Category Archives: Argument

How Far Are We From Herd Immunity To COVID? Very Far.

Argument, COVID-19, Healthcare, Logic

There seems to be a simple—as in elegant—way of getting some perspective on COVID-19 and herd immunity, which is defined as,

A situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely. Even individuals not vaccinated (such as newborns and those with chronic illnesses) are offered some protection because the disease has little opportunity to spread within the community. Also known as herd immunity.

According to WorldOMeter, the United States has 1,546,420 Coronavirus Cases.

As has been pointed out here, America’s case count is scandalously inaccurate. By the Economist’s telling,

Throughout April the number of daily tests has averaged around 150,000, with the share of positive tests staying around 20%. That suggests America is testing only people who are probably infected (in Taiwan, for instance, one in every 132 tests is positive), which in turn suggests that many mild or asymptomatic cases are going undetected. America may have 15 to 20 times more actual infected people than confirmed cases.

1.5 million times 20 makes 30 million infected.

At best, approximately 30 million individuals in the US have some immunity to COVID-19.

The 30 million number is predicated on these two assumptions:

1. That the infected number includes the dead and the recovered. This seems reasonable.

2. That the Economist’s multiplier above is correct. That likelihood is good, too.

Thirty million people with immunity is less than 10 percent of the U.S. population. For there to be population-level immunity to COVID, “at least 70 percent of the population needs to be immune.”

We are still very far from achieving herd immunity.

 

Nate Silver’s Pandemic Observations As ‘Sharp’ As His Prediction About Trump’s Election

Argument, COVID-19, Intelligence, Republicans, Science, THE ELITES

Nate Silver, a statistician, is a mediocre mind.

In this “glorious commonwealth of morons”—H. L. Mencken’s description, not mine—there are many minds even more mediocre than Silver’s, who hype and highlight his banal observations. In the context of the coronavirus, I imagine this is motivated by their own pandemic politics.

But first, to Mr. Silver’s political prognostications during Donald Trump’s election campaign. As  chronicled in my June 29 book, The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed:

… whether they’re missing the Trump phenom or the casus belli for war in Iraq—America’s deeply stupid, self-anointed cognoscenti recognize truth only once card-carrying members arrive at it independently, grasp and broadcast it, sometimes years too late. Not so the marginalized writers of America. Not in 2012, but in 2002 did we pinpoint the wrongness of the Iraq War. And not in 2016, but on July 19, 2015—when this chronicle began—did some of us, not fortuitously, finger Trump as “a candidate to ‘kick the crap out of all the politicians’” and “send the system’s sycophants scattering.” (August 14, 2015). His appeal, as this writer has contended since late in 2015, transcended left and right, at the time.

Conversely, vaunted statistician Nate Silver ‘calculated that Trump’s support was “about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.”

No wonder Professor Tyler Cowen of George Mason University properly downgraded wonder boy Silver’s intellectual prowess. His prose, ventured Cowen, was a sprawl that “evinces a greater affiliation to rigor with data analysis than to rigor with philosophy of science or, for that matter, rigor with rhetoric,” wrote the good teacher, adding that to him, the Silver columns are “tweener” pieces, “too superficial for smart and informed readers, yet on topics which are too abstruse for the more casual readers.”

(MORE in “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed”.)

Now, Nate, that national treasure, is back. This time, he is constructing a straw argument on Fox News, to say nothing of wading into coronavirus politics. I thought he was an objective numbers man?

Nate states the obvious, saying that, “By focusing on coronavirus case counts, the media … makes the numbers look superficially worse … [since]… increases in testing [are what] have led to more cases being diagnosed.”

D’oh! And so obviously true. Does Nate really need to state the obvious? I guess so. (Meanwhile, Silver calls out others for their “boringly conventional positions in … political punditry.”)

The more fundamental point is this: Certainly in the U.S, the coronavirus case count is less significant than the death count: rates and absolute numbers. (Which is why, presumably, Ron Unz highlighted mortality in “The Government Employee Who May Have Saved a Million American Lives.“)

America’s case count, moreover, is scandalously inaccurate. According to the Economist:

Throughout April the number of daily tests has averaged around 150,000, with the share of positive tests staying around 20%. That suggests America is testing only people who are probably infected (in Taiwan, for instance, one in every 132 tests is positive), which in turn suggests that many mild or asymptomatic cases are going undetected. America may have 15 to 20 times more actual infected people than confirmed cases.

That more people are infected is a double-edged sword: More people infected means more people infecting other, but also, we hope, more population-level immunity.

A much more meaningful and reliable number is mortality, death rates and absolute numbers. Right now, the latter stands at 80,037. RIP.

@ The Unz Review.

Told You So About Testing: Now, Italian Experts Are Getting Testy, Too

Argument, Critique, Europe, Healthcare, Intelligence, Reason

Today, April 17, Dr. Anthony Fauci finally explained what I EXPLAINED on April 9, a week ago, in the column, “Kung Flu Is A Killer, All Right, But So Are The Bureaucrats“:

“… COVID testing [is not] an amulet against the dreaded disease. It isn’t. All testing does is give an individual a snapshot in time of his COVID status. As soon as he drives out of the testing facility, a COVID-free person could become infected. Unless they engage in prevention, a single testing in time doesn’t in any way give individuals a clean bill of health.
Prevention protects people.”

Testing is, however—at this stage of spread—helpful in giving medical researchers a grip on the symptomless-sick phenomenon, as well as an idea of how the disease is disseminated and distributed in the population.

Test and keep testing large enough representative samples, and you’ll get good prevalence data.

Maybe Anthony Fauci got a whiff of what his Italian colleagues in Lombardy were saying, for they preceded his belated, simple, overdue insight about the limits of testing:

“… some doctors at the Italian epicentre of the health crisis doubt that testing is their way out of confinement.”

It is a nonsense,” Milan’s Polytechnic Institute professor Davide Manca said. “Conceptually, I am sceptical.”

The reason for Manca’s scepticism is plain to see in the math.

Milan’s Lombardy region has 10 million people and 11,142 officially registered COVID-19 deaths.
The economically strong area, the size of Belgium, has been under one of the world’s strictest lockdowns since early March.

Yet Lombardy has been conducting just 6,500 tests daily over the past 10 days.

Manca estimates it would take more than five years for everyone in Lombardy to get tested just once.
And you need people tested every 15 days for it to have any meaning,” Manca said in a phone interview. [My point here exactly.]”

“Even if you raise that number 10 times, that would still take 200 days for one test. That’s six or seven months.”

“Manca said he still did not understand how the end of confinement would work.”

“Herd immunity is very difficult to achieve with COVID,” the professor said.

“You need 90-95 percent (of the population) to have COVID for immunity. That number is too high to reach.”

More candidly, in Italy, they are not talking dishonestly about “opening up the country.” They are talking about “coexisting with the coronavirus.”

Well, yours truly beat the good doctors to it on April 9, with “Kung Flu Is A Killer, All Right, But So Are The Bureaucrats.

However, these medical heroes were busy saving lives. Bless them.

* Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

NEW COLUMN: Kung Flu Is A Killer, All Right, But So Are The Bureaucrats

Argument, Criminal Injustice, Critique, Government, Healthcare, Political Correctness, The State

NEW COLUMN is “Kung Flu Is A Killer, All Right, But So Are The Bureaucrats.” It is currently on WND.COM and the Unz Review.

Excerpt:

“When, Mr. President, will you deliver instant, standardized, country-wide testing to all the American people,” comes the daily, petulant demand from the malfunctioning media, reiterated by the expert class and an intelligentsia that is not always very intelligent.

The hype over testing will be the next contagion of illogic on matters related to coronavirus.

The testy twits are treating COVID testing as though it were an amulet against the dreaded disease. It isn’t. All testing does is give an individual a snapshot in time of his COVID status. As soon as he drives out of the testing facility, a COVID-free person could become infected.

Unless they engage in prevention, a single testing in time doesn’t in any way give individuals a clean bill of health.

Prevention protects people.

Testing is, however—at this stage of spread—helpful in giving medical researchers a grip on the symptomless-sick phenomenon, as well as an idea of how the disease is disseminated and distributed in the population.

Test and keep testing large enough representative samples, and you’ll get good prevalence data. You’ll probably discover statistically significant differences in COVID infection rates along the rural/metropolitan axis, and the Chinese/no-Chinese axis.

In fact, high-tech meccas are likely a good proxy for the correlation between COVID and the Chinese population. Hubs of high-tech like my state of Washington—the King and Snohomish counties, in particular—have high coronavirus infection rates.

Antibody status is another essential parameter obtained from testing. In addition to identifying the prevalence of disease in the population, a COVID serology assay will divulge who has developed antibodies to the virus, is now immune to it, and can get on with it.

But unless you vigorously protect your health status with barriers to SARS-CoV-2, testing is but a snapshot in time of your disease status.

In the fullness of time, mainstream will arrive at these simple deductions.

Before the testing fetish came the face-mask mythology. Face masks were the first contagion of illogic sprung on a gullible public.

Most “covidiots” insisted that, because the “experts” had said so, donning face masks during an epidemic to reduce droplet transmission was futile. Proven. Q.E.D. Nothing more to show.

But, as far back as March 5, in “Unmasking Statist, Socialist Propaganda About ‘Face Masks,’” this column unpacked the lies and illogic underlying the contention that masks (surgical and N95) were worthless to the public. As follows:

“While the coronavirus is indeed minuscule, smaller than 0.3 microns (likely between 0.1 and 0.2 microns), COVID-19 is delivered in a larger medium of bodily fluids or spray. Certainly, some barrier to the spittle in which the coronavirus is dispersed is better than none.”

“No surprise then, that world health authorities can’t seem to get their story straight on masks. At times, they concede ‘that N-95 face masks are protective.’ More frequently, they scratch the proverbial proboscis (ostensibly a sign of lying) and say ‘No, of course, they’re ineffective.’ In other words, ‘they work for me, the healthcare worker, but not for thee.’”

“For honesty’s sake,” I had exhorted, “the country’s health-care functionaries might appeal to consumers on the ground of dire shortages. But on the basis that no protection is better than some protection? Please! …”

On March 30, our great Tucker Carlson seconded my mask message of March 5, emphasizing the arguments above. Two days prior to Tucker, 23 days after Mercer—a lifetime in a pandemic—mainstream caught up. Wrote the New York Post: “Experts say face masks can help slow COVID-19, despite previous claims.”

A full month after this column’s advice to ignore government enjoinders against face masks and respirators, the government has reversed its position.

On April 3, government grandees finally instructed Americans to cover their faces with anything but surgical and N95 masks. In so doing, the government had stopped flouting logic and had come clean about why it had endangered American lives.

As pinpointed in my unmasking of March 5, the depraved calculus that went into advising Americans initially, and unintuitively, not to shield viral entry points—mouth, eyes and nose—was purely utilitarian. It stemmed from a fear that, by protecting their health, citizens would contribute to scarcity and undermine the health of healthcare workers.

Sold to the public as settled science, the initial mask fallacy-disguised-as-policy was social engineering for the sake of resource conservation. …

…  READ THE REST. NEW COLUMN is “Kung Flu Is A Killer, All Right, But So Are The Bureaucrats.” It is currently on WND.COM and the Unz Review.

* Image is of Hydroxychloroquine Via AP