Notes on the pandemic

As we continue to seek out noteworthy information and analysis, contrarian or otherwise, on the COVID-19 pandemic, I want only to recommend the items below to your attention.

John Ionaddis, Stat, “A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data.” Ioannidis is professor of medicine, of epidemiology and population health, of biomedical data science, and of statistics at Stanford University and co-director of Stanford’s Meta-Research Innovation Center.

Quotable quote: “The current coronavirus disease, Covid-19, has been called a once-in-a-century pandemic. But it may also be a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco. At a time when everyone needs better information, from disease modelers and governments to people quarantined or just social distancing, we lack reliable evidence on how many people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 or who continue to become infected. Better information is needed to guide decisions and actions of monumental significance and to monitor their impact.”

Ari Libsker, CTech, “Corona Is Slowing Down, Humanity Will Survive, Says Biophysicist Michael Levitt.”

CTech is a technology news site by Calcalist, Israel’s leading financial daily.

Précis: “Nobel laureate Michael Levitt, an American-British-Israeli biophysicist who teaches structural biology at Stanford University and spends much of his time in Tel Aviv, unexpectedly became a household name in China, offering the public reassurance during the peak of the country’s coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. Levitt did not discover a treatment or a cure, just did what he does best: crunched the numbers. The statistics led him to the conclusion that, contrary to the grim forecasts being branded about, the spread of the virus will come to a halt.”

Quotable quote: “Currently, I am most worried about the U.S. It must isolate as many people as possible to buy time for preparations. Otherwise, it can end up in a situation where 20,000 infected people will descend on the nearest hospital at the same time and the healthcare system will collapse.”

Marilyn Stern, Middle East Forum, “Itai Bloch on Israel’s COVID-19 Vaccine.”

Bloch is lead researcher in computational chemistry, drug discovery and cheminformatics at the MIGAL Galilee Research Institute in northern Israel’s Kiryat Shmona. He spoke to Middle East Forum radio host Gregg Roman on March 11 about the COVID-19 coronavirus and MIGAL’s progress in developing a human vaccine to stem the pandemic. The interview posted at the link was the final one granted by the non-profit research institute to the public until further notice.

Our friend Brian Sullivan recommends: “Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Diagnosis and Treatment Plan (Provisional 7th Edition).”

Brian comments: “Important paper from China summarizing treatment protocols.”

Brian also cites this journal article in pre-proof referring to the efficacy of chloroquine: Philippe Colson, Jean-Marc Rolain, Jean-Christophe Lagier, Philippe Brouqui, Didier Raoult, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, “Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as available weapons to fight COVID-19.”

Reminder: Brian offers this question to some enterprising reporter attending the daily White House briefing on the pandemic: “Reports from South Korea, Australia, and China, suggest several existing drugs may be effective coronavirus treatments. These include the anti-malarial drug chloroquine phosphate and the HIV drug combination Kaletra. What is the government doing to investigate the potential effectiveness of these drugs?”

Marc Thiessen, Washington Post, “This virus should be forever linked to the regime that facilitated its spread.”

Thiessen writes:

Want to know why the U.S. economy is in free fall? Why restaurants and bars are closing, putting millions out of work, and why the airline industry is facing possible bankruptcy? Why schools across the nation are shutting down, leaving students to fall behind and parents without safe places to send their children everyday? Why the stock market is plummeting, wiping out the retirement and college savings of millions of Americans? Why the elderly are isolated in nursing homes and tens of millions who don’t have the option of teleworking have no idea how they will pay their bills?

Answer: Because China is a brutal totalitarian dictatorship.

We are in the midst of a pandemic lockdown today because the Chinese Communist regime cared more about suppressing information than suppressing a virus. Doctors in Wuhan knew in December that the coronavirus was capable of human-to-human transmission because medical workers were getting sick. But as late as Jan. 15, the head of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention declared on state television that “the risk of human-to-human transmission is low.” On Jan. 18, weeks after President Xi Jinping had taken charge of the response, authorities allowed a Lunar New Year banquet to go forward in Wuhan where tens of thousands of families shared food — and then let millions travel out of Wuhan, allowing the disease to spread across the world. It was not until Jan. 23 that the Chinese government enacted a quarantine in Wuhan.

If the regime had taken action as soon as human-to-human transmission was detected, it might have contained the virus and prevented a global pandemic. Instead, Chinese officials punished doctors for trying to warn the public and suppressed information that might have saved lives. According to the Times of London, Chinese doctors who had identified the pathogen in early December received a gag order from China’s National Health Commission with instructions to stop tests, destroy samples and suppress the news.

Today comes word that “China to expel American reporters after US curbs its media” (the AP gives the Chinese spin in the headline) and this postscript to Thiessen’s column via the editors of the New York Post: “China’s new top priority: spinning coronavirus — and blaming the US.”

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