Covid-19: Stream of recent data points supports the iceberg hypothesis
I suspected before that the Chinese lockdown approach is totalitarian and wrong. Dictatorships react to everything by clenching fists, they can't possibly let anything be and just accept it. So of course they would use their complete totalitarian machinery to clamp down on Covid, whether it is warranted or not. Because of the constant clamping down on everything and anything, they also have an endemic problem where being compliant and not being disappeared ranks far ahead of truth. So China didn't generate any useful data for the rest of the world, and they continue to suppress research and news. This is done, of course, by disappearing people who would do the research, or report the news.
I suspected that the data from places with early infections outside of China, especially Italy, are misleadingly alarming. Tests were scarce and of course they used them to best help people in need, not to give the world reliable data. As a result, a majority of Italian "confirmed cases" were ages 60+ and of course mortality was high. That's what happens if you have a limited number of tests, a high rate of false negatives, and test primarily people who are sick and in risk groups.
As a result of these early developments and the alarming numbers, most of the world clamped down hard, to the extent that only in
These reactions have been excessive. We now definitely have a trickle, and I predict soon a stream of good news:
Santa Clara County: "Of 3,300 people in California county up to 4% found to have been infected"
Boston homeless shelter: "Of the 397 people tested, 146 people tested positive. Not a single one had any symptoms"
Kansas City: "Out of 369 residents tested via PCR on Friday April 10th, 14 residents tested positive, for an estimated infection rate of 3.8%. [... Suggesting that: ] Infections are being undercounted by a factor of more than 60."
L.A. County: "approximately 4.1% of the county’s adult population has an antibody to the virus"
North Carolina prison: "Of 259 inmate COVID-19 cases, 98% in NC prison showing no symptoms"
Multiple US state prisons: "nearly 3,300 inmates test positive for coronavirus – 96% without symptoms"
New York City - pregnant women: "about 15 percent of patients who came to us for delivery tested positive for the coronavirus, but around 88 percent of these women had no symptoms of infection"
New York City - supermarket customers: "More than 21 percent of around 1,300 people in New York City who were tested for coronavirus antibodies this week were found to have them"
New York City - a few days later: "Coronavirus Antibodies Present In Nearly 25% Of All NYC Residents"
Santa Clara - community spread before known first case: "Autopsy: Santa Clara patient died of COVID-19 on Feb. 6 — 23 days before 1st U.S. death declared"
France - Covid-19 found in sample from December 2019: "Of the 24 patients, we had one positive result for Covid-19 on December 27 when he was in hospital with us."
Virus longevity in South Korea: "More than 160 South Koreans have tested positive a second time for the coronavirus [...] Many had volunteered for re-examination after exhibiting symptoms such as coughing. Others submitted to extra testing on little more than a hunch despite not showing symptoms."
Virus longevity in Italy: "A 23-year-old in Italy being treated for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus continues to test positive, despite two months of quarantine and continual swabs."
The virus cannot be contained. This is not Trump's fault or China's fault. It probably could not have been contained even in China, unless it really escaped from a lab. It spreads extremely easily and has no symptoms in most people. At this point, millions of Americans already have it and most of them (or us?) don't even know.
Elimination strategies, such as pursued by New Zealand, will cripple economies for no benefit. The "empathetic" New Zealand government is being praised for their success right now. But staying free of the coronavirus is going to be impossible without completely severing their global ties. They may eliminate it now, but will have to let it wash through the population later. Given its infectiousness and lack of symptoms, their case numbers are likely false, and they won't be able to eliminate it even if they stay locked down.
The right approach is likely the one pursued by Sweden; and as much as you may hate them, in the US by Trump; or in Brazil by President Bolsonaro. Ironically, these right-wing authoritarians are the defenders of everyone's freedom of movement (just not immigration, cough cough) and possibly ability to make a living right now.
It is beneficial to "flatten the curve", but we're flattening it so much that Dallas hospitals are using only 32% of ventilators. We're not going to eliminate the virus, and any vaccine or improvement in treatment is 1.5+ years away.