Nick Levinson April 17, 2020 5:36 PM

Real-time payments through banks are an opening to fraud. A bank offered it for my savings account and I declined. It would allow a deposit into my account without my finding out until a quarterly statement arrives, which means I’d be unaware of it for about a week to 3.5 months, at which point refusing or returning the money might be impossible, leaving me in possession of money that’s not mine, perhaps stolen as part of a theft from someone else by a thief who wants to hide and move it through a myriad of accounts. It also allows other people to take from my account, when I have only limited ability to prevent other people from discovering my account number (e.g., it goes on the back of a check I deposit). The general category of this fraud is sketched in (scroll to authorized push payment fraud).

fbas April 17, 2020 5:45 PM

The posted link is unavailable in the whole eu:

451: Unavailable due to legal reasons

We recognize you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and therefore access cannot be granted at this time. For any issues, contact or call 941-207-1000.

lurker April 17, 2020 6:08 PM

Lock Down

We’ve got no vaccines to throw at this, we’ve got no drugs to throw at this, we do have Public Health measures, and that’s the one thing we know is absolutely guaranteed to work, which is why we’re using it.

Dr Chris Smith, a consultant clinical virologist at Cambridge University, and one of BBC Radio 5 Live’s Naked Scientists, referring to isolation and social distancing, and answering a suggestion that they might be needed for 2 years yet… Dr. Smith also refers to Africa and India as reasons why @Clive’s excellent suggestion of a 35 day worldwide lockdown right at the start would be unworkable.

bored lawnmower blade April 17, 2020 10:41 PM


How do they introduce themselves at their place of worship, school, work, home, etc. when so many of them are named Mohamed?

I can just imagine it:

Mohamed: Ayyyyy, Mohamed my man, so good to see you. How are you?
Mohamed: Great to see you again, Mohamed. I am well.
Mohamed: Ayyyyy, Mohamed is here. Come, Mohamed, let’s greet Mohamed!
Mohamed: Hi, guys! I just bought a new box of masks!
Mohamed: You’re kidding! What until I tell Mohamed and Mohamed at work tomorrow.
Mohamed: What HAVE you done to your car, Mohamed?
Mohamed: Well, I actually washed it. I named it Mohamed.
Mohamed: A wonderful choice. Whooops, my phone is ringing. Ayyy it’s Mohamed from Taco Bell.
Mohamed: What does he want?
Mohamed: Hey, you didn’t wash all of your car, Mohamed, I see a spot right here.
Mohamed: GUYS! GUYS!
Mohamed: What the…. Mohamed? Is that really you?
Mohamed: YES! Still have that beater car, eh?
Mohamed: HAHAHA
Mohamed: My friends, I have created a new chat application. Now we can all join in together!

Mohamed has entered the chat.
Mohamed has entered the chat.
Mohamed has entered the chat.
Mohamed has entered the chat.
Mohamed has entered the chat.
Mohamed has entered the chat.
Mohamed has entered the chat.

Clive Robinson April 17, 2020 10:49 PM

@ Lurker,

Re Dr Chris Smith article[1],

    “Because viruses don’t come with tape measures”

Makes a great sound bite, I think I shall have to steal it 0:)

I’d also have loved to have been a fly on the wall when he and colleagues did a “100kph Snot test” it sounds delightfully fun (I wonder if they used a “nasal tickle” or just “fine ground pepper” as a sneeze inducer 😉

As for the distance and time in the air, yes that’s already been confirmed I posted a link a few days back to a JAMA article on it which said 8m / 26ft is how far they had recorded droplets. They had identified a cloud or bolous of air emitted by an individual could travel that far[2]. Further due to the nature of thermal dynamics on a cloud of virus particles[3] the cloud would evaporate slowly from the outside inwards creating a much more stable environment for the virus particles.

[1] I’ve met him in the past and he has a disarmingly simple way of explaining complex ideas so even those “Children’s Questions” get answered not just for the child but all the experts as well 😉

[2] My view,is 8meters / 26ft may not be enough. The reason is “smoke rings” in effect they are “rolling waves” in a closed loop or torus. When I used to wear the green I ended up doing “stag duty” in some strange places like aircraft hangers. One of my Oppos back then when taking a “smoko” could blow a smoke ring that was still quite visable over thirty feet away and would expand to a very large size (his trick was to make a slow ring and fire a smaller fast ring through it). Making a smoke ring is not that hard and it’s entirely possible that the way some people cough or sneeze could create a torus that expands as a rolling wave does carrying the virus with it.

[3] It’s one of those “Bl@@dy obvious with hindsight” things that we all miss untill someone says “Hey have you thought about…” at which point everyone looka at thrm says to themselves in their heads “Doh… Why did I not think of that…”.

MarkH April 18, 2020 2:40 AM


Dr. Smith also refers to Africa and India as reasons why … a 35 day worldwide lockdown right at the start would be unworkable.

Within an hour of your comment (which I’d not yet read), I wrote about this on a different thread.

Nonetheless, India is attempting a nationwide lockdown. Coming weeks and months will reveal its effectiveness, and its costs.

Tragically, in recent years India has also suffered an endemic suicide of poor farmers, despairing under the crushing weight of debts run up to keep their farms going. These often average about 10 per day; typically they drink pesticide to end their lives.

How do you persuade such men, to further impair their livelihoods as a disease prevention measure?

Unlike the previous SARS epidemic, this new one is an efficient silent spreader. That quality has two grave consequences:

  1. It encourages public complacency (maybe my case would be mild).
  2. It defeats practically every stratagem that worked or might have worked to remove the first SARS from the human population, including eradication by lockdown.

Try this thought experiment: imagine a household of 5 or more persons, entering lockdown with one person freshly colonized by SARS-Cov-2.

Now suppose that the infection passes sequentially from person to person, and that all of the infections produce symptoms too mild to be recognized as illness.

What is the maximal time before the last infection has subsided? I suggest that 5 weeks is FAR too short.

Improbable, you say? If there are several hundred million such households, then any probability of such a scenario greater than .00000001 would leave the virus ready to launch new outbreaks, 8 or 10 or even more weeks into such an (anyway infeasible) lockdown …

There’s no simple way out.

There’s no way that isn’t going to leave a great many dead.

There’s no way to avoid trading lives lost to disease, against economic devastation which, at some point, may itself function as a mass killer.

Homo Sapiens is “in the box.”

May God have mercy on us all.

Jon April 18, 2020 3:29 AM

@ Nick Levinson • April 17, 2020 5:36 PM

Real-time payments through banks are an opening to fraud.

I concur. Many years ago I was asked about ‘direct deposit’. My question was “Does that involve direct withdrawal, too?”

The answer I got was (in a lot more words – I spent hours on the phone!):

“There is no such thing as a financial ‘diode’, where money can only flow one way. If you grant anyone permission to directly put money into your account – you also grant them permission to remove it likewise.”

There are, of course, other ways – siphoning money through several accounts as quickly as TCP packets will allow – but few of them are convenient to the regular folks.


tfb April 18, 2020 5:12 AM

Some really impressive islamophobia in the comments here: well done. s/Mohammed/John/g, but then it wouldn’t be ‘funny’ because it wouldn’t be poking fun at people who look different.

tfb April 18, 2020 5:40 AM

@Jon: That’s simply not correct, so please do not spread misinformation.

If I were to give you my account details then you could, using faster payments or any other mechanism, put money into my account. In order to take money out of my account you either need to persuade them you’re me, or you need to persuade them I have given you the authority to do this in the form of a direct debit instruction, forging a cheque, or something like that.

Now those things are not as hard to fake as they should be (that’s one reason why I’m not going to post my account details here), but it simply is not the case that that the rights to transfer money into an account and out of it are the same right.

And, because people have very short memories, let’s remember that the whole faster payments thing serves at least two useful purposes: it means the banks don’t get to sit on money in flight for days, gaining profit from that; and it reduces counterparty risk. The latter both helps reduce your risk from any problems within the financial system, like those in 2007-2008, which some older people may still remember, and also reduces the risk in transactions between non-financial-system entities: if I can see the money in my account I know it’s safe to ship the goods because you can’t bounce the cheque.

I worked in the financial system when faster payments came in (and during the crash) and, trust me, banks really did not want to provide them for customers because they eliminated the very lucrative business of sitting on money in flight. (They probably were OK with making payments between financial institutions fast, because everyone had seen what that kind of counterparty risk could lead to.)

Possible disclaimer: I’m speaking from a European perspective: it’s possible the US system is more fucked.

65535 April 18, 2020 10:09 AM

@ MarkH

“Try this thought experiment: imagine a household of 5 or more persons, entering lockdown with one person freshly colonized by SARS-Cov-2…”-markH

That is an interesting thought experiment and has two sub-questions. I am sure will be not popular with it here… maybe yes and maybe no.

Is the spread of this so called “SARS-Cov” virus pathogen worsen by forcing groups of people to be in relatively small enclosed areas – increasing the spread of said pathogen?

Is this occurring on a large scale with huge hyper marts being open only a short numbers of hours per day unlike the regular hours including 24 hours per day – crushing people into a small space.

Next, is this so called SARS-covid virus really very differentiate than the seasonal flu which mutates constantly… and the fact that covid virus is in many humans and animals a large portion of the time? It seems that SARS-covid is similar to the seasonal flu. I wonder who is telling the truth.

As most of you know by now the Santa Clara County California voluntary covid test with 81k participants is well know and seems to show very mixed numbers as to the actual lethal effects of said virus – depending on which news agency you listen to.

Some commenters say it is high and others say it is very low. I will note that California is Not a fly over-state in election periods so anything could be rigged.

I don’t intend to disparage the UK, but being an small Island nation I don’t know why they have such a high mortality rate regarding covid19 compared to the land locked country Italy or even the island nation of Spain – on a per capita basis – assuming the UK death rate stats are correct. As for Prince Charles and his “detox” treatment I am less reassured. In the past Prince Charles wife has had a mild alcohol problem and may have gone through detox. As for the UK Prime Minister quick recovery with oxygen treatment I am at a loss to comprehending the UK’s death rate or great medical system. – No offense intended Clive R.

I am reaffirming my old statement:

“If the USA CDC cannot differentiate between the seasonal flu and Covid19 in terms of death rate, spreading between people and immunity rates almost all of their medical information up to the third month of 2020 is of little to no use – except for political and monetary gain.”-65535

Anybody can look this statement up on Bruce S blog. And, I have been through a few US election cycles and nothing in “news” media can be trusted…except to advance certain party’s agenda and revenue.

JonKnowsNothing April 18, 2020 11:10 AM

@Clive @All

re: Snot Blow Test

Some years back there was a health documentary made at the start of one of the “Bird-Flu” episodes. I don’t remember which version of Bird Flu but it was quite deadly about “24hrs==dead” type deadly.

There was a lot of generically good info about how you get sick or contaminated. What happens internally and how your body fights off the illness.

One of the episodes was a super-slow-motion of someone sneezing in an elevator. While graphic and hilarious it showed quite clearly that not only were the other occupants getting a “whiff” so was the entire interior of the elevator: floors, doors, walls, ceiling.

I don’t remember the speed mentioned but it was so fast you couldn’t even hope to avoid getting the aerosol-virus up your nose too. I think even the blink response wasn’t fast enough to avoid getting it in your eyes.

JonKnowsNothing April 18, 2020 11:42 AM

@All @Clive

I read this tidbit about Amazon “preventative” measures but it did not have the source report listed.

Amazon has begun using thermal cameras inside its warehouses to screen workers who could be infected with coronavirus, employees have told Reuters.

The cameras record how much heat is emitted from a person, with temperature being one of the most common symptoms of the virus.

I’m not sure what value a huge thermal imaging system would be in determining who has COVID19 during the 7-14 days prior to showing a raised temperature.

It would be useful perhaps to monitor which heat maps of “live bodies” were where and in what proximity. It wouldn’t due much to notify the watchers of the dead body, that was reported some while back if a worker who died on the job but no one noticed, unless they noticed the heat map cooling.

Perhaps there is something that tags a heat map to a particular person? We all have different base temperatures, is that enough to ID someone in a confined space or warehouse?

Clive Robinson April 18, 2020 12:28 PM

@ MarkH, Lurker,

There’s no way to avoid trading lives lost to disease, against economic devastation which, at some point, may itself function as a mass killer.

It’s a question I asked a few days back, of where do you take the hit, upto 14% of your most economicaly advantaged now, causing mass disruption in the economy or take an anual poverty hit for the next decade or three due to poverty and depression brought on by a massive recession?

That is the problem with extended national lockdowns that have to last 90-120 days after last infected case…

The assumption there is off course that we “must have economy destroying indefinate length nationa lockdowns”.

The answer of course is we don’t.

If we “Track, Trace, Test, and Confine” at a highly localised level then we do not need the economy to be shut down, just sensible social distancing.

Whilst people will die untill an effective treatment comes along or even a vaccine, the numbers of sick can be kept down to a small proportion of hospital capacity by prompt test & confine action.

The problem is “testing”…

What we need is two antibody tests and an effective RT-PCR antigen test.

Thus yiu need a cheap “instant” antibody test with a low false positive rate (0.1% or less) as an initial screen. If you’ve got antibodies it’s back to “the coalface with you” to be an economically active drone.

If you don’t have antibodies to the cheap instant test then either the more expensive more exacting lab antibody test or if you are likely to be infectious the RT-PCR test. If you show no signs of infection or antibodies then back into “shelter in place confinment” and if possible be economically active at home if for no other reason the sake of your sanity. If you do show positive for the virus antigen then it’s probably best to have the equivalent of the old typhoid quarantine hospital facilities where you can get immediate medical attention if only as a “lab rat” untill you show negative for virus antigens. Or you become sufficiently symptomatic to require medical intervention early with potentialy drugs like inteferon B to stop your condition becoming serious. Thus easing the preasure on hospital resources. Again early intervention with CPAP + Oxygen therapy, broad spectrum antibiotics and antifungal medications to stop secondary infections before they start, and although manpower intensive fairly vigourous physiotherapy to help loosen up the dead cells and fluid deep down in the lungs so that your body has a better chance of getting the muck up and out thus keeping the airways clearer. Again this hopefully will help reduce the numbers of people becoming more critical.

The point is the virus does not kill you unless your immune system totaly fails you. What kills you is secondary infections stopping the immune system or clinical shock from inflamation going on to cause sepsis, organ failure and death. Or if you are on a mechanical “inflationary” style ventilator spending to long on it.

Which brings up the question which is better, a ventilator that forces oxygen into the lungs causing known problems. Or the old style “iron lung” chambers that apply negative presure to the chest etc thus lifting the chest and more gently drawing air into the lungs without greating excessive known to be harmfull pressure in the lungs.

History shows us that polio sufferers could spend months on an iron lung without the need for surgery or drug induced coma and survive and recover sufficiently not to need the iron lung.

What I could not find is upto date pros/cons of the two types of intervention.

Oh there is another potential avenue of investigation that I’m not even sure anyone is considering which is a form of localised heating…

Put simply virii do not like to be warm, they prefer the cold to survive. One of the most primitave immune responses that are found in many many species not just primates is the abiliry to raise the body temprature to make viability of pathogens less.

This pathogen causes problems when it gets into the lower respiritory track. What most do not realise is that you can breath in air at over 50C and survive people do this in deserts during the “warmer times of year”… The reason is that the blood supply can take the heat away from the lung lining and get rid of it via persperation at other parts of the bodies surface.

Thus the question arises as to how far you can raise the temprature of the air going into the lungs without damage and getting rid of it by cooling other areas of the body?

I suspect we will have a partial answer to this in a month or two when the middle east starts to heat up for “summer”.

However if anybody reading this knows the answer to “how hot can the air be” and what effect that would have on the SARS-CoV-2 in vevo I for one would be interested to know because as an engineer I know we can quite carefully and very finely control not just the temprature of the air it’s humidity and oxygen contents. And if doing this reduces the need for high oxygen levels that damage the lungs then so much the better.

Because whilst I fully expect the First World can stop the virus becoming endemic and keep the economy going in their nations by quarantine measurse on the population via good “Track, Trace, Test and Confine” and very strong border protections (both of which are security nightmares), I also know it’s not possible with “slum” or “high density” type living without strong medical intervention. With India the Near East Africa and parts of the Middle east having around 1/5th of the worlds population in unsuitable housing and living conditions and life styles. Their Governments will not be capable of providing either the required level of issolation or healthcare thus the community spread and death rates will be appaling. Worse their Governments will not be able to give the required economic aid to maintain even the megerest of living standards. So the resultant loss of life from dire poverty will cause social unrest and major attempts at “health emigration”. But it is certain no mater what left to themselves these nations will get SARS-CoV-2 endemic in their nations thus vastly increasing the risk of new strains that could be both more infectious and more virulant with the possability that as with Dengue Fever getting hit by first one strain then the second could in effect disable peoples immune systems…

Freezing_in_Brazil April 18, 2020 1:27 PM


And it’s backed up by the echo chamber, so, you know, say, Rush Limbaugh. Science is one of the four corners of deceit, along with the media, academia — I forget one of the others, but they’re the four corners of deceit.

Political establishment? That would be the case from my point of vantage.

Clive Robinson April 18, 2020 1:32 PM

@ 65535,

Next, is this so called SARS-covid virus really very differentiate than the seasonal flu which mutates constantly… and the fact that covid virus is in many humans and animals a large portion of the time? It seems that SARS-covid is similar to the seasonal flu. I wonder who is telling the truth.

As has been mentioned yes the common flu strains and SARS-Cov-2 are quantifiably different on many levels.

To believe otherwise is to buy into the Fake-news being put around by various people for their own gain over the rest of society.

It’s another form of “climate denial syndrome” designed to make you not believe science, so you will accept any unproven irrational claims untill you finally wake up and realise you’ve not only been made a fool of you have yet again lost rights and opertunities to the 1% of the 1% who’s sole intent is to rent seek you out of any assets and into poverty. It’s yet again a variation of the failed “free market mantra” and worse that the neo-liberals pay certain economists and thus others to parrot.

If you like it’s another sick joke like the espousing of the “trickle down effect”.

If you still think that COVID-19 is less harmful than the average flu go have a look at the seasonaly averaged death rates. Rhe flu deaths were less than the five previous year average this year. However as COVID-19 got into the community the death rate has climbed and climbed well above the previous five year average it’s getting on for three time in the UK but in Italy and Spain we know regional figures were between five and eleven times that of the five year average…

But something else to look at over on the WorldOmeter web page for the US,

At April 18 2020 18:09 GMT it shows the following,

Recorded cases : 728,081
Closed cases : 102,191 (14%)

Of the closed cases,

Survived : 63,955 (63%)
Died : 38,236 (37%)

0ver 1/3rd of recorded cases have had an outcome of death and less than 2/3rds have so far survived. What is not shown is how many of those that have survived have servived without being debikitated in some way, including respiritory or cardiac disfunction that almost certainly will result in a much shorter life span.

Einstein had a definition of madness that was in effect asking a question repeatedly exoecting a different outcome…

It’s been shown here that SARS-CoV-2 and the common strains of the flu are not just “quantitatively different” but “qualitatively different” as well from information gained by scientists. But more importantly you’ve been shown just by the Recorded deaths and simple arithmetic the same thing the two virus types are no where near the same in effect.

So why do you think Einstein’s observation is incorrect?

MarkH April 18, 2020 1:44 PM


Before anybody else jumps on it, Spain was not an island when I had my Social Studies classes … but that was a long time ago, who knows!

I’ve seen both of your questions asked by commentators in the press. They’re both logical questions.

As to the first, keeping people at home will certainly increase the probability of Covid-19 passing from one member of the household to another. On the other side of that ledger, we have that:

• the probability of Covid-19 being introduced to a home that didn’t previously have it is greatly reduced

• the probability that Covid-19 from that address will be transmitted to people outside the home is greatly reduced

• the likelihood of spread to other members of the household was fairly large anyway

When the effects of all four considerations are combined, it seems that keeping people at home yields a large net benefit in reducing transmission of Covid-19.

About the hyper-mart problem, I can tell you that in my region:

• workers at the entrances are limiting the number of people inside the shop to a fairly low density

• one-way aisles and other measures are used to support people keeping at a safe distance

• entry is forbidden without a mask

• when a queue forms because of the limit on people inside, an exterior “lane” with distance markers is provided to help people to wait safely

To those who doubt whether these “social distancing” regimes are helpful: the world is furnishing us with a large set of “natural experiments,” as various countries, provinces and cities have adopted their own responses — or in many cases, no response at all — to the advent of the pandemic.

Although correlation by itself cannot prove causation, there appears to be a strong relationship between the setting of distancing rules and disease statistics (with time lags based on days between exposure and illness, and days between the onset of illness and death).

Further, a timing difference of only seven days in setting distancing rules appears to be associated with an enormous difference in health outcomes.

Almost all of this is accessible public data, any interested person can take a look …

Next, is this so called SARS-covid virus really very [different] than the seasonal flu which mutates constantly… and the fact that covid virus is in many humans and animals a large portion of the time? It seems that SARS-covid is similar to the seasonal flu. I wonder who is telling the truth.

To start with the easy part: whoever claims that Covid-19 is not very different from seasonal flu IS NOT TELLING THE TRUTH.

Let’s take a quick look: “That’s a nice hypothesis you got there. Shame if somebody were to test it.”

When is the last time a seasonal flu:

• necessitated the excavation of mass graves, or the use of refrigerated truck trailers as temporary morgues?

• killed large numbers of hospital workers?

• taxed the capacity of numerous hospitals to the extent that they had to turn away patients?

• resulted in a global shortage of some basic medical supplies?

There’s been a lot of discussion here about case fatality rate (CFR). For seasonal flu, it’s typically around 0.1 percent.

In the midst of a still rapidly growing pandemic, the figures for Covid-19 are very uncertain. Estimates range as high as 5+ percent, but several dynamics at work in the early days may tend to inflate that number.

But when all the dust has settled, and all the sub-clinical cases are counted, we may reasonably project that the Covid-19 CFR will be at least one percent, and easily double that.

In other words, Covid-19 is probably at least ten times as fatal as usual seasonal flu.

In the U.S., the death toll from the first wave of Covid-19 is projected at around 60,000 with strong social distancing measures in place for much of the U.S. populace. With “business as usual,” the projected deaths would have been perhaps four to five times as large.

For another perspective, seasonal flu typically kills about 500,000 world-wide. Total deaths for Covid-19 are already greater than 150,000 … and in many countries, the first cases were within the past 10 weeks, or haven’t even been detected yet. The pandemic is still “warming up” … it seems reasonable to estimate that without drastic countermeasures, Covid-19 would have killed between 100 million and 250 million people during 2020.

Finally, SARS-Cov-2 is not “in many humans and animals a large portion of the time.” Those words seem to confuse this new (in humans, anyway) virus with the entire family of coronaviruses of which it is a part. Yes, various coronaviruses are in many humans, and some other animal species, on any given day.

As far as we know, this particular coronavirus was not in any human being before November of 2019.

Clive Robinson April 18, 2020 1:59 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

With regards

    “Amazon has begun using thermal cameras inside its warehouses to screen workers who could be infected with coronavirus, employees have told Reuters.”

That’s maybe what the employes have been told, but colour me skeptical…

I could be wrong but based on previous information about “The Boss” and the lack of supplying PPE to employees, I would look for another reason the cameras are going in other than finding potential COVID-19 sufferers.

My first thought would be it’s a “backdoor excuse” to put in a surveillance system for other reasons.

We know that the technology for “checkout-less stores” has been trialed and appears to be sufficiently successful based on AI augmented by humans.

My guess would thus be they are for an AI “employee continuous evaluation system” the sprinkling of AI being all the diference between this and those “Crotch Shot devices” installed in a UK newspaper in the appropriately named “hot desk office” till thr journos threatend to string up the editor by his goolies. That is it is in reality a system by which hiring firing and potential promotion will be judged… And even if that is not the current intention, it’s likely to be what it becomes fairly quickly.

MarkH April 18, 2020 2:16 PM

I just got an answer to a question I posed here not many days ago.

When a person receives antibodies via blood serum from a donor who recovered from a viral infection, those antibodies last for a few weeks.

In contrast, a person who recovered from the infection will usually remain immune for at least several years.


Perhaps you misunderstood … Chomsky didn’t mean that those institutions are pillars of deceit, but rather that authoritarian demagogues (and their armies of enablers) incessantly claim that such institutions are deceitful, because they are terrified of the risk that people will learn truthful information.

Anders April 18, 2020 2:31 PM


When @SpaceLifeForm last posted?

In 100 latest post i see there is silence from his part…

Rj April 18, 2020 3:11 PM

@La Abeja:
I remember my first exposure to this HR brain-dead approach to hiring. It was the mid-1980’s and Ada was the new big thing. I was in grad school, which I started 10 years after receiving my bachelors in math. I was again a math major, and my advisor was chairman of the graduate mathematics department. Down the hall was the president of the American Mathematical Society. I had programmed my first computer in the 11th grade in 1967, and had been working professionally as a programmer/software engineer for over 10 years.

At that time, suddenly there was a plethora of job ads for people with 5+ years experience in this new high demand language Ada. What a joke! The Ada82 standard only appeared in 1982. Not a siungle company had a reliable Ada compiler that implemented the entire specification for the language. But that didn’t phase the HR types. No, they required that you have 5+ years of Ada or they wouldn’t pass your resume on to the engineering managers that needed the new employees. Scott Adams, author of the Dilbert comic strip must have been still working as an engineer back then, because his strip frequently makes fun of HR types.

Which reminds me, I really dislike the term HR, meaning human resources. I am indeed a human, but I am not a resource. Oil is a resource, Iron ore is a resource. It is something that you use until you use it all up. The IRS even allows you to take a depletion allowance on resources for the very reason that you do use them up.

Anders April 18, 2020 3:19 PM


My own search indicates SpaceLifeForm last post as:

SpaceLifeForm • April 12, 2020 11:13 AM

After that date he is silent 🙁

Clive Robinson April 18, 2020 4:35 PM

@ MarkH, ALL,

I know you have concerns about India and across to to the Middle East with respect to living conditions, and I share those.

And as I mentioned above I’ve had concerns about social unrest as certainly in some parts if you do not work on any given day you do not have the money to buy food that evening, and there is no support structure other than family and friends (who would all be in the same position so can not help).

Well there are also others that earn slightly more as their jobs tend to be more skilled, and they tend to be paid weekly. One such group is seamstress’ in Bangladesh which is one of the largest producers of clothes in the world.

Well it appears some employers have locked the seamstress’ out and not even payed them for work done. The employers excuse is “orders canceled from the first world”. Now I do not know if that is true or not but I suspect there is more than a grain of truth in it[1].

However I noticed on a COVID “Live update” web page[2] the following,

    Hundreds of workers in Bangladesh have taken to the streets in defiance of social distancing rules to demand unpaid wages during the Covid-19 shutdown.

Thus not just social unrest has started but also it’s of the type that could easily escalate disease transmission.

But that’s not all the bad news, as quite a few know Ramadan is just around the corner, and this has certain rituals and traditions as well as religious practices that if carried out would destroy any kind of social distancing.

Iran appears to be just starting to get on top of it’s SARS-CoV-2 curve, if care is not taken then it might well reverse the curve a week or so after the start of Ramadan…

[1] Clothes shops are not yet “essential services” although in the UK quite a few “supermarkets” do sell clothes as well as food so I’m assuming not all orders are cancelled, if anything some orders may well go up as fashion / boutique / Sportswear / etc cloths shops are closed especially those for children who as any parent with younger childern know “they grow like weeds”.

[2] For a live update page it sure has a weirdly titled URL,

Clive Robinson April 18, 2020 4:54 PM

@ Anders, ALL,

My own search indicates SpaceLifeForm last post as: April 12, 2020 11:13 AM

I do hope that @SpaceLifeForm is OK along with their family friends and other loved ones as well. It always concerns me when regular posters stop posting, or less regular posters do not comment on subjects that previously they were quite keen on.

Yes I do try and memorize attributes about posters here as I suspect others do about me. It helps to make the experience more friendly to people old and new, and as @Bruce notes,

    “I consider the comments section as analogous to a gathering at my home.”

Thus a bit more sociable than other technical blogs.

lurker April 18, 2020 5:10 PM

Turbidity in Morbidity figures

@MarkH, “To start with the easy part: whoever claims that Covid-19 is not very different from seasonal flu IS NOT TELLING THE TRUTH.”

It’s not clear to me that total lockdown is necessary, or even desirable… If your country’s wealth drops by 1% , then the poor people in the country feel 10%, the rich people feel nothing… I’m [aged] 73, I have a half a percent chance of dying every month. So based against that a half a percent chance of coronavirus doesn’t make too much effect on me.

Professor Michael Levitt, a Nobel laureate and Stanford biophysicist, says there is no clear evidence that Covid-19 is causing massive loss of life,

On average in the UK, or England and Wales in fact we have 10 or 11 thousand deaths a year[week?] In early April we had sixteen and a half thousand deaths, so that’s a 50% increase and that must be due to Covid19 if we agree the influenza season wasn’t so weak. … The first priority should be the health of the people, the population, if you’ve got no people, the economy doesn’t matter…

Gary McLean is a professor in molecular immunology at London Metropolitan University who specialises in infectious diseases, immunology and antibody engineering.

Freezing_in_Brazil April 18, 2020 5:32 PM


Perhaps you misunderstood … Chomsky didn’t mean that those institutions are pillars of deceit, but rather that authoritarian demagogues (and their armies of enablers) incessantly claim that such institutions are deceitful, because they are terrified of the risk that people will learn truthful information.

Probably I did not express myself well.

I understood that Chomsky was talking about the authoritarians’ claims that some institutions are deceitful, namely science, the academy, the press (media) and (in my view, and, I believe, in his too) the established political system. I just couldn’t resist adding the fourth, since it seems he got a lapsus linguae in the interview. 🙂

Thanks anyway, regards.

MarkH April 18, 2020 6:03 PM


I welcome your thoughtful observations and news tidbits about how things are developing in the “global south.”

If humanity is very, very lucky, then Covid-19 will show some of the “seasonal dependency” usually seen in flu strains. Some combination of temperature, humidity, people spending more time outdoors (distancing) and UV exposure are thought to contribute to the reduction in the activity of some viruses during warm months. Maybe, just maybe, regions nearer the equator will experience less intensity of this pandemic.

However, different viruses show different amounts of seasonal variation, and there’s probably no adequate basis to predict how SARS-Cov-2 will respond. The coming weeks — and careful data analysis — will begin to tell the story.

Sometime in my 30s, I belatedly understood that for the average citizen, the mere fact of being born in the U.S. was roughly equivalent to a lottery jackpot win.

In my case, I was a double winner, having parents who were smart, educated, well-read, responsible, sober, diligent, provident, and who maintained a long marriage until death separated them.

I started out with a great unearned bounty.

I make an effort to be mindful, of how very blessed I have been, and how different my country is from the global average.

For example, about half of humanity has less than $6 per day of economic income. Most of the very poorest in the U.S. can receive federal food assistance worth more than $4 per person per day; by dint of that alone, they are already better off than at least 2,000,000,000 of their brothers and sisters abroad. If they are lucky enough to be able to reach a hospital in case of medical emergency, they will receive first-world medical care even though they will never be able to pay the bills. Their children will have the opportunity to attend schools at a higher standard than much of humanity has ever even seen up close.

[I don’t minimize, that some Americans fall completely out of the “safety net.” Simply, those in the most miserable 0.1% of the U.S. are in an economic situation comparable to the average person in some other places.]

I remind myself how many people in the “third world” live on streets that are open sewers (not speaking metaphorically; they are literally open sewers). Doctors have said from day one of Covid-19 that the single best thing you can do to keep safe, is to wash your hands frequently. For how many citizens of the world, is hand-washing with soap the stuff of fantasy?

Since my mid-40s, I spent a good deal of time in Russia and Ukraine, with per-capita GDP (depending on the country and year) roughly between 15% and 5% of the U.S.

In the relatively prosperous big cities, most people manage a good degree of dignity and comfort, whilst at the same time usually doing without things I’d always taken for granted.

In smaller towns, or hinterlands, or rural villages, the material circumstances show a cliff-like descent. Half of Russians need half of their income, simply to buy food — and that in a country with great petroleum wealth. A story that received broad news coverage in Russia a few years ago reported the death of an elderly woman from a heart attack, after her arrest for shoplifting; she had stolen a chocolate bar, which she could not afford on her miserable pension.

As poor as those countries are, they are near the global median: there’s a hell of lot of poorer countries, some much poorer.

I’ve made a little bit of travel to some other regions, but not enough to see with my own eyes, what deep poverty looks like.

I know African shanty-towns only from film footage; I don’t think I would have the heart, to see for myself.

As difficult as the pandemic will be for the middle east and southern Asia, I tremble most for Africa, in which many countries are at even lower rungs on the economic ladder. [I only once visited an African country, though the impressions remain vivid.]

For example, several African states reportedly lack even a single ventilator. Some of their neighbors do have ventilators — but not enough to fill a broom closet. Ventilators won’t make much difference in the coming crisis, because they save so few patients … but it’s a snapshot of the horrifying inadequacy of their medical infrastructure.

I met an American preacher who had done missionary work in sub-Saharan Africa. He recounted his disappointment on arriving to the village and was shown his house. It was a tiny, barren square room laid up with cement blocks. Outside, a galvanized pipe with a spigot rose from the ground.

It was only after he had been there for a few days that he understood, that the village had given him their Taj Mahal: all the other homes were made from branches, and his was the only one with a water from a little spring. Everyone else made daily miles-long round trips to carry home buckets from the nearest river.

MarkH April 18, 2020 6:08 PM



Of course, Chomsky hates the established political system with a vitriolic passion … but the authoritarian demagogues can hardly denounce it in their own countries, as they are the chiefs 🙂

I note with sadness, that I must add Bolsonaro to my previous set {Trump, BoJo, Putin} of authoritarian demagogues whose selfish and myopic response to the pandemic will greatly, and needlessly, add many thousands to the rolls of the dead.

Heaven help us!

MarkH April 18, 2020 6:39 PM


Perhaps you’re not aware that this is the same Michael Levitt who four weeks ago predicted that in Israel, not more than 10 would die from the pandemic.

According to worldometer, 164 have already died in Israel. The case counts and numbers of dead there are still rising steeply.

I’ve written before on about a special cognitive malady that affects elderly public intellectuals; I’ll call it old smart guy disease.

Not all elderly public intellectuals fall into it, but often enough, once they’ve staked out a position that is demonstrated to be wrong, they hold on to their false claims like a terrier.

A shining example is Freeman Dyson, who died just a few weeks ago. I liked him; he was undoubtedly brilliant; those of his books I read, were fascinating.

For the last 15 or so years of his life, his position on anthropogenic global warming was (not his words, but I think a fair representation) “I haven’t studied climate science, and I don’t understand the models used to predict how climate will change, but I know they’re wrong.”


Crusty, the friendly toast April 18, 2020 7:05 PM


My man, please create your own blog on the web, enough politics already, please.

How stupid are we


MarkH April 18, 2020 7:40 PM

@Mr. Peed Off:

Thanks for the update!

{Trump, Bolsonaro, BoJo, Lukashenko, Putin}

I have a little history with Belarus, I should have predicted Lukashenko without any need for news reports …


Bruce has been supremely gracious, in opening the comments for wide-ranging discussion of this world crisis. I guess I’ve been as vocal as anybody, about how failures of political leadership have contributed to the problems (as witness a few lines above!).

However, I’m with Crusty about comments which are primarily political — while shedding little light on other facets — as best residing elsewhere.

lurker April 18, 2020 8:07 PM

@MarkH: re Michael Levitt

After only a minute listening to him I got the impression he was being economical with the truth. In the nicest possible way, ie. nothing stood out as a blatant untruth, but ‘the truth, & nothing but the truth’ without including ‘the whole truth’ …

JonKnowsNothing April 18, 2020 10:42 PM

It appears that governments world wide have opted to “reopen or open for business” in opposition to common sense, science and without any protections for their populations other than an “App on A Phone”.

This new “Herd Immunity Policy Version 2” will eventually lead to more deaths and chaos as has been described here by many posters.

In the USA we have Florida opening beaches making the Bondi beach scene in Australia look sparse. We have a variety of states where anti-seclusion demonstrations amply show how little the US Government can control the population and it doesn’t help much that the Executive Branch seems to be enjoying the pictures of crowds of people breathing and shouting their displeasure and anguish.

Although these demonstrations may be pushed by Oligarchs, it might be more a function of No Funds For YOU! And the desperation of trying to feed families and pay rents on No Income. I am sure that the face recognition folks will have marked every one (with or without an app) and will be monitoring their health status with great interest.

There is a disturbing trend though in reporting deaths. As data entry and revisions catch up with real time there is what I call “DEATH SHAMING”. A handy term to describe the label: “The person died but had underlining conditions”.

While not completely inaccurate, there are lots of deaths that have contributing factors but this categorization is being used as “an excuse” for not taking care of the population in general. I’ve seen MSM reports where this view is promoted as a by-product of Herd Immunity Version 2.
Similar to:

There will be deaths, but most have underlining conditions so if they die, it’s all their own fault.
Racial distribution maybe skewed, but they have underlining conditions so if they die, it’s OK, it’s their own fault

Perhaps “we/I” need to be more mindful that almost all deaths from COVID19 are and were preventable. The actions of their respective governments killed them all and will continue to kill into the foreseeable future. Mass murder by deliberate government inaction on a global scale.

We have seen historical and current situations were inactions lead to massive deaths and displacements only to be written off with stock diplomatic phrases: “The government is deeply concerned. We have directed our ambassador to…”.

I hope that we can find a better description that not only is accurate but also fully represents the calamity happening to all peoples on the planet.

Perhaps: Died of COVID19 complications.

Mr. Pigeon April 19, 2020 6:00 AM

For all those who might have missed it when it came out recently:

Very insightful interview with Ed Snowden on the current corona (security and beyond) situation


(gets interesting @25:00)

Miquel April 19, 2020 6:10 AM

What do you think about the latest Stanford study (as well as several others) which shows an actual death rate of 0.1% – identical to the seasonal flu?

Tõnis April 19, 2020 8:03 AM


I haven’t studied climate science, and I don’t understand the models used to predict how climate will change. I just don’t care. In less than a hundred years, I’ll be dead (thankfully).

Not sure who this blogger is, but here’s a good one:

As for me, I’m not isolating, distancing, whatever they call it, and I’m not wearing rubber gloves and a mask while driving around. I haven’t done that anywhere. Enough with this clownshow. If you’re fearful of The Covid-19 Common Cold™, stay home. I, myself, don’t take orders from politicians. (And I’m not even using TOR to post this.)

Clive Robinson April 19, 2020 12:46 PM

@ Miquel,

What do you think about the latest Stanford study (as well as several others) which shows an actual death rate of 0.1%

Have you actually read it?

Or as I suspect only seen “reported headlines”?

The first thing you have to understand is it’s suggested figures are not based on factual evidence vut a projection from “random sampling” in a very very small subset of the general population that produces it’s “study cohort”.

Other studies with larger cohorts show significantly different figures both larger and smaller. That alone should give you pause for thought as to the difficulty with making peojections on small cohorts.

Another thing to watch out for is the alowance for Rt way to many talk about R0 which is not the right figure to use as the “average replication rate R changes with time. For quite a few reasons.

Further as a first order approximation the infection numbers rise “to a power” or “exponentialy. That is Yn+1 = K Yn where K is some value where if greater than one gives exponential growth, constant growth when one and obviously a decay when less than one. Amongst other things K like changes with both time ‘t’ and Rt which is dependent on the virus infectiveness as a base rate and the environment and the number, and time it comes into contact with viable hosts. As a second aproximation K decreases as hosts either become immune by having a vaccine or by infection, or they die… Which ever way the number of potential hosts in a closed space decreases with time.

But the important thing about an exponential curve is it’s continuous which means a linear line crosses/touches it only once or twice.

This means you can easly show just as with “a stoped clock” it matches what you want it to say twice once or twice. Thus selectively picking your line can show it’s equal to any disease related death or the average death from old age.

So watch out for something that says “our measurments upto the first week of march show flu was killing more people”… Whilst it would be true it would also be a deliberatly erroneous conclusion to come to. Another trick is to “misapply the growth figures”. When you present only
Yn as the growth rate not Yn +
Yn-1 … + Y1
you are magically making the preceding dead and now immune not count. This is easily done both by mistake and by choice, the latter can be a deliberate attempt to distort figures to match some desired outcome…

But there are more subtal issues to contend with, for instance “try defining random” you will quickly find you can not without making assumptions, circular arguments or more often than not both. This should be a “VERY BIG RED FLAG” but what you normally get told is “Random sampling is the gold standard”. With a little thought you will realise that with those assumptions both implicit and explicit if they are either insufficient in number, incorrectly applied, or just plain incorrect then any projections based on them are effectively “finger in the wind” at best to disasterously wrong.

Likewise the source of your data. We know that the figures we get on the likes of the Johns Hopkins and WorldOmeter web sites are not just wrong but very wrong in deed. They are compleatly underestimating what is going on in the community by a factor of between being 1/6th to 1/80th too small…

Just to start with various tests have shown that between 45% and 88% of cases are “unsymptomatic”. Further we have had Dr Mike Ryan at the WHO very recently saying that “very many people are not seroconverting”… What that means is that those “antibody tests” wont work on those people because although they’ve had the disease they have no antibodies. The problem is Dr Mike Ryan’s statment is an unspecified quantative statment which is about as useful as saying “many solids go from solid to vapour”. What is needed is a relative or ratio statment such as from one Chinese study saying “more than 6%”. But either way it means all those tests for antibodies are under reading by an as yet unkbown amount.

Which all means the only thing we can say about these “sample and project papers” is, “Except by chance they are going to be wrong” or perhaps less kindly but nether the less true “GIGO”.

It’s why I keep talking about “look at the excess death rate” that is the actual total numbers of internments/cremations/etc against the previous “five year average”. Whilst this might read slightly high it’s actually the only thing that’s even remotely close to telling us what is going on.

Just remenber with such a high rate of “asymptomatic infection” our inability to come up with valid assumptions for sampling cohorts and the fact that an unspecified “many” do not seroconvert, all cohort test results will be inacurate to an “unknown” extent. Thus we may never ever know the actuall infection rates against risk groups…

And that’s the final nail in the “death rate” argument because there are age and other factors such as melatonin in the skin the “0.1%” figure is actually meaningless it’s self without considerable qualification.

In reality what is important to know is within a degree or two what the difference is in outcomes based on medical support. If you look at two European Countries such as Germany and the UK they show not to disimilar hospital rates but extreamly different death rates… Is that due to,

1, Better healthcare in Germany.
2, A significantly higher number of pale skined people in Germany.
3, A combination of both.
4, Some other as yet unknown cause.

Looking at Spain and Italy you might conclude that it’s just the increased level of melatonin reducing the Vitimin D conversion in those who are of “Southern European skin tones”.

In the US for instance healthcare insurance tends to be higher in the northern part of the country (Alaska especially) or where there are large communities of people with darker skin tones…

This has in the past been attributed to lack of vitimin D which is very important for your immune system functioning. Likewise zinc that also effects BMI control thus in turn type II diabeties which is a majorly flaged comorbidity in critical COVID-19 cases. Similarly magnesium for heart health which is the second major comorbidity flagged. All three of these micronutriants tend to be significantly lacking in many people especially in the Western World.

Untill someone actually does proper double blind tests on micronutriants in sever and critical COVID-19 cases we can not rule them either “in or out” of treatment. However it was fairly easy to get these micronutrients over the counter in super markets and the like and most Drs can have a simple blood test run on you to see if you are low or not.

SpaceLifeForm April 19, 2020 1:11 PM

@ Anders, Clive

Basically, I am trying to get caught up on things that I neglected until a month ago, but which the current circumstances have now allowed me the time to do so.

Yeah, allowed, meaning little choice. I am now retired, and basically spending most of my time working on my software project.

It helps me deal with cabin fever.

Found an obvious minor bug just re-reading some code that I wrote over 6 years ago. Was re-reading to refresh my working set in my mind.

Building a cross-compiler at the moment. My toolchains are way out of date. My patches no longer apply to various tools. Newer compilers complain more.

A lot to do. Hopefully, I will not have too many additional patches. I need to send some upstream.

This is my distraction from Covid-19. Daily, basically, nothing changes except the numbers climb, and the government finds more excuses. The open-it-up thinking is insane at this point. LiberateWH and Liberate10.

Freezing_in_Brazil April 19, 2020 1:25 PM

@ MarkH

I note with sadness, that I must add Bolsonaro to my previous set {Trump, BoJo, Putin} of authoritarian demagogues whose selfish and myopic response to the pandemic will greatly, and needlessly, add many thousands to the rolls of the dead.

Oh, man… it’s a disheartening catastrophe. He is going exactly by Trump’s playbook. It is almost unbelievable that people could get fanaticized to this degree. Brazil experienced a great deal of social advancement in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Bolsonaro has sent the country back two decades. Even educated people (to my displeasure, many of them my friends and acquaintances – people from social sciences background – and there’s nothing I can do about it – lest I get ostracized for the rest of my days) go by his discourse. There is an uncanny resemblance to what I know of the events in 1930’s Germany.

On the bright side, there is a major opposition awakening, thanks to Bolsonaro’s blunders at managing the crisis. It is totally possible now that he’ll lose the next presidential election to a centrist opponent. Scientific approach defender governor of São Paulo is a possible candidate; The former Minister of Health (fired last week for defending social distancing and science – to no avail, since the current one is also of the same opinion) is now a major name too. Still, it’s going to take some time until we get back on tracks. But lets hope for the best.

I bid you all peace. Take care.

Clive Robinson April 19, 2020 1:30 PM

@ Tõnis,

Not sure who this blogger is, but here’s a good one:

The funny thing is the site

Gets blocked in the UK which can be a sign the site “does not take European connections” or “It’s being blocked by an ISP or National content filter” for good reason.

The speed it gets blocked suggests the latter… A little search of the site via a content filter avoiding search engine tends to indicate the site is being content blocked for what looks very much like “Fake News” and similar.

Also all the content URL’s I’ve seen listed are all conspiracy and clickbait types.

But more interestingly the sites that contain the URL’s appear to be Russian, right wing libitarian, and conspiracy and the now more ubiquitous “deniers” sites…

More fun historical information indicates that in May last year WordPress killed the blog for what “Jon Rappoport” claims was unspecified reasons without notice others indicate it was due to content issues…

What ever the truth of the matter realy is of no interest to me, and I realy can not be bothered to dig any further than a light surface scratch. Which is sufficient to say,

    Reader beware

Freezing_in_Brazil April 19, 2020 1:38 PM

I will refrain from commenting hard politics so as to not abuse our generous host’s good will

Peace all.

MarkH April 19, 2020 2:19 PM


He posted a dissenting perspective … and didn’t even use TOR!!!!!

It was an act of superhuman courage, and also his undoing.

If the black helicopters didn’t already get him, they are surely on their way.

Perhaps even as I write these words, they are already waterboarding him 🙁

Poor Tõnis! We shall miss him.

Freezing_in_Brazil April 19, 2020 2:28 PM

Further as a first order approximation the infection numbers rise “to a power” or “exponentialy. That is Yn+1 = K Yn where K is some value where if greater than one gives exponential growth, constant growth when one and obviously a decay when less than one. Amongst other things K like changes with both time ‘t’ and Rt which is dependent on the virus infectiveness as a base rate and the environment and the number, and time it comes into contact with viable hosts. As a second aproximation K decreases as hosts either become immune by having a vaccine or by infection, or they die… Which ever way the number of potential hosts in a closed space decreases with time.

I’m personally worried – and curious – about the viral load real effect on the death rate (since I myself have high blood pressure, which is a major factor). I think that coming up with a magnitude (or correlation) for Co-morbidities (C1, C2,…, Cn), and how they are affected by the VL (as well as magnitudes or correlation for fitness, since it appears that the death rate is a function of both – co-morbidities and fitness) is in order.

Of course these parameters will have to be informed by medical research, but I’m using my bonus spare time playing with the stats and trying to set up a model of my own, and I’m looking for to be discussing it later.

Clive Robinson April 19, 2020 2:59 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

Nice to hear you are alive and kicking something other than the walls 🙂

With regards,

It helps me deal with cabin fever.

Yes for some strange reason reading papers on SARS-CoV-2 has a strangely similar effect.

I’ve been house bound since early Feb… Annual tradition that my son and I have is to visit London’s China town for the Chinese New Year celebrations and have a buffet meal and a visit to some of the supper markets.

This year there were a number of obvious tour parties from China and to be honest neither of us thought anything about it.

My son had what he thought was a touch of 24hour Noro virus but I got hit by muscle aches and diarrhea for well over a month with chest pains towards the end but no chills fevers or anything other than my usual aches and pains oh and an annoying cough when lying on my back that felt like it should be productive but never was.

I was told to stay in issolation as “it sounds like winter vomiting disease” –Noro Virus– initialy by the Drs over the phone. As it draged on you could hear that “fingernails on wood” noise get louder as they scratched their heads. Then I got told I’d hit the jackpot and had all the comorbidities then known for COVID-19 so stay in batten down the hatches repel all boarders and develop a fetish for staring at pastel coloured walls…

Well I’ve had to follow Drs, orders, like them or not because as I’ve mentiond my son’s mum is a cardiac rehab nurse on the floor below the only infectious disease wards within centralish London and saw BoJo when he visited them. Like him she got COVID-19, but in her case “by diagnosis not test” so it could have been the flu for all anyone realy knows (the only testing in the UK back then and still pretty much the same still is VIP’s and those knocking on deaths door).

So I’m in for the full four month and climbing “home issolation” with charity workers and family bringing me in “fresh”[1].

However I broke my toe a few days ago, I was bare foot and hurried from one room to another and caught my little toe on the door frame. It made a good excuse to talk to someone else even if it was just a Dr. They looked through my notes and said “You’ve probably had COVID” so I could consider getting an X-Ray. I asked them what made them think that… Apparently increasing numbers don’t show fever when infected but have other symptoms such as loss of taste and the other symptoms I had had… I asked the obvious question “Can I have an antibody test to confirm it?” the answer was no they are reserved for other people… So I asked a couple of more pointed questions about “what’s the odds of me dying of an unxrayed broken toe if I assumed it was broken and just strapped it up?” I was told very low, so I asked the deal breaker “what is my chance of dying if I visited the hospital by public transport and I had not had COVID?” well I’ll let you guess what the answer to that was, and give you a hint, I’ve decided as bad as it is observing pastal coloured walls is at the end of the day just a state of a still alive brain…

[1] “Fresh” is a term used in the UK army, and was especially prevelant during the “troubles” when soldiers ate a lot of “Rat Packs” which is not a bunch of Hollywood crooners but high energy food from tins of which the only enjoyable bits were the sweeties and shortbread biscuits, the latter being highly prized, because if you ate four of them and drank three pints of “standard NATO” you could by just eating the sweeties and drinking the tea avoid having a crap for two weeks or more… Don’t get me wrong there was nothing wrong with the “Rat Packs” it was top notch grub for field rations and highly valued by US troops who hated their less than effectionatly named “Meals Rejected by Ethiopians” (MRE’s). The problem was the limited range of Rat Packs often made worse by QM’s playing “favourits” thus you could end up with just one choice of Rat Pack for an entire two or three week period… Thus fresh food even just a humble pint of real milk or sliced white loaf was valued. Often by a little trickery you could get a lot of fresh eggs and packs of bacon and real Hineze tomato ketchup. This was the “Fresh” most highly prized and if you could make the perfect “egg and bacon banjo” (sarnie) then you were held in high esteam and got the equivalent of “light duties” rather more than anyone else. Having been a “gridlion” chef I could not only turn out a master banjo including a “half toastie” (toast the bread lightly on one side, add real butter and put the egg with runny yolk on it two or three slices of bacon a light scraping of ketchup on the tosted side of the top slice and thus your sandwich has that little extra flavour and crunch) I also carried in my tool kit a large selection of herbs and hot spices which ment I could turn out a “Ruby” (curry) with a Rat Pack and other interesting items like a herb and sausage omelet and thick stews (powdered soup, tinned mince, tinned vegtables, milk powder, water and when heated stir in porridge fine oatmeal to thicken along with a beef and a vegtable boulion cube and salt lots of peper and some sugar if ketchup is not used and anchovy essence to give that umami taste that a jaded palat screams for). As a soldier etc when you have to spend a lot of time in close quaters with other men in less than desirable circumstances like a block house, the ability to turn out a variaty of tasty dishes not only makes you popular, it also cuts down a lot of tenssion in a detail… Whilst an army might march on it’s stomach it dances on it’s taste buds. I even have a recipe for making choclate cake with potatoes and porridge oats which can be a real lifter if it’s someones birthday or they’ve had news from home they’ve become a dad or similar, you can also make passable nochi and lasagna as well it you add enough herds in the sauce.

MarkH April 19, 2020 3:01 PM


In the analysis of Germany’s outstanding — and enviable — success (so far) with the pandemic, I propose that we go “full Occam” and prefer the most straightforward explanations.

You’ve written a number of times about the failure of people to understand exponential increase. When it comes to implementing measures to decrease transmission rates, a matter of days can translate into an enormous difference in death toll. Here in the U.S., if national leadership hadn’t wasted weeks pretending that Covid-19 is just like seasonal flu, thousands who are now dead would probably still be alive. The time-consequent differential will only grow, because it’s still spreading rapidly here.

The German government took prompt and thorough action.

You may find this interesting:

France is a next-door neighbor spanning about the same latitudes as Germany, also has an excellent health care system, and in my estimation has a not very different distribution of skin pigmentation … but France has about six times as many deaths per unit of population.

In terms of fatalities to date, France is doing even worse than the U.K., and far worse than the U.S. [Such comparisons must viewed in light of the different lengths of time since the national epidemic began; rankings are likely to change.]

I don’t make too much of Germany’s high hospitalization rates; this might be explained by their success. Because they’ve done a lot of testing, and avoided their hospitals becoming saturated with the desperately ill, perhaps they have the luxury of bringing people into hospital whose cases aren’t so bad.

Failures of government in such a crisis are a form of negligent homicide.


I, for one, am very glad to have your perspective on events in Brazil. Many millions, in many countries, are in shock and grief to see their national politics descending into cesspools which so many of us imagined were consigned to the past.

I was born not very long after the world war, and the rebirth of Germany has been a sort of historical backdrop. I could not have dreamed that neo-Nazis would become a political force in Germany during my lifetime …

The story of Russia is very different from its Western counterparts, but they did have almost a decade of very serious democratic reform. A few years ago, a Russian novelist described his country as “a block of ice, floating backward into the 16th century.”

As to the tragedy in the U.S., my attitude is that despair is an unaffordable luxury. We’ve got to do the painful hard work of rebuilding.

Clive Robinson April 19, 2020 3:08 PM

@ Freezing_in_Brazil,

I’m personally worried – and curious – about the viral load real effect on the death rate

It’s not just the viral load but how far you breath it in.

Contrary to what many think most of us don’t even use a smallish petcentage of our lungs when we are just sitting around etc. Thus shallow breathing, so you might not even get the virus particles into the lower lung where it does the most damage…

Also hot dry air might be too much for the virus to be viable for very long.

There are a lot of factors to consider.

MarkH April 19, 2020 3:27 PM


There have been a few comments here, reporting the damage Covid-19 can do to organs other than the lungs.

Evidence for this is mounting.

In the U.S., the worry about running out of ventilators has now been supplemented by worry about running out of dialysis machines as numbers of Covid patients suffer kidney failure.

In recent hours, a Canadian stage actor (age 41) had a leg amputation, reportedly necessitated by complications with his Covid-19 infection.

To maximize your odds of surviving a gun battle, don’t be in one.

To maximize your odds of surviving Covid-19, don’t catch it.

PS A member of my extended family has severe chronic lung failure of undetermined cause. She can’t maintain good oxygenation without supplementary O2. She and her significant other are practicing extremely stringent precautions, to shield her from the virus. The S.O. made a mistake by going into a crowded grocery without a mask (this was before masks were generally recommended), and stayed in a different house for 2 weeks as a precaution.


I just read a headline to the effect that many SARS-Cov-2 antibody tests (a) are imported from China, and (b) function so poorly that their results are practically useless.

Antibody testing will be of great importance, but as with virus testing, present availability is terrible.


By viral load, do you mean the amount of virus in the patient’s system, or the amount of external exposure to virus possibly leading to infection?

If you mean the latter, there’s already good reason to believe that it makes a big difference. Very likely, that’s why medical people are dying out of proportion to their demographic vulnerability.

Simply, getting a very big exposure to the virus is a lot more dangerous than a small exposure. Please stay safe, and good luck!

Ergo Sum April 19, 2020 3:44 PM


Possible disclaimer: I’m speaking from a European perspective: it’s possible the US system is more fucked.

Yes, the US system is much more of that…

Every checking account that one opens in the US, it also comes with a debit card. It’s like a credit card, but tied to the checking account and has the limit of available funds at the given time. It does not matter, if it is personal or business account; both gets the debit card. As such, pretty much anyone who has the capability to issue an ACH debit, can issue one against the account. There’s some differences between two accounts.

One is that the personal account is insured by FDIC, business account is not. The other is fraudulent ACH debit, where the personal account is responsible for the first $50-100, The business account does not have these protections.

That’s why my business account has “Positive pay”, cost $13 per month. Anyone issuing a ACH debit against my account, the bank sends me a text for approval and have 24 hours to approve it. Not approved in 24h, bank blocks the ACH debt. My business pays taxes for both state and feds, they have my business account number. It still comes in as an alert, when they issue an ACH debt against my account and I have to approve it.

Credit is not blocked, anyone can do an ACH credit and then ACH debit for up to the amount, without requiring my approval. Yes, the credit is a two way street…

Yeah, the US system is much more of that…

lurker April 19, 2020 3:52 PM

@Clive, did you actually read the John Rappoport story? It might be my perverted sense of humour, but I got a good laugh from the crass depiction of fear, panic, and the madness of crowds…

Ergo Sum April 19, 2020 3:54 PM

Yes, the squid is a very good bait in salt water. Practically, one can catch pretty much all of them, up to 4′-5′ length.

Yes, I am aware that this is not the baiting Bruce referred to… 🙂

Tõnis April 19, 2020 5:09 PM

@Clive Robinson, re the site “gets blocked in the UK which can be a sign the site … is ‘being blocked by an ISP or National content filter’ for good reason” is good reason to take a look at what it has to say, meaning it’s probably censored because it conflicts with The Official Version of Events.™ Seriously, they do that in the UK?!?!? But really, the content is just an essay about how ridiculous this purported “new normal” is.

@MarkH, not to worry, I’m still around. I was on the bike path, walking with an unrelated female, hand in hand (i.e closer than 6′), when I saw the soldiers approaching. I thought there would be hell to pay for my failure to follow bureaucrats’ guidelines, but the soldiers only wanted a money fine this time. They said it would go toward a hand sanitizer dispenser in one of those portable latrines. Seems they’ve been getting stolen. In any case, all black helicopters aside, please remove the tinfoil hat. There is no deadly virus coming to get you!!!

Sancho_P April 19, 2020 5:26 PM

@Tõnis (@Clive Robinson)

”As for me, I’m not isolating, distancing, whatever …”

That’s fine if there isn’t anybody depending on you. No one will cry.
I put on a mask to protect myself and my neighbor across the street when delivering groceries to her door, she’s 89. I know her kids and grandkids living in town.

  • The site nomorefakenews isn’t blocked in Spain, but not worth reading.

Sancho_P April 19, 2020 5:32 PM

Re: GRETA-19 death rate and flu.

Don’t need math, flu figures or comparisons when I see the coffins and desperate faces in the street.
It’s serious, not fiction.

Clive Robinson April 19, 2020 5:39 PM

@ MarkH,

I just read a headline to the effect that many SARS-Cov-2 antibody tests (a) are imported from China, and (b) function so poorly that their results are practically useless.

It’s a known problem, not made any better by increasing numbers of reports of recovering patients not seroconverting (developing antibodies).

But they are not practically useless. You don’t realy care if they give a high rate of false negatives as long as they are cheap and fast. What is of concerne is the false positives.

Lets assume a 1% fatality rate, to be of any use the test must not say you have antibodies when you don’t a significant degree. Say a 0.001% occurance. If the test is at the same 1% or worse 10% then it’s going to kill only slightly less people than not testing at all.

If on the other hand the test says you don’t have antibodies when you do, it’s not going to kill you or make you more likely to die. Simply because you stay in quarantine (though you might go stircrazy”).

So the question boils down to how fast the test is, and how inexpensive it is… If it’s say 90secs and costs $2, and that “prescreens” for a $300 test that takes three days you can see why imperfect as it might be very useful…

Which brings us onto,

There have been a few comments here, reporting the damage Covid-19 can do to organs other than the lungs.

You have to be careful here, the SARS-CoV-2 virus as such does not kill you even though it can destroy a lot of cells. It’s the crud, inflamation, and immune response that actualy kills you. That is by secondary infection or just inhibition of the O2 / CO2 exchange cycle. This then leads to clinical shock, sepsis organ failure and death… Thus it’s actually the side effects of the COVID-19 disease not the disease it’s self that give rise to sequeli.

Sancho_P April 19, 2020 5:40 PM

@MarkH re organ damage

As I understood (in a conversation, not a physician myself) the kidney and other organ damage is secondary due to low blood oxygen, heart failure may occur due to desperately fighting against it. If the heart is strong enough the blood vessels finally get cracks and lose blood into tissue.
It is extremely important to get hospitalized in time (= the German’s success), between critical and serious in need of oxygen it’s just a couple of hours (2-3?).

I think it would be worth to learn from Germany, however, (e.g. in Spain) we have neither enough professionals nor equipment, and it’s too late now.

La Abeja April 19, 2020 5:59 PM


organ damage is secondary due to low blood oxygen, heart failure

Dude you need air.

It is extremely important to get hospitalized in time (= the German’s success), between critical and serious in need of oxygen it’s just a couple of hours (2-3?).

Stop running that 2-cycle generator inside your house. The German ambulances and hospitals are neither necessary nor sufficient to get fresh air to the lungs.

myliit April 19, 2020 6:05 PM

@Freezing_In_Brazil, MarkH


‘And it’s backed up by the echo chamber, so, you know, say, Rush Limbaugh. Science is one of the four corners of deceit, along with the media, academia — I forget one of the others, but they’re the four corners of deceit.’

Political establishment? That would be the case from my point of vantage.“

I found your Chomsky quote here at Breitbart: and it goes on to conclude:

“… [Chomsky] added, “I don’t suggest that he’s [Trump] anything like Hitler. Hitler had an ideology, horrible ideology, not only massacring all the Jews and 30 million Slavs and the Roma, and conquering much of the world, but also an internal ideology: The state, under control of the Nazi Party, should control every aspect of life, should even control the business community. That’s not the world we’re in. In fact, it’s almost the opposite, business controlling the government. And as far as Trump is concerned, the only detectable ideology is pure narcissism. Me, that’s the ideology. As long as I am [Trump is] smart enough to keep serving the real masters[2], pour money into the pockets of the very wealthy and the corporate sector, and they’ll let you get away with your antics.”

MarkH wote regarding Limbaugh’s [1] four corners of conceit:

“ Perhaps you [SLF] misunderstood … Chomsky didn’t mean that those institutions are pillars of deceit, but rather that authoritarian demagogues (and their armies of enablers) incessantly claim that such institutions are deceitful, because they are terrified of the risk that people will learn truthful information.”

Also 8 September 2010

“ Science scorned

The anti-science strain pervading the right wing in the United States is the last thing the country needs in a time of economic challenge.

“The four corners of deceit: government, academia, science and media. Those institutions are now corrupt and exist by virtue of deceit. That’s how they promulgate themselves; it is how they prosper.” It is tempting to laugh off this and other rhetoric broadcast by Rush Limbaugh, a conservative US radio host, but Limbaugh and similar voices are no laughing matter.

There is a growing anti-science streak on the American right that could have tangible societal and political impacts on many fronts — including regulation of environmental and other issues …”


“Mar 16, 2020 at 12:02 AM

In 2013, Rush Limbaugh opined that government, academia, science and the media constitute the “the four corners of deceit.” Now, we find these pillars of our society are of paramount importance.

We need science to inform our thinking, as well as engineer novel treatment and prevention strategies. We need academics to provide sober assessment of the facts, media to communicate these facts in a fashion free of agenda, and government to act on these facts and implement strategies designed to keep us safe.

Those of us of open mind now know that we cannot rely on our president to provide us with the best information to confront current challenges. However, this is not to say we are rudderless. Heed advice from state and local officials, and health professionals communicating through print and television.

Most importantly, implement changes in your behavior designed to mitigate the spread of the virus. We the people, aided by key pillars of our society so denigrated by Limbaugh, will weather this storm. …”

[2] “real masters” presumably doesn’t include Trump’s loyal base. For example,

… [Noam Chomsky:]“ You cut back on pollution constraints, on auto emission regulations, what happens? People die of pollution, of mercury poisoning. The waters are poisoned. And the world, it goes, is facing disaster. You’re accelerating the disaster. As I said, even in the February 10th budget, while cutting back on protection against diseases in the midst of a raging pandemic, increases funding for fossil fuel production, which is going to destroy us all. Of course, a lot more money for the Pentagon and for his famous wall. But that’s the world we’re living in — here, not everywhere. As I said, the Asian countries have been acting sensibly. New Zealand actually seems to have killed it also. Taiwan is doing very well. In Europe, Germany has maybe the lowest death rate in the world, Norway, as well. There are ways to react.

And there are ways to try to destroy everything — what President Trump is leading, with the support of the Murdoch echo chamber, Fox News and others. And amazingly, this conjuring act is working. So, with one hand, you raise your hand to heaven: “I’m the chosen one. I’m your savior. I’m going to rebuild America, make it great again for you, because I’m the servant. I’m the loyal servant of the working class,” and so on. Meanwhile, with the other hand, you’re stabbing them all in the back. And to carry this off is an act of political genius. You have to recognize that serious talent is involved, whether intuitive or conscious planning. It’s devastating. We’ve seen it before. We see it now in dictators, autocrats, sociopaths who happen to get into leadership positions. And it’s now happening in the richest, most important country in world history.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you have this situation in the United States where the economy has been brought to a standstill because of the absolute catastrophe of this pandemic, that people have to isolate — although isolation is a luxury. For so many essential workers, they have to come out into this pandemic and face enormous threat to their own lives. If you can talk about whether you see this pandemic perhaps threatening global capitalism overall or shoring it up, and how the trillions of dollars that are being put into these stimulus packages are going to simply intensify inequality or actually going to help people at the bottom? …”

MarkH April 19, 2020 8:02 PM


Probably I didn’t express myself clearly. It isn’t that the antibody tests have the high error rates typical of medical tests … it’s that some of the tests (there are many vendors) have results that are nearly random.

Beyond a certain threshold, bad information is worse than no information.

Clive Robinson April 20, 2020 12:41 AM

@ vas pup,

Ultraviolet LEDs prove effective in eliminating coronavirus from surfaces and, potentially, air and water:

I’m glad of that.

If you remember back what feels like an eon ago but was in reality just a handfull of days we talked about masks and how conventional NBC masks were bulky and quite strenuous to breath through. I proposed using UV-C tubes (mercury vapor in quartz glass lamps) after a conventional fan and particle filter as a way to make an assisted anti-pathogen mask to be worn at the back like a “fanny pack” with air tubes carrying the steralised air going over the head to a face shield / visor or full face mask.

The problem I had was I did not like the idea of using the tubes because they were fragil (plus you would not want what was inside them getting in your lungs). They also drew alot of electricity thus what you gained in one direction (smaller, lighter, quieter motor) you lost in another (fragil tubes, big batteries).

Speaking of fragility the proposed substrate “silicon carbide” is the second hardest substance to mankind just after diamond (the last time I looked). But the actual LED it’s self was not an issue, mounting and encapsulating would be. With LEDs and their big brothers laser diodes the light comes out from the semiconductor junction not the surface thus they got mounted in a tiny cup shaped electrode with a parabolic profile. The higher the frequency of light the less it wants to go throufh solids, bends, or reflections. Which ment not just issues with the mounts but encapsulant material…

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, you always need to keep your basic rules of physics in mind to sanity check. In this case it’s the old “Energy can not be created or destroyed”. Whilst LED’s are transducers converting electrical energy to light, they are far from perfect thus excess energy becomes heat. Likewise the reflecting mount and encapsulant will convert the higher frequencies of light into heat as well. Engineering the heat out to protect the LED has always been a bit of an issue especially with laser diodes.

I wish the researchers well and hope they can jump the hurdles like champion thoroughbreds as this is going to be a tough race to run.

Also I suspect the pathogen air filter issue for medical breathing masks will not go away any time soon. It might have escaped peoples memory but these potential pandemic pathogens are comming out of Africa, China and other “fresh developing” nations –where the zoonotic interface is raw– more and more frequently. SARS-CoV-2 is not like Ebola where transmission tends to be localised to remote almost 3rd world places it’s “opportunistic” and likes to get “frequent flier miles”. Thus has popped up all over the world and invaded the Western World of high density home / work / transport where conditions are almost ideal for transmission…

Something I suspect those “self apointed elite” living in NYC in their multimillion dollar appartments now feel is “too close to home” as it’s not just on their door step but crossing the threshold worse than any other home invador… They have found that neither the politicians they pay for, or the guard labour the politicians in theory control for them, can stop these lethal “home invadors”.

It’s only high quality education, healthcare, and sanitation for all that can keep the pathogens in check. In fact all the things that those expensive appartment dwellers hate and have fought to cut back on year after year in search of profit. Which they then use to buy more control of politicians, to get more power and thus status… It would be funny to see these self appointed “masters of the Universe” end up in the petrie dish hoist by their own idiology if it did not unfortunately effect the rest of us… H.G.Wells and George Orwell must be sadly shaking their heads.

MarkH April 20, 2020 1:09 AM


Interesting statistics! Where does the Rt value come from?

It just happens that today, I read that several epidemiologists in the U.S. project that when fuller data have been gathered, CFR will come to a little less than one percent.

The number you posted seems consistent with that.

Clive Robinson April 20, 2020 2:38 AM

@ Sancho_P,

As I understood (in a conversation, not a physician myself) the kidney and other organ damage is secondary due to low blood oxygen

It’s what “sepsis” and the “clinical shock” that leads into it are all about.

It’s a long time since I was taught this but “clinical shock” is a “catch all term” that covers what the four main causes of shock do not. One of the four is “Hypovolemic shock”, if you look it up you will see it defined as,

    Hypovolemic shock happens when there isn’t enough blood in your blood vessels to carry oxygen and vital nutrients to your organs. This can be caused by severe blood loss, for example, from injuries.

It’s important to note that whilst shock is frequently due to low blood preasure, the actual cause of the shock is the inability of the circulatory system to deliver the bodies “metabolic needs” that is “oxygen or micronutrients or both”.

In the case of COVID and pneumonia the important point is the “not enough oxygen”. Which triggers the bodies automatic systems on the assume it’s haemorrhaging blood and thus it takes compensatory action. Which can look like “Cardiogenic shock” which the lack of oxygen or the stress arising from it can cause.

The other problem is when you get a pathogen causing shock, the pathogen can get into the blood supply and cause “septic shock”. This is true for the primary and secondary infections arising from immuno-compromise.

But even if “septic shock” does not occure without sufficient “oxygen and nutrients” the outcome of “organ failure” happens and then your body follows the same sepsis path to DIC and death.

Curious April 20, 2020 2:41 AM

Covid-19 related

I wonder if the apparent lack of preparedness for a pandemic in countries, especially in not having stockpiled enough personal protective equipment, might be some old plan of relying on ‘an idea’ of ‘herd immunity’ among countries. This imo, if plausible, would be bad, if the “strategy” of ending up with herd immunity was thought to be only gained by doing the least to fight a virus spread.

And today as society seem to indicate that such is not ok in having seen a faltering health care system and not the least, lots of deaths; even if the “terrible” part of herd immunity with all the deaths seems to be unacceptable by people, I can’t help but wonder if just maybe the whole effort done to fight the pandemic was crippled long time ago in thinking that ‘herd immunity’ was to be a thing. Even worse if such thinking somehow was ruled by concerns for primarily the economy, as being more important than fighting a pandemic, because then ‘herd immunity’ would make even less sense if ‘herd immunity’ was not even real as a terrible concept in having a virus roam around.

Only yesterday a (retired?) UK doctor pointed out that herd immunity is a thing in medicine, as if dismissing the concept not being a terrible thing that I think it is, and he spoke about vaccinations would be a part of the herd immunity idea which makes the idea of ‘herd immunity’ seem more sane, but I don’t think this doctor fully understand how inappropriate it is to just either do little, or not enough, or simply waiting for ‘herd immunity’ to be a thing in a population by letting the virus roam around.

I am reminded of this local commercial for this cheese product: “Popular isn’t what you become, it is what you are!” And so I would say, sort of in the similar fashion; that ‘herd immunity’ isn’t something you simply acquire, it is something you have.

Another thing that irks me is this notion that just maybe, immunity maybe won’t be a thing, or immunity not lasting long enough. In that case, ideas of ‘herd immunity’ becomes an even crazier concept imo, if the virus is just let roaming the population.

lurker April 20, 2020 3:38 AM

@MarkH: Rt came from our PM herself in that linked speech, or her boffins calculated it for her, I don’t see how to quickly derive it from the figures at .

With a population ~4.8M the total deaths = 12 might be described as a statistical blip; all could be charitably described as frail elderly; and includes 1 death not in hospital where Covid19 was detected post mortem.

Clive Robinson April 20, 2020 3:42 AM

@ MarkH, Lurker,

It just happens that today, I read that several epidemiologists in the U.S. project that when fuller data have been gathered, CFR will come to a little less than one percent.

The CFR is as some are now realising fairly irrelevant during an infection.

The reason is the disparities between “known cases” which is small and “unknown cases” which could be much much larger than expected.

A test on blood from all blood donors in a European nation indicated a very high rate of community infection. When you then alow for upto 88% of a similar age range cohort being unsymptomatic during their infection found from a NYC cohort of maternity cases, you get to understand why we have absolutly no idea of what the community infection rate and numbers infected are. With other studies showing more than 6% do not seroconvert (develop antibodies) it becomes clear that we will probably never know or even get close to the true community infection rate and numbers.

There are only two things we kind of know.

1, Hospital cases.
2, Excese deaths.

From this we know that the “deaths in community” far exceed “Confirmed COVID deaths” that occured in hospital.

Thus projecting hospital based CFR to community is not realistic.

All we’ve kind of worked out is that with good hospital care available the community CFR might be lower than 0.25% and without healthcare in the West as higher than 5.4%. What it might be when we include “poverty” and “slum” factors in, could be much higher or lower, we just do not know.

What is not much talked about for various “blaim the victim” issues by politicians and the MSM is that aside from age the two factors that most effect you are,

1, Your genetics.
2, Your environment.

The most obvious genetic factor that is out there is 1/3rd being women 2/3rds being men. The next one which is being actively avoided is your ability to generate Vitimin D. This is directly related to your skin tone and the hours of sunlight and how strong it is you get. Thus if you have dark skin and live in high latitudes your vitimin D levels will be low and you will be immunocompromized no if buts or maybes and I don’t believe it should not be talked about for “PC” reasons, because people are dying because it’s not being discussed.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus derived from bats that have a fast response immune system compared to humans, for the virus to survive endemically in bats it must therefore be able to defeate a bats immune system. The human immune system is thus, even when in the best of shape, not realy upto that level of replication. Thankfully for around 4/5ths of people it’s virulence is actually quite low, asymptomaticaly so in what may turn out to be the vast majority of community infections. As far as I’m aware in all COVID-19 admitions to hospital and subsequent death there is always a chronic comorbidity that is genetic or environmental in origin and what kills the unfortunate person is not the virus but complications in the immune system or secondary infections arising from a compromised immune system.

As you have no control on your base genetics, and frequebtly little or no control over your environment “blaim the victim” for what is very deliberatel mislabled “life style choices” is very much a highly undesirable cover up by certain people.

For instance high intake of simple carbohydrates is known to significantly impare your immune system as well as causing high blood preasure and type II diabeties, which appear to be the top two comorbilities in COVID… Nearly all processed foods are high in simple carbs and salt, low in protien and fat, as a result of deliberate behaviours by both the food industry and Big Agro.

Trying to buy food without these nutrient distortions is difficult unless you have the time, knowledge and access to take raw ingredients and cook them yourself. If you look around the environment where those low on the socioeconomic ladder have to live, raw ingredients are virtually unavailable, and the ability to cook them even if you could get them difficult due to “slumlords”. As for the time to cook, where do you get that when wages are so depressed you have to work two or even three jobs just to pay the rent and buy the cheapest processed food available because that’s all you can afford…

Wesley Parish April 20, 2020 3:46 AM

@Clive Robinson, Re: ultraviolet LEDs, laser diodes, heat extraction

Why not have an airway shaped like a rectangle with two curved reflecting sides, the bottom and the top, and have a heat sink over the top with the ends grounded on the LED side and the other side, or just have LEDs on both sides, staggered of course … (I am assuming this situation describes an air filter sitting on top of a face mask with the airway going over the head. For internal airways on an aircraft, you could use the heat sinks as localized heating for heat-sensitive avionics and electronics.)

Just my 0.02c, don’t spend it all at once. 🙂

MarkH April 20, 2020 5:42 AM


For what country/region/town have you found reliable excess deaths data?

Like any other numbers related to the epidemic, death statistics must be interpreted with great care.

Some examples:

  1. Covid deaths at home might not be counted as such, because too-rare virus tests not being used on the dead.
  2. When co-morbidities are severe (advanced cancer or heart disease, for example) it may be a guess or subjective call whether that or the Covid infection was the cause of death.
  3. A person who tests positive for the virus, but has a mild or asymptotic case, might develop pneumonia from a different cause — probably rare, but elderly folks can develop pneumonia quite easily from many causes; death could incorrectly be assigned to Covid.
  4. In “hot spots,” numerous emergency calls have left people dead because no ambulance was available to dispatch. For such reasons, a count of excess deaths will include people who weren’t infected with Covid (heart attack, for example).

In point of fact, CFR is of enormous interest to epidemiologists, and as data accumulates, the estimates seem to be converging.

snur-pele April 20, 2020 9:08 AM

@vas pup, Wesley, Clive

Re: UV-C

I took to using my old eprom eraser to (probably) disinfect my cotton gloves after shopping.

I can see no (well, one) reason why the same method cannot be used to for disinfection of say a “used” disposable face mask, since there seem to be a shortage of them at some care facilities.

At least it should work if the mask is made of a reasonable uv-resistant material.

However, as an engineer, I applaud ths mobile air filtering idea Clive came up with!

my 1 nanovero
(with apologies for my lingual shortcomings)

Clive Robinson April 20, 2020 9:10 AM

@ MarkH,

Sorry I missed,

France is a next-door neighbor spanning about the same latitudes as Germany, also has an excellent health care system, and in my estimation has a not very different distribution of skin pigmentation … but France has about six times as many deaths per unit of population.

Sone differences to note, first Germanies healthcare is more decentralized and distributed. That is yiur local General Practitioner (GP) / Family Doctor does rather more than “push pills and patients to hospitals”. Some even do levels of surgury “in practice” that would be unthinkable in other countries for political reasons not just in Government but within healthcare. One consequence of this is a very large duplication of equipment. For instance ventilators and other assisted breathing devices, one journalist made a comment about how Germany had as many ventilators as the rest of Europe… Whilst not true if you look at the WHO figurs normalised to patients it’s stiil quite large.

France however is much more centralised and suffers from the “economies of scale” problem in medical equipment and their number of ventilators and emergency care capabilities. They have been paired back to the point of only just being capable of coping in normal times. It’s the same problem but worse in the UK.

Of Britain, France and Germany, the ethnic make up is very divers in Britain, with something like half the actual population being three generations or less from other nations according to one set of statistics that popped up dueing Brexit. France although less diverse has quite a few “enclaves” where people of other ethnicities are kept in near squalor on the out skirts of major cities. With no real hope of finding jobs or lifting thenselves out of such conditions. Which is hardly supprising when you realise the number of graduates from traditional French middle class backgrounds could not get work in France due to “labour laws” so they moved to other EU nations including Britain where they could get work. An option not realy open to those in the enclaves… If you want to no more about the enclaves there is a fair amount online due to the fact they were major centors of social unrest including rioting.

Untill “Mummy Merkel” the ethnic make up of Germany was very polarised. A friend who has a wife of South Anerican descent who can speak English, French, German, Italian Portuguese, Spanish as a “natural speaker” found the two years she spent in Germany doing translation for the Government very disquieting, not only were neo-nazi entities prevelent, she found her self being stared at with hostility pretty much where ever she went… For her even though she has no love for the Turks, she realised that with those in Germany being burned out of their homes it would not be long befor she made it onto somebodies target list… As she said herself at the time Germany is no place for a brown face, so don’t get a suntan”. Similar is true of the old Russian Republics and across to the North West including most of the Nordics. I happened to be in Sweden in 2000 (without my red beard) on an EU funded course. It’s a country I very much like, but some of the other students had come from the south of Europe and they were stared at even in the heart of Stockholm that was in the middle of hosting a “Tall Ships” stop over.

Whilst “Mummy Merkle” invited refugees in, they were not well received in continental Europe which is why places like Sangatte suddenly became real problems as did Molenbeek on the outskirts of Brussels not that far to the east of Sangatte and an easy train ride from Paris and where the French say the majority of the terroists that attacked Paris either originated from or lived there at some point. The population of Molenbeek itself, is now around 100,000 it’s one of the most densly populated places in Europe and it has a very greate deal of social problrms and is almost a ghetto. Back when Paris was attacked the population was officialy around 94,000 but bovody realy knew the trues number and nobody in the country cared to know. It was an “out of sight out of mind” sinkhole for “the dregs of society… Whilst already impoverished and overcrowded to the point of “slum living” in several places, crime was high as were ethnic tensions and employment so low that most considered it non existant. But like many bad things the population thus squalor has further increased by around 1/4 in the last decade. The population is around 40% muslim abd mainly “itinerant” and very unpopular since the Paris attacks. Just after the Paris attacks the authorities finally decided to act and did door to door searches and investigations around a 1/4 of the population fell under suspicion for terrorist connections. Although the number got whittled down I’ve been told unofficialy that there are more terrorist suspects in Molenbeck than there are in the whole of Britain…

Whilst I do not know, I would expect the Muslim populus of Molenbeck due to their religious and social practices and the extreamly high population density to be or become a COVID-19 epicenter as the SARS-CoV-2 virus would find trivialy easy transmission paths, especially as Ramadan is in the process of getting going…

If you look at Beligium’s figures what we have so far will give you things to think about…

Oh and one study there indicates that community infections could easly be 70-90 times the recorded hospital cases etc.

As for figures on excess deaths you can get very reliable ones for the UK from the National Audit Website, along with graphs etc that are fairly easy to interpret.

One thing to note, a person who dies of a heart attack whilst not being COVID infected, is still killed by COVID if the formally available resources are nolonger available or so constrained as to be unavailable in time… Figures in the UK are showing it is taking upto six hours for ambulances to turn up to quite genuine life threatining emergancies vastly reducing survival rates[1]. Likewise those who don’t even call out of fear of either getting COVID or not being seen due to COVID. Such “needless deaths” are starting to make serious news in the UK, which is not helped by the fact BoJo was given “VIP Service”…

But I’ve mentioned befor “Death Swap” lets say you have cancer that has now become one or more bone metastasis. Even just a few years ago they would have said prognosis, 2 weeks to 18 months which was the average time that somebody in that condition finally succumbed to it. Well things have moved on, even though the Drs know you are going to die chemotherapy can improve your life expectance greatly sometimes by more than double and in one or two cases help you beat it.

If COVID stops your treatment then you will die a lot earlier even though you don’t have the infection. But what if it’s canceled because you are infected? Or if you die wery much earlier than expected?

All of these deaths are in all honesty caused by COVID infections and real life of people has been swapped for profit etc. It’s our failure to ensure we were sufficiently prepared with that all important “excess capacity” that “economies of scale” has robbed us of that has given profit at cost of life, COVID is just the path by which it has happened. People have been warning about pandemics quite seriously since the 1980’s. People have been warning that proto-pandemics have been getting steadily more frequent. It just happens to be SARS-CoV-2 that it has happened on. It will happen again and again with incrrasing frequency unless we change our aproach to life on this planet it is currently the “all eggs in one basket” or if you prefer “We are all in the same canoe”. In either case we do not need certifiable madmen busily making holes in the bottom as fast as they possibly can for their sole gratification. Which when you step back a bit you will see is our current state of play…

As I’ve pointed out in the past “nature” does not do “economies of scale” that way, nature after many many millennium has stuck with “excess capacity” as the tried and tested path. That is it does not trim it’s sails for light winds, it ensures there is ample resilience for foul weather, so the mast does not snap with just a little squall, but hangs in robustly even for a hundred year storm (which are also becoming way more frequent). The reason nature does this is it gives any given species the robustness to survive the expected lean times, whilst prospering in the good times.

The problem with “central” and “economies of scale” as a philosophy the neo-liberals hold as a mantra is that it makes things overly fragile even in the very best of times… But they care not because they have “hit and run” leaving the resulting mess for others to deal with.

If we survive SARS-CoV-2 as I think we probably will, as I don’t think it’s an existential threat (but don’t hold me to that 😉 Whilst the majority will think “we dodged a bullet there by the skin of our teeth” the neo-liberals will see it as proof that there is still excess capacity in the system that must be trimed right back… Because they see it as “theft from their pocket”, which is a compleatly alien mind set to over eight tenths of the population. Whilst it gets called “not leaving money on the table” in reality it’s a very very short term “slash and burn” policy that has absolutly no sustainability in it hence the old “Corporate Raider” epitaph and others a lot less polite.

The neo-liberal view point sees no utility in Security, Robustness or stability, in fact the very opposit, they smell profit in as much chaos as they can create, they desire it to “pick up cheap and sell high” anything that they can shift quickly. The joke of it was when little guys tried to do the same with loo rolls and masks. That was not playing the game as they were stealing from the neo-liberals “birth right” so political preasure was started, then anyone who had taken sensible precautions was branded a “Dirty Horder” or worse for “stealing” from those to stupid or too authoritarian following to realise it was their own fault they had not prepared. They are the same sort of people who don’t have pensions or any plans for when they have to stop work, and their mantra is “It’s not my fault” something we’ve been hearing rather to much of recently as certain people try to rewrite their culpability out of the history books.

Whilst I would be the first to admit you can not see every eventuality so you can not “specifically” prepare for them, somethings happen frequently enough or in a sufficiently broad way you can make reasonable predictions. Like the flu shot the choice at the end of the day is the individuals choice, but it is also their responsability to not just live or die by that choice but also effect the lives of others sometimes many others.

It’s why I mention “Individual-v-Societal, rights and responsabilities”. You can not expect to live your life with no regards to others untill something goes wrong and then blaim those others when they in turn ignore you, even small children get to understand this fairly quickly. As adults we should be fully cognizant of this unless we are in that slightly less than one fifth of the population that either have no empathy or are sociopaths or worse.

[1] I mentioned a little while ago that I ended up flatlining twice in A&E Resusc after colapsing in a super market. What I perhaps did not make clear was that I spent two hours on my back on the cold stone floor because the ambulance service even though told it was a “Heart attack” decided to not bother responding appropriately. As one senior cardiologist pointed out I should have been dead and it was just pure luck I got to A&E very much just in time because I was well well outside the “golden hour”.

Nik April 20, 2020 9:28 AM


Broken Toe? Ouch! I once wheeled the trash can out to the curb wearing slippers, ran over my little toe an broke it, the day before a very anticipated weeklong class in the field. with walking. Never had time to go to the doctor, so I was in for a week of misery.

I think you had the virus. two months ago, the symptoms list HAD to include fever and cough, respiratory distress and such. Well, 8 days after air travel, I fell ill, more ill than I had been in years. But it was more of sore throat and I’m exhausted. I had shortness of breath for two days, was sick for 2+ weeks. Used oxygen at home for those days, worked well – also took keflex to prevent secondary infections [1]. My wife got the same thing. 8 days after I fell ill.
A guy who works or more ( remotely) also fell ill and had incosisten symptoms – however that being weeks later, his doctor was convince of COVID-19 but said he’s not sick enough for a test.

No to minimise your illness, I just look at similar patterns in others. also help me empathize with others. I do worry when regular posters do not post for a while, always glad to see them back again – @SpaceLifeForm and others.

[1] And really, the cost of my equipment and supplies, is less than what it would have costed to go to the hospital or even see a doctor. Also being ~1h or so away from the nearest hospital puts me outside the golden hour….

Nik April 20, 2020 10:57 AM

@clive: posted while posted and him talking about the goldenhour while talked about it is that just coincidence?

Now I grew up in Germany[1], by the french border, so I have a few thoughts bout the above. I think, in short, it’s about social interactions.
For instance, we all know how italians greet each other with hugs and a kiss on the cheek. I have seen that happening quite a bit. But French people are socially close as well. Germans, not so much. one is much more reserved there, fewer hugs, no kisses and more social distancing. There are fewer multi-generation homes in Germany as well.
Plus, Germans follow any official order[2] law and rule. Including taxes[3]; this causes rise to a big bureacracy. Ouch.

Germany depends and depnded on foreign labor. After WW2 most productive males were dead, severley injured or in captivity. Turkish people helped with the rebuild and labour…
Same thing now with the harvest; Romanians are working on the fields. And Germany owes gratitude to them. As I remember it was a peaceful coesitence.

right-wing activity was not a problem, when I grew up, it was the contrary. The RAF was battling the state. And lost.
This changed profoundly when “Mummy Merkle” invited refugees in without asking the people. This led to financial expenditures, media outrage and a massive shift to the right. A lot of the refugees got put up in small towns, causing issues. Since I had left 25 yrs ago things have really changed.

Another thing I remember is that a lot of my peers wanted to become doctors, so much so that in order to study it ( It was free, [4]) you had to have a really good GPA and take a special exam! Medizinertest. This is a reason why Germany has a lot of really good docs.

My 80+ year old mother has cancer, had surgery, is getting radiation and pills.
And had diabetis and overweight[5]. She is in the top risk category. I’m quite worried.
However the health care system is excellent.

[1]Among other places like Spain, those were wonderful warm years and it too me 4 years to be able to deal with the cold again

[2] That’s why police pull you over by going in front of you and you follow them. They also have few car chases, since they read the plate and then wait at your home, not to endanger the rest of the people. This follow the rules things has its downsides as we have seen in the 1930’s to 1945 – something that is taught very deeply in school, lest history repeats itself. Which it seems bound to anyway.

[3] As my father once said when I asked him if he minds paying taxes, he said not at all, he’d like to pay a million in taxes, provided that his tax rate of 50% does not change. Took me a bit go get the reason behind that when I was 7. And they have a history of being more fiscally responsible. Fuel and car taxes are reserved for automotive purposes, not like in CA where that money is being diverted to the city and the roads are crap. But Thus, Germany does not expect to be broken by the pandemic, fiscally.

[4]Univerities are no longer free. Expect a profound shift.

[5] Many people her age are obese, this is due to the food shortages when growing up, butter was very hard to come by, so when things got better in the 1950s people started binging. One of her ways of showing love is by cooking awesome meals. That I miss…

Miquel April 20, 2020 11:13 AM

I generally agree with your assessment. And I’m not dismissing the danger of this virus. In fact, I am in the at-risk category (not by age, though). But it’s not just the Stanford study, there are several plus many others in the making, and you can’t just dismiss them all. Yes, some show smaller figures, but virtually all show the real infection rate is many orders of magnitude higher, and therefore fatality rates several times lower.

The question they raise is whether it was the right approach to shut down the whole world, causing total devastation for possibly a decade to come? Was it data-driven? In the beginning, the Chinese approach was justified because it was something completely new. But by the time the world shut down, there was a lot of data available – including a tin-can Petri dish called Diamond Princess.

And we are missing some essential points though.

  • Respiratory viruses cannot be contained. You cannot contain what is non containable. Eventually the Asian countries will give up and nature will take its course.
  • WHO was of the same opinion in 2009 with H1N1

“Scientific research based on mathematical modelling shows that restricting travel would be of limited or no benefit in stopping the spread of disease. Historical records of previous influenza pandemics, as well as experience with SARS, validate this.”

Why would they think otherwise now, especially when Sars-COV-2 is several times more contagious.

  • The whole point of the lock downs was to PROLONG the epidemic, so as not to overwhelm the hospitals. The number of deaths would remain the same, and we were told this from the beginning.
  • The hospitals have not been overwhelmed (with the exception of a few hot spots). Instead, 50% of beds are empty and people are dying at home of heart attacks, too scared to go to the hospitals.

  • There will not be a safe and effective vaccine any time soon. Whoever thinks otherwise is naive. And whoever rushes to get an experimental shot is plainly stupid. Vaccine-induced enhancement is a real concern, and even Fauci warned about it. I believe Dengue was discussed here before. I live in the Maldives, and in 2016 I was hospitalized with severe dengue hemorrhagic fever. It was such a horrible experience that I actually contemplated getting the dengvaxia vaccine. You’re probably familiar with the dengvaxia mess in Philippines. Over 600 people mostly children have died.

Therapeutics and susceptibility is a separate discussion, and you are perfectly right about vit D, micronutrients etc. (you were probably referring to melanin not melatonin). It’s finally becoming obvious that ventilators were killing thousands of people, that excess O2 is toxic and CO2 is anti-inflammatory. I think you also mentioned the iron lung in a previous post, as a better alternative.
Luciano Gattinoni, in Germany, says that one nearby hospital has a 0% mortality rate from the virus (avoiding the “standard ventilation protocol”), and another has a 60% rate. This disease needs to be treated according to physiology as well, not only by protocol.

MarkH April 20, 2020 12:24 PM


I think it plausible, that the present economic collapse could contribute to the triggering of armed rebellion, or war between countries.

Whilst it would be reasonable to attribute any consequent deaths to the pandemic, counting them in the CFR would be absolutely contrary to the definition of that measure.

The same goes for the knock-on effects of hospital saturation.

If you found solid numbers for excess death information (not funeral director anecdotes), please pass them along.

Miquel April 20, 2020 12:38 PM


EuroMOMO published up to Week 15.

The french institute of statistics also released their data:

There is excess mortality. But

  • first peak, 2016; nobody noticed anything
  • second peak, 2018; nobody noticed anything
  • third peak, 2019; nobody noticed anything
  • fourth peak, 2020; …

Obviously it is still early, but at the moment it looks like peak four represents fewer cumulative excess deaths than peaks one and two, under the curve.

La Abeja April 20, 2020 12:43 PM


solid numbers for excess death information (not funeral director anecdotes)

Surely you don’t mean the life insurance contracting and murder-for-hire statistics reported by the Oddfellows of the SOA and CAS?

Women live longer than men, which is probably not true because women are “disappeared” more often than men, and the ex-husbands of the dead draw their retirement while they are alive on paper only.

Freezing_in_Brazil April 20, 2020 12:44 PM

@ Clive

Contrary to what many think most of us don’t even use a smallish petcentage of our lungs when we are just sitting around etc. Thus shallow breathing, so you might not even get the virus particles into the lower lung where it does the most damage…

Also hot dry air might be too much for the virus to be viable for very long.

Thank you. Now you got me a little more worried, cause I been doing deep breathing exercises in order to cope with so much stupidity I read and hear around both the web and the my immediate environment. 🙂

As to hot air, I agree. Down here in my neck of the woods we’re entering the cooler season (18 C as I type – although dry air is guaranteed), so I’ve no reason to be happy about it either.

I’d like to hear your thoughts (as well as others), if possible, on the importance of estimating the real weight of co-morbidities in the evolution of the disease – in the way I’ve tried to sketch above – when it comes to the probability of dying (not that I’m specially afraid of dying – I’m not, but I think I have a great deal of value to be realized yet.)

@ MarkH

I really appreciate your thoughts on my reporting and the current world wide state of affairs.


Freezing_in_Brazil April 20, 2020 12:53 PM

Ps: I see my post came out with a few typos/omissions. I try hard not to mistreat the glorious English language, so I beg you please cut me some slack. 🙂

dbCooper April 20, 2020 1:18 PM

Article: “The Erosion of Deep Literacy”

I found it a thought provoking read.

George Will, columnist at Washington Post, reviews the article here:

“Garfinkle’s essay — mental calisthenics for a confined nation — deserves at least the grudging gratitude of even the most egalitarian Americans. It requires what it describes — deep literacy — and might be a spur to binge reading.”

Clive Robinson April 20, 2020 1:31 PM

@ Miquel,

The whole point of the lock downs was to PROLONG the epidemic, so as not to overwhelm the hospitals. The number of deaths would remain the same, and we were told this from the beginning.

If the latter is true –deaths remain the same– then the former –not overwhelm hospitals– would not matter, thus the lockdown process would be pointless.

The purpose of “flatening the curve” is multifold,

Firstly health care does reduce deaths. Curently about half who end up on ventilators survive not die. Likewise those who are serious enough to make it into hospital, health care saves around 2/3rds who would otherwise die currently[1].

Medical intervention if put in place early reduces the mortality rate from an estimated over 5.4% to an estimated O.5% or less. Thats an ~ an eleven times difference, which to me does not appear trivial, but very worth while.

Which brings us back to,

The question they raise is whether it was the right approach to shut down the whole world, causing total devastation for possibly a decade to come?

The answer is effectively “NO” but the reasoning is more important.

As I’ve noted befor Nations and States that are effectively islands can control their borders more easily than those that are landlocked to other jusisdictions. Thus as the US finds with it’s Southern Border with Mexico it’s very difficult to keep people out when they “want in” thus “health migration” will happen. In fact Canada should seriously consider a hard lockdown on it’s South and West borders with the US as I can easily see “health migrants” wanting out of the death trap figures the US currently has to the lesser figures of Canada. If they actually think about it, they will realise it won’t get them any safety advantage, but that’s generally not how people react. They run from a storm into a fire because the storm is more viscerally frightening and it’s “the monkey brain” reacting rather than the human brain thinking that drives them.

As demonstrated by Asian and Antipodean “island juresdictions” it is possible with low case numbers to keep the economy functional in a nation whilst operating a strong “Track, Trace, Test and Confine” policy at quite moderate cost. It’s only when you don’t jump on it hard in the early stages that it goes wrong as Italy, Spain, France, UK and US have found out.

The purpose of the lockdown should be to in effect “rewind the clock”… That is reset the infection rate down to as low a figure as possible which was the effective starting point for those successful “island juresdictions. in effect wind the clock back and get the economy going and prevent new infection waves by using strong “Track, Trace, Test and confine down to a highly localised number of people that won’t break the economy by them being in quarantine. However border lockdowns with enforced quarantine of three weeks for people who “cross in” should be in place as a minimum. That enables other nations to do what NZ has done and Taiwan started with.

With regards vaccines I was shocked a few days ago by a realy wreckless idea for human trials. In essence “Pay a bunch of young people to be deliberately expossed and see if a prototype vaccine can be reliably tested and save months of the required test time…

[1] It’s hard to work out as of confirmed cases generally recover two to three weeks befor those who are going to die do so.

Freezing_in_Brazil April 20, 2020 1:44 PM

@ MarkH

By viral load, do you mean the amount of virus in the patient’s system, or the amount of external exposure to virus possibly leading to infection?

Pardon the delay. I had skipped this post, i’m sorry.

I was thinking along the lines of external exposure? Anyway, I think it would be helpful to consider the overall effect of both variables expressed in your question. I’m really not sure at this time. I’m trying to come up with a way to even articulate my thoughts on the issue, and hopefully express it mathematically. Somehow I think viral load (though Clive has already touched the argument here)is being overlooked.

MarkH April 20, 2020 2:03 PM

Economic Effects of the Pandemic, Great and Small

Mister, would you like some free crude?

My present readout for West Texas Intermediate, which seems to be the most cited benchmark for U.S. crude oil production, is now at $2.75/bbl.

In the wee hours of the morning, I was thinking of writing about how it had crashed through $15/bbl, for the first time in this century. Obviously, to find less than $3/bbl it’s necessary to look farther back in time than that …

Also obvious, is that this is panic selling and some rebound may be expected.

However, what has triggered this earthquake in the markets, is fear that the U.S. will have completely filled its oil storage capacity within a few weeks. Demand is that far behind production.

Ouch … WTI now reading $1.50/bbl (the website I use is usually near real-time, but seems to be running behind, presumably a consequence of the madness in trading).

As of the weekend, Brent (European benchmark) was showing some rebound from the lows of a few weeks ago, in the high 20s … but Russia’s Urals crude was stuck in the low 20s.

All this, despite an OPEC+ agreement to cut production by 9.7 million bbl/day. Though that’s a really big percentage, not only was it too small to match the loss of demand, but in fact oil prices dropped in response to the move, because traders were disappointed by the inadequacy of the cut.

In the U.S., millions of barrels per day more have dropped out from high-cost producers shutting down. But none of it is enough to stem the tide …

To zoom in by a factor of more than 1000X, my own neighborhood is rather sleepy, partly rural, and relatively old (in the formerly industrial northeastern corner of the U.S.).

Of the former “smokestack industries” near to me, only one factory remains in operation. It sits on an extensive parcel of land (though in the middle of a small town), and has the infernal aura typical of such works.

I’ve walked past this factory numerous times, often after midnight, and it was always making its bizarre noises (my impression is that it is very highly automated). Because the process involves melting iron, I have presumed that the cost of shutdown/restart is prohibitive and that the usual regimen is 24/7.

I made this walk a couple of times in the past week, and the factory is eerily silent (save the hum of a giant transformer). The yard (a few hectares in extent), which is usually filled with product stacked to frightening altitude, is mostly empty. I don’t know whether the shutdown is due to some required maintenance, or the economic collapse. Perhaps orders have stopped …

My neighborhood is also a surprisingly busy rail hub, due in large part to containers of international trade goods moving between Atlantic seaports and the rest of the country. There’s still a good tempo, and I don’t watch the trains often enough to get a strong sample. I would say subjectively, that volume seems to be down, but not by as much as 50%.

I find this hard to process, but my latest check (timestamp 2:07:00 PM EDT) shows WTI at $0.19/bbl. That’s almost an hour behind; perhaps trading was suspended. I suppose a few guys have already eaten their handguns.

MarkH April 20, 2020 2:24 PM

A little more on U.S. crude oil …

Commodities are typically traded by indirect mechanisms. The reported collapse is actually in “futures contracts for May delivery”, which expire tomorrow.

The price of these contracts actually went negative today: sellers were paying people to take them, because there are not sufficient customers for the oil in the next 24 hours (the last people “left holding the contracts” at expiration are the actual consumers who will use the oil).

Sometime tomorrow, trading will shift to futures contracts for June delivery, expected to be near $20/bbl. Exceptionally cheap by recent standards, but not free.

Miquel April 20, 2020 3:50 PM


I am not against lockdowns, and I’d probably still support it although the U.N. just announced hundreds of thousands of children will die in 2020 as a consequence of the economic recession.

But they have not been implemented in a sensible manner at all. Especially not letting people be outdoors, which is exactly what ends the flu season every year.

Just a couple months ago, the whole western world was outraged at China chasing people on the streets and locking them in metal boxes. And look what’s happening here now. Your Dr Mike Ryan at the WHO, openly saying “they may have to start entering people’s homes and remove family members affected due to Coronavirus”. This is happening now already. And it’s not by choice.

Indeed, the current practice is to admit everyone symptomatic or asymptomatic. Because the disease can progress rapidly deteriorate within hours. In the beginning of the pandemic, I was faced with a dilemma – since everyone will catch it sooner or later, when would it be best to happen? (I don’t have access to Germany-level healthcare) In the very beginning, when hospitals are not overwhelmed – then you will be a guinea pig for experimental treatments. In the midst – you risk not finding medical assistance because of overcrowded hospitals.
Now there is evidence that the viral load is directly correlated with disease severity. If you are positive with a low viral load, you get admitted and likely put together with other patients in the same room. Your viral load can increase from sharing the same room with them.

Epidemiologists with decades of experience disagree that “Track, Trace, Test” has much benefit at this point. Herd immunity is still the only viable strategy.
And it has been observed that the epidemic follows the same course, regardless of country and whether lockdown measures were imposed or not. There is no exponential growth. The spread of the virus declines after two months, no matter the location or what measures were imposed. It is believed that some degree of herd immunity (probably in the range of 30%) was already reached when the spread starts to decline. This is likely either through asymptomatic immunization by direct exposure, or cross-immunity from other strains of coronavirus.
The 2009 H1N1 pandemic was atypical because it did not affect the old people disproportionately. In 2009 it was shown that older people had antibodies effective against H1N1, because they were exposed in 1957 and 1967 pandemics. More recent studies also support this.

You mentioned that the figures on WorldOmeter are very wrong. I disagree. They are still very relevant, they are just normalized. Most countries still test only the symptomatic cases, and eventually this reflects the true dynamics of the epidemic. The ultimate normalized figures are the fatality numbers, which are trailing the new positives by 1-2 weeks.

MarkH April 20, 2020 7:34 PM


Epidemiologists with decades of experience disagree that “Track, Trace, Test” has much benefit at this point.

To my knowledge, that is literally accurate, but could easily be misunderstood by anyone who doesn’t realize that “at this point” means “right now, today.”

Track, Trace, Test is practically useless in the phase of rapid community spread.

However, for the projected resumptions of economic activity after new case rates have deeply declined, Track/Trace/Test will be indispensable — or perhaps more accurately, Test/Trace/Track.

Because complete elimination of Covid cases from any large territory will be more costly than any state is likely to contemplate (if feasible at all), infections will “pop up” at some background rate. A capable T3 regime just might be sufficiently effective at controlling spread, that some steps in the direction of pre-pandemic life can be sustained without moving backward to full lockdown.

it has been observed that the epidemic follows the same course, regardless of country and whether lockdown measures were imposed or not.

Will you please cite a source for that? I regard this claim with much skepticism.

Although any proportion of population immunity helps, it seems quite clear than under “normal life” conditions, R0 is between 2 and 3, and will perhaps be determined at larger values when all the sub-clinical cases are counted.

Accordingly, at least 50 to 70 percent of people must be immune, to prevent continued case growth under normal life conditions.

In the great majority of countries, I doubt that enough population data is available to make a meaningful estimate of the percentage having acquired immunity.

MarkH April 20, 2020 7:39 PM

PS to Miquel:

I don’t know what Clive will think of “your Dr Mike Ryan.”

If I am correctly informed, Dr Ryan is of a different nationality from Clive; and also a citizen of the European Union, which Clive is no longer.

Clive Robinson April 20, 2020 9:49 PM

@ MarkH,

To maximize your odds of surviving a gun battle, don’t be in one.

My father’s version was,

    The place to be when there is trouble… Is somewhere else.

His emphasis realy was on what some call “situational awareness” or “getting a vibe”, “listening to your sixth sense”, “thinking hinky”, etc. His point being that there are almost always “indicators of trouble” or “something wrong” as “trouble does not come out of nowhere”. Whilst your concious mind may not spot the “tells” your monkey brain will if for no better reason “to send you scurrying up a tree”.

Thus if you spot the “tells” or even just feel a little uneasy, make the choice to modify your behaviour and get out quietly and quickly but without signs of deliberatness or panic.

His viewpoint was further if you overly respond then so what? All you are is “erring on the side of caution” which might cost you time and inconvenience, but importantly not your life etc. It’s a lesson combat soldiers do learn if they live long enough.

I personaly have no idea how often or even when I’ve “over reacted”, but I do know all the times I’ve “under reacted” and when… Because I still have the scars and bone aches and itches[1] to remember them by…

I don’t know how you teach people “the sixth sense” or “feel fey”[2]. But I do know it’s well worth listening to what your body is telling you when you feal even a little uneasy. That is when your gut or the short hairs on the back of your neck are trying to tell you something, it’s important to listen. Look on it as a message from your successful ancestors in lifes game.

Because even in our modern world “life takes no prisoners” if you blunder about you eventually hit a wall or worse.

I’ve been known to say on considerably more than one occasion that,

    There is no such thing as an accident only lack of information or the inability to apply it.

I know it sounds cold or heartless but as far as the laws of physics are concerned the movment of objects under forces is in human terms fully predictable. Thus the question is can you deduce the path of an object in time to take corrective action? The answer is not always “yes”, especially when the object you are trying to avoid has “a mind of it’s own”…

Though I did find out something curious when quite young, which is how to do the seemingly impossible which is run through an open crowd.

The reason is humans normally follow heuristics in crowds. One of which is “maintain direction unless forced to change” and another “pause if in doubt”. Thus if you are moving as little as three times as fast as the crowd as a first approximation you can assume that they are in “fixed positions” therefor “you navigate around them” as you would as if trying to run through a wood or forest. Another heuristic is that crowds “move more slowly in the middle” but that is because they are “densest in the middle” and “have more inwards movment around them” thus “more information to process” so more “doubt to pause for”. The opposit is actually true that is crowds move more rapidly towards their edges, even when an edge is defined by a barrier. You can see this happen if you watch a crowd from above. Put simply a barrier reduces degrees of freedom thus doubt so people pause less and their movment is not just faster but more predictable. Oh and the most important heuristic is “people are lazy” that is why they “go with the flow” or take what looks like “the shortest path” thus doing the opposit has advantages.

All things you need to know if you are designing emergancy exits or crowd flow control mechanisms etc. Importantly because crowds are in theory sentient they “do not flow like water”, that is whilst water has freedom of movment it has no “freedom of choice”.

The “living lesson” is you have the “freedom of choice” to select a path that gives you the maximum “freedom of movment” and it’s usually wisest to do the opposit of others which is “don’t head into a crowd” but “skirt around it”. Which is useful to know if you want to get out quickly or loose people that are following you.

Their objective if they are not sufficiently experienced is to take the shortest path towards you, your best stratagy is to keep as much of the center of the crowd between them and you. Even though your path might be longer towards the edge of a crowd it’s less dense and your progress faster, thus even if you cover twice the ground distance you can still put distance between you and them as you’ve made their “shortest visable path strategy, the slowest moving path strategy” for them.

Experienced manhunters know this so they try to do the opposit which is to try to use the normal desire of people to move directly away via the shortest visable path to drive you into the most blocked path to keep you pinned down. For this to work for them it means they have to somehow “stand out from the crowd” if they are not wearing uniforms then like boats that go against the flow they make much larger than them ripples that stand out.

There is an optimum strategy to deal with this but as they say in all the most annoying accademic teaching books “That is left as an excercise for the reader” 😉 though I’ll give you a hint “they can not herd you if they can not see or recognise you”[3].

Any way “Think hinky listen to your monkey brain and make the choice to stay safe”, and “walk the less traveled path” as wild is not the same as dangerous.

[1] When I mention “bone itches” a lot of people give you a funny look. They are the ones who’ve never had “bad breaks” the sort that remind you when the weather is changing. I don’t think it’s a form of “phantom limb syndrome” because a quick look at the barometer tells you that “change” is happening normally from fair… When I used to sail people thought it odd that I started suddenly doing things whilst the sun was shining, but were as equally supprised when a bit of “dirty weather” like sea fog or squals turned up. Some thought me a “Jonus” that my behaviour attracted the dirty weather, others I was “fey”[2] and the more experienced thought it had a touch of “weather eye”. Me I just know my bones itched as the preasure changed, and my short hairs on the back of my neck went up because my monkey brain had seen “tells” that my concious mind was not, so I’d take a damn carefull look around to see what my concious mind was missing. Thus see the “tells” such as spoting the closing horizon, the change in wave tips, or shadows on the water, diferences in clouds especially hight and shape or even how birds were flying etc.

[2] I’m not sure where “fey” comes from but it still gets used in Scotland. It implies another worldly ability like that of “eleves or faeries” or as the critic John Mason Brown put it “the fey quality was there, the ability to see the moon at midday”, a sense of being more intune with the world or nature than most.

[3] A true story from the “troubles” might give an opposite hint. One of the “known faces” was being forever followed by the security services and it was a thankless task because he never did anything of note other than jink around and wave at his followers when they got to close. Then he started wearing a large dark coat and a pair of those “Micky Mouse Ears” you get for children in Disney Land. This made him very very easy to follow even when he jinked around. Thus his followers fell into the “complacency trap” and started following not the man but the coat, the ears, and the jinky behaviour… Without the hat and coat they could not recognise him except up close, thus their complacency led them to “fall back to a safe distance”. So when he jinked into a shop doorway and the hat and coat jinked out they carried on following the hat the coat and the jinky behaviour… Meanwhile the man had whipped off the hat and disapeared through the shop taking his coat off as he went, got into a waiting car and disapeared off the radar whilst the hat and coat still walked around town, only it was another hat and coat on an acomplice who had been waiting in the shop… Nobody realy knows how long he got away with that little trick, but it took a “set of fresh eyes from London” to spot it and circumvent it because the man had also fallen into the same “complacency trap” and made the mistake of using the same shop too often… Oh and remember the words of the old Mamas and Papas song,

The trick is in the title.

SpaceLifeForm April 20, 2020 10:40 PM

@ Clive

I have always understood that bats basically ignore the viruses they carry. That is, it is not that the immune system is defeated, but that the immune system takes a honey badger approach.

A couple of articles on that angle.



p.s. Border between US and Canada is closed, I believe for at least another week.

MarkH April 20, 2020 11:00 PM


I have (thanks to God) never been anywhere near a combat situation. I have read memoirs describing the strong conditioned responses soldiers soon learn, and their shock and dismay when they see the carelessness of “new guys” coming to the front lines who haven’t yet seen combat.

I understand it as a vigilance applied to all of the senses, a “radar” that warns “this is dangerous.”

A propos of The Troubles, some years back I had a kind neighbor from the Six Counties, who had come to the U.S. in part because authorities had him constantly under the microscope — he had lived very near to, and knew, a famous Provo suspect (I want to say Gerry Conlon, but I don’t trust my memory after so many years).

He told me that he and his son had automatically thrown themselves flat on the ground, at the sound from another of our neighbors shooting at a woodchuck. It’s what they had learned about survival in Northern Ireland.

General Douglas MacArthur had a seemingly superhuman ability to move through combat zones unscratched, somehow knowing where to be and not to be. This provoked burning hatred among some of his staff (his physician, for example) who were obliged to accompany him when he took reckless risks. One recollection described him taking a look at an urban battle from an upper story window, abruptly saying “it’s time to go” and striding out not very many seconds before that room was hit by an artillery shell.

I’ve no idea what it causes it — and I very much doubt whether medical science is ever likely to shed light — but it’s an inherited trait in my wife’s family to have that “war wound” ache in response to changing barometric pressure.

It’s a sad burden for my stepdaughter; many times I’ve seen her crying from the pain. She is, however, an expert forecaster. When she was eight years old, we were out shopping on a beautiful sunny day (in late spring, IIRC), when she announced that there was going to be a thunderstorm. Not simply rain, but a storm.

I usually look at the National Weather Service forecasts once or twice a day, and when I heard her say this, recalled that the forecast was clear for that day.

Well, about three quarters of an hour later, the sky went dark and opened up with a brief — but quite violent — downpour.

Maybe I should encourage her, to take up sailing! 🙂

MarkH April 20, 2020 11:23 PM

@SpaceLifeForm, Clive:

Thanks to SLF for links to interesting reads about how bats came to be exceptional virus reservoirs. A link on the NPR website led me to another story, which has some answer to a question I asked earlier about excess deaths.

The headline conveys the main point: Ecuadorean officials, including the president, say that the official Covid numbers are completely unreliable. Ecuador is in epidemic meltdown, and the statistics have melted too.

In Guayaquil, the worst-hit city, the average monthly death toll is about one thousand; in the first two weeks of April, 6700 deaths were attributed to disease and other natural causes, though the official Covid-19 number is only about 500.

Insufficient testing — a problem distorting Covid death counts in many countries — is certainly a contributor. However, the overload there is extreme, including hundreds of bodies kept in houses, and perhaps hundreds more left on pavements.

In such a situation, it’s not going to be simple to distinguish the effect of medical classification errors from the effect of organizations and systems which have radically failed in overload.

Of course, their case counts must also be in a complete mess, so any inference of CFR from such numbers is worthless.

Clive Robinson April 20, 2020 11:36 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

While not completely inaccurate, there are lots of deaths that have contributing factors but this categorization is being used as “an excuse” for not taking care of the population in general.

The problem is “terms with meaning” in a “professional domain” get reused in another lets say “unprofessional domain”. This was the cause of an argument between @MarkH and myself over “Herd Immunity” which has a professional meaning that only applies to an endemic pathogen that is not “fully novel” in any existant generation thus most certaily does not apply to SARS-CoV-2.

However in the UK “Political Domain” Dominic Cummings know by some as “The unelected brain of BoJo” who fancies himself as a “modeler of note” because he got lucky with an election decided to misuse “Herd Immunity” as a term for a policy of what was effectively “genocide by wildfire infection with a fully novel pathogen” for which the only scientific evidence at the time was a CFR above 5.4%. He was touting it incorectly as the least expensive way out of the pandemic, to politicians who are lets be honest not known for studied rational thinking.

So yes there will if we alow SARS-CoV-2 to survive and become endemic “herd immunity” eventually but common sense tells you that will not happen for three generations of deaths or so. In the mean time you have between that and untramled wildfire spread, a “rate limited” spread which many are confusing with “herd immunity” thanks to political double speak.

Rate limiting also called “flatening the curve” is a technique to keep a process within the capabilities of the resources you process with. In engineering you would say “limit feed stock speed to within acceptable tool ware and energy input”, that is there is a “sweet-spot”. You see this with your car engine, it has an optimal speed to run at, hence the need for gears to keep the engine in that optimal range even though the vehicles speed is changing.

All processes have optimal sweet-spots and they change as things like the cost of electrcity changes or tools become worn. So we measure “productivity” which has different meanings for different people depending on what their objective is which is why you have the “eye diagram” relating production quantity and production cost per item, profit occurs “in the eye” and is most when the two lines are furthest appart.

The same is true for healthcare, the optimum number of cases is not just a function of “through put” it’s also about cost per patient in resources that can not usually be quickly changed[1] such as facilities and trained personnel. Also you have to consider “tool ware” or “burnout” those that drive should know that the faster you run an engine the hotter it gets. They have also might have been told it’s a bad thing to do because it dramatically reducess the life of the engine thus it’s value as an asset significantly[2].

Well what applies to engines also applies to humans they have an optimal running rate that’s around 2/3rds of their maximum rate. If you run them at maximum for even fairly short periods they burn out and both their optimal and maximum rate quickly drops to a much smaller value as they have no reserves left to draw on[3]. This has all sorts of implications that take carefull thought to manage to maintain any real measure of performance in a prolonged crisis.

When you view staff as not just interchangable but disposable as certain large silicon valley Corps obviously do, the workers quickly become “jaded” thus less efficient, but the neo-liberal mantra does not alow for this, thus broken staff with mental health issues arise, which can give rise to workplace hostility and violence neither of which is of any benifit usually.

But that does not stop people in places of power thinking otherwise thus making plans with ludicrous goals.

This is bad enough when issues are “straight line predictable” but when they are expenentialy increasing trouble comes very fast and very hard. Funnily most people don’t tend to realise that “straight line predictable” is a special case and things happening to a power law are actually the norm.

To get round this straight line approximations are made, the most common of which is “cooking times” where you get “X minutes per pound and 1 pound for the oven” it’s actually a two line approximation to the first part of an exponential curve.

[1] The Chinese solution was to do the seemingly impossible, which was build new hospitals and fly in thousands of trained personnel. They could only do this because they had a robust system from having spare capacity in their systems[2].

[2] I know it’s a point I keep making but the neo-liberal view point that is effectively “spare capacity is stealing from our pockets” or more evasively “leaving money on the table” is always going to fail. What neo-liberals don’t explain is that they have a “slash and burn” mentality. That is they do something to draw maximum profit in the first cycle knowing that subsequent cycles have exponentially decreasing profit. They then use the first cycles profit to falsely inflate the value and sell it on befor the second or subsequent cycles shows the true state of affairs. A simple example is buy new plant equipment and excess feed stock both of which are seen as assets. You then run the machines at maximum throughput even though it significantly shortens the life of the plant equipment, you also sell finished stock in a restricted way to artificially raise it’s value which makes it look like another significant asset. Thus on paper the business looks asset rich, when it realy is not. If you’ve ever worked in a business that venture capatlists take an interest you will have seen all sorts of these asset value inflation techniques being used… Not surprisingly investors caught on and became more cautious which is why the venture capatlist market has changed and funding is harder to source. That is “burn rate” is nolonger viewed as a growth indicator of future performance.

[3] For physical activities the burn out and recovery times appear remarkably similar to dehydration and recovery times in the short term. But riding on starvation and recovery times in longer time periods. Thus you get a decreasing sawtooth type curve. The same sort of sawtooth curve applies to mental activities but here the curve is very much shortened to about one hour peaks in a four hour window with a need to shut down for twelve to sixteen hours in every twenty four. Thus an eight hours on eight hours off cycle gives a better through put initially but it plays havoc with body systems after a few days which is why twelve on twelve off or four on four off tend to end up being used with a one day off and one day rotation rest every five to six working days is what you usually end up with depending on where the workers are billited in relation to the work area.

MarkH April 20, 2020 11:43 PM

A Little More About Crude

The website I sometimes look at for oil pricing, I’m now guessing, may have frozen up at 19 cents per barrel (as I reported above) because the software guys made no provision for negative numbers.

The WTI low for Monday was USD -30/bbl.

To make that clear, holders of futures contracts for May delivery were paying up to $30/bbl to parties who were willing to accept those contracts.

Why pay somebody to take the oil? Because nobody has any faith in their ability to sell oil delivered next month, and the holder of a contract is obligated to take delivery of that crude.

Such an obligation may be a crisis, if you will have trouble selling the crude, and don’t have anywhere to store it. Some of the largest storage facilities in the U.S. might be within a week or two of reaching capacity.

SpaceLifeForm April 20, 2020 11:46 PM

@ MarkH

The price of these contracts actually went negative today: sellers were paying people to take them, because there are not sufficient customers for the oil in the next 24 hours (the last people “left holding the contracts” at expiration are the actual consumers who will use the oil).

Storage. Lack thereof.

They are not consumers that will use the oil. They are brokers left holding the bag. They have a contract to take delivery, but they have no place to deliver or store the crude. If they find some facility to deliver it to, they may be charged so much for storage that they net lose money. Refineries and pipeline operators do not want more oil.

It is not going to get any better soon. This is a big factor in the ‘open-it-up’ thinking, to get the economy going so there is more demand. Otherwise, more wells and refineries will have to shutdown.

It looks like the risk is very high to be speculating on oil. I do not see demand growing fast enough the next 4 months to stabilize the market. Even if you lighten up the lockdowns. It’s human nature. Even if they can go ‘back to normal’, they are just not going to immediately do so.

MarkH April 21, 2020 12:05 AM


The U.S. CDC defines “herd immunity” 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.”

Note that this definition makes no reference to whether the disease is novel, endemic, or belongs to any other temporal classification. Certainly, the logic of this definition implies that herd immunity is unlikely to exist at the outset of a novel infectious outbreak, unless immunity exists from causes other than prior exposure to that disease.

Of course, many may not regard the CDC as a professional organization. If you have an authoritative medical reference for a different definition, perhaps you’ll post it on this thread?

I won’t bother any more about this matter, but I wanted to leave the record “straight.”

As an alternative, we are free to follow the formulation described by your ingenious countryman:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

Clive Robinson April 21, 2020 12:35 AM

@ Lurker,

did you actually read the John Rappoport story?

Err no, as I said it was apparently blocked for some reason.

However the use of a search engine pulled up his URL’s and just a fee of those were warning enough, especially when you saw the types of site that were linking to his web pages…

As I said it eas more than sufficient to say “Reader Beware”.

I also kind of assumed that it would be an “adware funded” site, which usually requires cookies and javascript and I don’t do those with unknown sites. It’s not just the malware spyware asspect, it’s the oh so slow load times and the fact it also brings the speed of this mobile phone browser down as well. So to me javascript and cookies very rarely offer me anything I want or even need, infact the opposit is way more true.

lurker April 21, 2020 12:43 AM


fey [adjective]
1. giving an impression of vague unwordliness or mystery;
2. having supernatural powers of clairvoyance;
3. archaic, mainly Scottish, fated to die or at the point of death.
ORIGIN- Old English fæge (in the sense ‘fated to die soon’), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch veeg and to German feige ‘cowardly’.


hopefully not all meanings could apply to your august self…

Clive Robinson April 21, 2020 1:18 AM

@ MarkH, SpaceLifeForm, ALL,

Of course, their case counts must also be in a complete mess, so any inference of CFR from such numbers is worthless.

This has been my assumption from early on in the Italian epidemic.

Two things gave it away, the first is Italians are fairly big on obituaries in printed newspapers that are also online with archives. Thus alowing people to see 12 compleat pages for a weak this year that only had one and a half pages for a month earlier and aboit one and a quater for the same week a year beforehand. Thus simple maths gives about an 8 to 9.6 multiplication or a 7-8.6 times excess deaths.

Likewise town Mayors who get intetnment/cremation certificates from undertakers / morticians were getting 6-12 times those for the same period last year and raising hell about it not just through letters to central government but in the newspapers as well. Whilst “Official COVID figures” were a very small fraction of these excess deaths.

As I’ve been saying for a while the only numbers that are making any verifiable sense are the excess deaths, most of which one way or another can be directly attributable to COVID.

But it’s slightly worse, brcause as the UK’s National Audit Office graphs show this year the annual flu deaths were quite a bit down on the average for the previous five years (the same is true for other countries).

What is noticable on the UK NAO graphs is that for the first part of the year the deaths were flat, then slightly but noticeably declining to then turn into a clearly exponentially rising curve coincident with the official covid Deaths figures only several times larger. Indicating the same likely root cause of COVID. That is it’s not just the quantative excess deaths, but the qualitative shape of the graph giving a clear “smoking gun” held in COVID’s hands.

Whilst real CFR’s might be of use to epidemiologists in years to come, they are not going to get them for by far the majority of infections that are staying in the community and not being recorded in hospitals.

In a very strange way we can be thankful to murderers, because it was their attempts to cover up their crimes that have given rise over the years to the very strict rules about the recording of every internment / cremation with multiple public institutions. Thus we can trust the recorded deaths to be quite accurate in most first and second world nations.

SpaceLifeForm April 21, 2020 3:44 AM

@ Clive

[Shaking head] Cosmic. Mind reading.

I was thinking this too:

When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

If there are not numerous lawsuits filed in the US state of Georgia by noon EDT, I will only be able to conclude that the lawyers have plenty of billable hours these days.

Lawsuits claiming force majeure.

Later today, in other states.

Georgia Governor Kemp is trying to override county/local orders regarding lockdown.

Therefore, everyone can move around freely.

And small businesses can open.

And therefore, small businesses can no longer get Federal government assistance (because, in theory, they are now ‘open for business’). Note there is NO money left for small business at this time.

So, the small business is ‘open for business’. But there are no customers. They (the customers) are going to try to stay home as much as possible. The small business is not making enough money to cover the overhead.

The landlord calls, hey, need some money. Ya got none.

Just because the Governor says one can screw up and get infected, does not mean the citizens will follow the red herring.

In Wuhan, after the lockdown was lifted, everyone was extremely cautious. Some out, all wearing masks.

Most people get it.

The landlord calls, hey, need some money. Ya got none.

The broker calls, hey, when you going pick up this 1000 barrels of crude you wanted?

Trader, ah, well,….

Broker: That I paid YOU to pick up!

Lawsuits claiming force majeure
Lawsuits claiming force majeure
Lawsuits claiming force majeure

Coming to a courthouse^W theatre near you. Zoom! Zoom!

MarkH April 21, 2020 5:20 AM

@Clive et al:

The “blurb” for an excess mortality survey in the NY Times:

At least 26,000 more people have died during the coronavirus pandemic over the last month than official counts report, a review of mortality data in 11 countries shows — providing a clearer, if still incomplete, picture of the toll of the crisis.

Link to the full article:

It’s a nice presentation, with charts, a table, and informed interpretation.

Clive may be particularly interested to read that the England & Wales official Covid death toll is given as 4122, with an estimate of about 4400 additional deaths in excess of the seasonal average. If those were all caused by infection with SARS-Cov-2, it would mean an official undercount of about 50%.

The number of excess deaths from other causes is unknown, and might prove impossible to discover with any accuracy. Considering the numbers of people with advanced heart disease, diabetes, and other dangerous illnesses, getting “frozen out” from usual medical care might be very destructive indeed.

In theory, those who claim that Covid-19 is just another flu (or even better, cold) might be enlightened by this article. But they either won’t read it, or if they do will dismiss it as a pack of lies from the bureau-fascist cabal.

Miquel April 21, 2020 5:48 AM


Will you please cite a source for that? I regard this claim with much skepticism.

Prof. Knut M. Wittkowski

You are certainly familiar with him. He publicly made predictions on March 28 (DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.28.20036715). CDC presented actual data on 04-17 confirming the predictions. The full paper can be accessed here and is it updated frequently. Also goes into detail in several video interviews online.

Prof. Johan Giesecke

Senior epidemiologist, former head of research at European CDC, advisor to the WHO. Recent video interview available online. He stated the following:

“- UK policy on lockdown and other European countries are not evidence-based
– The correct policy is to protect the old and the frail ONLY
– This will eventually lead to herd immunity as a “by-product”
– The initial UK response, before the “180 degree U-turn”, was better
– The Imperial College paper was “not very good” and he has never seen an unpublished paper have so much policy impact
– The paper was very much too pessimistic
– Any such models are a dubious basis for public policy anyway
The flattening of the curve is due to the most vulnerable dying first as much as the lockdown
The results will eventually be similar for all countries
Covid-19 is a “mild disease” and similar to the flu, and it was the novelty of the disease that scared people.
The actual fatality rate of Covid-19 is the region of 0.1%
At least 50% of the population of both the UK and Sweden will be shown to have already had the disease when mass antibody testing becomes available

Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel also released a paper, but he is less of an authority in this field. It can be easily found online though.

Miquel April 21, 2020 6:25 AM


There is significant excess mortality from SARS-CoV-2, no doubt. Countries have failed to protect the elderly. Especially they failed to protect the care homes. A new study estimates half of Europe’s COVID-19 deaths ocurred in nursing homes.

One thing to mention, during the lock downs the accidents/unintentional injury deaths nearly dropped to zero. So this gap may be filled by SARS-CoV-2 fatalities, without an apparent increase in the overall mortality.

Regarding the other phenomenon, of people not seeking medical care any more for fear they might catch the virus in the hospitals – this might have actually saved lives. Medical errors are considered to be the third leading cause of death.

Clive Robinson April 21, 2020 6:45 AM

@ Ergo Sum,

Yes, the squid is a very good bait in salt water.

How about where “Vampire Squid” hang out, I hear it can get a little salty in their environment. 😉

Clive Robinson April 21, 2020 9:33 AM

@ snur-pele,

You might want to check the spectral output of the UV tube in your EPROM eraser, I know the one in mine does not do UV-C according to it’s data sheet.

Clive Robinson April 21, 2020 11:55 AM

@ Nik,

Broken Toe? Ouch!

Yup and still to swollen to get my shoe on…

Sorry to hear you’ve had the same problem in the past. Of course what hurts the most is knowing that it’s a “DITY” (do it to yourself) that with just a bit less hurry or a litle more attention… Heho maybe I’ll remember the next time, but life is short…

Mind you back when I was younger, I used to play Rugby, and a broken finger or toe was a sign of a game well played and paraded round the pub… Back then I don’t remember them hurting like this one does… Oh and the attendant bruise is going nicely Technicolor with hues of black, purple and yellow a third of the way up the foot… All part of the healing process :-S

MarkH April 21, 2020 12:57 PM


Well, I’m not reading the paper right away … crashed my browser. I did read a little about Dr Wittkowski, who seems to be a “swimmer against the tide.” In my youth, I used to follow astronomy with great interest. I remember with fondness three “scientific dissidents” who were respectively famous for:

• hypothesis that cosmic expansion was not a consequence of the “big bang”

• hypothesis that quasars are much nearer, and therefore smaller and less powerful, than believed

• agnosticism about present-day visitors to Earth from other worlds

They were all genuine astronomers; well known in their discipline; honest and intelligent. I even got to meet one of them.

To sustain the hypothesis that social distancing doesn’t change the eventual death toll requires data data data, not analysis or predictions. Such data may be difficult to find, because of the scarcity of places without significant social distancing by the time people start dying in numbers.

Prof Giesecke’s prediction that half the population of some countries have already been (or very soon will have been) infected, if true, would be fairly consistent with the rest of his predictions. He doesn’t know whether that’s fact, and neither does anybody else.

Any idiot can invent facts to prove his hypothesis 🙂

In my look at raw data to estimate CFR (from places where the situation has calmed down, because numbers during explosive growth are not helpful), the lowest estimates range from 0.9 to 2.8 percent.

To stretch CFR down to Giesecke’s 0.1 percent would require great … shall we say, flexibility.

I remain deeply skeptical. But if you find data data data, please post a link here!

If there will never be effective vaccines, then the total number of people infected won’t be much affected by measures which slow down infection.

If death rates are independent of intensity (how many sick people in one place at one time), and there’s never going to be a reduction in mortality from improved medical treatment and virus evolution1, then the total number of dead won’t be much affected by measures which slow down infection.

This very primitive logic is perhaps a foundation for those dissident predictions.

However, there’s a significant probability that both vaccines and improved treatments will arrive.

And there’s very strong evidence, that cost of high outbreak intensity is enormous, in many dimensions.

1 It has often happened that viruses grew less lethal over time, simple because the genetic variants which spread most abundantly are usually not the ones killing or disabling their hosts in short order.

MarkH April 21, 2020 1:22 PM


At the moment, West Texas Intermediate seems to be bouncing around $8/bbl.

Perhaps even more concerning to markets, is that Europe’s Brent has caught the sickness, trading below $20.

It’s worth remembering that those long-term futures markets represent the expectations of traders. There seems to be no precedent — certainly not since the industrial age began — for the present economic contraction. Many people are trying to forecast what recovery might look like, but nobody knows. The timing and character of recovery will depend on how the pandemic develops, which again nobody knows.

Those commodities traders are looking at the best forecasts they can find, but they don’t have a magic crystal ball. We’re all peering into darkness, trying to imagine what’s there …

I’m confident that not all oil companies will be unprofitable, because among producers there’s a nearly ten-to-one range in the cost of production. The lowest cost producers (in other words, the Saudis) are sure to have an operating profit … though far too small to support the Kingdom’s ravenous dependence on oil profits.

In contrast, fracking (a very high-cost source under the best of conditions) may be dead for a long time, perhaps permanently. I wrote here a week or two ago about how fracking has been, from its inception, a money-losing fraud. This collapse may end the shell game which has kept it going for so long …

PS I checked in again, and WTI has swelled to ten dollars! O frabjous day!

Miquel April 21, 2020 3:43 PM


It should not be “social distancing” vs “no social distancing” but rather “the Sweden approach” vs “Rest of world”, which seems to be the current debate dominating the news now.

It was assumed that lockdowns would save lives by:

1) prevent overwhelming hospitals
2) slow the spread of infections – thus, buying time to identify effective therapeutics and/or vaccines

1 did not happen; the initial models proved to be completely wrong.
2 did not happen either, and we have the Sweden data to confirm this.

It’s true that Sweden actually has some degree of social distancing in place. Google mobility report does show a 50% decrease in Retail & recreation, 25% decrease in Workplace (through telework supposedly) and 85% increase in Sunshine.

But it is voluntary and there are no violations of fundamental human rights.

The peak incidence is the same among the Scandinavian countries including Sweden (60/M/day). The data is on WorldOmeter.

This should be the most relevant indicator of the lock downs effect. It suggests they had little to no effect. Sweden’s higher CFR is unrelated to the lockdowns and is a separate discussion.

This crisis has been politicized too much. If we are installing dictatorship then why not be even more pragmatic. It’s pretty clear that obesity and all the downstream diseases play a huge role. We could close and liquidate all the junk food producers, pizza, fast food, Starbucks.

JonKnowsNothing April 21, 2020 4:56 PM



1) prevent overwhelming hospitals
2) slow the spread of infections – thus, buying time to identify effective therapeutics and/or vaccines
1 did not happen; the initial models proved to be completely wrong.
2 did not happen either, and we have the Sweden data to confirm this.

I do believe you need to quantify your assertions a bit further because your full on statement is not in fact 100% true.

Both 1 prevent overwhelming hospitals and 2 slow the spread of infections, are working very well were I am.

Although I cannot say that 1: overwhelming hospitals is or has not happened, because 14% of our publically known hospital cases are medical staff, including ICU cases.

Nor can I say that this represents the upper boundary of all cases.

What is represented at our local level is that tested and confirmed COVID19 cases are still increasing, the number of hospitalized tested and confirmed COVID19 are still increasing and routes of exposure of tested and confirmed COVID19 show increasing pathways in some categories. The rate of increase is not exponential.

Personally, I hope that people living in the more infected areas stay away. If Hawaii and other vacation spots are any indication the privileged elitists are flocking in anyway. The bright spot for where I am is No One would consider this area a vacation spot and that might just save more of the 1,000,000 people that live here.

We may not be New York, Italy, Spain, London but we are holding our own so far.

Miquel April 21, 2020 5:29 PM


I did quantify.

The incidence is the same among the Scandinavian countries, including Sweden.

Sweden had no lockdown, just sensible, proportional and voluntary social distancing measures.

If lockdowns had any effect, Sweden would have several times higher incidence now.

myliit April 21, 2020 6:01 PM

“Early antibody testing suggests COVID-19 infections in L.A. County greatly exceed documented cases

USC and L.A. County Department of Public Health officials have released the preliminary results of their antibody tests, which show a surprising number of residents have been infected with the coronavirus.

USC and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Monday released preliminary results from a collaborative scientific study that suggests infections from the new coronavirus are far more widespread — and the fatality rate much lower — in L.A. County than previously thought.

The results are from the first round of an ongoing study by USC researchers and county health officials. They will be conducting antibody testing over time on a series of representative samples of adults to determine the scope and spread of the pandemic across the county.

Based on the results of the first round of testing, the research team estimates that approximately 4.1% of the county’s adult population has an antibody to the virus. Adjusting this estimate for the statistical margin of error implies about 2.8% to 5.6% of the county’s adult population has an antibody to the virus — which translates to approximately 221,000 to 442,000 adults in the county who have been infected. That estimate is 28 to 55 times higher than the 7,994 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to the county at the time of the study in early April. The number of COVID-related deaths in the county has now surpassed 600.

“We haven’t known the true extent of COVID-19 infections in our community because we have only tested people with symptoms, and the availability of tests has been limited,” said lead investigator Neeraj Sood … “The estimates also suggest that we might have to recalibrate disease prediction models and rethink public health strategies.””

Also regarding antibody testing

“WHO warns that few have developed antibodies to Covid-19

Herd immunity hopes dealt blow by report suggesting only 2%-3% of people have been infected

Only a tiny proportion of the global population – maybe as few as 2% or 3% – appear to have antibodies in the blood showing they have been infected with Covid-19, according to the World Health Organization, a finding that bodes ill for hopes that herd immunity will ease the exit from lockdown.”

JonKnowsNothing April 21, 2020 8:35 PM



Sweden had no lockdown, just sensible, proportional and voluntary social distancing measures

A) Sweden might be “more sensible” than other places
B) Sweden does not operate under “uber-neoliberalism” like other places
C) Sweden is better off in many areas than other places.

Maybe Sweden just has better health over all…

There are no proofs why Sweden maybe better off than other countries only guesses based on incomplete data. Sweden may have benefited mightily from the actions of it’s neighbors and trade partners.

Maybe it is because they eat more reindeer…

(YES that’s IT! Eat more Rudolph! …busily sends an app-signal to A for drone drop of wholesome reindeer meat slightly tainted with Chernobyl radiation)

The score cards are still being marked.

ht tps://

Sweden is the sixteenth-richest country in the world in terms of GDP (gross domestic product) per capita and a high standard of living is experienced by its citizens…
Sweden has one of the most highly developed welfare states in the world. According to a 2012 OECD report, the country had the second-highest public social spending as a percentage of its GDP
On health care, the country spent 10.0% of its total GDP, the 12th highest

Also since the mid-1980s, Sweden has had the fastest growth in inequality of any developed nation

ht tps://

The initial evidence that a major release of radioactive material was affecting other countries came not from Soviet sources, but from Sweden.

ht tps://
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Uncle Buck April 21, 2020 11:31 PM

"Unknown activists have posted nearly 25,000 email addresses and passwords allegedly belonging to the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation and other groups working to combat the coronavirus pandemic, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online extremism and terrorist groups.

While SITE was unable to verify whether the email addresses and passwords were authentic, the group said the information was released Sunday and Monday and almost immediately used to foment attempts at hacking and harassment by far-right extremists. An Australian cybersecurity expert, Robert Potter, said he was able to verify that the WHO email addresses and passwords were real.

The lists, whose origins are unclear, appear to have first been posted to 4chan, a message board notorious for its hateful and extreme political commentary, and later to Pastebin, a text storage site, to Twitter and to far-right extremist channels on Telegram, a messaging app."

NO ID2020 NO MICROCHIP NO MARK April 22, 2020 1:52 AM


here is the patent for microsoft 1. WO2020060606 – CRYPTOCURRENCY SYSTEM USING BODY ACTIVITY DATA , look at the patent number, literally “world order 2020 666” this from the same guy who is publicly saying he wants to put microchip tracking on every human on earth to prove you have been vaccinated to allow you to buy or sell.. Bill Gates needs to Beg God for forgiveness, science with out Gods standards is propelling humanity towards a calamity of biblical proportions. even if bill repents, elon musk has made and is rolling out a 5g satellite grid around the whole earth and brain chips. this is not a joke, this is some fucked up shit..

Revelation 13:16
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads.
Revelation 14:9
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his
forehead, or in his hand,
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he
shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.

Miquel April 22, 2020 3:14 AM


A) Sweden might be “more sensible” than other places
B) Sweden does not operate under “uber-neoliberalism” like other places
C) Sweden is better off in many areas than other places.

That’s why the comparison is made only among the Scandinavian countries, which are culturally the same region, their languages are all mutually intelligible, they all eat reindeer meat, they all get no natural vitamin D most of the year and they are all “more sensible” than other places.

Sweden has one of the most highly developed welfare states in the world. According to a 2012 OECD report, the country had the second-highest public social spending as a percentage of its GDP. On health care, the country spent 10.0% of its total GDP, the 12th highest.

This is not relevant. We are talking about infection incidence and spread of disease, not the way it’s being treated or survival.

Miquel April 22, 2020 5:10 AM


“Today, the Public Health Authority presented a new study that estimates that one third of everyone in Stockholm County will be infected with sars-cov-2 on May 1st this year. There will be about 600,000 people.

What is surprising is that there are so many cases, 99 percent of all cases, that are completely unconfirmed, says Lisa Brouwers, head of analysis at the Public Health Authority.

Yesterday, French Institute Pasteur also presented a study that calculates that six percent of French people will have been infected on May 11 this year.

The low numbers do not surprise the infection protection expert Johan Giesecke. – Most countries have had a lockdown, they have not had distribution in their countries in the same way as Sweden. We have had a spread of infection in the population, he says.”

MarkH April 22, 2020 6:26 AM


Let’s look back a moment, to where I started dialog with you less than two days ago:

… it has been observed that the epidemic follows the same course, regardless of country and whether lockdown measures were imposed or not. There is no exponential growth. The spread of the virus declines after two months, no matter the location or what measures were imposed

Now you’re citing expert Giesecke as essentially saying that Covid-19 has spread far more rapidly in Sweden than in other countries.

So either “lockdown” makes no difference to the course of the epidemic, or it makes a dramatic difference!

At present, the argument you seem to putting forth surpasses my comprehension. It is, to borrow from the great physicist Wolfgang Pauli, not even wrong.

If you come up with one or more clearly articulated and potentially falsifiable theses, perhaps we will have a basis for sensible discussion.

So how is Sweden doing? I note that of all the countries on Earth with at least 1000 confirmed cases, only six have more deaths per unit of population than Sweden. Is Sweden a remarkable success story?

Let’s compare Sweden to fellow Nordic countries with at least 1000 cases. Norway and Iceland have declining new case rates (Iceland is almost flat), with 34 and 29 deaths/million. Denmark and Finland are not doing as well as that: new cases are slowing a little in Denmark, but keeping a pretty steady rate in Finland, with 64 and 25 deaths per million respectively.

Sweden, in contrast, has 175 deaths/million. That’s between 2.7 and 7.0 times the death rates of its fellow Nordic states. Success?

Let’s consider Germany and Austria, which share some linguistic and cultural affinity with Sweden. In Austria, new case rates are now very small in relation to total cases, and Germany is flattening. They have 57 and 61 deaths/million respectively, so Sweden’s “success” is slaughtering its inhabitants at three times that rate!

The comparison to Austria is especially interesting, because by confirmed case counts, Austria crossed 10 cases one day after Sweden. Case counts are nearly flat in Austria, but growing steadily in Sweden.

All of these numbers have big error bands, and the causes of variation between countries are far from clear.

However, if the hypothesis is that Sweden’s laissez faire policy is just as good as more controlling policies in other countries, then my conclusion is that available data do NOT confirm it.

MarkH April 22, 2020 6:40 AM


The U.S. Veterans’ Administration runs the largest medical system in the country.

Yesterday, the VA announced the results of a study of the application of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Note well that this was not a controlled trial, but rather an observational study. It compare results among Covid-19 patients given HCQ, or HCQ combined with azithromycin, against patients given neither drug.

They found that the mortality of patients given HCQ+azithromycin was twice that of patients without either medicine; with HCQ alone, mortality was almost triple that of patients without either medicine.

HCQ administration was not found to effect the likelihood that a Covid-19 patient would need a ventilator.

The results suggested the possibility that HCQ was causing organ damage.

I suggest that nobody should use any drug on the strength of:

• one anecdotal sentence in a Chinese study
• a French study with hideously flawed methodology
• the ravings of a very stupid orange man

Miquel April 22, 2020 9:52 AM


I don’t want to go into much detail, because you would first have to explain Belgium. I will only mention a few things.

I don’t consider that statement contradictory. It was referring to the diagnosed symptomatic cases (the officially reported cases). The testing policy is uniformly everywhere to test only the symptomatic cases. Therefore, you can substitute “spread of disease” for “epidemic” and the same remains true. The fact that 99% of people are virtually immune as the Sweden data shows, is just another argument against the lockdowns. It merely says that this virus fails to cause any disease in 99 out of 100 people. Makes it difficult to even fulfill the Bradford Hill criteria or the Koch’s postulates. I personally have doubts that it will infect more than 15-20% of the global population. Immunity is not conferred only by antibodies. Susceptibility is complex. Look at the Diamond Princess data. A perfectly controlled experiment. 3,711 passengers and crew in a very confined environment with recirculated air. The passengers were heavily weighted toward the elderly. 712 infected, 12 fatalities (all of them were in their 80s and 70s). Only 20% infection rate. 97% of generally elderly people survived. Of the 712 infections, 60% didn’t even know they had it. And there is USS Theodore Roosevelt as well, with an infection rate of 13.5% in an enclosed environment.

Non falsifiable theses:

Both in Europe and in the USA the peaks of the epidemic have passed.

The peak incidence is the same among the Scandinavian countries, lockdown or no lockdown – 60/M/d.

The overall incidence among the Scandinavian countries is very similar (1300 – 1500 /M, as of today).

You are deliberately mixing death rates with case rates when discussing lockdowns. Incidence is the only indicator of the lockdowns effect. Death rates are characteristic of the population, failure to protect the vulnerable and not influenced by the lockdown. 50% (in some cases 60%) of all COVID-19 deaths in Europe happened in nursing homes. Average life expectancy in care homes is low. 20 to 30 percent are expected to die within a year.

However, if the hypothesis is that Sweden’s laissez faire policy is just as good as more controlling policies in other countries, then my conclusion is that available data do NOT confirm it.

Your stance on this is very worrying. Global lockdown measures carry unimaginably high risks and costs, and the burden of proof is on the ones who impose it, to clearly demonstrate that it is justified.

myliit April 22, 2020 12:00 PM

Today is Earth Day [4] in the United States of Amnesia

Our president doesn’t know sh!t from shinola [1] [3] regarding science. Our president, however, might whine about that characterization. [2]


[2] Our president has claimed to be a genius or a very stable genius, but, perhaps, nobody believes him.



“ An Earth Day Reminder of How the Republicans Have Forsaken the Environment

The idea for Earth Day came to Gaylord Nelson all of a sudden one day in the middle of 1969. That summer, “teach-ins” about the Vietnam War were all the rage. It occurred to Nelson, then the junior U.S. senator from Wisconsin: How about a “teach-in” about the environment?

To attract the widest possible audience, Nelson, a Democrat, invited Representative Pete McCloskey, a Republican from California, to co-chair the event. The response was way more enthusiastic than either man had anticipated: on April 22, 1970, some twenty million Americans—a tenth of the country’s population—took to the streets. It was the largest public demonstration in U.S. history, and, as Jamie Henn, one of the founders of, has put it, it “had bite.” By the end of the year, a Republican President, Richard Nixon, had created the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This was followed in relatively short order by the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. All of these measures were approved with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Today, as Earth Day turns fifty, it’s hard to imagine more dolorous circumstances for the occasion. covid-19 has forced online (or cancelled) virtually all the celebrations and protests that had been planned for the anniversary. The Trump Administration has barely even taken the day off from gutting the nation’s environmental regulations. (Last week, the Administration weakened rules governing the emission of mercury and other toxic chemicals from power plants; late last month, it weakened fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks.)

Meanwhile, in Congress, environmental protection has become such a thoroughly partisan issue that across-the-aisle collaborations like Nelson and McCloskey’s are rarer than Amur leopards. Owing to this divide, environmental problems that have emerged since 1970 have simply gone unaddressed. Congress has not passed—or even really come close to passing—a single piece of legislation aimed at addressing climate change. (All the steps taken by the Obama Administration to try to curb carbon emissions were done through regulation.) Precisely at the “moment when such legislative action is most needed,” James Morton Turner, a professor at Wellesley College, and Andrew Isenberg, a professor at the University of Kansas, have written, it has become “almost politically unimaginable.”

How and why this happened is the subject of Turner and Isenberg’s recent book, “The Republican Reversal: Conservatives and the Environment from Nixon to Trump.” The two trace the G.O.P.’s turn against conservation to Ronald Reagan, who equated environmentalism with pessimism, and pessimism with a lack of patriotism.


But, according to Turner and Morton, money is only part of the equation; the other part is votes. For Republican politicians, there’s no incentive to, say, back legislation to limit climate change: “Neither their corporate donors nor evangelicals nor the struggling Rust Belt workers who voted for Trump in 2016 see any advantage to it.” The situation is such that, as Aaron Huertas, who works with WeCanVote.US, recently pointed out, were Democrats inclined to pass meaningful climate legislation, they’d need to win not just the Presidency this fall but also a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Can this situation be changed? Certainly the hour is late and the facts—if you happen to be concerned about such things—are stark. What the original Earth Day showed is that, when Americans are mobilized, remarkable things are possible. What the past few years have shown is that Americans can be mobilized by the most remarkable falsehoods. To say that the future of the world depends on which of these tendencies prevails is at this point, unfortunately, no exaggeration.“

MarkH April 22, 2020 12:59 PM


I don’t consider that statement contradictory

Then you are applying a logic beyond the reach of my poor understanding.

Good luck!

Agas Groth April 22, 2020 1:15 PM

@ Clive Robinson • April 18, 2020 12:28 PM
Re: what temperature air can we breath in?
I put boiled water directly from the kettle into a plastic bowl. Head over the bowl and towel over the head. Temperature sensor near the nose. I measured a max temp of 62C which was uncomfortable but not unbearable. A sustained temperature of 50 – 55C for several minutes was not painful or uncomfortable. Inbreath through mouth or nose were both OK.

Miquel April 22, 2020 1:58 PM


I’m gonna have to break the blog rules and say this. It’s normal. Orange-Man-hating leftists and democrats usually have a poor understanding of most things, live with false perceptions, and are hypocrites even when faced with hard facts and data.

The contrived crisis is melting away, with only a fraction of the hoped-for deaths, because no number of deaths is enough if it makes someone with Orange Man Derangement Syndrome feel like it will harm Orange Man.

By the time house arrest got going, America was way far into the Gaussian distribution in terms of new cases, which has peaked a while ago. House arrest did fck all, but fck the economy and people’s lives and livelihoods for years to come.

And it’s very sad that you secretly wish as much death and devastation as possible, just because Orange Man Bad.

Good luck!

Clive Robinson April 22, 2020 2:34 PM

@ Agas Groth,

I put boiled water directly from the kettle into a plastic bowl. Head over the bowl and towel over the head.

Aside from the fact the bowl would have been some form of china that is the basis for “decongestant” remedies going back to the Roman times or earlier in Europe and I’ve no idea but I should thing atleast twice as long in China and Japan.

More than coughhalf a centurycough ago my mother used to make me do the same, only with the addition of “Vicks” or essential oils that helped breathing like eucalyptus, pepermint, mint, pine, lemon vabina etc. And yes it helped bring up muck…

So… The question is is it worth trying if you get symptoms. The honest answer is I don’t think it will do any harm. But the “community spread” appears to be way way wider than thought. Some studies are showing ~40% in close living environments others are showing 3% on near random samples (from blood doners about a month ago).

Others put the comnunit rate upto 80 times that of the confirmed hospital rate which brings the “serious case %” down a lot…

Maybe people should be going back to what may sound like an old folk remedie but both my parents and their parents generations that takes you back a hundred years in our family absolutly swore by it…

Anyway thanks for that information, anyone else tried or got data?

@ MarkH,

I’ve been looking over both the German and Australian data as they have anomolies.

1, Germany has quite low CFR on recorded cases.

2, Australia additionally has more balanced male to femail ratio in the severe and critical cases.

I note of Germany whilst their recorded case numbers are not that different to other EU nations, the percentage that are considered servere are higher but the death rate lower a lot lower.

This makes me think the Germans have a lower threashold for what they consider severe, thus probably start oxygen and other supportive therepy much earlier with the result of much better outcome.

Now I know some are going to say I might be stretching this… But Australia has been in summer and is now going into autumn. The last time I was in Auz even though it was technically winter it was still “short sleve weather” and people were outside a lot lot more. Unlike Europe where it tends to be more women out and about on the streets and in parks, doing shoping, getting children from school most of the year, women also tend to have more bare flesh such as arms and legs…

A couple or so years back the UK Government had a push about Vitimin D and I remember things being said like women were twice as likely to not be deficient compared to men.

Again not actual evidence but observational evidence.

As for HQC well it kind of turned out not to be what many were hoping. But that does not mean that what the French Prof saw was not true. It could simply be the case that one set of patients were less advanced by just a day or two when going onto more intensive therepy. We would need all the case notes to know more.

However do not discount chance, some years back a UK Prof did some research ostensibly to debunk the “alternative medicine” notion of chemicals leaving resonance images in water to support their claims that the more you diluted a medicine the more potent it became. Well she ran some tests and was shocked to find the evidence pointed in the directions of the claims. She then got others to run identical tests and repeated the tests herself. As expected they all pointed away from the claims… Sometimes even probability stacks the odds the other way, but only very rarely 😉

Oh one other thing that is becoming more clear, the greater the population density in any area then the greater Rt</sub.

Thus increasingly supporting the notion that everyone should ware masks in public enclosed or crouded places such as shops and supermarkets.

The only problem in London is getting masks, even the Korean’s around where I live who are fastidious mask wearers at the best of times don’t have them to ware anylonger.

I was also shocked to hear the UK government had just purchased a large amount of PPE from Turkey and used the Royal Air Force to fly them into the UK…

Something tells me that Turkish citizens need those masks as much if not a lot more than UK citizens…

Things are starting to go nasty. With the US some states are locked down whilst others are loosening up for what are realy political reasons… Makes me wonder what is going to happen when the next wave of infections comes in…

Oh and the UN have finally got around to realising that all those locoust swarms and deaths of pigs due to ASF has caused significant food shortages and people are not just hungry but actuallyvstarting to stave. The UN saying things are of “Biblical proportions” might actually make a few people start to think.

Either way as I’ve indicated people should start stocking up on protein as in frozen/canned meat and the likes of beens and peas. Also if you have a garden think about planting potatoes carrots tomatoes and onions instead of flowers this year… Oh and stock up on cheese as well… Potatoes are kind of dull at the best of times…

Oh and remember you can freeze eggs, get ice cube trays, crack an egg into each one and freeze, when solid put into those ziplock freezer bags. If you’ve got large eggs and do a lot of baking then put the yolk in one cube slot and the white in the adjacent slot. Trust me when I say eggs stored this way are a lot more palatable than by “waterglass” or “powdered”. Speaking of powdered stocking up on real powdered nilk –not coffee whitening– and butter might also be a good idea, especially if you can get hold of a “cream maker” that turns butter and milk into cream or full fat milk.

Freezing_in_Brazil April 22, 2020 3:03 PM

This puts an end to my quest re Viral Load.

This finding suggests that the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 might be a useful marker for assessing disease severity and prognosis.



Phaete April 22, 2020 3:25 PM

@ Clive et al,

Your mention of alternative medicine reminded me of the interview of Richard Dawkins with Deepak Chopra.
This is not a onesided butchering from Richard, but Deepak actually makes some good points which Richard must acknowledge.

He makes the point that the role of the observer (doctor in this case) and the mental state of the patient plays a big role in recovering from infections.
All related to the placebo effect.

Worldwide i see a big difference, A lot of people think they are going to die if someone sneezes in their direction, others are more rational and think in chances, and a some even think they are immune because of past flu experiences…

With the placebo effect, it really makes a difference if you think you are going to die or if you think you’re alright with some extra care.

So it really makes a difference what your country/media/etc are telling you, and if you believe it, for your chances of success.

I think this is also a factor in comparing different countries.

This is that interview, a very civil one

myliit April 22, 2020 3:35 PM

“Covid-19 Highlights Trump’s Malignant Narcissism — And Proves Americans Will Survive Despite Him

James Risen
April 22 2020, 5:26 p.m.

[One piece of] wisdom from ancient Rome has guided astute public health officials dealing with epidemics for 2,000 years: “Cito, longe, tarde.”

That’s Latin for “Leave quickly. Go far away. Come back slowly.”

Faced with a highly contagious, lethal disease for which there is no known cure, President Donald Trump has ignored that timeless advice.

Instead, like a medieval demagogue, Trump is spouting quackery and hatred straight out of the 14th century, when panicked Europeans confronting the Black Death strapped live chickens to their bodies, drank potions tinged with mercury and arsenic, and blamed the Mongols and the Jews when none of it worked.

Major catastrophes lay bare the truth about our leaders. Trump’s criminally negligent, chaotic handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed, once and for all, that he is a corrupt, narcissistic psychopath.

His babbling and incoherent press conferences, in which he lashes out in every direction, continue to show that he is in urgent need of psychiatric treatment. He exhibits the self-centered tendencies of a small child.

But a legion of enablers surrounds Trump and prevents any intervention, even in the midst of the worst public health crisis in a century. His family members, like Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, appear perfectly happy to keep smiling while enjoying the favored status that, most recently, allowed them to disregard stay-at-home guidelines to decamp to a Trump resort in New Jersey for Passover.

Of course, some of Trump’s most important enablers are the reporters in the White House press corps, who daily act as his Greek chorus. Instead of ignoring his lies and outrageous statements, they dutifully cover his Covid-19 press conferences and tweets as if they were the serious, coherent statements of a genuine national leader. In the process, they are aiding and abetting Trump’s disinformation campaign, which could result in thousands of additional and needless deaths.

The government’s top public health professionals, fearful of losing their jobs and of even worse behavior by Trump, have also become crucial enablers, forced to pretend that Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis has been sound.


lurker April 22, 2020 3:55 PM


Most countries still test only the symptomatic cases, and eventually this reflects the true dynamics of the epidemic.

Which reveals flaws in the testing methodology: doctors request tests only to confirm their clinical diagnosis; materials for testing are in short supply through lack of preparedness; the tests are ineffective because hurriedly built in response to a Not Invented Here syndrome.


@Prof. Johan Giesecke

At least 50% of the population of both the UK and Sweden will be shown to have already had the disease when mass antibody testing becomes available.


USC and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Monday released preliminary results from a collaborative scientific study that suggests infections from the new coronavirus are far more widespread …
Based on the results of the first round of testing, the research team estimates that approximately 4.1% of the county’s adult population has an antibody to the virus.

Which raises the question, what is the false positive rate of these tests? Or, can people have these antibodies without infection? how?

New Zealand had the luxury as an island nation of closing its borders (imperfectly at first); and of applying a hard lockdown before death rates became significant. So we now have per capita testing rates over twice those of USA, and the luxury of doing random population tests, drive thru in the now vacant mall parking lots. With the proviso that subjects of random tests were adult volunteers, the results have been (to me) astonishing: no positive cases found. Which raises the question, what is the false negative rate of these tests?

I have been “tested”, a simple throat swab, negative. This was done on recommendation of my GP after a persistent, recurrent and atypical reaction to the annual flu shot. NZ has so far had no widespread or publicised antibody testing. Our authorities also believe that children do not become infectious, and can thus cannot be a significant risk factor, Some schools and kindergartens will reopen next week. How the lockdown is lifted and what happens then might disappoint a lot of people.

Clive Robinson April 22, 2020 4:20 PM

@ Phaete,

He makes the point that the role of the observer (doctor in this case) and the mental state of the patient plays a big role in recovering from infections. All related to the placebo effect.

I’m well aware of the placebo effect and it does not take sugar pills or tonics to work magic on patients in hospital.

For I have an “undiagnosed” heart condition and for quite a while I was keeling over all over the place. They still don’t know what it is and I’ve subsequently developed AF so should in theory be deader than a door nail… But even though they don’t know the cause they can treat the symptoms by giving it a quick jumpstart if it drops below 60BPM.

The result was for several years I was spending one week in five in hospital…

Contrary to what some might think[1] I’m fairly amiable, and tend to make light of things and laugh things off. What I don’t like is being put in a room with three to five other people all looking as miserable as a wet sunday afternoon in Merthyr Tydfil[2]. Thus I made it a mission to get even the surliest of them to atleast smile if not laugh. I generaly found that once you got one to open up a bit the rest quickly followed. Both Drs and Nurses would be supprised to hear laughter and see games of bridge being played and other mild hyjinx going on. The result was people started to get colour back in their cheeks and their stats climbed much quicker than expected which brought the consultants down to see why things had upturned. Then people would notice both junior Drs and nurses lingering in the room as they liked a laugh or two as well…

Anyway laughter is infectious and it’s difficult to be surly when you are laughing. The upshot was as one of the senior cardiologists told me, patients got better quicker when I was around, and the staff were more chearfull.

So yes your body is effected by your mind and your body in turn effects the mind. Just get one to feel better and the other follows and then chases the other and soon they both feel quite a bit better.

[1] @Wael I can hear your finger hovering above the keyboard 😉

[2] Merthyr Tydfil has been the but of jokes for over half a century. The place is grey, charmless lacking in vistas or much of anything else, it also still has a bad dose of religious “look down your nosery” and was said to have more pubs than anywhere else and they were all closed on Sundays because of the pretentiousness that comes from those looking down their nose at others. To give you an idea of just how bad it realy is somebody opened a new pub and pretentiously called it “The Belle Vue Hotel” it’s in Glebeland St, and the only thing even remotely close to a “good view” is somrbody else tree aroind the back. Another that has opened is a J D Wetherspoon’s called “Y Dic Penderyn” I’ve no idea what it means in Welsh but I would suggest you don’t try saying it out loud in mixed company 😉

JonKnowsNothing April 22, 2020 4:44 PM


Early on in the COVID19 discussions of Death vs Economy there were questions about how this was being calculated. I had mentioned actuarial tables that insurance companies use not only for death but for every type of body injury.

In California USA we have 2 paths for workers would are sick or injured, for insurance income or medical treatment.

1) If your illness is Not Work Related, like you break your arm playing touch football in the park on your day off, you can claim through your health care package for medical treatment (provided you have medical coverage from work) and you can use your sick days or vacation days or no-pay days (provided you have these options where you work).

2) If your illness IS Work Related, like you were moving a palette of cat litter at an ANYZONE warehouse and your back seizes up and you fall on the floor and cannot move due to (diagnosed) vertebral disc rupture and you need surgery and 6 months recovery, you claim this thru Workman’s Compensation.

The actuarial tables are used extensively for Workman’s Compensation cases. Anything you can hurt or cut off is listed in these tables and include death from a detailed list of grisly ways to go with an associated payout.

  • Lose part of pinky-finger (getting it pinched under a palette of cat litter) = $X.
  • Lose a big toe (dropping a load of cat litter on your steel toed boots) = $Y.
  • Death from having a palette of cat litter fall you your head because the robot lifting arm bolt sheered under the weight of the load = $D.

Arstechnica has an article that detailed some of the calculations in use now.

value of a statistical life = $10 million USD

US federal agency guidelines have needed to put a price on life in order to set policy on things that sometimes kill people, like driving. To do this, they use a figure that estimates how much extra money people will pay to save an additional life. For instance, take the higher pay that comes with riskier jobs: when you look at how much extra a group of 10,000 workers gets paid when their job comes with a higher risk, it comes out to around $10 million for each additional probable death in the group.
That figure of $10 million, the so-called “value of a statistical life,” is the figure used by federal agencies

value of social distancing

researchers calculate that social distancing will save about 1.24 million lives compared to a scenario with no distancing. This translates to a saving of $12.4 trillion, based on the $10 million value of a statistical life used in policy

value of lost economy with social distancing

recent Goldman Sachs prediction that social distancing will cause US GDP to shrink by 6.2 percent, leading to losses of $13.7 trillion.

value of lost economy without social distancing

a conservative value: 2 percent of the GDP; hit of $6.49 trillion

lives saved by social distancing

1.24 million lives = $12.4 trillion, based on the $10 million value of a statistical life

net economic benefits of social distancing

“Under our benchmark assumptions … social distancing generates net benefits of about $5.16 trillion.”

Value of lives saved:        12.4 T
Value of lost GDP            13.7 T
Cost of Social Distancing     6.49 T

13.7 T - 6.49 T = 7.21
7.21 - 12.4 T = 5.2 T 

In reference to the costs being calculated: life of a working person is worth $10,000,000 to the economy. There is no indication in the article of the value of a non-working child or elder.

There is a lot more in the article. I apologize in advance if I have made any transcription errors.

* I don’t know about what other states provide.

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Clive Robinson April 22, 2020 5:32 PM

@ Miquel,

leftists and democrats usually have a poor understanding of most things, live with false perceptions, and are hypocrites even when faced with hard facts and data.

Oh dear, you realy don’t get it do you… Like you most politicians of what ever stripe have not a clue about how the world realy works they just thibk they can wave a hand and mutter “Make it so”, it’s why they need to be surounded by people that not only understand “facts and data” but can understand how they were collected and the biasis they present.

Whilst you’ve not presented any “facts” just “opinions” many of which are either unqualified or suffering from “Old Distinguished Musing Issues”.

For instance Prof. Johan Giesecke saying,

    At least 50% of the population of both the UK and Sweden will be shown to have already had the disease when mass antibody testing becomes available.

Is a musing, it’s a hunch bereft of any factual content to support it’s open ended projection.

It might never actually happen, in fact it probably won’t in the UK or the US or any other country late in taking sensible actions. So he’s never likely to get called on it.

The simple fact is that the figures we see on the Johns Hopkins and other web sites are “recorded cases” that only represent some of those that get admitted to hospital. They say nothing about “community spread” or much else for that matter. When we look at other data such as “excess deaths over previois five year average” you can see that those recorded “COVID-19” deaths are just a fraction maybe 15% or less than the real figures. The problem is some tests on cohorts show about 2/5ths are infected but are either presynptomatic or asymptomatic, whilst other cohorts show only 3% either way that suggests those recorded figures are 1/20th to 1/100th of the community cases. Which ever way you “dice or slice” it the only thing we realy know is “we kbow damn little about the virus and nothing about how it effects a community”.

I could give you links to graphs that show why “SARS-CoV-2 is nothing like flu” which was your original claim since then you’ve failed to take on any evidence that is contrary to your “sacred belief” in neo-liberal myths.

Good luck with those because they are provably destroying both the UK and the US resilience to increasing consequences of mans actions, and that realy is the hight of stupidity to let it continue. I’ve mentioned before “Individual-v-Social rights and responsabilities” the neo-liberals are realy too stupid to understand that their espoused dream rests entirely on social infrastructure that they think they should not pay for… Without a social market capitalism can not exist plain and simple, if you want capitalism to succeed you have to grow the social market that supports it.

Oh and just to let you know it appears not only are food shortages on the way but ebola is back doing the rounds in Africa, with the UN talking about not just locusts and ASF using language like “Biblical proportions” and potentially 250million dead in Africa.

Now I don’t know where they’ve got their figures from or what they base their projections on, but I would not be surprised if there were significant food shortages increasing poverty and death and not just in Africa but the Western First World as well. After all I have been mentioning it for longer and saying why I thought it was going to happen, I also saw what was going to happen to oil production and explaind the unavoidable technical reasons and the potential consequences that are going to happen.

I’ll let others work it out for themselves, but when you shut down a significant percentage of your energy production fuel supply in an unavoidable way that may result in it never being started up again, it’s knock on effects are going to be far reaching, and doubling of food prices will be one likely result, that will cause all sorts of poverty to arise with the commensurate deaths for those that can not adjust.

Clive Robinson April 22, 2020 6:44 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

Arstechnica has an article that detailed some of the calculations in use now.

That 2.2million figure for “spread like wildfire” US deaths, is not that hard to work out and it was actually on the low side of 2-47million based on early figures.

However as I keep reminding people they need to be mindful of time.

As I’ve indicated the “recorded cases” are way below reality but lets stick with them for a moment.

US recorded cases : 846,294
US closed cases : 131,441 (15.53%)

About 2/13ths of the recorded cases have reached a conclusion and are thus closed cases.

However those shown as “survived” are in effect a high water mark as, an as yet unknown number, will die earlier than expected, due to the damage done to them by both the disease and the treatment.

But when reading such figures you need to remember that most who survive have a shorter time to outcome of around three weeks from infection. Those who die tend to take around five weeks. Thus the death rate as a percentage is artificially low and the survived artificially high.

US survived cases : 83,917 (64%)
US died cases : 47,524 (36%)

The death rate was closer to 40% a few days ago and it might yet rise again.

So the figures do not realy look that good, and even if all new infections stopped instantly you are still looking at the infected working their way through the pipeline, giving aproximately 300,000 deaths.

However the number being infected is still going up. And around 300-400 in every 1000 of those are probably going to die. The increase so far today is a little under 28k, which is going to mean another ~10k or so more deaths.

I won’t try to calculate the total of deaths from a simple second order logistic model (effectively exponential rise followed by inverse exponential fall), because it’s probably pointless. The reason being there is already talk of lifting the lockdowns but no discussion about what to do about the consequences of doing so…

But as I’ve noted before the “at risk group” includes the most experienced workers with a near lifetime of knowledge. Such people are not easy to replace especially in professional, medical or technical areas. I’ve not seen any models about what effect that will have on the economy but it could be rather more than double the 10,000,000USD/life. If you work on the idea of 5-15 times what they are paid you still end up with a rather large hole in the economy.

Oh and then there is the artificial low death rate, you would need to look at the “excess death” figures to work out the multiple but in Italy and Spain it was actually five to eleven times the recorded COVID-19 deaths.

MarkH April 23, 2020 12:57 AM


Axis leadership is an apposite analogy. Leaders with liberal democratic tendencies seem to be more open to and trusting of expert advice than their authoritarian counterparts.

It’s one of several factors, I think, which render authoritarian regimes more vulnerable to abrupt downfall.

An interesting U.S. example is our president Lincoln, who famously surrounded himself with cabinet officers etc. who disagreed with or even actively opposed him, and perhaps placed to much trust in his generals … unlike the famous Austrian corporal who was sure that he knew military matters better than his staff officers.

MarkH April 23, 2020 4:46 AM


Re “spread like wildfire” estimates

Your life experiences are so varied, that I wouldn’t be surprised if they include fire fighting.

Whatever the custom may be in the UK, there’s a long-standing practice common to U.S. fire departments:

  1. For calls from critical locations (schools on a school day, hospitals, nursing homes and housing for numerous elderly), the department immediately turns out in full force.
  2. If a person is possibly trapped in a structure with fire, the response is similar to the above, though possibly with less apparatus.
  3. For all other calls, an experienced member (preferably the chief) goes to the scene as soon as possible, assesses the scene, and then calls up appropriate forces.

Because “full force” for epidemics is very expensive indeed (as the world is now feeling), states are not likely to tolerate it as a default (or Pavlovian) response.

When an outbreak occurs as was developing around the turn of the year, epidemiologists around the world do their best to make the counterpart of the third response enumerated above.

They need to understand how bad it could get — the case of unchecked spread. The worse that number is, the more opportunity and leverage they have to persuade governments and populations that costly and difficult countermeasures are needed.

As I recall it, quite early in the Covid-19 story R0 was most often estimated in the range of 2 to 3, and estimates remain there now, suggesting that the “early read” was pretty good. From this parameter, it’s simple to compute the percentage of the population likely to become infected without any check, which for the above range is 50 to 67 percent.

Getting to fatalities requires an estimate of CFR. You and I obviously have different ideas of what it’s likely to be. Whatever the true number, it seems that many epidemiologists, who have accumulated wisdom and in many cases personal experience of finding the signal in the noise, thought it likely that the eventual CFR estimate would be far lower than the raw numbers suggested by early stages of explosive case growth. I suppose this was due in large part to hints of a high proportion of mild or asymptomatic cases not connecting with hospital care.

So, far example, if R0 = 3 and CFR = .02, the U.S. expected deaths (absent countermeasures) would come out to 4.4 million.

Even with the large error bands on the parameters, such numbers are big enough for public health experts to judge, “it’s time to push the red button,” and to do their best to convince political leadership to take the necessary steps.

When doing such projections, it is (as Clive knows well) important to bear in mind that:

a. both R0 and CFR might vary quite a lot between populations; and

b. when projected unchecked mortality is high, that number will never be reached because at some stage, sheer terror among the public will provoke individual level countermeasures regardless of government policy.

Clive Robinson April 23, 2020 5:19 AM

@ MarkH,

It’s one of several factors, I think, which render authoritarian regimes more vulnerable to abrupt downfall.

Yes, the build up is usually “cult of personality” which makes people suspend disbelief. Whilst they might initially listen and even be critical the repetative nature of the delivery causes them to become mesmerized and “fall into the thrall” and become authoratarian followers.

When starting a war for instance, usually initial success is easy because those you attack are not prepared to respond. Thus the faster and harder the initial attack the greater the gains. This can make a leader appear successful to the less knowledgeable citizens. As long as the leader can maintain “Bread and Circuses” few have reason to realise that there is a real economic cost following on behind, and the harder a leader tries to buy it off the greater the eventual fall.

Another issue is that of what happens when the head is removed? Often demagogic leaders surrond themselves by those who they think “reflect their glory”. Such reflectors are either sycophants or those biding their time. Either way when the leader is nolonger on thir perch for what ever reason you get a power vaccume and internal political fighting where little or no actuall governance happens. Which falls back on “civil servants” who if they have not been independent likewise fall into infighting (Brexit was a case in point where the civil service was independent and effectively ran the UK for a couple of years –which is why Domonic Cummings wants to decimate them–, other European countries where governments could not be formed were likewise run by the indepedent civil servants).

This “decimating” of independent government structures is always a very very bad sign. Because a good leader who knows what they are doing will see them as a solid resource not a threat. So leaders that decimate or attempt to decimate the civil service are showing that far from being knowledgable and effective, they are infact weak and craven and exhibiting the less plesant behaviours of school yard bullies.

All of which leads not to robustness of governance but fragility, nepotism, corruption and guard labour whos primary attributes are to be large and know how to polish boots and be cannon fodder for the demigod.

As you note, such greatness of leadership comes more from the petty bourgeois beer hall patrons disafected by their lot in life, rather than the Universities, proffessions and technical establishments, that form a nations bed rock.

Miquel April 23, 2020 7:31 AM


I’m not downplaying the severity of the disease that this virus can cause.

My main objection was that the lockdowns are not based on science or data, and they make little to no difference in the course of the epidemic, at unimaginable costs. Targeted measures and sensible social distancing are just as effective, without permanent erosion of civil liberties.

The data from the Scandinavian countries proves this, yet nobody here was able to deny it, nor to explain Sweden vs Belgium.

I will say it again – the incidence of symptomatic cases is the single most relevant indicator of the lockdowns effect.

I’ve been following this blog for more than 10 years, and it didn’t use to be like this. The people commenting here (and they are mostly the same people now) were more objective, critical thinking, and had less political bias. They valued basic human rights more than anything. Yet I don’t see that being discussed much any more. Human rights are inalienable. You cannot lose these rights any more than you can cease to be a human being. You cannot be denied a right because someone decides that it is less important or “non-essential”. And based on what evidence?

Maybe I was misunderstood and most people here live in areas without strict lockdowns. I am in Europe now and I cannot even go to the park to get some sunshine. I was fined by overzealous police for being 50 meters from where I live (when the military ordinance clearly allowed 200 meters). The mandatory vaccination law has entered the Parliament’s debate few weeks ago.

@MikeH is very happy with the strict lockdowns, the house arrest and the devastation they cause, and wants to wait until the end of the epidemic to make a conclusion. When all the data that was used as justification for the lockdowns proved to be complete garbage.

These are just a few of the propaganda headlines that dominated the news, and convinced the masses to surrender all their rights:

Terrifying New Research Warns 2.2 Million Could Die From Coronavirus in US Without Drastic Action | March 17, 2020
More than 2 million Americans could die of coronavirus if the US does NOTHING | March 18 2020
A chilling scientific paper helped upend U.S. and U.K. coronavirus strategies | March 17, 2020
The shocking coronavirus study that rocked the UK and US | March 19, 2020
Imperial College Epidemiologists Report Forecasts Up To 2.2 Million COVID-19 Deaths In US, 510,000 In UK | March 18th, 2020
Behind the Virus Report That Jarred the U.S. and the U.K. to Action | March 17, 2020
New Report Warns That Coronavirus Could Kill 2.2 Million In U.S. Without Drastic Action | March 17, 2020
The shocking figures that triggered Britain’s coronavirus lockdown | 17 March 2020

And the “smartphone epidemiologists” who invaded the social media spreading fear and bullshit, and acting intelectually and morally superior, because they understand “exponential growth” and everyone else is dumb. When it’s common knowledge that viral epidemics never follow an exponential curve.
The number of cases rises rapidly in the very early phase, peaks, and then declines. It’s called the epidemiological curve. It’s not a theory or a hypothesis. It happens the same with every flu season or viral outbreak. It is how it has played out in China and Korea with COVID-19, long before the world went into self-destruction.

Much of the COVID-19 deaths in Europe were completely preventable with specific targeted measures because half of the deaths happened in nursing homes. In Ireland it was 60%. Early lockdown of nursing homes and aggresive testing of caretakers and healthcare workers would have prevented many of the deaths. You also have to keep in mind that the life expectancy is nursing homes is usually 12 – 24 months.

And people who try to explain the virus as the only cause, naturally the fact is 90% of persons who have the demonstrated viral material in their bodies have no symptoms whatsoever so obviously it isn’t enough of a cause to trigger symptoms.
Generally, the people who have influenza-like symptoms, only about half of them have an indentifiable agent. So there are people with the sicknes without the virus and lots and lots of people with the virus and no sickness at all. So the idea of causality is a weak probability, not a straight causal thing.

In an autopsy series that tested for respiratory viruses in specimens from 57 elderly persons who died during the 2016 to 2017 influenza season, influenza viruses were detected in 18% of the specimens, while any kind of respiratory virus was found in 47%. In some people who die from viral respiratory pathogens, more than one virus is found upon autopsy and bacteria are often superimposed. A positive test for coronavirus does not mean necessarily that this virus is always primarily responsible for a patient’s demise.

Science really isn’t about proving things. Medicine is even less. It hardly makes a gesture towards science. Science is about trying to make clear the likelihood of your guess. You always have to describe in terms of the probability. The p factor has to be less than 1 chance in 20, that your results don’t happen merely by chance. So good science recognizes only the probability and the less likely it is to happen by chance the more probable it’s true. Medicine has tried to turn science into saying that this guess is the absolute cause.

Even with the common cold virus it was very hard to demonstrate transmission from a person with symptoms. About half of the people with a cold symptoms had neither coronavirus nor rhinovirus. Nothing could be demonstrated, but when they did have the virus they would take a swab of it and put it in someone’s nose or grow it in human cells from the nasal membranes and then put a concentrate of it in volunteer’s noses, and even then, it would only affect certain people.

So there is a degree of causability.

They would put 10 or 20 people in a room together all day and often they couldn’t catch a cold from a person who had it. So even the cold, you can’t say it’s the cause. But it’s one of the causes. It can be a part of the flu like sickness. But the flu season happens because people are indoors during the winter months, experiencing a very different environment, not getting sun exposure and having a relatively dry atmosphere that makes their nasal membranes sensitive. And so these germs are one of the things. But many others can contribute to the flu season sickness.

The medical propaganda implies that merely the presence of the virus is causing somehow these symptoms. But in lab experiments with the flu virus, certain agents are able to completely prevent the symptoms from ocurring, while the virus will still be there. So the virus replicating, isn’t causing the symptoms. The ability to produce inflammation is causing the symptoms, and the virus is just one of the factors. So the theory of causality by replication just doesn’t make sense. It’s the fact that this particular virus attacks ACE2 on cells, this enzyme is the anti-inflammatory factor, which is one of the factors affected by the virus. It inactivates ACE2 enzyme which is the detoxifying agent to remove Angiotensin. And angiotensin activates the whole inflammatory defense system and will account for all of the symptoms – fever, secretion, edema, all of the known symptoms are relieved when you can block angiotensin. There are already trials on COVID-19 using the sartan medicines, Losartan more specifically which seems very effective at preventing lung injury.

Clive Robinson April 23, 2020 8:02 AM

@ MarkH,

it’s that some of the [antibody] tests (there are many vendors) have results that are nearly random.

I’ve been having a little dig around and it appears to be a similar problem to those early “made@home” RT-PCR test kits.

1, Lack of specificity.
2, Lack of sensitivity.

The first effectively is responsible for the dangerous “false positives” from one of the other human “common-cold” corona viruse antibodies.

The second effect gives “false negatives” which whilst not particularly harmfull to the individual is harmfull to society that needs them back at work etc.

What is not clear is if some or all of the antibody tests have both problems or not. If they do then yes the results would superficially appear random, and should eaaily have been picked up during “approvals testing” (as happened in the UK).

Of more interest is that all these ineffective antibody test kits appear to have be quite deliberately selected by the US FDA for “fast tracking” why this might be the case it does not realy make much sense from the disease managment point of view. But then it was the same agency that mucked up the original testing that might have prevented or significantly reduced the near 30,000 new cases yesterday, of which some 30-40% will die based on current figures in the next few weeks…

But there is another problem that we need not just qualified but accurately quantified quickly. Which is the WHO statment of,

3, “many do not seroconvert”

What this means is that people known to have had COVID-19 have not or have not yet produced antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. I found some information that says it might be 6% of cases which would be about 21million people in the US… Most places have not –as far as we are aware– even seen a 6% infection rate in the general population yet.

But there is another issue that is also arising some respected researchers are making cautionary statments to the effect of,

4, “antibodies may only be good for 18months of protection”.

That is even if you’ve had COVID-19 come the summer or autumn of 2021 you could be getting it again if it’s still “community spreading” which means we could be in for the long haul on this especially with the potential for the likes of Africa and parts of Asia acting as disease reservoirs…

Oh on vaccine front it appears that the group in Oxford UK have received permission to do phase one human trials on young adults using “deliberate infection” they have also “jumped the gun” on manufacturing, apparently the UK government has stumped up the cash to start setting up production immediately even though we have no idea if this vaccine candidate is either safe or efficacious…

I’m not a gambler, so I won’t be volunteering for these reduced trials or the final product. Mainly because I’ve had problems with the “yeah totally safe” flu vaccine in the past, so I reckon I’ll sit this one out.

Miquel April 23, 2020 8:56 AM

@Clive @MarkH

The A&E chiefs’ minutes said that on the weekend of 4-5 April the number of 999 calls in which someone had had a cardiac arrest rose from 55 a day in normal times to 140. Most of the people concerned died, doctors said.

The minutes also reveal acute concern among senior medics that seriously ill patients are not going to A&E or dialling 999 because they are afraid or do not wish to be a burden.

“People don’t want to go near hospital,” the document said. “As a result salvageable conditions are not being treated.”

85 avoidable heart attack deaths daily.
600 deaths each week in London alone.
London is one-sixth of UK’s population.
Every week, 3600 needless, avoidable, excess heart attack deaths due to lockdown-fueled psychosis.


Miquel April 23, 2020 9:17 AM

Cambridge Union will be hosting a debate called Global Governments’ Lockdowns.
Today April 23, 6PM BST
Will be livestreamed on

On the Proposition:
Dr John Edmunds OBE
Dr Christl Donnelly FRS CBE
Prof Karol Sikora
Dr Paul Hunter

On the Opposition:
Dr Anders Tegnell
Peter Hitchens
Prof Leonid Eidelman
Prof Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

JonKnowsNothing April 23, 2020 10:50 AM

@Clive @All

re: Amazon thermal COVID19 detection system


I would look for another reason the cameras are going in other than finding potential COVID-19 sufferers.
My first thought would be it’s a “backdoor excuse” to put in a surveillance system for other reasons.

MSM tidbit:

Amazon-owned Whole Foods is using a data-powered heat mapping tool to monitor unionization risks among its over 500 stores throughout the US

Ah yes, all those close contact tracking apps checking for 15 minutes (or more) of water cooler chats.

I think they all need to re-read Steinbeck. Well, they probably never read Steinbeck, just the Cliff Notes.

MSM Maybe Happy News:

Amazon is the surprise mystery benefactor that donated £250,000 to help UK bookshops weather the coronavirus pandemic

I still don’t think they will be reading Steinbeck…

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JonKnowsNothing April 23, 2020 11:21 AM


 Such as thou art, sometime was I.
 Such as I am, such shalt thou be.

It’s what’s in between that matters. How it matters, is what the discussion is about. Most of us have little choice. You live. You die.

  • Go out and take a chance for some avocado toast.
  • Stay home and eat humble pie.

If you chose to gamble with your life for a slice of avocado toast, that is your call, but do you have the right to “slay me for staying home” by making it ever more dangerous for me? Is my life worth less than your avocado toast?

Clearly, plenty of people think so. I hope you are not one of them.

The full epitaph inscribed around the effigy of Edward the Black Prince

Such as thou art, sometime was I.
Such as I am, such shalt thou be.
I thought little on th’our of Death
So long as I enjoyed breath.
On earth I had great riches
Land, houses, great treasure, horses, money and gold.
But now a wretched captive am I,
Deep in the ground, lo here I lie.
My beauty great, is all quite gone,
My flesh is wasted to the bone

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Edward of Woodstock, known to history as the Black Prince (15 June 1330 – 8 June 1376),[1][a] was the eldest son of King Edward III of England, and thus the heir to the English throne. He died before his father and so his son, Richard II, succeeded to the throne instead. Edward nevertheless earned distinction as one of the most successful English commanders during the Hundred Years’ War, being regarded by his English contemporaries as a model of chivalry and one of the greatest knights of his age.[2] He is on the other hand remembered in France for his well documented brutality and the massacres he ordered.[3]

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MarkH April 23, 2020 1:32 PM


I read an article yesterday about an Ohio man, who on social media had rejected worries about the pandemic as a “political ploy,” and characterized his state’s social distancing rules as “paranoid.”

He died about a week ago from the effects of Covid-19, at age 60.

There’s a famous British war movie (with many departures from history) which starts with the protagonists (two Lieutenants) receiving:

  1. news that a large British force had been wiped out a few hours before,

and then

  1. an order to hold their position against the same enemy army, with the small rag-tag collection of soldiers present … those orders having come from the now demolished larger force

One of the lieutenants greets the order with disgust, saying “Which military genius thought that one up? Somebody’s son and heir? Got a commission before he learned to shave?”

To which the other lieutenant responds, “I rather fancy that he’s nobody’s son and heir now.”

MarkH April 23, 2020 1:46 PM


This “decimating” of independent government structures is always a very very bad sign.

A heartbreaking story from the U.S., which perhaps has not been adequately covered in foreign press, is the extreme damage to our Department of State.

Long-serving foreign service professionals gain deep understanding of the regions and countries in which they specialize, usually are fluent in the local language(s), know the histories, factions, internal tensions, dynamics between states, etc. Often they have personal relationships with others around the world, which are helpful to the conduct of their jobs. Such expertise requires decades to build.

In the first year of Agent Orange, 12% of these people left, their knowledge being of no value, and their counsel contemptuously disregarded, in the Neue Ordnung. Many resigned because foreign policy was shifting in directions which violated the values and precepts to which they had dedicated their careers. I don’t have up-to-date figures at hand, but I believe the hemorrhage has continued.

My country will be lucky if it can restore what has been lost — in this single Department! — within 20 years.

MarkH April 23, 2020 1:55 PM


I haven’t followed the story closely, but my understanding is that it’s the CDC rather than FDA which mucked up the first virus tests … though I shouldn’t be surprised if the FDA also had a finger in the pie!

Normally, certification of medical tests requires a validation process, which answers the simple question “exactly what does a result from this test mean?” (Validation, in this same sense, is also applied to other testing, including psychological tests.)

Note that validity (how accurate) is distinct from reliability (how repeatable).

Assessing validity is not only necessary for meaningful interpretation of test results, but also to understand whether statistical results of testing from one vendor can be usefully compared against results from another vendor’s tests.

In light of the urgency of the present crisis, the FDA has waived the normal validation process, and essentially said to manufacturers, “you guys validate your own tests.” Ergo …

vas pup April 23, 2020 4:18 PM

The stealthy little drones that fly like insects

“Guido de Croon, a Professor at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), acknowledges the debt bio-mechanics pioneers owe to smartphones. His team has built a series of flapping wing drones which rely on mass-produced digital components. “I am very happy with the mobile phone industry,” he says.

Under the family name of DelFly, the creation from TU Delft weighs less than 50g, and takes inspiration from the wing movement of fruit flies. DelFly’s four wings consist of an ultra-light transparent foil powered by a light, economical motor, which lets it fly for six to nine minutes.

The wings might look delicate, but they can touch a surface or even fly into an obstacle and the DelFly will right itself like an insect hitting a window. For most existing drones with rapidly spinning propellers, such a contact would be disastrous.

Smartphone camera lenses feed vision back to AI software and Mr de Croon is developing algorithms that mimic the avoidance senses of an insect.”

Nice video inside as well.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.