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The death clock

A few years ago I remember the arrival of a sort of clock that measured the terrifying rise of the UK’s public debt, a pile that has got much heavier and scarier as a result of the splurge of spending enacted by the new UK finance minister last week. The idea of some dial on the dashboard of our lives, so to speak, which rises constantly, or maybe eventually slows and reverts, is an interesting one. In the media, some newspapers seem to have these daily counts of the number of people dying of coronavirus. On some of the TV channels there is a scrolling feed at the bottom of the screen (I saw this on Sky News, which is arguably even worse than the BBC these days) do this. It was rather like the tickers for the level of the S&P 500 or the latest cricket scores from Lords.

A writer on Linkedin, whom I quote from here but I won’t name as I am not sure I have permission, has written this, and I do sort of sympathise:

Is the news going to report every single death which include a majority of elderly people each day death by death? Many have cancer or asthma or weak immune systems or underlying health issues and many may be on respirators in assisted living or hospitals so how do we know the real cause of death? Smokers who harmed their lungs. Rx’s that damaged lungs and organs such as the heart. Every person is different. The news or government doesn’t report the 109 Americans who die everyday or the 660,000 deaths of individuals from cancer each year. How about the 47,000 plus individual deaths by suicide and illicit drugs? How long is the scare mongering going to linger on? Will be it be until July or August or longer? Viruses and diseases are always popping up…Influenza, Asian Influenza 1950’s, Hong Kong flue 1960’s, Meningitis, AIDS, Mers, Sars, Swine Flu, Ebola…..We don’t know what else may have contributed to the death. Just sayin’.

Of course the State should not in any way ban or try and interfere with such reporting, whether it is crass, hysterical, or sober. At least in the West the media is covering this outbreak heavily, whereas in China, as appears to be the case, people who blew the whistle on what was going on have been punished or just disappeared.

71 comments to The death clock

  • Paul Marks.

    All of these debts (in Britain and the United States and in other countries) are in fiat money – there is nothing to stop governments just printing money (or playing computer games) and “paying” their debts that way.

    “But you are paying me in worthless money” – that is what the contract says mate, you lent us fiat “Pounds” and that is ecactly wht we are paying you. If you have a few million of them you may be able to buy a load of bread.

    So “problem solved”? Well there would be monetary collapse – but apart from that “minor” problem, from a government point of view “yes”.

    Let us be clear there is no way, for example, that the United States Federal Government can honestly pay its long term obligaions including the “unfunded liabilities” of Medicare and the rest of the “Entitlements” – yet politicians (and the media and the EDUCATION SYSTEM) keep promoting even more Entitlements even though there is no way to honestly pay the existing ones in the long term.

    So monetary expansion will be seen as the “solution” – as for people dependent on government for old age pensions, medical care and so on. Well………

    People who still have strong families (who have backed the terrible “cultrual transformation” since about 1960) and who are members of strong traditional institutions (such as conservagive churches – but also secular groups, if they are traditional and if they are strong), and who have practical skills (such as plumbing and electrical work) will be O.K.

  • Paul Marks

    As others will point out….

    It is not the virus – it is the hysterical world goverment “spend, spend, spend” response, that has done most damage.

    But that is only true because the financial system was a mess to start with – a massive Credit Bubble.

    By the way text is not going red when I mistype – most likely because I am using Google (due to a computer problem with my other operating system), no dobut there is a way of using Google to show typos – but I can not be bothered.

    People who base their hostility to me on typing errors are not worth bothering with.

  • Roué le Jour

    As your unnamed commenter suggests, a lot of data but not much information. At the very least a breakdown of deaths by age would be helpful, as would ethnicity. A close knit group who believe their god will protect them and who don’t trust unbeliever medicine would seem to be an ideal incubator.

  • Alsadius

    Paul: If developed-world governments were going to do things like that, they would have by now. I looked at the numbers for the US a while back – 90% of historical spending was taxed, 9% borrowed, and 1% printed. Yes, it’s possible to inflate away debts, but it ruins your country to do that, and nobody with a functioning nation is that desperate.

    I think they’re bollocksing up monetary policy in truly impressive fashion right now – no amount of cheap credit will keep people going to work through this. And without productivity, demand levels are irrelevant. If their goal is to just let people get through with minimal pain, fine, but you’re not stimulating anything while people are locked in their houses.

    Also, consider this the obligatory reminder that the few thousand dead are not the concern. The concern is the possibility of a few million dead in a couple months. Exponential growth is a bitch.

  • Paul Mark

    Roue le Jour – I do not know of many groups of people who do not “trust unbeliever medicine”, there may be some tiny communities of such people (but they are so “self isolating” they are unlikely to be infected in the first place).

    As for “trust their God to protect them” – it is astonishing how ignorant the “educated” are, no major religion teaches that God will protect people from disease (I am a critic of Islam – but I would not make this charge against it, because the charge is nonsense). After all the basic point of most religions is that death is NOT optional – that we will all die, religion (among those who actually have a religious belief) is about individual survival after the death of the body. That may indeed be total nonsense (I have no proof tht it is not) – but it is what most religons are about, they are NOT about making death optional by protecting people from disease and everything else on this Earth.

    The C virus started in China – in largely atheist areas, indeed from a research centre (very much “unbeliever mediicne”) – it did indeed spread to the PRC ally Iran (but the Shia are most certainly NOT hostile to science) and has made great strides in such countries as Italy – not known for being religious (these days).

    Spain has shown great religious faith – but it is religious faith in atheist socialism. The Prime Minister of Spain (a fanatical atheist) has nationalised private health care, because his God (socialism) tells him to.

  • Paul Marks

    Alasduius “I looked at the numbers awhile back” – since when they have got worse.

    And they will get worse every year – check the “Debt Clock”.

    “They would have already done so” – I take it you have heard of QE.

    It is only going to get worse over the years – the obligations can not be paid.

    You actually admit that the governments of the world are busy inflating massive Credit Bubbles – yet you dispute what I said (when that is what I said).

    I have not said it is good for the economy for governments to promise a level “public services” and benefits that can not possible be afforded inthe long term – I have said the exact opposite of that.

  • ScottR

    One of the early predictions I saw about this epidemic was that, as it was a respiratory disease, it would overwhelmingly affect men, especially older ones. None of the figures for cases and/or deaths I have seen since mention that level of detail.
    There used to be an old joke that “I want the data on cases broken down by age and sex”. Does anybody know of such an analysis? I ask as a male rich in life’s maturity.

  • Paul Marks

    Rour le Jour – I know of few groups of people who do not “trust unbeliever medicine”, there may be some small groups of people who do not, but they are likely so “self isolating” that they are unlikely to be infected in the first place.

    As for “trust their God to protect them” – that is just about the opposite of what most major religions teach. I am, for example, a critic of Islam – but I would never make such a charge against Islam (because the charge is nonsense).

    Religions teach that death is NOT optional – that we all die. They offer individual survival after death – not the chance to make death optional by imunity to all disease and so on. Now the claim of the major religions may be nonsense (I have no proof that it is not) – but the “educated” really need to stop making-stuff-up and look at the actual facts about what a religion is, and what it claims.

    As for this virus – it started in the PRC and in a resarch centre (“unbeliever medicine”?), it did indeed spread to Iran, but the Shia are NOT anti technology (whatever other faults they have – this is not one of them, and the Sunni are also NOT anti tech). It has also done great harm in Italy – which may have been religious before the Western cutural collapse of the 1960s, but certainly is not now.

    There are indeed (I admit) cases where fanatical faith has done harm – but they tend to be cases such as China where it was faith (backed by violence) in the Communist Pary.

    In Spain the atheist Prime Minister has taken over private medical care (what private medical care that still existed in Spain) – what is he basing his belief in the wonders of statism on? He is basing it on faith – he has no evidence (no at all) that socialism works.

    The Castro Loving Mayor of New York City wants to nationalise everything in sight – what does he base his belief in collectivism on? Just faith – he has no evidence (none) that socialism works. And logical reasoning does not lead to the conclusion that socialism works.

    So YES lack of rational thought is a problem – but not from the people you might assume.

    Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone.

  • staghounds

    The meaningful figure is how many more deaths in a given population (say, Italy) over the same period last year.

    And since that would be the number that would really tell us something about the effect of the disease, and we aren’t getting it, I have to assume that number isn’t headline worthy.

    “3000 coronavirus deaths in Italy” means nothing without background.

  • There has recently been a massive change in the planned UK government (within UK) response to the COVID-19 epidemic. I thought people here might like to see some of the background expert information and analysis that is, at least, contributory to that massive change.

    This is yesterday’s Report 9 from the Imperial College team (including Prof Neil Ferguson and many others) named the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis (who also look to receive funding from the WHO and also known (in some part) as the Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics). Imperial’s main news page is here, with summary. In particular, it currently has its main news as the release of their Report 9 (20-page PDF) entitled “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand”. [Hat tip to wife.]

    The Report 9 is, IMHO with science degrees in other subjects than epidemiology, very readable – and especially in the summary at its beginning. For those more challenged in this sort of detailed explanation, the graphs and tables help a lot.

    Do read at least some of this stuff – to better understand why the medium term (say 3 to 12 months) effects are at least as if not more important than the short term (0 to 2 months). It’s largely down to how many of the seriously ill have to share each bed in ICU. Hence, what chance the NHS has (that would be WE have) in getting more ICU beds on stream in a useful timescale.

    Best regards

  • Mr Ecks

    It assumes 80% of people are going to be infected. Again more than the Black Death managed.

    Full of Fancy Dan graphs but all based on 80% of people getting it.

    The Diamond Princess has 2670 passengers of whom 614 caught coro and 7 died. The ship has mostly old folk and should have been an ideal coro hothouse.

    Less than one quarter got it .

    The 7 deaths mean 1% death rate –but again elderly and with pre-existing conditions.

  • I write in response to Mr Ecks (March 17, 2020 at 3:24 pm), who seems to have fired from both hips with his six-guns – all shots missing.

    It assumes 80% of people are going to be infected. Again more than the Black Death managed.

    The 80% (actually 81% for the UK, see page 8) is a reference scenario (no actions taken) which it is clearly stated (IMO with a tad of humour) as “unlikely”.

    A major period of Black Death occurred at a time (1347 in Turkey to 1350 in Scandinavia) where infectious spread proceeded mainly at sailing-ship-borne speed. This all not least because it was initially mainly transmitted by the fleas of ship-borne rats; subsequently inland by human-borne fleas and humans – travelling at speeds appropriate mostly for horse-drawn carts. So three years – not our modern 1 to 4 hours by plane, leading to noticeable spread of infection in once or twice three weeks.

    And again, there was not a free-for-all for that bacterium: but some quarantining. Note that then (modern-day) Poland and environs (green on the Black Death figure) did particularly well: both by quarantining and by being about as far from the sea as practical. Nevertheless, somewhere between 28% and 50% of the european population snuffed it over those few years from said Black Death.

    Full of Fancy Dan graphs but all based on 80% of people getting it.

    I don’t understand the reference to “Fancy Dan”, being not much of a mass-cinema goer. Is it some sort of reference level in the over-use of graphs?

    But I do note that Ferguson et al’s paper contains many other plots (I counted 9) – for the important comparison (for 8 of them) with each other and the unlikely-to-occur reference level; also for many of those with the reference level of ICU beds as currently available.

    The Diamond Princess has 2670 passengers of whom 614 caught coro and 7 died. The ship has mostly old folk and should have been an ideal coro hothouse.

    The Diamond Princess cruise liner incident ran from 4th February 2020 (first on-board detected infection) to 1st March (total disembarkation) – so less than 1 month. During this period infections rose to just under 19% of the crew/passengers. Take a look at Figure 2 (page 8) in Ferguson et al’s paper. There, by the end of 1 month from now (so 3 months from detection of the first UK infection), for all scenarios, there is nowhere near infection of 19% of the population – closer to barely observable in fact – so clearly things were happening much faster in the constrained ship-borne environment than we might reasonably expect in the wide world.

    Somewhat aside on the mostly old folk, surely coro-hothouse is in relation to total infections – on which (informed) AB-demographic oldies would have (IMHO) comparatively well disciplined in behaviour – washing their hands more than the average human being – keeping 2+m from everyone else on their daily walk. And maybe they were mostly of above-average health for their age, so not much above the less than 1% fatalities for those in good health irrespective of age.

    Less than one quarter got it .

    Repetition!

    The 7 deaths mean 1% death rate –but again elderly and with pre-existing conditions.

    Elderly – surely yes; significantly more than average age of the living. With pre-existing conditions – surely less than average for their age cohort (IMHO by a longish way) in the statistics of occurrence and particularly of severity.

    Best regards

  • Mr Ecks

    So–pruning the verbiage–you more or less agree.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I expect that eventually Boris will have to declare an Italian-style curfew. The sooner, the better.

  • staghounds

    The quaran-teens will easily make up the population losses.

  • Mr Ecks

    The state can stuff curfews up its arse.

  • Poland and environs (green on the Black Death figure) did particularly well: both by quarantining and by being about as far from the sea as practical. (Nigel Sedgwick, March 17, 2020 at 5:08 pm)

    This was believed by researchers in the second half of the 20th century as a result of figures provided by the post-war communist government of Poland. It has since emerged that the communists in charge had an agenda against letting mediaeval social change be explained as a consequence of the black death rather than of the factors Karl Marx had chosen to highlight. IIUC, this is now a reasonably mainstream idea amongst mediaeval historians – that Poland, though infected late in the first wave, during the final turn of the disease back to the east after spreading westwards through the southern European continent and then northwards, was not as exceptional as had been thought when its black death data was provided by those who feared damage to their career (if not more) if they suggested an undesired alternative to the 19th-century explanations of Marx for the social evolution that occurred after it by reporting politically incorrect figures.

    One reason the black death may infect less than this conovirus is that it was so vastly more lethal. People who feel OK at lunch and die before dinner don’t have that much time to infect others. Any study of the black death will let you feel very relaxed about the Chinese flue, but the black death finally failed to become endemic in humans because it killed us too readily.

  • Mr Ed

    Well now our Chancellor of the Exchequer has found £330,000,000,000 down the back of the 11 Downing Street sofa to load out and to inflate away economic difficulties, with some more if he scrapes around, and our idiot media ask questions about why he isn’t (in effect) helicoptering money to people as well, and if the Prime Minister’s father should go down the pub. The media have never looked more clueless, juvenile and self-absorbed.

    At the end of the day, what seems to matter is that the NHS shouldn’t look bad, and that is the be-all and end-all of it.

  • willfulknowledge

    If you saw it on linkedin it’s public already.

    “A writer on Linkedin, whom I quote from here but I won’t name as I am not sure I have permission:

  • Gary

    Seeing as the British government is deliberately allowing the virus to infect and kill, as proven by them ignoring the success of South Korea and China in stopping the virus, then this incompetent, lazy government should be shamed daily.

  • APL

    Paul Marks: “As for this virus – it started in the PRC and in a resarch centre ..”

    Is this now an established fact?

    Mr Ed: “At the end of the day, what seems to matter is that the NHS shouldn’t look bad, and that is the be-all and end-all of it.”

    Yep. Seems to be the case.

    From what I can make of it, about 60% of infected people don’t even know they’ve been infected, they might have a sore throat a temperature or a bit of a cough. But that’s it.

    Then, for this Covid strain to exhaust itself and die out, we need about 60% of the population to have had it and get immunity.

    Ideally, we need that to happen as quickly as possible, otherwise we destroy the economy and with it our precious Health service.

    Talk of this going on into the autumn. Well, We won’t have an economy by then!

    That might be a good time for China to attack.

  • Mr Ecks

    Gary–We’ll see wont we –I say it is a damp squib–peddled by bullshiters as a power grab. And in the hope they can blame inevitable economic trouble on the bug.

    The economic disaster will be vast–and the germy Armagedon a bucket of nowt.

  • I respond to Mr Ecks’s entirely rhetorical (though thankfully brief) verbiage of March 17, 2020 at 5:43 pm, noting he seems to be saying he agrees with me as much as he says I agree with him. And I don’t agree with him.

    There is nothing material in Report 9 that claims 80% infection will actually happen (over the course of the epidemic, which is – for that scenario – by end July 2020). The 81% is merely one measure on a reference scenario that cannot now actually happen: one that has some utility as a reference to help implicitly scale the likely benefits of different non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) – each alone and in various combinations.

    There is nothing material invalidated in Report 9 by the experience of the Black Death – which dates from a period with vastly slower human travel and disease spread, and had a vastly greater disease mortality rate.

    There is nothing material invalidated in Report 9 by graphs comparing (for example Figure 2 on page 8) the likely benefit (on peak ICU beds) of just closing schools and universities (green curve) with the likely benefit of case isolation, home quarantine, social distancing of over-70s (blue curve). Without that figure’s “do nothing” curve, there is not knowledge that closing schools and universities has any beneficial effect compared to any alternative – and it does have beneficial effect, but less than the beneficial effect of many other individual things and combinations. Note particularly that Figure 2 indicates to us (again for example) peak ICU bed estimated requirements for the blue curve scenario is only 37% of that of the green curve scenario; still very worryingly bad though – which is worth knowing now. Again Figure 2 indicates peak ICU bed requirements occurs around 3 weeks later with the blue curve scenario than with the green curve scenario.

    There is nothing material invalidated in Report 9 by the experience of the Diamond Princess cruise liner incident. In particular, the demographics of the passengers are substantially atypical of the appropriate age cohort of the general population, the passengers being generally healthier and more careful in looking after themselves. Thus the lower fatalities rate does not indicate the same should be expected from the general population (which is I think what Mr Ecks claims above).

    Clearly the Report 9 figures arise from computer modelling. Given the current circumstances in the UK and elsewhere, a large number of approximations will have been made in the model. Several of these are described in the text. Also model runs are done with some parameters set at different values, to get some handle on the sensitivity of the results to those parameters. Though helpful in many ways, the results obtained are (obviously) very approximate. They are likely to be better on ranking the scenarios than giving accurate absolute measures. However, approximate absolute values are better than no information on absolute values.

    Unless the epidemic fades away of its own volition, or a vaccine eventually is introduced, irrespective of NPI scenario, a significant majority of the population (of all age cohorts and other demographies) will be infected. As a consequence, a large number of people will need ICU-like treatment and a large but lesser number of people will die earlier than otherwise. This is unless a good anti-viral treatment is found.

    All the downsides are mitigated by delaying the growth of the epidemic, to give more time to create, distribute and have good effect from a vaccine. Or to discover (sooner) an anti-virus that is adequately effective.

    Mr Ecks has just recently posted a comment saying:

    … it is a damp squib–peddled by bullshiters as a power grab. … the germy Armagedon a bucket of nowt.

    Well, that firms up on his view and his motivation: badly motivated politicians; as to rational analysis in support of his case, I see so much less. For me being dead (or suffering serious morbidity) means one cannot enjoy so much the benefits of an uninhibited economy and/or society. However, this issue is a somewhat close call. If the death rate were say one tenth or ten times, it would be so much easier to decide.

    Now are we all looking forward to the next pandemic? Will we have a better plan?

    Best regards

  • Paul Marks: “As for this virus – it started in the PRC and in a research centre ..”

    Is this now an established fact? (APL, March 18, 2020 at 12:11 am)

    Paul’s first point is established – I think we can all very safely ignore the China propagandists claiming it was developed in the US and cunningly released in Wuhan. (And we can and should ignore what else they are saying and treat their data with caution – and be aware that plenty of 50-yen-army types will be pushing misleading tweets and etc. from their locked-down houses.)

    Paul’s second point is not established (IMHO) – whether it came out of the wet market or the research institute or something else in Wuhan is not known at this time.

  • There is nothing material invalidated in Report 9 by the experience of the Diamond Princess cruise liner incident … the passengers being generally healthier and more careful in looking after themselves (Nigel Sedgwick, March 18, 2020 at 10:20 am)

    That is debatable – on both sides, to be sure, but it is debatable. Correcting for the Diamond Princess’ age distribution (which is known) gives a very happy (relatively speaking) prognosis. By contrast, while it is obvious that those “newly-weds and nearly-deads’ (h/t WUWT) who cruise will exclude some categories of very ill people, it is is not known to me whether the available data on that in the Diamond Princess’ case permits statistical instead of merely guestimated correction.

  • APL

    85% of people who contract Covid-19, don’t show any symptoms and don’t even know they’ve got it

    But lets destroy the economy anyway.

    Not very smart.

  • Mr Ed

    I’ve not heard or seen anything about the RNA sequence of the virus and what, if anything, is novel or unusual about it. If it is ‘bio-engineered’, it may be that it has been selected from the many strains that knock around and had been found to be particularly nasty in a minority of cases, which is what this strain or strains (again, not much information visible to me on variants) seems to be.

    But remember that the size of China’s population, the climate and some unfortunate dietary habits make the whole place a giant ‘laboratory’ for breeding viruses, when you have 1/6th or so of humanity at hand and many (in absolute terms) having wildfowl etc. at home, and large cities to spread things, there’s more chance of things happening than you might get in Liechtenstein, to pick a random, small and highly-developed country.

    What truly would worry me would be a timorous silence as to the truth, which is what i expect from the PTB in Europe, including the UK.

  • Snorri Godhi

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=205&v=nMY0-4p9P-M&feature=emb_logo

    Related: from a friend of mine, a surgeon in Brescia. (Translated.)

    February 26: Watch out because the virus is transmitted via WhatsApp.

    March 13: I haven’t seen as many dead in the rest of my professional life as i have seen in the last week.

  • Mr Ecks

    Mr Sedgewick–obscure and badly-written windbaggery does not equate with truth.

    As for the Diamond Princess–av passenger age 58–there is a limit to how much “looking after yourself” (yet another of the guesstimates and assumptions you SO love) can help you with a “deadly ” pandemic.

    Oh BTW of the first 100 deaths for which the Italian National Institute of Health has received full medical records -it can find only TWO who have died from pure coro and without underlying contributing conditions.

  • APL

    Niall Kilmartin: “Paul’s first point is established – I think we can all very safely ignore the China propagandists claiming it was developed in the US and cunningly released in Wuhan.”

    Weeeel,

    There was the story about the Canadian biological ‘research’ centre which had what appears to be some shenanigans going on back in July last year.

  • Mr Ecks

    Snorri–Italians talking tripe. Monty Python did it better with their “Italian priests in custard” sketch.

    Here is a German talking rather more sense:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_AyuhbnPOI&feature=emb_logo

    As for your Surgeon friend–of course he hasn’t seen so many corpses–unless he is an arch-bungler most of his operations would be successful.

  • NickM

    Nigel,
    I think that is pretty much the most on the money thing I have read about COVID-19. Especially the stuff on computer models (yes, I have checked out Cambridge Algorithmica online – not because of this – just general curiousity). Excellent analysis, I think. Of course we could both be wrong but I doubt it.

  • Mr Ecks

    The mathematics of bullshit and half-truth isn’t any better than any other guessing formats.

    But the trouble from economies collapsed by dickhead poli’s trying to massively virtue signal while already on the edge of the Grand Canyon of world debt will be obvious by its effects on everyday life. Not the life of the politicals of course

  • Mention has been made of the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise-liner. I seem to remember news stories over recent years about coronavirus on cruise ships – not, perhaps, this coronavirus, but cruises have been building a reputation as viral hothouses.

    Willis Eschenbach has written a very reasonable analysis of disease from this particular virus on this particular ship: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/03/16/diamond-princess-mysteries/

    Willis is a magnificent writer. That’s just one sample. His blog can be found at https://rosebyanyothernameblog.wordpress.com/ (He calls it “Skating Under The Ice”. I suspect that avoids paperwork by keeping the URL.) Wonderful tales of his life, which has been long, and opinions, which have been strong. If he ever publishes his autobiography, I’m going to buy ten copies, keep three, and give the rest to friends.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Ironically, it is people like Mr Ecks who will make a British curfew inevitable.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “85% of people who contract Covid-19, don’t show any symptoms and don’t even know they’ve got it”

    That paper only talks about the undocumented cases – people who didn’t report to the authorities.

    Asymptomatic cases are estimated here, and come out at about 18%. (“…and the estimated asymptomatic proportion (among all infected cases) at 17.9% (95%CrI: 15.5–20.2%).”)

    While the 85% who didn’t report it includes those who didn’t get any symptoms, it also includes those who only had mild symptoms, who assumed/hoped it was just flu, who got ignored or told to go away by the authorities who didn’t have enough testing kits to indulge every hypochondriac with a sniffle, or who chose not to report it because they didn’t want to spend two weeks in quarantine being prodded and probed by doctors and “The state can stuff curfews up its arse.” Some people are uncooperative with the authorities on general principle.

    18% get nothing. Most get a cough and fever for a week and then recover. For a fraction the cough develops into pneumonia. According to Imperial’s numbers: 5% of people in their 40s, 10% of those in their 50s, 15% of those in their 60s, and 25-30% of those over 70. If they get hospital treatment, most survive (ranging from 97% at 40 to two thirds if you’re over 70) – although the experience sounds deeply unpleasant. Once the hospitals run out of respirators though, which of course they will, a larger fraction are going to die. So if you’re in your 40s, you maybe have a 1-in-20 shot at slowly suffocating to death, drowning in your own sputum. Higher if you’re older.

    Of course, that’s all a big bucket of whatever and mathematics is bullshit, because politicians are dickheads. Just see how our intellectual superiority shines through.

    But who cares about old people anyway, eh? It’s one way for the Millennials to clear out a lot of those old UKIP Leaver Tory voters and climate change sceptics! Just think how different the political landscape is going to be next year!

  • APL

    NiV: “Once the hospitals run out of respirators though, which of course they will, a larger fraction are going to die. So if you’re in your 40s, you maybe have a 1-in-20 shot at slowly suffocating to death, drowning in your own sputum.”

    Oh! come on. Stop with the emoting already.

    Can you think of a nice way to die? And no, not everyone goes to sleep and never wakes up. Life is quite tenacious and doesn’t usually let go willingly.

    NiV: “But who cares about old people anyway, eh?”

    Their friends, family perhaps. But these days, they’ve probably been abandoned to a ‘care’ home. So, your implication may well be correct.

    But, you know what? It’s in the nature of things the old die before the young. Any other way would be .. well. cruel.

  • Mr Ed

    If Canada bans non-nationals/permanent residents from entering as a precaution, does that mean Prince Harry is stuck here for a while past his leave date of 31st March?

    From the top of my head, in the UK there are around 660,000 deaths a year, or around 1800 a day, with some seasonality.

    The fundamental issue is: if X = total deaths pa absent this epidemic, and Y = deaths due to this epidemic as opposed to those who got, say, ‘flu or some other virus where it was a contributing factor, what will be the (changing) ratio of (X+Y):X?

    If X represents a death toll that the health and death system can demonstrably manage as 1.0, at what point does a death rate of (X+Y) become unmanageable? With secondary effects disrupting health care and the economy perhaps to the tune of increasing the death rate by ‘Z’ might we get a death rate of (X+Y+Z)? The concern being that the capacity of the system to cope would break down (which ‘X+Y’ alone might achieve). And then Mr Johnson’s government has failed to protect the NHS, anaim of which he spoke this afternoon.

    To that end, the plan seems to be to keep ‘Y’ from getting too large too soon, so that the system can cope and some lives be saved. This may seem Canute-like, but Canute knew the limits of State power in the face of Nature.

    And can you imagine what our bureaucrats would have talked Mrs May into doing were she still in charge?

  • Mr Ecks

    Psuedo-Mathematico BS is one of your things NiV. So, with all the different %’s of gargling doom 5-10-15 etc I believe the number of deaths on board was 7 –all with something else wrong with them. How was that NiV?

    Did the ship–given 634 cases with your %s applied for the different groups– have- 50-75 lung machines aboard?

    Snorri–Hopefully large numbers of British people will take no fucking notice of it. But you stick with the experts –spec since they have fuckall in their bag except more fear . And more phoney money.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Oh! come on. Stop with the emoting already. Can you think of a nice way to die?”

    Sexual exhaustion?

    But emoting is how politics works! Consider the number of people who die from terrorism, say, or being stabbed by Muslim immigrants. Bigger or smaller than a million, do you think? If it’s convenient for one’s politics, emoting gets national policies changed. If it’s not convenient, deaths can easily be glossed over or dismissed.

    If your view is that an extra few million deaths are “the nature of things” and not worth disrupting the economy for, then I can’t argue with you on any factual basis. That’s a value judgement. I suspect the politicians don’t presently consider that a politically survivable policy to have attached to their names, but if you are prepared to have it attached to yours, then that’s your decision.

    All I’m saying is that, based on the current statistics, it seems very likely that without a major economically-disruptive intervention there will be a significant number of deaths of older people – and I don’t mean just the over-70s; people in their 40s and 50s will be getting uncomfortably close to ‘Russian Roulette’ territory once the respirators run out. I expect there are a few people here in that age bracket. So that’s your choice – pay the price or take a serious risk of an unpleasant death. The earlier we act, the lower the risk; but maybe also the bigger the price. A few million deaths wouldn’t threaten our civilisation or our economy – it is within a factor of 10 of the background level for a couple of months. But the political opposition are going to make political hay out of any sign of callousness. It’s not an easy or obvious decision to make. But be aware that once it’s had a taste of the price, the rest of society might indeed decide a few million deaths of old people are not such a big deal after all. What sort of politics will arise as a result?

  • APL

    And by the way, if you are on a respirator to assist your breathing. You are already in a very very bad condition.

    Survival rates for people on respirators/ventilators are not very good. If you are on a ventilator your chances of surviving is about 50%

    You can’t just pump oxygen into someone’s lungs when those lungs are constricted or running below par. Too much oxygen and you’ll kill the patient.

    Our Health secretary has reputedly said that the NHS will pay any price if it can source enough ventilators.

    That seems to be a very bad idea. It’d probably be better to isolate ‘the vulnerable’ until a vaccine is developed or some other treatment is found.

    NiV: “That’s a value judgement. ”

    It depends whether you ‘disrupt’ the economy, or destroy the economy and lead to starvation, old people freezing to death. The policies of this government to cope with this eventuallity is destroying a significant fraction of the economy. Already the tourism industry has been decimated. ( Not in UK, but SAS has suspended all flights and laid off all its employees ). That will follow through to hotels, travel agencies, Pubs, clubs.

  • APL

    NiV: “pay the price or take a serious risk of an unpleasant death. ”

    Oh, for Christ sake! EVERYONE has an unpleasant death. Everyone always has had an unpleasant death.

    The mortality figures I’ve seen published by the CDC suggest we are looking at elevated rates of death across the age spectrum, but we’re talking .4% in the 40-50 age group, 1.3% in the 50’s, 60’s 3.6% and 70’s and 80’s 7 and 14% respectively.

    .4% in the fourth decade is NOWHERE near, Russian Roulette. Which by the way would be 16% ( assuming a six chamber revolver ), so nowhere near .4%

    NiV: “Sexual exhaustion?”

    OK, I concede you have one point.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Psuedo-Mathematico BS is one of your things NiV.”

    How do you know it is “Psuedo”? (Whatever “Psuedo” is…)

    “So, with all the different %’s of gargling doom 5-10-15 etc I believe the number of deaths on board was 7 –all with something else wrong with them. How was that NiV?”

    As I just patiently explained, the death rates are low only so long as you’ve got the respirators and intensive care beds to look after them. The question is, what happens when the number of cases rises higher than the number of spare hospital beds? You think our marvellously efficient NHS civil service is going to come up with thousands more respirators in the next couple of months?

    “The mortality figures I’ve seen published by the CDC suggest we are looking at elevated rates of death across the age spectrum”

    The published numbers all assume you can treat them all in hospital. Like I said, the issue is what if you can’t?

  • APL

    NiV: “The published numbers all assume you can treat them all in hospital.”

    I don’t know what they assumed, as far as I can see, the CDC figures were a straightforward breakdown of deaths by age.

    Dying in hospital as the ideal is a relatively modern concept, and one I think that was repulsive to our forbears.

    It was only a generation or so ago, that the elderly preferred to stay out of hospital, because, ‘hospital is where you go to die’.

    Now that, is a value choice.

  • Mr Ecks

    You ducked the question NiV. How many on the ship were saved by ventilation? Do you know? Given your figures it should have been tens of folk at least. It wasn’t.

    Tim Worstall contributor Baron Jackfield posts the following re previous scientistico predictions:

    “For the UK…
    SARS – tens of thousands of deaths predicted, actually just 4 cases, zero deaths. (NHS figures)
    Avian Flu – 75,000 deaths predicted, actual deaths = zero. (NHS)
    Swine Flu – 3,100 to 65,000 deaths predicted, actual deaths = 138 from 540,000 reported cases (0.026%). (NHS).
    BSE was going to cause “millions of deaths”, actually 178 deaths from NvCJD. (NHS).”

    Not to mention AIDS and the lying climate change crap.

    We now have countries that political shite are turning into collapsing police states –or will be–in a very few weeks.

    The medical madness has to stop. Steps to isolate the old as far as possible–but the rest HAS TO STOP AND STOP VERY SOON.

  • Gary Wintle

    Britain’s scientists and the lazy, narcissist PM, arrogantly ignored the warnings from Chinese and Italian doctors. They thought they knew better than the doctors who actually encountered the virus first hand, they thought their fancy “models” were beyond doubt, when in fact they were total bull excrement.

    Let’s not forget that Dominic Cummings is a eugeniscist (I.e fascist), that Vallance has a serious conflict of interest.

    The stunning, mind-boggling incompetence of Johnson, Vallance, Cummings, Raab, and Whitty should ensure the disgrace and total destruction of all.

    Their resignations and suicides would be ideal.

  • Chester Draws

    Seeing as the British government is deliberately allowing the virus to infect and kill, as proven by them ignoring the success of South Korea and China in stopping the virus,

    When you are finished here, I have a bridge to sell you.

  • Mr Ecks

    Gaza–Your “contribution” is lying marxistic cockrot. PdeH’s policy about not being nasty stops me from giving my full opinion on types like you so I will just say that Blojo’s stupid “I’ll save you,I’ll save you” posturing will be an absolute disaster for millions of small businesses built up over decades rather than years.

    The only other point is that shite like Jizz would have done far worse. Which would have been compounding the treasonous mess he would have already made.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “You ducked the question NiV.”

    Then the question wasn’t clear. You pointed to the deaths of 7 people, compared that to the 5-10-15 percentages I was discussing that could potentially arise without hospital treatment, and asked “How was that NiV?” ‘How’, was that some survived because they got hospital treatment.

    “How many on the ship were saved by ventilation? Do you know? Given your figures it should have been tens of folk at least. It wasn’t.”

    I don’t know the exact figure. A Japanese news article here says:

    The number of coronavirus infections in Japan had increased to 449 as of Sunday morning. In addition to this figure, 696 people from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have been infected, and 14 cases have been confirmed among people who returned on chartered flights from Hubei province, China.

    The tally is based on data compiled by the health ministry and local governments.

    Fourteen people have died, seven of them from the cruise ship.

    By prefecture, Hokkaido has the most cases at 98. It is followed by Aichi with 70, and Tokyo with 64. Kanagawa and Osaka have 41 cases each.

    Eleven health ministry and quarantine officials have also been infected.

    The health ministry said that as of Friday, 61 patients were in serious condition, and are on respirators or are being treated in intensive care units. Thirty-one of them were from the cruise ship.

    A total of 311 people had recovered and left hospitals by Friday.

    So there were 31 in hospital on respirators or in ICU on Friday 6th March. I don’t know how many might have been there before or after. That’s at least (31+7)/696 = 5.5%. How many of the 331 who recovered and left hospitals by Friday were from the cruise ship and were more seriously ill I can’t say, but with only 449 total cases in Japan plus 696 from the Diamond Princess to pick from, I would think it surprising if none of them were from the ship.

    So given that it was at least 38 people, on what basis did you decide that it wasn’t “tens of people”? Where did your data come from?

    And if anyone here knows where there’s data on the number who got more seriously ill, I’d be interested.

  • Mr Ecks

    “and are on respirators OR are being treated in intensive care units.”

    So we still don’t know how many are actually on the machine. Respirators OR is what it says.

    Also the piece is dated 11 days ago–so we need to know what has happened since before you can claim your percentages are correct. And of course how many had what other conditions as well.

  • Thanks to NickM for his support for the case I have been making. Much appreciated.

    Thanks to Ellen for the link about the Diamond Princess – very useful to have such facts. And thanks to Willis Eschenbach for the article itself.

    Best regards

  • Something I liked in one of last week’s “Boris and the two scientists” presentations was the left-hand scientist (to the viewer – he was on Boris’ right, which was arguably appropriate 🙂 ) stressing that preventive measures such as lockdowns also cost lives (potentially many over time – like the Chinese virus, prolonged lockdown has a time period in which the death rate will start growing faster). The fact that there is no free lunch – that everything has a cost as well as a benefit – is so routinely ignored by people demanding that the government “do something” that it was refreshing to hear.

    Some above in this thread have debated the “value judgement” of risking a higher predicted death rate for the sake of the economy or vice versa, but while it can certainly be a value judgement to lose lives to preserve freedom (e.g. in a war), it is a merely statistical judgement to assess what severity and length of restrictions would start to rival the deaths they immediately prevented (some maybe just deferred) in the deaths they caused (some longer term). We know too little right now to do more than play odds that are guestimated from very partial data.

    Just my 0.02p.

  • Mr Ecks

    You are correct Mr Kilmartin. But ruining the economy and bringing on a vast debt crisis we have already been lucky to duck for decades is a very bad by-product of trying to avoid what seems increasingly likely to be far less than hyped. Eg the Singapore “second wave” which consisted of 5 cases –info fresh yesterday and this morning.

  • neonsnake

    Hm.

    *ignores rest of thread*

    NIV, Paul M, Niall, Snorri, bobby b, Julie, Fraser Orr, APL, itellyounothing, (I may have that wrong, soz).

    Anyone else I’ve spoken to, or indeed argued with – how we all doing?

    Is everyone ok?

  • APL

    neosnake: “how we all doing?”

    At the moment, I am well. Thank you for asking.

    I hope you, and other contributors to Samizdata are likewise in good health and remain so.

  • neonsnake

    https://twitter.com/i/status/1240659867087581185

    Some of you are Libertarians, in the European sense. Some are not. I love you still. I hope we can come together and have a drink as one.

    To the future. It’s gonna be far more difficult than we ever thought, just a few weeks ago.

    *cheers*

    Kind regards,
    Neon Snake

  • neonsnake (March 19, 2020 at 7:43 pm), you are reminding me of how a medium starts a seance:

    Is anybody there? Knock once for yes and twice for no.

    🙂

    As the dreaded lurgi has a slow onset, I think we can safely assume that anyone who gets it will have time enough to comment that they are coughing and feel flue-like, so if they never appear on this blog again please to remember their words of wisdom. (In my case, of course, you’ll have to extract any such words from all the other stuff I’ve written.) For now, I’m feeling fine and anticipate commenting and posting for decades to come. These cannot be ‘famous last words’ – because if I wake up tomorrow feeling I’ll, I’ll be sure to comment some more. 🙂

    I assume you and all will do likewise – so no news is good news.

  • neonsnake

    I hope you, and other contributors to Samizdata are likewise in good health and remain so.

    I’m self-isolating. Thanks, man. I appreciate the support.

    I hope, in a week or so, to feel embarrassed to do so. I have family members with severe immuno-compromised systems, I can’t take chances *shrug*

    I know, we argued, APL. Take it easy. Now is not the time – stay safe, bruv.

  • I hope, in a week or so, to feel embarrassed to do so. I have family members with severe immuno-compromised systems, I can’t take chances *shrug* (neonsnake, March 19, 2020 at 8:44 pm)

    I have a very elderly relative whose immune system is fine but whose ability to survive a strength-draining illness is not that great. (Her ability to survive a prolonged literal lockdown is also not that great.) I would not like to be the one who ended whatever chance she has of getting her ‘telegram from the Queen’ card in due course, so am bearing that in mind as regards where I choose to visit before I visit her.

    neonsnake, if this turns out to be very overblown, as opposed to just somewhat overblown by a media that loves both clicks and their agenda, then you are sure of much company in your embarrassment, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

  • bobby b

    “I hope, in a week or so, to feel embarrassed to do so.”

    All we can ever do is react to the information that we can manage to gather. If, in the end, it turns out that bad actors were feeding us bad information, that’s still no cause for our own embarrassment. Theirs, maybe, but they’ll never feel any such thing, so . . .

    It’s a funny situation. We’re all hunkering down in place, but for the life of me, I cannot find a single soul who personally knows anyone who has died of the Kung Flu. That has to put us well ahead of the time curve compared to most earlier mass illnesses.

  • neonsnake

    neonsnake, if this turns out to be very overblown, as opposed to just somewhat overblown by a media that loves both clicks and their agenda, then you are sure of much company in your embarrassment, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

    *nods*

    I hope so.

    I hope you and yours are ok.

    That’s all.

    Left v right can wait.

  • APL

    bobby b: ” I cannot find a single soul who personally knows anyone who has died of the Kung Flu. ” [Odd I’m sure I quoted accurately].

    Unusually, or maybe I’ve just made a note of it this year. I know two people who have been diagnosed with pneumonia in the last month, one fellow at work, and closer to home my ‘contractual life partner’ – who I ran to ER at 2 am a couple of weeks ago. Doctors tested for Covid-19 but advised negative.

    We have very good friends in Trento, the north of Italy. They say the place is a ghost town, but not much hint of fear or distress, maybe apprehension is more like it. The media though, have just screened images of covered military trucks taking the dead out of an Italian city.

    So, …. who knows?

    Then, according to SKY News the UK has 144 deaths, so I guess I’d have to be extremely unlucky to have known one of those 144 in a population of 60 million.

  • neonsnake

    Then, according to SKY News the UK has 144 deaths, so I guess I’d have to be extremely unlucky to have known one of those 144 in a population of 60 million.

    I hope everything works out for you, APL.

  • APL

    neonsnake: “I hope everything works out for you,”

    You too, neo.

    This is the most amusing, yet ridiculous and compelling acts I’ve seen for quite some time. And totally unconnected to the topic as well.

  • Alsadius

    Paul Marks: FWIW, I updated my spreadsheet on the origins of US government spending. It looks as though the numbers I quoted before were from about 2009. Updating to 2018(the latest solid data), yes, it’s gotten slightly worse. It’s now 82% taxes, 15% borrowed, and 3% printed. For the raw data, see https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BUDGET-2020-TAB/pdf/BUDGET-2020-TAB.pdf, tables 1.1 and 7.1. I’ve used federal debt held by the Fed as my “money printing” value, since that’s how they print money, net debt held by the non-Fed public as my borrowing value (since internal government debts are accounting fictions), and total tax revenues as themselves.

    To put numbers on it, the US has spent $73.164 trillion, borrowed $13.436 trillion from the public, and had the Fed print $2.313 trillion. All of that’s in nominal dollars, 1789-2018.

    So yes, they print meaningful sums. But it’s pretty small by the standards of government finance. The entire amount printed by the Fed, in the 105 years after its founding, could pay for a just over six months of current government spending. We’d need to see a hell of a lot more before it was a serious pillar of government finance. And since that’d ruin the nation, nobody does it if they have any choices.

  • Paul Marks

    Alsadius.

    Perhaps I have not asked you before to look at the American Debt Clock – if so I apologise to you.

    Please look it at now.

    You will see that there is no way that the United States government can fund its “unfunded liabilities” – even before the current bailout and subsidy orgy.

    So there are two options.

    Either open default on some of these promises, or massive inflation to “honour” them.

  • neonsnake

    APL – I think the guy with the beard, shell-suit and headband doing kata basically sums up our world.

    Nice one.

  • bobby b

    I watched APL’s video and realized that maybe it IS time for humanity to suffer through a pandemic.

    Migawd!

  • APL

    On March 18, 2020 at 12:11 am, APL wrote: “That might be a good time for China to attack.”

    Well

  • Alsadius

    Paul: I’m speaking only of already-spent money, of course. The stats for the future are far fuzzier.

    I just looked at the debt clock in a bit of detail, and tbh I’m wondering about the unfunded liability number. Rounding off, they owe $24T in existing debt, $20T in unfunded SS, $31T in unfunded Medicare, and $132T in total unfunded liabilities. There’s $57T not accounted for. The data source info only adds federal employee/veteran benefits, which are nowhere near that large. At a guess, they might be using US total debt, instead of US national debt, but that adds in every private mortgage and credit card, along with every corporate and state bond. The funds available to repay that are vastly larger than those available to repay the federal government’s debts. That would explainabout $53T of the difference, leaving $4T for the employee/veteran pensions, which is about right. Normalizing for that, it’s about $79T.

    It’s still a staggering sum, obviously. That’s about three and a half times their GDP. It’ll get burned down as they actually pay out those sums over time, and since the economy is growing long-term, the bill will come due in a nation richer than the one that incurred the debts. It’s survivable, I’d say – their debt/GDP will likely peak a bit lower than Japan’s, eyeballing the data. (This is a really rough estimate, mind you) It’s a huge problem. I just think it’s slightly less huge than you imply. Starve everyone under 65 and raise taxes, they’ll get there.

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