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Further perspectives on pandemics and climate change

Filed under: — rasmus @ 23 March 2020

I have recently been asked whether the present corona pandemic will have any consequence on climate change. Gavin has already discussed the coronavirus and climate here on RealClimate, and I like to follow up on his post.

Rather than emphasising analogies, I would highlight additional common denominators between the present world-wide Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

My first reaction is that the present crisis has taught us the value of knowledge and science. It is also obvious that only collaborative efforts can help us. Both these aspects are also true for climate change, a point that perhaps has been more implicit rather than explicit.

Furthermore, the science behind epidemics/pandemics as well as climate both have long histories. Meteorological services have a history that matches that of modern medicine, and many of them embraced climatology since the early days. The WHO was founded in 1948 whereas the WMO in 1950. But both were preceded by the International Meteorological Organization (IMO) that was established in 1873 and the International Sanitary Conferences in 1851.

Health and climate are also two scientific disciplines with obvious relevance to society, and I think there is no coincidence that Spiegelhalter et al (2006) used examples from both health and climate for discussing the use of infographics. Most people have seen a physician or a weather presenter, and it is fair to say that local climate can be regarded as weather statistics.

Science tells us that epidemics follow a characteristic course (a pandemic is a disease epidemic spread worldwide), with an initial emergence, rapid growth, a culmination and then a decline. Time is critical when dealing with the virus, and it is important to “flatten the curve” to avoid an overload of the health services. In other words, we need to lower the probability of transmission of the contamination to slow the process down, e.g. though “social distancing”.

Science also tells us that global warming will accelerate if we continue to emit greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. It’s just plain physics. Unlike a pandemic, however, there is no end in sight when it comes to climate change. But as with a pandemic, it is possible to take back control. One crucial difference between the two is that the virus has a life of its own while the atmospheric CO2-concentration so far does not increase by itself, but is a byproduct from our activities (there may also be some feedbacks).

Statistics is another common ground between the pandemic and climate. One example of the use of statistics is testing and false positives due to imperfect screening. The infographics presented by Spiegelhalter et al. (2006) explains that it is possible to test a person positive twice for the virus, first once and then another positive after being declared as having recovered. Similar false positives can be found in climate analyses, but in both cases they are the exceptions and a mere result of imperfect testing accuracy.

Another common ground is where land-use and biodiversity connect planetary health and climate. There is even a cryptic acronym used in the climate community to underscore this point: LULUFC which means land use land use change and forestry.

I think it’s important to consider the big picture and build resilience and capacity ahead of virus outbreaks and ahead of the emergence of natural disasters connected to climate, such as wildfires or locust swarms. It’s better to be well prepared than unprepared. For the virus, it’s a question of having a robust health care system. For climate change it may be necessary to boost firefighters’ capacity to deal with increased fire hazards and improve water infrastructure.

The pandemic has exposed our vulnerability, as our economy seems to collapse like a house of cards. Natural calamities associated with further climate change, described in many of the reports by the IPCC, are also expected to cause big disruptions. A bigger problem is when several bad things happen at the same time. In that sense, the pandemic underscores the importance of building a resilient and sustainable society. And as humans, we are bound to deal with both diseases and climate whether they are connected or not.

A turbulent oil market is another link between the Covid-19 pandemic and climate, thanks to decreased demand and the Russia – Saudi Arabia oil price war.

It seems obvious to me that strategies for dealing with both pandemics and climate change really need to take into account other countries. I don’t think we can solve the crisis without real international collaboration. Neither viruses nor weather respect the national borders, and closing the borders like North Korea does not seem to be a good option.

Scientists around the world are working around the clock to find a vaccine against the virus. When they succeed, it’s important that as many as possible of the world population get vaccinated around the world to develop ‘herd immunity’. Likewise, it’s important that climate scientists collaborate both when it comes to mitigation of climate change as well as adaptation to the changes that already are in the pipeline. Effects of local climate change affect remote countries through trade and politics.

As Gavin already has pointed out, we can also see some common ground between the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change through a reduction in the CO2-emissions as the economy takes a hit. There are also reports of reduced aerosol levels and blue skies over Chinese megacities. These changes provide an opportunity to estimate their effects on climate in new ways.

Another common trait is the occasional misrepresentation of scientists’ position in some media. We have seen anti-vaxxers and quacksalvers offering fake medicines and spreading conspiracy theories, which we also are too familiar with from the public discourse on climate change.

A big difference between the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change is how the governments and businesses respond, however. It seems as if fear really can prompt actions, a strategy communication experts suggest to avoid in climate change communication.

One explanation for the different response may be the different time scales of pandemics and climate change, and that the former involves a creepy indiscriminate contamination. The Covid-19 outbreak came as a big and sudden worldwide shock, whereas climate change comes in regional waves disguised as wildfires, floods and monster hurricanes.

In summary, the best way to deal with both pandemics and climate change must be based on science and good cooperation within and between nations. After all, we are all in the same boat. And a final word to those who have to provide home education as a result of social distancing, mathematics saves lives both in medicine and through climate research.

References

  1. D. Spiegelhalter, M. Pearson, and I. Short, "Visualizing Uncertainty About the Future", Science, vol. 333, pp. 1393-1400, 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1191181

74 Responses to “Further perspectives on pandemics and climate change”

  1. 1
    MA Rodger says:

    For me, the similarity between COVID-19 and AGW are twofold.

    Firstly, the damage prevented will never be properly known. Only by giving COVID-19 or AGW free reign would the actual damage be evident. If the ‘mitigation’ actions to prevent damage work well, the lack of such damage will surely be used to argue that the ‘mitigation’ was excessive or unjustified. Thus, if AGW is kept to +1.5ºC there will be those still questioning the wisdom of shutting down the FF industries and turn the world ‘energy-poor’. And when, COVID-19 is mastered, the total death toll will hopefully be small leading to questions about whether the scale of those preventative actions was justified.
    And earlier, when the ‘mitigation’ actions are being decided, they can easily appear excessive given there is little direct harm from the likes of AGW or COVID-19 evident at the time of the decision.
    So the questioning of the wisdom of preventing a lethal epidemic doesn’t have to follow the event. The Bexity/AGW-denying UK government reportedly (see the Sunday Times piece reposted by my chums, the Gentlemen Who Prefer Fantasy) were running with a COVID-19 policy to use “herd immunity [to] protect the economy and if that means some pensioners die, too bad”, and that before the virus had properly struck, and also before they had bothered doing the sums that showed how may deaths their grand scheme would cause.

    Secondly, COVID-19 demonstrates how fragile our world economies actually are. In my view, it is the damage an unmitigated AGW would do to those economies that is the real danger for the bulk of humanity.
    Of course, the CORVID-19 economic damage is the result of the ‘mitigation’ action and not a direct effect. And in the view of AGW denialists, it is the same with AGW. My Brexity/AGW-denying chums, the Gentlemen Who Prefer Fantasy tell the world that the UK’s AGW mitigation plan “risks to bankrupt the country” while the developing world become “the main victims of over ambitious attempts to prevent global warming.”

  2. 2
    Oxyaena says:

    “Unlike a pandemic, however, there is no end in sight when it comes to climate change.”

    This is a minor nitpick, but there *is* a conceivable end in sight for the horrors of climate change, however that “end in sight” is when Earth returns to a natural equilibrium due to the results of natural processes such as the carbon cycle and so on and so forth, but due to how incredibly slow these processes are this “end in sight” is still way off into the far future, at the very least tens of thousands of years, if not even hundreds of thousands.

  3. 3
    Lawrence says:

    Science is a certain utilization of knowledge. And it was science that created global warming and the overpopulated and polluted urban environments, that will grow worse in the future, that created the conditions that allows viruses and bacteria and insects, etc, to multiply and evolve into ever more potent and incurable adaptations. Combined with degraded natural selection for humans and genetically the highest deleterious mutation rate of any form of life on earth. Weakened immune systems, reproductive abnormalities, low intelligence and emotional instability, etc.

    An uncharacteristic slide into Pollyanna scientism from Realclimate.

  4. 4
    Oxyaena says:

    @Lawrence, no, it wasn’t “science” that enabled those things, it was the application of science that enabled those things. You can thank capitalism for the enclosure of the commons and the forcing of the peasantry from their only means of livelihood, forcing them to flock to the cities to sell their labor to the moneyed classes just to stay afloat, for instance.

    As for your second point, humans have always looked out after their own, including the sick and infirm. We even have an almost two million year old Homo erectus fossil from Dmanisi, Georgia missing all of its teeth. Here’s the thing about that fossil, the injuries which lead the man that fossil belonged to (he was a male) to lose all his teeth had *healed*, and he made it into old age too, suggesting that *someone* was chewing his food for him.

    This was happening almost two million years ago, by a community of early humans whom hadn’t even domesticated fire yet. What do you make of that other than a direct repudiation of so-called “social Darwinism?”

  5. 5
    Lawrence says:

    It means that there will be a more powerful virus in the future if there is a vaccine for covid-19. Also, the people who are genetically predisposed to infection will pass on their bad genes thanks to modern medicine. And natural selection will be further degraded. Plain Darwinism.

  6. 6
    Nemesis says:

    People in Germany hoard food, toilet paper ect like crazy, empty shelves all over the place and the shelves in the supermarkets haven’t been filled up again for roughly 2 weeks now. If this will go on for weeks or even months, things will get real ugly.

  7. 7
    Ray says:

    Concerning Lawrence: Science is not a “certain utilization of knowledge”, but the most reliable way of acquiring it. It told us that plagues were not visitations from an angry god, how we could grow crops more effectively, what the consequences of continued use of fossil fuels will be, and how effective contraception measures can be achieved. How we chose to utilize this knowledge is up to us. I do not believe that using words like ‘scientism’ advances how we use what we learn from science.

  8. 8

    “A turbulent oil market is another link between the Covid-19 pandemic and climate, thanks to decreased demand and the Russia – Saudi Arabia oil price war. ”

    That’s more of a direct link between the pandemic and the increased scarcity of low-priced, high-grade oil, rather than to climate change. It has the same long-term impact on climate change mitigation though.

  9. 9
    Oxyaena says:

    “It means that there will be a more powerful virus in the future if there is a vaccine for covid-19.”

    Do you have a cite for that?

    “Also, the people who are genetically predisposed to infection will pass on their bad genes thanks to modern medicine. And natural selection will be further degraded. Plain Darwinism.”

    So? Did you even read what I said? We have means of caring for the sick and infirm that doesn’t “degrade” society, we’ve been doing it for almost two million years to no ill effect, why should we stop now?

  10. 10
    Carbomontanus says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen:

    My Reference for the climate-situation and dispute is the H5N1 chicken flue pandemie and quarantaine of 2004-2007, that I did follow very carefully, having the personal responsibility for a henyard.

    The causes are the same namely too strong wearing of the biosphere.(Wherefore fossil fuel is burnt and poultry is industrialized) And the counteractions is administered by the same regime namely UN institutions. The IPCC is the synthesis of UNEP and WMO, and the chicken flue situation by FAO and WHO.

    “alternatives” and denialism, war against science, showed up rather by the same religion People and arguments namely what I identify as traditional dia- lectic materialism. Or more precise, Arbeiter und Bauernfakultät in Greifswald / religious lacks of mittlere Reife BACCALAVREVS 1, arrogant politically militant lacks of proper higher Learnings, in the provinces.

    What surprizes me now by the Corona virus situation is that Thinktank does not seem to have got the point and founded the systematic, denial industry on their basis of dia- lectic materialism wolleyball & industrialized dilettantism.

    As if they had no time.

    A major difference between the H5N1 pandemia and AGW is the time- constant, the doubbling or halving- time if left untreated. The AGW- situation has a very much longer and slower initial rise curve.

    And compared to that, the spreading and initial rise of coronavirus has happened extreemly quick. Thinktank seems to have been taken asleep, thus had no time to really prepare and organize.

  11. 11

    There’s more commonality in modeling of epidemics versus oil consumption in regards to estimating the asymptotic level of the logistic S-curve. I submitted this to Medium.com which seems to be a recommended site for contributing ideas on the pandemic:


    https://medium.com/@puk_54065/how-to-linearize-the-logistic-d8143bfe33be

  12. 12
    Al Bundy says:

    rasmus: Time is critical when dealing with the virus, and it is important to “flatten the curve” to avoid an overload of the health services. In other words, we need to lower the probability of transmission of the contamination to slow the process down, e.g. though “social distancing”.

    AB: Sure, if you aren’t creative. Your plan is akin to holding a hand grenade with the pin pulled. If you relax your grip so as to, say, eat, you die.

    Herd immunity would best be done explicitly. Deliberately infect folks who are likely to survive with minimal issues by intimately exposing them to respiratory fluids from those with the mildest current cases and then keep those newly and deliberately infected isolated until they recover. Use recovered patients to provide basic care. Of course, this means deliberately infecting healthy children with a potentially deadly disease.

    Expand this by using the mildest cases who were infected by the previous generation of mildest cases to infect the next group, which is young teens who are in great health. Then way healthy older teens. Then healthy twenty-somethings. Then healthy thirty-somethings. By then herd immunity combined with the differing habits of various age groups will allow for the easy isolation of dangerous infections.

    Go semi-slow and definitely sanely. The idea is to increase herd immunity while directing the virus’s evolution towards benign. If significant symptoms arise then change the tack. But in all likelihood this could be over in a few months with few deaths.

    Until next year. It’s not like we’ve got a vaccine for the common cold or a permanent one for the flu.

  13. 13
    Al Bundy says:

    Lawrence: Plain Darwinism

    AB: would have eliminated you from the gene pool long ago. Be grateful, dude.

  14. 14
    Martin Manning says:

    There are useful analogies between the science of pandemics and science of climate change that lead to our knowledge about each of them. But the social response to them actually happening is quite different because of the rate of change. Pandemics are more like major earthquakes, sudden catastrophes that go beyond any economic analysis. Climate change is the creeping catastrophe.

  15. 15
    MA Rodger says:

    May I add a third similarity to the two I set out @1,
    The media coverage of the process is complete pants. What is missing in the media coverage is the most basic of analysis, stuff that allows an appreciation of the situation and where its going.
    These are among the ‘home made’ findings absent from the media.

    We in UK have been on lockdown as of yesterday (bar workers who cannot work from home which will be rather a lot of exceptins to the lockdown). This comes after 6,600 cases and 330 deaths. In Hubei province where this all started (similar in size to UK and where COVID-19 has wrought the vast majority of China’s death toll) the lockdown (a more draconian version) occurred 61 days ago after just 500 cases and 17 deaths. The UK’s epidemic is running 51 days behind Hubei’s but shows no sign of the accelerations seen in Italy, Spain & France (which are respecitively running 14, 5.5 and 3.5 days ahead of UK), accelerations which at this stage would have been 3 days-old in UK.
    One of the big issues here in UK has been the level of testing with many complaints from experts and health workers and silly numbers coming in reply from our Boris. The offical daily data provided is overwritten each day and it took some digging to get to the useful numbers that covered past weeks (Did I actually hear myself say “Thank you, twitter!”?) which show the government’s grand “ramping up” of testing remains far too slow and is quickly falling behind the growth of the infection.

  16. 16
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @12 , the deliberate herd immunity plan you describe could work if managed very efficiently. And thats the catch, it requires a complex and probably very unpopular programme of deliberately infecting people that would require a leader like Saddam Hussein to enforce it.

    Holland is toying with the idea of a more low key herd immunity plan, but such a thing requires a very high level of extended social isolation of the vulnerable that might not be realistic. The vunerable group is pretty large as well.

    The current covid 19 strategy of flatten the curve is a finely balanced thing and the virus could surge back eventually like you infer. It also carries a heavy economic cost. The plan does however have the merit that it buys time to make more ventilators and intensive care beds and create a vaccine. So by the time restrictions are lifted, and the second wave arrives it will be easier to deal with.

  17. 17
    Carbomontanus says:

    @ Dr.14

    Exactly what I try and tell in #10.

  18. 18
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Lawrence,
    I just wanted to impart to you the critical information that in addition to being utterly ignorant of how epidemics and evolution work and being an amoral jerk, you are also an idiot.

  19. 19
    Al Bundy says:

    Nigelj: The current covid 19 strategy of flatten the curve is a finely balanced thing

    AB: that would be helped by my proposal. Taking the “vectors” out of the equation makes everything easier. So yes, continue to flatten the curve and delay so as to allow science and manufacturing time to help while also lightening the current and future load on the healthcare system.

    Kids infect parents and grandparents, but only if said kids aren’t in an auditorium building their immunity so they can see Grandma in a few weeks instead of “someday in the future”.

    People aren’t perfect and the current path will scar kids for life: “I killed my grandfather”.

    Marketing this addition to the tool shed as a way to allow near-future intimate contact for those who volunteer is way better than authoritarian decrees. Would you and yours volunteer? Some won’t and that’s OK. If, say, 50% do then the infections per infected bends down, hopefully to below the ‘magical’ less-than-one.

    This is a time to use all tools, not one or the other.

  20. 20
    zebra says:

    https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/20/819038431/do-you-get-immunity-after-recovering-from-a-case-of-coronavirus

    It’s unclear whether people who recover from COVID-19 will be immune to reinfection from the coronavirus and, if so, how long that immunity will last.

    Researchers do know that reinfection is an issue with the four seasonal coronaviruses that cause about 10 to 30% of common colds. These coronaviruses seem to be able to sicken people again and again, even though people have been exposed to them since childhood.

    But carry on, folks. We need lots more Stable Geniuses who know better than those Deep State science types.

  21. 21
    BojanD says:

    @MA Rodger #1

    I don’t agree that the damage prevented will never be properly known for COVID-19. There is an important difference between COVID-19 and AGW. With AGW the regional mitigation efforts are very loosely correlated to the regional outcomes. In contrast, It is almost a given that there is a strong correlation for epidemiology, the confounding factors notwithstanding. There will probably be some variance of measures. In particular, Nederlands and Sweden are employing somehow laxer measures that UK pondered.

  22. 22
    Al Bundy says:

    zebra: But carry on, folks. We need lots more Stable Geniuses who know better than those Deep State science types.

    AB: That was uncalled for, especially since my post mentioned that even a vaccine would probably fail to provide complete and lasting immunity. It’s something to explore, not a guaranteed win.

    Note that total immunity isn’t the only way to benefit. Did you know that partial immunity can save your life? That getting a flu shot this year can help you avoid or survive a different strain years later? That enough immunity is often retained to drop transmission rates below 1 for over a year but less than two, so every other year outbreaks are common? That one reason Covid-19 is so dangerous is because people have never before been infected with any version of the novel coronavirus? That diseases tend to evolve towards less lethality and that tendency can be encouraged?

    Of course you didn’t. Yet again I find myself agreeing with EP. He’s got you figured out.

  23. 23
    nigelj says:

    Ray Ladbury @18, oh you are wicked, but always make me smile.

  24. 24
    Al Bundy says:

    BojanD,

    Yes, this new coronavirus will probably be with us for a very long time. We are by definition running many and varied experiments with human lab rats.

    The USA is helpfully providing the “self-centered moron in charge” data.

  25. 25
    Al Bundy says:

    zebra,

    In my private communications I have often defended you from the disparaging opinions of others. I admit that I was wrong. Please remember Bloomberg’s note to Drumpf: those who are way more polite than I privately hold you in contempt.

  26. 26
    Solar Jim says:

    Might not the reduction in aerosols from economic contraction promote an increase in global temperature to reach 1.5C even sooner than expected, thereby removing more Arctic sea ice, furthering the planet’s outgassing of GHG in a self-reinforcing cascade of numerous tipping points?

    Either way, we seem to be on the brink of “Hothouse Earth.”

  27. 27
    MA Rodger says:

    BojanD @21,
    Perhaps I should explain better what I was thinking with the comment “The damage prevented will never be properly known.”
    I wasn’t really thinking of such a symetrical comparison as mitigation at a regional level for both AGW & COVID-19. I was more considering global AGW mitigation and an individual national COVID-19 mitigation. (Of course there is also a significant international aspect to COVID-19 mitigation but how that will bear out, who knows? It may be that global immunity can be achieved or it could be that COVID-19 becomes globally endemic.)

    After the dust settles on AGW we will probably have a much better assessment of ECS and thus narrower confidence intervals (CI) than seen in the present assessments (AR5 shows CI width of 2.5ºC at 2100 under RCP8.5) but until negative forcing can be well assessed those CI will remain large. And as you factor in, it is the damage on the ground that is of concern not some theoretical global number. Thus the changed climate at a regional level is the litmus test and if the models do manage to give us a better understanding regionally, there are still those dogs that did or didn’t bark in the form of melting ice caps, etc.

    Regarding COVID-19, you mention “confounding factors” and this is the issue for me. As well as the very big impact of age on mortality, there is the level of social intermixing within a society spreading the desease and the effectiveness of policies to restrict such intermixing, the health services that function well or not so well or not at all (this in two ways – in keeping unwell people alive prior to COVID-19 and in then operating through the COVID-19 epidemic), the genetic aspects to it (not least with the male mortality apparently 50% higher), etc.
    Add to that the mix of actions of differing efficiency employed with varying effectiveness to prevent the spread of desease, and I don’t think we will ever be able to run a comparison between, say Hubei and UK and say with any confidence that the 10-day delay in lockdown in UK relative to Hubei resulted in mortality rates X percent higher than otherwise.

  28. 28
    Al Bundy says:

    On EP:

    It isn’t fun to agree with an offensive bigot, but “holding one’s nose” is a scientific imperative. He’s 90% right damn near 100% of the time.

  29. 29
    Al Bundy says:

    BojanD,
    A similarity between covid-19 and AGW is that national measures won’t solve the problem. Closing down Nations independently is just playing Wack-a-mole. A single plane can re-seed the problem after the most strenuous effort.

    This pandemic will show how stupid natioal boundaries are. We need a world government made up of people who have taken a vow of middle class lifestyles.

  30. 30
    Russell says:

    When it comes to epidemiological Wack-a- mole, South Korea has been keeping its hockey stick on the ice – blazing internet speed may figure in its success in managing the epidemic :

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2020/03/the-rate-of-spread-of-covid-19-is.html

  31. 31
    Al Bundy says:

    Mar,

    Way better would be to simply say, “Thanks for educating me.”

  32. 32
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @19, yes I would say your particular version of intentional herd immunity is definitely compatible with the conventional flatten the curve approach. Boris Johnson’s plan isn’t, but he appears to have also abandoned it in a giant flip flop. The problem is humanity is not smart enough to grasp deliberate herd immunity plans and they are hard to implement, so its just unlikely to be adopted at scale.

    And no I wont be volunteering to deliberately infect myself, because this virus is now putting people in their 50’s and 60’s in hospital and I’m an ex smoker.

    You might get a herd immunity plan by default. Its going to be hard keeping up strict lockdowns for more than about 6 weeks, apart from for the elderly and even that will be challenging. Its like being in prison.

    Im not knocking your idea because I thought about a similar thing when SARS was around, but the approach of stamping on the problem like China has done seems to have worked ok and is probably more palatable to the public.

  33. 33
    Al Bundy says:

    NigelJ: And no I wont be volunteering to deliberately infect myself,

    AB: The question was not about you infecting yourself but your grandchildren infecting themselves so as to protect you now and themselves in the future.

    and I salute you because you give all of us consideration even if our track is different than yours.

  34. 34

    Might as well give an example of the algorithm for finding an asymptote in an S-curve (as presented in comment #11) applied to Italy data.

    https://forum.azimuthproject.org/discussion/comment/21989/#Comment_21989

    Still don’t know if epidemiologists know about this math trick or if they call it something else.

  35. 35
    Al Bundy says:

    Paul,

    Epidemiologists are constrained by the truly stupid “first, do no harm” which kills ever so many innocents. First grow a brain would serve us way better.

  36. 36
    Al Bundy says:

    The key point is that everyone will eventually be infected and the older one is the worse that initial infection will be. And given that not everyone is as young as you it is immoral to shove the infection upwards in the age scale.

  37. 37
    Nemesis says:

    We had 195 deaths in Germany because of Corona so far, average age of these fatalaties:

    81 years old.

    During the flu outbrake in winter 2017/2018 we had 25.100 fatalities in Germany. That’s just what the numbers say. Btw:

    https://www.dailywire.com/news/epidemiologist-behind-highly-cited-coronavirus-model-admits-he-was-wrong-drastically-revises-model/

    I enjoyed riding my bike without fear since decades, I breathed CLEAN AIR for a little while thanks to Corona. What’s neXt?

    BAU, BAU, BAU, capitalizm Live Up !

    Cheers,
    Nemesis

  38. 38
    Al Bundy says:

    Nemesis,

    The 1918 flu was kind of the opposite of this pandemic. It killed via cykotene [sic] storms, the overreactivity of the immune system. The result was that those with the most robust immune systems (the young and healthy) died while those who were weaker survived.

  39. 39
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @37, Germany has one of the very lowest mortality rates from this covid 19 virus: its only about 0.5% of those infected. This compares to 0.1% for the seasonal infuenza . I have no information why except to note that Germany has a relatively large number of hospital beds per 1000 of population, and they have done a lot of testing so might have a good grip on total numbers of infections.

    But its very different in other countries that are typically around 4% mortality rate of those infected and Italy is around 10%.

    You can get some idea of country to country comparisons here:

    https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

    Bear in mind the mortality rate in Italy and other countries is probably inflated because not all cases are known and young people often have no symptoms. So my guess is countries that have a 4% mortality rate are probably only half that.

    However the pressure on hospitals is still huge.

  40. 40
    William B Jackson says:

    337 Looks like Germany has been very lucky so far, as of nine hours ago I see 206 dead. But here in the states we have seen an area seem very lucky and yet a few days pass and the toll skyrockets.Be careful what you crow about!

  41. 41
    William B Jackson says:

    Sorry was meant to be #37 not 337…

  42. 42
    dhogaza says:

    Nemesis:

    From your cited link regarding the supposed “drastically revised model” of covid-19 impacts, we have the following quote from the leader of the Imperial College team:

    “I think it would be helpful if I cleared up some confusion that has emerged in recent days. Some have interpreted my evidence to a UK parliamentary committee as indicating we have substantially revised our assessments of the potential mortality impact of COVID-19. This is not the case. Indeed, if anything, our latest estimates suggest that the virus is slightly more transmissible than we previously thought. Our lethality estimates remain unchanged. My evidence to Parliament referred to the deaths we assess might occur in the UK in the presence of the very intensive social distancing and other public health interventions now in place. Without those controls, our assessment remains that the UK would see the scale of deaths reported in our study (namely, up to approximately 500 thousand).”

    Congratulations for Germany’s aggressive testing coupled with focused isolation efforts informed by the results of testing working as well as it has thus far. However, your own health authorities are warning that the increase in cases is going to overwhelm their ability to test soon, which will lead to a shift of strategy and required changes to the German way of life.

    And the flu comparison is becoming tedious. Washington State, the first area hit hard by covid-19, now has more deaths to date due to it rather than this year’s seasonal flu.

  43. 43
    MA Rodger says:

    Nemesis @37,
    Your “Btw:” linking to the Daily Wire web page: was that done before or after the correction was made? It runs:-

    Correction: The original title of this article incorrectly suggested that Neil Ferguson stated his initial model was wrong. The article has been revised to make clear that he provided a downgraded projection given the new data and current mitigation steps. This article has also been updated to include Ferguson’s clarifying statement posted on Twitter on Thursday.”

    with the clarification from Ferguson running:-

    “I think it would be helpful if I cleared up some confusion that has emerged in recent days. Some have interpreted my evidence to a UK parliamentary committee as indicating we have substantially revised our assessments of the potential mortality impact of COVID-19. This is not the case. Indeed, if anything, our latest estimates suggest that the virus is slightly more transmissible than we previously thought. Our lethality estimates remain unchanged. My evidence to Parliament referred to the deaths we assess might occur in the UK in the presence of the very intensive social distancing and other public health interventions now in place. Without those controls, our assessment remains that the UK would see the scale of deaths reported in our study (namely, up to approximately 500 thousand).”[My bold]

    The WHO estimate annual global flu deaths at “290,000-650,000 respiratory deaths occur each year associated to seasonal influenza” and some flu years are worse than others, certainly at national levels (eg US & EU in 2017-18). Ferguson’s modelled 40M death toll from unmitigated COVID-19 would have been a lot more deadly than any of the flu mortalities in recent years, more of a 1918 Spanish flu or 2 x WW1. But, as I said up-thread, “the damage prevented [by COVID-19 mitigation measures] will never be properly known.”

  44. 44

    #12, AB, et seq–

    I think the real issue with Al’s idea–the elegance of which I admire in some ways–is quite simply that the growth curve of the deliberately immunized would never catch up to the growth curve of the accidentally immunized, unless the disease were pretty stringently contained first. But that horse has well and truly left the barn!

  45. 45

    #20, zebra–

    But, just heard an early genetic analysis reported. So far, the rate of mutation of Covid-19 seems to be quite a bit slower than in seasonal flus. That should mean that exposure gives better immmunity than in the case of influenzas.

    And I believe the report cited was erroneous in describing influenzas as coronaviruses. They are, as I understand, virologically distinct:

    Coronaviruses:
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/types.html
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronaviridae

    Influenzas:
    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/types.htm
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influenza

    So–

    Coronaviruses: family Coronaviridae
    Influenzas: family Orthomyxoviridae

  46. 46

    #34, Paul–

    Thanks for that whole sequence of posts. I like the fact that that gives a testable prediction. (At least, at first blush I think it does–though there may be some care called for in interpreting the results when Italy ‘equilibrates’.)

  47. 47
    nigelj says:

    One obvious parallel between covid 19 and climate change is both these things kill people. The difference is our brains are hardwired to react with more urgency to deaths in the short term from covid 19 like in Italy, than to deaths spread out longer term from climate change. Read this:

    https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5530483

  48. 48
    Nemesis says:

    There’s a lot of fuzzing and fighting going on in this world. We see it in the comments of any forum, we see it in the comments on youtube, we see it on tv (if you have any), we see it in the news, nations against nations, people against people. And we learn it from climate heating, we learn it from the Corona crisis:

    The real enemy is not any virus, the enemy is not climate heating nor desease nor death,

    but the real enemy is us, our own small-mindedness within.

    We all are so fuckin fragile. Can you imagine how fragile you are, how fragile we are, every single one of us? Often we feel so clever, so secure in our prejudices, but just take away the mundane air we breathe for 5 minutes and we are all gone altogether with your opinions, together with our fuzzing and fighting.

    Pause.

  49. 49

    Kevin said:

    “#34, Paul–

    Thanks for that whole sequence of posts. I like the fact that that gives a testable prediction. (At least, at first blush I think it does–though there may be some care called for in interpreting the results when Italy ‘equilibrates’.)”

    Thanks. Like all predictions, it always works best in hindsight.

    Most of the derivation for Hubbert logistic linearization has been peer-reviewed and published. Reviewing some of this work, there is perhaps a way to make the technique more general beyond strictly logistic progressions. Take a look at this passage :
    https://imagizer.imageshack.com/img922/3681/nuO0WV.png

    There’s a budding area of research called applied category theory which applies transformations on data-flow formulations (such as the SIR model of epidemiology, chemical reactions, etc) to make it more amenable to analysis and find possible root similarities across different disciplines. That sequence of posts I made at the Azimuth Project forum is considered category theory central for discussion of potential applications. If you have an idea to add, join the forum and ask away because the experts reside there.

  50. 50
    zebra says:

    #45 Kevin McKinney,

    ???…My quote from #20:

    It’s unclear whether people who recover from COVID-19 will be immune to reinfection from the coronavirus and, if so, how long that immunity will last.

    Researchers do know that reinfection is an issue with the four seasonal coronaviruses that cause about 10 to 30% of common colds. These coronaviruses seem to be able to sicken people again and again, even though people have been exposed to them since childhood.

    I don’t see anything there about flu. Maybe you were reading something else?