Coronavirus Update VII — We’ve Got Models (Update)

Coronavirus Update VII — We’ve Got Models (Update)

All the good stuff, caveats, code, data sources and explanations are linked, some in Update III, and the most important in Update II, Update IV, Update V, Update VI, and Bayes Theorem & Coronavirus, so go to them first before asking what-about-this-and-that. Skip to the bottom for the latest model. Thanks to everybody emailing me sources, including Ted Poppke, Jim Fedako, Joe Bastardi, Philip Pilkington, Willie Soon, Harry Goff, John Goetz, Warren McGee. Sorry I’m slow answering emails.

Do not miss the Perspective On The Coronavirus: Sanity Check which shows how the coronavirus fares with respect to other panics—-I mean pandemics.

Again I ask you to consider how watery our spines would become if the media picked something like flu to comment on, shrieking the day-by-day hourly by hourly case and death increases of everybody who happened to be infected with the flu virus—-not just killed by the virus, infected with it.

Did you not know flu stresses hospitals at its yearly peak? Did you not know it comes in clusters like this new virus? We could shout these predicaments from every platform!

If we really worked at it, we could have the world’s population at fever pitch at least half of every year.

This is happened after yesterday’s lock down post. People have lost their damned minds. Florida man (Governor) tried 15 May, but chickened out and later said he really mean 15 April. Virginia honorary black man (Governor) saw the 15 May and raised it to 10 June. Yes, the 10th of June, the biggest screw-you to citizens yet.

This has all the earmark’s of a typical purity spiral. Maybe we should have a pool. What public leader will be the first to breach 1 July? Answer in comments below.

Another point. Couple of weeks ago I told you about a doctor at one hospital in Washington state who moaned about being surrounded by death and devastation, back when there were fewer than 40 deaths in the entire state. I called him on it, and he deleted the tweet announcing his misery.

I’m seeing many more of these oh-woe-is-look-at-me anecdotes. One guy reported a weepy anecdotes from a nurse in a southwest state (the names aren’t important). Reported cases and deaths at the time were very low. I pointed out the nurse couldn’t have been right. The person still believed the nurse.

People want to be part of this crisis so much that they don’t see the harm in juicing their stories with extra color. This is too big not to tell good skin-crawling tales. “Lying” is not the right word for this embroidery. It’s much more akin to how the media paints every Olympic athlete a victim of some kind, so that otherwise boring events (like where they twirl those pieces of clothe while dancing) have some interest.

Try not to believe everything you hear.

Lock Down

Update. 7:50 AM

Sanghi deleted the tweets below, saying potential trouble with the data: see new tweet. The claim from other sources is the data is likely okay, but reporting difficulties (ahem: see below) make it suspect. However this shakes out, the question to us is still important: should we lock down if it saves lives? Thanks to Blessed Bradys for alerting us.

Want proof this lock down is working? Here from economist Siddhartha Sanghi is a graph (data from CDC) showing USA raw weekly death counts.

Down now about 10,000 per week, across all ages. The biggest relative drop is in 0-17 year olds.

Same thing for other age groups: see his whole thread for other breakdowns.

This is happening the same time coronavirus deaths are increasing. Meaning, overall many fewer people are being whacked.

Here from Nick Szabo is a graph showing the rate of other infectious diseases found in samples.

Flu, common cold, everything down. This is trickier, because this is the time of year when these things always tail down; flu especially drops to near 0 around now, or a couple of weeks from now. Depends on the weather—and spring is running late, especially in New York! Still, the rapid drop-off can almost surely be ascribed to the lock down.

We don’t need more evidence. This is sufficient to prove that locking people down saves lives. At least those lives lost to some diseases and to such things as car accidents.

Deaths down 10,000 per week! Think if we kept the lock down going for a whole year. That’s 520,000 lives saved, maybe more. Half a million! More than the coronavirus will ever get.

If your metric is lives lost, then lives lost are lives lost. We might—should—allow that losing an 85 year old with multiple comorbidities to an infectious disease is not as bad as losing a healthy 17 year old to a car crash. If I need to explain why, you have no heart—or commonsense.

It is indisputable lock downs save a huge number of lives, and even lives of the most value to a society. Save them for what? Never mind! The lock downs don’t necessarily stop infectious diseases, for this is a practical impossibility, but they slow them sure enough. Flu, for instance, kills 20-30,000+ a year in the States. Every year. Car crashes (we saw earlier) kill about 37,000. Every year.

So why don’t we lock down all the time? Well, we can’t lock everybody down quarantine style all the time. Starvation would set in. But we can greatly proscribe peoples’ activities. In the same way a modern 40 year old first-time mother helicopters over her only child, we can limit the places people go, we can dictate the modes of transportation, we can enforce curfews for all citizens. We can mandate—not just now, but every winter—masks must be worn at all times. No public—or private—displays of affection.

We can crack down. We can make mothering the law of the land. We can save lives. Why don’t we? If we, for instance, banned abortion we could save over 600,000 lives per year. Alas, in a matriarchy, women are confused about whether their own children should live (hence waiting until almost too late to let one kid escape the womb). Abortion won’t be banned.

In all other cases, we could wrap ourselves in a blanket of fear, shudder in the dark, frightened of every threat or perceived threat. We could magnify imperilments in our mind and move to protect ourselves from them, no matter how unlikely. After all, if our actions saves even one life, it will be worth it.

Life in quantity is superior to life in quality.

Which I believe is the motto of slaves everywhere.

I quote the peroration of Rusty Reno’s rousing reproach:

Alexander Solzhenitsyn resolutely rejected the materialist principle of “survival at any price.” It strips us of our humanity. This holds true for a judgment about the fate of others as much as it does for ourselves. We must reject the specious moralism that places fear of death at the center of life.

Fear of death and causing death is pervasive—stoked by a materialistic view of survival at any price and unchecked by Christian leaders who in all likelihood secretly accept the materialist assumptions of our age. As long as we allow fear to reign, it will cause nearly all believers to fail to do as Christ commands in Matthew 25. It already is.

I quote myself:

Since this is the internet, I am forced to write: Saying do not hysterically overreact is not equivalent to saying do nothing. Wear a mask, wash your hands, don’t be reckless with old folks. Do I have to be your mother? Do not panic.

Theoretical Models

A model is a list of premises, which usually includes observational statements, from which are deduced conclusions. The conclusions are often stated in probabilisitic form. If the premises of the model are necessary truths (like 1+1=2), the model itself is true.

The further the model’s premises are from necessary truths, i.e. the greater the number of unproved or hopeful assumptions, the greater the suspicion the model may be false, or of no use. Models which are not true in the strict sense may still be useful. The only way to prove a non-true model’s mettle is to test it against Reality.

Regular readers will recall we have done this with hundreds of expert models through the years, concluding Murphy’s Law applies to even the smartest person’s theories. We have been doing that test with our own naive model, and found it wanting in certain aspects, which we’ll discuss below.

How about the expert coronavirus models?

The ubiquitous Fauci has a model which says there will be 100-200,000 deaths in the USA alone. That’s 50 times more than what we have seen so far, and far more than in China (about whether they are lying, see the special section below).

A different model than Fauci’s (I presume) says “COVID-19 could lead to more than 80,000 deaths”. It’s worth noting some details of this second model:

Forecasters at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine analysed the latest COVID-19 data at a local, national and international level.

These include hospitalisation and mortality rates, as well as patient date in terms of age, gender and pre-existing health problems.

Specifically, they looked at the time lag between the first fatal cases and public interventions such as shuttering schools and businesses.

They then looked at each American state’s ICU bed and ventilator capacity.

It isn’t wrong to try approaches like these. But they quickly grow in complexity, and should grow in uncertainty, because none of the numbers and assumptions fed in are themselves certain. This is so in physical models, and even truer in models of human behavior. The authors of this model appear to understand that, and say “Estimates ranged between 38,000 and more than 160,000” dead bodies, which is a large window.

Now this window incorporates the outer neighborhood of 2009’s swine flu, which killed anywhere from 10,000-18,000 Americans (see Update VI for details). See what I mean, though, about medical numbers? Even now this death count is an estimate and not a hard count. We’re acting like we have hard counts on coronavirus, which isn’t likely, as we’ve seen in Italy: deaths of people with coronavirus are not equivalent to deaths from coronavirus. Numbers for this pandemic will be estimated and re-estimated in the years to come, long after the public has lost interest.

There was no lock down with swine flu—nor for the flus from the 50s or 60s, which killed ten times as many people, and which most have forgotten even happened. Yet they all still went away. That there was no lock down meant that taking credit for their disappearance was difficult—but not impossible. Somewhere out there, at this moment, is a politician taking credit for the sun rising in the east.

This Fauci, in a White House press conference I watched on Sunday evening, is already taking credit, saying 2.2 million would have died if it were not for our actions. Here’s a breathless article restating that. He got this alarming figure from his model. The number saved is a counterfactual, meaning there is no way to prove it unless we accept Facui’s model is perfect. Stop to grasp this.

If at least 100 thousand Americans don’t die from coronavirus, we’ll know Fauci’s credit taking was wrong, because his model has proved itself a failure.

Even model failure will not stop those in power everywhere from asserting it was they who saved your skin. Remember to ask them, as they reward themselves, how is it the other, worse diseases went away without their supervision? Their response will like that WHO bureaucrat who was asked about Taiwan (he pretended not to have heard the question, then hung up on the journalist), or they will insist this Wu-flu was indescribably worse than the other pandemics, and it was only thanks to their efforts that it didn’t rage out of control. I base this prediction on my own model of human behavior. Wait and see if I’m right.

Most of you will have heard of the ups and downs of Neil Ferguson, the Brit who first predicted doom for England using a theoretical model which was, and “remains the model being followed by world governments“.

Ferguson and his model originally predicted some 250,000-510,00 deaths, in a population of 66 million. That more-or-less matched Fauci’s one or two million in the USA, adjusted for population size differences. Same model, says this source.

The Telegraph did some digging on Ferguson (no link; article was sent to me):

He [Ferguson] was behind disputed research that sparked the mass culling of farm animals during the 2001 epidemic of foot and mouth disease, a crisis which cost the country billions of pounds.

And separately he also predicted that up to 150,000 people could die from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or ‘mad cow disease’) and its equivalent in sheep if it made the leap to humans. To date there have been fewer than 200 deaths from the human form of BSE and none resulting from sheep to human transmission.

Mr Ferguson’s foot and mouth disease (FMD) research has been the focus of two highly critical academic papers which identified allegedly problematic assumptions in his mathematical modelling.

The scientist has robustly defended his work, saying that he had worked with limited data and limited time so the models weren’t 100 per cent right — but that the conclusions it reached were valid.

Ah. It was wrong but it was right.

What Ferguson might mean is that the conclusions were deduced from the model, and so, conditional on the model, they were true conclusions. This is what I call in Uncertainty a local truth, as opposed to a universal or necessary truth, which is a proposition that is always true, even if you don’t want it to be.

These local truths are why scientists—smart people!—are so in love with their models. They put as much sweat and care into them as Pygmalion did his sculpture. How can they abandon them, even after the fail to conform to Reality? They cannot: they instead distrust Reality. I do not jest. Ever notice how global warming modelers don’t blame their models for forecasting failures, but instead look to the historical data and “adjust” it, sure history can’t be right, since it if were the models, which are beloved, would work. Don’t you believe the same thing won’t happen here, since death counts will be re-estimated.

This goes for statisticians, too! I keep reminding myself to call my model “the naive” model so that I don’t develop undue fondness for it.

This Birx, in apparent contradiction to Fauci, said “Models are models. When people start talking about 20% of a population getting infected, it’s very scary, but we don’t have data that matches that based on our experience.”

She said the media should not “make the implication that when they need a hospital bed it’s not going to be there, or a ventilator, it’s not going to be there, we don’t have evidence of that.”

“It’s our job collectively to assure the American people,” she also said. “There is no model right now — no reality on the ground where we can see that 60% to 70% of Americans are going to get infected in the next eight to 12 weeks. I want to be clear about that.”

She later walked that back, saying 100-200,000 is a “best case” scenario. Politics is still politics.

The modelers are getting pretty specific. Here’s one headline: America’s darkest day: Modelling predicts 2,271 Americans will die from coronavirus on April 15 and the pandemic will stretch past June. Not 2,272, but 2,271. Sheesh.

When this is all over, we’ll be able to look back on these models and discover precisely why they failed—if they fail. Model failure, if it exists, will likely be for the usual reasons: too heavy a reliance on uncertain premises, and the reification of certain mathematical equations. criticism has already begun, and a meatier criticism here. (I don’t want to do this until it’s all over, because most people won’t care why the models failed.)

Ferguson, Fauci and others are all modeling what they say are cases and deaths caused by coronavirus. Just what are we modeling? Something different! I quote myself again:

The naive model we have been using, which started as a class project, is confusing some. Rather, the numbers are. What are they?

Reports. Our model is a model of the reporting of numbers. That’s it, and nothing more. To the extent these numbers represent real cases, accurately ascribed deaths, and diligent records, then our model will attempt to describe the real extent of the outbreak. It’s “attempt” because, of course, the model is far from perfect.

Now, even in the case of measurement error in counting cases, improperly ascribed deaths, and chaos and inconsistencies in reporting, the model will still attempt to describe what numbers are being reported. Reporting is a very human process, and that’s what we’re modeling, the process.

How accurate are the numbers in reflecting Reality? It wouldn’t surprise anybody who has worked with medical data over a long period of time to say “not very”.

This approach avoids a lot of difficulties, such as trying to estimate the mortality rate. This is because there isn’t one. There is a R0, there is a chance of getting it, there isn’t a chance of anything. All these are conditional, and conditions vary dramatically. I want to avoid this to maximum extent possible, hence focusing only on global reports.

Pants On Fire

Skippabble Section

The assumption is that China is lying about death counts, because, well, they’re China, and they’re evil. The virus must have been worse there, because look how scared I am.

I have no idea if they are lying. Since we’re modeling reports it doesn’t really matter. I do know dubious attempts to prove lying when I see them. This is worth doing because it focuses on how everybody’s a sudden expert.

Take this curious story. “Estimates Show Wuhan Death Toll Far Higher Than Official Figure.”

Since the start of the week, seven large funeral homes in Wuhan have been handing out the cremated remains of around 500 people to their families every day, suggesting that far more people died than ever made the official statistics.

“It can’t be right … because the incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?” an Wuhan resident surnamed Zhang told RFA on Friday….

The source said Wuhan saw 28,000 cremations in the space of a single month, suggesting that the online estimates over a two-and-a-half month period weren’t excessive.

Gist is these urn models (inside probabilist joke) result “in an estimated 46,800 deaths.”

To counter this, I’m going to use Uncle Mike’s numbers from Update II, which as far as I can tell are accurate.

Hubei Province includes Wuhan and “a huge conurbation of three cities: Hankou, Wuchang and Hanyang.” Has some 58.5 million souls. Quoting Uncle Mike, the non-abortion “death rate in China was 7.29 deaths per thousand population in 2019”. That gives about 1,000 to 1,200 deaths a day from all non-abortion causes.

Now large Chinese crematoriums have a capacity of about 20 (these are big buildings), and it takes two hours to burn up a body—there are some bones left; the burning is not as complete as in the West. That makes about 240 crispy corpses a day per crematorium.

Thus, at least 5 crematoriums, and thousands upon thousands of urns a week carried in spooky urn-carrying trucks, must be going 24/7 with no bathroom breaks or inefficiencies just to keep up with normal demand.

Here the math ends, because I have no idea how many crematoriums the Wuhan area has. Has to be more than 5. I know the Chinese keep crematoriums on the outskirts of cities, because it’s bad luck to go by one.

There is so much speculation, and so few hard numbers, that to conclude definitely, or even with high probability, that China hid some 40,000 extra bodies over the course of a month or two because of urn tracking, when nobody who is not an expert in the Chinese mortuary business knows what he doesn’t know about urns, is not warranted.

Speaking of instant expertise. Couple of weeks back, nobody had ever heard of a ventilator or respirator, or anything like that, except what they might have seen on a prime time soap opera. Suddenly, overnight, everybody knew the precise number of ventilators that should be placed in every ICU in the country, they were certain about all the ins and outs of ER patient flow and bed capacity, they knew everything there was to know about the manufacture of ventilators—from the supply chain, time to build, loans to fund the process, to delivery mechanisms—-and they knew there were damn unhappy that there weren’t enough ventilators near them. We learn so fast!

The reason I never speak about ventilators is that I know squat diddly about them. Only time I’ve seen them is in passing through the ER, or in the NICU, where I was once involved in an ultrasound study to measure some skull and spine thingees in premature infants.

This instant expertise is the Curse of Democracy. Not only is everybody an expert on everything, everybody has to be, because you might be called on to vote about it.

Our Model

As I have been saying from the beginning, our naive model has been under-predicting when it predicts before the peak has been reached. It under-predicts the timing of the peak, and so it necessarily under-predicts the totals. Once the peak shows, as it did in China, the model performed well, and we expect it will perform well when the secondary peak shows. Last week we guessed, using the model, that the secondary peak would hit in about a week. Didn’t quite happen, it now seems.

The great benefit of this model is that it is simple. It’s only assumption is that the reported numbers will resemble numbers typically reported in outbreaks. Reported cases and deaths cannot remain “exponential”. Time it takes to “double” cases and deaths must rise to infinity—meaning new cases and deaths must necessarily drop to zero. Instead, outbreaks resemble logistic curves: and that’s all we’re doing.

Here is the latest model run, using data current as of Monday 8PM EST (same source).

You can see the data just starting to decelerate, on which more below. Can it instead re-accelerate? Yes. Yes of course. This model cannot see peaks beyond the present one. It is a dirt-simple model whose only assumption is that reported numbers resemble a logistic curve, as in all prior outbreaks.

Last week, the model estimated about 40,000 total deaths. It’s now saying 80,000 (twice as many!), with reports lasting for an additional week to ten days, ending about 30 April. As I have been warning, the model has been under-predicting from the beginning until the peak has been reached, as in China’s reports, after which is does rather well. If we are not at the peak, then it’s likely the model will continue to under-predict, because it didn’t nail the upward slope. If we are at the peak, then the under-prediction, if any, is likely to be small.

I’ve been getting requests to show non-logged numbers. Here they are:

Easier to see reported cases top out at 1.5 million. I remind us: this is reported cases, and not necessarily actual cases. That it is likely not actual cases is suggested in this next plot, which is the reported deaths divided by reported cases, a naive measure of mortality rate.

Look at that sucker soar! Almost 5%!

The initial up and down we discussed many times before. The secondary increase, too. But how about that plateau and that rapid increase thereafter? There are several things that might be happening.

(1) Cases, especially mild cases, aren’t being reported, because not tested for. China, the claim is, stopped reporting cases after deaths ceased. The denominator is too small. (2) Deaths due to coronavirus are being over-reported. That is, people with coronavirus are reported as having died from coronavirus too often. This is happening, but the extent we don’t know. The numerator is too big.

And (3), everything is accurate. But since we don’t have that many bodies stacked up, that implies two things: (a) it’s much harder to get the virus than reports have it, (b) when you get it, you’re much more likely to die, which doesn’t match other reports. Making it much more likely (1) or (2) or both are true.

Now the daily cases:

A week ago the model said we’d be at or near the peak in about a week, though the model under-predicted the slope of increase. The data now appears—I stress the word—the peak is upon is. Yes, this could be a hitch in reporting, which happens, because reporting is a human process. The data could very well continue scaling upwards. Or it could be the real peak. We’ll know in a week!

About the secondary peak. If there’s a third, the model can’t see it, as I have long warned us.

For whatever reason, even though I gather data every day the same time, it has a curious strict up and downness to it. One day higher, the next lower, which we’ll see in the acceleration charts.

Recall that this gives an indication of peak prediction. When the dashed line crosses 0, we have hit the peak. The data is bouncy bouncy, increasing in variability. That’s because the numbers grow larger, and because new places start reporting increases, and old places are on the way down. These are global numbers.

Now the daily deaths:

It should be the case that the reported deaths peak lags the reported cases peak: you can’t die from it until you get it. There is a lag here, but it’s smaller than would expected, unless the virus is a one-day killer, of which there is no evidence. More likely, again, cases are under-reported.

There are, as with cases, suggestions the peak is close, or near. The model thinks so. But the model has been under-predicting. Let’s look for more clues in the acceleration.

Same interpretation as with cases. The variability increase is probably for the same reason. But that strict up and down, up and down, day after day is screwy, and makes me nervous. Are authorities getting together to release stats day by day? Or are some countries reporting more on a 48-hour basis, and not 24? Purposeful manipulation wouldn’t happen, would it? Nah.

I’ve tried to warn us, repeatedly, that medical data is a mess. I’ve tried to warn that tests are inaccurate (got called naughty names for this one; see the Bayes link above). I have tried to warn us about massive over-certainty in all these things. Listen to these warnings and be less certain!

Next full update next Tuesday.

Addendum Doing a USA model, too. Amazing (well, not to me) how different the numbers are depending on the source. Will report this soon. Friday, probably, since others posts in queue.


John D Stats reminded me that it would be fun to look at all this as a percent of global population. This ties it in with the Perspective On The Coronavirus: Sanity Check, which looked at body count percentages for all known (to Wiki, anyway) epidemics.

Roughly, the model now predicts 0.02% of all 7.7 billion of us will be reported to have a novel coronavirus, and 0.002% of us will be reported to have died of it. If the model is under-predicting, these will rise. Double them—hell, quadruple them.

That makes a 0.008% death rate. That puts coronavirus in line with 2009’s Swine flu, which nabbed almost the same. Still way behind the ’58 Asian flu and the ’69 Hong Kong Chop Suey fluy. Here’s only the last of three pictures from that post (enlarge):

That 0.008% is among the smallest. Only this is the first ever worldwide lock down. Of course, the coronavirus might fall in line with those “best case” models from Fauci et al. Who knows.

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  1. I enjoyed this stroll over modeling assumptions — and thanks for linking to Philippe Lemoine’s essay, I’ll get to reading it.

    Anyway, here’s another data dump again from my own reading as a COVID19-skeptic: hospital infections, co-infections confounding case rates, seasonal flu overcrowding of hospitals, etc.:
    Another underappreciated factor contributing to mortality rates: nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections. As early as Mar 21, a field report from Italy [1]:

    “For example, we are learning that hospitals might be the main Covid-19 carriers, as they are rapidly populated by infected patients, facilitating transmission to uninfected patients. Patients are transported by our regional system, which also contributes to spreading the disease as its ambulances and personnel rapidly become vectors. Health workers are asymptomatic carriers or sick without surveillance; some might die, including young people, which increases the stress of those on the front line.”

    Deutsche Welle also reports on Spain from El Pais, that [2]:

    “As of the latest statistics available Friday, some 9,444 health workers had contracted coronavirus, representing 14% of total cases, Spanish daily El Pais reported. It is double the amount in Italy. Workers have complained about lacking necessary protective gear such as masks. Many are afraid of infecting their families and those whom they live with.”

    The UK is seeing similar failures of protocol, per The Lancet [3]:

    “Stickers with new expiry dates are being put on PPE that expired in 2016. Doctors have been forced to go to hardware stores to buy their own face masks. Patients with suspected COVID-19 are mixing with non-COVID-19 patients. The situation is so dire that staff are frequently breaking down in tears. As one physician wrote, “The utter failure of sound clinical leadership will lead to an absolute explosion of nosocomial COVID-19 infection.” Front-line staff are already contracting and dying from the disease.”

    How much of this is self-fulfilling prophecy, I wonder?

    Regarding the true numbers of infected, a study of 86 Dutch healthcare workers [4]. Almost half never exhibited a fever and kept working on:

    “Screening was performed in two large teaching hospitals in the southern part of the Netherlands. HCWs who suffered from fever or mild respiratory symptoms were tested for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR on oropharyngeal samples. Structured interviews were conducted to document symptoms. Eighty-six (6.4%) out of 1,353 HCWs were infected with SARS-Cov-2. The median age was 49 years and 15 (17.4%) were male. Most suffered from relatively mild disease. Only 46 (53.5%) HCWs had fever during the course of illness. Seventy-nine (91.9%) HCWs met a case definition of fever and/or coughing and/or shortness of breath. The majority (n=54, 62.8%) reported to have worked while being symptomatic.

    Within one week after the first case was reported, a substantial proportion of HCWs with fever or respiratory symptoms were proven to be infected with SARS-Cov-2. This observation suggests that there is a relatively high prevalence of mild clinical presentations that may go undetected. The spectrum of symptoms present in HCWs with COVID-19, frequently not including fever, asks for less stringent use of the currently recommended case-definition for suspected COVID-19.”

    This is only active infections — until we finally get good serological testing studies, we’re in the dark about people with immune antibodies. Either way, lots of undetected mild clinical symptoms.

    Latest Italian numbers show no change in the heavy age-dependence of CFR: Ditto for Spain as of March 27 [5].

    Another new study on effects of temperature on COVID-19 transmission [6]:

    “This paper provides the first plausibly causal estimates of the relationship between COVID-19 transmission and local temperature using a global sample comprising of 166,686 confirmed new COVID-19 cases from 134 countries from January 22, 2020 to March 15, 2020. We find robust statistical evidence that a 1°C increase in local temperature reduces transmission by 13% [-21%, -4%, 95%CI]. In contrast, we do not find that specific humidity or precipitation influence transmission. Our statistical approach separates effects of climate variation on COVID-19 transmission from other potentially correlated factors, such as differences in public health responses across countries and heterogeneous population densities. Using constructions of expected seasonal temperatures, we project that changing temperatures between March 2020 and July 2020 will cause COVID-19 transmission to fall by 43% on average for Northern Hemisphere countries and to rise by 71% on average for Southern Hemisphere countries.”

    Editorial by Dr. John Lee in The Spectator suggests UK mortalities may be overestimated due to how causes of death are recorded (all respiratory illness mortality is under-recorded) [7]:

    “If someone dies of a respiratory infection in the UK, the specific cause of the infection is not usually recorded, unless the illness is a rare ‘notifiable disease’. So the vast majority of respiratory deaths in the UK are recorded as bronchopneumonia, pneumonia, old age or a similar designation. We don’t really test for flu, or other seasonal infections. If the patient has, say, cancer, motor neurone disease or another serious disease, this will be recorded as the cause of death, even if the final illness was a respiratory infection. This means UK certifications normally under-record deaths due to respiratory infections.

    Now look at what has happened since the emergence of Covid-19. The list of notifiable diseases has been updated. This list — as well as containing smallpox (which has been extinct for many years) and conditions such as anthrax, brucellosis, plague and rabies (which most UK doctors will never see in their entire careers) — has now been amended to include Covid-19. But not flu. That means every positive test for Covid-19 must be notified, in a way that it just would not be for flu or most other infections.

    In the current climate, anyone with a positive test for Covid-19 will certainly be known to clinical staff looking after them: if any of these patients dies, staff will have to record the Covid-19 designation on the death certificate — contrary to usual practice for most infections of this kind.”

    Keep an eye on all-cause mortality trackers like EuroMOMO.

    More good reasons to believe in significant undercounting of infections is an issue that is understudied but important: patients having co-infections with SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses like various influenza strains. A Chinese report spoke of a case of a patient with acute respiratory illness who tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 four times in a row from a nasopharyngeal swab test using rRT-PCR. [8] Blood tests and chest tomography scans can’t be used to differentiate influenza from other viruses, either. Particularly in the earlier stages of the pandemic this suggests to me a lot of unrecorded infections and false negatives. A study from Qingdao also shows a sample of their patients having influenza A/B co-infections with SARS-CoV-2. [9] A laboratory analysis from Stanford reports that: “Of the 49 positive SARS-COV-2 results, 11 (22.4%) also had a co-infection. Of the 127 positive for other viruses, 11 (8.66%) had a SARS-COV-2 co-infection. These co-infection rate are much higher than previously reported rates.” [10]

    (2003 study on SARS shows significant mortality rate variance based on air pollution levels. I’d assume same goes for SARS-CoV-2. [11])

    The latest Imperial College study estimates an attack rate for Italy and Spain at 9.8% and 15%, respectively. [12] Peak is still weeks away, most likely. In the meantime, the COVID19-skeptic position will not find much favor as the ominous spectre of exponential growth and the horror stories haunt the imagination of policymakers and citizens. But we’ll see.

    Finally, I’d like to point out that overcrowding of hospitals does happen for seasonal influenza, as well. Alabama declared a state of emergency in 2018. 200 flu deaths in Hong Kong from May-July 2017, relative to a much lower confirmed death toll for COVID-19 over 4 months (underestimated most likely, but doubtfully by that much) [13]. The Guardian shrieking over people dying in corridors. [14] Surge tents were being built and nurses flown out of state in the USA. [15] Italian ICUs in Lombardy got hit hard 2017/2018 flu season. [16] In fact, it appears that ICU beds in many developed countries are always close-to-capacity and that general flu preparedness is quite lackluster, so no surprise that the shock of a novel respiratory virus could wreak lots of havoc — it’s a morbid truth and an infrastructural problem, but always keep this in mind when trying to extrapolate doom from hospital horror stories. [17]

    [5] Informe%20n%C2%BA%2017.%20Situaci%C3%B3n%20de%20COVID-19%20en%20Espa%C3%B1a%20a%2027%20marzo%20de%202020_revisado.pdf

  2. Harry Goff

    And here in Australia up to 3:00PM 31 March 2020

    Number of people tested 244,000
    Number who have tested positive 4557
    Number who have died 19
    Infection rate of those tested 1.87%
    Death rate of those tested positive 0.417%
    Fatality rate per 100,000 of Aussie population 0.077
    Infection rate of Australian Population 0.019%
    Current survival rate 99.6%
    Number currently in a serious or critical condition 28 (0.61%)

    Let’s say for arguments sake, that of the people tested to date, those that are currently in a serious or critical condition succumb to the virus. That would be 47 deaths out of the diagnosed 4557. This still leaves the fatality rate below single figures. (0.191) It still means that the survival rate is 98.9%. What this exercise implies is that most people who get the virus will recover, albeit after an uncomfortable week or two (maybe as some are being infected without even showing any symptoms).
    Wouldn’t it be sensible then to adopt a regime whereby we protect the vulnerable and let the rest of us get on with life? The vulnerable have been clearly identified, they are the same people who are vulnerable to the flu. The elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. Even with a vaccine the flu still manages to kill significant numbers each year, but we don’t go into a meltdown such as we have for this virus. It would be a more economically responsible action and less socially disruptive. I would still encourage good social hygiene habits though.
    We are in almost total lockdown now in Aus. Even in Western Australia we cant travel between regions – never happened before!! I am amazed at how quickly my fellow citizens are becoming compliant to this new normality.
    What Next??
    Keep up the good work Briggs

  3. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Dear Briggs. Thank God for your intellect and industry. You are a real benefit to American men

  4. Sheri

    “We might—should—allow that losing an 85 year old with multiple comorbidities to an infectious disease is not as bad as losing a healthy 17 year old to a car crash. If I need to explain why, you have no heart—or commonsense.” One also has zero religious beliefs if one believes that dying at 17 is worse than dying at 85. Most religions that I am aware of preach quality of life and one gets just so many years on earth, whether it be 17 or 85. The secular world preachers 17 year olds dying is worse than 85 year olds dying.

    Chastity belts—stop the spread of disease. The government can hold the electronic key. Thus, great drop in the number of abortions and of babies made. STD’s completely controlled. STD carriers can be chipped and the government track them. Complete population control. How many want this? What???? You don’t? Why not, you filthy disease spreader who cares nothing about young people dying????

    “Do I have to be your mother?” Apparently.

    “I base this prediction on my own model of human behavior.” So do the scaremongers. They just use different models for a different outcome.

    Nulle Terre Sans Seigneur–thank you for the comment. Much interesting information and a great listing of sources. Much appreciated.

    “Wouldn’t it be sensible then to adopt a regime whereby we protect the vulnerable and let the rest of us get on with life?” Trump considered that but his advisors said no. Why? My guess is (A) sick peope will then be blamed on Trump even more so than now and Democrats will be the ones that cared more and (B) it’s NOT EQUALITY and equality is all that counts. Really, I’m shocked Pelosi hasn’t whined that young people are not dying. It’s not a disease practicing equality.

    “Even with a vaccine the flu still manages to kill significant numbers each year, but we don’t go into a meltdown such as we have for this virus.” You can’t use a known to cause a meltdown. You need NOVEL, thus the original designation of SARS-CoV-2. It’s the same reason we drive, we do drugs, we overeat, we jump out of perfectly good airplanes, we risk bathing (dangerous activity, that one). Because we know. However, rename next years flu H4N26, call it Arctic Flu, and watch the morons run and the economy implode. We live in the “Matrix” and whatever that stupid little electronic soma box we haul everywhere tells us, we BELIEEEEEVE with all our heart and soul. Most follow like sheep, some fight, but all believe and fear the box.

    The only cure for Covid 19 panic is to take the entire mainstream media and throw them on a deserted (maybe….) island and take back the airwaves from the American-hating vipers. I predict a long run for Covid and an H4N26 scare in a couple of years, next year if Trump is re-elected. If Trump loses, permanent shutdown because sheep don’t mind dying in a blizzard in the corner of fenced pen, even when they could have backed out. No one told them, and I assure you, progressives will NEVER tell. Anyway you look at it, unless the few sane people left get angry like the Chinese did for their treatment by their government, learn to say “Baaaaa” and try not to end up in a corner.

  5. Jay Garfinkel

    After reading your posts, I’ve wondered if there’s data that provides deaths/death rates for other causes (heart attack, cancer, car crashes, etc). The thing that bothers me about the news reporting is context. 3000 deaths vs. no other death information (which translates to “0” in many peoples minds) is very scary. You allude to this when you talk about previous flu pandemics. My comment is not to demean any deaths — every one is tragic and painful to those close to that person, but it is a fact of life. Would it be possible for you to provide this perspective? Thx and please continue your good work.

  6. So what I’m getting from this is, there is a very good chance, but only a chsnce, we hit the peak in both America and worldwide, and if true starting in a week our model should slowly start getting more and more accurate, yes?

    IF true.

  7. Kip Hansen

    Briggs ==> I have worked with these CDC mortality numbers before — 100% reporting means that the numbers will change but not substantially. as long as one only looks at the totals with 100% reporting then the relative numbers are reliable.

  8. JohnK

    I am breaking my radio silence for three purposes. (a) to thank Matt, and many of his commenters here, for their efforts.

    (b) to note that when these ‘models’ become ‘sciency’ and ‘cautious’ and say, “between n deaths and n + (gigantic number) deaths”, they are nearly inevitably describing uncertainty in the chosen parameters, and have not ‘”integrated out” the effect of their choice of parameters. Thus, *even if all their premises and data are correct* (hah!), this profound statistical failure guarantees over-certainty in the generated curves.

    (c) To alert commenters here to something they may not have seen: a longish comment/short essay “on the tension between the Kung Flu doomers and the Kung Flu-induced economic crash doomers.” I am glad to have seen the entire comment re-posted on a different blog, because the original comment was buried in one of the innumerable OMG! OMG! blogs that are no longer worth anyone’s time.

    Anyway, you can read the re-posted comment here:


    Who were the groups that hijacked the ship, tied up the captain and his crew (some crew joining in the mutiny), and steered us over the edge? The groups, if we can call them that (often the better word may be “personality type”) that have aligned behind Shut Everything Down Indefinitely, are truly diverse – in the classic sense of that word. I am sure others can think of more categories, or express them better, but here are a few that come to my mind:

  9. Dave

    Those are a lot of words that boil down to: I’m sharing a worthless model with you.

    Just three weeks ago, Briggs’ model predicts “~160,000” total cases:
    According the Johns Hopkins tracking data, this has already been surpassed… in the US alone (164K cases).

    Just one week ago, Briggs’ model predicts “840,000” total cases:
    Just one week later, WHO has the total at 719,700, while Hopkins has it at 803,650. It would take a miracle (and Briggs does believe in miracles) to make that prediction come true at this point. In the meantime, his own prediction has nearly doubled in the last week, and has risen by an order of magnitude in the last three.

    If the model is this bad, why share it and use it as justification for condescending remarks to those who predict higher infection rates? Meanwhile, he caveats it to cover himself, so he can look back and say, “See? I told you it would under predict.” Fascinating stuff!

    Eventually, of course, it will make a decent prediction. But as you can tell by the endless caveats, he has no idea when that will be. Let the insults flow anyway…

    A meteorologist will often lift the chance of rain, from say 5% to 20%, so that in the rare occurrences it does rain in those circumstances, people are not so surprised and left without umbrellas. Similarly, Fauci most likely skews his estimates a bit towards worst cases. The difference is that people cannot affect the chances of rain with their decisions of carrying umbrellas, but they can affect the spread of a virus with their actions. Fauci wants people to be careful, so he almost certainly gives predictions to the high end of what he expects, given whatever actions are being taken.

    Speaking of Fauci, he has also raised the possibility of a return in the fall:
    Those who believe weather affects the spread, as Briggs has mentioned before, would have to believe this is possible, especially since it may be spreading around the cold climate in the Southern Hemisphere for the next 6 months or so, and there will not be “herd immunity” in the Northern Hemisphere yet.

    As stated last week, I think this model will require at least one more logistic curve to cover the Southern hemisphere, and possibly a fourth to cover a return to the Northern hemisphere this fall.

    Looking at unprecedented actions around the world that are surely slowing the spread, and then pointing at the results (which are not done yet, by the way) and saying, “see it’s not a big deal” is curious line of logic. There’s an unknown counterfactual here about what would’ve happened without lockdowns, travel restrictions, etc. Imagine if China hadn’t locked down 140M people. Does anyone think their infection numbers wouldn’t have been several multiples higher? No one knows for sure how high it would’ve reached, but it was spreading like wildfire before the lock downs, and has spread like wildfire in nearly every other country it has reached, until they take drastic action. Only a small number of countries, like Taiwan, took smart, preemptive actions.

    One final note: The confirmed case growth rate in the US has slowed over the last week, but it’s hard to tell how much of that is due to the social distancing and other measures vs what appears to be a stagnation in the number of tests per day:

    Probably, a little of both are influencing the slowing growth rate in confirmed cases.

  10. Maixiu

    “This is what I call in Uncertainty a local truth, as opposed to a universal or necessary truth, which is a proposition that is always true, even if you don’t want it to be.”

    As part of a grad school internship I had to do research on the relationship between China and Vietnam during the war. One thing that always struck me was a letter from Mao to Ho Chi Minh. I’m paraphrasing from memory but he wrote something to the effect of, “I predicted that the Americans wouldn’t bomb Haiphong Bay, but they did. Thus, my prediction was wrong. Now, however, they have stopped the bombing campaign, therefore my prediction is correct.” Not quite the same, but a very similar m.o. to the predictive modelers of today’s “science” community.

  11. Kalif

    Counterfactual is a forbidden word around here, it brings things into perspective 😉
    The comparisons with ‘common’ flu or car accidents, although true, are useless. Basically, in those comparisons seasonal flu gets trivialized, as if we know about it more than we actually do. Meanwhile, we forget the tests for identifying a common flu strain are much more precise and we actually DO have a vaccine, which works so so to produce herd immunity, depending on the year. Not to mention, this virus exhibits some rather unpleasant features that can collapse the medical system. Some people stay longer on the ventilator and some people develop irreversible damage.
    Regarding the financial impact of your ‘common’ flu; It’s not all that benign:

  12. Kalif

    Addtional financial impact of the ‘common’ flu:
    This one says 87BN and is from 2007

    Now, if medical professionals that see all this year to year, see something unusual this time around, we should pay attention.

  13. Ken

    CDC’s numbers show, in effect, population is growing about 10K per week because folks are dying less, and, the “pandemic” fatalities are nowhere close to the increase in the number not dying to trend (“undead”).

    In the 1918 flu, world population was negative growth (also a war going on).

    What are going to tell our grandkids when they learn we wigged out over a “pandemic” in which population growth spiked more than at any time since Dr Lister invented antiseptic surgery and the industrial revolution?

    In a way, this is embarrassing.

  14. Ken

    Re ‘losing an unhealthy 85 yr old not as bad as losing a 17 yr old in a car crash’

    In making such trade-off comparisons, doesn’t the relative “badness” there depend on the type of car & how badly it is damaged? What if the “car” is a totaled ambulance with associated opportunity costs?

    Implicit unrecognized assumptions are not made by all readers the same way nor necessarily extrapolated broadly. Boundary conditions are everywhere; but often overlooked.

  15. Ken

    Do we know enough about this virus, yet, to truly appreciate its risks and dangers?

    Death rate is dramatic & appears “high”; so does lung damage. But how good is that data?

    Duration of contagiousness on touched surface seems unusually long; how good is that data?

    At least one jurisdiction’s mail carriers appear to have extrapolated from a study done with anthrax — if that leaks, how many envelopes run thru the same machine after get contaminated ~200 if I heard correctly).

    There are many factors driving risk & precautions and what trade offs one might be willing to make.

    Seems to me, at this point, we ought to have more objective data on these … and not much is being reported. Do we really not know?
    Are politicians leading by running in front of the parade or will they adjust course based on new info and communicate that to the populace?

    One of the curious social neuroses of our time is how virtue signaling will trump good news: If we can relax precautions and fire up the economy we’ve seen how even suggesting or striving for that prompted outrage. This is at one level neurotic. On another a sign of broad ideology (virtue signaling Govt as caretaker) infecting beliefs and actions (or, inaction).

    Briggs focuses on the math (to oversimplify somewhat), but the math is used, wrongly – but not necessarily out of ignorance – rather as propaganda. Forcing behaviors into a corner needing a stimulus package to offset reeks of socialist manipulations to nudge Govt toward socialism.

  16. PaulH

    Here in Canada’s capital city, on March 22 the Medical Officer of Health stated, “we now estimate there may be up to 4,000 cases of COVID-19 in our community.” And “The doubling time, we’re seeing is sometimes down to three days, every three days now. By this time next week, (i.e. March 29) it could be 16,000” cases in Ottawa.”

    Oh, dear! Lock everyone up!

    Today, March 31, they announced an overall to-date total of 144 cases:

    That’s off by “only” two orders of magnitude. I guess it could be worse. (Yes, I acknowledge the testing backlog, delays in acquiring confirmed totals, plenty of untested people, etc.) Ottawa’s population is roughly 1,000,000.

  17. Pooch

    What is the motive for all these guys to have panic-inducing models? To destroy Trump? What about the UK guy? To destroy Boris?

  18. Walt

    Just one week later, WHO has the total at 719,700, while Hopkins has it at 803,650. It would take a miracle (and Briggs does believe in miracles) to make that prediction come true at this point. In the meantime, his own prediction has nearly doubled in the last week, and has risen by an order of magnitude in the last three.


    As you stated in your own post, there’s been a ramp in testing capacity which is probably not part of Briggs’ model.

    The bad news, Ken, is you’re going to die of COVID or not. We’ve sprinted a bit ahead of the Pale Horseman with total lockdown, but he’s a relentless marathoner. He’s going to get us all in the end.

    The good news is that Jesus saves. Repent, and believe!

  19. Dave

    Pooch, better yet, what is the motivation for the utter panic seen in parts of Italy, Spain, and Iran, or Wuhan in the beginning? It’s not like they’re stressing their health care capacity just to make a point against conservatives in the US; they have (or had) real problems and needed extreme actions to curb them. The US should be better equipped to handle a spike in cases than those countries in terms of healthcare capacity, but we don’t have unlimited capacity. Yet, some in the US view the extrapolation of potentially having problems in the US as a politically motivated tactic, rather than just learning basic lessons from other countries’ experiences. They want to completely disregard the benefit of foresight we could have gained from others’ experiences.

    The political part that bugs me is the poorly thought through stimulus package, which is likely to be quite wasteful and not well targeted. But pretending like the outbreak is nothing to be concerned about, despite ample evidence abroad that suggests otherwise, is just an invitation not to be taken seriously. Especially when someone changes their forecast upward by an order of magnitude in just three weeks — in spite of drastic isolation actions that have occurred in the meantime — while on the other hand condemning those who forecasted higher infection numbers and then brought them down after spread-reducing tactics are taken. Truly puzzling. Not saying the initial predictions were “true” or “right,” but at least they are moving in the right direction, conditional on the actions taken!

    What’s odd is that in some other places, I am trying to talk people *out of* panic and overreactions. I can’t remember an issue with such widely varying reactions and forecasts. Personally, I live in a big city where it’s not so bad yet, although cases have increased 10X in the past 2 weeks, so I am prepared for it potentially getting much worse. I am hopeful that the warmer weather will slow things down. I’m prepared but not panicking, and I’d like to see more constructive ideas on how we might safely resume normalcy in the near future.

  20. The Impoverished Lasts

    Dave, who said that the problem is “nothing to be concerned about”.

    If you define “nothing to be concerned about” as “not willing to take as drastic measures that I think are acceptable”…. then sure… ‘nothing to be concerned about.’

    I don’t think you take into account the panicked mind’s interpretation of how sick it really is. A cough may be contorted into much more than a cough. A sore throat…. likewise.

    A panic has been created. People are calling the police at the audacity of others willingness to enjoy the outdoors.

    It is probably serious…. so is the potential burglary of one’s house. But a moat dug around it, a gun turret (manned) mounted on the top of the house would be a costly overkill.

  21. Fredo

    As much as anything the reaction of shutting everything down
    is basically the monkey see monkey do reaction. They put on a great show
    from bat bowel soup to guys in hazmat suits wielding apartment doors
    shut containing the afflicted. You had people being pinned down in the
    streets with pitch forks or netted with pool nets. People were chased down
    with megaphone equipped drones admonished to wear face masks.
    Emergency hospitals sprang up like mushrooms and people collapsed and
    died in the streets seemingly on cue. All dutifully reported and magnified
    by our ever credulous press.

    Did it destroy Trump’s economy, eliminate protests in the streets, consolidate wealth and power, and point us in the direction of totalitarianism as the
    only way to save us from ourselves? In epidemiological circles people are
    never seen as humans but as vectors. Negativity has it’s own rewards and
    there is greater sense of power than focusing the attention of seven billion

  22. Martinian

    The thing that I’m most concerned about going forward, i.e., the desire of the public to shoehorn highly complicated medical/biological information and methods into a short, certain soundbite that can be swallowed as easily as a pill to make the bad feeling go away.

    We’ve already seen it with the emotionally understandable, but medically and statistically highly dubious demand for testing, testing, TESTING everything that moves. We’ve already seen it with the mania for stockpiling ventilators like Cold War missiles. The masks are next…without any discussion about things like expectations of responsible use (e.g., amount of face touching, mask humidity, reuse risks, incomplete sealing, etc.). Nope, masks will make us all safe just by virtue of being there.

    It’s like we know Magic = Bad, Science = Good. So we’ve replaced all our magical words with science words and technological talismans. Whoever ends up with the most medical accouterments won’t die.

  23. John B()

    We don’t know anything about ventilators but supposedly these guys do:

    New York State Task Force on Life and the Law
    New York State Department of Health
    November 2015
    E. Stockpiling Ventilators
    New York State pandemic planning includes careful consideration of the potential shortage of ventilators, based on the estimates discussed above. There is a federal government stockpile of ventilators, but its use is limited for any one locality; there are not enough ventilators to be distributed to meet demand if many regions need them at once.
    New York State has stockpiled 1,750 ventilators to help reduce ventilator need in the face of the moderate scenario; however, there are no current plans to buy enough ventilators for the most severe model. The State’s current approach to stockpiling a limited number of ventilators balances the need to prepare for a potential pandemic against the need to maintain adequate funding for current and ongoing health care expenses. Furthermore, severe staffing shortages are anticipated, and purchasing additional ventilators beyond a threshold will not save additional lives, because there will not be a sufficient number of trained staff to operate them. In the event of an overwhelming burden on the health care system, New York will not have sufficient ventilators to meet critical care needs despite its emergency stockpile. If the most severe forecast becomes a reality, New York State and the rest of the country will need to allocate ventilators and other scarce resources.…/docs/ventilator_guidelines.pdf

  24. Dean Ericson

    OH MY GOD HELP IM ON FIRE!!!!!! AIEEEEEEEEEEEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! [a swift phalanx of extinguisher-wielding Briggsites douses the flames] Thanks guys. [stench of burnt hair] Was reading the Daily Mail and my pants caught fire. Started my hair on fire. Singed a bit but will be fine. Medicinal whiskey, anyone?

  25. Fredo

    What have we got going for us but all the soothing medicalized
    double speak of an expert class that has left the country with a
    shortage of hospital beds, face masks, gowns, ventilators, and
    all the personal protection equipment equipment necessary to
    deal with this less than lethal pandemic. Then we have the political
    & corporate class that has shipped production of these items and
    pretty much everything else we need and use to a foreign country
    that is in direct economic, military, and political competition with us.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  26. Nate

    Good stuff.
    “So we’ve replaced all our magical words with science words and technological talismans. Whoever ends up with the most medical accouterments won’t die.”

    Reminds me of John Derbyshire:
    “The ordinary modes of human thinking are magical, religious, social, and personal. We want our wishes to come true; we want the universe to care about us; we want the approval of those around us; we want to get even with that s.o.b. who insulted us at the last tribal council. For most people, wanting to know the cold truth about the world is way, way down the list.”

  27. Dean Ericson

    [snort!] Ahh! Thanks, Ianto. Oof-da, that’s the good stuff.

  28. Sylvain Allard

    You guys really should throw a huge party in an infected hospital.

    In 1918, economic recovery was faster in cities where mitigation action have taken place. Economic recovery was nonexistent in cities where there were no mitigation action taken.

    The USAhas the worst response to the virus compared to any other country on earth.

    Your idiot in chief has dropped the ball and you are losing. It will be a miracle if there are less than 240,000 deaths in the USA.

    In the end, the people who die are the readers of this blog, and people who voted for the idiot in chief.

    I’m glad that my fiancée is in China and not the USA and it’s failing healthcare system.

  29. Kathleen Reeves

    Pitiful. You really ought to stop listening to NPR (paid for by taxpayers) watching CNN et al(our own version of Pravda) and do what you can to move to China ASAP. Why waste your precious time in a place you detest? Of course, you could always stay at a University, where the denizens live in a state of self adoration and hatred of others. But why bother? Venezuela’s the place for you. Take your fiancee there too. Great place for a honeymoon. It’ll feel just like home.

  30. Nate

    You know folks, I never could figure out if Sylvain is a real person or a troll. Keeps coming back here every so often to castigate us for our bad thoughts.

  31. MJB

    “The press today is an army with carefully organized weapons, the journalists its officers, the readers its soldiers. The reader neither knows nor is supposed to know the purposes for which he is used and the role he is to play.”
    ? Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West 1918

  32. MJB

    “To-day we live so cowed under the bombardment of this intellectual artillery(the media) that hardly anyone can attain to the inward detachment that is required for a clear view of the monstrous drama. The will-to-power operating under a pure democratic disguise has finished off its masterpiece so well that the object’s sense of freedom is actually flattered by the most thorough-going enslavement that has ever existed”
    ? Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol 2: Perspectives of World History

  33. Sheri

    Ken: “In a way, this is embarrassing.” In every single way I can think of, this is horrifically embarrasing. The entire world brought to its knees and committing economic suicide over a virus. Shameful.

    The Impoverished Lasts:
    “If you define “nothing to be concerned about” as “not willing to take as drastic measures that I think are acceptable”…. then sure… ‘nothing to be concerned about.’ ” Good point. Agreed.
    “I don’t think you take into account the panicked mind’s interpretation of how sick it really is. A cough may be contorted into much more than a cough. A sore throat…. likewise.” Absolutely. I won’t go in public out of fear of overreactions. I have a severe chronic cough and as insane as the population is, it’s not going to be safe out there. (The virus doesn’t scare me, the crazy people do.) Notice that 85% of tests are Negative, meaning a misinterpretation of symptoms, quite possibly out of fear.
    “It is probably serious…. so is the potential burglary of one’s house. But a moat dug around it, a gun turret (manned) mounted on the top of the house would be a costly overkill.” Guess I have to keep my “remote” ranch after all. Skip the gun turret and the moat. (Though I’d love to have one!) Notice that AIDS was very, very, very deadly, but no one gave a damn and actually encouraged the spread. Diseases are POLITICAL.

    Dean!! Never ever read Daily Mail! Stay away from Prison Planet and Info Wars. Terrifying perhaps: PJ Media was pointing out that David Icke predicted a lot of this. How far we have sunk into insanity…..

    I see Sylvain remains irrational….some things never change.

    The one thing I do not understand is how the ENTIRE WORLD lost it’s frigging mind all at once. What feat of war–destruction of the planet without a shot, by making the entire world stupid and terrified. If we can figure this one out, wow.

  34. A

    “In the end, the people who die are the readers of this blog, and people who voted for the idiot in chief.”

    You are a wee nasty shite, aren’t you?

  35. Joshua

    Does anyone actually believe your crap? Every week you show the new data and your curves ares always a few days away from their peaks, yet the positive cases and daily deaths continue to March upwards. Once you plug in the new data, your cases and deaths predictions get larger and larger. It sounds to me like your models can draw a pretty curve through the past but are clueless to the future. You blame the data, yet it looks like a crap model.

    Let’s not forget that Africa has 1.2 billion, India 1.3 billion, And South America has 422 million, that’s about 40% of the world’s population and the pandemic has barely begun in their parts of the world. The majority of them are too poor and have very little medical capacity to even begin to deal with this and social distancing certainly isn’t possible for them. It may not destroy them in the first wave, but give these parts of the world 2 years and multiple waves of Covid 19 and it may end up making Spanish Flu look like child’s play.

    And even the developed world cannot avoid multiple waves of this and we cannot continue social distancing for 2 years. Eventually we’re going to just have to let the virus move through the population and deal with it the best we can in the hospitals. Hopefully we’ll have enough ventilators. And hopefully enough doctors and nurses survive to treat the rest of us.

  36. Sylvain Allard

    I actually don’t watch CNN or NPR. I also don’t watch Foxnews which makes is listener dumber. This blog for proof.

    My fiancée is Chinese worth around $100 million dollars, and we split our time between, Hong Kong, China and Québec. We have no intention to move to a retarded country like the USA.

    “Of course, you could always stay at a University, where the denizens live in a state of self adoration and hatred of others.”

    State of adoration, when you have your President saying that he will have done a good job killing only 100K people. Face it, you elected an idiot and the idiot, that is unable to take any responsibility for his action.

    The guy is killing you and you keep admiring him. Well then you get what you deserve.

  37. Briggs


    If you have all that money, why not donate some? After all, think of all the entertainment we have provided you. Has to be worth at least a few thousand.

  38. Curious

    As others have mentioned, Briggs model has been wrong time and again. If a model is wrong, you need to change. Doubling down week after week, and being wrong week after week (but with the rhetorical protection of “I told you it would underpredict”) is the exact behavior Briggs accuses overcertain “experts” of engaging in.

    Clearly the disease isn’t going to kill 39,000 and max out at 800,000 cases in late April as it’s already surpassed that. Clearly the last three predicted “peaks” weren’t yet peaks. Clearly the extreme measures taken in China have had some impact on the decreased rate of spread (so why criticize extreme measures elsewhere?), and possibly China is lying about their numbers.

    Coronavirus is nasty, but it seems overconfidence is even more difficult to recover from.

  39. Briggs

    “When Briggs told us this naive model, the limitations of which (especially pre-peak predictions) he routinely laid out, and which only predicts reported and not actual cases and deaths, would likely continue to under-predict, because it had been under-predicting, he really meant it was accurate; therefore he’s overconfident and we should take extreme measures.”

    Well, it’s a take, I suppose.

  40. Sylvain Allard


    What make you we have not done so?

    My fiancée gives 80% of her investment income in charity, Mainly orphanage in Hong Kong and China. And she gave more than 100,000$ to different charities to combat Covid19. She won’y Give to the US because people like you guys don’t take this threat seriously, and also you have a genius in the White House who knows everything about everything. Like the fact that there are 80 million people in Seoul.

  41. My fiancée gives 80% of her investment income in charity, Mainly orphanage in Hong Kong and China. And she gave more than 100,000$ to different charities to combat Covid19. She won’y Give to the US because people like you guys don’t take this threat seriously, and also you have a genius in the White House who knows everything about everything.

    And then, the whole bus clapped/

  42. Frenchie McCanuck finally answers many, many puzzling questions:

    Sylvain: “My fiancée gives 80% of her investment income in charity, Mainly orphanage in Hong Kong and China. And she gave more than 100,000$ to different charities to combat Covid19. She won’y Give to the US because people like you guys don’t take this threat seriously…”

    What is this Sylvain made of?

    A limousine PC-Progressive seething with self-loathing, preening with his constant virtue signalling hatred of Normals. Sylvain has a girl-friend who has “investments” for which she clips the coupons. Ensconced in their comfortable Canadian lair–they toss crumbs to the proletariat, and curse the wicked American kulaks.

    He hates the nasty racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic/imperialist/capitalists, but loves his comfy life with his girlfriend, clipping those capitalist coupons, taking them to the nasty imperialist bank, and depositing those stinky xenophobic dividends.

    Riven with the mental anguish his hypocrisy breeds, he still can’t resist virtue signalling how “good” he and his den-mate are–supporting Chinese orphans and non-American C19-infected masses. “Die you American scum! Repent your republic! Comply and receive the blessings (and “investment income”) of your Canadian betters!”

    Thanks for the insights. Lots of answers in a couple short sentences.

    Note: For those who are not familiar with the lifestyles of the rich and famous, the capital required to generate $100,000 in investment income, plus the amount required to keep Frenchie and his wealthy squeeze in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed, and still be able to casually claim to send Asian orphans 80% of that income, is in the multi-million dollar range. More likely dozens of millions of dollars, potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. And that’s AFTER the market meltdown. Pretty sweet gig–hating America and Normals, all paid for by the sweat of the proletariat! All power to the Soviet–but pass the stock market page, please.

  43. Dave


    Yes, you caveat the naivete of your model each week. But it is also contrasted to other higher predictions in these novellas you write each week. If your model has been shown to underestimate by an order of magnitude in just a few weeks, maybe consider toning down the attitude of superiority regarding your understanding of this situation by about 10 notches.

    But hey, you caveated it, right?

    I can also make useless predictions with caveats:
    “The world will end. Eventually.”

    See? That prediction will be true, and doesn’t even require weekly updates. Way less than 10,000 words and with 1/100th of the misguided attitude of these posts…

    Here’s a way to save yourself time on next week’s post, but maintaining quality:

    “My model is that the total cumulative coronavirus infections will be 1. CAVEAT: this model will under-predict the total cases. I’ll update the prediction once the pandemic is over with a more accurate estimate. But look at all the idiots predicting higher infections. Fools and sissies, I tell you!”

  44. A

    I think we can file Sylvain Allard’s posts in the draw labelled ‘bollocks on the internet’.

    Although my Husband is a Nigerian Prince who pays me millions of od Dollars every week via anonymous accounts…….would you like to help, all legal, just let me have your account number….honest. Think of the Orphans…..

  45. Nate

    More fodder for my belief that Sylvain is a LARPing troll.

  46. I like how the criticism of Dr. Briggs changes every time it is pointed out the previous criticism is wrong. Eventually you’ll have to hit on one that works. Just keep trying!

  47. Sylvain Allard

    Kent Clizbe

    “ Sylvain has a girl-friend who has “investments” for which she clips the coupons. Ensconced in their comfortable Canadian lair–they toss crumbs to the proletariat, and curse the wicked American kulaks.”

    She does more to help other people in a year than Trump did in is lifetime. Only the kids and the caretaker at the orphanage knows who she is. She gives anonymously. Yes she has a big house and nice cars. But not five houses like the Romney’s.

    She did not receive any help for her company that has been shot down for more than two months.

    Let’s see how much money Trump will give to his own hotel with your money.

    Trump moto is OPM other people money. How many entrepreneurs went bankrupt because he refused to pay for the work they did?

    He sat on stage for people who gave to a charity that he had given no money to.

    Yet he is your hero. Your President. Your hero makes of the USA a joke. Because of your hero hundreds of thousands of people will die. They will die because he is incompetent. He is an idiot unable to take any responsibility for his mistakes.

    By the way, she is Chinese. So yes she helps Chinese orphans. How much help did you gave them?

    The USA is supposed to be the greatest country on earth. With the best healthcare. This means you believe in unicorns. Your healthcare system is worst than Cuba.

    Finally, she doesn’t invest in the stock market. She invest in ForEx. Much more secure than NYSE.

    My hatred for America is only the hatred you guys on this blog show to common sense. People in the USA are dying because you are unable to accept reality.

  48. A

    I think Sylvain is talking shite.

  49. John B()

    Unless there are reporting lags, it looks like new US cases today could be 4000 less than yesterday and deaths may be up less than 100

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