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.



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.


291 thoughts on “You and Corona

  1. Thanks Carl! This was the best article I’ve read about this so far. Good luck with your removing yourself out of Azkaban.

    • Yes, In agree. I hope you have a safe time while you are there, and make your way home, eventually, safe and sound.

    • Love the article, well written. Especially love the Raymond Reddington references… love that character!

  2. Well said Carl, you are bang on right and that’s pretty well exactly what UK govt epidemiological scientists are doing in a plan worked out years ago and regularly reviewed. Its getting criticism, mostly because its not what everyone else is doing. I am in complete agreement with this but take serious objection to some of the graphs, which I have seen elsewhere and they are VERY MISLEADING. I’ll see if I have time to redo the graphs but they key thing is, without vaccines, when does the epidemic stop? It stops when enough people have caught the disease and become immune such that an infective person is unlikely to meet another uninfected person. At this point the population is said to have ‘herd immunity’. I just heard someone purporting to be from WHO who said this was unproven for this virus, but if it doesn’t work then the consequences would be fatal worldwide, and of course they are wrong because we are here and not all dead generations ago. Herd immunity occurs between 80-98%, I would guess this virus (long period of pre-symtom infectivity) will be at the upper end of this.
    So my issue with some of the graphs Carl put up is that the total under the graph is the number in the population needing to have been infected and recovered to give herd immunity.
    So population 100M, (say) herd immunity at 90% needs 90M to be infected for the epidemic to stop.
    If the disease takes people out for 10 days, and we don’t want more than 20% infected at any one time to keep the country functioning smoothly that means a peak of something like 18M in 10 days or 1.8M new cases a day at peak. That means naively to infect 90m people it will take 50 days. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that, it starts slowly then builds to a peak (hopefully 1.8M/day). A handy curve is the logistic sigmoid curve which is as good as any here. This means the epidemic (-+10% level) oh, it does last 50 days (!! dropping the tails of course) which is probably about as much as an economy can take. Note in my scenario the epidemic starts when 8.5M are immune and stops when 91.5M are immune, and we aren’t anywhere near those figures anywhere.

    That’s enough for now.
    PS I used wiki logistic function, L-100(M), x0=40 and k=-0.08. Others will give different figures.
    PPS We can alter k by more (reduces k) or less (increases k) separation/hygiene.
    PPPS I’m >79 with COPD and I hope I catch it soon.

    • I think you over-interpreted the usage of the graphs a bit.
      You are right about the heard immunity, but the point of the graphs are not that, it is on the delaying factor of why it is important to do social limitation on the spread by not congregating, and how that delays the infectious rate increase and limits the strain on hospitals to something more manageable.

      • Its more complex than that. You need just the right amount of infection so the disease ceases in a reasonable time before everyone has lost their jobs or starved to death. In my little example the godlike government has arranged just enough infection to hit herd immunity 50 days from 8.5% being infected and without having >20% off sick at any time. Too much isolation and it takes many months for herd immunity to be reached, too little and although its over quickly, services may be negatively impacted for a while.
        Hospitals will NOT be able to cope. There are strategies to handle highly-at-risk people but they actually benefit from complete isolation during the infective phase, which wants to be as short as possible.

        • Here in Italy hospitals started having trouble with less than 1% of the population infected, and that percentage already takes into account undetected cases, official cases right now are just 0,1% of population in the hardest hit region, 0,03% nationally.
          Infection rates over 2% are completely unmanageable for any healthcare system, too many people with respiratore failure need ventilators, even young people. In France over half of intensive care patients are under 60 years old.

          • This is the big problem: swamped hospitals, so swamped that people who are in a car accident don’t get treated (or even picked up) promptly.

            The trouble is that you have to pick one: do you want your hospitals to be overwhelmed, or do you want to crash your economy?

          • If you act quickly like South Korea and Japan you can limit the spread of the virus without too much harm for the economy. China is doing the same now, outside Hubei. Limited forms of social distancing and massive testing with targeted quarantines around known cases should do the trick.

            If you let the disease ravage the population in uncontrolled fashion you will get a terrified population that stops the economy anyway. If people know that they will not get healthcare even when needed, they will shut themselves at home and revolt against employers that force them to work in unsafe environments, it is already happening in Italy in manufacturing business that tried to remain open.

            I really hope warm weather will give us some respite and allow us to properly plan for the next cold season.

  3. A good post with things that needed to be said.

    A logistic function should work well for this. The time constant will change with social distancing. However, the curve fails once it takes longer to infect one other person than the person stays infectious. At that point, the curve goes in steep decline. Both China and Korea have shown that this works: they have managed to contain it. But for them the risk is being re-infected by people coming in from elsewhere. Containment requires that you know the presence. That failed in Italy and Iran where the virus circulated for weeks before it became known. The US also ran into that problem. A signature of this is that the death rate is much too high compared to the known number of cases. Testing is crucial, and should not be limited to people who are very ill. Korea tested several thousand people per million population. The US tested 5 people per million. That is a crucial difference.

    At the moment the disease is most prevalent in Europe, with the US probably second – how close second is not known. Asia seems to be handling things well, with the possible exception of India. But the biggest tests will come in Latin America and Africa.

    In small populations, diseases like this tend to die out. I sometimes wonder whether this is what ended the Greenland colonies: the last trading ship to come in brought a harmless disease with them to which the Greenlanders had no immunity. We will never know.

    • The steep decline is built into the curve, the rate of new infections stays slow, builds to a peak then tails off, just like a real one.
      Comparing death rates to known cases is probably pointless. Certainly europe and america will have large numbers of susceptible people only kept alive by regular expensive medical intervention and many of these will die now, rather than in coming weeks months year or so. In developing countries this population does not exist, they are all already dead.
      Frankly to spend the next year or two going through multiple outbreaks and/or travel and entertainment bans for what is a 5 day illness seems absurd.

      • The decline is a part of the curve, but this is about the point at which the decline begins. The UK is aiming for ‘herd immunity’, apparently. For a disease where every person can infect 2.5 others (that is about the current rate), in a population of 60 million, the peak of the logistic curve happens when 20-25 million people have been infected – just in the UK. With proper actions such as banning gatherings, you can bring the infection rate down to 1, and the peak of the curve to (perhaps) 100,000. That is the difference between half a million fatalities, and a few thousand. I do find that worthwhile. Settling for herd immunity in such a disease is perhaps not how you would expect a government to protect its people. The UK policy is far from settled, though. There have been several u-turns already, and that is just in the past 24 hours. No telling which direction we’ll end up with. The universities have by and large gone their own way and are canceling all larger lectures.

        • I feel that the UK will follow the path of Iran.
          First it tries to approach the issue on its own peculiar way, thinking it does not deserve serious ´measures
          Then, as deaths pile up, the government has no choice to make a sharp u-turn and implement even more draconian measures, in attempt to survive itself. Otherwise, an angry population would topple the UK government very quickly.

          There is nothing like people having lost loved ones, when it could have been prevented, to make people furious. Even if such argument is not true.

          The UK government is playing with fire, just like they did with Brexit. But this is even more serious. I sincerely fear that things might end up badly for the UK.

        • It’s easy to be concerned about the Herd Immunity policy, though in general I agree with it.

          The rest of the world has a strategy of locking down everything in the hope of minimizing total infections and deaths whilst a vaccine is developed, and they can get herd immunity at the point of a needle.

          The UK on the other hand, seems to have a policy that as many healthy people should get sick with the virus soon, to build up the herd immunity quickly. Though of course, trying as far as possible to insulate the vulnerable from the virus.

          To me, this suggests that the first wave will pass fairly quickly in other countries if they successfully suppress the disease, but in the UK, the first wave will last longer and kill more people.

          The pay off being that future waves won’t effect the UK as badly, whilst other countries go into a cycle of locking down until a virus is developed.

          The gamble is that if we in the UK take our lumps now, the overall death toll and economic damage will be lower in the long run.

          But it does mean going through a lot of pain up front, for no guarantee of success.

        • Albert, I have no idea what you are saying. UK pop 70M, herd immunity at somewhere >60m and I do not understand how you work out that you get less mortality spreading it over 15 months than two. The same number will get the disease and the same number will be at significant risk and the same number (pretty well) will die either way. Or do you think that somehow we can cocoon everyone away from infection long enough for the disease to die out in the UK, let alone the whole world. I am seriously interested in your logic because others think the same thing, but cannot explain their logic and its important.

          • The first priority has to be to stop this disease becoming rampant. The earlier you control it, the fewer people have it at any one time and the easier it becomes to stop future occurrences. It can be done. I was pessimistic at first but am quite encouraged by the results in China and Korea. The measures in Wuhan were draconian, but elsewhere in China it was brought under control with much less severe restrictions. That was possible because a much smaller fraction of the population had been affected. We can stop this now. It will re-occur in a year’s time but by that time we have advantages: knowing what works, what doesn’t, a population a little more aware how colds spread, and perhaps even a vaccine. If we can keep future occurrences below 100,000 per year (in the UK), the total death rate over a life time is reduced by a factor of 10. This disease is too severe to just give up.

          • Albert, its too late. It was too late almost from the start. Look, whilst this seems to be a surprise to nearly everyone its actually been discussed repeatedly in the scientific press over the decades. I can remember reading articles about it when I was in my teens. Basically any infectious virus with a long infectious-but-asymtpmatic phase is almost impossible to stop. This has been know for ages and it has been awaited for ages. The only way we can attempt (because ultimately it will fail) stop it is essentially by destroying our economies which is just stupid for a disease similar to one that we all had in the 50’s (asian flu) in fact it doesn’t even seem to be as nasty. We can live with it, no problem, as we have done in the past, and that is by getting herd immunity and just carrying on. This strategy of the UK govt is simply the standard strategy worked out years ago.
            The problem is twofold.
            Firstly the public is being led to believe that with stringent enough policies this can be rendered extinct (fat chance now) and that somehow it will be alright because it always is, problems will always be solved in this best of all possible world. This works fine until you hit nature who really doesn’t give a sh1t what we think or do or care.
            Secondly we have a very significant population of very sick people kept alive with varying degrees of significant medical intervention, and many of these will not survive significant illness. This means that many of them will die early. The public are not used to this, they still hold firm to the completely erroneous idea that life can be saved, when it can only be prolonged.
            Actually there is a third. In the 50’s and 60’s and all time before, everyone expected to catch something nasty, painful and very uncomfortable several times in their lives, particularly as children. We rather got used to it, and even having friends die of diphtheria, polio etc. Asian flu made you feel like you were dying, but hey you didn’t. Thinking about it most people today would consider themselves ill enough to be hospitalised with it whilst in the 50’s your wouldn’t have gone to a hospital unless you became comatose. Hospitals will be flooded with ill, but not that ill, people.

    • Albert, I agree the U.S. death rate is much too high but one thing to keep in mind is that nearly 50% of the deaths occurred in one nursing home among a very high-risk population and these deaths occurred early in the discovery period. Some of these deaths were not even originally attributed to COVID-19 since pneumonia is a frequent killer of the elderly. That does not excuse the United States for being so exceedingly slow in testing.

      What is also alarming is that at least 10 nearby nursing homes are also reporting cases. To me this suggests a traveling health worker may have unknowingly spread the virus.

      In reference to Carl’s remark about keeping schools open, I think part of the reasoning is not that the children get very sick but that they spread it to their parents and older relatives who are at higher risk of developing more serious cases of infection.

      • That is a good point. There are countries with a much higher death rate than the US. But what they have in common is delay in testing so that the initial outbreaks were missed.

  4. There is a sub-topic to this discussion that bothers me and I don’t see the public debate: Who is setting the goal posts on releasing treatments and vaccines, and why? My fear that it is the attorneys. There are very good safety reasons to test, test, test. How do you know a solution doesn’t have a long-term effect if you don’t test it long term? But if death is imminent, does it matter? It seems to me that between myself, my family and my doctor, we should be the ones making this kind of decision, given enough transparency. As a 75 year old male, I’m not too concerned about a drug that may cause birth defects. A vaccine was designed 3 hours after the virus genome was published. I’m sure it’s in testing now with mice. Then 20 people, then 200 people, then 2000 people, etc. I hope money isn’t holding them back.

    This issue happened when drugs were developed to combat AIDS and millions died waiting for approval. (32 million have died of HIV so far).

    I believe the public should have a voice in this debate. Along with scientists, doctors, politicians, journalists. I think the rules were made long before the science got better at designing treatments and preventions. I’m also aware there has been some horrific medical consequences due to lack of testing. The problem is that I don’t understand who is making the decision and, as an American, don’t have total trust in my federal government.

    Assuming the public is participating the funding of some of the solutions, I think the public has the right to know details on the progress. Right now, my choices seem to be that either I join the FarmerOz while there are beds available or go into hibernation for a couple of years before all the lawyers bless a vaccine. Herd immunization doesn’t give me a lot of comfort.

  5. BillG, its very simple, there is no vaccine, any vaccine is likely to be at least 18 months away which is way too late for this pandemic. The antiviral drugs basically don’t work that well and in any case we have not remotely enough for the circa 2B people who need them. Maybe for a few really needy cases but otherwise no.

  6. IIRC, ‘traditional’ seasonal-flu & pneumonia are still currently killing more people in *most* of Western Europe than covid-19. For both of which there are available vaccinations to *mitigate* threat & severity…

    Um, if you have ‘underlying’ issues, ‘complications’ may still get you. ( Lost my wife thus in 2017)

    Latest word, IIRC, is there are two *very* similar strains of Covid spreading, with *very* similar virulence statistics. So far, neither has shown any sign of *significant* mutation, taken to triggering rejection of transplants, or breaking HIV out of dormancy. Such scenarios could rapidly become apocalyptic…

    IIRC, there has been some work on micro-mutations which, like Ariadne’s Thread, has allowed some infection routes to be traced, person to person. Tangential, scary part is mapping such time-lines show some people show no symptoms for up to a week after they become infectious…

    { Note lots of ‘some’, as situation rapidly evolving, and fresh data arrives daily… }

    Back to vaccinations: IIRC, there are multiple approaches, and most should work fairly well. Must wonder how Anti-Vaxxers will square demanding a covid vaccination but shunning the others…

    Longer term efficacy may depend on covid-19’s propensity for mutation, and its surface-protein commonality with the growing group of closely related bat-viruses that Wuhan lab’s discovering…

    Um, I’d prefer to reference a ‘proper’ journal paper but, IMHO, this calls it well…

    Disclosure: My ‘Winter Bronchitis’ has been active since ~Halloween, when I pushed myself too hard clearing the front yard’s ‘Horrors’ ahead of forecast heavy rain. Beat that by minutes, but, d’uh. Now, gotta balance lung-snot vs ‘non-drowsy’ anti-histamines’ zonk, must carry inhaler, try to ignore glares for my muffled coughs and wheezing…

    Given the bronchitis’ early onset, I laid in significant ‘buffer stocks’ for fear of becoming house-bound due illness or another ‘Beast from East’ cold-snap. One modest weekly outing to local Mall keeps bread, spread, milk and ‘vittles’ topped up. Have much tinned & dry ‘Plan-B’ stuff. Biggest problem was hauling cat-food and cat-litter for our braw tabby clan, but I’ve just had a big delivery via Am*z*n…

    • Nik — I would love to have a source for the shedding starting up to a week before showing symptoms. I’ve heard it before and want to share the information but am reluctant to do so without good sourcing.
      Also, do you know if there is any modification of timelines if a person is asymptomatic?

  7. Hi Carl, your article sounds logical, but as a scientist I might keep my healthy degree of skepticism about it and ask questions.

    Covid creates cytokine storms in some patients, so this is something to watch out for.
    Can certain medicines worsen that immune system over-reaction?

    Second, is MERS like a common cold? I am, not sure about this comparison. Yes, both are coronaviruses, but MERS seems far more violent than just a cold.

    Third, a normal flu and a killer strain of flu like 1918 are both the same kind of virus. This tells me that even if covid19 is just a cold virus, it is a killer strain of it, so there is reason to be very careful about it.
    Yes, people got immunity to the Spanish Flu and then that virus became just the common flu. Still it killed 50 million people during the pandemic. Thats not a joke.

    Yes, we will all get this. I totally agree with you.
    Some thousands or millions will die. Thats also a fact. A harsh fact to swallow.
    We can do our best.
    And prevent other problems of arising, namely economy, food trade.
    I fully agree with you on that. Shut down the food trade and the problem becomes 100x bigger.

    • 1) Cytokine storms are a problem, most likely in any second wave. I do not see any way to avoid this.
      2) Mers and sars are far more virulent but people showed symptoms before they were infective so it was relatively easy to isolate people and stop the spread.
      3) Indeed even at 0.5% in a population of 8B that’s 40M deaths. In 1918 world population was probably under 1B.
      People will die. Probably me, >70 with COPD, can’t be helped. However no job, no food, no money anmd no all powersful state to pay for everything because its not 1% of the population its 40% needing help, and some premature deaths and a weeks sickness look like a good deal.

  8. Carl, thanks for this.

    What bothers me is your repetition that kids will be fine and thus there is no reason to close schools. Unless it has been shown otherwise, children can infect others and as asymptomatic carriers they could do a lot of stealth infecting.

    It does make me wonder — if it turns out by some lucky reason children don’t shed the virus, maybe it is time to allow them to be employed in non-cash face-to-face customer service.

    I don’t have enough food. I’ve been wondering if after a few days (or a week?) of waiting there will be more on the shelves to make the trip out worthwhile. But we also have grocery delivery here — for as long as the delivery people are healthy enough. My husband points out it would be far better, social-distancing-wise, if the only people shopping are those who do the deliveries — far fewer different individuals in the stores.

  9. Anyone got any special advice for me? Both of us are at risk. We are 68 yrs, I’m diabetic with very little mobility, my partner is HIV long term with slightly damaged lungs and single leg amputee. We live on the Isle of Skye with no food delivery system so I am obliged to go the supermarket where I am helped around the store by the staff. We get a nurse in twice a week to look after Graham’s stump. I cancelled a visit to the hospital 130miles away in Inverness scheduled for Monday because they have stopped visiting for patients and that suggests that they have the Highlands (so far) only Covid-19 patient there.

    Anyone got any good suggestions for us or are we doomed?

    • We cannot give medical advice! That has to come from the professionals. In my personal opinion, ‘social distancing’ sounds made for you. In an already isolated area, there won’t be many carriers. Avoiding crowds is probably not too difficult. Keep surfaces clean (the virus can probably survive for up to a week on a surface), especially door knobs! If food in the supermarket is collected for you, it may be an idea to wipe the outside of the packaging.

      • Yes albert. The top UK professionals have given their advice, I’ll bet they liked it even less than you, why not look at it rationally?

    • Given your location you do have a chance, however slim, of surviving until there is a vaccine. Start stocking up so you need to go to the store as infrequently as possible (once every 3 weeks?). That’s dried, tinned and frozen foods, veg kept cool will last for two weeks if selected carefully (eg cabbage/celery are good). If possible email a shopping list and ask them to make it up so you can pick it up in the car park.
      Do not allow visitors, try and keep nurses away, do as much by phone, email and video conferencing as possible. Find out how to dress the stump, if you do not have a camera (phone?) then get one so any problems can be shown to nursing staff and hopefully instruct you how to do it.
      Make sure the consultant/doctor knows your situation so you can be early adopters of any vaccine.
      I have no more advice I can give.
      *****You are the group that really wants the whole country to become immune as fast as possible. Once we hit herd immunity almost nobody will be infective and you will be very very much safer. This could take 3-6 months with the current UK strategy and 12-18 months with everyone elses.

      • Thanks for all the advice, I’m beginning to feel a little embattled here. I’m going to have to depend on neighbours it seems as being gay we have no young relatives to depend on. It appears that we are about to be told to stay at home for 4 months which is going to be very difficult. We have 150 hens plus geese and guinea fowl who can’t be told not to lay eggs. There are so many eggs you can eat so I don’t know how to get rid of the others if I can’t go out.
        Good luck to all the elderly and infirm out there we are going to need all we can get.

        • I don’t think the forthcoming directive will prevent you from going outdoors to collect your eggs. It will be designed to minimise your chances of coming into contact with the virus. For urban flat dwellers this may mean staying indoors. It won’t be so strict for people with, say, an isolated smallholding.

        • Have you tried reaching out on Facebook? For all its faults, it is superb at creating positive connections. I recommend …they are surprisingly open minded, don’t be put off by the XR link – it’s the sensible and practical variety of activists. And they reach out to help each other and non-farmer smallholders and interested people.

        • Going on from marinecreature’s mention of FB, if you need social contact, I’d be more than happy to… same name as here, you can find me on the volcanocafe fb page.

          No use for anything practical, as I’m in Southern England, but no problem at all with chewing the cud with anybody !

          I can’t imagine my shop is going to be that busy in the coming weeks 😀

    • Can you get someone to do the shopping for you? At least you are in a remote place.

  10. I’m in the US. Everything you said about the US is completely true and the twatwaffle Orange Cheeto hasn’t helped things at all. Closing schools has been the single thing I’m most thankful for. Schools are cesspools.

    My 65yo mother has canceled her visit from Ohio to CA. Thank goodness. Took some convincing as I started in with it two weeks ago and she was dismissive. Then Gov. DeWine stepped up and started acting like our POTUS should have and she decided to not come.

    Personally, I think the US is bollocksed. No testing, even with the passing of the bill last night to make tests “free” and to give some sick leave to folks…but only for a week or two. Because we’re so I’ll prepared here, it won’t be near enough.

    The illness will be bad, but the economic effects will overshadow it in the long run. I think this will be far worse than 08, 09, 10. Supply chains and production in China won’t be back to full go for months.

    Another wrinkle I haven’t seen anyone mention? Reinfection. There are documented cases in both China and Japan in people who thought they were “over it” or “cured”. Additionally the 14 day quarantines do NOTHING. Especially when this appears to be not near long enough. I doubt this man’s experience is exceptional, but it is concerning to still be shedding virus after 5 weeks. That’s why reinfection is a big concern.

    I can’t add a link, damnit. Trying to link to the story I’ve referenced. 😕

      • Oh. That’s quite a problem then. Now there are two types of persistent virus ‘systems’ I have come across. One is very helpful, its when the body essentially corners a bit of virus (virus sees it as hiding) so it generates a constant very low level resistance. German measles/shingles being the best known. Its likely other pox viruses that have lifelong immunity are handled similarly but there is no shedding under normal circumstances. The other is pathogenic and allows the pathogen to persist until a new generation or two of susceptible individuals is in the herd enough to break herd immunity and a second outbreak happens. Look up Bovine viral diarrhea for the details.
        Men seem to be particularly susceptible and ace inhibitors used for blood pressure control seem to block the bodies immune control, I would be interested to know if Carl is taking these, in this situation it would make hime immunodepressed.

    • In one of our german newspapers they said, that that President Trump tried with an enourmus amount of money to safe the rights at a covid-19 pharmacy produkt from Thüringen. He will, of course, it have only for the US, not the rest of the world. without words……….

      • Trump is a boor and a fool. He will not change. We hope to be rid of him soon.

        • You’re gonna have to wait another 4 years for that! #Trump2020 #MAGA #TriggeringTheWokeratiIsFun

        • You will not be “rid of him soon”. The two candidates up to fight against him are a Commie who had a serious heart attack last year and someone with the early stages of dementia. The guy with dementia (Biden) is the one most likely to win the nomination. If you think Biden can stand against Trump in debates without being shredded you are seriously mistaken.

          Trump is indeed boorish. However he is no fool. Your hopes will be in vain.

          • We are fine with debate, as long as it can be done with respect and without personal insults. But politics is not a good topic for VC. Unless either candidate has policy on volcanoes, this discussion is best continued in the bar.

          • Perhaps a little ironic considering the overtly-political comment in the previous article, entirely irrelevant to the topic…

  11. I’m going to sound like Mr Paranoid-Doom-And-Gloom here.

    I’m not, but I’m just offering an observation. I also view the world in ways. other than what follows here. I think that many of us are (maybe subconsciously) running several models of how the world is running at any one time, looking for one that demonstrates “Best Fit”.

    In the past I have seen statements or models of societal breakdown and how such things may happen. It seems to me that one of the most likely scenarios for something so bleak and devastating is one in which there isn’t some singular almighty killer blow. There isn’t one cataclysmic eruption, asteroid impact or whatever.

    Rather, there is a series of mid sized events in succession, allowing little or no time for recovery from one before the next event comes along and compounds a bad situation. Eventually the infrastructure cracks, and the scared and the desperate act in ways that the scared and the desperate do…. And boom, there goes the social cohesion that actually made things work all along.

    I live in Stourport, Worcestershire in the Southern British Midlands.
    We had what most local people thought was an unremarkable winter. I didn’t hold that view. As a former tidal bore surfer, I still provide information to my friends who go to the tidal reaches 50 miles downstream of my home on local river conditions, because fresh water levels in the tidal reaches make a difference …A big difference ,to how the tidal bore behaves. I noticed how throughout the winter the river has been running pretty high. Not in flood, but not far off it…All winter.

    Along comes Storm Ciara, and up goes the river. Now she was fairly intense, but the wind was definitely a bigger feature than the rainfall, although the rainfall was fairly substantial. Flood barriers went up in the regularly flooded parts of the Severn Valley, but it was no biggie.

    Only a few days later, Storm Dennis rolls in, and Dennis did rain in quite a big way, some of the defences started to get overtopped. Even Stourport, where the river sits down fairly deeply got a little flooding. That started receding , then another smaller, un-named low pressure system rolled through and caused mayhem.

    At that point I looked up local maps. I was starting to work out the impact of us losing a couple of bridges locally, as there are one or two which are fairly vulnerable. It struck me that it would be manageable, but problematic. It would require a great deal of traffic being redirected onto roads that are not designed to handle that sort of load.

    I also asked myself how long the river would stay high, with such saturated ground right along the entire water course, throughout the catchment. This is when I started thinking that this (locally) is about as close as I have ever personally seen to that kind of model I mentioned above. The river is still a little high…Not bad, but a little high, but that’s a false comfort. There is still a very large amount of standing water on nearby fields, and even a fairly normal wet day in early March 4 or 5 days ago gave us another day of minor flooding. These minor events extend that window of opportunity for a bigger storm such as those a month back to come along… And we’d be in serious difficulty.

    As it was a small number of lives were lost, including the fiancee of someone I know quite well, and they were (it turns out) not actually that close to the river… a tributary of the Severn. That was a personal tragedy, but a major storm right now would be a full on catastrophe.

    Factor in a pandemic….

    And who knows what a climate change summer will bring these days.

    If there is a point to be made here, it’s that whatever is happening with this pandemic, it does not exist in a test tube, but in a wider context, which may be considerably less than favourable.

      • There are all sorts of things to factor in. Including many that simply can’t be foreseen.

      • You just had to mention Brexit…. <-- Remoan!!! --!>

        Edited. Please avoid name calling. First rule is ‘be nice’ -admin

        • Well, yes, one does have to mention an imminent mahoosive reworking of lots of trade and employment systems. Systems that have been tested and tweaked for 40 years or so. Nobody’s arguing with the yea or nay any more, it’s down to the how. A great deal of unpicking and unknowns to deal with at once.

    • Yes, the rain has been relentless. But it has also been windy. This plot shows the electricity generation in the UK. Light blue is wind. There have only been two brief periods with little wind in this year so far.

  12. I had Glandular fever in 95/96, was a nightmare, yhey took 3 month to find out in the first place after testing me for whatever they could think off, then was not cleared until 6 month later. I ended up with debilitating effects like no energy, weight loss, like skin and bones, food intolerances, looking at me there was nothing wrong, but…. and pains. Doctors told me to take panandol and go to bed, there was nothing they could do for me as it was a virus, yah, well I took all the knowledge I had of natural things, picked a lot of brains of people who knew more then me and got my self back on deck, some things never went away, but I manage. I usually stay way from town when sniffles are around if I have to go then I take some more Vitamins a couple of days before and I am ok. Was in town a week ago the shelves where still as per usual, this week it was a different kettle of fish, bare shelves as far as you can see, things have changed with all the TV exposure of the nutters going rampant. Well in Thailand the monkeys are going viral, didn’t they say our DNA is 94% like them, we are living in interesting times.

  13. Bad news for Carl

    Covid-19 is a contagious disease (if you forgot it) and can affect a large number of people.
    A minimal (but significant) percentage of covid-19 patients require intensive care for a longer or shorter period.

    Other patients require post-operative or intensive care. For example: myocardial infarction, motor vehicle accident, spinal compression, subdural hematoma, etc.

    The number of places in intensive care is not extensive. The number of nursing staff/MD is not extensive.
    In the event of an epidemic, there may not be a balance between the number of places available at the ICU (or even beds in hospital) and the number needed.

    Any measure that spreads the influx of patients into hospitals is therefore welcome.

    In addition, not all hospitals have intensive care. A number of patients need to be transferred to larger hospitals. These transfers require material resources and staff.

    In addition, contagiousness poses significant management problems and requires additional resources (even to carry out a simple CT-scan).

    So containment measure and even partial closure of borders, that does not bother me. This delays the progression of the epidemic (although it does not stop it – we agree).

    I seriously doubt that the situation I have just described is different in Iceland or in Sweden.

    For economic reasons, the number of hospital beds has decreased. Even outside of covid-19, it was a bad idea because the population (at least in Europe) is aging and requiring care.

    The Italian healthcare system is on the verge of implosion. It could also happen in other countries, even if all the nursing staff/MD have been requisitioned.

    Therefore, I do not see which European government has overreacted.The measures taken were appropriate and proportionate.

    On the other hand, perhaps some citizens did not understand the situation ………….

    • Please do the sums. Either lockdown for 18-24 months until a vaccine is available or go for herd immunity. Tale the UK, that means 60M need to be infected and recover, at 100,000/year that’s a long time, you will have no economy by then.

      • Where do you draw the line? If this virus killed ten per cent of the population, would you advocate stronger measures to keep it under control? Or if it attacked – and killed- mainly younger people? Isn’t the aim for ‘herd immunity’ because it rates the economy ahead of older people? I would prefer a government that stands up for its people regardless of age. A dead economy can recover. A dead person can’t. This virus can be controlled – so why not do it? It is not influenza where every sick person infects ten others. This spreads much less easily. So why let corona become king? And if you need another argument: it is member of the cold viruses which mutate quite easily. (No herd immunity has ever stopped a cold: they are too versatile.) The more you allow corona to circulate, the greater the risk of an undesirable mutation.

        • Its no good just wishful thinking. You have to propose a plan given the situation you are in. You think this virus can be made extinct however we have not even made measles extinct, and this is generations after an effective vaccine has been available, and there are plenty other diseases in a similar situation. Now with meales et al we have a population that is almost entirely immune but against CV-19 the population is entirely naive. Until we get to herd immunity severe outbreaks will continually break out spread over very many months most likely much more than a year. Most people will lose their jobs, we live in a service economy, no services, no pay, and its not worth going to a developing nation status for that, first thing to go will be tertiary education and pensions you can be sure of that. You very likely won’t give many people more than a few months extra to live either, they will just catch it later in some wildcat epidemic that gets to lots of people before its noticed.
          Its not even good for those at significant risk. Sure, they might be able to self-isolate reasonably effectively for a month or two, but more than that is hard, not just because its lonely but because outside the door are infected people.
          The other alternative is for those most at risk to self-isolate and to let it progress fairly rapidly through the rest of the population who become immune and the disease then dies away. Now almost nobody is infective and the risk to all is very small. Not only that but we all get to have jobs at the end of it, the NHS continues to be adequately funded as can the rest of our social services.
          To think otherwise is naive.
          People are going to die of this disease, guess what, there is very little anyone can do about it but if our economy is shot lots more are going to die early not least because we will be unable to fund the NHS even at current levels. An immune population is safest for everyone, particularly the elderly and infirm.
          OK so how exactly do you propose rendering CV-19 extinct, when you have done so you can do it with measles, without even needing vaccination.
          Oh, and what if the mortality was 10%, do you think that alters things in reality? Can you render it extinct without killing more by trashing our economy?

          • Then why did China manage to stop the disease, and did it in 6 weeks? You could argue they waited too long, and should have acted earlier in January when the alarm was given. But they managed it. If it is possible, why let people die out of inaction? The first thing that should be done is widespread testing. At the moment, there is no telling who has it and who hasn’t. Experience from Korea and China shows that testing is crucial. As for symptoms, without testing you don’t know whether that mild thing was corona or the common cold that is also going around at the moment. So how do you know whether you are now immune? Inaction isn’t a policy. It seems to me that now we can see which countries value human life. China is coming out well ahead on this one.

          • Albert: There is some evidence China fudges their numbers.

            Do you really think there have been zero cases outside Hubei except those imported from Italy?

          • Reply to Canthisbenull re: fudging numbers.
            I think they’re all at it in various ways.

            There are infection numbers available for the UK, but IMO, they’re worthless.

            About 10 days ago,I had cause to seek advice and possible testing. I was told to go onto the NHS111 website, so I did.

            I was asked “Have you been in contact with any KNOWN CONFIRMED case of coronavirus infection?”(my caps)


            “Carry on. If your symptoms get worse, then…”

            That was it !

            It seems like a perfect way to deliver false negatives.

      • I understand that the strategy in the British Isles is to say covid-19 = Seasonal Flu and to let the virus run in the population so that it acquires immunity. It’s a risky bet. On the European continent, the attitude is totally different!

        • The European continent will follow China and close the borders to countries having the virus. Maybe they will give those 14 days of quarantine, but risk of spreading is high. British tourists to Spain will need longer holiday when they want to burn their skins.

  14. Covid-19 and statistics

    For reasons of statistical methodology, I do not believe in certain figures such as the number of cases, the cure rate at 98% (what about sequellae), etc.
    Furthermore, as far as I know, the number of patients aged under 40 or less (with no comordibity) is very small, but not equal to 0.
    Covid-19 is a new situation. It takes time to analyze the situation (data collection, statical analysis). In medicine, you have to wait at least 2 years to have an exact evaluation. So with retrospect, you will be able to say what actions performed were good or bad.

    Comparing the flu to covid-19 is a bad idea even if the symptoms are the same.

    In the meantime, if possible, I would avoid crowded public transportation.

    • Actually comparing CV-19 to flu is a very good idea, it seems to be similar, probably less virulent, than the asian flu of the 1950’s. I was thinking about statistics. Given that young people seem to catch it asymptomatically and even many mid-young adults have such mild symptoms they don’t mention it, its possible Hubei (Wuhan province) pop 55M has achieved herd immunity with circa 80k confirmed cases and say 3000 deaths. Now everyone seems pretty sure china has massaged the figures but lets guess 250k clinical and 10,000 deaths. That’s about comparable with a bad UK flu year, certainly pre-vaccination. Hong Kong flu killed 80,000 in 68/9 in the UK. We may be making a bit of a mountain out of a molehill except for the high number of morbid patients kept alive by constant medical attention.

      • I understand that the strategy in the British Isles is to say covid-19 = Seasonal Flu and to let the virus run in the population so that it acquires immunity. It’s a risky bet. On the European continent, the attitude is totally different!

    • That’s a first. Quite noisy as well before and after. Was it purely tectonic or was there a fluid component as well? It seems the batch of magma that’s been on the move for some years now is still actively looking for a way up.

  15. Upside, unless you are in ‘high risk’ categories, which sadly now include ‘exhausted health worker’, you should come through with little trouble.

    There are other, less considerate viruses about. Back in the ’70s, our family had been out for a stroll. I’d driven us home safely despite feeling a bit ‘floaty / weird’. As Mum put pressure-cooker of spuds & veg on for the ‘Sunday Roast’, I’m on record as saying, “I don’t feel well, I’ll lie down for ten…” then collapsing across bed…

    There followed a three (3) week gap. I ran a huge fever, needed ‘adult nappies’ and an up-chuck bucket, have scant recollection of anything beyond hallucinatory fever dreams, mega-sweats and violent shivering.

    { And much chicken soup, brought in by doting aunts. I loathed the stuff before, since shudder at the smell… }

    My family didn’t catch it. My diabetic cousins didn’t catch it. Local hospital decided I was safer treated at home than risk decimating site. Besides, they had a nasty outbreak of ‘Seasonal Flu’ in progress…

    This before DNA testing, so hospital’s epidemiologist could only say my immune system had tackled an ‘unknown’ virus, won ‘on points’. It left my white-cell count scary-low, my red-cells scary-anaemic and me barely strong enough to lift an under-filled mug of tea…

    He was fascinated that I was ‘HLA group’ which put me at risk of arthritis, juvenile diabetes and other auto-immune stuff. Having an immune system that might ‘go nuclear’ on novel infections meant that, unlike a bunch of ‘similar’ victims without said ‘HLA group’, I’d survived to discuss it…

    Took six months and a thankfully nice summer before I was ‘back on my feet’…

    Stay safe, stay well, don’t get ‘coronated’.

    • Cool! Wiki has a page and its relevant to viruses in general eg:
      “HLAs corresponding to MHC class I (A, B, and C) which all are the HLA Class1 group present peptides from inside the cell. For example, if the cell is infected by a virus, the HLA system brings fragments of the virus to the surface of the cell so that the cell can be destroyed by the immune system. These peptides are produced from digested proteins that are broken down in the proteasomes. In general, these particular peptides are small polymers, about 9 amino acids in length.[citation needed] Foreign antigens presented by MHC class I attract killer T-cells (also called CD8 positive- or cytotoxic T-cells) that destroy cells. MHC class I proteins associate with β2-microglobulin, which unlike the HLA proteins is encoded by a gene on chromosome 15.

      HLAs corresponding to MHC class II (DP, DM, DO, DQ, and DR) present antigens from outside of the cell to T-lymphocytes. These particular antigens stimulate the multiplication of T-helper cells (also called CD4 positive T cells), which in turn stimulate antibody-producing B-cells to produce antibodies to that specific antigen. Self-antigens are suppressed by regulatory T cells. ”

      A key to the immunity we all soon hope to get…

  16. To me it seems to infect the surrounding environment that people live in so when infection reaches a certain threshold it becomes embedded in the community, so maybe it survives on surfaces for an extended period of time, hence the issue when it gets on a cruise ship , if anyone infected is found and removed from the ship and cleaning commenced then infection seems to slow considerably, in Japan the cruise ship was left to basically stew with infection creating a rapid rate of infection.Notice the concentration in China, Korea etc on cleaning streets and buildings, it seems to have a significant surface spread component, so stopping it getting a foothold in densely populated spots seems important ? Just amateur observation but it seems very geographical, I note in New Rochelle NY they put in a 1 mile radius exclusion zone, more like a hazmat situation, seems a weird response for respiratory virus, just weird, this really is the definition of a “black swan event”

      • Ok decades of preparation for influenza epidemic, so how come governments and WHO early on so complacent and disorganized? My gues because nothing about this thing fits any known model? So reaction is to abandon influenza pandemic planning and go to old fashioned pre vaccine measures of social distancing and quarantine , plus excess hygiene, somewhat forgotten in and age of vaccines and antibiotics. The greatest experiment in preventative medicine in human history. This thing needs to mutate itself out of existence or the discovery of a cure or highly effective treatment is essential I feel.

        • Well the brits have a plan, actually its one I have seen in several articles discussing this over the years/decades. Its exactly the virus predicted to cause spanish flu style epidemic, long infectious asymptomatic gestation period with good infectivity and no effective vaccine. The epidemic will only cease when the population acquires herd immunity or an effective vaccine id available.
          The problem is that people are going to die. Actually they will die sooner or later whether you go slow or fast unless you can shut your economy down for 18 months and HOPE 2B shots of vaccine become available. Personally I’m looking for coughing people to shake hands with. Its just so much simpler with immunity, and I can’t spread it to frail relatives (I have two very close and neither would survive for certain).
          The trouble is that politically its a tough call, much easier to do what albert wants and hide under the duvet, wringing your hands and being SEEN to do something to attack it. Me, I go with nature when nature has the upper hand.
          PS I think there is a fair chance more healthy people will die from faults in the first vaccines than would have contracting the disease.

          • Measles was extinct in the US by the mid 2010’s. And that was some achievement: it is extremely contagious, far more so than corona, and it has a fatality rate that is similar to corona among previously healthy people. But it came back to the US because of idiots who decided that vaccination was a bad thing. When you question vaccines that don’t even exist yet, based on a generic feeling about them, isn’t what you are advocating the same as what the fake news about the MMR vaccines did? Don’t give up: you are worth it!

            Measles has another clue as to the best approach. It evolved as a human disease within the past 2000 years, initially as isolated outbreaks (it evolved from a cattle disease) until sometime after 1000 AD it obtained the mutation that made it so lethal. It is now purely a human disease: it has diverged from its cattle origin. This is the third bat (presumably) corona outbreak in two decades, after sars and mers. We are playing with fire.

  17. Wait, I shouldn’t build a life sized toilet paper castle? That won’t save me?

  18. Thanks Carl for the nice post.
    Question now is how badly the US will be hit. They have so far tested very few people but will now intensify testing big time. If we see an explotion in US it is possible they also will do the Lock-Down we see in Europe.
    Do we have any experts here in the “cafe” that can tell us a realistic story about how hard Corona will hit the economy? – will we se another depression?

    • The various states seem to have taken it upon themselves to handle the crisis with lock-downs and whatnot, while at the federal level everyone is asleep. This is going to hit the economy hard, no doubt, but how hard? only time will tell.

    • I think a recession is highly likely. But that could also have happened without the virus outbreak. A depression, probably not unless governments get the response badly wrong. Small companies and their employees can be badly hit though. And this is when we find out whether those stress tests done on the banks were good enough.

      Several commenters have pointed out that this is in no way an unexpected event. In fact we have had remarkably few health crises in the past 20 years. I had been expecting that the next crisis would be human-induced, some universally used chemical turning out to be a slow-acting lethal compound. Instead we get this, and I think this crisis is manageable. As Neil pointed out, it is all about resilience. If the health system has been cut to the level where there is no margin, any crisis can become a drama. That may be the lesson we should take from this.

      But to pose a question: how does this compare to what a VEI-7 could have done?

    • I think it will be near-term (next 6 months) very bad, but should rebound once the epidemic is over.

  19. The much to often used “this is a teachable moment” is in order here. I feel we have let business leaders take us down the path of globalization with out thought of consequences. I am not an Isolationist, what I mean is not stopping global trade and immigration but that all our countries need to have some base of manufacturing and we the people need to demand it. In the USA we have let big business shift all manufacturing out of country because others will work for pennies. Our collective tax dollars have paid for that shift. Well, now we have no critical supplies and the country where they are made will use their capability for themselves! Only fools would tell themselves that having no capacity to tool up in an emergency is good. WW II was won because we had manufacturing capacity and could re-tool for the war effort.

    • Dear Ellen,
      I must stress, if you don’t remember, that the opening of China to the rest of world was ignited by the policy of some of the worst (but powerful) President and Secretary of State the US have ever had, R. Nixon and H. Kissinger. After Mao Tse Dong’s death, with Deng Xiao Ping opening to business and market economy the US companies began hugely to invest in China’s developing economy, quickly followed by Germany, Japan etc.
      Now China is the leading world producer of most of the goods we use, apart from agricultural ones : delocalization of mass production to China has made our lives strictly dependent from that country, to the point that not only our sons are in trouble to find jobs (unless going to China !) because our factories have closed, but we are now in trouble because basic (I should say strategic) sanitary materials (drugs, surgery hardware, hospital hardware) are made only there and no more in our countries.

      I write from Italy, and our hospitals struggle to fight the pandemic, both for the undersizing of our intensive care hospitals AND because we have not enough hospital hardware, no more made in Italy but usually imported from China (cheaper !).

      We in the West have put the door keys of our homes in the hands of the Chinese, and now who is the master ? We or them ?


      • We live in a far more integrated world than our parents did. That has good aspects and some problems. For manufacturing, Germany has shown that it is still possible to compete. Medicine is probably more dependent on Western companies, some of which may act in their own best interest rather than that of us. What you think of this will depend on your political views which I won’t get into. As for strategic items for which a shortage could cause problems, that is where government strategy comes in. Presumably you would have no issue if they came from say Austria. We get oil from the Middle East and gas from Russia. By and large, it works. But things do work better if alternative supply chains exist. But for the current crisis, the issue is more that the public health funding has been cut so much since the financial crisis. China can’t be blamed for that.

        • Volcanoes and Corona have similar needs and that is timely detection. Pharmacies and Universities should develop faster detection methods for the Coronavirus. Daily testing around critical groups would likely lower the risk. It will resume trade and travel too.

      • I agree completely! This should be a wake up.There are those that see a selfish opportunity to line their pockets by finding a workforce that can accept low pay and taking advantage of that to line their personal pockets. [ ] Human beings make me sad, maybe that is why I became a Horticulturist.

        Edited to remove personal attacks. Opinions are fine, accusing people based on a group you think they may belong to is not. First rule of this blog is: be nice. -Admin

  20. I think that this increasingly becoming worse Coronacrisis is a strong VEI-7 event. When because of the ongoing collapsing financial markets banks are going to collapse, it will be a VEI-8 event.

  21. I think this was mentioned earlier, but there are human clinical trials scheduled in the near future for several vaccines…beginning as early as April from a lab out of Boston (Moderna). It appears that a lot of “red tape” (such as extensive animal testing) is being side-stepped in order to get some quick and solid data that would eventually allow a quicker-than-usual general distribution to the public.
    Israel too is announcing they have a vaccine ready for human trials…but either way, even after a vaccine is determined to be viable, there are other logistical hurdles that will need to be addressed.
    Since I am in the “older” and more vulnerable group, my plan is to wait it out as best as possible until a vaccine becomes available…perhaps as soon as a couple of months from now (depending on the success rate and collateral effects).
    So, there is some hope of this thing not exploding in a worse-case scenario…especially if people do improve their hygiene and use what is now regarded as “common sense” in avoiding potential exposures and/or transmission.

    • Trouble is you are going to get sued when you ship 2B shots and 200,000 people die of an adverse reaction. People say they won’t but afterwards they will, particularly if you haven’t tested by the book. The UK had a vaccine (hepatitis? no, I forget) which they gave to all medical staff as a precaution and a small number developed narcolepsy and the government got sued for ££££ (and they didn’t even make it). Its the way the world works these days.

      • Perhaps…but as I understand it, the vaccines in general are knock-offs of earlier (and approved) drugs, which is why the animal testing has been minimized since the collateral effects are pretty well known.
        There is even talk that some older, existing drugs are being evaluated for their effectiveness, which would be ideal since all the red-tape has been taken care of already.

  22. The CSM graph for Grimsvötn has become unstuck again, after well getting stuck when the big quake happened the other day.

  23. I went to our only supermarket this afternoon just to get my stocks up a bit and was surprised that it was quite quiet. Mostly it was reasonably well stocked the exceptions being, toilet rolls, rice, pasta, sliced bread (the in-store bakery seemed to have run and the shelves were full) , hand soap, paper towels, canned tomatoes,flour and castor sugar. Nobody was wearing masks. The woman behind me at the checkout kindly pushed my trolley out to the car while her purchases were going through the till and kind man who was passing me in the car park stopped to put all my bags in the back of the car for me. I gave him a dozen of our own hen’s eggs that I happened to have in the car.
    I seems that life is going on fairly normally on Skye at the moment in contrast to the situation down south. I wonder how long my local paradise can hold out!

    • I nearly got into big trouble when I was on Skye back in summer 2009. I was hiking part of the Skye Trail, and on the Trotternish ridge the path under me fell away, and I went downhill fast. Lacerated my hand quite badly, and was generally beaten blue and yellow, though thankfully nothing broken. Managed to limp down to the road and hitchhike back to Portree, where a guy the driver knew checked me over and put a few stiches into my hand.
      I’ve been on many mountains and in wilderness areas before and after, but that’s the only time I’ve been hurt in the wild.

      • I love Skye, and I particularly love Trotternish, but those paths can be sketchy in the extreme. Fortunately they are fairly well-traveled.
        I had my own narrow escape there, but was assisted by a passing German hiker.

        • My hiking days are over but I much enjoyed the Quiraing though it took me 5hrs as the legs were already giving trouble. I nearly got marooned at the Storr and had to come half the way down on my backside because my legs wouldn’t do the job. It was raining heavily and no tourists seemed inclined to help me.

          Happy days

          • Yes, it was near the Quiraing that I (actually my partner) got into difficulty.
            I couldn’t help her as I had our young son in a hard framed backpack/chair which prevented me from turning, as the path was so narrow, with a near vertical wall on one side and a very steep drop on the other.

            Lovely place !

            And that young child is now a field archaeologist, so it was a while back

  24. I’m just weird. I limit my shopping to the spooky hours when the crowds are thinner and the criminals are out. The place I shop is next to a Sheriff’s substation so that lessens the criminal threat. (But doesn’t eliminate it, that’s why it’s there)

    A few month ago I had an unspecified viral cold. My doc prescribed an Albuterol inhaler along with the normal bag-o-stuff they give you. That’s the first time I’ve ever been prescribed Albutetol.

    And from the entertainment point of view… with reduced work hours and temporary closures here… it seemed like EVERYBODY headed to the beach. …well, at least the high UV index reduces the viability of the virus outside the body.

  25. I am just entering day 4 of self-initiated quarantine. I had some symptoms (fever, malaise, headache) in day 1, and my daughter has cough, but now we are better. I feel healthy and I have been jogging everyday.

    5 days ago and more, my daughter had contact with a confirmed coronavirus infected person.
    So we keep ourselves at home. With plenty of food.

    In the meantime, the virus keeps spreading in the UK, including where I live.
    I continue to be shocked by the absence of action compared to the rest of Europe.

    • Currently total cases 1372, current exponential model suggests a doubling time of just over 2 days and number infected (14 day gestation) 113k, mind you I wouldn’t argue that the actual number is really 13,000 and 1.1M allowing for people who had the disease but have not reported it. Irpsit’s symptoms seem very mild but may be typical, if so is it worth losing your job for? If it continues (using actual figures) as it is, which is exceedingly unlikely because almost everyone is taking significant precautions wherever possible, herd immunity would have been some time in april. I can’t do better than that because there is not enough data to get a half decent fit to the sigmoid. After that levels of infectivity should be very low and quite a lot of people with significant life-threatening medical problems will sadly not have survived. If it really is that quick though, a lot will in fact survive through self isolation.

  26. OH, and by the way europes economy will be buggered. I’ll bet the states just lets it rip and ends up in not that bad a shape.

    • Great swathes of the US are sparsely populated, consisting of deserts, mountain ranges, corn fields, and frozen tundra (yes that includes Alaska).

  27. Actually in 5-10% of cases it DOES give you diarrhea.

    I am a former virologist. Yeah, it was dumbed down. I studied adenoviruses.

    While we don’t know how many unreported and asymptomatic cases there are, we also don’t have a good idea of the number of “viral pneumonia NOS” cases are actually due to coronavirus, ditto for cases assumed to be influenza but not actually given a diagnostic test.

    Reports out of Italy indicate hospital systems can become overwhelmed with too many pneumonia cases at once. This also happened in Wuhan. That to me seems like the biggest danger, but also as you say, supply chain disruption including food.

    • I have a question for one with your kind of knowledge.
      If I have a mild case of corona, wouldn’t the antibodies make me a perfect volunteer helper afterwards?

      And another one.
      Have you read this?:

      Besides the bad news about how early it’s contagious, what is your view on the other discovery?
      Does this perhaps point towards we could move some patients,who gets complications later in the disease to ordinary hospital conditions?

      • Yes, you should have antibodies that make you immune, at least for a year or so.
        I was reading some papers (2018 or so) in which they found a type of bat coronavirus in Yunnan province, and some of the locals had antibodies to it, indicating they had at some point been infected.

        That being said, this virus takes several weeks to play out its clinical course, longer than influenza. Influenza tends to start very strong (“hit by a Mack truck” effect) whereas this one seems to take a week or more to kick into high gear, and the worst of the illness can be in week 2. Most of the deaths are 3-4 weeks after initial infection.

        That lag effect is what lulls people and governments into a false sense of security. All of the pandemic containment efforts in the last decade have been oriented towards influenza, and this isn’t influenza. It is coldzilla.

      • The other thing about the antibodies in Yunnan people is that they only persisted for 2-3 years. The virus described in that paper (I should try to find the link, Shi ZL is the senior author I think) is very similar to the one that is circulating today.

        • Its hard to measure antibodies.I was involved in a farm that had BVD and experts wanted to use it as a testbed. The initial antibody response was massive, (remembered figures) in the 100’sMillions that then fell exponentially and a year later were 100 to unmeasurable. I commented that this meant quite a lot of animals were now immunologically naive again and was firmly told that was wrong. Faced with the virus they would not succumb and usually the scientists could not even measure a blip in antibodies. Figures because exposure would be to only a few million viruses and but the godzillion that would be circulating in an infected animal. So absence of measurable antibodies is not necessarily absence of resistance. Interestingly this was to the live virus. The vaccine only gave 12 months immunity (according to the manufacturers).

  28. My 80 year old mom just went to hospital, after 9 days of fever, cough and so on. Proud old woman who has never really been ill.
    I had to force her over the telephone, since she did not have enough breath to finish a sentence.

    I’m a bit worried, call it inluenza if you like, but..

    We are gonna get hit hard here in Denmark I am afraid.

  29. Powerful swarm at Kilauea in the Halema’uma’u area. 13 earthquakes ranging from M 1.7 to 3.2 in a very short time.


    • There seems to be tremor building up just before the earthquakes and then fading. It could be an intrusion, the tilt at Uwekahuna has gone up by 2 microradians following the earthquakes, which is small but the thing may not be over.

        • More than tremor it looks like continuous ground cracking very close together.

          • Could it be collapse of the crater wall? It is quite steep and the onset looks a lot like a slide

          • I have seen spectrograms of crater wall collapses at Pu’u’o’o and they look very different, they are like high frequency periods that emerge slowly in the spectrogram, reach table like peak and then fade again gradually.

            So I don’t think this was a collapse, though I wouldn’t completely rule it out, I think it was most likely an intruded dike that failed to reach the surface but there are some things that I am not sure what they mean, like the very long period waves, or the complex changes of the tilt at Uwekahuna, also over distance the earthquakes, which are have a high frequency at Halema’uma’u, turn into long period earthquakes at Mauna Loa (30 km away) which I am not sure if it is just that they are very shallow and atenuate more easily or if it is something else.

          • Might be worth watching the tilt:

            The tilt sequence is really weird, I dont know what to make out of it. But it is still showing inflation, the inflation phase of the last DI event was already over which makes it unusual (now it should have gone more or less flat). A posibility is that magma is flowing into the dike. The deformation is still small compared to other previous summit dike-fed eruptions though.

          • The location looks like it was on the caldera ring fault. It is not on the collapse crater that has the lake.

          • The 2 summit tiltmeters that are currently working show outward tilting of the ground, and the UWE GPS 1 week north component shows 1-2 cm of northward motion (away from Halema’uma’u) during the event.

            So there is a volume increase, probably in the Halema’uma’u area, a mini-sill or mini-dike intruded, because the deformation is minimal compared to what a proper intrusion would do. That said it was very noisy, there have been summit eruptions in the past with a seismic precursor smaller than this swarm.

          • Note that SDH (southwest) showed an increase in tilt starting 20 February which increase ended with the main earthquake. IKI (northeast) showed a flat tilt which increased after the earthquake. That could suggest that the increasing pressure in the magma chamber caused a fault on the northeast side to fail. The fact that it happened just as a DI event ended could also point at that. No GPS signal, which suggest this may be quite a local event, i.e. smaller in area than the full caldera.

        • I have noticed too that there is a very long period earthquake in the middle of the sequence, I am not sure but perhaps those waves are what threw the Uwekahuna tiltmeter down and up rapidly (minutes) before then it slowly went up 2 microradians

        • If it was an intrusion then it is either paused or over because deformation and earthquakes have ceased.

    • The lake thermal image is not working so until morning I guess it wont be possible to know whether there was any change to the lake or not…

  30. Thanks for your reply.

    What you write here: “whereas this one seems to take a week or more to kick into high gear, and the worst of the illness can be in week 2. Most of the deaths are 3-4 weeks after initial infection.”

    This was what I was thinking about.
    If corona only remains contagious about 6-12 days after initial symptomes, like the study in my link suggest, could some of the complications from pneumonia later on perhaps be treated outside containment areas?

    Or am I reading to much into this?

    • This was a reply for canthisbenull

      Dont know how it ended up down here..

    • where does re-infection being worse come into all that?

      • I haven’t seen much hard data on that, mostly a lot of anecdote and conspiracy theory.
        There is a paper from some Chinese authors in which they found two strains of this virus circulating (S type and L type) and one was a (in-human derived) mutation that was more virulent than the other.

        If one got the milder, original version first then the more virulent one that could seem like the second infection is worse, but mainly because you were exposed to two different serotypes of the same virus.

        It is an RNA virus. RNA mutates more readily than DNA.

    • They are not sure yet how long people are shedding virus after they stop being ill. It is a new disease. First they thought it wasn’t airborne and thus couldn’t get into cruise ship air conditioning systems. Found out that wasn’t right. Also at first they thought asymptomatic patients don’t shed virus. Found out the hard way that wasn’t right, either.

  31. I think you are under estimating the problem. At my niece’s school people got infected by corona . A girl got sick during a skiing trip to Italy (four weeks ago), had flue like symptoms but went to school anyway… My niece, 17 years old and very healthy has been sick for almost three weeks, high fever 39.5 to 40c and has much trouble breathing. She will be okay but mean while some class mates are in ICU….young people 16/17… I am not a physician but worked in a general hospital for some while (Spaarne Gasthuis, Haarlem). My old colleagues are having a hard time. Yes the biggest problem is capacity and we need time but this not just a normal flu. In Noord-Brabant half of the people in ICU are younger than 50. That’s not normal!. Tobias van der Linden Haarlem, the Netherlands

    • Oh. That’s nothing like what the chinese were reporting at all and, as you say, quite worrying. Actually very worrying indeed and might explain the sense of panic in Italy if this is a variant. The mortality may be quite a bit higher than the chinese indicate. I seem to remember that the original spanish flu mutated into a form that was more aggressive to younger people but I haven’t time to research this right now.
      The tests should show something up the below from UK govt website

      “With the first reported publication of the genome sequence of a 2019 novel coronavirus, PHE was able to rapidly develop further specific tests for this virus, working with WHO and global network of laboratories.

      When a clinician suspects novel coronavirus (COVID-19), they take samples from the nose, throat and deeper respiratory samples, package and send them safely to PHE Colindale. PHE can provide a laboratory result from this specific virus on the same working day.

      PHE also has the capability to sequence the viral genome and compare this to published sequences from China, if a case occurs. This will provide valuable information on any mutations in the virus over time and allow an improved understanding of how it spreads.”

  32. I’ve heard rumours that the virus causes permanent lung damage and male infertility… surely that has to be false?

    • Yup, in severe cases and particularly where its severe enough to need intubation there is quite a high chance of debilitating lung damage. This reported by Wuhan chinese doctors, may be be different in europe. Mind you, to need intubation you are in a pretty dire state, probably before you even caught the disease.

      • Sorry, haven’t come across the male infertility bit (didn’t spot that before) and I doubt anyone would know yet anyway.

        • Agree. That can only be fake news. Unless it refers to those people who don’t survive.

  33. Nice article Carl, but I fear your numbers are overly optimistic.
    2-4% is not the death rate for hospitalized cases, in Italy that would be about 15%.
    It is really hard to estimate the real number of infected people, but we can work around it (in my job I need to work with incomplete or distorted data a lot).
    South Korea has been testing very aggressively in order to stop the infection. This seems to be working well, the number of cases has dramatically decreased, so I doubt they are missing many cases. Despite this, they still have a 1% death rate, that could be really close to actual numbers (some missing cases, some active cases that will eventually result in death).
    Considering that deaths are very concentrated in older cohorts (at least if people can get proper care), demographics can influence mortality rates a lot, in the oldest European countries such as Italy I would expect mortality rates to be double than China and 50% more than South Korea, which would realistically translate to a 1,5 mortality rate. Chinese numbers ex Hubei are 0,7%, that would fit well.

    If you compare the number of deaths in Italy with common flu epidemics, the numbers are still really grim. Usually at peak we observe excess mortality of about 60 deaths per day, in periods when flu reaches about 600.000 cases per week. Yesterday we had 368 coronavirus-related deaths, 6 times peak of common flu. But we know that COVID19 is not as remotely frequent as common flu. Genetic studies have confirmed that the disease has arrived less than two months ago and more than half of the country has only seen sparse cases, in 50 days it didn’t have time to grow in a flu-sized epidemic.

    • OK thanks for that analysis, that’s really very helpful. Do you have any further breakdown of the korean situation? Age distribution would be good and most useful would be the number of fit healthy people dying as its not impossible that 1% of the population is in fact close to the number with significant pre-existing medical problems. I hope you can because it would be really helpful to know. References to the data would also be great. Its a problem in this world of ours that we cannot make rational decisions in the face of this sort of disaster. Boris has bottled out and we are going for the destruction of our economy and it would be nice to know who we are saving. If its a bunch of old people, or even worse morbidly ill with a short and poor quality of life anyhow then basically its not helping anyone much. Leaders and presidents, who tend to be old and ill, probably disagree.

      • Agree. I also found these numbers very enlightening. The reason why the UK has suddenly changed course is that the projections show that we would be far short of the number critical care beds (or the staff to (wo)man them). If the disease progresses naturally, we would reach the point of shortage by about mid April after which it rapidly gets worse. There are some funny things here. London was excluded from the government crisis meetings because it has a mayor from the wrong party. Now it appears that London is in fact the focal point of the epidemic in the UK and the place from where it spreads. You can’t control the disease without widespread testing, but since yesterday (or a few days earlier?) all testing has been stopped apart from in hospitalized cases. Today is was both announced that testing would increase (from zero?) and not increase. Sadly we elect governments for popularity, not for competence.

        Oops. Did I just make a political statement?

  34. One ‘wild card’ in the Wuhan outbreak is that *some* locals may have had *some* prior immunity, with antibodies to this or very similar coronas. IIRC, the region’s reputation for spawning zoonotics –Swine Flu, Bird Flu etc– was why the research lab was there…

    Our side of the world, our immune systems are ‘naive’. As yet unclear if prior exposure to MERS will help Middle East…

    I’m not sure how to read it, but UK test kits now seem restricted to hospital admissions and ‘clearing’ quarantined contacts…

    I’m going shopping tomorrow, but don’t expect to find much more than the ‘vittles’ I’m zapping tonight: stewed steak in white sauce, 2-min rice and a can of sweet-corn. Plenty more ‘vittles’ in cupboards, several weeks in fact, including umpteen tinned pies. But, given I’d half-expected to be house-bound this Winter…

    Upside, this would be a *great* excuse to de-frost the totally glaciated top drawer of freezer and see what’s there….

  35. Just got out of nine days isolation. Fever from hell, followed by sore throat and mild cough. All over in five days. Got tested on day five. Got result on day nine. Negative. Wondering what it was or was I clear by the time I got tested. Back to work in the morning, school struggling to run with so many staff off sick, right in the London hot spot as well. The no testing strategy isn’t working as people will go back to work as soon as symptoms stop if they are not sure they have had it. Really worried by UK gov’s approach, feel like its ‘let it rip and get it over with’.

  36. We got contact with a confirmed case in north Scotland, as she was pregnant and still got tested. That was 5 and 12 days ago, at the local kindergarden, My daughter got dry cough since some days ago and now we also got it. It started with a bit of fever too. Otherwise so far it just looks like a cold. We both think that the 3 of us are infected but we are self-isolating since Friday. However we did socialized with a lot of people last week.

    A lot of people will be infected and this is going to be a huge mess in the UK.
    Its already a mess in the supermarkets with food shortages.

    I hope this stays at this level. A bit worried, but now it is just wait and see. And keeping healthy. What a rollercoaster.

    Its day 4 of our self-isolating.
    Self-isolating is the easiest of all things.

    • I hope you are all ok. It sounds like the critical point is after about a week when the disease either clears up or gets a lot worse. But I am still unclear on how to diagnose corona, in contrast to what else goes around. The charts suggest that high fever plus dry cough are indicative, but without the fatigue that you get from flu.

      I can imagine that self isolating in North Scotland may be easier than in London.

  37. I just went to the grocery store in Orange County, California. They were completely out of milk, and the clerk said they didn’t know anymore when the trucks would be coming. I suspect much of the supply is being reserved for online orders, with 5 million out of 40 million being over age 65 and ordered to stay at home.

    • Analysing recent figures we get (and this is just maths) best fit:
      Until today we had 2.1 days doubling time.

      doubling time days 2.52
      exponential (decimal) 0.120
      increase/day 1.32
      Date New ACTUAL Model
      09/03/20 50 319 319
      10/03/20 66 373 385
      11/03/20 87 456 472
      12/03/20 114 590 586
      13/03/20 150 798 736
      14/03/20 198 1,140 934
      15/03/20 261 1,372 1,195
      16/03/20 344 1,543 1,539

  38. In Switzerland, the emergency state was declared.

    Some details (gougle translation):

    Art 6
    Events and establishments;

    al 1
    All public or private events, including sporting events and associative activities, are prohibited.

    al 2

    Public establishments are closed, in particular:
    a. stores and markets;
    b. the restaurants;. bars, discos, night clubs and erotic salons;
    d. entertainment and leisure facilities, including museums,
    libraries, cinemas, concert halls, theaters, casinos,
    sports and fitness centers, swimming pools, wellness centers and
    ski areas, botanical and zoological gardens and zoological parks;
    e. providers offering services involving physical contact such as
    hairdressing, massage, tattoo or beauty salons.

    al 3
    al 2 does not apply to the following establishments and events:
    a. grocery stores and other v stores (e.g. kiosks, gas station shops) as long as they sell food or
    everyday consumer goods;
    b. take-out snacks, company canteens, services
    meal delivery and catering services for hotel customers;
    vs. pharmacies, drugstores and stores selling medical aids (eg glasses, hearing aids);
    d. post offices and agencies;
    e. telecommunications operators’ outlets;
    f. banks;
    g. gas stations;
    h. stations and other public transport infrastructure;
    i. transportation repair workshops;
    j. public administrations;
    k. social services (eg counseling centers);
    l. burials in the restricted family circle;
    m. health establishments such as hospitals, clinics and medical offices as well as offices and establishments managed by health professionals insense of federal and cantonal law;not. hotels”

    • “erotic salons” (al 2/b). Wasn’t my mental image of Switzerland, that’s for sure

      • I guess you are one of this millions who just pass through on their way to the Mediterranean sea and/or back by car/train/airplane or bicycle every year?

        It’s legal since 1942 – we didn’t had to care about WWII too much, things like the legalization of prostitution were quiet important during the war:

        Here is the nearest “erotic salons” from my flat, about 7 minutes by feed. Now it’s closed because of COVID-19, it even has a “Corona-virus-Information” starting page:

        Cockaigne is real!

  39. (gougle translation)

    Until proven otherwise, a statistical model must be confronted with reality. Only the future will tell us if one model has a certain degree of accuracy.

    In some comments appeared in this discussion, I am surprised by the lack of definition of the statistical terms used, the absence of indication of their calculation method, or even the absence of citation (or vague indications) from the source of the basic figures.

    Covid-19 is a new entity whose behavior and consequences are not all known.
    [sarcastic mode = on] On this forum, we compare covid-19 to seasonal flu, I hope it will not have a strain a, b, c, d for covid-19. [sarcastic mode = off]

    To be used, a vaccine must have shown its effectiveness and must not induce significant side effects. It may take time.

    [fake news mode = on] In terms of natural selection, the collective immunity policy is a good thing [fake news mode = off]

  40. On the UK do-nothing-vs.-social-distancing debate, I’d like to offer this into evidence:

    The key takeaway here is that without social distancing, everyone eventually gets exposed. With social distancing, there is a blue band of people still at the right edge of the graph: people who avoided getting sick in the first place. In the real world that will include some members of at-risk groups who would otherwise not have survived. And the more social distancing, the wider the blue band: fewer people end up exposed.

    Sure, a wide enough blue band may also mean no herd immunity yet, but by the time it circles around for a second pass (next fall’s cold season?) there might be a vaccine or other improvements in treatment.

    The UK’s policy is therefore likely to be lethal to a lot of people who could otherwise survive. It’s stone stupid. Unless, of course, some cold-blooded cabal thinks culling older, weaker, and poorer people is desirable social policy. The sort of people that Churchill fought a war against, most of a century ago.

    • That’s a great simulation but please note that eventually it completes with everyone getting infected and so the same number die (give or take). My proposal is that the severely at risk group (which seems to mostly be those with existing significant medical problems regardless of age) severely self-isolate whilst everyone else goes about their normal life. That means you rapidly get to or close to herd immunity but with very few severe cases and then the severe risk people are protected by the low level of virus circulating in the population. Also you don’t trash your economy. table #1 (and bear in mind they think 50% of the population is asymtomatic) severe incidence looks very much like this at-risk pre-disposed with significant medical problems population, doesn’t it?

      • It’s not that simple. Say there’s a Covid-19 mortality rate of 3%. If everyone gets it fast, the ICU beds fill, the respirators are all in use, and then all beds are full, and still not everyone can get into hospital. So more die from pneumonia and other complications.

        If everyone gets it slow, you have a chance to be able to treat the ill so that you come back down to the 3% death rate.

        Italy is now struggling, 2,500+ dead now, their excellent hospital system overwhelmed, so people are dying who could have lived if they had been able to get a respirator – because it spread quickly. Not counting people dying alone at home, or people who needed hospital treatment for other things.

        20% of Covid-19 sufferers need intensive hospital care, not a little at-risk group. Yes some people (the elderly, those with asthma, those with compromised immune systems) need to be isolated more comprehesively, but all people need to be as isolated as possible, to reduce the spread speed.

        Thankfully more countries are realising this. The ones that did it quickly are the ones that will see the 5% die, the others will see much higher rates unfortunately. 20% of your people dying or having long-term nasty health problems is a WAY bigger impact to your economy, for decades.

        • From /imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf table #1,
          suggesting your figures are wrong

          Note this EXCLUDES the group of asymptomatoc infected people assessed to be 50%.

          A= Age-group (years)
          B= % symptomatic cases requiring hospitalisation
          C= % hospitalised cases requiring critical care
          D= Infection Fatality Ratio

          A B C D
          0 to 9 0.1% 5% 0.002%
          10 to 19 0.3% 5% 0.006%
          20 to 29 1% 5% 0.03%
          30 to 39 3% 5% 0.08%
          40 to 49 5% 6% 0.15%
          50 to 59 10% 12% 0.60%
          60 to 69 17% 27% 2%
          70 to 79 24% 43% 5%
          80+ 27% 71% 9%

  41. For info, todays UK figures to 16th
    doubling time days 2.55
    exponential (decimal) 0.118 per day
    increase/day 1.31

    At these levels
    assuming a 14 day incubation period total infected 100k, ie not very many.
    New inf hit ~1M/day on 9/04

  42. I don’t want to be culled, I want to stick around to see at least a few decent size eruptions. Unexpected possibility: fine ash from Iceland precipitates covid-19 from the air.
    District nurse turned up today as expected to treat my partners stump, impressed!
    Podiatry outpatients seems to have closed. Until the penny dropped a local friend said his surgery receptionist appeared to believe they could take bloods over the phone.
    Interesting times.
    I’m hoping that the disappearance of eggs at the local supermarket will help me sell my egg mountain from the roadside box, it’s an ill wind…

  43. OK, I suppose it was inevitable that it would be politically correct to trash our economy, kill lots of associated people who would otherwise have survived and save very few extra CV-10 cases, many of whom have ‘underlying medial conditions’ anyway. Its going to be going on for at least a year by which time pensions will be worth very little, there will for sure be many millions unemployed in the UK alone and it is going to be a complete disaster simply because people do not have the guts to accept reality.
    I may die when I get the disease, but if I do not I’ll still have enough to live on comfortably because I have very modest needs indeed. Most of you are going to have very very difficult economic situations and do not be surprised if government pensions and other handouts are severely axed ‘for the duration of the emergency’, which isn’t the CV-19 emergency, its the economic collapse that will follow and take years to recover from.
    The whole thing is just maths, and you can argue all you like but 1+1=2 no matter what you want to believe.

    • This is the relevant figure from the Imperial report. It shows projections for an unmitigated epidemic in the UK, and the effect of various strategies. It notably excludes the most effective one, which involves testing everyone all the time. The UK stopped all testing last Friday for reasons no one knows. For an unmitigated epidemic, they predict half a million fatalities in the UK and four times as many in the US.

      The first crisis hits in the second week of April when the UK runs out of critical care beds. This was based on a doubling rate which now seems sightly optimistic.

      As was suggested here, isolating the over-70’s helps a lot. Reduce the illness in them and it frees up a lot of beds. Case isolation and quarantine is more effective though.

      The report itself is available from

      • The only problem I have is that it appears to assume the disease will end around aug 20th, but since the total number of infected patients is the area under the graph(s) which are clearly all different, why should there be fewer infected people under each regime? This makes no sense, perhaps Albert can explain.

        • That is a good point. The plot does not show what happens after August. (Note that ‘Aug 20’ means August 2020, not 20 Aug.) better suppression means that fewer people catch it, so the total number differs. The paper finds that when restrictions are lifted, the epidemic restarts, and because the virus is already distributed the increase is faster than now. The more you suppress the current outbreak, the stronger the outbreak is in the late autumn. I am sure this won’t suprise you.

          I have the feeling that UK policy is to have the maximum number of people catch it without overloading the NHS. The problem with this is that the NHS has been cut so hard that almost any outbreak will exceed its capacity. They are caught in a trap of their own making. I expect that this is the reason that testing was stopped last Friday – the wish not to suppress it completely. But that is a guess. But the models they are using have not investigated the most effective method to control it, which is to test everyone all the time. I don’t know why that was excluded. It is clear that the way to keep it manageable is to eradicate it as much as possible now, and to immediately isolate every person who catches it later. There may be modeling behind it (e.g. re-infection from abroad) but that is not published.

          • Hi albert. Thanks for doing the heavy reading. Its clearly impossible and pointless to test 70M people daily and without a very sensitive test for antibodies we will miss the infected-but-recovered asymtomatic anyway.
            Any reasonable response to an outbreak like this will overwhelm any health system, you simply cannot stand prepared for a 1:100 years calamity all the time, and there are others too. What you can do is do your best with what you have. That means the strategy I have suggested as I can’t find any better one. The problem is that the press have scared everyone shi1less, supermarkets are empty, almost all shops are shut down or have notices saying they are shutting down and today the delivery driver wouldn’t get within 3m of me, clearly in fear of his life (he was about 35). To be honest I am pretty disappointed in h.sapiens who is behaving more like h.stultus. Well I’m off to the pub on friday for a meal with some young relatives, with luck they will be carriers and I can get it all over with and not have to put up with all this hysteria. No, I’m not likely to die, I doubt the chance is as high as 1:20 anyway.

          • Why is it impossible to test a lot of people? Just a matter of logistics and easy-to-use test. Not sure how often tests would be needed – perhaps once a week. Or you can test fewer people more often. Not saying you have to do it, but it is no more of a problem than getting the rubbish collected once a week from all households. But let’s see what happens next.

  44. Our first case her in the Faroes has been declared fully recovered now, first symptoms showed on the 29th feb and now more than two weeks later he’s in the free again.
    We are probably the country which pr capita has the largets number of infected (58) though only a small handfull have been admitted to hospital for observation, the rest are isolated at home or at a hotel which has been comandeered by the authorities. There are about 250ish who are in quarantine pr Dr orders, plenty more who are voluntarily.
    No critical cases yet.

    • How many people live in Faroes? Few enough that you can just protect the vulnerable and let the disease run its course otherwise?

      • Around 52.000 live here. I don’t know if we could do that, I mean sure we could, but that is going to put our health-system under unduly hard pressure. A few of the smaller islands are fully isolated and have always been like that, small villages and such with an ageing population, so no issue there.
        I wouldn’t be surprised if hundreds already are infected, just not showing any symptoms, considering how social we usually are and were up until the lockdown.
        As an example, we are the most football crazy nation in the world (pr capita), 10% of the population attends a match every weekend. Throw in all sorts of other sports, music events, parties etc, and the fact that people tend to quickly go out and see older relatives when you get home from abroad etc, infection rates are going to skyrocket in the coming days, even if lock down stuff is as strickt as they come.

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