What Do The Models Say About What Happens Next?

We are now isolating ourselves, at least the non-MAGA portion of the population. The numbers of cases of Covid-19 – and deaths – are mounting. What can we expect? What happens next?

Lots of us are wondering what comes next in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We already have an indication in New York City. At the same time, many states and countries are instituting lockdown measures that should decrease the numbers of sick and dead. I’ll use the Imperial College paper to discuss what is likely to come next. Read More

Questions On Statistics In The Epidemic

I have had some questions about how to get numbers for modeling the course of the SARS-CoV-2 infections and buildup of immunity in the population. Today others were asking those questions on Twitter.

I am definitely not a statistician. The only things I know about statistics come from having a team of very capable statisticians working with me on environmental cleanups to tell me how to sample to determine how much needed to be cleaned up, and then how we could tell if things were properly cleaned up.

But I think I learned enough to ask reasonable questions and to suggest what might be priorities. I would greatly appreciate it if knowledgeable people would comment. Read More

DKE-19 Strikes Over The Weekend!

Over the weekend, compounding the epidemic of SARS-CoV-2, there was an outbreak of DKE-19. It even struck the New York Times, and I had to deal with a case of it on Twitter.

DKE-19 results in long and convoluted justifications of letting more people get sick and die so that (maybe) the markets will perk up.

It’s the argument that the British government was making last week until they suddenly turned around completely. Read More

The Imperial College Modeling Of The Coronavirus

The Imperial College study, “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand,” from the Imperial College COVID-19 Response team, is said to have influenced both the United Kingdom and the United States governments.

It models how the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its resulting disease, COVID-19, might spread through those two countries. The numbers of cases of COVID-19 and resulting deaths are high, as are the amounts of time predicted necessary for social distancing. It looks at interventions that can bring the numbers down or spread them out in time.

All models are wrong, but some are useful, it is said. It can be misleading to simply take those bottom-line numbers, though. What models are good for is looking at what changes can be put into the system and which are most important. Read More

Scientific Papers Are Hard To Read

Most of the general information I’m seeing on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 is good! I’m pleased not to be complaining about it for a change. There’s one part of the information flow that needs qualification, though.

That genre is the scientific paper. Scientific papers and Twitter threads from scientists often require interpretation. What I’m seeing now is that articles by reputable science journalists are a better guide to what we know than individual papers or threads. Read More

What Is The Test For SARS-CoV-2?

As I’m trying to dig out the problems with SARS-CoV-2 testing the United States, it’s become necessary for me to learn a bit about how the test works. I am not an expert in RNA analysis, but this is chemistry, which I do understand. I asked Stephen N. Floor, Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell and Tissue Biology at the University of California, San Francisco, some questions and to check my work. All errors and political content in this post are mine.

I am working from the CDC instructions for the kit and their information for laboratories using the kit. Read More

About Robert Redfield, Director Of The CDC

We still don’t know why the CDC decided to develop its own test for SARS-CoV-2. If the dysfunction persists, it’s a danger to other decisions being made about the epidemic. But, like the number of Covid-19 cases in the United States, we just don’t know.

The director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, was involved in the decision, but we don’t know how. It could be anything from a definitive order to passing it off to someone else, which is a decision too. Read More

The White House Coronavirus Task Force

Here are some early thoughts about what the Pence Task Force should do, coming out of my experience in project management.

Determine who is in charge. In Donald Trump’s typical desire to weaken subordinates and watch them fight, he has appointed three people as being in charge of the task force. No work will get done unless they agree who is to be the responsible decision-maker. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Pharmaceutical Profit Alex Azar, or Ambassador Deborah Birx, MD. Once a leader is determined, all members of the task force must turn back Trump’s meddling on this issue.

As a part of setting up a responsibility structure, leaders must be chosen for subgroups as noted in the following topics. Read More

COVID-19 By The Numbers

Let’s look at some numbers just to get a sense of COVID-19’s possible effects. This is not a prediction or an attempt to find precise numbers. Just something to wrap your mind around.

United States population: 329,000,000 (US census)

Number of deaths in 2017: 2,814,000 (CDC)

Deaths from influenza and pneumonia: 55,672 (CDC)

Cases of influenza: 9,300,000 to 45,000,000 (CDC)

That’s a wide uncertainty, no doubt because not everyone who has influenza goes to the doctor, much less is tested.

The numbers of cases of influenza are kept down by vaccinations and immunity in people who have had a similar strain of influenza in the past. COVID-19 has no such mitigating factors, which is why limiting people’s movement becomes important.

Don’t bother to try to make the numbers of deaths from influenza and pneumonia fit neatly with the cases of influenza. My purpose in this post is to provide a general sense of how COVID-19 might affect the United States and give some numbers for you to make sense of.

Right now, the death rate for influenza is generally agreed to be about 0.1%. For COVID-19, it’s about 2%.

If there are as many cases of COVID-19 as there are of influenza, that gives 186,000 to 900,000 deaths. That’s compared to 56,000 for influenza. Heart disease kills about 650,000 people a year, cancer 600,000 (CDC). And, without a vaccine or immunity from earlier infections, those numbers could be larger.