False Positives Muddy the Waters
The common (and usually false) opinion is that modern doctors still take the ancient Hippocratic Oath. In part it states: “First, do no harm.” Unfortunately, not all medical schools administer this non-binding oath. Note, “do no harm” was never a part of the original Hippocratic Oath oddly. However, it can be found in another epic work attributed to Hippocrates, titled “Of the Epidemics.”
Well, we are certainly facing an epidemic in front of us. This makes the words of the wise ancient philosopher relevant. How can the novel coronavirus epidemic in the United States be viewed from the “do no harm” point of view? There are degrees of harm often nomatter what.
Sea of Errors
Without going into technical details, a significant part of the currently known coronavirus testing is, most likely, bogus. There are a lot of false positives, estimates are as high as 80%. This seems a bit high, but who knows what test kits were used. Basically, this means that testing positive with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus means almost nothing (that’s why doctors conduct multiple tests.) There are a lot of false positives and no reliable data.
There is a significant percentage of people with coronavirus antibodies (meaning they already had the disease), but it is not yet known if they have developed immunity to COVID-19. Numbers range from 10% to 30% of the population. This is the most troubling number because it means that COVID-19 has been active in our society for an awfully long time. Any forecasting models that do not take into account the number of people with antibodies are not just ridiculously wrong – they are simply garbage.
There is massive forced attribution of various illnesses and causes of death exclusively to COVID-19, at the expense of other common causes. Also there is a confirmed non-uniqueness of these bogus coronavirus statistics. Apparently, the CDC publishes estimates, not actual numbers for the flu as well. The only real numbers they provide are test results for influenza types.
Still, the suspicion is that they use flu test kits based on the same technology as coronavirus test kits. The PCR or Polymerase Chain Reaction tests, are oriented to detecting parts of the virus RNA. This has nothing to do in pronouncing a person infected or not. In other words, during the current epidemic, we are wandering in a fog of incomplete, misleading, and unreliable data.
Garbage In – Garbage Out
As anyone who works with large dynamic systems knows, we have here the case of the proverbial “garbage in – garbage out.” The purified, ultimate tests that actually isolate the virus for the purpose of identification do exist. However, they are prohibitively expensive (cheap, reliable tests of such kind don’t exist, even for the regular flu.) In other words, mostly bogus numbers are plugged into mathematical models. As a result, we live in a world of wild, unscientific models that have little resemblance to reality.
Modern virology is in its infancy. Virologists know very little. We have to wonder how they successfully influence political decision-makers worldwide. What we do know about coronavirus is that every single one of us will get it. It’s impossible not to get it, even if you live alone on an uninhabited island.
Once most of us get infected, we develop herd immunity for that particular version of the virus. The next year, a new, mutated version will return. Should we close our economy every year for three months? Even the French limit it to August!
You should not be afraid to get the coronavirus if you don’t currently have any chronic illnesses. Despite the fact we don’t know the exact numbers, about three out of four people do not have any symptoms at all. Only one out of four will get flu-like symptoms. Most of them will get over it the same way they got over any seasonal ILI (Influenza-Like Illnesses.)
However, the situation for patients with any chronic disease is profoundly serious. That’s the only thing we can state for sure, regarding the otherwise little-studied novel coronavirus. We are talking about one in ten people. Why do we have to pay special attention to this risk group?
Alarmingly, it looks like the novel coronavirus is not affecting just the respiratory tract. It affects the entire body, especially the heart, liver, blood, and lungs. Who does have some chronic pre-existing conditions? Right, the elderly folks. The elderly must be given most of society’s attention on this. Not the number of infected, which for the most part can fight it off.
In the long run, 100% of us will get it. The suitable societal response while a vaccine or adequate treatments are being developed should be oriented on minimizing the impact on the risk group. However, current modus-operandi worldwide is based on reducing the number of coronavirus cases totally. Ideally, society’s response should be quite the opposite – maximizing the number of coronavirus cases outside the risk group while minimizing the number for the risk group.
What Can Be Done?
Recent research in Israel concludes that coronavirus propagation through society does not depend on the strictness of a lockdown. These results were confirmed for the United States and Sweden. Regardless of a total, partial, or no lockdown at all, the end result is the same – herd immunity.
The only question is – how many people with pre-existing conditions will die while the rest of a country develops immunity? The point of diminishing return in achieving herd immunity is about 50 to 75 percent of the population. The propagation of any contagious disease in a society with more than 50% of the populace being antibodies-positive is slow. After reaching about 75% herd immunity, it is an epidemic no more.
On that front, we do have some good news. Recent research estimates that in just three weeks of March 2020, about 28 million Americans contracted the novel coronavirus. For comparison, CDC data showed there were only 0.1% of all Americans infected. Potentially saving thousands of lives.
That estimate is based on the only reliable data CDC produces – the number of ILI tests performed. It implies that the current SARS-CoV-2 detection level is about 1%. The rest are undetected for various reasons. It also makes the overall mortality rate of COVID-19 the same level as flu mortality, about 0.1%. There are other encouraging studies.
The Lockdown Conundrum
How do we determine the proper lockdown level? Actually, it is much easier than anyone thinks. One does not need complex and faulty models, produced by grant-hungry charlatans. Looking at the current number of severe cases, and comparing them to the overall hospital capacity is enough.
The closer they are to capacity, the stricter the lockdown should be. In other words, society must approach total lockdown only in the case of approaching total hospital capacity. That means the lockdown threshold should be different for different countries or states. In the case of this novel coronavirus, hospital capacity was reached in Italy, Spain, and the Hubei province of China. As a result, corona-fascism was born.
However, none of the US states has reached their hospital capacity, so no states should be in a state of total lockdown. The current reality resembles more of a theater of the absurd than a thoughtful management. This is the case for some state Governors anyway. It looks like, in the “informational battlespace”, the novel coronavirus outmaneuvered not only all other viruses, but also all governments worldwide.
Yes, to make political decisions, state Governors have to use the only thing they have, the questionable and incomplete numbers the CDC provides. Whatever the level of uncertainty in those numbers is, the decision-makers must also not forget the “do no harm” part. The difference is that doctors must do no harm to the patient, but politicians must do no harm to our society. Would that they had the same integrity for the most part.
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