Friday, March 13, 2020

Informative Read: The Swine Flu And Me

That's the title of a blog by William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. He points out a number of things that should give pause to anyone who think that Covid-19 isn't a big deal, or that the Swine Flu wasn't a big deal. Of particular interest to me is the epidemiological data--young v. old. It would be mistaken at this point to assume that we truly have a handle on what could happen:

Two things are true at the same time: Wuhan Coronavirus should be taken seriously as a public health danger, and Democrats and the media are trying to weaponize it for election purposes.

In September 2009, I caught Swine Flu during the semester when I was at Cornell in Ithaca. It was brutal. 
For the first time I understood how the flu could kill someone. 
It went straight for my lungs. It felt like someone parked a truck on my chest, and I had high fever. I was lucky to be able to get to a doctor before it became really bad and was given Tamiflu and the types of inhalers people with asthma use to keep my lungs open. I needed refills on the inhalers, and I’m convinced they kept me alive. 
The Swine Flu statistics were staggering, according to this CDC publication:
The (H1N1)pdm09 virus was very different from H1N1 viruses that were circulating at the time of the pandemic. Few young people had any existing immunity (as detected by antibody response) to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus, but nearly one-third of people over 60 years old had antibodies against this virus, likely from exposure to an older H1N1 virus earlier in their lives. Since the (H1N1)pdm09 virus was very different from circulating H1N1 viruses, vaccination with seasonal flu vaccines offered little cross-protection against (H1N1)pdm09 virus infection. While a monovalent (H1N1)pdm09 vaccine was produced, it was not available in large quantities until late November—after the peak of illness during the second wave had come and gone in the United States. From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (range: 195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) in the United States due to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus.

Bear in mind: As far as we know, nobody has any immunity whatsoever to Covid-19. That's especially important to consider given the novel way in which this coronavirus is transmitted--i.e., it has a novel type of 'envelope' that more closely resembles AIDS than other coronaviruses like SARS. That alone justifies the high levels of concern.

Read it all.


  1. I've been running hot and cold on the reaction to the coronavirus, and the need for drastic preventative/pro-active measures. My first thought when Japan shut their schools for a month was, "We should shut everything down for a month and stop the virus in its tracks--but that'll never fly." But it does seem like that's what the general public is pursuing, with local and necessary exceptions--which can't be mandated from WDC.

    As Bill Jacobson writes, you don't want to contract these viral diseases, and suffer the effects as an individual.

    Individual preferences and choices are far different from the considerations for community and/or national policy for combating a public health dilemma, such a COVID-19.

    And the difficulty is compounded by the uncertainty of all the incomplete data, and the incessant speculations regarding rates of contagion, hospitalizations, deaths, symptomatic/asymptomatic carriers, ages of affected population, average age of death, and general susceptibility, e.g. persons with pre-existing conditions as more vulnerable--what conditions? Respiratory? Cardiac? Diabetes? immune function? What?

    Not to mention that most people can't make sense of good data, much less incomplete data.

    And then there is the complete travesty of the media who appear to be in competition with the government as an alternative disseminator of information to the public--regularly speculative, often contradictory, frequently mistaken.

    That said, there's a lot to take in, and little useful substance to go by. Tamping down hard on the spread early on seems to be the most prudent, if inconvenient general policy. Keep elderly and compromised persons isolated to prevent contact spread. Cancelations of large group events seems especially prudent, thus minimizing vectors for contagion.

    Social isolation/distancing, self-quarantine, personal hygiene, face mask in public, no large gatherings, work from home are the things I'm doing after experiencing a dry cough on Monday--which lasted no more than 24 hours, with no other symptoms. Stay heathy, stay safe. Cheers.

    1. Yeah, when I saw that the Japanese shut down their schools I was impressed. What could be more sacred to the Japanese than education?

      I just wrote a long comment giving the factors that are influencing my views here.