Daily Archives: March 27, 2020
The figures for Italy released this afternoon aren’t good, with more than 900 deaths in a day, and the new record.
Before you freak out, reflect that these daily numbers don’t mean much anyway, which you know because you actually read my blog.
At this point, I would like to make a very worst case, a realistic worse case, and a comparison with data we have.
As you know from here, the Diamond Princess saw the worst possible incubation scenario, and was full of old people, who were going around for many days within the vessel and being happily infected without even knowing it.
The figures again:
Total death after weeks in the vessel of hell: 0.188%
Let us apply this to the, say, 60 million Italians and we have 112,800 deaths due to Coronavirus.
However, the Diamond Princess is, most certainly, not representative of Italy: firstly, because it was a heavily contained environment; secondly, because the average age was much older than in Italy. Thirdly, because (to my knowledge) no intensive care units with ventilators etc could be made available. So, let us say that 110k- 120k deaths is the very worst case. Then, let us (merely) halve it to allow for a very bad, resilient virus that does not find so many old people around as aboard the Diamond Princess, but proves resilient to medications, is not killed by warm weather, etc.
We are at 55k-60k deaths, mostly of old people with pre-existing conditions and average age of around 80 years. This is, I think, a realistic worst case. Not, mind, a likely figure, but a realistically assumed scenario for a very bad outcome.
Now, let us recall the great heat wave of 2003, which led to many old people dying of dehydration. At the time (this might have changed afterwards; these numbers always go through a series of adjustments) the talk was of anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000 deaths in France alone. France has around the same population as Italy, give or take single percentage digits. Certainly, a tragedy. However, these figures were calculated months afterwards, when there was nothing more to do about it. Question: would the country have been stopped for all the summer, to allow for the industry to produce a vast number of a/c systems, an army of technicians to install them, and an army of nurses to force everyone to hydrate until he cries? That emergency was, in the end, much less grave than this one, but you get my drift: no one would have asked, then, to stop the entire Country and drive it to the ground to avoid the tragedy.
We are, realistically, talking here of a maximum of twice the deaths we counted then, not collectively noticing until several months later. It’s a lot of deaths, and it certainly is the Christian thing to do to put in place those measures that can reasonably be put in place to avoid it, allowing all Western Governments to prepare for the tidal wave of people in need of intensive care units and minimise its deadly effect. It did, and it does, make sense to use the emergency brake for a limited number of weeks.
But – hand on heart, and in front of the Blessed Virgin – I can safely say that even the sobering, very sad, tragic figures I am putting in front of you today do not justify the collective economic suicide of a Nation, much less of a Continent, much less of the West.
And by the by, the Chinese figures are rotten and look more rotten by the day. It is inconceivable that they should have less deaths and – even more absurd – less infected people than Italy, when they went around happily infecting each other for who knows how long, and were prevented from isolating even when the situation was bad enough that doctors on the ground could easily see it. They are going through a carnage now; but people are expendable to them, so they don’t care. So yeah, a huge lot of excrement is happening over there just now; you are merely not allowed to know.
I do not think that anyone can accuse me of downplaying this situation, and I am totally allergic to the rubbish I am reading around the web (don’t try to bring that rubbish here, thanks; this is my virtual home, and I will have none of that crap).
Still, I think that the cure cannot be worse than the disease, and that undue alarm and facebook-induced panic only serves to destroy the fabric of Western Capitalism.
The data coming in every afternoon from the Italian Protezione Civile keep giving a mixed picture, with mostly positive days followed by days (like yesterday) marked by slight increases in infections and deaths.
But I, and many others, begin to think that the numbers are almost useless; or that they can be, at the most, merely a vague indication of where we are and what the general trend is.
The official data of the deceased because of Coronavirus just do not square (do not even begin to square) with real life where the unfortunate inhabitant of many places in Northern Italy, particularly in Bergamo and surrounding towns, are living.
Some journalists have compared the official Coronavirus death with the lists of the deceased, and have come out with one of those unavoidable truths that every now and then confront us: it is not that you are having hallucinations, it is that the official figures about the deceased do not even begin to give account of the deaths due to Coronavirus.
Let us take Nembro, a town near Bergamo where the virus has struck with great violence. Nembro lost between 110 and 120 people from the beginning of March. Last year, they were 14. The same strong differences (though not as brutal as in Nembro) can be found everywhere in the towns affected by the virus.
Now consider this: the number of deaths in the same city and town tend to be fairly constant from one year to the other, when you compare the same time of year. This is not happening now. Everywhere, where the virus struck, the number of deaths is four, five, six, ten times the expected number, and the official statistics of the deceased from the Coronavirus only account for a tiny part of the difference.
This means that the official Coronavirus death statistics are merely an indication of trend (if that), but nothing even remotely resembling the reality of what we are living.
Why is this, you may ask? For the very obvious reason that there not enough tests, and in many cases there is not enough time, to test every death of “pneumonia” (record numbers are being recorded in the last weeks) instead of Coronavirus. Therefore, either the deceased is tested after death (possible, but rare) or the death is recorded as “pneumonia”, and that is that. This is totally understandable: first, tests need to be used to prevent the spreading of the disease; second, those who are infected need additional tests (at times two, or three each) before they can be safely recorded as having recovered.
Mind, the other obvious data is also confirmed with growing numbers of deaths: this virus is a harvester, not a killer. People don’t die of Coronavirus alone. The Chinese Virus is, by and large, the one pushing them to the grave when serious conditions are already there.
So there we have it: this Chinese Virus is, for the population at large, certainly not a threat. But it is an unprecedented threat for old and frail people. It is, if you allow me the macabre image, like an evil witch from a children’s tale, going around and taking away all the old and frail people she can get; or like a huge, automatic machine aiming at the low hanging fruits from the orchard.
How to react to this? My suggestion is the same I always had: it being impossible to stop the West until this has gone or a cure has been found or a vaccine has been created, it is necessary to concentrate the preparation on the end part: the ICU places, with the necessary ventilators and personnel.
This should be treated like you would a bombardment in time of war, with field hospitals everywhere and part of the production reconverted to the war necessities (equipment for personnel and patients; doctors; nurses). At the same time, and exactly as it would happen in time of war, the Country should go on and production (of goods and services) should continue undisturbed.
It is, if you ask me, perfectly fine to stop a Country from going out for a couple of weeks. It is a hit that we should, as a Country, be ready to take to protect the vulnerable. This will allow the worst of the first brunt to be absorbed as we prepare for a medical emergency.
But at some point, the “war machine” needs to start working again, or we will all be victims.