I had an enlightening discussion with a very smart friend of mine who has studied the numbers on this virus. I’d like to share his thoughts with you as they very much align with my own findings. Though I know I've already written on this topic - I think this is incredibly important.
My friend came up with an estimate of around a 0.7% to 0.8% case fatality ratio (CFR) if a medical system is pretty advanced and doesn't get overloaded. Also, that assumes that about half of cases are so minor, maybe even asymptomatic throughout, so never get registered. Which gives you an infection fatality ratio of maybe 0.4%. That's about four times as bad as the flu. Like the flu, it culls primarily older people with pre-existing conditions.
Unfortunately, Covid is far more infectious than the flu. The R zero is likely above 3.0, similar to the mumps. In a crowded environment like a cruise ship, that jumps to more like 10, which is close to the transmissibility of measles, which is the worst virus I know of in that respect.
He guessed that no more than 30% of the U.S. population would be infected in the first wave. Call that 100 million people. 50 million would be so minor, they'd hardly notice it. That leaves 50 million who might talk to a doctor. 20% would become severe enough to need hospitalization. That's 10 million. Which is a big problem when one considers our medical system's limited surge capacity. Hence we needed to flatten the curve while government gets done what should have been done 20 years ago - sets about organizing spare surge capacity for just such eventualities as Covid.
PPE inventories needed to be built. The government had been blind enough to allow Xi Jinping to vacuum up a couple of billion masks, plus gowns and other PPE in January - when Xi was still telling the world the virus was NOT person-to-person infectious. He even had his lacky at the WHO, the abominable fellow communist Tedros (who should be in jail on genocide charges for what he got up to in Ethiopia), get WHO to announce there was nothing to worry about in mid-January. A few days later Xi closed down Wuhan. By then he had accumulated inventories from Europe, the Americas, and Australia amounting to over two months of global production.
He ensured the CPC was sitting with a glut of PPE and the rest of the world left short. Shame on him for such a criminal act - basically an act of (asymmetric) war. This wasn't an innocent error. It was a carefully planned conspiracy against the world by the CPC, led by Emperor Xi. Why did he do it? To improve the medical supply situation at home. To ensure the rest of the world was hurt more, so that Xi and the CPC could then present themselves to the Chinese people as their saviours. Domestic politics is far more important than international for the CPC. It's survival as an unrivalled oligarchy, ruling absolutely over 1.4 billion people depends on continually and successfully brainwashing the masses.
However, despite the CPC's culpability, shame on Washington and the rest of the free world's governments for allowing it to happen. Shame on the media for spending all of January salivating over the impeachment, instead of reporting on real developing news.
The medical system would have collapsed under the surge and the number of deaths would have been four or five times higher, due to lack of proper care, without social distancing.
Of the 10 million serious cases, 25% would become critical. That's 2.5 million. About 15% of those would die. That's around 400,000. That was my early estimate. Right now we're at 74,000 dead and not halfway through it, so we're probably looking at a count of at least 150,000 dead before the end of summer. It would be wonderful news if we end up being that far off the mark. Unfortunately, most of the country is at least a few weeks behind NYC, so we're going to see bad news from elsewhere in the country this month.
One of the problems tracking this is that the U.S. hasn't been counting most of the infected, since the policy has been just to test serious cases that are admitted to hospital. The expected fatality ratio for serious cases is 4% - based on my early work. However, it's at 6% of all cases (1.26m confirmed cases, 74k dead) and it generally takes two to three weeks between admittance and death, so this statistic is going to get worse, not better.
What's going on? It's beginning to become apparent that the early scientific opinion that this disease hasn't mutated significantly was incorrect. Each strain mutates about once per month. We had one strain in Wuhan in November. Two in December. 16 by March. Likely 50 this month. One of those strains hit Italy and it looks like that's also what dominated in New York. It's more deadly than the original Wuhan epidemic, at least as far as registered cases are concerned. What we don't know is how many really minor cases haven't been registered. However, there was a report from two NY hospitals that tested all mothers giving birth in March. Based on that, it looks like 15% of the NYC population has been exposed already, so there's a massive difference between the CFR and infection fatality rate (IFR) in New York.
We have to keep in mind that in Wuhan, mortality rose to 50% or higher for critical cases - there just weren't enough ventilators, beds, or medical staff for proper care. Wuhan ended up with a 4% CFR. The rest of China was at 0.7%. You don't want to see your local hospital swamped.
Now, China lied massively about the number of cases. In Wuhan they only reported cases from a small number of hospitals that were dedicated to Covid. Cases in other hospitals were just ignored. Then there were all those people who could never even get to a hospital. They either recovered at home or died at home and were never counted. Only those who had tested positive for Covid in the few dedicated hospitals were registered as Covid fatalities on their death certificates. So the statistics from China are a bit like a poll. It's a small subset of what actually happened but the ratios - minor to severe, severe to critical, critical to deaths - are probably providing a reasonably accurate picture of the lethality of this virus - or at least the original, non-mutated virus.