Sunday, April 5, 2020

Perspectives, Lessons?

Steve Sailer has two good posts this morning (so far, of course).

First, Texas Face Mask Maker Running Only One Shift. Sailer simply quotes from an article in the Dallas News--If you imagine that a local business making surgical face masks is working 24/7, guess again, and I'll abbreviate it even more:

Mike Bowen runs America’s No. 1 maker of hospital surgical masks, in North Richland Hills. For more than a decade, he predicted a pandemic and the perils of offshore buying. 
… During this crisis, you’d think the company would be pushing forward on all cylinders, working 24/7 to manufacture the one commodity that Americans and the rest of the world want so badly. 
You’d be wrong. 
The company is only operating weekday shifts. You drive by nights and weekends and the employee parking lot is empty. … 
The story of Bowen’s unhappiness is a cautionary tale about what can happen if Americans searching for cheaper prices send entire industries offshore to countries like Mexico and China. 
Everything Bowen has warned about has come true. He warned that allowing another country to serve as our main supplier of personal protection equipment has the potential to become a national security nightmare. 
The common theme is that during an outbreak like this, everybody wants to be his customer. But as soon as an outbreak subsides, his customers dump him and run back to China. The reason? His masks may cost a dime each, but a made-in-China mask might go for two cents. 
“Last time he geared up and went three shifts a day working his tail off,” the mayor recalled. “As soon as the issue died, he didn’t have any sales. He had to pay unemployment for all these people, and he had to gear down.”

There must be a lesson in that for us, right? Maybe it's the lesson that President Trump has been trying to get across for the past four years or so.

Next up, some perspective from the UK. Remember how they were going to bravely wait out the pandemic and develop herd immunity? That was then. This is now: Stats on 2,249 ICU Admittees in England Are Not Encouraging.

One of the widespread hopes has been that the coronavirus is merely dangerous to people who were practically on the verge of death anyway even before the new disease came along. Many optimists have seized upon the advanced average age of Italians who died and their high percentage of “co-morbidities” (although nobody seems to want to explain what percentage of the general population also have problems like hypertension). 
... I was interested in this brand new report [follow link] on the 2,249 Intensive Care Unit patients with the new disease in England. 
Most are still in the ICU, but of the 690 who aren’t anymore, half got better and half died. 
Basically, you don’t want to go into the ICU. You have a high chance of dying, and even if you survive, how vigorous will the rest of your life be? ... I’ve got to guess that a week or three in the ICU for any reason will likely permanently damage anybody besides the fairly young. 
Generally, as you get older, you come out of a health crisis, even one of only a few months in duration, effectively 5 or 10 or 15 years older than you went into it. ... 
So, of the 2249 who went into the ICU, the mean age of admittees was 60 and median was 61. Men made up 73%. 93% were living without assistance. “Very severe comorbidities” were fairly rare. ... 
ICU patients were only slightly fatter than the general population of similar sex and age ... 
Of those who are no longer in ICU, 24% of those under 50 died, 46% of those 50-69 died, and 68% of those 70 or over died. So, basically, you don’t want to go into ICU no matter how young you are. 
Most people who get the germ won’t wind up in ICU. On the other hand, the English stats suggest that the poor bastards who wind up in ICU are NOT people who were already on death’s door, but are instead a fairly random selection of average people, just somewhat older & slightly fatter. Randomness plays a sizable role in who is hit hard.

Strictly anecdotal. A short while ago I spoke with my youngest son. He told me that he had spoken (by phone) with his boss, who had lost a friend in CT. His friend was ex-army, mid-40s, ran, did judo. But he's dead now. In the UK study he would have been on the short end of the under 50 cohort, part of the 24% who didn't make it out of the ICU alive. Then again, what would his life have been like afterwards had he survived?

This is what we're talking about with social distancing. It's NOT just about saving obese 80 year olds.


  1. I can sympathize, since last time he almost went bankrupt.

    I take it as he is training more people, but he won't buy more machines.

    1. Just checked. My bucolic suburb has gone from 28 cases to 53 cases from 4/2-5.

    2. President Trump, if he is aware of this man, ought to guarantee that if the man ramps up protection, the USA will not allow him to be left holding the bag.

      I've said for close to 40 years that we ought to be making most stuff in the USA. It's a national security imperative.

  2. Holy crap. Time for me to order masks for the family. And gloves :(

  3. 2 posts from New Neo

    1st one ...

    "A person gets a cough, a fever, fatigue. Ordinarily, that doesn’t engender much alarm. But this year of COVID is different. Almost anyone with those symptoms believes he or she might have it. Depending on the state or city, and depending on the severity of symptoms, many of them manage to secure a test. And the majority of them test negative for COVID.


    So far this season (2019-2020), flu has infected many people, almost certainly way more than COVID (which so far appears to have a higher case fatality rate, although exactly how much higher has yet to be determined). Take a look at the CDC page for this year’s flu in the US, and see the kind of numbers I’m talking about. It says 39,000,000 – 55,000,000 cases of flu, 18,000,000 – 26,000,000 doctor visits, 400,000 – 730,000 hospitalizations, and 24,000 – 63,000 deaths."

    1. The difference is that the COVID cases are happening over a very short timeline. The flu season extends from Sept through May. The medical professions know all about "flu season" and aren't overwhelmed--our hospitals continue to offer full services. That's true throughout most of the country, but it's not true in the COVID hot spot places--preeminently NY, but also NO, DE, etc.

      That, of course, is one of the stronger arguments for a more flexible shutdown. OTOH, Fauci makes the argument that the what we're really trying to do is prevent COVID--which is NOT just the flu--becoming endemic throughout the country, like flu.

  4. 2nd one from New Neo

    "Modeling can analyze data about complex systems and make predictions. But the predictive value of modeling is hampered by the fact that models are only as good as the assumptions and statistics behind them.


    The more catastrophic the prediction, the more likely a government or a populace is to become afraid, and to justify large-scale interventions that can negatively impact liberty, the economy, and quality of life in general. And all for what? To avert a catastrophe that never would have happened in the first place? A lot of people – even those who are generally science-oriented – have come to distrust the models and consider them deeply flawed or even deceptive, an excuse for government to clamp its hand ever more tightly around us.


    Pandemics are similar in that modeling and predictions are involved. But with pandemics we have more opportunity for checking our work. We can compare different countries and different interventions during the same pandemic, although that can take not just years but a century or more; for example, they’re still trying to decide whether certain cities in the US had interventions in 1918 that made an ultimate difference in their rate of death. After all, it’s not as though all cities in a certain country, or all countries on earth, are the same in terms of a host of factors that might make them more or less susceptible to a particular illness. Researchers have ways of adjusting for those differences. But the methods to do so are far from perfect. And yet we really need to know."

    Quoting an online article from Brought to Life Science Museum, New Neo goes on,"
    Hippocrates and Galen are colossal figures in the history of medicine [offered guidance for plague], rendered in Latin as ‘Cito, Longe, Tarde,’ which translates as ‘Leave quickly, go far away and come back slowly.’…

    When the Black Death spread through Italy in late 1347, some ports began turning away ships suspected of coming from infected areas. During March the following year, authorities in Venice became the first to formalise such protective actions against plague, closing the city’s waters to suspect vessels, and subjecting travellers and legitimate ships to 30 days’ isolation. This period was extended to 40 days some years later – hence the term quarantine. Further regulations established remote cemeteries for plague victims who in turn were collected, transported and buried in accordance with defined rules. But these measures were too little, too late. Plague took hold and Venetians died in their tens of thousands…

    Other Italian cities tried similar measures. Further inland, in May 1348 the northern city of Pistoia introduced wide-ranging laws affecting many aspects of daily life. Restrictions on imports and exports, travel, market trading and funerals were all brought in, but again to no effect. At least 70% of the population died. But by contrast, another northern city, Milan, avoided a major outbreak. Whether this was due to control measures taken by city authorities, including sealing up three houses (with the occupants inside) after plague was discovered there, is debatable. The Milanese authorities could certainly be firm. From 1350 they decreed that all future plague victims and those nursing them would be isolated in a designated pesthouse built outside the city walls."

    New Neo ends, "I’m grateful for modern science. But unfortunately, we may not be as good as we think we are – and certainly not as good as we would like to be – at predicting the effect of the major interventions we employ in our attempts to control the forces of nature."

    1. Interesting, but I'm not clear what the point of comparison with the Black Death is. We know what causes COVID--it's a virus that has been genetically mapped. During the Black Death they had NO CLUE as to the cause.

    2. My take is that she, New Neo, is suggesting that even with our knowledge over the Chinese Virus, it, in the end will not matter, like how the efforts did not matter in the Black Death ... Ring Around the Rosie.

      Matter of fact, aren't experts saying we will all be infected at some point?

    3. "Interesting, but I'm not clear what the point of comparison with the Black Death is. We know what causes COVID--it's a virus that has been genetically mapped. During the Black Death they had NO CLUE as to the cause."

      I have no disagreement with what you say. I'll only point out that we have more knowledge and information than we had during the Black Death and less wisdom. We won't learn the right lessons.

    4. @Joe, too true.

      @TexasDude, efforts based on ignorance can't be compared to efforts based on knowledge.

      Of course, our knowledge is incomplete. It's true that we know the origin/cause, but we don't know--or aren't sure--of a specific remedy. Still, we do know that social distance mitigates.

      I return to Fauci's point of seeking to prevent COVID from becoming endemic throughout the world. It's a worthwhile effort.

    5. Yeah, a worthwhile effort, unless it's doomed to fail (in anything but the shortest of terms), as K. Denninger fears, see :

      "… while the various "lockdown" policies have produced a monstrous reduction in economic activity, and likely removed an average of 90% or more of interpersonal contacts from the potential transmission space, it's not going to do the job.

      It has produced change. It has dropped R0 to about *1.5-1.6*, more or less. Interestingly enough, it dropped it to there, irrespective of where you started from; CA never was materially above 2.0, NY nearly touched 3.0, and the national average was right near 2.5….

      …But we all, irrespective of the approach, wind up in the same place, incidentally, where Sweden is and has been, despite NOT forcibly locking down their economy -- that is, urging rather than *ordering* people to comply.
      Materially more than *another half-point* of R0 reduction, which is what you'd need to drop it under 1.0, isn't going to happen. It's just NOT.
      Yet that's what has to happen, in order to actually have cases *decrease*. That, or herd immunity has to be reached, which, for a 1.5 R0, is about 33% of the population.

      Unfortunately, *as soon as* you release the constraints, even if you wait in lockdown until you reach 33%, which would take about 8-9 months at R0 = 1.5, which we could not maintain without destroying the entire economy of the United States, and likely the government as well, you're back to needing 66% immunity, and the geometric detonation you feared happens *anyway*."...

  5. Riverside County Ca just started requiring masks. Masks seem to have a huge impact on flattening the curve. Czech Republic did this. Quinine will help, but there seems to be a lot of roadblocks for getting quick prescriptions. Testing is a major issue, which seems to come down to reimbursement.

    1. ahhh .. roadblocks ..,

      You mean like Dr. Fauci?

  6. This debate is just not on places like this one, but in the White House if this Axios report is correct (Axios, in my opinion is not pro-Trump in any way and attempts to hide any biases) ...

    Notice in the report who is portrayed as the aggressor and who the writer links Trump with in his public stance on this.

  7. Thanks for the Axios article, explains a lot:

    1. Daily news yesterday made a lot about Trump cutting off Fauci yesterday in the daily presser.

    2. Peter Navarro has a history as a contrarian on economics against the mainstream economics, and he’s been right. To not be tarred as an idiot, you need data. Wikipedia really does not like him. He wrote a book, death by china. His views seem right on target, and has been driving us Chiba economic policy.

    1. I understand why Fauci might "that's not science" in a certain sense, but to claim that the evidence is only "anecdotal" I think goes too far in the other direction. The studies aren't huge, there are no control groups, but they were conducted by trained and reputable doctors and/or governments following the advice of such professionals. Even Fauci says he'd use it if he were a practicing MD. HCQ is safe when used within well established guidelines. Importantly, it is used for only a very limited time: 5-6 days. We are in the midst of a pandemic.

  8. "that's not science".
    OK, Fauci, how much of the suspicious stuff you and your crowd have been hurling at us (e.g. on models "predicting" infection rates) are settled "science", rather than being (politically motivated?) speculation, snowing us into acquiescence in our de facto imprisonment?

    How many in your crowd, Fauci, took the slightest issue with the Lefty swamp's (in some cases, years-long) tantrums, about DJT's "collusion" w/ Russian hacking, Nick Sandman's "punch-able smirk", P.O. Darren Wilson's "murder" of Michael Brown, Kav's "rape" of Blassey Ford, etc.
    It's as if, your crowd has been going out of their way, to provoke us to mistrust them.

    Until we see you, Fauci, at all hinting some sympathy, with those of us demanding that at least some of your crowd pay a major price (for their systematic deceit), I lean toward dismissing out-of-hand everything you say, as aiming toward running the agenda of the D.S.

    Seeing, Fauci, as you've been with NIH for over 50 years, and seeing how guys like Biden extend something approaching idolatry toward your direction, why should we not fear, that you've sunk into the Swamp, so far that you're drenched up to your chin?

    1. And, Fauci, in light of how so many of your (mostly-implicit) premises are looking ever-more dubious, why should we not fear, that this whole lockdown is a D.S. psyOp, which may "end" for maybe a few months, to be resumed once plausible excuses emerge?
      What has this D.C. crowd been doing, other than stoking our mistrust on everything of importance?