s cough in the passenger compartment.

    By the way, none of those present was masked, although this is one of the quarantine requirements for passengers.

    You can watch the video of the incident in the Lviv bus at this link (we warn you – there is swearing and violent scenes!)

    In the comments to the video, netizens express their indignation over such actions – users write that the coronavirus will soon become a litmus test and a test for humanity, as well as they fear that, due to sneezing, they might simply kill.

  11. As far as the statistics from Fauci of ten times the mortality of other novel coronaviruses, they are huge lies that the PTB have forced on the public through propaganda and many fake opposition agents hyping as a team a non existent excess mortality.
    How many deaths will result by collapsing the nations due to this propaganda and forced shutdown of business, travel, public assembly, healthcare, and liberties soon to include suspending the Bill of Rights in America under martial law?
    Well the propagandists tell you you have to accept any damages to support indefinite lockdown. If you don’t you will die enmasse they claim, or else get arrested for not obeying. This is really a little too Abrahamic for me. Gates said if we do a good job with vaccines we can have social distancing (herd thinning) and that is what you should want because humanity is too numerous and must be stopped in its tracks or else. He is the authority on population reduction (social distancing) since his father was in this high priesthood little different from Aztec witch doctors on a tall pyramid. Be very skeptical of anyone including so called star truthers like Adam Green who are now extolling social distancing and openly say with a smirk they wish the new meme could be permanent.
    The risk to the perpetrators of this unprecedented fraud is always that the chaos they intentionally sewed for a supposedly successful reset into total control eventually undermines their slave hive to an extent that impacts their own fabulous lifestyles in the royal gelly. This backfire on total power occurred in Europe during the dark ages. It is a race to the bottom flaw in hierarchy maintenance, so I hope cooler heads demand a stop to the madness of mass delusional belief that any novel coronavirus is so dangerous to a human future that it is better to collapse livelihoods and ruin life as we have known it.
    The sad thing is cooler heads are eliminated under the program Gates and co. revealed in October 2019 just before it went into action, and meanwhile criminals are released, rioting is encouraged by scarcity, and power confrontation is brought to bear where the last shreds of liberty prevail because they are the last negative feedbacks in a runaway loop of destruction.

  12. We all agree this is a coup, it’s unanimous!

    But this coup can be achieved with a hoax or with a bioweapon. The author presents some numbers and seems to have a good mathematical background, however his 700 passengers on the Diamond Princess represents only a small sample, insufficient data to produce statistical conclusions. In other words the rate of events in the Diamond Princess cannot infer about probabilities in a bigger society.

    Next, the virus is a bioweapon or a natural occurrence? When I say natural I mean HIV positive homosexuals having sex with bats in China. Of course it is a bioweapon! Welcome to fifth generation war and your country is under a biological attack. Normal flu does not create clusters resembling warzones. Therefore, unless you believe the designers are incompetent, the virus is a serious threat.

    “You shall do war by way of deception” they say. Now we have promising vaccines and a cure using malaria remedy, these lies are designed to get you off guard. The SO democratic Johnstein waited too much to act and this will cost British lives.