You and Corona

If you really need this much toilet paper you should have gone and seen a doctor before Covid-19 came into existence.

As I am sitting here in Tanzania, I am pondering two small things, one is how on Earth I will get home since my usual route has a closed down border in it filled with armed incompetent soldiers. The other is the virus that has caused my slight travel problems.

Before anyone feel sorry for me, just know that it is pineapple season and they are scrumptious, the beer is cold and nice, and that I have a backup plan worthy of Raymond Reddington in Blacklist on how to get back home.

So, let us deal with the virus, shall we? The reason I want to write this is that in all of the gazillion words written nobody has written about what the virus is, and how we can diminish its effects on a personal level and governmental level.

Obviously I am not a virologist myself, nor a medical doctor, but I know a few of the best in the game, I have by accident worked a bit with viruses, and I can read and know where to spelunk for good sources to read.

This is as such based on a few professors at my Alma Mater (Umeå University, Sweden), WHO, ECDC, The Lancet… and so on. Not a single politician or scared journalist has been involved, I promise.

 

What is Corona?

The horror pictures we are used to see, reality is though that a small minority will end up in a hospital.

If you are a virologist, please feel free to groan about how much I have dumbed this down.

The coronavirus is a large family of diverse viruses, the most common of them we are all familiar with, it is so common that it is known as the common cold. There are a couple in the family that has ominous sounding names like SARS and MERS.

Covid-19 version of the coronavirus is a lot more alike the common cold version than MERS and SARS. They are all branches on the same family tree of viruses, but Covid-19 and the common cold are siblings, and the other two are very distant cousins. At least in how they behave, and how they interact with humans.

Now we must get into what constitutes a good virus from the standpoint of evolution. The only point of a virus is to spread as effectively as possible. A highly deadly virus is not good at spreading, it will burn itself out.

A good virus should be able to infect as many hosts as possible as rapidly as possible, it should preferably not kill its host so it can re-infect it at a later date (when it has mutated a bit), it should be airborne, and able to sustain normal environmental conditions.

Luckily for humans there are very few viruses that are really good at this! The best of them are the influenza viruses, some coronas, Norovirus and a handful more. Almost none of them are overly deadly, but at occasions they can mutate into more deadly versions like the Spanish flu in 1918.

 

Covid-19 and the common cold

Spread rate acceleration outside of China.

Let us imagine that humanity had never had a single case of the common cold and that all of a sudden it showed up and started to infect people. There would be no natural resistance against it, and we would probably be seeing the same lethality numbers and the same spread rate as we are seeing for Covid-19.

We can actually see this effect when people from the equatorial belt relocates to let us say Sweden. As the common cold season starts, I get a bit of sniffles, a slight fever, cough and a runny nose. For let us say an African she would be down for the better part of two weeks in very high fever, impaired lung function, even if she otherwise was strong as an ox.

Does this sound familiar? It should, because Covid-19 is the next common cold.

The reason that we who are used to it does not get overly sick is that we got a natural resistance from back when we where kids. And both the common cold and Covid-19 only gives light symptoms to children (thankfully!), this is what builds up the long-term resistance for later years.

Note the difference between immunity and resistance. Immunity would prevent you from getting it, resistance just gives you better ways of dealing with it as you get it. The reason why the common cold and the flu is not giving you immunity is that it mutates slightly about every 1 to 3 years, but the resistance will still be there in most cases (but not all).

The bad news is that none of us has any resistance to the Covid-19, the good news is that the next time you get it you will have that resistance.

 

Corona and math

Social distancing importance Day 1.

Dear lord, has the schools stopped teaching math? This is a serious question since it seems nobody can even do simple summing, subtraction, multiplication and division. At least as soon as they are afraid of a virus.

Now, let us fire off a few good news from the world of mathematics. We will be firing of a big glaring elephant in the room first.

The number of cases is far larger than the official numbers. How on earth can this be good news? And why the hell do you say this?

According to the WHO and the ECDC between 10 to 20 times the official number of cases are mild enough so that people stay at home not bothering the hospitals, so they are never reported. These numbers even consider that people are scared and go bug the health authorities as soon as they have diarrhoea and demand to be tested for Covid-19.

Now I will explain why this is really good news for most of us. We have all seen the numbers for lethality ranging at around 2-4 percent. These numbers are for hospitalized cases. Nobody except a few professors seems to have done the follow up math and divided it with the stay at home cases that are not in the statistics, and that are not dying.

Oops, suddenly, the lethality is down to 0.1 to 0.4 percent. This really makes a difference doesn’t it? Do you really need all those toilet paper rolls now?

The next good news is that as far as I could find out 1 child has died. That child had a pre-existing condition severely weakening it. So, unless your children or grand-children are risk-patients since before, they will survive corona.

 

The bad news

Well, the first one is simple. Most of us will get Covid-19 sooner or later. But, if you are not an at-risk patient with cardiac, pulmonary, or other diseases limiting your ability to resist the virus, or are really old and weak, you should be fine. Probably though you will feel like shit for a week or so.

Due to over-reactions from politicians and economists about 10 to 20 percent of you will lose your jobs. Most will though get them back quickly as this is over. Also, if you are retiring right now your retirement money will be crippled, a lot.

There is a risk for a long-term economic depression as world trade takes a major hit. Some governments try to hinder this, some actively are making it worse in blind panic.

 

Covid-19 and food

Long term effect of social distancing. Good limitation on hospital overload, lessened economic impact.

There is also a very large radioactive elephant in the room here. And that is food. Almost nobody ever ponders that the largest in volume traded goods on the planet is food. Without that trade a lot of countries in the western world will starve to death.

The general consensus in the food industry is that the planet at any given moment has a spare surplus of 14 days of food. As soon as that is gone you will be on rations, and trust me, hoarding will just make things worse.

So, here comes the first practical tip of the day from me. And here I am the expert, I am after all the CEO of a food conglomerate (bet you did not know that one).

Buy food for 14 days for you and your family. This will not bring the reserves below the critical threshold, and it will keep you through any quarantine conditions, and it will sustain you as you feel like crap with your bout with Covid-19.

Unless you live in Flint Michigan you do not need to buy bottled water. And, unless you plan to masturbate like a bat out of hell while having Covid-19 you do not need a lifetime supply of bog rolls. Sorry for the French here, but you just do not need to hoard bog rolls, Covid-19 does not give diarrhoea.

Instead, buy normal food that you like to eat, and a slightly larger proportion of comfort munchy things and comfort things to drink. Cookies, candy and Coca-Cola is not good in the long run, but they do tend to make you feel less miserable. Your version of comfort things may vary.

And most important, eat the stuff. Do not let it spoil and throw it away. Anything you throw away will eat into your personal part of the 14-day surplus. It is okay to borrow into that surplus, but not to exceed it, or destroy it. M’kay?

 

Why should you do something?

Effect of acting early limiting spread rate.

The real and good reason for you and your country to do things is so that the rate of people needing hospital care does not exceed the maximum health care capacity. In other words, the best thing to do is spread out the rate of spread over time.

Remember, this is basically a nasty common cold, and you can’t stop the common cold from spreading, just delay it.

This will save a lot of lives. Remember that most of us will not need to go to the hospital at all, but those who are old and weak, and those who are in at-risk groups will most likely need those hospital beds to stay alive.

Oh, and being scared is not the same as being an at-risk group. If you do not think you are dying, stay at home. Do not be an ass and take up valuable resources that others need far better than you do. In other words, if you do not have a serious problem breathing, or a fever above 42 degrees, stay at home. Take pills to lower the fever, drink fluids, be miserable, do not be an ass.

Unless of course you really are an at-risk person, then you should consult via phone with your medical professional on what would be advisable in your specific case early on as you get sick.

 

What can you as a person do?

First of all, wash your damn filthy paws. Do it often, do it well, do it especially if you have touched someone, or have been outside touching stuff.

Soap is better than hand sanitizer with alcohol. The virus is covered in fatty lipids, so soap will break down the fatty lipid cover thusly killing the virus. Yes, trying to make the virus drunk does help, but soap is better.

If you want to use both alcohol and soap it is important to apply the alcohol first, wait a few minutes, and then wash those filthy paws. The other way around and the water on your hands will lower the alcohol content below usefulness.

Second thing do not shake hands. Bump feet, elbows, if you really need to connect. Best is to place your hand on your heart or make a small Asian bow.

Try to stay a minimum of two metres away from other people if possible. But, do not be an ass about it.

If you start to feel sick (throat pain), stay at home for a minimum of ten days. If you need things, do not go out, call friends and ask them to deliver stuff on your doorstep. Do not thank them in person!

Do not visit elderly or at-risk groups. You can visit panic-stricken people, as noted above they are not an at-risk group.

Please feel free to call elderly and at-risk people and ask if they need help, or groceries and medications. Be it family, neighbours, friends, or total strangers that you notice might need help. Please call and ask, this is antithetic to being an ass, it gives you anti-ass plus-points.

Do not go into full panic swing and stay at home when healthy with your healthy children and healthy spouse. This is hurting society quite a bit, especially the economy that is already hit hard. This might sound counter-intuitive, but unless you have a work where you can work at home, go to work. Society needs you. And the children are not at risk anyway.

Oh, and take your basic vitamins. They will boost your immune-defence system, there will be a follow up article on this from one of our readers.

 

What should a government do and don’t?

Stopping large groups of people meeting is a good thing. Exact number may vary, Sweden for instance have gone with the number of 500 people or more, others have opted for smaller numbers. This limit spread rate considerably. Sorry that your tennis hand-soccer is impeded.

Banning communal transports such as trains, buses and airplanes are not a good idea. This will unduly hurt the economy for those who must take these to get to work. On the other hand, if you can avoid them on a personal level, it is a good thing to do.

Pumping money into stricken companies trying to save jobs and making certain that there is food on the table is a good thing. It is probably the most important thing a government can do, after all there will be life after Covid-19. Sweden for instance has deferred company tax payments and is loaning money to companies interest free on a monumental scale to keep companies afloat and the all-important trade running.

Closing borders is just stupid. First, if the country already has cases, closing the border is to late. And even if there are no known cases, someone will just meander across the border and whammy, you have the disease.

Instead closing borders will make millions into Prisoners of Azkaban in foreign countries, hamper trade, and generally hurting the economy.

Personally, I am currently a Prisoner of Azkaban with Danish soldiers being my personal Dementors. I do though have a very cunning and evil plan to smuggle myself from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania back home to Sweden. As I mentioned above, Raymond Reddington in Blacklist would be envious.

Closing schools might sound like a good idea, it is not. Basically, you will have a lot of parents at home guarding their healthy children. Quite a few of those at home will be doctors and nurses. It will also hamper an already stricken economy. And, remember that children deal with Covid-19 quite well as it is.

The last advice is, do not be the United States of America. Being without universal healthcare is a death trap. Not having sick days is a death trap. Not having a working social security system is a death trap. Having a population not able to afford health care is a death trap. And so on.

And the final good thing a government can do, keep at least the food trade freely running. Helping to create starvation is very much an ass thing to do.

 

Conclusion

Covid-19 is not the end of the world, it is “just” a bad version of the common cold virus that we are not used to. Take care of your elders and at-risk friends by not visiting them, and by making sure they have food and medications.

If you feel panic, place a towel over your head. It obviously does not work, but it is at least fun to watch for the rest of us.

And I return to the most important thing, do not be an ass. And please dear something, stop hoarding bog rolls, it is just a nasty ass version of being an ass.

And finally, if you are interested, I highly recommend reading more at the sites of ECDC and WHO. I know that most of the readers here hold the Icelandic authorities in high regard so that is also an option. I also urge everyone to not spread things from any other sources, there have been numerous weird things spread lately, let us put an end to that.

CARL REHNBERG

291 thoughts on “You and Corona

  1. New star at Reykjanes. Here is the IMO specialist remark:

    “Today at 10:32 am an earthquake of M4.2 was detected some 3 km NW of Gunnuhver in Reykjanes. IMO has received many felt reports from Reykjanes and was even felt in IMO. Few aftershocks have followed. The latest results of deformation around Mt. Thorbjorn on the Reykjanes peninsula indicate that inflation causing uplift in the area has started again. The uplift is slower than when measured in january, but seems to be in the same location. The most likely explanation for the signal is that inflow of magma started again.”

  2. This was posted by LittleMe on ToL website, I think its quite interesting.
    Can our resident experts comment?

    Now here is a thought.
    Ready made vaccine possibility.
    There is an odd thing about CV-19 and that is that 50% of people show no symptoms and many show very mild symptoms, which is odd.
    Now, its been pointed out that the ‘common cold disease complex’ has many coronaviruses in its compendium, indeed so many that typically people fall to an old strain that they have lost complete immunity to.
    So could it be that out there is a strain within the ‘common cold complex’, maybe several, that confers complete or partial immunity to CV-19? If this is so that explains the odd range of symptom aggressiveness.
    Its not unexpected, after all the very first vaccine, against smallpox, was developed by infecting people with the closely related disease cowpox (I kid you not if you don’t know this).
    Lets say we could find one or more protective strains in the ‘common cold’ line up. Its infective so all we need to do is to get people infected and ask them to spread it around naturally. Further it needs no testing because its a natural wild virus already (quite) common in the environment.

    Worth a look?

    • Worth a lot, yes, but I think the SARS, MERS, COVID subset is very different from the other 4 cold coronaviruses.

      In fact I was wonder myself why we had 4 coronaviruses for centuries and all of a sudden we get 3 new coronaviruses within 20 years. can only be possible if such viruses that cross the animal barrier be pandemic for a short while and then get extinct. However, we never heard of coronaviruses pandemics in the past few centuries. I am astonished by this fact. Plenty of historic reports of many waves of plague, smallpox, cholera, flu, tuberculosis… none of the cold coronaviruses, but three after 2003

      And clearly SARS and MERS cant be related, or can they? They appeared in very different parts of the world and different hosts. All is strange confusing even for a biologist like me.

      • these are beta-coronaviruses (SARS and the current virus) I think MERS too but need to check.

          • Rhinovirus is the most common “common cold”. Other viruses causing the “common cold” include adenovirus, enterovirus, RSV, parainfluenza, coronavirus and several others. Cocksackivirus maybe.

          • Otherwise you might be on to something. I am pretty sure I caught some kind of coronavirus back in the mid-90’s. It was going around the Bay Area and Pacific Northwest in the USA, lots of people had it. Worse than the flu, flat in bed for two weeks. Because being in bed for two weeks is boring, I ended up trying to identify via virology textbook what family of viruses presented a clinical picture most consistent with my symptoms.

            I hope that one makes me immune to this one. I hope for their sake nobody has caught this virus after getting SARS but if so would be interesting to know their history.

      • We’ve only had the technology to distinguish them from influenza viruses for a century or two. Most likely there have been coronavirus pandemics before, but they and influenza pandemics were all lumped together under the designation “flu”.

    • …and comments in the media about fighting fake news about the quake and trying to convince people not to hoard gas/petrol. Haven’t they heard that it’s bogrolls you’re supposed to hoard.

  3. Something else, two major news: yesterday developed a sudden high fever. Being that we had indirect contact with a confirmed covid case and I already a bit of dry cough, that was a bit unnerving. Never had a cold or flu that behaved like yesterday, such a sudden rapidly increasing fever without any other symptom. Today I notice a bit of chest tightness and had a bit of itchy dry throat and cough. Fever mostly gone, or very low. I am quite confident it might be it. But I became also relaxed and adopting humor and high spirits, as there is nothing else to do, other than rest and drink warm water. 50% of infected people are nearly asymptomatic and maybe 30% are mild. That is a reassuring fact.

    Found today some igm and igg antibody testing casettes for covid19, which I promply ordered. One test costs only 10 so I will be able to know whether I am positive or not, as the UK stopped testing already (except for hospitalised patients). However this test only works after one develops antibodies, so only after a week or two after first symptoms.

    • Well, if you don’t get worse in a week, you’ll probably get better. I think most of us will catch it eventually.

      • Its usually 5 days between fever onset and shortness and breath and 2 more days to hospitalization. But many case never reach these two stages. As tomorrow its day and I feel rather fine, odds are on my side. Also the cough seems to have never picked up. Probably a good sign too.

        And finally, I walked today 20min, and noticed my lungs are at least 90%. I wouldnt run, but walking fast was easy. That is a very good sign.

        However the incubation can be long. So I would consider myself out of the risk zone until probably 25 days after the fever onset.

      • There are more reports of an antibody test being made ready for use. One proposal is to use it on all donated blood to test the real spread of the disease. It will be a big help in the recovery from this, knowing who is immune! Assuming they remain immune.

        • This is exactly what they plan to do in the Netherlands: Use donated blood to test for antibodies to follow the buildup of resistance/immunity in the population

        • More importantly it should allow carers and health workers to be screened because currently there are an extreme risk to their patients as its probably only them that has contact and thus bring them death.
          Deliberately OTT because this group is NOT safe,

          • These kits are only active if you had the disease. They work on antibodies, and the only way to aquire antibodies is to have been exposed to antigens, read the virus.

          • Feel fine today. Had some chest tightness along the day and fever mostly absent (just a minor spike in the evening to 38C) and I am 90% convinced it is covid. But as a scientist only testing will confirm it.

            I ordered the test and was lucky as the kits rapidly sold out in hours, my intention is to screen myself and my family, but I need to wait 7-20 days after the day the symptoms started, for antibodies to be detectable.

            Of course, if one household was not exposed, the test will be negative and there is no sense to test. It seems to make only sense in cases like mine, that strongly suspected of covid, and I want to be reassured after I am healed that I am just immune, assuming I am.

            The test tests for igg and igm antibodies. It is very experimental but the Uk government is receiving these kits too and investigating them, before launching them.

            I will have to wait a few days until testing. My symptoms are just entering day 4. My antibodies are probably just starting now to be produced in my body. Probably still below detection limit.

          • Eh? Oh yes, I see, your antibody production overshoots the removal of the disease. That means this test is not very sensitive at all and I’ll bet immunity will not be detectable in a month or two. Your immune response though, should effectively control it for very much longer than that, See my post on BVD.

    • Take care, hoping that you make a quick recovery. Would appreciate kit details if you don’t mind sharing

      • I bought mine at home health UK but it became out of stock soon after. Just visit the website. Several other companies sell it too but are out of stock and you need to be a registered doctor to order them. Just google “igm igg antibody covid test”

  4. Another Apollo astronaut has died. Al Worden flew on Apollo 15 and in this time of self-isolation, was officially the most self-isolated person in history as he orbited the Moon.

  5. just going to share this post from a friend of mine

    I’m seeing a lot of people worried about numbers and percentages at the moment, and I just wanted to weigh in as a data scientist.
    TL:DR – stop panicking, keep your distance, and wash your hands. And don’t fall prey to overly simplistic statistics.
    1/ *Most important*
    *** All models are wrong, but some are useful ***
    Yes, at the moment we are experiencing the exponential part of a logistic (sigmoid) curve, which means that the number of cases is going to go up dramatically over the next few days. This is normal. We are still talking about small absolute numbers here.
    The curve will flatten because of the interventions that are being put in place. Wash your hands and keep your distance, and you’ll help.
    2/
    When people start throwing around statistics like: “1% death rate!” – ask the important questions. 1% of what population?
    It can’t be 1% of the entire population, because we haven’t tested the whole population.
    1% of the population of people who have serious underlying medical problems, or 1% of the population in heavily polluted areas – these are completely different absolute numbers than 1% of everyone. And even then, we can’t be sure that 1% is an accurate figure.
    3/
    We do not have good data for this outbreak. We have limited number of tests, and are basing the modelling on the data we have. That data is skewed to people who present at hospital with difficulties, or for people who have underlying health issues.
    https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/17/a-fiasco-in-the-making-as-the-coronavirus-pandemic-takes-hold-we-are-making-decisions-without-reliable-data/
    This is not to make light of this – people dying is a bad and terrible thing. Wash your hands, and don’t be an unwitting vector of transmission to someone with a worse immune system than you.
    4/
    The Imperial paper that gives predictions is a good one. https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf However, it has not been peer reviewed. And the projections it is making will become more and more inaccurate as time goes by, because the underlying situation will change as a result of policies put in place now. That is ok!
    These predictions are not the sort that you get in stories where no matter what the heroes do, they come true. These predictions can and will be impacted by what people do.
    Keep your distance and wash your hands.
    5/
    There are a lot of very clever people working their proverbials off to try to get a handle on this situation and what can be done about it. The literature is open and available https://pages.semanticscholar.org/coronavirus-research
    If you are worried, go read. Learn. But remember, epidemiology (and data science) are tricky things. It’s always going to be that little bit more complicated than you expect.
    6/
    People are drawing a lot of comparisons to the 1918 flu, and the data that was collected then.
    That was over 100 years ago. Medical research and general population health has improved an awful lot in that time.
    7/
    These are difficult times, I don’t deny that. People are suffering, and people are being stupid.
    Remember to be kind to yourself and others. For those still going out to work because they’re front-line staff, good luck, and thank you! For those isolating at home, good luck and thank you!
    We’ll get through this

    • There is undoubtedly panic which is induced by the media, but also frankly induced by the fact that an awful lot of people are just not up to making proper decisions about this sort of thing. They are terrible at properly assessing risk and they not only don’t have the knowledge to make a proper assessment, but they actually lack the intellectual capacity to acquire that knowledge.

      Key thing with this is to look at the epidemiological statistics we have available. That’s the best we can do for actual data. The unmitigated epidemiological stats when plugged into computer models produce jaw-droppingly awful outcomes. Hence the fact that governments all around the world are reacting so vigoriously over this. Thing is if you look at the resolved cases and extrapolate death rate from them, whilst allowing for an order of magnitude of under-reporting of actual cases you still get absolutely terrible potential case fatality rates.

      Take the UK as the base for this since it’s where I am. So we currently have 2,692 confirmed cases. Of those 137 have died and 65 have recovered. So that’s 137+65=202 resolved cases. Multiplying by 20 since that’s the upper range of under-reporting that the UK government talked about the other day gives us 4040 resolved cases. We’ll assume that all COVID-19 deaths are known about. So death rate adjusted for 20-fold under reporting of cases is 137÷4040. That’s 3.4%. 3.4% of resolved cases have died if we assume 20-fold under reporting of cases. How does the average seasonal flu compare? 0.1% of resolved cases die. Even assuming 200-fold under reporting of cases still only takes us down to 0.34% death rate, still 3.5 times more lethal than seasonal flu. Add in the fact that this disease is considerably more infectious than seasonal flu and this shows why the governments are reacting the way they are.

      So yes it very, very, very much CAN be 1% of the whole population at risk of dying. A 1% death rate is reached at 66-fold under-reporting of case numbers for the UK. Is it plausible that we have 20-fold under-reporting of case numbers? Quite possibly. Is it plausible that we 200-fold under-reporting of case numbers? I very much doubt it. Now that 1% will be very heavily weighted towards those with pre-existing health conditions, which actually makes it even more terrifying for them.

      I have seen estimates that it’s about 1.4 million of the UK population who are at most risk. So let’s ignore the moderately at risk for the moment and just divide the population into extremely at risk and normally at risk. Overall UK population is 66.4 million, so 1.4 million is 2.1% of the population. So 1% overall would be 665,000 people dead. Let’s say the extremely at risk population are 10 times more likely to die than the general population. So to produce an overall death rate of 1% what would the general population and at risk population percentages look like? Let x be the number of deaths in the ordinary population and y be the number of deaths in the general population and a be the death rate in the ordinary population.

      x+y=665,000

      x=65 million*a

      y=1.4 million*a*10

      Substituting in we get:

      65 million*a+1.4 million*10*a=665,000

      Multiplying out and grouping terms we get:

      79 million*a=665,000

      a=0.84%

      So with that we get 0.84% of the general population dying and 8.4% of the at risk population dying for an overall death rate of 1%. In raw numbers that would be 545,000 from the general population and 118,000 from the at-risk population dying with that particular split.

      This is what happened to the immunologically naive populations in the Americas when Europeans turned up, except that they had to deal with several different extremely nasty pathogens at the same time with considerably worse death rates than COVID-19. If a new pathogen of this type becomes pandemic, assuming an effective treatment is not found or that a vaccine does not get developed then eventually it will burn its way through most of the population until herd immunity is established. Given the asymptomatic transmission of this disease it is virtually impossible to completely break the chain of transmission. It keeps flaring up and flaring up and flaring up until eventually it burns itself out.

      • An astute analysis.
        The thing that a lot of people forget is the time period. The rapid incline of cases and hospitalisation causes an overwhelming of health services, and services beyond.
        It’s why the UK Prime Minister rapidly changed course.
        In my part of the UK the health services are primed for a major incident – like a 747 crashing at Gatwick. But the escalation of a nasty virus is a very different ball game.

        • Yup. At its peak this virus could easily be like several full crashed 747s needing to be dealt with at one hospital. However this is a peak that stretches over a considerable period of time. Imagine trying to deal with several full crashed 747s at one hospital who all need to stay in hospital for two to three weeks. THAT is the sort of scenario that the unmitigated disease could produce.

          • I hear that solicitors are overloaded with people wanting to create or rewrite their wills. I just had to put down a sick hen this evening it seemed particularly poignant.

            If only we could close the bridge onto Skye without having to starve to death as a consequence.

        • YES, but consider how much the existing course of action is costing every one of us, now and into the future? Basically if we do get vast numbers all at once, if I’m in the group I go for a mass grave in the towns local flower garden, dug by a 360 (obviously) and then after the peak ( a few months) some nice flower beds and trees and a great big plaque with everyone’s name engraved on it. WAAAY beats some soon forgotten tombstone or place where the ashes have been spread that nobody remembers. They will all remember grandad who died in the great virus epidemic on the 2020’s, and go and look for my name on the plaque from time to time.

  6. Yet another virus… Sorry.. Green star! In Reykjavik peninsula. Has to be manually checked.

    • New swarm north of Grindavik. Has Torbjörn finally decided to break through?? 🙄

    • Yes, and the yellow triangle has now been restored to Reykjanes on the IMO’s “Volcanic Eruptions” tab after it was taken away.

    • GPS measurements indicate further inflation in the area. The inflation had stopped for a while but now it seems it’s continuing, although at a slower pace than before. An eruption would be a welcome distraction from the virus. Let’s just hope it stays out of Grindavík.

      • I hope the eruption, if it does come, doesn’t come too soon: it could be the perfect Icelandic tourist eruption and good for the economy, too. (Provided it doesn’t close Keflavik.)

        Agreed about Grindavik, although personally I wouldn’t mind if it took out the Blue Lagoon, that could be bad for the tourist buck as well. Strange times.

        • Any idea of “not too soon”?

          After someone have developed a vaccine?

          After almost everyone survived or not survived an infection of #COVID19?

          After someone introduced a “Penicillin” for virus treatment?

          After all the #CoronaVirus infected ones were deployed to Guantanamo?

          Any other ideas for an end of this mess would be welcome…

          Also I really would appreciate any kind of time frame (end dd/mm/yy) for “not too soon”…

          • Calm down.
            Current best set of data we have is https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf
            which has a table#1. The text above states that they believe 50% of cases are asymptomatic. I have seen quotes that 80% are mild or asymptomatic but lets use 50%.
            Please note with care that cases ‘with underlying medical problems’ are INCLUDED in the statistics.
            Table #1 Take those 49
            % Hospitalised 10%
            % critical hospitalised 3.8%
            % fatality 2.2% (50% asymptomatic).
            If 27M in this cohort then 600k deaths. 2,400k survivors.

            Total UK deaths is about 600K, and many/most of the latter group will already feature without CV-19 in the next year or two.

            Now we can argue a lot about how these figures should be used and this is a very absurdly naive way to do it BUT I will hold that increase anything for one cohort then you must reduce it for the other to balance.

            IMHO Its essentially impossible to develop, produce and deliver a vaccine to 2B people in under 18 months. I doubt you could do it for an existing flu vaccine in under 12 months. Its as I said at the very start when the infection characteristics were know, we are all going to get it in the end. This was because I have read a every new scientist and sciam for 60 years and its what articles there have said repeatedly. The unstoppable virus is one that has a long pre-clinical infection period, which is cv-19 to a tee. Luckily its very very mild in most cases, and I remember asian flu (1950’s), and for several days I thought I was dying!

            PS current UK doubling time remains at 2.5 days, but should decrease in the next 7 days, this is NOT GOOD as essentially our entire population is immunologically naive and the economy is already trashed.

        • I am sorry if my post became a cause of concern. I had no particular time-frame in mind when I wrote, but I am preparing myself for a good 6 months of disrupted life. And, since I am a keen climber, that means no rock climbing – I’ve already cancelled an ice climbing trip to Scotland – and I am not going to get a trip to the Alps this summer; on the other hand, perhaps I’ll get a trip to Iceland in the autumn. Maybe not.

          There’s been a lot of wonderful science on display in this discussion but I am not a scientist. I’m a theologian who in another life would have been half-decent at sums and been a scientist. So that means that of the diverse range of models and interpretations that “the science” offers, I need to try to find the best amongst them and to calibrate my hopes, fears and expectations according to it/them. Reliable news sources are a tremendous help – BBC, FT, Guardian.

          Back to Iceland: even if we won’t be able to get there, knowing Icelanders, if an eruption does happen there’ll be webcams that’ll bring us live feeds.

          • Thanks so fare…

            “…
            “We do have a big problem in what the exit strategy is and how we get out of this,” says Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh.
            …”

            BBC News – Coronavirus: When will the outbreak end and life get back to normal?
            https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51963486

          • Well, I am not a scientist, but I am grateful that we have some superb medical scientists in this country and I am sure they, and their colleagues around the world, are working “flat out like a lizard drinking” (as Aussies say) to get on top of COVID-19.

            Until they do? Well, I can’t achieve anything by worrying, so I am trying to live a day at a time, re-calibrating my expectations, and learning new routines for me, my friends and loved ones, and neighbours – especially in these first few days of adjustment which are more that a bit of a shock to the system.

          • I know some superb theologian scientists. Including from the Vatican Observatory.

      • And now an M3+swarm, again, at Krysuvik following > M3 at Grindavik and before that at Reykjanes, again. Interesting how the domino effect of >M3s is following the pattern of the faults, as Carl expained in an earlier post on this event. Anyone with more geological nous care to comment/speculate?

  7. FRANCE ;

    50% of the cases in intensive care are less than 60 years old.

    7% of deceased patients were less than 65 years old

    (Source : Direction générale de la santé France – le 18.03.20)

      • Its the same in the netherlands aswell.
        Experts suspect that it has to do with Carnaval. Which has resulted in a far bigger spread under the youth than the elderly so they are overrepresented in the statistics.

    • Most older people have been hiding out if not outright self-isolating. The youths on the other hand, are out and about.

  8. I think this is inflation but I am not sure, If it is then this would compliment something else that has happened with this system recently that I would write a potential article

      • I think it is, none of the signals of the volcano at the time of this data showed any signs pointing to deflation. I need some more feedback so I don’t make myself look like an idiot with the article I have in mind.

      • Wait ok that was devious… opening the image in a new window reveals it in the link URL… Nevado del Huila.

        Don’t take it hard but a name, description and context would help when posting info 🙂

          • Dear Lurk,
            from their point of view the chances of anything worse than a rather uncomfortable day or two are almost zero and then they will be immune. This is good because then they are removed as a vector for the disease and it won’t interfere with exams. To be honest I’m going about my usual stuff, supermarket yesterday pub and dinner tonight, and hope I get it and then its over and done with one way or another. The science periodical I read have been saying for decades that a virus that is infective before its symptomatic will be effectively impossible to stop, and I believe them. For this one its back to my childhood and youth when dangerous viruses were all around and you just caught them and hoped you would survive. Even oxygen was probably not really available. What was done was to try and catch it when damage was least, although that was often out of your hands. Catching most as an adult was very dangerous.

          • But you’d agree that revealed mystery offers even better enjoyment; I mean you wouldn’t want it perpetually hidden, at arm’s length, would you? 😉

          • Well it’s a casual mystery, Albert but If you would like I can give you all a real mystery challenge

            Lurking, The fun I can find with not stupid people but dangerously stupid people is imagining brutal ways to give them pain, but I don’t think admin will let me post that and I also don’t want to get on the FBI’ s watchlist.

        • It’s the return of the VC-riddles, Before my time, but it was one every friday, right?

  9. And in other news: a comet is about to go viral. Comet Atlas is heading for the sun and should be visible to the naked eye from the north in May. It is not expected to be particularly bright, nor will it get particularly close to earth. But it is behaving a bit unpredictable and is brightening much faster than it should. If that continues, we will have the show of the decade. But the brightening probably indicates it is falling apart, in which case it could fizzle. Fingers crossed.

      • I’ll have to hit up my friend for information on this.
        In fact, she’s done a few pieces for “The Sky at Night”…Maybe she’d be willing to do something for VC ?

    • I wonder how the ancients would interpret this harbinger of undoubtedly more disease, locust swarms, storm, war etc…

      • I saw the comet yesterday with my telescope, very nice, and it is faintly detectable with binoculars already.

        I did this as I continue to be still ill. I guess seeing the comet for 10min is something I enjoy doing in life.

        Have fever already since 4 days, but only first day was high, it has been low grade since then. Since yesterday barely no fever. And guess what, since 2 days ago, chest tightness and a feeling of wanting to cough a very dry cough, I am now 95% convinced that what I have is covid (remember I had indirect contact with a confirmed case at a local school but they stopped testing in the UK since then).

        I will be doing an antibody test next week.

        Hopefully my slight set of symptoms recovers in the next days. As this weekend its my day 5 and 6 with it, these are critical days to see if symptoms become lighter. There is sometimes a certain nervousness about it. NHS seems to only be able to pick patients if feeling very bad. How I would wish to be now in a continental European country, where they have far better health systems and health policies (sorry for the rant) – my life experience.

        This is a very nasty virus. People can get their lungs destroyed without barely knowing it.
        Coming like a wave in soon to most countries across the world.
        Spain and France now riding the wave. Parts of the US, UK, Belgium, Germany to follow soon. Maybe in 2 weeks.

        • New York now has more than 10,000 cases.

          California’s lock-down does seem to slowing the spread but it is probably not sustainable for more than a couple of weeks for economic reasons.

          The Faroe Islands are proportionately severely affected with 92 cases according to the Worldometer tracker.

    • I just wonder if calling it ATLAS (“Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System” discovered it) is a good idea at this time!!!

      Yes I know it is nowhere near us but the general public doesn’t know its AU from its mm.

    • True to form, the Express and Mail are saying it could be “as bright as the moon”!!

    • This comet is late! Was sceduled to appear in november as an omen for the pandemia and end of whatever. But, someone up there made a mistake. Bad management!

  10. And talking of names.

    Let’s remember that the virus is actually officially called SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2) with the symptoms it causes being covid-19.

    I did see a virologist or two comment online that the in-joke was that covid actually stands for covert ID so they don’t have to say SARS-2 on tv.

    • I guess if you make the name as difficult to abbreviate as possible people will stop using it and the disease will go away. SCV-2 will do, won’t it? Nobody will have a clue what THAT is!

      • They really should have called it ‘SARS: The Sequel’

        Missed opportunity

        • I hope we don’t end up calling it “Thanos” because of mortality.

  11. If for what ever reason, we die, the Internet stops because reasons, or we get hit by an angryBlack Swan, just our luck, fall of the Roman Empiresque, meteorite in a bad mood, black hole drunkenness, etc.
    Mr Carlos Le Strange, Geo Lurking and the rest here and remembering Jón Frímann’s where most of us met in the first place.
    Thanks for an interesting read since Eyjafjallajökull started rumbling, if I expire of the plague I have bookmarked Volcano Café for Valhalla even.
    Love you guys.
    The best of luck to you all.
    Russell

    • Thanks, I hadn’t noticed that news.

      I see they have changed their opinion about the big one 10 days ago:
      “We evaluated the earthquake on March 12 to be M5.2, but now we have reassessed its magnitude at M4.6. It can be complicated to estimate the size of larger earthquakes, but now several of us have studied the event and this is the result” says Kristín Jónsdóttir. “This is partly because of strong wave reflections in the crust in Reykjanes Peninsula that complicate the data processing.”

  12. An alternative view on social distancing

    To sit on rocks, to muse o’er flood and fell,
    To slowly trace the forest’s shady scene,
    Where things that own not man’s dominion dwell,
    And mortal foot hath ne’er or rarely been;
    To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
    With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
    Alone o’er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
    This is not solitude, ’tis but to hold
    Converse with Nature’s charms, and view her stores unrolled.

    But midst the crowd, the hurry, the shock of men,
    To hear, to see, to feel and to possess,
    And roam alone, the world’s tired denizen,
    With none who bless us, none whom we can bless;
    Minions of splendour shrinking from distress!
    None that, with kindred consciousness endued,
    If we were not, would seem to smile the less
    Of all the flattered, followed, sought and sued;
    This is to be alone; this, this is solitude!

    by Lord Byron (1788-1824)

    copied from https://telescoper.wordpress.com/2020/03/21/world-poetry-day-solitude-by-lord-byron/ on the occasion of the world poetry day

  13. Hey will everyone stop being so maudlin. Even the 80+ age group is only showing a 9% mortality. That better odds than living another few years anyway. Even 60-70 its only 2%, the majority of us will survive just fine. I think this has hit my generation hard because really europe has had no wars, plagues or serious problems in our lifetime. Developing countries, admittedly with a young population, are just letting it rip, I guess in most cases people have more than enough other problems to be that concerned with a 1:1000 death rate and that will not even show as a blip in their population growth figures.

    • Pretty well bang on what I have been saying from the off. Not because I am smart but because I have read the articles (probably penned by this man) and understood how it works (very simple). The thing about this virus is that its pretty benign, to be honest. In the developing world deaths will be quite low because you are either healthy or dead, there being no chance of paying for medical intervention, so you have no ‘underlying health problems’. In the west we can keep people morbidly alive for years, and sadly its this population who are at real risk. We cannot mobilise world production to produce billions of test kits and infrastructure to shut this one daown, and in any case it will be circulating in the developing world for decades. Basically we have to do what our forebears did, catch the disease and hope we survive, which almost everyone will. Still big death numbers though. Nature cannot give a toss.

        • PS UK case numbers now growing at a lower rate. In some ways good and in other ways bad. The slower the rate, the longer our economy is trashed. Remember, lives are not really saved by delay, a few maybe but lockdown will have its ownj death toll.

          • I was contemplating discussing the relative inelasticity of our medical care system and importance of slowing the rate to limit the risk of overwhelming its capacity to be overwhelmed, but I imagine you already know.

            But I gotta say, following up irpsit’s post about likely having contracted the disease with “will everyone stop being so maudlin” is pretty appalling.

          • Farmeroz,

            As my dad said, as he was getting on with the process of dying a few months back.

            ” Well that’s the thing, you see…There’s no such thing as saving lives. Just delaying death, because none of us gets out alive ”

            So delaying death is the point of ALL medical care. Or maybe that and improving quality of life. Hence I don’t buy into the philosophy that it isn’t worth saving lives that are going to end anyway.

      • I think you’re being a little complacent about it not troubling the developing world so much.

        A large percentage of even healthy people need intensive care. And there isn’t that much available in the developing world.

        No intensive care availability is going to leave a larger number of dead in the developing than the developed world, underlying health conditions or not.

          • I remember being in Malawi when it was badly affected by the aids epidemic. It was awful to see the number of fresh graves, many of young children.

    • This article I really, really enjoyed. It didn’t ratchet up my anxiety like so much else I’ve read lately. Thanks for the share!

    • anybody got Irpsit’s private numbers to check on them?? cause i realize i wasn’t paying attention and i don’t even know if her or he is the correct term.Gender becomes a mute issue when old. sorry. Hope they are ok……

  14. Here in the Faroes, it seems (despite my earlier misgivings) that we have broken the curve, the last couple of days have seen more recoveries than newly infected, today there were nine recoveries and just three new infections. So far there’s only one hospitalized case.
    The government was a bit slow to take action to start with, at least that was what it appeared to be.
    Turns out the healtcare sector started taking things quite seriously as soon as things spiraled out of control in China.
    So we are starting to look optimistic upon the situation, full well knowing that it only takes one to break quarantine to mess everything up again, or a bunch of the hundreds of quarantined folks to suddenly test positive.
    There currently 95 active cases.

  15. I have to say I agree with Judge, I wanted to give Irpsit a digital hug and say ” it will be OK” I too have read the data, it is cold and factual as data is meant to be but on here I feel like I know and like the people and wish them the best. I also know some folks suffer from a condition that keeps them from understanding the human condition or experiencing sympathy or altruism, we must have patience with the as well.

    • That’s a good point. Some folks are simply too damaged to experience the normal range of human emotions and praise themselves for what they call “honesty” when in fact they’re just putting their pathology on display. It’s generally not their fault they are the way they are.

      • May I kindly suggest not to judge people too easily? People have reasons for their opinions. There are many people I disagree with (and vice versa, I am sure) but that does not mean I don’t value them or deny them a freedom of opinions. (There are limits, admittedly, but rarely reached on this site.) And I would not use the word ‘pathological’ where what meant is ‘disagreement’.

        The discussion has been about the best way to stop this disease. In my opinion, it can be controlled and that should be done. Others think it can’t and we need to let it run its course. Official policy for ebola is the former, and for a hypothetical deadly flu the latter, based on how easily they spread. Corona lies in between. Even the Imperial study we have been looking at is confused on this point: for Corona it models total death rates (as you would for Ebola), but for flu epidemics it uses excess death rates (subtracting the normal death rates per year of people of a certain age), as you would for flu epidemics – or heat waves.

  16. So here I am in the state of Minnesota, USA. One of my young(20 year old) coworkers came in today, felt fine, over the next few hours not so much, had a sore throat, we took his temperature and it was over 100 Fahrenheit. He got sent home and now is in 14 days quarantine. He gets paid for it though, that’s a good thing. After he got escorted out, our intern told us his brother and his girlfriend were sick as of last Sunday, his brother tried to get tested but they wouldn’t do it…they said go home and quarantine. And now the arggg, they both went to work today, they live in Superior Wisconsin where I read today to be careful in the grocery stores because it seems to be spreading from there. On the way home from work I had to drop a laptop off for a coworker so she can work from home(God bless her she stayed on the porch and said leave it in the garage). Her husband is very sick, lungs full and high fever. They took him in to the local hospital on Saturday, they wouldn’t test him, said take him home. And we have really good health insurance.

    Here is the latest from the Minnesota Department of Health

    Due to a nationwide shortage of COVID-19 testing supplies, MDH announced March 17 that the state’s public health lab would restrict testing to health care workers, hospitalized patients and residents of long-term care facilities. As a result, people experiencing milder symptoms will not be tested, and people with respiratory illnesses are asked to remain isolated for at least seven days after symptoms first appear or at least three days after being fever-free, whichever is longer. The state will rely on ongoing influenza surveillance as a proxy for whether the coronavirus is spreading, MDH officials said.

    We are screwed.

    I am my parents primary care provider. If I pass it on to my Father he is dead..Mom my be able to beat it.

    They say the latest number of confirmed in the state of Minnesota is 235…WTF, almost no testing.

    • My thoughts are with you mate. We have just gone into lock down here, expecting to be stck at home for months. If one of us gets it the other is similarly screwed.

    • Being totally brutal, unless the death figures are significantly more than has been quoted, certainly for the young and or healthy, the USA is doing what all previous generations have done since the dawn of time. It will be horrific as a whole generation of sick (all ages) and infirm (mostly old) die early, but those that are left will soldier on, even if in places it means mass graves. Your (US) economy and the future of your kids will take only a marginal hit. UK is hoping it will ‘save’ a few hundred thousand sick and infirm who will likely die in the next year or few anyway by extreme medical intervention, Can’t do it. People are complaining the NHS cannot cope and of course it cannot and never would have been able to. The whole country should be facing up with reality and dealing with it but they are all in denial. The epidemic will end when we hit herd immunity. Otherwise it will continually flare up from one source or another and we cannot lock a modern country down for long, even two weeks is hugely damaging. I have given a strategy which is to cocoon everyone at risk and older than 40 and get the sub 40-year olds immune, that’s 2/3 of the population for minimal losses and then slowly work through the rest of the healthy population until we are left with the really sick, which we hope we can cocoon for their lifetime or an effective vaccine is available. Note that at this point virtually everyone is immune and we should be into herd immunity status. Note any vaccine will be in short supply for quite a while so the initial limited amounts should go to those most at risk.
      We will not do this because it means taking hard decisions and accepting people are going to die. Instead we are taking silly decisions and telling everyone its going to ‘save’ lives but because almost everyone is still not immune, it just prolongs it.
      Current UK infection doubling rate has risen to 2.8 days (will go on increasing)
      Official cases are 6650
      Estimated actual cases at 170k
      Estimated infected number (on 2.8 days, 14 day incubation period) 7M based on 170k infected.
      Both the last two figures will be much less due social distancing.
      Number to herd immunity ~60M.
      PS I am dying or living at home because I expect pneumonia storms to flood local intubation treatment locations.

      • Funny that. A few months ago my doc told me I could grab a pneumonia vaccination at our immunization desk and they told me I was too young to need it.

        Right now I’m waiting until Friday since I heard that many cases started with digestive issues a week prior to sympathy. (No confirmed source for that)

    • Not clear where you work but the safe bet is to assume have been exposed and may be a disease vector. And hose your place of work down with bleach, because this virus survives on surfaces.

    • When in doubt, check the drumplots.

      There is nothing of that magnitude in any of the drums, so this is likely a false alarm. Same thing with the supposed dead zone quake. Nothing in the drums. I have noticed that that particular spot in the dead zone often registers false quakes. Maybe that spot is what you get when a glitch happens simultaneously in several distant stations. Triangulation of the glitch give you this location and since the distance is far away even a small glitch registers with a large magnitude.

      For the M1.9 at Goðabunga, there is a clearly visible glitch in the drumplots due to some lost data followed by an impulse as the data stream comes back.

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