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Good and bad reasons to be worried about COVID-19 — 6 Comments

  1. It seems possible to me that the sensible way to handle the schools may be to withdraw any children or teachers with lung problems or the like.

    We know (I assume) that it’s the old and ill who are most vulnerable so closing schools so that the nippers go round to Grandma’s house, thereby killing her and Grandpa, may be foolish. Or maybe the nippers will stay at home so Mum will take time off work to look after them. But maybe she’s an NHS nurse so …

    Every action will have a lesser or greater reaction. At the mo’ there’s an awful lot of shouting that’s the equivalent of Sir Humphrey’s “We must do something. This is something so we must do it.”

    I’d be fascinated to be in the room as the CMO, CSA and their people explain their recommendations to the politicians. It’s quite possible that they will be speaking more sense than some arbitrary GP interviewed by the Mail or the Guardian.

    I haven’t yet seen any evidence of a cock-up on the scale of China’s first month and a half of benighted despotism, or of the US CDC’s monumental blundering over tests.

    Hindsight may teach many interesting lessons but there’s every chance I won’t be here to learn them. Drat!

  2. I have to agree with our host that this is a very disappointing article from the usually-estimable Matt Ridley. It seems that some normally reasonable people are over-reacting — perhaps because they find themselves in the At Risk group for this virus (the old & unhealthy)?

    New Ridley wrote: “… in this first pandemic, it is now likely, though not inevitable, that it will kill hundreds of thousands of people.”

    Old Ridley would have noted that the flu kills up to about 80,000 people every year in the US alone. The old Ridley would have noted that most of his “hundreds of thousands” would have likely died soon from their other ailments — that is why they are At Risk.

    And the Old Ridley would have recognized the very high economic costs of over-reacting to this latest scare.

    My fear is that the economic problems of supply chain disruption are like an approaching tsunami — still barely visible on the horizon, but we will know it when it hits.

  3. “The third reason for alarm in this case is the speed with which Covid-19 has crossed regional and international boundaries.”

    I read some epidemologist or other saying that, actually, you’d expect a novel strain of influenza to have spread much more quickly than this. I wish I could find the link.

    And I was looking at the numbers for South Korea earlier. The vast majority of cases are in the city of Daegu, where the megachurch that thought God would protect it is. Seoul, with four times the population, only has a couple of hundred. There are still parts of the country yet to report a single case. That doesn’t sound like an especially fast-spreading, highly contagious, disease to me. South Korea hasn’t even had the sort of large-scale lockdowns we’re seeing in China and Italy. Testing, vigilance, and targetted lockdowns of affected buildings and institutions are the order of the day over there.

    “Not that it’s going to ravage the country, or anything like that, but it may kill a lot of our older people, and who the hell wants that to happen?”

    Exactly. I’m not too worried about myself – if I get it, I get it – but my mother is 82, with asthma and Parkinson’s. I do everything I can to prevent her catching a cold, let alone this.

  4. Mr. Drummond you say ‘ It clearly isn’t as contagious as the flu’ but then quote the R0 number of 2-3, which shows it is much more so.
    Also we have to bear in mind it can take up to 2 weeks for symptoms to appear during which it can be passed on, hence Boris’ claim that over 10,000 may already have,

    • Andy, I’m somewhat sceptical of the Lancet’s numbers. The virus has been on the loose for four months now, and the numbers aren’t that high yet. But yes, the real numbers could be very different, and time will tell how bad it is. But bear in mind that if it really is highly contagious, then there’s nothing much governments can do. As Michael Fumento said, no-one in their right mind suggests that we can shut down to stop the flu spreading.

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