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My Coronavirus Comment For the Day

Randall Munroe nails our current situation:

46 comments on “My Coronavirus Comment For the Day”

  1. COVID-19 says:

    Greater coronavirus chaos = more opportunities in the market.

    I’m fully embracing the current situation.

    1. eub says:

      Invisible handers? Fine, that’s great, be invisible. Or, fuck right off.

    2. fuck the gov. com says:

      fucking nutter

  2. TDS says:

    Viruses HATE payroll taxes. Cure SARS-COV-2 with the one simple trick!

  3. tally ho says:

    CPAC under quarantine now and maybe the WH next. The USA is safer now…

    1. bks says:

      Waiting for the coronavirus to give a press conference telling us how to avoid Trump.

      1. x says:

        Same way he could have been avoided in 2016, theoretically. It appears the US has once again chosen barbarism, though.

  4. Dolph says:

    I can only speak about the situation in Germany, but it’s at LEAST as bad.
    What I hear from heads of medical associations of all kinds is making me smash my head onto the table in ever shorter intervals. I have no idea how these people ever got onto their respective positions. They are still in the “It’s all hysteria and LESS dangerous than the flu.”-phase and there is no sign that they ever took a look across the border or read any kind of paper in the last two months. We will get hit hard by this over here!

  5. luysii says:

    The following post was written 27 January 2020. Unfortunately it’s still true.

    What to do about the Wuhan flu

    What to do about the Wuhan flu? The short answer is to lay in a month or two of dried food and drink, and have plenty of bottled water around.

    The long answer depends on whether the new corona virus (called 2019-nCOV) becomes a pandemic and if the (symptomatic) case fatality rate continues at 3.5% (based on 80 deaths in 2,800 cases as of yesterday).

    With a son, Chinese daughter in law and two grandchildren living in Hong Kong, I’ve followed the outbreak ever since hearing of it 1 January.

    The best and most current source of info about the outbreak is the South China Morning Post — It is in English and is not a government mouth piece.

    Here’s the bad news

    (1) As of a few days ago the virus had been found in 29/31 Chinese provinces. This means that confining the virus to China is nearly impossible — how do you cut off a billion or so people from the rest of the world?

    (2) Here’s more from today

    Hong Kong University faculty of medicine dean Gabriel Leung says research shows self-sustaining human-to-human transmission is already happening in all major mainland cities. Here’s a link
    Why is this significant? You have to know how docs operate. When I wanted information about some issue or disease, I’d call a doc whose opinion and background I respected. It is likely that Leung made this statement after calling med school deans he personally knew in major mainland cities.
    (3) There is no treatment, in the sense of stopping the virus in its tracks. All we have is supportive care, oxygen rest, medication for fever, bronchodilators. This is true for the vast majority of viruses. Remember the joke that modern medical science can cure a cold in 14 days, but otherwise it takes two weeks.

    (4) We know that you don’t have to be clinically ill to transmit the disease. Screening new arrivals for fever is well and good but that won’t totally prevent spread.

    (5) Some individuals are what is called ‘superspreaders’ — one individual infected 15 hospital personnel.

    (6) I wouldn’t hope for a specific treatment any time soon — look how long it took to get any treatment for AIDS, despite the huge amount of resources devoted to it.

    Here is some good news. It is quite possible that there are many more cases out there with people who were either asymptomatic or just mildly ill. The classic example is polio, in which for every case with paralysis there were 99 cases with mild GI illness or nothing at all.

    This will need to wait until we can test people for antibodies to 2019-nCOV to find out how many people have had it. This is probably at least a month away

    Vaccines (if they can be made) are even more months away. We’ll just have to hunker down and hope for the best.

    Why lay in dried food ?– in a pandemic people will panic and clear out all food they can get their hands on. There were pictures of empty bins in a Wuhan food market last week.

    People are getting serious about it. From Reuters -“U.S. President Donald Trump offered China whatever help it needed on Monday”. It would be nice to have some of our people from the Center for Disease Control over there. Hopefully the Chinese won’t be too proud to accept the offer.

    Addendum 28 Jan — apparently the US (in the form of the CDC) is begging China to let them help out — sad — why should they have to beg? Apparently the first overture was 3 weeks ago ! ! ! ! —

    1. fightingillini says:

      Unfortunately, South China Morning Post is a government mouth piece, maybe to a different extent. Remember, South China Morning Post is controlled by Jack Ma, the owner of Alibaba. Any business owners in China have to obey government order.

      1. DTX says:

        From what I’ve seen, the South China Morning Post has had excellent coverage of the virus. It’s critical both of China and the West.

        It’s the one news source from which I learned that the Shanghai lab that shared the coronavirus genome with the world was closed for “rectification” and thereby stopping the research it was doing (i.e., unfavorable coverage of the mainland). Before the Western press awoke to concerns about the virus, SCMP was running extensive coverage, often critical of the mainland.

        1. fightingillini says:

          I personally believe that this is part of the strategy by design:
          (1) Criticize the Chinese Communist Party controlled government from time to time to build up credibility/trust;
          (2) Use it’s credibility to influence the narrative to favor the China government when it matters.

  6. A Nonny Mouse says:

    A nice commentary on the US situation.

    I will be purchasing lots of paint for those jobs that I have never got around to doing!

  7. RM says:

    I’m not sure what you mean by “some time back”. That’s the most recent comic. (As can be confirmed by going to directly and browsing the recent comics.)

    I agree that it’s widely applicable (as explicitly referenced by the pop-up hover-text), but prescient to the current situation it isn’t.

    1. Derek Lowe says:

      Fixed! I thought sure I’d seen this one before, but that probably happens a lot!

  8. Thoryke says:

    I’m reminded of how people claimed the Y2K bug “wasn’t a big deal”, conveniently ignoring the people and entire businesses that were devoted to making sure it _wouldn’t_ be a big deal. The cultural aesthetic of “making it look easy” does us so very many disservices….

    1. Hap says:

      People are specialists, and there’s too much stuff for everyone to know what everyone else does. It’s hard to leave space in one’s head for the stuff that we don’t know (since we usually don’t know how much room to leave or what shaped hole to put).

      On the other hand, “everything is easy for the one who doesn’t have to do it.”

    2. tim Rowledge says:

      To my horror I recently discovered that there are a lot of people that are quite sure that Y2K was nothing more than a conspiracy by software people to defraud the world (and probably to infect software with Illuminati mind-control stuff, obviously) and that no problem ever existed. This of course then leads on to climate hoaxology, antivaxxing, etc etc.

      1. Wallace Grommet says:

        These ignorant paranoid cynical types never learned about the Y2K moon shot level mission conducted across businesses, government, utilities, transportation, etc running simulations, writing millions of lines of code patches, and even with all that effort it was still a fingers-crossed rollover.

  9. curious says:

    Anyone have a running list of companies in Boston having employees work from home?

    1. A Nonny Mouse says:

      Harvard has given the students 5 days to move out and remote study (tricky with lab work, I would say). My daughter is having a year a George Washington and was popping home for a funeral in a week or so time and has no idea if she will be back!

      1. luysii says:

        My cousin’s husband is head of recycling at Harvard. One of their busiest times is when the students move out (as they give away a lot of stuff which he collects, donates to various charities and recycles where possible). This normally takes 3 weeks of intense activity. According to my cousin he heard about it last night (before the profs and the deans). He didn’t sleep a wink and took the train in this AM at 5.

        Think how many support staff working at Harvard live from paycheck to paycheck (never mind the townies the Harvard students support indirectly) and pray for them. Multiply this out for the country, and the market crash is hardly a surprise.

  10. luysii says:

    Maybe by sending everyone home, Harvard will turn out to have produced intellectual content of Newtonian caliber. Recall that Newton was sent home when the Great Plague shuttered Cambridge in 1665. He returned to his farm and began formulating his theories on calculus, light and color, and gravity. This is supposedly is where the apple hit him on the head.

    1. DH says:

      Yes. One benefit of being forced to work at home is the reduction in pointless meetings — although they’re harder to avoid than in the past due to teleconferencing. But who knows, maybe America’s productivity in non-manufacturing jobs will increase thanks to social distancing.

      1. bks says:

        Unfortunately it’s health care workers where the productivity increase will be needed.

      2. eyesoars says:

        Telephone: n. An invention of the devil that abrogates many of the advantages of keeping disagreeable people far away. (Ambrose Bierce)

  11. Giannis Zaxarioudakis says:

    “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

    1. Frank says:

      Absolutely. We can see this in many aspects of our lives, e.g. growth companies in stock market being underestimated for years, pandemics, climate change, compounding. Even Einstein once said: “Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.”

  12. exGlaxoid says:

    Yes, havard is sending home the student, mostly young people not likely to be severely ill, where they can take the virus back to their parents, who are likely to be older and more suseptable. Brilliant.

    The logic behind much of the actions so far is not very good. While having people stay home will slow the spread (if done right, which is not always happening), which is good for not overwhelming the medical system. But since we don;t have a treatment or vaccine, this is mostly delaying the inevitable. Since most young people don’t get serious effects, it might make more sense to leave them on campus, and simply keep them away from older people, perhaps putting older faculty and staff on sebattical.

    1. stay safe says:

      I don’t know that I agree. I imagine a college dorm might rival a cruise ship when it comes to virus spread. I can’t imagine any university has the means to deal with even underwhelming numbers let alone the amount they would see with rampant transmission through an undergraduate population. While there are certainly risks to spreading any potential contamination by sending students home, if they act quickly before it has gotten a hold it would certainly be much better.

      1. loupgarous says:

        “Covid-19 isn’t as deadly as we think”, a recent article in Slate by Jeremy Samuel Faust makes a good case for “Keep them in the dorms”.

        Faust uses the Diamond Princess cruise liner (3,711 people on board, at least 705 of whom tested positive for the virus on March 4th) as a conveniently isolated basis for post-hoc analysis (caveat: that was 11 days ago, and I can’t find a source for more recent data on those 3,711 people).

        HIs reasoning is that the Hubei province deaths are not a reliable model for other Chinese provinces, let alone the entire world. They report aggregate deaths in an area notable for other pulmonary ailments, some due to smoking, some to industrial air pollution. If you want to look at deaths in another, less complex population population, the Diamond Princess‘ crew and passengers are a good start.


        “On the Diamond Princess, six deaths have occurred among the passengers, constituting a case fatality rate of 0.85 percent. Unlike the data from China and elsewhere, where sorting out why a patient died is extremely difficult, we can assume that these are excess fatalities—they wouldn’t have occurred but for SARS-CoV-2. The most important insight is that all six fatalities occurred in patients who are more than 70 years old. Not a single Diamond Princess patient under age 70 has died. If the numbers from reports out of China had held, the expected number of deaths in those under 70 should have been around four.

        He goes on:

        “The data from the Diamond Princess suggest an eightfold lower mortality amongst patients older than 70 and threefold lower mortality in patients over 80 compared to what was reported in China initially. But even those numbers, 1.1 percent and 4.9 percent respectively, are concerning. But there’s another thing that’s worth remembering: These patients were likely exposed repeatedly to concentrated viral loads (which can cause worse illness). Some treatments were delayed. So even the lower CFR found on the Diamond Princess could have been even lower, with proper protocols. It’s also worth noting that while cruise passengers can be assumed to be healthy enough to travel, they actually tend to reflect the general population, and many patients with chronic illnesses go on cruises. So, the numbers from this ship may be reasonable estimates.

        This isn’t an argument for sunny optimism. I’m in two high-risk groups – chronically ill, over 60. But we’re all on the roller coaster, like it or not. I’m willing to bet that even if the infected (and virus-shedding) population is much greater than current figures show, self-isolation will reduce viral load per person to a level their immune systems and our health care systems can handle.
        It IS a wake-up call for Congress, though. The Soviet Union had at least one lethal outbreak of weaponized anthrax due to carelessness at one of its biological warfare laboratories, totally unintentional (the aerial release at Sverdlovsk). Low rates of travel in and out of the area probably contained the outbreak more than anything else.
        Cheap jet travel is our Dr. Evil. It’s notable that Patient Zero for transmission of HIV in the US is thought to have gotten it from a flight attendant whose job took him all over the world.

        People aren’t going to stop travelling – our world economy’s too interdependent for that. So, we can count on occasional outbreaks of disease of varying transmissibilty and lethality. If you want to blame Trump for some of that, he’s earned his share of blame. But even our pre-2016 capability to deal with outbreaks like this wouldn’t have contained Covid-19 – it had spread outward from China along too many vectors before its full contagiousness had been grasped and probably had come into the US from more than one direction, its asymptomatic carriers establishing separate chains of transmission.

        Congress can improve our capacity to deal with a fast, widely spread coronavirus or influenza virus in the future, but we can’t do much now about our limited supply of mechanical ventilators and ECMO devices, the only real way to deal with the pulmonary complications of Covid-19 in the elderly and chronically ill. The ability of any president to effectively gut our national ability to track and manage epidemics is scary, no matter which president did it. Face it, if the House or Senate had spent the time they’ve done on the impeachment drama on our lack of a defense aganist epidemics, it might have been fixed before Covid-19 came our way. Fix it we must.

    2. metaphysician says:

      Its not “delaying the inevitable”. It makes a *big* difference whether 50% of the population comes down with the virus over the course of 18 months, instead of a month and a half. The more the spread can be slowed down, the less chance we have of saturating medical resources, and *that* is where the biggest risk to life and limb lays.

      Or, to use some invented numbers: say you have 100 populace and 10 ICU beds. If 50 people catch the disease over the course of a year, you’ll have around 4 people needing an ICU bed and ventilator each month, which you can probably handle as long as they take less than a month to recover. If 50 people catch the disease over the course of a month? You have more than 10 cases every week, which is more than you have beds and ventilators. Result: people die.

      1. Unchimiste says:

        Absolutely right. That’s the nightmare happening in Italy right now.

  13. exGlaxoid says:

    But I think that sending 5000 people home will spread the disease faster than having students stay in a dorm and not travelling. My point is just that we don’t really know which situation will spread disease faster, places are justing trying to do something, rather than nothing, and I think keeping people where they are now is a better choice.

  14. perfect virus response says:

    Who cares how many people catch it, the loss of worker productivity is much more important. You can always buy new workers

    1. eyesoars says:

      Sarcastic or Republican? It’s so hard to tell these days.

      1. loupgarous says:

        Jeff Bezos’ is the most pervasive thing to something you’d see in Upton Sinclair’s reporting in modern America – as far as “we can always get more workers, let’s work the ones we have to death” goes. His money props up one of the Democratic Party’s leading editorial megaphones, the Washington Post.

      2. Charles P says:

        I wish my employer considered me this ‘business critical’ when it was time for my yearly evaluation and to skip me for a promotion.

    2. HAT says:

      You need Jesus.. these people are saving lives and your life may be in their hands. People’s lives matter

  15. Sumit says:

    Coronavirus: Nadine Dorries, UK Health Secretary & Other Leaders Around The World Contract The Virus

  16. Effrim-Botchey Tikva Yisrael says:

    I wanted to know if blood feeding animals and insects like mosquitoes and bedbugs can spread the Coronavirus.

  17. Mrwizard says:

    Watching the U.S. News is really scary. The public news media is more interested in pointing fingers at past events involving the government than informing (convincing) the public of how dire the situation is and providing useful information. Sad, really sad…..

  18. vijay sharma says:

    People were recovering from coronavirus and then i heard about hantavirus after researching a lot about this virus I wrote some information about its cause and treatment.

  19. David G Basinski says:

    Is ‘Stock Market’ the new name for the Golden Calf?

  20. Jon says:

    There is an upside that spans the globe…
    Only the USA have the misfortune of Trump.
    Perhaps someone should take away the shovel – in order to keep him from digging more holes.

  21. Sachin says:

    Coronavirus creating too much problems for humans..

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