The Models Were Wrong. Does Anyone Care?

Everyone who has been paying attention knows that the epidemiological models on which the current shutdown mania is based have been proved to be wrong, wrong, wrong. Yet, zombie-like, they continue to influence our ill-informed policymakers.

A reader who prefers to remain anonymous despite her apparent qualifications writes:

I just want to follow up yet again on how extraordinarily wrong the projections for hospital demand have been, along with some detail about what’s going on in hospitals. In a number of states they’re about to reopen for nonemergency procedures. But over the past month they’ve been so empty that they’ve been laying off staff.

Here are some details I got from a friend at UNC-Chapel Hill this morning: “Less than 373 hospitalized with COVID as of yesterday. More than 800 empty ICU beds in the state & more than 7000 empty hospital beds overall. Close to 2000 ventilators not in use. Approximately 40% of deaths in the state have been in nursing homes/retirement homes/prisons.”

Again, the likely cause is that the disease is not nearly as deadly as was originally expected. Thinking about that study showing that 13.7% of pregnant women presenting for delivery at NYC hospitals in March-early April tested positive for COVID-19 AT THE TIME of admission. Unless one thinks pregnant women are more likely to have been exposed to the virus than other people in the population, surely must mean that ~15% of NYC has been exposed. (Recall also that the NYC study was only of active infections not of antibodies.) If so, then 10,000 deaths out of 15% of NYC (1.2 million) points to an infection fatality rate around .008, very much in the ballpark of seasonal flu.

Why these lines of analysis aren’t being pursued vigorously in the press is truly amazing. Empty hospitals during a pandemic?? Evidence that the disease may not be another Spanish Flu? The huge extent to which the disease is a bane of the very old, especially those in nursing homes, not of the whole American population? How many stories have you seen about the death rate in different age categories, as in the data shown in the tables in this analysis?

Having read that Massachusetts was experiencing a surge in COVID cases, I just checked the MA COVID dashboard and found the below. Shouldn’t this information be more readily available in the news? It strongly suggests that an isolation strategy focused on the most vulnerable would help a lot!

The American people are terrified, but all media seem to do is fan the flames of more terror, even though there is encouraging news out there on the health front (albeit not on the economic front).

Our correspondent is right as a matter of science, but she may not fully appreciate the extent to which unscientific coronavirus hysteria is a matter of sheer political power.

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