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The Corona Crisis gets real

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 03:14:27 PM EST

The Covid-19 crisis is reaching a new phase in Ireland even though, to date, there has only been 61 confirmed cases and one death of an elderly patient with a pre-existing terminal illness. Update [2020-3-12 22:52:5 by Frank Schnittger]: there were 27 new cases in the Republic and 2 in N. Ireland today, resulting in a new total of 90 cases.[/update] The government has just announced a nationwide closure of schools, colleges and child care facilities and strongly recommended all indoor meetings of more than 100 people and outdoor meetings of more than 500 people should be cancelled.

This is in stark contract to the UK where the Cheltenham racing festival with many thousand spectators is going ahead as I write, and also to N. Ireland where no such measures have been announced despite the fact that the outbreak there is at least as serious as in the rest of the island.

The government have also announced a €3.1 Billion emergency aid package for people and businesses impacted by the crisis. On a per capita basis this amounts to almost €630 per person,which compares compares with just €21 in the US and €124 in Italy. Talks on government formation and all meetings considered non-essential have been postponed and President Trump has announced a travel ban on all Europeans from the Schengen area (excluding Ireland and the UK).

Fintan O'Toole: None of us is safe from virus unless all of us are safe (Subscriber only) reminds us that Covid-19 has shaken us out of the complacent delusion that health is a private concern.

This recognition [that health care is a communal concern rather than a private matter] led to what historians call the "great sanitary awakening" of the 19th century. It led from sewage systems to clean water, from mass inoculation to universal national health services. It led, in social democracies, to sick leave. (One of the reasons the United States will be hit so terribly by Covid-19 is that this revolution never fully took hold there: 35 million workers have no entitlement to sick pay. They will go to work because they have to and they will spread the virus.) It is impossible to disentangle social justice from hygiene.

But this tide has been ebbing. The idea of health has been privatised and commodified. Hygiene, a public good, has been replaced by lifestyle, a personal choice. It is not about collective systems and behaviours - it is about my diet, my exercise regime, my body. These are, of course, good and proper concerns: not all killer diseases are communicable. But the irony is that this shift has been made possible only by the success of the communal systems. The very effectiveness of public health programmes - notably the virtual eradication of old killer infections in the developed world - has allowed us to take them for granted. The most bizarre symptom of this complacency is the anti-vaccination movement among the privileged - only those who have no memory of the devastation of ordinary lives by TB or polio or whooping cough can indulge this egotistical hysteria.

Meanwhile queues are forming outside some supermarkets with pasta and toilet paper disappearing off the shelves faster than they can be restocked. Working parents who cannot work from home are wondering how thy can continue to work with no childcare services and schools open. Small businesses - and the tourist and hospitality industries in particular - are wondering how long they can survive as their sales implode. Most meetings and events have been cancelled and travel severely curtailed.

The Irish economy has been riding high despite the looming threats of Brexit, trade wars, global corporate reform and a slowing global economy with GDP growth last year coming in at 5.5% and growth for this year had been projected at 3-4%. The government has been running a small surplus in the past few years and this is now available for emergency funding for the health care services and sick pay for those unable to work due to a need to self-isolate. Employment has risen to an all time high but everyone expects a big crash as a result of this crisis. Many small businesses will not survive despite the extension of loans and business supports by the government and a more supportive attitude from the banks.

It is of course still possible that this is all a major over-reaction and that "normality" will return sooner rather than later. I wouldn't bet on it though. It may not result in deaths anything like what occurred during the "Spanish Flu" outbreak after World War I which resulted in more deaths than the war itself, but the economic disruption will still be considerable.

Leo Varadker has estimated that, ultimately, 60% of the Irish population could get the disease which would result in c. 85,000 deaths in Ireland alone assuming a 3.4% mortality rate. Many are hoping that is a worst case scenario. It is a forecast in stark contrast to Donald Trump's assertion that the coronavirus threat is "totally under control." His strategy of closing boarders long after the virus has arrived on USA shores seems as blinkered as the rest of his policies.

The British government is reportedly considering a Malthusian strategy of allowing the infection to rip through the populace in the hope that the crisis (and economic disruption) will be shorter lived in consequence. That would be a strategy akin to what they pursued in Ireland during the Great Famine 1845-9 which was widely seen in British ruling circles as a necessary correction of an over populated countryside. It reduced the population of Ireland by 2 Million, or 20-25% through a combination of death and emigration and enabled (largely) British landlords to create large estates for their agriculture and pleasure. Let's not go there again.

Great Famine 1945-9

So much for Irish "independence".....

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 03:24:12 PM EST
oops - thanks - edited - a bit of a rush job...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 03:25:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So what happens to the border if the UK does bugger all?  Shutting down the Republic but allowing travel to and from a plague spot is stupid.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 03:29:35 PM EST
This is a classic case of people and countries being dependent on the sensible actions of others. No matter how stringent Irish precautions are, they will be of little use if the UK does little by comparison. I am expecting my forthcoming flight to Spain to be cancelled because it contravenes the "more than 100 people indoors" rule. But if thousands still enter the country from effected areas we are still in big trouble. Almost all cases in Ireland are still associated with recent travel from northern Italy although some cases of internal "community transmission" are starting to be observed. We will have to consider monitoring incoming passengers at airports etc. although apparently this is not yet a public heath expert mandated requirement.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 03:44:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering the virus cases as only "imported" cases is an illusion once it starts spreading in various places in your own country. And insularity doesn't protect you either. Not in the age of Ryanair and Easy Jet. Britons will find out soon enough.
by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 06:28:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just two days ago on the state TV here they said they are only testing cases where a connection with known cases is possible. Heh.
by generic on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 06:31:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
27 new cases reported this evening - most of them now due to "community transmission" within Ireland. The previous high was 10 new cases in a day, so this marks a huge acceleration in new cases.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 07:07:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]

He apparently got it from the guy on the right:
by generic on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 04:23:13 PM EST
by generic on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 05:39:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Real men don't get the virus, didn't you know?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 03:43:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trump's travel ban sidesteps his own European resorts
U.S. President Donald Trump's new European travel restrictions have a convenient side effect: They exempt nations where three Trump-owned golf resorts are located.

Trump is already under fire for visiting his properties in both countries as president, leading to U.S. taxpayer money being spent at his own firms. The president has been saddled with lawsuits and investigations throughout his term alleging that he's violating the Constitution's emoluments clause by accepting taxpayer money other than his salary.

The United Kingdom, which is home to Trump Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links, and Ireland, which is home to another Trump-branded hotel and golf course at Doonbeg, do not participate in the Schengen Area. Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are also not part of the Schengen Area. All three of the resorts are struggling financially.

Corruption and nepotism, the two udders of the Trump regime.

by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 06:38:35 PM EST
So much for the special relationship:

Coronavirus: US to extend travel ban to UK and Ireland - BBC

The US is to extend its European coronavirus travel ban to include the UK and Republic of Ireland.

The ban will begin at midnight EST on Monday (04:00 GMT Tuesday), Vice-President Mike Pence announced.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 07:31:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France will close all schools and universities in the country in response to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, President Emmanuel Macron has announced.

Speaking in a televised address on Thursday evening, Macron said the measures would be implemented from Monday following a spike in confirmed cases of the deadly virus.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 08:57:27 PM EST

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 10:25:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France orders non-essential public places to close - BBC
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has ordered the closure of all non-essential public locations from midnight (23:00 GMT Saturday) in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The measure applies to restaurants, cafes, cinemas and discos, as well as non-essential businesses.

Mr Philippe also called on French people to reduce their travel, especially between towns.

France reported a sharp rise in cases on Saturday, from 3,661 to 4,499.

See below Re: Social distancing.

Martin Hirsch, General Manager of the Paris hospitals system, declared that most caregivers who contracted the virus (about 50 to date) did so during their "social life" (restaurants, movies etc...) rather than at the hospital. Given the generally insouciant attitude of most people for the past couple of weeks, despite the public health authorities recommendations about hand washing etc... this is hardly surprising. However, many people might flip from unconcerned to completely panicked overnight.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 07:44:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK government's coronavirus advice - and why it gave it - Guardian

Caveat my limited understanding, but the UK government's advice contains a lot of reasons or reasoning why radical distancing measures may not be as effective. Take for instance school closures, they say the kids will socialize anyway. Yes maybe but only cliques and friends and not daily. The people who don't socialize outside of school won't and that has, according to studies of the 1917/8 pandemic in the US, much value. I understand the majority opinion is that clamping down aggressively and early is of extreme value. It's the only mitigation measure that makes the exponential growth controllable and the peak significantly lower. Each day earlier can supposedly save hundreds of lives. It's a one-time opportunity. Later on these measures are not as useful.

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now - Tomas Pueyo - Medium

I really hope the confidence of the UK government in the advice that the measures are only 5%-15% effective each and so on is justified. BTW the studies also found that a combination of measures are even most successful, e.g. closing schools AND venues.

And I hope that somehow the peak will appear in three months time as calculated and things will be manageable till then. I think "public fatigue" and flare ups after the initial clampdown are more manageable problems than what's currently happening in Italy. We will have to look at what will happen in China, Hongkong, Taiwan, Korea as to how well post-peak management works. So when the advisors of the UK gov say they are four weeks behind Italy, are they seeing themselves following the same path? Surely not, or...?!

If things turn out as bad as in Italy it would be a cruel irony for Trump's travel exemption for the UK.

Unless a vaccine is found early enough, a majority of people (60-70%) will eventually get it and then herd immunity kicks in. The difference is whether it happens in a few months which would be apocalyptic or if it happens over a stretch of two or more years which would be manageable. The current 'bad' news from a leading modeling group is that the summer months will not bring as much relief as hoped for and the epidemic will be ongoing througout this year and into the next year. This scenario could of course change. But it seems that our social lives will be seriously impacted till at least the end of the year. Which makes me worry about how I can protect my older relatives during that stretch.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 11:07:09 PM EST
Also, close the pubs.


Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Thu Mar 12th, 2020 at 11:15:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a perfect world. Under "free range," ultra-liberal social conditions (with or without weapons), not so much. Update on Ring Vaccination

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 01:22:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given there are only 9 clusters so far in Ireland, ring vaccination would be a useful tool. If we had a vaccine.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 11:07:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent comment, worthy of a front page diary in itself.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 11:04:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, the whole post from Tomas Pueyo is a must-read: It contains a good analysis of the few statistics we have available, mostly from China, making allowance to the fact that many figures, like death rates, cannot be computed precisely yet so wide range estimates.

Useful reminders as to why social isolation, and doing it early, is so crucial for the rate of spreading, the strain on the health care facilities and ultimately the death count. There are useful statistics for the "Spanish flu" of 1917-1918.

Living in the Paris area, I'm on remote work for a number of days now - not everyone can afford that.

Oh, and another point discussed there: the virus may have spread first in Italy, than Spain, France and Germany! this could be due to the fact they are favorite tourist destinations, including tourists from China (whereas the Salisbury cathedral and its famous spire is favored by Russian tourists - well know fact). But it's only a matter of time, one to two weeks, before other European countries reach the same situation, including the British isles: only strict social isolation and quarantine can slow the spreading now.

by Bernard (bernard) on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 07:33:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for recommending. The key take away is:
The coronavirus is coming to you.
It's coming at an exponential speed: gradually, and then suddenly.
It's a matter of days. Maybe a week or two.
When it does, your healthcare system will be overwhelmed.
Your fellow citizens will be treated in the hallways.
Exhausted healthcare workers will break down. Some will die.
They will have to decide which patient gets the oxygen and which one dies.
The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today.
That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting now.

As a politician, community leader or business leader, you have the power and the responsibility to prevent this.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 10:34:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to reliable sources, patient 0 in Italy was contaminated during a conference in Munich at the end of January as were several German attendees. I have been unable to find references to this episode from that period but then I don't speak German. Bavarian medical authorities were aware of it, identified the German patients and apparently kept it under wraps. In the meantime, the Italian patient travelled far and wide spreading the disease.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 12:23:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's fun watching the Tories launch billion-pound packages to save business - even small business which isn't what their friends own.

Even money on Tory-led mass nationalisation? :)

by Number 6 on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 08:39:10 AM EST
None of that is going to happen. What will happen is Civil Contingency, which is Whitehall-speak for Martial Law.

Elections have already been "postponed." Of course Brexit will still be happening on schedule, because the country needs something heroic and inspiring to celebrate during this difficult time.

And plans have been drawn up to allow the police to "detain" Coronavirus sufferers - a much more humane response than trying to find a hospital that hasn't been defunded by ten years of austerity.

Plans have also been drawn up to quarantine - i.e. murder by neglect - the elderly in care homes, and also in their own homes, should they be unfortunate to fall ill without a country house and an independent income to fall back on.

Meanwhile the wheels are about to fall off Wall St.

Interesting times. (I'm sure I've said that before here. But This Time It's DifferentTM.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 08:39:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the global supply chain dies Brexit can be a success. So simply if you think about it.
by generic on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 08:44:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, for anyone who votes 'green', this is your utopia: hardly any travel, everything shut down, no import or export.
by Number 6 on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 08:52:05 AM EST
According to the Irish government, supply chains are not effected. Yet.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 11:03:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sweden isn't going to count anymore.

https://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/samhalle/a/70GQRV/nya-strategin--slutar-rakna-exakta-antalet-coro nafall

"It's no longer important to know exact numbers" says state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell.

by Number 6 on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 10:26:41 AM EST
The UK government is not going to count the detail either. As mentioned in a Guardian article (about a spat between two MPs)

The [UK] government advice for those showing mild symptoms changed on Thursday; people will no longer be tested and it is recommended they stay isolated at home.

Current daily figures are growing by around 30%. At 20% daily we will have 25000 by end March. At 30% daily it will be 115000.

Keep it hidden. Don't want to "frighten the horses" as the Victorians would say.

by oldremainmer48 on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 04:02:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another saying about horses comes to mind ... something about a 'stable door' ... I dunno ...
by Number 6 on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 04:40:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can the UK government stop the Scottish government from counting the numbers? This could quickly become the Scottish equivalent of the potato famine in Ireland, leading to you know what.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 08:21:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/13/coronavirus-science-chief-defends-uk-measures-criticis m-herd-immunity

"This is quite likely, I think, to become an annual virus, an annual seasonal infection."

by Number 6 on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 02:09:13 PM EST
Mon Feb 24th, 2020 at 08:08:48 PM EST
Who controls the narrative of geopolitical CONTAINMENT?--threats, enemies, battles, fights, George Kennan

Before SARS, MERS episodes and since several lethal/deadly/true fatality "novel coronavirus" (yes, another pseudo-scientific term) epidemics have ravished reason, intelligence worldwide only to retired as ignoble, endemic seasonally adjusted "burdens" (yes, another pseudo-scientific term circulating) on GDP growth.

My favorite malignant episode, apart from the ebola living lab pHARMa caper (2014-2016, 2018 to present), is The Bird Flu (2009) a threat originating in the USA that killed in one year 151,700-575,400 people worldwide (12,469 USA), and rapidly collapsed into a "normal" seasonal virus event.

The data visualizations, the estimates, the posthumous counts, the "Spanish flu" augurs, the miracle stunts--we've seen it all before, again and again. And yet our governments, no matter who is fronting the "political class," fails to insure adequate, timely medical relief for everyone of their constituents. Why is that?
Or you could go with RUSSIA! or CHINA! or IRAN! COLD WEATHER! or MIGRANTS!
by Cat on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 06:07:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"And yet our governments, no matter who is fronting the "political class," fails to insure adequate, timely medical relief for everyone of their constituents. Why is that?"

Can only speak for Sweden but if I understand political statement over the past 20 years: basically old people (70+) are a luxury we can no longer afford. Several problems will be fixed at once - lack of care and facilities for the eldelry, housing crisis, unnecessary strain on health care by the nonproductive.

Former minister of finance Per Nuder in 2004 referred to people born in the 40s as "köttberget" - the beef mountain. (As in Butter Mountain.)

by Number 6 on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 06:24:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I worked from home today (still am). Trial run for the pandemic mode. Amusingly, "key personnel" will work from home, while others are expected to go to work... The expendables, I suppose

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 06:38:02 PM EST
All EU staff sent home to work remotely, except those who have to be at work. Pretty much the same all over Ireland now

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 07:28:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coronavirus: EU Civil Protection Mechanism activated for the repatriation of EU citizens, 30 Jan

Ursula got some splainin to do in coming weeks.

fine print: www.mscbs.gob.es
by Cat on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 07:57:01 PM EST
The thing is the EU has relatively little competency in health matters - beyond the European Medicines agency and a role as a research/coordination centre on health and food safety matters.

Basically European health care systems and policies are within the purview of national governments which pursue quite variable policies. I have long argued that this should change as bugs don't do borders and as some services - such as drug procurement- could benefit from the economies of scale and bargaining heft the EU could  bring to the table.

If the Cov-19 crisis does anything positive, it could be to provide the impetus for a common European Health Policy where more aspects of healthcare are managed at an EU level. With the UK gone, there should be less opposition to this.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 09:28:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Things that could be tabled in an after-action phase:

  • All those Asian countries that are currently doing a relatively good job containing the spread had been burned by SARS and MERS before (Pain makes learning easier). For instance either Taiwan or Singapore (I don't remember which) started checking all passengers from Hubei the very next day after reports came out of China. Aggressive quarantining, early school closings like in Hongkong, advanced contact tracing, border closings etc. are other examples.

    Notice how Taiwan, Korea, Hongkong, Singapore are islands or at least geographically easy to close off and small. If a single EU country had restricted travel from China or put strong monitoring on those flights it wouldn't have been very useful. But if all EU countries did the same it wouldn't be so leaky and certainly much easier than monitoring all external and internal borders.

  • Shortage of equipment. The German government put out an order for 10,000 ventilators this week. Masks are in short supply everywhere (some of them were sold off at the beginning of the crisis to China for private use). Even before the crisis hundreds of drugs have been unavailable because the global manufacturing chain basically ends in just two countries, India and China. A repatriation of the full chain onto EU soil will have to be on the agenda. Also major mandatory stockpiles for preparedness.
  • Decision making where everybody waits for everybody else to move won't be enough anymore. Maybe there will be an EU coordinating body for infectious disease control. Certainly more than that disease monitoring tool that the UK refuses to stay a part of.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 12:12:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The USA SHOULD be ordering 100,000 ventilators and IV monitors on an expedited basis.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 04:05:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Medical supplies are on a Just In Time inventory cycle.  Can't ramp-up production to meet a sudden demand because the "Financial Engineers" (sic) ripped all the slack out of the system in order to increase profits.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 04:12:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Spain the intensive care rate is doubling ~ every two days. If that continues it will not be long before hospitals are overwhelmed.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 04:02:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I foresee deep wrinkles in advertorial agenda at Times and Independent, covering housing shortage with golden CRE/RRE sales.
Irish contingency plans include coronavirus patients in hotel beds
by Cat on Fri Mar 13th, 2020 at 10:50:27 PM EST
Robert Peston at the Spectator, on why the UK government response is dangerous:
First, by simply making the assumption that the whole UK population should in a phased way be exposed to the virus, to develop the antibodies and immunity, we run the risk that the peak of the virus overwhelms the NHS whenever it comes.

It is within the government's own planning ranges for several hundred thousand sufferers to need in-patient treatment over the course of a few very short weeks - this terrifies doctors.

And if the modelling turns out to be wrong and the peak can't be managed so precisely as to fall in the summer, rather then in winter, then the hospitals would find themselves in even worse straits (as would all of us).

Also the rest of the world would see the UK's attempt to acquire herd immunity, as the scientists put it, as massively antisocial, in that it would turn the UK into a country-sized breeding ground for the toxic Covid-19 pathogens, when they are still desperately trying to suppress the numbers getting it.

Finally, it is not utterly obvious that the kind of coercion we've seen in China - to confine the people of Hubei to their homes, to suppress the viral spread - is as fatuous as our government believes.

I read this stuff so you don't have to...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 10:28:02 AM EST
My nephew has a long term job in construction supervision in Ireland. He is an architect. He was in Ireland, securing property for his family and had to go to England. When he tried to return to Ireland he was denied entry. He managed to make it onto a plane to the USA just before the ban on Friday. He is now back home in Portland, Oregon.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 04:10:43 PM EST
I hadn't heard of anyone being refused entry. AFAIK this is not current government policy. Is he a US citizen? Very surprised if he had evidence of a job and/or residence in Ireland.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 04:21:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Trying the old school html tagging again. You may wish to wear protective goggles.)

>"Flattening the Curve" is a deadly delusion

The "flattening the curve" idea suggests that if we wash our hands and stay at home while being sick aggressively enough, we won't have to stop the virus from becoming endemic and infecting 40% to 70% of all people, but we can slow the spread of the infection so much that out medical system can deal with the case load.
Dampening the infection rate of COVID-19 to a level that is compatible with our medical system means that we would have to spread the epidemic over more than a decade!

And at least this writer is honest:

My curves are not correct!

My back-of-the-envelope calculation is not a proper simulation, or a good model of what's going on either. Don't cite it as such! In reality, the spread of a disease does not follow a normal distribution.

by Number 6 on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 07:30:32 PM EST
Link doesn't work

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 08:26:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Corrected Link for Flattening the Curve

There's a bit of incorrect html on the end of the original [the <Br or %3CBr if you paste it into the address bar. ]

by oldremainmer48 on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 12:28:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "herd immunity" neologism (read: socially acceptable endemic disease) has never made an sense to me. Narrative and computational biology versions of that "theory" have cropped up from time to time in MSM as if such as public health policy were tried and true, "experienced based," according to modern coin with/without hand-held DATA VISUALIZATION tech. m'k. Sure. Until one gives a moment to historical account or attempts a count of eradicated virus. All I've got is small pox, and that washed out over n generations of ahh seminal innoculation regimes. Raise your finger if you have a scar. Or your gov DoD preserve samples.

Truth is, people simply are not, may never be, sufficiently organized to test theory definitively. Free-range, liberal, etc. As important, European intellectual history abhors AUTHORITARIAN CIVIL indoctrination except religious instruction. So. Medieval medicine. Roll eyes.

by Cat on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 09:35:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Herd Immunity": A Rough Guide


The term "herd immunity" is widely used but carries a variety of meanings [1-7]. Some authors use it to describe the proportion immune among individuals in a population. Others use it with reference to a particular threshold proportion of immune individuals that should lead to a decline in incidence of infection. Still others use it to refer to a pattern of immunity that should protect a population from invasion of a new infection. A common implication of the term is that the risk of infection among susceptible individuals in a population is reduced by the presence and proximity of immune individuals (this is sometimes referred to as "indirect protection" or a "herd effect"). We provide brief historical, epidemiologic, theoretical, and pragmatic public health perspectives on this concept.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 02:04:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What to do in Italy if you're are confined a la casa and get bored? In the country of bel canto, the answer goes without saying:

by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Mar 14th, 2020 at 09:00:17 PM EST
Wuhan is the location of China's first BSL-4 laboratory - Biological safety level 4 is the highest level of safety required for deadly viruses that cause ebola etc. and which has been in operation since 2015. Fears have been expressed that such laboratories (also operating in US and EU) can be "dual use" for developing biological weapons and that there is a history of viruses escaping such contained facilities. Expect conspiracy theories to the effect that Cov-19 is a weaponised virus which escaped... I haven't seen any evidence for the popular theory that the virus originated in Bats or in the local fish market in Wuhan.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 12:12:10 AM EST
is an propaganda-fact of ebola crisis 2014, when developed nations attempted grilled (heat disinfectant unlike summer heat) bat-on-stick-eating W. African quarantine -> CDC zootonic virology specialty, possibly related to oriental tropical disease research since 19th cen. -> Wuhan livestock ("wet market") epicenter -> Fog of Trade War, rumors, and just plain bullshit

  1. 1 Feb, Sen. Cotton (R-AK) transforms Wuhan Institute of Virology into bio-weapon manufacture
  2. 23 Feb, Japanese TV report sparks speculations in China that COVID-19 may have originated in US
  3. 12 Mar, "Trump officials emphasize that coronavirus 'Made in China,'" 14 Mar US State condemns China FM tweets
  4. NY Yella Cake arbitrates.
  5. Still no tests, no masks, no antiviral therapy in USS
by Cat on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 01:42:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Full-length genome sequences were obtained from five patients at an early stage of the outbreak. The sequences are almost identical and share 79.6% sequence identity to SARS-CoV. Furthermore, we show that 2019-nCoV is 96% identical at the whole-genome level to a bat coronavirus. Pairwise protein sequence analysis of seven conserved non-structural proteins domains show that this virus belongs to the species of SARSr-CoV. In addition, 2019-nCoV virus isolated from the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of a critically ill patient could be neutralized by sera from several patients. Notably, we confirmed that 2019-nCoV uses the same cell entry receptor--angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2)--as SARS-CoV.

Zhou, Peng, et al. "A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin." Nature (2020): 1-4.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 01:56:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
one month later
Daszak said that scientists have found about 50 SARS-related coronaviruses in bats all across China and the SARS coronavirus had been found in people in the southwestern province of Yunnan who lived near caves where the virus had been found in bats -- although they showed no symptoms of respiratory illness during sampling.
Wu at the Chinese Center for Disease Control said the data was pointing toward the virus going from bats to another, unknown wild animal, and then to humans. She said no bats were sold or found at the seafood market and the outbreak was first reported in late December when most bat species in Wuhan are hibernating.
Wei Ji, et al., "Cross‐species transmission of the newly identified coronavirus 2019‐nCoV." Journal of Medical Virology (Jan 2020)
archived Sat Jan 18th, 2020
by Cat on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 06:04:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this.

Notably, we confirmed that 2019-nCoV uses the same cell entry receptor--angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2)--as SARS-CoV.

Does this means that an anti-Sars vaccine might make work against covid-19?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 12:52:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No idea

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 04:13:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "fears" are accurate.  Any lab capable of investigating viruses are capable of weaponizing viruses.  The problem with Biological Warfare is the pathogens are not controllable once released into the biosphere.  Meaning any use of the agents will result in an almost certain 'Own Goal' by the attackers.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 02:06:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is that any one would.
by Cat on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 06:10:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't worry: CT is now aired by no less than the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman:

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman tweets claim US military brought coronavirus to Wuhan  - SCMP

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian took to Twitter on Friday to double down on an unproven claim that the US military brought the new coronavirus
to the central city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began.

Zhao urged his more than 287,000 followers in two tweets on Friday morning to widely share an allegation from a Canada-based conspiracy website that the coronavirus - which has become a global pandemic - originated in the US rather than the Wuhan seafood market that is thought to be its source.

"This is so astonishing that it changed many things I used to believe in," he wrote on his official account.

A spokesman for the US embassy in Beijing declined to comment on Zhao's tweets.
The allegation was apparently linked to the US Army's participation in the international Military World Games
held in Wuhan in October, which drew competitors from more than 100 countries.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 11:36:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nonsense. Clearly it was an Israeli bio attack on the Iranian leadership.
by generic on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 01:45:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 03:29:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is something deeply ironic about the possibility that the Cov-19 outbreak will be the undoing of Trump. Not only is he the science denying congenital liar who fired and disbanded the White House anti-Pandemic public health team, but he is a germaphobe who uses hand sanitisers incessantly.

His cuts to public services have undermined public US medical services and made individual, insurance led, privatised health care the dominant model. He has had no concern for environmental degradation, clean water, sanitation and immunisation services and even decried the Cov-19 crisis as a Democratic hoax - until it became impossible to ignore.

He tried to lay off responsibility for managing the crisis on his hapless VP - Mike Pence - but cannot bear to be left out of the limelight, with the result that he will own the consequences totally. He frames every issue as a conflict between Americans and foreigners and even tried to imply that his Mexican border wall could have stopped the pandemic.

It will be interesting to see the political fall-out as the virus gradually eats into his older demographic support base. Trump will not be defeated by an anaemic opponent such as Joe Biden in the November polls. But he might just be beaten by Cov-19.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 12:35:33 AM EST
individual, insurance led, privatised health care the dominant model is the only "model" of USA medical services.

Medicare coverage benefits are extremely limited. Did you know, it doesn't come with long-term nursing care? Indeed, that benefit cost is extra, administer through "supplemental plans" by commercial insurers.

Some indigent (fed poverty level (FPL) asset bracket) elderly apply for and succeed in partial payments through Medicaid insurance provided by the state where resident. Choice of "nursing home" is strictly limited to state roster.

by Cat on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 01:51:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's difficult for middle-class Americans to see how Team Trump destroyed their vision of a fair and reasonabe priced welfare "system", because middle-class Americans haven't the faintest clue what poor people have been dealing with the last 100 years of bogus prison reform, tenant settlement charities, and public health "initiatives"--right up to LBJ's Dixiecrat "war on poverty" which gave away nothing for "free".

Middle-class America is wholly motivated by profession  to avoid discovery. This is Trump's base. They're the sort uncertain why nursing homes in Washington state are COVID19 death traps and indignant that retirees disembarking cruise ships are inconvenienced.

They donate money to either immigrant legal aid or Operation Faithful Patriot, but haven't a tear for inmates and families separated by their own state's prisons.

by Cat on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 02:18:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cruise passengers under coronavirus quarantine say they lack food, basic medical attention
"It shouldn't be my job to keep her safe," Saunders said, breaking into tears. "It should be their job, and they are not doing it."
"We're probably being treated worse than prisoners right now."
by Cat on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 04:05:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frozen pensions: `unfair' policy costs 94-year-old £62,000
Haley has effectively been "punished" for moving to Australia, a Commonwealth nation, rather than one of the countries where your state pension increases in line with inflation.
by Cat on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 04:11:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
archived Thu Sep 27th, 2018
by Cat on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 05:19:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  • trial delays trending
  • election delays trending
  • 6-in-one vaccine trending, US-UK
  • universal influenza vaccine (Fauci and Warren endorsed)
    Scientists used the stem of an H1N1 [US Bird Flu] influenza virus to create the candidate vaccine.  H1 refers to the HA subtype of the virus and N1 refers to the neuraminidase (or NA, another influenza surface protein) subtype. Although there are 18 known HA subtypes and 11 known NA subtypes, only H1N1 and H3N2 circulate among people seasonally. However, H5N1 and H7N9 and other strains have caused a handful of deadly outbreaks and have the potential to cause a pandemic if they become more easily transmissible.
    eyes wide shut. unprecedented. inconceivable. egregious. brill.
by Cat on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 06:36:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this is one of the rare cases of incumbent disadvantage.  Trump won by the skin of his teeth in '16.  In the 2018 mid-terms white suburban women, the demographic that propelled him to a win, decisively turn ed against him and the GOP.  Also Pew Research estimates white voters will comprise ~66% of all voters in 2020 and the GOP needs them to be 70%+

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 02:12:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course there's no guarantee Biden if elected will still be (a) compos mentis

or even

(b) alive

on Jan 20, 2021 ...

... but what the hell

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 02:14:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the probable spread of the bug in America, and its tendency to kill senior boomers, the question may hang on which septuagenarian is still alive.
by Andhakari on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 05:07:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's another reason why a Biden-Warren ticket would be good
by asdf on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 12:36:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Cat on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 01:44:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
he is a germaphobe who uses hand sanitisers incessantly

Guilt complex, see Lady Macbeth.

(I know, it's a stretch.)

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 09:27:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
responsibility for managing the crisis on his hapless VP - Mike Pence

National prayers to defeat the virus?

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 11:38:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The government here is getting some things right:
  1. Early decision to close schools, colleges, mass gatherings, and encourage remote working
  2. Social distancing, contingency plans to increase HSE capacity, hiring more healthcare staff
  3. €3.1 Billion emergency package for self-isolation sick pay, healthcare, support for SMEs etc.
  4. Good communications to encourage voluntary compliance backed up later by legislative provisions if required.
  5. Not relying on "herd immunity" to halt the outbreak - which implies tolerating c. 85,000 premature deaths. The longer we can delay infection peak, the greater chance that a) health services can provide better care, b) summer weather may reduce viral life, c) vaccine created resulting in a much lower death/misery count.
Where it is doing less well is with the speed and scale of the required response - the suspicion is that it will be slow and bureaucratic. What is needed now is:
  1. Tax and loan repayment holidays for SMEs (without interest penalties)
  2. Mortgage holidays and rent freezes, reduced utility charges
  3. Cheap credit for distressed businesses
  4. Health/temperature screening of incoming passengers
All this is possible because we have budget surpluses and the government can borrow at near zero interest rates - far cheaper than individuals or SME's can. The cost of failed businesses is far greater than the cost of tiding them over.

"Helicopter money" is an option, but a more targeted approach to people effected most by covid-19 and others who need it most will probably be more effective and have greater public support. Also it seems the ECB/Lagarde/Germans will probably block helicopter money. Where is Draghi when you need him? Time for Philip Lane (ECB Head Economist) to step up.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 05:01:16 PM EST
The deaths will be horrific for everyone affected, but will pass. The economic effects will affect everyone regardless, and last much longer.

Considering the fragility of the markets and the huge debt burden, we may well be on our way to a full-blown depression.

The only way to prevent that will be to take the measures you're suggesting. Mortgage, rent, and tax payment holidays will keep businesses alive and individuals out of bankruptcy.

Otherwise it's going to be financial carnage, with a fair percentage of the working population bankrupted and homeless.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 05:59:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Escalations today include:
  1. Closure of all pubs and hotel bars. Restaurants to practice "social distancing"
  2. Request by government to employers of 50,000 workers laid off by above measure to keep paying them at least the minimum social welfare rate (c. €203 per week) immediately and the government will reimburse asap.
  3. It is estimated that a total of 110,000 workers have been laid off so far. The government has announced simplified procedures for applying for unemployment benefits that avoid a need for physical presence and queueing at social welfare offices.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 10:06:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain marches to the sound of a different drum

Oddly enough, within 24 hours of Johnson announcing that his government did not believe the time was yet right to suspend football matches, football had gone ahead and suspended itself. It turned out that, whatever "the science" was telling Johnson, the players were not excited about the part earmarked for them in his government's grand experiment.

As Wayne Rooney put it in a forceful column for the Sunday Times: "I was thinking, `I don't want to travel, I don't want to play, I don't want to put my family at risk or for fans to be at risk.' . . . it almost felt like footballers in England were being treated like guinea pigs. The rest of sport . . . was closing down and we were being told to carry on. I think a lot of footballers were wondering, `Is it something to do with money being involved in this?' "

Not that you would have guessed that players were nursing such fears last week when the PFA - the union that is supposed to represent the interests of professional players - issued new coronavirus guidelines. Among the pearls of advice dispensed: players should not share water bottles, towels or bathrobes with colleagues, and they should avoid eating in the dressing room. The PFA published this ludicrous document last Wednesday, at a time when the equivalent unions in Italy and Spain had already demanded the suspension of all football in those countries for the protection of their members.

But the PFA marches to the beat of a different drum; this is England. A country where, in an article published on March 3rd, Jeremy Warner, an associate editor at the Daily Telegraph, said the quiet part loud: "Not to put too fine a point on it, from an entirely disinterested economic perspective, the Covid-19 might even prove mildly beneficial in the long term by disproportionately culling elderly dependents."

The truly fantastic thing about this sentence is that the writer can describe as "entirely disinterested" the view that it might be good if dependent old people were "culled", and doesn't notice a problem. Maybe Moloch's mistake was to appear as a horned demon wreathed in fire and smoke - the presentation made it too obvious he wasn't a good guy. Had he only thought to express himself in the mild tones of a broadsheet business columnist he might even have been able to sell his demands for human sacrifice as "entirely disinterested".

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 10:33:48 AM EST

< wipes tears >

by Cat on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 04:21:12 PM EST
Going viral: Boris Johnson grapples to control coronavirus message
On Thursday, a blog by ITV's Political Editor Robert Peston flagged the epidemiological concept. "The strategy of the British government in minimizing the impact of Covid-19 is to allow the virus to pass through the entire population," Peston wrote.

The idea quickly caught the public imagination -- and not in a good way. The supposed strategy seemed to be in line with comments Johnson gave on TV two weeks ago -- in a clip that went viral -- where he said that "one of the theories" was that "perhaps you could take it on the chin, take it all in one go and allow the disease, as it were, to move through the population, without taking as many draconian measures."

Social media memes quickly spread comparing Johnson to Lord Farquaad from the film "Shrek," who held a contest rather than rescue his desired princess himself. "Some of you may die," the feudal lord says. "But it's a sacrifice I am willing to make."


Officials said ministers have been struck by how quickly the "herd immunity" issue had caught fire ...
Well, [No Shit, Sherlock!]
by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 08:44:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
< wipes tears >
by Cat on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 08:59:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Make us ventilators to fight coronavirus, UK asks Ford, Honda, and Rolls Royce
It was, though, not immediately clear how a manufacturer of jet engines or cars could turn to producing specialist medical equipment, which international parts would be needed or what certification would be required.

< wipes tears >

by Cat on Mon Mar 16th, 2020 at 06:58:49 PM EST
De Blasio calls on Elon Musk to make ventilators for New York City
"Tesla makes cars with sophisticated hvac systems. SpaceX makes spacecraft with life support systems," Musk said. "Ventilators are not difficult, but cannot be produced instantly."
Never go full BoJo
by Cat on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 02:44:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coronavirus - the science: The search for `patient zero'.
Researchers assessing number of undiagnosed and how infectious these people are
What forced a change of tack in the UK on Monday was new data on the impact of Italy's out-of-control epidemic on its health service where 30 per cent of hospitalised patients had to be admitted to intensive care. Modellers at Imperial College and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who advise government crunched those numbers - and the death toll and pressure on the NHS that came out were unacceptable.

The mitigation strategy the government had just announced would lead to 260,000 deaths. That would be not just deaths from the virus, but from other illnesses the NHS would be too hard-pressed to treat. Hence, measures were scaled up again - though not nearly as extensive as in Ireland.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 03:23:06 PM EST
by generic on Tue Mar 17th, 2020 at 03:29:36 PM EST

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