The Uncertainty Virus

This is an absolutely fascinating interview with Stanford University Professor of Medicine Doctor Jay Bhattacharya.  He discusses why knowing the true lethality rate of COVID-19 is so important, as we cannot know what that rate is without a definitive number on how many people have or have had the virus. Right now we have no idea, yet huge policy decisions with enormous implications are being made as if we do. Massive testing on asymptomatic people is desperately needed.

The video is about 30 minutes long.  Carve out some time to give it a listen, it’s really well done.

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17 Responses to The Uncertainty Virus

  1. Good stuff, Tricia! My daughter, the nurse and my other one, the biologist, both far more distressed about this then I am, have all discussed the possibility that we may have already had this bug and recovered. There were some nasty bugs going around back in January, February, March.

    When they tested people on that cruise ship, nearly half were either asymptomatic or pre-symtomatic. Half of the people who tested positive weren’t even sick! A good chunk of those positives never got sick at all. In fact, that’s why we’re all in quarantine today, because we can’t really tell who is spreading the virus, some of us may just be asymptomatic carriers. But if that is actually true, then it means that hundreds of thousands of us have already had it and it was so mild we didn’t even notice, so we weren’t even tested. And we already know that is true! So the death rate, the danger of this virus could well be so incredibly low, as to be almost negligible. Now of course, one death is too many, but I mean “negligible” as in the ordinary seasonal flu kills tens of thousands every year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tricia says:

      That’s so true what you say about the cruise ship as it was the perfect testing environment! I get the importance of flattening the curve because a scary chunk of those that do get the virus need hospitalization and if we all got it at once the entire country would be like NY.

      BUT for most people, hospitalization isn’t gonna happen yet people are panicking like it will. I just got back from a walk and noticed more people than usually not just moving away from me as our paths crossed, but walking entirely across the street to avoid any sort of visual contact whatsoever.

      We are watching a government made economic catastrophe unfold in slow motion before our eyes and yet even just bringing this up can get you shamed in some quarters.

      Dr. Faucci and other smart people in the public eye need to be more honest about what they and do not know.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Citizen Tom says:

    @Tricia

    Good video.

    I think CDC people are being honest. The headache is making a decision when there is insufficient information. The problem is that the virus seems to be highly contagious. So if nothing is done, lots of people could get the virus quickly. Then there those who do get severely sick will overwhelm the hospitals, and people will die because we don’t have the resources needed to help them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Thanks Tom and I agree with you about the problem of quick spread and concerns of hospitals being overwhelmed, which is why I also agree with social distancing and shutting down the economy. This can’t go on indefinitely though as the affects could very well be worse than the virus. We need sound data to make good decisions on how to best protect the most vulnerable people from the virus, while letting the rest of us get back to work.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: DEFINING MILESTONES FOR THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY – Citizen Tom

  4. Thanks for the great resource. This certainly is a challenge. I’m not sure creating a culture of fear is helpful.

    Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Al says:

    Good video. No doubt this pandemic will be debated for decades after it is all over. Like every other issue that confronts this country, there will be Monday morning quarterbacks galore who will be vociferously shouting the “we shouda, we coulda” mantra.

    I’m not an MD or PhD or scientist,. What I am is a pragmatist, so I go by what experience has taught us. The Spanish flu (and no, I’m not xenophobic regarding Spanish people) left us with the very statistics that this video is talking about. It was particularly deadly, affected all age groups, spread quickly, had no vaccine available and no cure. Sound familiar? The final tally was 650,000 dead in the U.S. The population of the U.S. at that time was 103 million. Simple math tells us that if this virus is only AS deadly as that one, close to 17 million of us will die. What if it’s worse?

    It seems to me, that warrants what we are doing to mitigate those numbers. We have to do this for at least a while. Agreed, extensive tanking of the economy would be dangerous as well because deaths will begin to occur due to that factor alone. But there must be a tipping point. I don’t think we have reached that yet, so the quarantine is justified. Economies can tank even without pandemics. They also can and do recover quite nicely. The 17 million or more, dead Americans would not.

    This is the most difficult peacetime problem that any modern President has faced. There’s no manual except for historical data. For anyone to say you’re doing it all wrong is distinctively arrogant. Measure are being taken financially to help those affected financially. It is just as counter-productive to panic about the economy as it is to panic about the virus.

    Someone once said, patience is a virtue. Let’s at least TRY be more virtuous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Wasn’t it an informative video? I wish more people would watch it, at least to get a better perspective on statistics.

      We can’t at all be sure of death rates until more testing is done and even that will be speculative because it’s unlikely we will have both types of testing (virus and antibody detection) required and in significant amounts.

      That being said we need to be much more frank about the catastrophic effects of an extended shut down of the economy. Many lives will be lost because of this too, not to mention exploding rates of addiction, depression, broken families, business, dreams etc…It will not be pretty and it will affect all of us and take years to come out of.

      By the way, I’m on board with social distancing and an economic shutdown for now to flatten the curve, but we have to look seriously at how and when to open the economy back up.

      This virus is most deadly to older people and/or those with underlying health conditions. Quarantining only this group while allowing the rest of us to get back to work while still following social distancing and good hygiene policies seems to make sense to me. Plus that will help build the herd immunity that’s needed for the virus to go away. No herd immunity and this thing will be with us for quite some time.

      Also, Spanish Flu (if you’re a xenophobe, so am I, 😉 ) affected everyone gravely, will COVID-19 does not, thank God.

      Like

  6. Al says:

    I realized after posting this that my numbers were incorrect vis a vis the percentages. Actual numbers versus the Spanish flu would be 5 1/2 million deaths. Still a significant number compared if this virus was allowed to run rampant in a business as usual economy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Yeah, I thought those numbers seemed a but high so thanks for the correction. Still a large number like you said, but Spanish Flu affected everyone gravely while this virus does not. Plus I don’t see anyone calling for it to run rampant in a business as usual economy, do you?

      Like

      • Al says:

        Yes I do, the quarantine. Estimating 200,000 to 300,00 deaths with a quarantine. What would they estimate without it?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tricia says:

          First of all not everyone is estimating those high #’s, and second those thinking we should look at opening the economy back up after the peak aren’t talking about just going to pre pandemic days. Keep the quarantines for the elderly and those with underlying conditions, make sure hospitals are supplied with the right equipment, keep social distancing in place, (no large gatherings, staying 6 feet apart, ect…) and continue to practice good hygene while opening up certain areas of the country is what I’ve read about.

          And as the Dr.Bhattacharya states in the video (and many others by the way) we don’t know the true death rate, so it’s impossible to be certain about how many will die. Until we can know with reasonable certainty who has and has had the virus, we are shooting in the dark. It’s estimated that a large # of people have had or currently have the virus yet don’t know it which would suggest a vastly lower death rate.

          Here, read this article for a long but better explanation of what I’m trying to say:
          https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/17/a-fiasco-in-the-making-as-the-coronavirus-pandemic-takes-hold-we-are-making-decisions-without-reliable-data/

          In my view the only responsible thing moving forward is to look seriously at ways to get people back to work while protecting the most vulnerable members of society.

          I know we differ I’m opinion on this Al and I really do appreciate your view. This is serious stuff and it’s important to keep the information flowing like our conversation does!

          Like

          • Al says:

            Good morning, Tricia. I think your idea of returning the economy in steps is very workable, immediately after the April cutoff date or sooner if we learn a lot more in a short amount of time. If we still don’t have enough data to make an informed decision by 5/1, let’s roll the dice.

            Can’t help but think that our opinions (yours mine and everyone’s) are influenced by our individual circumstances. We all like to think we are neutral in our thinking, but that’s rarely the case. I, for example, can’t help but think of things from the perspective of a more vulnerable person, older male. You are younger, still a contributing factor to the GNP and may be losing income, although that is an assumption on my part.

            In any case, I applaud your putting all this out there for rational people to discuss. I have always enjoyed your take on issues.

            On a personal note, we were supposed to come to San Diego for a wedding in mid-June. I was going to contact you to see about a meet-up, but just learned it has been postponed. If and when it is rescheduled, I will let you know and maybe we can have a cuppa together.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Tricia says:

            Al I so agree with you that our opinions reflect a natural bias towards our own personal situations. The is certainly a fact for everyone most of the time! I enjoy our back and forth as well. We usually agree pretty much all the time on issues so it’s fun to be able to sharpen our minds a bit on areas were we don’t.

            It would be so great to meet up for a cuppa sometime! Definitely keep me posted if/when you come out this way.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Al says:

            Will certainly do that!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Tricia says:

            Forgot to mention that yes you are correct about my current situation. I’m not worried yet about my employer letting me go and I’m fortunate enough to be a home office worker anyway outside of this pandemic, but a good chunk of my income involves sales commissions which are tough to come by in this environment. I’ve got plenty of savings though and I’m confident though things will get back to normal quickly once things open up. I hope and prays anyway.

            Liked by 1 person

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