Saturday, March 14, 2020

UPDATED: Europe Is Now Ground Zero For Covid-19

That's what the WHO says, which means Trump was right to slap that travel ban on. And by the way, always remember this is what we're talking about ...

C - China
O - Originated
V - Viral
I - Infectious
D - Disease

Don't even think of going back to business as it's been usual for the past several decades. Oh, Trump was right that time, too.

OTOH, maybe Trump's clearly politically motivated exception for the UK wasn't the best idea. Consider this via Zerohedge--UK's Coronavirus Strategy: Just Let It Happen And Hope For Herd Immunity. In other words, the UK "strategy" is to turn the UK into a huge (in Euro terms, not Chinese terms--the one province of Hubei is equivalent to the UK in population) social epidemiological lab experiment. What could go wrong? Actually, lots, mostly because most people can't wrap their heads around what the statistics are really telling us.

So, for example, while in a well prepared country like South Korea or Taiwan the mortality can be kept lower, it's a different story in ill prepared countries or countries that don't act aggressively. The Korean mortality rate is estimated at 0.6%. That may seem low to the unsophisticated, but it's extremely high compared to normal flu mortality rates of around 0.1%. In Italy the mortality rate is estimated at around 7%--a rate that is overwhelming the healthcare system and may lead to an even higher mortality rate. That's because Covid-19 is a serious disease--10-15% of those infected require hospitalization. Hospitalization can keep the mortality rate well below that 10-15% rate, but only if that number of patients can be given quality care. Does that suggest why governments are starting to lock down their societies in the hope of keeping total infections down?

So for those who call this a panic, do you really want to risk widespread community infection--not just relatively isolated hot spots--and the likelihood of a mortality rate that reachs current Italian levels? Italy isn't the only place this is happening. Here's a report from Spain, another Socialist country that was hopelessly irresponsible:

In Spain, where the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus has increased exponentially in recent days, hospitals are overwhelmed and the healthcare systems in the most affected regions are in danger of collapse. In Andalusia and the Basque Country, hundreds of doctors and nurses have been quarantined to prevent hospitals from becoming centers of infection.

Now read what critics of the UK "strategy" are saying, and some of the problems with it. The major problem is simply this--Covid-19 isn't the flu. Herd immunity may not be a viable strategy, which is part of the problem of hoping for a vaccine in the very near future (as we'll see, below).

UPDATE: Trump has extended the travel ban to the UK and Ireland.

The British government's strategy to deal with the coronavirus outbreak is for 60% of the UK to become infected in order to develop "herd immunity" against the disease, according to The Independent. 
In other words, when the thus-far unstoppable virus ravages England, it was all part of the plan. 
"We think this virus is likely to be one that comes back year on year and becomes like a seasonal virus and communities will become immune to it and that's going to be an important part of controlling this in the longer term," said the government's chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, who added "60% is the sort of figure you need to get herd immunity." 
Vallance's comments echo those made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier in the week, when he said the UK might have to just "take it on the chin."  
One possible flaw in their logic with encouraging roughly 40 million people to catch COVID-19 (which, even with a fatality rate of even 1 means 400,000 dead) - is that Chinese scientists have observed coronavirus patients relapsing and not walking away from the disease with natural immunity. 
"For those patients who have been cured, there is a likelihood of a relapse," Zhan Qingyuan, the director of pneumonia prevention and treatment at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, said during a  press conference last month.
“The antibody will be generated,” said Zhan. 
“However, in certain individuals, the antibody cannot last that long.”
And according to Futurism, herd immunity - such as the idea behind "chicken pox parties" may or may not be a viable strategy.  
The underlying idea behind a vaccination — or even “chicken pox parties” — is that exposure to a virus will trigger the immune system to generate antibodies that will shield that person from that virus in the future. But according to Chinese health officials, the antibodies created after a 2019-nCoV infection aren’t always strong enough to keep patients from getting sick again. –Futurism
Another issue is that between 10% - 15% of those infected require hospitalization, meaning roughly 4-6 million Britons would need an ICU - which typically means some type of oxygen support such as a ventilator. According to the NHS, there are roughly 100,000 overnight beds available ('general' and 'acute') at any given time. 
So what happens to the mortality rate when that same 10-15% of coronavirus patients who need hospitalization don't have access to medical care, including life-saving ventilators?

Now, from Soeren Kern at the Gatestone Institute, but again via Zerohedge, an explanation of why most Euro leaders are finally realizing the scope of the problem that this pandemic presents: Covid-19: European Leaders Finally Acknowledge Scale Of Crisis. Most of what follows is actually a transcript from a video interview that I linked some days ago, which is quite concise and cogent:

The disease is spreading fast: more than 28,000 coronavirus cases (93% of all cases) in Europe were confirmed during just the first twelve days of March. The number of new cases has been doubling, on average, every 72 hours.
Italy is Europe's worst-affected country, followed by Spain, France and Germany. Twelve other European countries have reported coronavirus cases in the triple digits: Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Austria, Greece, the Czech Republic, Finland and Iceland.
In Europe as a whole, more than 1,200 people — 4.0% of those confirmed as having been infected — have died from COVID-19. 
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), in a risk assessment, warned that the actual number of COVID-19 cases in Europe could be far higher due to under-detection, particularly among mild or asymptomatic cases that do not lead to a visit to the hospital. 
In an interview with Britain's Channel 4 news, Dr. Richard Hatchett, Chief Executive Officer of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a Norway-based international alliance for developing vaccines against infectious diseases, explained the long-term dangers of the COVID-19, not only for Europe, but globally: 
"The threat is very significant... There are many epidemiologists who talk about the potential of the virus in terms of attack rates globally that could be between 50% and 70% of the global population.
"It is important to recognize that the virus is here and that it has tremendous potential to be disruptive, to cause high rates of illness and even high rates of death....
"I don't think we are dealing with the flu here... this is a virus that is now circulating in a population that has absolutely no immunity to it.... You might have an attack rate that is three times higher than seasonal flu with a mortality rate that is ten times higher.
"The most concerning thing about this virus is the combination of infectiousness and the ability to cause severe disease or death. We have not since 1918 — since the Spanish flu — seen a virus that combined those two qualities in the same way. We have seen very lethal viruses — Ebola's mortality rate in some cases is greater than 80% — but they don't have the infectiousness that this virus has. They don't have the potential to explode and spread globally....
"I think that what we are seeing is a virus that is many, many times more lethal than the flu, and a population that is completely vulnerable to it, and we are seeing its ability to explode. It has increased in some countries over the last two weeks by one thousand-fold and many countries are seeing ten-fold or one hundred-fold increases in cases. There is nothing to stop that expansion from continuing unless those societies move aggressively, engage their publics, implement multiple public health interventions, including introducing social distancing....
"We need to modify our behavior. We need to start practicing that now. We have to modify our behavior in ways that reduces the risk of transmitting the virus.... One challenge that we face is that people who are young and are generally healthy won't perceive personal risk and they will govern their behavior based on what they perceive their personal risk to be. I think we need to start thinking in terms of the social risk. If I have a cold and I go to work and shake hands with my older colleague who has a chronic medical condition, I could be responsible for that colleague's death. We all need to think about our responsibility to each other as we govern our behavior. We can't view the epidemic in terms of our personal risk, we need to act collectively in a cooperative manner....
"I don't think it's a crazy analogy to compare this to World War 2... I think this is an appropriate analogy and the mindset that people need to get into....
"We don't see any way that a vaccine can be available much more rapidly than 12 to 18 months, and even it if were to be available in 12 and 18 months, that would literally be the world record for developing and delivering a vaccine. We would not have seven billion doses of that vaccine in 12 months. 
"This is a virus that is going to be with us for some time. There are many epidemiologists who believe that this virus is likely to become globally endemic and be with us in perpetuity.... I think this is a virus that we are going to be dealing with for years.
"This is the most frightening disease that I have ever encountered in my career. That includes Ebola, MERS and SARS. It's frightening because of the combination between infectiousness and a lethality that appears to be many-fold higher than flu."

There's lots more at both links. The seriousness of this crisis--on which you can bet that government leaders at all levels are being briefed--is a probable explanation for why even prominent Dems are gravitating toward a leader like Trump. Remember how recently they were trying to impeach him?


  1. The exclusion of UK from the European travel ban is motivated not by politics, but by practicality; UK is NOT a member of the Schengen Agreement, either before or after "Brexit." The Schengen Agreement involves most of the mainland European countries and involves doing away with border checks between member countries, similar to the way that people travel throughout the US going from state to state seamlessly without annoying border guards demand to see "your papers." That's what makes letting people from Mainland Europe in so dangerous, now that CV-19 is loose in places like Italy. People can travel from Italy to other Schengen countries without anyone stopping them to ask if they kissed an Italian infected with CV-19.

    In contrast, UK still has border checking protocols in place even for people coming from EU/Schengen countries.

    Thus, UK has the means to check and stop people at the border coming from CV-19 hotspots, adn thus such people will not likely be boarding planes in UK to fly to the US.

    If the UK gets a sufficiently widespread infection of CV-19, we may need to add them to the list.

    1. You didn't read the update--UK has been added. As for their border protocols:

      China Bought the West Time with the Coronavirus. The West Squandered It

      The UK may have the means, but they're not using them.

      Of course it was politically motivated. Trump is trying to organize an economic bloc of English speaking countries--the Five Eye countries--which is a very sensible policy. The UK is a crucial member of that potential bloc and is currently working out the indispensable first part of that new bloc: Brexit. That's why Trump initially wanted to support Boris by exempting the UK. But someone obviously got to Trump and pointed out that the UK's non-strategy could have catastrophic consequences for the US. To have waited until the UK got "a sufficiently widespread infection of CV-19" is not a policy, because by the time "a sufficiently widespread infection of CV-19" is recognized it has likely achieved exponential growth--and we would have been allowing any number of those people to enter the US. Screening won't capture them all--that's why the travel bans.

  2. Mr. Wauck,

    I'm with you in taking this very seriously. However, that doesn't mean that the media aren't doing their usual breathless job of whipping the population into a lather. It's patently obvious that their hatred of Trump trumps their care and concern for their countrymen. What if a few people die but they get Trump out of office? From their perspective, it's a win. As an added bonus, maybe it'll be the deplorables who are mostly killed off.

    Right when we need a responsible media the most, trust in them is at an all time low.

    The President was at his best yesterday.

    1. They mistake Trump for a one trick pony, but he's not.