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The bird’s-eye versus the personal level — 7 Comments

  1. As you imply, it is hard to assess the virus situation rationally without sounding cold & unfeeling. Still, the observations are out there. From the Diamond Princess cruise ship, about 4 out of 5 people exposed to the virus do not catch it; about 4 out of 5 who do catch it have negligible symptoms. Children seem to be particularly resistant. The people at risk are the ones who are already in Heaven’s Antechamber — 70+ years old, and/or with existing medical problems.

    Should your wife take your daughter to the concert? Of course! Should you drive in your own car instead of taking public transport? Good idea. Should we all wash our hands frequently? Absolutely!

    If there ever was a time to keep calm and carry on, this is it.

  2. The thing that I still don’t understand is the scale and ferocity of the Chinese government’s closing down of their economy. I assume that it implies that the disease, at least in Chinese circs, is pretty lethal.

    But there could be other explanations. For example, were they overcompensating for their nasty and incompetent early reaction? Were they trying above all to escape being hanged?

    It’s all a bit of a mystery: will we ever discover the truth of it?

    Meantime people assert it’s been lethal in Iran. It certainly seems to be giving the Italians a hell of a time.

    The notion that it didn’t originate in the wild but in a lab in Wuhan is not absurd but it is probably irrelevant even if it happened to be true. I can imagine someone synthesising a nasty virus suitable for testing a hypothesis and then letting it escape by an act of incompetence, bravado, or greed. But so what? As a comedian once proclaimed “Pandora’s out of her box”.

  3. It is interesting that the severity of the symptoms varies so much from person to person. I know vaccinating against these things is difficult because there are so many different strains. Does exposure to a different but similar strain give people a certain level of protection making it less severe? I had a flu like bug about a year ago. I am in my early sixties and a type two diabetic. I am also very fit as keeping fit greatly reduces my diabetes symptoms. I’m just about to retire, it would be a bit of a bummer to die just now.

  4. dearime: “The thing that I still don’t understand is the scale and ferocity of the Chinese government’s closing down of their economy.”

    Agreed! We do not understand that, and yet most Western politicians seem to have to follow the Chinese lead, instead of using rational analysis.

    The most likely explanation is that we are caught up in an outcome of the importance the Chinese place on “face”. China’s rulers were criticized before for not responding faster to events like SARS, so this time they over-reacted to save “face” internationally. Then, when those rulers realized that this virus is in reality quite mild, they could not just suddenly back off from all the restrictions, because that would have cost them “face” with their own population.

    Yes, there are severe questions about the validity of any of the data right now. But 25,000 Chinese die every day “normally”. In the last 2 months, about 1,500,000 Chinese citizens have died. Even if the reported 3,000 coronavirus deaths have been under-reported by a factor of 10, they would still have been barely noticeable among all the normal statistical noise — if the Chinese rulers had not made such a big deal about the virus.

    On the low end of the probability scale, is it possible that China’s rulers (who understand us much better than we understand them) are deliberately trying to trigger an economic depression in the West as part of their clear long-range plan to regain what they see as their rightful place as the world’s dominant nation?

    I wish our politicians were paying more attention to the developing supply chain impacts.

    • Gavin Longmuir
      “On the low end of the probability scale, is it possible that China’s rulers (who understand us much better than we understand them) are deliberately trying to trigger an economic depression in the West as part of their clear long-range plan to regain what they see as their rightful place as the world’s dominant nation?”

      Maybe, but I still believe that western societies are far more robust than China. They run a great risk of shaking the West out of it’s navel gazing if this was an actual plan they have taken. Much the same bag as claims Russia has crashed the oil price on purpose to destroy the American oil boom.

  5. dearieme

    “But there could be other explanations. For example, were they overcompensating for their nasty and incompetent early reaction? Were they trying above all to escape being hanged?”

    Don’t underestimate the profound distrust at all levels in China as being the cause of this, rather than any specific ‘reason’.

  6. If you really want to get all heartless about it, think about it this way;

    The at risk group is older (70+) and with pre-existing health problems. These conditions are possibly chronic, probably long term.

    So, the total future costs to the state for these groups is probably higher than others.

    If the virus did take hold then how many people in these groups would die earlier such that;

    The pensions bill goes down, or the individual payments can be increased
    The elderly social care problem goes away
    The NHS treatment costs reduce
    And taxes can be reduced.

    Thing is, it could be that these effects last for something like twenty years.

    So, what mortality rate is required to achieve this?

    Fun or what, eh?

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