Look Over There!

Horrible news. But, pretty useless information without context.

Of course, it is the kind of statistic the media promotes because it will only keep going up and up (and never down) since it’s cumulative. It’s like the daily Vietnam War cumulative death count – remember that? The purpose of reporting this type of statistic is to promote anxiety and sell newspapers.

Same for the constant reporting of the number of positive cases, which is wholly dependent upon the amount of testing being done. More tests = more positive test results. Duh. We could all test positive eventually. So what? Infectivity is only part of the equation. The real question is “how deadly is it?”

Turns out it’s not that deadly, except for those in certain high risk categories, mainly very elderly patients (80 and older) in nursing homes (laying prone weakens the body, lungs, in particular) with already poor health (multiple “co-morbidities,” like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart problems, cancer). The rest of us, not so much.

For setting policy, ie., shutting down the economy, forcing people to undertake unhealthy responses like wearing masks and avoiding social contact, the only thing that matters is the frequency of severe response to the virus, that is, a response that requires hospitalization or results in death.

So, the policy response should have been to protect (and isolate) those at risk, leaving the rest of the world to function normally as the virus spread and herd immunity was developed.

By the way, the best analysis that I’ve found on that point says herd immunity develops when about 24% of the population has been infected. We’re probably nearly there.

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