QED

The Case for a Nationwide Lockdown

Nine times out of ten, the mayor in Jaws would have been the hero of the story. Standing up against a panicking mob, saving the town from yet another baseless scare. It’s just that, as Boris Johnson has pointed out, in that particular instance, he was wrong.

I can fully understand why people are sceptical about the need for decisive action in relation to COVID19. Every couple of years the media comes up with some new terror they demand we panic about. The Population Bomb. Acid Rain. The Jupiter Effect. Y2K. Global Warming. Zika. Nine times out of ten the fear is completely baseless, or at best, a minor concern exaggerated into a major (and expensive) drama. Except that this time, there really is a shark in the water, a wolf at the door.

Of course it is true that we don’t know how many cases there have been and, consequently, we have conflicting reports about what the mortality rate might be. There could be many people who have had the disease, were never tested, and for whom it was no more than a few days’ inconvenience, as suggested by the latest figures out of Iceland, where mass testing has indicated the virus had a much wider and largely unnoticed spread in the community than “we would have assumed,” in the words of the chief tester. The obverse could be that many people have died from COVID19 who are not among the counted cases, either because test kits were not available, or because COVID19 was not considered and their deaths ascribed to other causes.

What we do know is that of tested and diagnosed cases which have run their course, more than 15 people out of 100 have died. Many of those who survived but required ventilation will suffer permanent lung damage, in some cases severe and permanently debilitating.

So what do we do?

Personally, I have been in favour of a complete lockdown (except for genuinely essential services), regarding the threat as something we cannot muck around with. The longer we wait, the more people will be infected, the more medical services will be overwhelmed, the more people will die. But we will not convince anyone by asserting that politicians responsible for making decisions, and who have not yet reached the same conclusion, are dithering or, even worse, lack integrity.

Many doctors, including specialist epidemiologists, are calling for a complete lockdown. At the same time, there are many equally or even more impressively credentialled people, like those quoted in this article, who claim the whole fuss is completely out of proportion, that even current actions are causing more harm than good. Shutdowns are causing harm, as other Quadrant Online contributors have noted. There is a reason we should be hesitant to introduce severe lockdown measures. The economic and social costs are enormous. There has been a huge amount of government spending to support various groups, but those most negatively affected, are small business owners, and so far there has been inadequate support or assistance for them.

Small businesses are the base of the economy. They are the ones who provide the majority of day-to-day services in local communities. Overall, they are Australia’s biggest employers. So far there has been support for bigger companies, and for people on benefits. Few people would object to that, although it is hard to see why the income of one group of people should be doubled because the price of a cabbage has gone up by a dollar, while others receive no support whatever.

Small family businesses still have to pay rent, they still have to pay insurance and utility bills while they have no money coming in, and no money to buy essentials for their own families. Many people have invested life savings, mortgaged their homes, to set up businesses which enable them to make a living for their families, pay taxes, and provide services to their local communities. For most, their business is their superannuation.

If there is a complete lockdown, there will be bankruptcies, and there will be suicides. Both of these echo destructively through families and communities. Politicians are right to be concerned and to want to ensure that actions are genuinely justified, and that the cost of those actions is outweighed by the need to put strict protective measures in place.

Politicians and the public are not going to convinced by insults, or by anyone asserting “I am an expert, just do what I say.” We have had enough of experts. What the public need, and what politicians need, is a clear, detailed and convincing case that shows a shutdown is necessary, that it works, is working elsewhere, and that the immense costs have been fully considered.

Just two days ago Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer talked about the advice his department was giving to government, saying that present measures were adequate to contain the spread of the virus. The fatal flaw with this is that it still relies mainly on voluntary compliance. As we have seen, too many people will not comply.

If we need a lockdown– as I said, my personal view is that we do — medical specialists have to give the government consistent, coherent evidence-based reasons why. So far, that explanation has been lacking.

29 comments
  • MichaelinBrisbane

    In your 4th paragraph you have linked to the “Worldometer” website where the stats they present on the mortality rate from this virus are no-where here the 15% you suggest.
    Their stats are quite interesting. For instance, why is the mortality rate in Germany a fraction of that in Italy?
    Otherwise, it is also very interesting to hear so many different points of view on this dreadful subject.

  • Tezza

    I am not convinced of the case for a complete shutdown, because it can not be continued by any means for the several months that would be necessary. Moreover, the subsequent reconnection to the external world will be very protracted with frequent reversals to prevent re-importing the pandemic, and complete shutdown would further destroy the base fro: which we could slowly build a recovery.
    While present, extensive measures are not voluntarily being adopted sufficiently extensively, that can be improved in a sustainable way by enforcement, as is now happening for returning travellers.
    I am surprised, however, that Peter doesn’t make the strongest argument for stronger measures, either partial or complete: while there is great uncertainty about population exposure, R-nought and mortality rates, there is little miscounting of the bodies that have built up in Italy, Spain, France and the US.

  • Geoffrey Luck

    Let’s get real, eh? The Case Fatality Rate (CFR) for Covid-19 is nothing like the 15% put forward in this article. It is not known what the denominator term “tested and diagnosed cases” means; it is not explained or supported by the WorldoMeter link provided. The only measures of fatality, morbidity or lethality worth considering are those based on proper analyses of recorded site data, not aggregates. For example four Swiss scientists from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine in the University of Bern reported on their examination of “Age-Specific Case Fatality Ratio in the Epidemic in Hubei China, January and February 2020” They took the trouble to adjust the raw data to take account of all symptomatic and asymptomatic infections. Here are their ratios (actual death percentages) across the age range:
    0-9 years 0.0094%; 10-19 years 0.022%; 20-29 years 0.091%; 30-39 years 0.18%; 40-49 years 0.4%; 50-59 years 1.3%; 60-69 years 4.6%; 70-79 years 9.8%; 80+ years 18%.
    Covid-19 is not a killer disease, except for the elderly, unless the patient has one or more pre-existing illnesses. Those numbers indicate clearly why the advice not to close schools was soundly based. The authors were careful to point out that the numbers could change with time, but this was the best assessment on the data to mid-February. At 88 I am not anxious to die, but I am still going to my kidney specialist and my dentist, confident in an 82% likelihood of survival intact. People should stop panicking.

  • March

    Too right Geoffrey. The lockdowns need to be lifted ASAP, starting Now.
    They won’t lift them because the government will lose so much skin. They have killed the livelihoods of millions and for what? If they are to be able to write a passable “we saved Australia” propaganda piece the lockdowns will need to continue for another 4 weeks at which point we enter Mad Max territory.

  • Tezza

    To Geoffrey & March, re ‘lets’s get real’ : Those bodies being trucked away in refrigerated lorries in Italy, Spain and the US are real. Many of them may have died with Covid-19 rather than from it, but the forgone life-years are real. It’s a killer disease alright, as is the flu and many other things we cope with every year. How to rank it remains to be seen with additional evidence, for all the reasons you argue and that I accept. But it’s a killer disease on top of the flu and many other illnesses, and clearly it is lifting hospital demand above capacity in the handful of rich countries mentioned, with loads of menace in the UK and elsewhere including Australia. It has plenty of scope to keep mutating and limit the build up of immunities.
    It would never have come to this had borders been closed earlier and more effectively as Jo Nova has advocated from the outset, but it has. That superior choice has now closed, and only more costly ones are left (including, of course to let the lorries take bodies away from Australian hospitals too – that’s not an inconceivable option).
    If Geoffrey’s kidney specialist recommends an operation, he may be told to wait while the reality of excess Cover-19 demand is worked off/dies off.
    I hope the measures already taken are sufficient to first reduce the growth rate of infection and then stop it, as their cost is enormous and we cannot afford to inflict even more damage, or allow Covid-19 to inflict that greater damage for us.
    We shall see over the next month or so. In the meantime, I’m supporting the policies the Government has belatedly adopted and is refining.

  • Peter Smith

    Peter, but I find your argument for a lockdown as devoid of an end game as most seem to be. What is the end game? Is it to buy time to go on a war footing in order to put in place health resouces to accomodate an upsurge in cases. I could go along with that, if a time scale ( and a short one) were put on it to give everyone certainty. You must surely realise that a successful lockdown will limit herd immunity and leave us susceptible to a new outbreak once the lockdown is lifted. Or is the end game like the one in the Covid-19 Imperial College report – that I wrote about. At least it had one. That end game was 18 months into the future when a vaccine would become available. Even though the “supression” strategy it recommended was far less onerous than is now being put in place around the world – it was, to my thinking, still totally impracticable to keep the economy supressed for so long.

  • ianl

    Now the 70+ cohort are incarcerated indefinitely (just a strong recommendation, mind you). Claimed for their protection of course, but actually to preserve resources for the herd …
    Scapegoat alley …

  • Stephen Due

    There are two questionable assumptions in this article.
    The first is that the statistics cited are based on accurate diagnosis and accurate observations of cause of death. The data is taken from disparate sources many of which can be assumed to be unreliable. Furthermore they ignore the obvious fact that there are potentially many sub-clinical or un-diagnosed infections that do not result in death and remain undetected by the agencies collecting data.
    The second questionable assumption is that governments have the right to implement severe measures that cause the destruction of businesses, the collapse of national economies, massive social disruption, and (as noted) many suicides in order to contain the virus.
    My contention is that, even if the measures proposed were certain both to be necessary and to work, governments do not have the right to do this. It is important for medical ‘experts’ to understand that public health measures must take place in a political setting that respects the integrity of the democratic state and protects personal freedom and property.

  • Wyndham Dix

    If he were alive today would Caiaphas say this again?
    .
    “Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” John 11:50, ESV
    .
    Different context, yes. Same principle.
    .
    At the age of 81½ and in robust good health as one friend recently put it, I have no fear of dying. I will of course continue to practice good hand hygiene, be careful with surfaces I touch, and avoid the incubation chambers that are public transport. But I will not wrap myself in cotton wool and shun social contact.
    .
    I will risk my life and give it if in so doing my children, grandchildren and their offspring continue to have decent and law-abiding livelihoods available to them. That will not be the case unless politicians put an end to the madness of destroying the economy and society before our very eyes.
    .
    I like to think that others of my vintage are of the same mind. I may be wrong.

  • March

    Private hospitals currently up in arms about shut down of elective surgery. There might be a crisis coming but it ain’t here yet in Oz. If you want to see where Oz cases are going to go look up H1N1 2009. This would have been no worse except for the governments heavy handed response.

  • Geoffrey Luck

    Tezza: No one could be insensitive to the tragedy in Italy (which is explicable).. My point is that the incidence of infection in Italy, nor in Wuhan and even New York should not be extrapolated to Australia. This debate is about the imposition of wilful destruction on the economy, the basis for the largesse the government is now distributing in compensation. This dual crisis, as the PM has put it, is the result of policies dictated by the medical bureaucracy. They are based on overseas experience, but many eminent scientists – in Germany, Israel, Switzerland and the U.S. do not believe Covid-19 is the danger supposed. As one put it: “If it hadn’t been published, we wouldn’t have noticed it as any more than an annual influenza. We would simply have said the ‘flu was worse than usual this year.” When does Dr Brendan Murphy believe the death toll from the Wuhan virus will reach 1200 – that of the annual ‘flu season?

  • padraic

    I don’t believe that it is time for a full lockdown – a partial one for the over 70s possibly but not generally. I posted the comment below in relation to Aynsley Kellow’s recent article – “Logic, the first casualty” and post it again on this article which deals with the same issues raised by him.

    I agree with the quote in the above article of Professor John Adams of the Geography Department of the University London College that “Perceptions of risk often lead to people adjusting their behaviour in ways that reduce (or increase) the chances of a hazard occurring. Risk does not equal a hazard plus some fixed probability of it occurring.” The probability has to be flexible. Most professions have to adapt the circumstances to their assessment of risk in decision making. For toxicologists, for example, the rule of thumb formula is Risk = Hazard + exposure level. They occasionally mock others, mainly politicians (the Greens, for example), some of whom adopt the formula Risk = Hazard + outrage, as we see in the case of the use of nuclear power. I don’t agree with Riccardi’s rather glib and facile comment that “most Italians have died with COVID-19, not because of COVID-19.” Those people would still be alive today, despite their underlying treatable conditions, if they had not contracted Corona Virus. Also viruses do not include logic in their CVs.
    The present Australian policy is not only aimed at saving the lives of at risk people and keeping the economy ticking over, albeit at a much reduced rate, but also aims at creating some immunity in a community never before exposed to this virus via some level of infection and recovery. A full lockdown, as recommended by some journalists might completely stop transmissions initially, but when the lockdown was over new cases would return with a vengeance within a month or so. That’s why the PM is advising us that an easing of restrictions may be 6 months away. A complete lockdown may work if there was a vaccine available within 3 months but in the absence of that occurring there is a need to develop a herd immunity in a population for this new infectious disease. Herd immunity subsequently will be maintained by vaccination each year which decreases transmission, as with seasonal influenza. I remember as a child when there were no vaccines for mumps, measles or chicken pox mothers would ask us to go and play with other children who had these infections, so we would catch it and get it over and done with, rather than get them as an adult when the health outcome could be catastrophic. Thankfully in those days people had more sense and there were no unemployed human rights lawyers poised to launch class actions. In the case of smallpox you could not take that approach because it killed everyone from babies to old people and the only way to achieve herd immunity was through the use of a vaccine for the whole population. In the mid 1800s there were outbreaks of smallpox in UK and Australia and UK passed a law requiring a lock down for all people and then mass vaccination. The Australian States followed suit and the problem went away. As an incentive to obey the legislation, jail time was prescribed for those who did not comply and it was strictly enforced. I know many of the “easily offended by words” people got lathered up when the UK CMO recently mentioned “herd immunity” but from a medical aspect we are all part of “the common herd” even if we live in Toorak or Palm Beach.
    Dealing with the health aspects of pandemics and associated socio-economic factors is best managed overall by the team of public health experts which includes public health physicians, nurses, pharmacists, medical research scientists, epidemiologists, toxicologists etc. They may access the expertise of other professions if the need arises as they did with engineers and economists in the late 1800s in Sydney and Melbourne when the “summer sickness” (typhoid) was wiping out large numbers of citizens in the poorer suburbs of those cities because their councils could not raise enough money through the Rates to provide running water and piped sewage to each dwelling. Ratepayers in those suburbs were digging two holes in their backyards – one as a well for water and the other as a pit latrine, with the result in summertime typhoid bugs in the pit latrine crossed over via the common water table into the drinking well, with predictable results. The answer was to create a “Water Board” in each city which raised a new Rate from each household based on the unimproved value of the land. That meant that money from the richer and poorer suburbs was pooled and used to provide running water and proper sewage infrastructure for the whole community, designed by the engineers, and the problem went away. So it’s best if all the professions exercise mutual respect and co-operate with each other in this pandemic but leave the medical profession and allied specialists to run the show. An example of this co-operation is when a doctor or other health expert may be called as “an expert witness” in a court case but the court process is run by the legal profession, not the medical profession, which only assists when called upon.
    Working together respectfully is the only way we are going to get through this satisfactorily. One of the big problems is that at the beginning people have difficulty in believing it is happening. This was clearly expressed in the following extract from the novel “La Peste”, by Albert Camus, one of the books recommended in Christopher Heathcote’s recent Quadrant article “Books to make us count our blessings” :-
    “While a pestilence impacts a whole community, people have difficulty in believing that it is actually happening. Worldwide, there have been just as many plagues as wars and plagues and wars always find people caught unawares. Dr Rieux was caught unawares, just as much as were his fellow citizens, and hence he ignored the signs, with his feelings torn between concern for the present and confidence in the future.
    When a war breaks out people say ”This won’t last – it’s beyond stupid”. And without doubt war is extremely stupid, but that does not stop its progress, because stupidity will still persist since people are only concerned about themselves. Our fellow citizens in this regard were like everybody else, and just like the humanist elite did not believe in pestilences, believing them to be a bad dream which is going to go away. But it does not go away, and one bad dream follows another until death strikes both the general population and the humanist elite, because they did not take adequate precautions. Our fellow citizens were just as guilty as one another – they forgot to be sensible and they thought that everything was still possible for them, based on the supposition that pestilences were impossible in this day and age. They continued with their businesses, they prepared for holiday trips and they freely expressed their opinions. They could not conceive of a plague that paralyses the future, travelling and debates. They believed themselves to be free individuals without realising that you can never be a free individual in a time of pestilence.”

  • Doubting Thomas

    I’ve no doubt that at the eventually agreed end of this crisis, all the usual suspects in the chattering classes will go on an orgy of head-hunting. Much fun will be had by all but, at the end of the serial witch-hunts, nobody will be one whit wiser about what might have been had different means been adopted. As with the Climate Change conundrum, nobody’s predictions of a better or worse result with any given course of action can be proven. The future is unknowable, and soothsayers are frauds.

    So, we must obey the law of the land whether we like it or not.

  • drmikeknight

    Wikipedia: Mortality displacement denotes a temporary increase in the mortality rate (number of deaths) in a given population, also known as excess mortality or excess mortality rate. It is usually attributable to environmental phenomena such as heat waves, cold spells, epidemics and pandemics, especially influenza pandemics, famine or war.

    During heat waves, for instance, there are often additional deaths observed in the population, affecting especially older adults and those who are sick. After some periods with excess mortality, however, there has also been observed a decrease in overall mortality during the subsequent weeks. Such short-term forward shift in mortality rate is also referred to as harvesting effect. The subsequent, compensatory reduction in mortality suggests that the heat wave had affected especially those whose health is already so compromised that they “would have died in the short term anyway”.[1]

    If the age adjusted mortality rate for COVID-19 matches the age adjusted mortality for life in general over a 24 or 36 month period, rather than a 3 month period, then COVID-19 is a harvester nothing more.

    When my children are still paying the x% Covid-19 levy ( a levy is not a tax) in 20 years time, will they thank us?

  • Citizen Kane

    The only way this will end is when herd immunity is achieved either by natural dissemination or via a vaccine. That is the history of all such coronavirus and influenza. No successful vaccine has ever been developed for a coronavirus which are responsible for 30% of the annual ‘cold’ burden around the globe, so I wouldn’t hold your breath. Those who think eradication is possible via a lockdown are deluded. Look at China and Singapore where case numbers are slowly but surely rising again day on day. All that is possible is the supposed flattening of the curve, but at a cost that is worse than the disease. Surely the definition of Hysteria!

  • Rob Brighton

    I see “at what cost” a lot, I usually find reversing the question a useful analytic. Once I had done that and considered that the statistics could include my ole Mum in all likelihood, my views changed.
    One of our employee’s wife has breast cancer, once I considered that she (a delightful woman) could be joining mum in the stats my view changed.
    It is no answer to refer to preexisting conditions, that does not help the cooling corpse.
    We all have people who are in the risk groups the two examples provided are not the quantum in my world there are dozens. That’s a lot of black suits.
    I have an underlying concern with it all, It smells of a boondoggle, the same suspects forming a queue with their hands out, domestic violence will go up here’s another 150 million (evil males at it again). I watch human garbage try and score political points, commercial operations behave unconscionably in an attempt to survive and dispair. Being as far from medically informed as any human can be I follow the instructions of our political masters
    Then I see my latest gift from my daughter, a coffee mug with an image of my newest member in our family, I smile and charge into another day with hope.

  • March

    1000 die on Australian roads each year. Using Rob’s logic we should probably ban all non professional drivers and impose a 30kmh speed limit. We trade cost benefit all the time. Based on the emerging mortality stats for covid 19 we will pay a very high price for extending the lives of a few.

  • Peter Wales

    Thank you for your comments above. I will respond to just two.

    Mortality rate is normally considered to be the percentage of cases which have run their course, which have ended with the death of the patient. As at this morning, according to the site I linked in the article (others report similar figures, though perhaps not quite as confrontingly) there are a total of 184,856 completed cases. Of these 33,926 (18%) ended in death.

    Of course, as I noted above, there could be, and probably are, many cases which have not been reported, and in which symptoms were mild, or no symptoms were noticed at all. But that is just a guess. Let’s hazard a guess that there are five times more cases which have not been reported. This still gives a mortality rate of over 3%, more than thirty times that of seasonal influenza.

    As for an end game, gosh, I wish I knew. Many of those in favour of a shutdown seem to assume that after three weeks the virus will have disappeared, and we will go back to life as normal. That will not happen. The virus will still be present in the community. Further outbreaks will occur. Further travel restrictions and shutdowns may be necessary. There is no end game in sight.

    What a shutdown now will do, is give researchers and pharmaceutical companies time. Despite the endless shrill criticisms of President Donald Trump, there is growing evidence that the treatment regime recommended by his advisors, Chloroquine + broad-spectrum antibiotics, is effective. Three more weeks may be enough to confirm this, and for manufacturers to ramp up production. Or other effective regimes may be found.

    Jo Nova, with whose work many of you will already be familiar, has this morning a good summary of the arguments for a tight lockdown: http://joannenova.com.au/

    The costs of a shutdown are horrendous, especially for small family-owned businesses like mine – the only group so far for whom there seems to be no government support. I am still concerned at the lack of consistent, evidence-based argument from many of the “experts” calling for a shutdown. I would be very, very happy to be convinced it was not the right thing to do.

  • Alistair

    I am worried about this whole idea of “whatever it takes” when it is applied to these deaths but not for every other death. It seems like we are habituated to some deaths and they are no longer considered significant – but a new death catches everyone’s eye and is beaten up out of proportion. At the end of the day Australia will have a crippled economy, a trillion in State and Federal debt, and no way of paying that debt off. It seems to me that the media are playing a little misdirection game (a magician’s term) and while everyone is looking at the covid virus and even bigger threat is being ignored. Terrible though it may sound, I very much doubt that number of deaths even in Italy will be considered significant once the economic cost and the political cost of that works its way through to reality. As Gottliebsen asked the other day Can Italy and the EU even survive?

  • Citizen Kane

    Daryl, you have conflated mortality with case fatality rates. Mortality can only be known if you have captured all cases including asymptomatic ones. Your statistics are grossly misrepresentative. There are currently over 650 000 confirmed cases. Getting these numbers right is the first step in having a balanced perspective.

  • Rob Brighton

    @March. You are right of course that 1000’s die on our roads and we as a community go to great pains to reduce that number.
    My point remains, it’s an easy thing to wave your hands and insist a few deaths are unavoidable right up until it is you or yours.
    That is not to say I promote the lockdown, it has every chance of doing what the GFC, Labour government and the greens has failed to do, that sees the end of a business that has been employing people for more than 30 years.

  • Citizen Kane

    Peter not Daryl – apologies. Completed cases is not the standard for mortality, it’s all cases, which can generally only be determined after the event when full population exposure can be determined or accurately estimated

  • March

    Rob, There will always be tragedies including some that may directly affect me and mine but as a society, it is important that we look at the bigger picture. For the current crisis, the overwhelming majority would have got through this with only moderate measures to reduce its impact. The H1N1 pandemic of 2009 provided a model to follow and it surprises me how quickly people have forgotten the success of that response. Social media has had a major impact in shaping the government’s flawed response this time around. The detrimental effects of the economic shut down being imposed extend into the next decade when the full cost will be felt. It will be left to the next generation to bear the cost.

  • Tezza

    It strikes me that there is a lot of convergence among apparently different views above. Everyone knows the costs of intervention are hugely damaging, and that costs of ever-more intrusive moves to lock down are astronomical. Everyone agrees that if there were a policy of either containing Covid-19 more cheaply, or if it were feasible to ignore it and let it take its course without unacceptable collateral damage (mainly premature deaths), they would be better outcomes.
    But there are really two problems running at once:
    Problem 1: Covid-19 as a rough analogy to flu: a rather more infectious and apparently somewhat more deadly flu, but one which over time we will take in our stride with the aid of treatment, herd immunity and probably, ultimately, vaccination;
    Problem 2: Covid-19 as an additional disease burden suddenly imposed with a high peak (via high infectiousness) on top of the regular pressures our health system is designed and scaled to cope with. In the northern hemisphere, it is now being imposed on top of the seasonal peak load on the system. This results in the effective breakdown of the health care system and huge spikes in deaths, from Covid-19, with Covid-19, and from other causes..
    It is problem 2 that we see in Italy, Spain, France and the US, and that has panicked the UK into lockdown. (The US allegedly has fewer ICU beds per thousand population than Italy, and the UK National Health system practically falls over every winter.)
    We don’t see problem 2 to the same extent in Germany (which has disproportionately low Covid mortality from high infections), for reasons not fully understood but including greater previously unused capacity in intensive care.
    Do we have problem 2 in Australia? I’d say so, partly because of the obvious questions and projections Geoffrey Luck alludes to and that the PM and the chief medical officer are careful to avoid.
    It a country blows up its public health system from problem 2, the way back from very high numbers of deaths (including of doctors and nurses) would be lengthy and very high cost. That risk would be worth paying a fairly high insurance premium against.
    Readers wanting to explore these ideas are referred to the essays by Tomas Pueyo, and are encouraged to play with your very own epidemic simulator: http://gabgoh.github.io/COVID/index.html

  • pgang

    Currently 0.0007% of Australians have died from the virus. Oooh, scary. In the USA it’s a little less terrifying, where 0.000008% have died so far.

  • pgang

    “Mortality rate is normally considered to be the percentage of cases which have run their course, which have ended with the death of the patient. As at this morning, according to the site I linked in the article (others report similar figures, though perhaps not quite as confrontingly) there are a total of 184,856 completed cases. Of these 33,926 (18%) ended in death.”

    This is a little too cute (and totalitarian). And incorrect. Mortality rate is measured against the number of known cases. To measure deaths against closed cases is senseless. Why? because we know that most cases will eventually close out as ‘recovered’. In the USA for example there are around 135,000 active cases, of which around 3,000 (2%) are serious. To suggest that this will end in an 18% death rate is, at best, irresponsible.

  • Peter Smith

    Have a look at Iceland data. They have tested more people there as a proportion of the population than anywhere else. CEBM attached to Oxford University, looked at this data and estimates the IFR at between .01% and .19%. If the lower figure proved to be true the (infection) fatality rate would be equivalant to that of the flu. The higher figure would be of great concern – but it is still miles away from some scary figures being thrown around; which goes to show that those not comfortable with statistics should avoid quoting them willy-nilly and misleading everyone.

  • T B LYNCH

    Plague struck England in 1665. Newton retired to the country and invented calculus and the law of gravity.
    The poor continued to die in droves.
    In 1666 the Great Fire of London terminated the plague and allowed rebuilding by Sir Christopher Wren, with the first sewers since Roman times.

  • D J McNeice

    That’s not a case for a national lockdown. That’s a case for being alarmist by misrepresenting, deliberately I suspect, quotients. One number divided by another is not that hard to calculate. But what if the divisor is wrong?

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