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Wed Apr 29, 2020, 07:52 AM

No Testing, No Treatment, No Herd Immunity, No Easy Way Out

No Testing, No Treatment, No Herd Immunity, No Easy Way Out
We need to start preparing for a darker reality.

(The Atlantic) The past few months have been bleak. Every day has brought word of new casualties from the coronavirus. The world economy entered free fall. And even for those who do not have a sick relative or a mortgage that canít be paid, the isolation imposed by social distancing has begun to take a heavy psychological toll.

In these circumstances, Ióand, I imagine, many othersócouldnít resist latching onto any piece of news that promised quick deliverance from the pandemic. I scoured the papers for positive stories. And I found at least three reasons to hope that the suffering the virus imposed might end sooner than the most pessimistic experts warned.

First, because some people who have COVID-19 donít seem to show any symptoms, I wondered whether the disease might be far more widespread than the initial data suggested, raising the prospect of the United Statesí reaching herd immunity without mass casualties. Second, reports that some existing drugs might prove effective against the disease led me to hope that doctors could soon be in a much better position to heal patients who contract the virus. And third, because some foreign governments have seemed successful in containing the virus through ambitious test-and-trace programs, I thought the United States might find a way to open up its economy without inducing a large resurgence of cases.

There was real reason to indulge in each of these hopes. But in the past several days, a series of developments have undermined the factual basis for all of them. So I am, finally, starting to reconcile myself to a darker reality: The miracle of deliverance is not in sight. ......(more)


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Reply No Testing, No Treatment, No Herd Immunity, No Easy Way Out (Original post)
marmar Apr 2020 OP
Igel Apr 2020 #1

Response to marmar (Original post)

Wed Apr 29, 2020, 02:56 PM

1. The usual trajectory.

Optimism that we can win.

Then pessimism that things will get horrible. Helps when there's politics fueling it, to squelch the public optimism while maintaining some in private. If not for the other guy, we'd be safe and sound.

Then real pessimism, when it looks like maybe there's no easy out--because "maybe there isn't" means "certainly there can't be". At the same time, politics helps maintain the pessimism when all things going to hell means that a change has to be better.

It's still more likely than not that immunity happens, at least in most cases; and if not full, then fairly good partial immunity.

If the remdesivir rumors are true, then perhaps herd immunity (even partial) can be easily maintained. And if not, something else might come along. Some humans tend to be clever and persistent in solving problems.

And even the death rate probably isn't what it will be when the statisticians get done with it. Given that it's "intersectional" with race/sex/age/comorbidities all factored together it's unclear to me at least that those who are hospitalized are a decent cross-section of the population. Deaths are heavily weighted towards the elderly (not a huge % of the population), for example, and while people are concerned about making sure that the denominator includes much of the population nobody's worried about weighting the numerator properly to reflect population structure.

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