The panic surrounding the Corona pandemic is real, not imagined. But the source of the panic comes from ignorance rather than the alleged lethality of Corona. I understand why the average person with no medical training or background will hear the various shrill media reports and assume that everyone who tests positive will soon be on death's door.
But that is not the truth. The data that is being reported so fat shows that only 12% of those who tested positive were admitted to a hospital in New York. And only 20% of that number were admitted subsequently to an ICU.
While that number is not astronomical, it still creates significant problem because ICU beds represent only a small fraction of the Hospital beds available. Take the Bronx Care Hospital Center as an example. It has a total of 415 beds, but only 26 ICU beds and 11 Coronary Care beds (the Coronary Care beds can be used as ICU beds). In other words, only 9% of the beds have the infrastructure and the nursing staff to support ventilators. If we use that number as a benchmark, NYC has a total of 2139 ICU beds.
The real problem is the lack of nurses qualified and trained to work in an ICU environment. You can deploy 5000 ventilators but there are not enough nurses and Respiratory Therapy techs available to operate and maintain these machines. Respiratory Therapy techs are unsung heroes because they are the ones who actually make the machines run. The tubes connecting the patient to the vent must be checked every hour and changed out every shift. It is this human factor that is at the breaking point even if only 3000 ICU beds are needed in New York City. Ford or Boeing cannot mass produce these professionals.
I think there is a widespread belief that the U.S. Government–the CDC in particular–has a good grasp on the number of infections and patients. But that does not appear to be true if the same methodology being used to count Influenza is being used for Corona.
You may be shocked to learn that the CDC is NOT, I want to repeat that, NOT counting and then reporting the actual numbers of people who contract influenza or pneumonia during the current 2019/2020 Flu season.
Because influenza surveillance does not capture all cases of flu that occur in the U.S., CDC provides these estimated ranges to better reflect the larger burden of influenza. These estimates are calculated based on CDC’s weekly influenza surveillance data and are preliminary.
In other words, the US Government numbers on who is infected with the flu and who is hospitalized and who dies is just an ESTIMATE based on a statistical methodology.
This raises some valid concerns about the numbers kicking around on the Corona virus. Is the CDC using a different methodology? Are they actually counting tests that turn out positive?
The numbers tell an important story. A positive test for Corona does not mean that the person is deathly ill and must be admitted immediately to a hospital. As I noted above, the data being reported by New York showed that only 12% who tested positive were being admitted to the hospital.
Is that number holding true for all states? Is it true for other countries? When you look at the WHO data on various diseases you will discover that WHO is relying on statistical models as well for its projections.
The raw numbers for Corona, when compared to other infectious diseases, raises some legitimate questions about the disproportionate global panic.
As of 10pm edt on April 1, 2020 there are 935,817 "cases" (i.e., people who have tested positive). The key number is the number of deaths–47,208.
How does that stack up with other infectious diseases?
Influenza–the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the annual mortality burden of influenza to be 250 000 to 500 000 all-cause deaths globally.
Tuberculosis–1.3 million deaths per year (see here).
Why is it that we can live normal lives with diseases such as Influenza, Tuberculosis and Malaria swirling around us but go into complete shutdown over Corona?
It does not make sense. Life is not risk free. We learn to live with risk. We need to learn to live with Corona as well.
It does make sense Larry, and thank you for posting this discussion. The problem with Covid is that the cases will appear all at once.
David Lentini says
Not mention is the reliability of the tests themselves. We all know the expression, “Garbage in, garbage out”. Bad data leads to bad predictions no matter how good the mathematical modes are.
And the tests for COVID-19 have been rife with problems. Even early on it was noted that the tests were giving false positive rates of 80%. Several countries, including the Czech Republic and Spain, have return the tests to China for the reason.
More alarming, the Telegraph reported that tests received in England were actually contaminated with the virus!
Still problematic is the nature of the test itself. Being based on polymerase chain reaction (“PCR”), the test can only identify the presence of a nucleic acid fragment that is associated with COVID-19. Even the CDC admits that the test cannot tell whether the patient’s symptoms are caused by COVID.
In other words, we’re arresting bystanders because they happen to be near the scene of the crime. This is illustrated well by the fact the vast majority of “COVID-19–related deaths” are in fact persons who are in some way weakened immunologically.
All if this is play pen for those who want to lie with statistics and cause panic. Unreliable tests, perhaps even contaminated to spread the disease, are used to gin-up figures for the “pandemic”.
Sounds a lot like Iraq’s WMDs to me.
Larry, thanks for all you do.
Nurses in our local hospitals are reporting shortages of masks, gowns, etc.. We have 26 confirmed cases in Charlotte County, so – given your stats, perhaps 3 have been hospitalized. Why on earth are there shortages, the hospitals charge an arm and a leg for them – you’d think they would always have enough, it’s a profit maker. 3 possible hospital admissions here does not make for a “overwhelming surge”. Due to the nature of our population (2nd oldest by age county in the nation), just a bunch of old folks with pensions and decent health insurance. The hospitals here should not be short of anything – but,somehow they are. The whole thing stinks to high-heaven.
English Outsider says
Agree – ” Life is not risk free. We learn to live with risk. We need to learn to live with Corona as well.”
That, unfortunately, is what all are having to do. To “live with Corona”. Whether a country goes into lockdown or not, and whatever the various governments do, tens of millions of the vulnerable have already made their own personal decisions about how to live with Corona. The decision is to avoid as far as possible any contact that might result in their death.
And the aggregate effect of all these personal decisions is catastrophic for the economy – again regardless of how governments now act.
That’s not to say that government measures to control the spread are superfluous. But whatever the efficacy of government measures the economic effects of those measures are no more than superimposed on that aggregate economic effect that is the sum of all our personal decisions on how to “live with Corona”.
In short, the economy has taken a big hit because many consumers are not out and about buying as they were and there’s nothing much any government can do about that.
I’m not sure either that all the talk about such matters as whether we should be following the South Korean model or not is that much to the point. Certainly in the UK it’s not – we don’t have the administrative infrastructure to take South Korean measures even were we to want to. That infrastructure has been neglected for years and getting it in place fast is as difficult as attempting to construct a General Staff for an army in the middle of a war.
In these circumstances all the governments can do is attempt to improvise an effective response as urgently as possible and promote a public mood of resolve rather than of panic.
Trump’s doing that brilliantly, as far as I can see, though hampered by partisan animosities that are still running very high. Our own PM’s not doing too badly either. He’s sitting on top of a pretty well dysfunctional administrative machine and attempting to cut through the problems that that leads to while still managing to communicate an atmosphere of purpose.
But however well or badly the various leaders cope the emergency will run its course to some extent independently of their efforts. And afterwards we’re going to be faced with a partially wrecked economy. There is going to be no return to business as usual, no return to the status ante quo. Reality has hit the already creaking economies and financial structures of the West and we must adapt to a new “normal”.
Yesterday Harper put out an article in SST showing one way that should be attempted. First one I’ve seen anywhere on the subject. Governor Cuomo in a recent press conference, even in the middle of the crisis in New York, devoted a few minutes of that conference to examining the new reality we are going to be faced with afterwards.
Maybe premature to discuss such matters even before that “Battle on the Mountain” that Governor Cuomo describes has been won or lost, but I suspect that if those whom AG Barr describes as “Conservatives” don’t get their act together on that, those he describes as “Progressives” will forestall them.
Not only does the Center for Disease Control (CDC) not count real flue deaths but the government agency inflates them — big time.
The American Lung Association (ALA), the doctors who actually treat patients with lung illness, publishes yearly statistics of flue deaths. In 2006 ALA reported that 849 died of flue. For 2006, the CDC reported deaths of 15,573 in other words 18 times more deaths than the ALA. (LewRockwell.com, Bill Sardi 3.26.2020.)
So how does the CDC manage to turn 849 flue deaths into 15,573 ?
Well . . . the CDC combines deaths from flue + pneumonia + all other respiratory and heart conditions into a grand total. As such hyper-inflation by the CDC of flue numbers is typical for the last 20 years, current CDC statistics of Covid deaths should be divided by something between 18 to 22 to determine what the morbidity of the ongoing “Pandemic” might be.
Seasonal influenza deaths are spread over half the year and do not require PPE for HCWs outside of critical care. COVID does and no one has stockpiled the quantities needed. You can pick who ever you like to blame for this but it is not going to solve the problem. If we can not solve this problem then staff will either not work or get sick and not be able to work. Either way patients will suffer and avoidable deaths will increase. Any measures we can take now to slow spread and buy time for PPE production will help.
PCR testing is the only current test for new cases and is in short supply. A trial in Washington State showed that if all new hospital admissions with a COVID symptoms set are tested then you get a 10% positive rate. I do not have US numbers to hand but in the UK when the case numbers were low we were also getting 10% but if you look at the data now this is 40% as the limits of testing capacity are causing them only to be used for conformation of clinical diagnosed cases.
All of the quick test that are becoming available, like the ones Spain are returning to China, do not test for SARS-2 virus but for IgM and IgG which are antibodies produced once the adaptive immune response gets up to speed. They do not build up until later so could be used in late stage patients which would let PCR capacity be used for early case detection and contact tracing. For any of this to happen we need to bring the case count down to a point the daily new case count is a reflection of how many people have SARS-2 not how many test we had available. In the UK we had 1,500 tests/day capacity aiming to get it to 10,000 which was updated to 25,000, however the latest actual figure I saw was 6,000 which tracks with the daily numbers.
You are implying that someone is making money selling medical materiel out the “back door?”
Bill H says
I fit pretty much all of the “risk categories,” starting with age, 76.
I have severe emphysema, 40%+ destruction of both lungs
I’ve been hospitalized (10 days+) three times for pneumonia.
I’ve had a heart attack and have three irregularities in my heartbeat.
I have pulmonary hypertension.
I’ve had multiple small strokes.
I have Parkinson’s Disease.
I do, however, walk daily for exercise, and did work out at a gym twice weekly with a personal trainer. My weight and blood pressure are good because I enjoy this planet and plan to remain on for a while yet.
In video conference with my pulmonary doctor yesterday I was informed that the brief and fairly uncomfortable illness I had in February was actually Covid19. I had kind of been suspecting it might be, but was avoiding alarmist thinking. He gave me some advice about the uncertainty of my immunity and wants to see me for some lung imaging as soon as circumstances permit.
My wife either did not catch it, or she did and had no symptoms whatever. Perhaps the panic over this thing is less than fully justified.
j. casey says
Stanford doc/data scientist, Dr. John Ioannidis, gave an excellent lecture (here in YT) that throws a whole lot of light on the data collection problems Mr. Johnson describes here, and especially on Italy, where it appears the lethality has been massively overstated:
j. casey says
Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about a comment made by the Colonel on a recent post about the apparent DNC effort of oust POTUS via a lawfare-focused information operation. If I’m not mistaken, he said there was probably a “war room” somewhere pushing out narrative on a regular basis. Today, I saw Bill Gates calling for governments to enact some sort of certificate of CV vaccination, when such becomes available, before people would be allowed to travel internationally. At some point, doesn’t this hysteria start to very much resemble a psy op/info op being used to drive a shopping list of Globalist “needs.”
I’ll drop in a note regarding shortages of protective equipment. Typically, hospitals will stock a 3-6 month supply because there are no issues reordering when the stock runs low.
But under normal conditions only personnel in high-risk areas use it (infectious disease ward, ICU, during surgeries). Normal rate of usage is maybe 10% of what it is now, when all the personnel has to wear it. So that 6-month supply becomes a 3-week supply and you would start to run out about now.
Under the current system, US hospitals have no responsibility to provide extra capacity for emergencies, including emergency stocks of PPE. This mandate falls on different levels of government, so surprise surprise.
Keep in mind that PPE has to be used regardless of how many patients there are that are ill.
Though, I am surprised by our lack of equipment. If nothing else I would expected the military to have some sort of plan for a biological attack on the US and plans to in-source any needed supplies. As a civilian, I thought the Pentagon planned for everything. I expect the same for the CDC and Homeland Security. It seems like we weren’t very prepared because no one wanted to bring up our lost manufacturing capability and our tenuous health care system. It doesn’t bode well for an actual biological attack where we might be relying on our enemies to supply necessary life-saving materials.
You can think abut all contingencies but you can’t stockpile for all contingencies. That would require more money than is politically available in normal times.
No Sir, not at all. I’m implying that there should be no shortage as there’s been no crisis here, the parent company of this particular hospital has made 23 Billion dollars over the past decade. It doesn’t seem logical to not continue to milk this cash cow they have here, so – why have they seemingly done so – I just don’t know/understand.
I think it only stands to reason that our society could continue to function fairly well if the workers wore masks instead of sitting things out at home. Fauci is saying we have to stay home till the last case of this virus is finally over – there will be no economy left if we do that. Taiwan had 100% participation in mask wearing, but we have no masks – seems intentional to me that we don’t. Leftist governments in Europe and their confederates here want the economies to crash. President Trump arrived just in the nick of time. I think this whole virus scenario was planned for a HRC presidency, it would have been the perfect opportunity for her to implement globalist plans, she didn’t wear Chinese cut clothing during the debates for nothing. People can call me a nut if they want, I don’t care. Fauci and the scarf lady are Clinton’s people.
The CDC says in the beginning of the crisis, “masks are useless”. Now they say (after it’s too late), masks work, but, “we don’t have any,
Peter VE says
I think that the only real way we can know the effect of Covid19 is by looking back at the final death rate for the Time of Covid vs. the death rate for the same time period in previous years. Dying while testing positive for Covid is not the same as dying of Covid. It appears that the death rate in Northern Italy has taken a leap from previous years, but we may never know for sure if accurate numbers are buried.
I have tried looking up statistics for numbers of deaths in the US, and trying to find something as simple as a total number of deaths on the CDC’s website is a chore.
How many people get flu shots? What would be the number of deaths from flu if there were no vaccine? Since there is no vaccine for Covid 19, comparing recent numbers of flu to C 19 deaths means very little if anything. Is the 1918 flu a better model? The 1918 flu killed more of the young and, like today’s virus, people weren’t immune to it. Or should we act according to models based on Italy’s numbers?
Christian J Chuba says
I think that Trump and co are talking about 100,000 – 200,000 deaths on the premise of under-promise / over-deliver. Anything under 50,000 will be considered a miracle.
Not commenting on what the numbers will be but w/early intervention it could have been less than 1,000, possibly much less. Both N.Korea and Japan are both < 200 and each had earlier and more cases then we did. Even in the U.S., CA is hovering at around 200 cases just by implementing a lockdown 1 week earlier than New York and that isn't Boise Idaho.
The question is what are the objective criteria to determine that Wuhan virus is highly infectious and so lethal that we should collectively suffer an economic depression to prevent its spread?
And what are the criteria by which we’ll decide that the scare is over and get back to re-starting the economy?
Another question: Not all states are in lockdown. Shouldn’t we see a disproportionate growth in those states? What if that’s not happening?
The cost is enormous. The Fed is estimating 30% unemployment. Larger than the Great Depression. This will impact mostly the working poor and small businesses. Not those working for state, local and the federal government or those employed by large corporations who can afford to continue to pay while their business is essentially on hold or those receiving pension & social security benefits.The upper middle class with salary income and financial reserves could weather the storm but not those below.
The latest from the Vancouver Sun Newspaper (on line edition): 1,066 confirmed cases in British Columbia, 25 deceased with median age of 85 years, 606 recovered, 142 in the hospital with 67 of these in ICU, 293 recovering in isolation.
Why can’t more of the US press provide information like this? It would probably not stop the panic that has already been whipped up. It would help people who have lost jobs and been ordered to stay home to better judge for themselves how reasonable the decision making has been.
David Keating says
My wife is a Nurse practitioner. She holds a doctorate in epidemiology and biostats. She was also on the floor of a hospital in a region hit hard by the SARS epidemic of 2003 and lost a colleague to it as well as saw 2 other nurses whose lungs were so badly damaged by the virus they were never able to work again.
What she tells me is the number of confirmed cases is irrelevant because that only tells you about testing not the spread of the virus. Comparing the numbers killed with other epidemics is also irrelevant at this point.
What matters isn’t the numbers of dead but the rate at which they are dying. Three days ago there were 3000 dead in the USA. Three days prior to that there were 1500. She predicted by the end of the day today there will be 6000 …. we were just under 5000 first thing this morning and now at 2:30 PM we are at 5316.
This is exponential growth with the number of deaths doubling every 3 days. 3 days from now it will be at 12,000 …. 24,000 …. . If nothing is done to slow the spread of this virus we will be at 1.6 million dead by the end of the month …. not 100,000 or 240,000.
And it won’t stop there. This virus will circle the globe in waves until either everyone becomes immune or we come up with a vaccine. You don’t get complete immunity to most viruses, immunity lasts for a year or so on average.
We managed to contain and eradicate SARS in 2003 by tracking and tracing every infected individual. SARS only exists in labs today. This virus is much more infectious than SARS and we lost control of it
12% of people being adversely affected by Covid-19 is a small number however from 30% to 70% of a population could be infected. Lets say 50% of Americans are affected and 12% of them are affected badly enough to look for treatment. That’s 19,500,000 people and that’s not the worst case scenario. Remember this virus is affecting people exponentially and the number dying is doubling every 3 days.
Forget about how small the death rate is or it compares to other diseases. This is a tsunami period.
I fully agree with the author regarding panic, flawed models and the quality of the data.
An informative ‘take’ on the mortality figures for England is provided by the British government for older people who died in hospital in 2017. The big surprise I had when reading the tables was that flu is NOT an identifiable cause of death. The most common underlying cause of death for people aged 75 years and older who died in hospital in 2017 was cancer, followed by heart disease and then pneumonia. My daughter was a registrar of births, marriages and deaths and she confirmed that flu did not appear on the death certificates which she issued. It’s worth pointing out (see the article by Dr Lee below for the present status) that there is no testing for flu in these 2017 figures. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/older-people-who-died-in-hospital-england-2017/older-people-who-died-in-hospital-england-2017
Yet this article in the Spectator, by a Dr Lee, a retired UK pathologist, points out that there has been a radical change here in the UK: deaths are now in 2020 being stated as due to this new coronavirus. As he further points out, a patient may well go into hospital with the virus (as in past years, other patients went in with flu symptoms) but die subsequently from pneumonia – yet the cause of death (as there is now a test for corona virus) is now stated to be due to coronavirus. Hence the sensational figures, day by day through the media, on the coronavirus death totals. As he remarks, what distinction (if any) is there in these statistics between death from the virus and death with the virus? https://spectator.us/deadly-coronavirus-still-far-clear-covid-19/
In this interview with a member of the Russian Academy of Science, Alexander Chuchalin, there is an interesting and detailed description of the progress of this new corona virus from cold-like symptoms to the often fatal end-point: destruction of certain lung cells allowing bacteria to do their work, filling the lungs with fluids and causing pneumonia. A grim handover from the virus to the bacteria – but only, remember, in the great majority of cases, for older persons with existing health problems. Surprisingly, he offered some sound advice to complement the science side of things: salt gargling for the throat and, just as important, salt washing of the nasal passages. http://thesaker.is/how-to-treat-coronavirus-infection-covid-19/
Some more science from Germany: How Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg sees the current Corona pandemic – hint, he thinks it’s hyped (English subtitles):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_AyuhbnPOI&t=7s The surprise take-away for me from this video is that, every year, there are many different viruses which can cause respiratory diseases, where the coronavirus causes around 7%-15% (which fluctuates) of the respiratory diseases from ‘the mix’ of 10 viruses for which they had tests. This claim is based on research by scientists at Glasgow University from 2005-2013, where testing of 10 different viruses was being carried out.
Another Specator author describes the panic… https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/Coronavirus-and-the-cycle-of-panic
Key take-away, for me, from this article: If China had not taken such dramatic steps to stop the disease, we wouldn’t be half as worried.
Might it be the case that the Chinese government were ‘spooked’ by this new, mutated, coronavirus into the draconian measures they implemented and that, since then, other governments (and in particular their scientific advisers) have followed along on the basis of ‘better safe than sorry’?
i think the only conclusion that can be reached right now is that the numbers are shit. the tests aren’t accurate, or maybe are becoming increasingly accurate with false positives the most likely result of faulty testing. test kit availability and testing protocols from state to state aren’t uniform. there is no uniform procedure to attribute a death to covid, or one of the many other pre-existing, chronic conditions at the time of death in most cases. in my home state, the supposed mecca of medical expertise, there were 33 new deaths attributed to covid on april 1. from the available info the mean age of decedents was 78 according to data published by the dept of health, and that is low, as the dept only identifies age by decade grouping (a 79 yo is identified the same way as a 71 yo, both being in their ’70s’) the number of persons with a ‘preexisting condition’ is skewed lower with reports of persons in their 80s and 90s dying and having an ‘unknown’ status as to whether they had a preexisting condition at the time of death. (there is also a column to identify whether or not a person was hospitalized at the time of death, with status being ‘unknown’ for several persons, including someone in their ‘100s’. how the bleep does the dept of health not know if someone was hospitalized at the time of death? i mean, who reported the death to begin with?)
re “It does not make sense. Life is not risk free. We learn to live with risk. We need to learn to live with Corona as well.”
The about completely unpleasant derelicteer Dominic Cummings in the UK advised the also unpleasant but less creepy Boris Johnson
probably inspired by watching too long into a mirrorthat herd immunity would be a splendid idea to ‘attack COVID-19’ and iirc commented along the line “Well, old people die all the time, what’s the big deal?“.
While life is not risk free a herd imunity approach is not an exactly sensible way to learn to live with a yet unknown risk. But – indeed – let’s get as many as possible sick so immunity will be created in the survivors!
ISOLATION SCHMISOLATION!!! – LET’S HAVE AN AS BIG AS POSSIBLE CORONA PARTY!!!
And, mental note, don’t forget to apply for this years’ Darwin Award.
A not so charming bastard, known also for making a Downing Street Nr. 10 job advertisement explicitly asking for weirdos, misfits, nutters and extraordinary nerds willing to utterly give up a normal life. The scarier part here is that one of the successful applicants will get to work as Cummings’ personal assistant for a year (he needs company in his cave).
The fact that the UK’s NHS has been budget cutted and gutted into incapability to deal with a pandemy doesn’t help either. The BREXIT doesn’t help as well since it makes the island not just a little lonelier.
But, in a way it’s “instant karma”, Cummings (just like Johnson) is (are) now in corona infection isolation so that he (they) can practically help to create that herd immunity he (they?) liked.
If that sounds like Schadenfreude, it isn’t. It’s just an expression of disgust. But then, what’s the big deal? Well, a big deal is the problem of nasty side effects of lunacy like death (personally a pretty permanent problem) to unhappy bystanders.
I dislike the Cummings person as much as the Cummings approach since according to media there have been first corona deaths in my city. That it is worse in NY or Wuhan doesn’t comfort me at all.
even the number of deaths is not a ‘hard’ statistic. we don’t know who/how deaths are attributed to covid. i don’t deny that there is a ‘new’ virus, and that people are dying from it (or with it), but this probably can’t be sorted out statistics-wise for a while. and maybe even in the future, all we will know for certain is that there were problems with diagnosis and reporting that need to be fixed.
“… Bill Gates calling for governments to enact some sort of certificate of CV vaccination, when such becomes available, before people would be allowed to travel internationally.”
It is so kind of Bill to call for a global police state tracking document and mandatory “trust us” vacination program. Is he also calling for ending illegal immigration and voter i.d. in the US? I think not. How did his “Common Core” experiment end? DIsaster but at least none of his children or grandchildren had to suffer with it.
I guess it was about 6-8 months ago some malnourished looking European girl told us we can’t fly on airplanes and we can’t drive our cars. Here we are.
One younger guy and one older guy explain things, worth watching if you have 45 minutes or so. Included in the recent spending bill is a Democratic party idea looking towards us using a digital currency. The two videos make sense of why that is:
Bill H, glad to hear you made it through.
Larry, the problem is we have to many unserious people in serious positions.
The CDC failed to take action early in the crisis and was demanding they were the only labs doing the testing. (I believe their testing methods failed)
In Korea and Germany the testing is being done at the local hospitals which has allowed quicker action by those governments.
The infrastructure and personnel problems are something that has been known for a long time.
Again we need serious people making serious decisions.
BTW, DeSantis is doing a great job despite the Spring Breakers (to quote one from tv “If I get Corona, I’ll drink more Coronas) and the escape from New York crowd)
Also, can we send a couple of those inflected cruise ships to Virginia the Kennedy Center has like 10 buildings that could serve as Field Hospitals.
Thank you very much for your good work. I pay close attention to what you say.
But at this point I simply want to point out that the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic came in TWO WAVES. It is thought to have started at Camp Funston, Kansas on March 5, 1918, and spread from there to France on the troop transports, where thousands died. (These men were deliberately sacrificed.)
The antigenic composition of the 1918 viruses, while believed to fall into the H1N1 group, is not certain. It is thought that the spring virus was closely related to the fall virus. But we do not really know. What they do know is that the fall pandemic was far more dangerous, it was really the deadly one, the killer. The spring and fall/winter pandemic of 1918 killed 675,000 Americans.
I have just glanced at some figures in an article on JStor. Again, it is not really known from accurate records what happened all over the world. There are only scholarly estimates. Russia did not keep records. Records were extremely unreliable in Austria-Hungary, and Germany because of the war. Records were also bad in Latin America, Africa, India, China. India was possibly hit the hardest. Estimates there range from 12.5 to 20 million dead.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you knew all this. But what I didn’t realize is how little is known with certainty about the 1918 pandemic, neither what it was nor what it did. I thought that they knew more.
Yet I have been aware of H1N1 since at least 2007. I am lethargic and a bit cavalier, but I did manage to stockpile beans and rice etc. Ultimately the rice went bad and the beans and tomatoes when remembered had suddenly became years over the expiration date. Finally, Mrs. P’s chickens got the lot. A great success, incidentally.
Recently, I had an order of face masks from Amazon from three different companies made in good time, I thought, in early February. I waited and waited and everything was recently, without any explanation, cancelled by Amazon. I kept the N95 face masks I stored away more than ten years ago. They are OK and I try not to use them at this point.
What I am saying here that if someone as careless as I am could see the problem and actually do something about it, how is it that the US government would not have topped off the medical supplies reserve just as the government tops off the petroleum reserve?
I don’t get it. You would think there would be a briefing when the new administration comes in. A check list. This is simply continuity. OK. Somebody please just get it done.
I think an argument could be made that Trump is a practitioner of the false economy. Like Picton using his second best horse at Waterloo. He also thinks that you save money by dismantling environmental protections. I don’t think that you do.
If I had actually believed Trump’s comments that it was all under control I would feel that I had been done a disservice by him and the US government. At this point I don’t particulary care. I have been in bad weather off shore on a sailboat a number of times and I know that there is no forgiveness. I put that lag time to good use. The beans and rice are back.
It needs to be emphasized here: the 1918 virus is thought to be H1N1. This is the same virus that has been lurking and rising up occasionally like a cobra since 2007, something that even I noticed.
What I am forced to assume is that the real hit is coming in October, or thereabouts. It will go on through the winter and into the summer of 2021. During this summer I intend to try to stockpile food again. This thing could go on for a long time. I hope I can get to June hunkered down as I am.
I will say again. It seems to be closely related to H1N1 and we know what that can do.
FWH, perhaps these stats might help somewhat.
The proactive steps you are taking on an ongoing basis are likely responsible for your successful, albeit difficult, encounter with CoVID-19. Well done, and much success to you in future.
Toward the end of February, my wife had another of her all too frequent sinus infections, and was prescribed a 10-day course of an antibiotic. All well and good, but then she was really laid out by an illness beyond what I have seen with her sinus infections: continuing fever that finally only dissipated after about a week; a dry, unproductive cough. As she was convalescing at home, and I was taking care of her, I was assiduous in avoiding any self-innoculation by handling of items she had eaten off of, or drunk from, or touched in any way, doing lots of hand washing, and avoiding touching my face. I didn’t know what it was, but as somebody who also has risk factors for respiratory illnesses – being 67 years old, and asthmatic – I wanted to avoid this, well, like the plague.
Well, I got to thinking later on after learning some of the symptoms associated with a Wuflu infection, that that may have been what she had had. In consideration of that, the course of antibiotic may have been crucial in fending off opportunistic bacterial infections during her illness.
She works at the Law Library at the law school at the University of PA, in Philadelphia, and one thing that they are not short of at UofP is Chinese students. An exposure would have been likely in the period after the semester break, and the likely timing and plausible vector of such an illness would both thus be accounted for.
I did not get it, whatever it was. I am reasonably spry, and thanks to the great work of my pulmonologist (she is associated with the Harron Lung Center of the UofP Medical System) – my asthma is very well controlled. I also fulfilled my annual religious duty of a flu shot, and this past year, I got the two-phase, multi-year innoculation against pneumonia. My advice to other ladies or gentlemen of a certain age and/or burdened with chronic conditions is to do likewise. Prophylaxis, in whatever form it takes for you, is golden, and best of all, we needn’t wait for salvation from the government, or other reputed authorities in order to take these measures. Self-reliance, agency…it’s a thing.
‘Influenza–the World Health Organization (WHO) >>>estimated<<< the annual mortality burden of influenza to be 250 000 to 500 000 all-cause deaths globally.' Estimates are based on models, which are, as the title suggests, flawed. Real data are in the CDC National Vital Statistics Reports. Here's one for 2017: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr68/nvsr68_09-508.pdf.
There should be one for every year.
Death from flu and pneumonia for 2017 (Table B, item 8, ICD-10 codes J09-J18) ~55K. Death from flu and pneumonia has been ~55K for at least a decade. Swine flu of 2009-2010 (ICD-10 code J09; coronavirus will probably be included in J09 as well) was a nonevent. If fact fewer people died from flu and pneumonia in 2009 than 2008. Models predicted 12K death in the US — did not happen.
ICD-10 codes are used to classify every death and are assigned by doctors at the time of passing away.
Eric Newhill says
Death from Flu is not a clean data bucket – and neither is death or morbidity from COVID-19 – even you if tested everyone so you had a real denominator for case mortality rates. The best you can say is that the virus was present, the patient exhibited some symptoms that are consistent with what is know about those associated with the virus and the patient died (or required a vent, etc). That may sound like a reasonable methodology for counting COVID-19 deaths, but is it really?
Someone is walking down the street and gets shot in head. Cause of death is easy to determine; i.e. gunshot wound to the head.
Cause of death is not so easy to determine with viruses. In fact, it’s very subjective. Someone contracts the virus, they feel ill, or maybe have no symptoms at all. Someone else contracts the same virus, becomes very ill and dies. The virus is not like a bullet in the least bit.
The human body is a series of interconnected and interrelated systems – and there’s a psychological/spiritual component involved as well.
A healthy person contracts the virus and his body enacts an immunological response that expresses as a fever and a cough. He feels lousy, but fights off the virus and is back on his feet again in a week or so.
Another guy who’s overall health is a little less solid (weak points in the systems and system interactions)contracts the same virus, develops a fever and some vomiting and diarrhea and becomes dehydrated. The dehydration then causes some kidney issues because he had undiagnosed kidney disease. His electrolytes are now out of whack. His kidneys become infected. His immune system is overwhelmed. He develops pneumonia on top of the other issues. He dies. What killed him? The virus? The kidney issue? The pneumonia? Dehydration? Had he contracted a different virus prior to, or around the same time as, the virus that everyone is focused on? It is possible to be impacted by two viruses at once. One may even make a person more susceptible to the other.
Another person contracts the same virus. This person is elderly and tired of this life. They are subconsciously waiting for the release that death will bring. They develop symptoms and they decide to not fight. They simply give up and pass away. Did the virus kill them? Wouldn’t any inevitable illness have ended with the same result?
However, if someone dies and corona virus is present, then that death is chalked up to COVID-19.
That doesn’t seem reasonable to me at all.
David Keating says
I agree that the number of dead to date isn’t conclusive however given this viruses nature of not showing symptoms or showing mild symptoms the number of dead is the only number reported that reflects the true extent of this viruses spread.
A better number would be the number of patients admitted for care as this reflects the load on resources. Once resources get stretched the number of deaths relative to those recovered rises which probably account for the variances in mortality rates we are seeing across the globe.
The same parent organization that runs the WHO invited St. Greta Thornberg to speak at a plenary session in 2018. I wonder if climate science modes are as accurate as Corona models and where are all the 16yo high school drop out epidemiology experts? Perhaps somebody could as AOC of GND fame.
confusedponderer, you seem to inhabit a different England to me.
The NHS has not been “budget cutted and gutted into incapability” as its been getting more and more money. The problem is not the amount of money its how they use it.
You are I assume aware of the number of NHS civil servants, not medical staff, who earn more than the Prime Minister? Its hundreds. Its the number of admin staff in hospitals that have squeezed out nurses not budget cuts. Consultants now have little say over what they do, who they treat with their relationship with patients shredded. The country is littered with dozens of large empire building bureaucracies that somehow only get bigger whilst those on the frontline get squeezed. The waste and duplication has to be seen to be believed and you have to have access to the inside the monster to see it and I have.
Whilst the Government is, in the final analysis, the body that carries the can, it is the legions of NHS bureaucrats that should have been doing the planning and implementing of the plans to cope with pandemics. It is they that have known from at the latest mid Jan, that there was a problem coming down the tracks and they have been found seriously lacking. But no-one will be held to account, that is not the way they work.
As to Cummings, I think we can detect that you don’t like the way he works. To those here to whom his name means nothing he was Boris Johnson’s key advisor before he got power and now main enforcer who’s main task is to force the civil service, kicking and screaming, into doing what the Tory Government wants to achieve, primarily Brexit this year. This is an uphill task as, almost to a man/woman etc, they were and probably are pro EU. He is a no holds bared action man let loose in the upper echelons of the British mandarins and the don’t like it. Brilliant I say. Can you imagine how they and the EU would have used CORVID-19 to slow down our exit without someone like him in place? I can.
I had to smile yesterday with the images of the RuAF An-124 taxing across the apron at JFK carrying 60 tons of medical aid to the US. Who would have thought it? Trump, a very proud American, having the balls to accept Putin’s offer because he knew that it would help some of his fellow citizens. Probably regardless of what some of his advisors were saying. That man has certainly grown into the role.
Reply to Ponderer
The military did have a group in the National Security Council that dealt with bio-attack and pandemics. In early 2018 John Bolton took over and they left or were fired? Read about here:
‘Death from Flu is not a clean data bucket’
There are rules on how to classify death. Consistent use of the rules by doctors give consistent results.
Influenza due to certain identified influenza viruses
Code only confirmed cases of influenza due to certain identified
influenza viruses (category J09), and due to other identified
influenza virus (category J10). This is an exception to the
hospital inpatient guideline Section II, H. (Uncertain
In this context, “confirmation” does not require documentation
of positive laboratory testing specific for avian or other novel
influenza A or other identified influenza virus. However,
coding should be based on the provider’s diagnostic statement
that the patient has avian influenza, or other novel influenza A,
for category J09, or has another particular identified strain of
ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting
Page 54 of 120
influenza, such as H1N1 or H3N2, but not identified as novel or
variant, for category J10.
If the provider records “suspected” or “possible” or “probable”
avian influenza, or novel influenza, or other identified influenza,
then the appropriate influenza code from category J11,
Influenza due to unidentified influenza virus, should be
assigned. A code from category J09, Influenza due to certain
identified influenza viruses, should not be assigned nor should a
code from category J10, Influenza due to other identified
For several weeks, I’ve been a skeptic of the need for the extreme measures that have been taken so far — that is until a few days ago when I noticed the daily US Covid-19 death toll spiked sharply from just the last few days of March until now. Roughly twice as many are dying per day in less than a week’s time, and this is in spite of lock downs, social distancing, sanitation efforts, etc.
I’m no longer quite as skeptical as before and I’m inclined to believe the POTUS’ recent caution about the next few weeks being tough. Yes, I’m aware that 7,000-8,000 people normally die per day here — but typically not of highly infectious disease. If the thousand-a-day US death toll holds or gets worse, IMO the extreme measures will seem not only prudent but warranted. The economic impact is gruesome, without a doubt, and lives and livelihoods will continue to suffer. But I think our political leaders have little choice at this point but to continue with extreme measures. More widespread use of HC+AZ treatment will hopefully prove to be a success and we’ll be able to get back to normal sooner rather than later. Time will tell
This is not as trivial as it sounds.
After the fact, I think it is very important to trace the “toilet paper” story to its origins and more importantly to its early spread — to some select group of insiders who created the media toilet paper shortage hoax which in turn created this panic response to this year’s “novel flu”.
Hoax is the word to use at this stage because toilet paper was not even germane to the needs of this lower respiratory flu.
But what it did do, was demonstrate we had a nation ready to believe in a Zombie Apocalypse was coming. How much did the media play up this early hoax? Was that the intent of those behind the media toilet paper hoarding hoax?
Allegedly the origin of the toilet paper story was Hong Kong where a rumor China, as Wuhan was erupting, would no longer be making toilet paper, and making face masks instead. So that allegedly created a run on toilet paper in Hong Kong. Did that story get much media coverage in the US, at the early days of this Wuhan story — enough to create the first wave of panic here?
I don’t recall hearing about Hong Kong, but we certainly all the sudden started hearing about brawls and fist fights at Walmart over TP here – how did the Walmart crowd get the Hong Kong story – what media was feeding them this need to panic over toiletry staples.
I remember an early quote from someone standing in line to get toilet paper – he claimed he panicked because he saw other people panicking. Why did the media encourage the panic with their highly inflated and inaccurate reporting at a time when this could have matttered?
The media ran and continues to run with the Zombie Apocalypse reporting about corona. This is evil. That is the real story. And it started with an intentional media lie about toilet paper. Cui bono.
Fort Lauderdale’s recent hysteria trying to block the “Death Ship” coming into their area, “dumping thousands of sick passengers” in their midst is a case in point.
Yes, four passengers had died – but only two tested positive for corona and no cause of death was revealed for three of them. The other one of the four had died earlier from a heart attack, not an unusual occurance on a cruise line that has a high number of elderly and highly compromised passengers that ADA requires them to take.
County officials wrangled endlessly and the final destination for this ship was held in agonizing balance. Pure Zombie Apocalypse reporting. Bring them in and they will over-whelm our own resources – thousands of plague riddled reckless people who never should have been on a cruise ship anyway.
Send them away, send them adrift. Burn the ships and take them down with them, was much of the local Florida response. (Cruise started in Argentina March 7 before total hysteria gripped the world – cruise terminated March 14 when cruise lines cancelled all cruises, and they tried to get their passengers home from Punta Arenas Chile – (Cape Horn) – but no one would take them in to fly home.
Then things on board deteriorated as they were forced into endless days at sea – Chile, Peru. Ecuador, Panama, Columbia and Mexico all refused to let them disembark. They had become in these countries mind the plague flying ship from Love in the Time of Cholera
Final analysis – 10 passengers from the original 1000 plus passengers actually needed immediate medical care by the time they got into Fort Lauderdale, nearly a month later.
Sufficient precautions were put in place to transport or continue quarantining any other symptomatic passengers with “flu like symptoms (aka cruise crud known to many travelers. I believe only seven passengers to date actually had tested positive for corona.
Yet this event paralyzed South Florida and festered very ugly resistance to this ship, even docking at its final destination port because just being there would inflict the Zombie Apocalypse flu by osmosis to every person residing in this state.
Vulnerable people got sick on a ship – and every single port refused help all the way up from the bottom of South America to finally their final port destination Fort Lauderdale. The doors were closed due to Zombie Apocalypse fears ginned up by the global media, with numbers that simply are not proving the case.
Something else deeper and darker is going on.
Death certificates are used and misused too often when compiling health data. Death due to “heart disease” stubbornly refused to go down regardless of billions spent for decades on drugs treating “heart disease risk factors” – surrogate end points as best.
So they started listing death as caused by “asystole” (no heart beat) instead of “heart disease” which previously was often listed as the immediate cause of death – heart stops working, regardless of underlying conditions -which death certificates now secondarily mention.
Now that “asystole” has overtaken “heart disease” as the leading cause of death, the billions spent on pharmaceuticals for “heart disease risk factors” can finally take a victory lap – “heart disease” as noted on death certificates finally has gone down.
However, there is no cure for “asystole”. So the drug companies continue to lap up high profit margins for their products claiming to control “heart disease risk factors”, even though the real data has not borne this out.
Eric Newhil says
F’ it. This is cocked up BS scheme by some globalist a-holes.
Geeky thought exercises are a diversion from what needs to be the real reaction, before it’s too late
Gate’s plan: Quantum dot tattoos.” I doubt ultimately it’ll only
contain vaccination records & certainly some smarty pants will
figure out how to hack the damn thing.
I don’t live in the UK, and under Johnson I am glad I don’t.
I’ve been there a dozen times and liked it a lot, but that was when Boris Johnson was still a happy arsonist in the city of Brussels and not yet mayor of London.
As for gutting and cutting funding for the NHS – well, I doread newspapers. They may be unfriendly to Boris Johnson, but sadly for pretty good reasons.
Here’s a long one. You can read it if you’re interested.
The grindstones of Brexit pound everything else into the ground. Boris Johnson claims day after day that if only parliament would “get it done”, the country would be free to focus again on the NHS, police and schools.
But when the searchlight eventually does fall again on public services, as it likely will in a general election, that may do Johnson and his party no favours. Take Brexit out of the immediate battleground and what’s left?
Only the true state of the country and its services after nine long years of funding starvation perpetrated by Conservative governments. Airy promises of shedloads more money from a man not even Tories regard as trustworthy may carry less conviction than the evidence of everyone’s eyes in their own neighbourhoods.
As ever, the NHS is the standard bearer for public perceptions of much else. Two particular NHS items stand out as political emblems of this Tory era: the record shortage of nurses, and a particularly bad case of privatisation.
Start with the shocking privatisation in 2013 of the NHS blood plasma supplier, on which thousands of patients depend. To protect the quality of the blood product, David Owen, as health secretary in 1975, took blood plasma collection into public ownership as Plasma Resources UK.
But Jeremy Hunt, as health secretary, sold that off for £200m to a US private equity firm, Bain Capital, while Britain kept a 20% stake. Co-founded by Mitt Romney in 1984, Bain has over the years acquired such well known health products as Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Dominos Pizza and much else.
Protesters, David Owen among them, warned that the company had a predatory reputation for asset stripping, but Bain promised it would develop the company into a “life sciences champion” in Hertfordshire. Instead, it sold it on to a Chinese company in 2016 for £820m. Was there any protest from our government, losing its last remnant of control? Not a word. Instead, an irony, the US government is expressing concern at China taking over a vital US-owned health asset.
Privatisation threats were raised in the debate on the Queen’s speech on Thursday, as Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, pointed to the doubling of NHS expenditure on private health providers since 2010, to £9bn.
That’s still not a vast sum out of the NHS budget, but only because the extreme shortage of funds has made core NHS services less tempting for takeover by private companies than the 2012 Health and Social Care Act was designed for.
Though NHS England wants its competition elements repealed, the act continues to let companies like Virgin Care sue the NHS when they are denied the chance to tender for profitable contracts. Exhibit number two in the Tories’ destruction of our health service: the NHS has just published its highest ever rate of vacant posts for nurses, at more than 43,000 missing roles.
A survey by the Health Service Journal, working from its own FoI requests, finds 93% of NHS trusts are falling short, with nearly half lacking 10% of the nurses they need: that’s three times more than five years ago. Nurses are being substituted with untrained assistants.
The NHS is facing severe financial pressures, with trusts across the country spending more than they’re bringing in. The NHS was also asked several years ago to find £22 billion in savings by 2020, in order to keep up with rising demand and an ageing population.
Health experts from the Nuffield Trust, Health Foundation and King’s Fund say tight spending in recent years and increasing demand for services have been “taking a mounting toll on patient care”. They add that there is “growing evidence that access to some treatments is being rationed and that quality of care in some services is being diluted.”
The £20 billion of additional funding for the NHS in England will be spread out over the five years to 2023/24. When it was announced this meant an average increase on the NHS’s budget of around 3.4% a year, taking inflation into account. But inflation over the next few years is now set to be higher than expected, meaning the actual real terms increase will be less than that.
In January 2019 the National Audit Office (NAO) said that “Spending in [areas of the Department of Health’s budget aside from the NHS] could affect the NHS’s ability to deliver the priorities of the long-term plan, especially if funding for these areas reduces. It also said “There is a risk that the NHS will be unable to use the extra funding optimally because of staff shortages.”
In 2013, NHS England said it faced a funding gap of £30 billion by the end of the decade, even if government spending kept up in line with inflation. So it needed that much more to deliver care to a growing and ageing population, assuming it made no savings itself.
Last week, as the nation engaged in a coordinated applause for the NHS and its workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic, there was, in the middle of a profound sense of community, a jarring moment: Boris Johnson emerged from No 10 and began clapping, along with Rishi Sunak.
The prime minister punctuated his applause with awkward exclamations: “We’ll keep supporting you in any way we can.” At one point he turned to Sunak, “Isn’t that right, Rishi?” to which the chancellor replied, “Whatever you need, that’s what you’re going to get!” It all had the air of a friend who had habitually ignored you, then one day unexpectedly needed you, and so returned with empty gestures of affection.
And empty is what these gestures are when they come from the Conservative party, whose record and current performance suggest nothing close to “supporting in any way we can”. Frontline NHS staff do not have sufficient protective equipment or even access to coronavirus tests: they are merely instructed to self-isolate once their symptoms reach a certain threshold.
And the reason so many NHS staff have to work extra hours with no pay is because they do not have the resources to do otherwise – something that many of us knew as we stood up and clapped and cheered for them as a nation.
Those resources have been consistently and deliberately drained from the NHS since the Conservative-Liberal coalition came to power in 2010. From defunding nurse training to selling off parts of the NHS to private companies, the Tory party in power has hobbled the healthcare system’s ability to deal with the everyday, let alone the exceptional.
Conservative MPs cheered the result of a parliamentary vote in 2017 that blocked a pay rise for nurses, of which there is a severe shortage in the NHS – 40,000 in England alone.
Leeds General Infirmary is just one hospital in the NHS facing the pressure this winter, a particularly challenging time for the health service. However, winter in the NHS seemed to have started early this year, with already record-breaking long waiting times for patients in emergency departments across the United Kingdom.
Headlines and images of patients waiting for hours on trolleys in hospital corridors (because hospital wards are full to the brim) are an almost daily occurrence. This is hardly surprising given that more than 17,000 hospital beds have been closed under the Conservative government, even as the health needs of the population have grown.
The Conservatives have been in power since 2010; the centre-right party initially forming a coalition with the Liberal Democrats before winning a majority of the House of Commons in 2015. Under their leadership, the health service has suffered a number of significant budget cuts, in areas such as cancer care, sexual health services and social care in the community.
In the build-up to this election, however, the Conservatives have laid out grand investment plans for the future of the NHS, such as building new hospitals. When putting these figures into context, by comparing them with what the service has lost, these investment plans seem like a drop in the ocean.
The Conservatives have been in power since 2010. Under their leadership, the health service has suffered a number of significant budget cuts, in areas such as cancer care, sexual health services and social care in the community.
The Tory government has also been rightly challenged on staffing the NHS, with the service facing significant challenges regarding the retention and recruitment of frontline clinical staff. Nurses, for example, have been featuring heavily in the recent election campaign due to Boris Johnson’s pledge of 50,000 “more” nurses if he wins this week.
The prime minister then clarified, saying 31,000 would be new recruits with the remaining number being nurses that would have left the NHS without intervention from his government.
Even if they do achieve this pledge, the health service currently has 43,000 unfilled nursing vacancies. I would argue that the government has not set out any concrete plans of how it will encourage nurses to either stay in or join the profession. Working conditions are often cited as reasons for leaving nursing, but given the cuts across the sector, the government seems to be only be adding to the pressure already weighing on the shoulders of healthcare professionals.
Funding for nursing and midwifery student bursaries was also cut, resulting in students now facing £9,000 per year tuition fees instead of fully-funded degrees. At the time, the government said this would lift the restriction on the number of places universities could offer.
In reality, however, it saw a decline in the number of applicants, with certain courses having to cease due to poor intake. The Conservatives seem to be standing by this decision, with no plans to U-turn. I think we need to question how exactly Mr Johnson plans to recruit additional nurses, whilst standing by a policy that saw numbers willing to join the profession fall.
… the prime minister had to apologise to “everybody who has a bad experience” with the NHS. No wonder he sounded uneasy. It’s not just the potency of the health issue. It’s also a powerful reminder to voters that Johnson’s party has been in power for nine years. He has tried to distance himself from that, even suggesting at one point he opposed austerity in 2010. With eyebrows raised, he rowed back a little.
For all his protestations that he leads “a new government” after only 130 days in power, Johnson should not be able to escape the shadow of austerity. He wants to be Macavity, the mystery cat, never at the scene of the crime, unlike Jo Swinson, who is getting a very hard time at this election for the coalition’s spending cuts.
It is unfair, given that the Liberal Democrats tried to resist the worst proposals by their Tory senior partner, and did block some. The Tories somehow got the credit for Lib Dem ideas like raising the personal tax allowance, while the junior partner still takes the blame for the Tory-driven cuts. That’s coalition politics for you.
The Tories’ desire not to see the NHS in the headlines is more than matched by Labour’s attempts not to talk about Brexit. Labour has built a useful bridge from the EU to health – the threat to the NHS from a US-UK trade deal. It brings Donald Trump into the election debate, the last person Johnson would want it to feature. “NHS for sale” is an easier slogan than trying to explain Labour’s tortuous position on Brexit.
When Boris Johnson called this election six weeks ago, he probably didn’t anticipate that two days before polling day the story dominating the headlines would be his refusal to look at a picture of a four-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia lying on a pile of coats on the floor of an A&E in Leeds. So much for the “Brexit election”.
In fact, this election might go down in history as the “NHS election”. This is a big problem for Johnson because the Conservatives – who opposed the creation of the National Health Service in 1948 – are, unsurprisingly, not trusted by voters to protect the NHS.
Mistrust among voters has been driven by a number of issues. First, the Conservatives have consistently underfunded the NHS. David Cameron always claimed the NHS was “ring-fenced” from cuts, but the balance sheet says something different: spending increases for the NHS have slowed dramatically under austerity, down to an annual average of about 1 per cent between 2010 and 2015, compared with an annual average of 6 per cent between 1997 and 2010, under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Second, cuts that the Conservatives have made elsewhere – to social care and welfare, for example – have put increasing pressure on the NHS. More and more people are going to hospital: the number of visits to A&E rose 40 per cent between 2003 and 2016. Once they get there, they are waiting longer and longer to be seen: the percentage of patients seen within four hours has fallen below 90 per cent in England.
Funding is not the only problem. Jeremy Corbyn recently revealed that he had been given access to leaked internal documents from the Department for International Trade detailing talks between the US and the UK. Corbyn claimed that the documents show Johnson has signalled his willingness to give US healthcare companies greater access to the NHS.
The United Kingdom’s health service recorded its worst-ever performance in England in October, and 100,000 people could end up stuck on trolleys waiting for hospital beds in the depths of winter, experts said.
New figures from NHS England show performance of Accident and Emergency departments, or emergency rooms, is at its worst-ever level, while the health service has also missed a series of other targets, including how long people wait to start planned treatment.
The data shows one in six patients waited longer than four hours in A&E in England during October – the worst-ever performance since the four-hour target was introduced in 2004 by the Labour government of the day. The figures do not cover Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
“Under Boris Johnson, the NHS is in crisis and we’re heading for a winter of abject misery for patients,” said Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth.
“Our A&Es are overwhelmed, more so than ever … The Tories spent a decade cutting over 15,000 beds. Now, they should apologise to every patient languishing on a trolley and waiting longer for treatment.”
After U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Tory party won a strong majority in the general election Thursday, British progressives mourned the “utterly devastating” result and geared up for a fight to defend the National Health Service from more right-wing budget cuts and privatization efforts.
“People running our NHS are crying out for more help, begging people not to vote Conservative due to the constant cuts,” tweeted London-based activist Ellen Rose. “Seems they were ignored by the people they try to save every day.”
So, what country do you live in?
You recall that Boris Johnson, as a journalist, was iirc fired three times for freely inventing anti-EU BS stories?
I couldn’t laugh when I read that Boris Johnson liberated the people from “vile EU tyranny and dictates” – by revoking a law or rule on fish treatment
idea: to prevent health rikswhere, oddly, the law he talked about was a purely british one on which the EU had exactly zero influence. Result – lie aside – eating fish in the UK is now less safe. Congrats.
I was staggered when Boris Johnson and Cummings talked and still talk about “EU tyranny” when in fact british dilpomats were sitting at the table, had a voice and got to vote on EU rules, naturally only until they were recalled to London because of urgent Brexitery.
Cummings was iirc the man who happily invented that, “mischievous” (to be kind) £350 million NHS lie that was on Boris Johnson’s red buses.
That, almost naturally, was BS also.
Johnson’s other advisor (who co-wrote his resignation letter to May) Bannon once said “when we act we create our own reality“. IMO that’s pretty crazy and megalomaniac. But Bannon is even topped by Giuliani who said in a TV interview that, no, no, reality is not reality.
Point is, Boris Johnson and Cummings lie a lot and tell a lot of BS, even on a good day. Recently, coinciding with the corona pandemy, there have been a couple of really bad days.
David Keating – Thanks, your wife knows what she is talking about, please thank her.
Tidewater – The 1918 pandemic was caused by H1N1 (we have full sequence data from a body exhumed from a grave in permafrost). It displaced the previous flu strain and then circulated as seasonal flu until 1957 when it was replaced by H2N2 which in turn was replaced by H3N2 in 1968. In 1977 a lab escape of a frozen sample of H1N1 from 1956 re introduced it and it co-circulated with H3N2 until 2009 when a new H1N1 replaced it. Now we have H1N1(2009) and H3N2 Type A influenza plus strains of Type B (Victoria lineage dominating this year).
All – re seasonal flu and COVID
There seems to be some confusion about death classification. The root of these relate to how the virus kills, how deaths are calculated and reported.
The death curves by age are different for H1N1(1918), COVID and the other pandemic flus. 1918 had a marked spike in the young and healthy, season flus spike at both ends children and elderly with 95% in the over 65+, COVID spikes only in the over 50s. Why?
To answer the Why? we need to look at the host virus interaction and immune response. Season flu infects by attaching to sialic acid receptors which are found in the large airways of the URT (Upper Respiratory Tract), COVID binds to ACE2 receptors which are found in the deep lung (LRT). Both types or receptors can be found in lots of locations around the body but the URT is sialic rich and ACE2 poor while for the LRT it is the other way around so the initial point of spread is different.
Now to the damage caused. Season flu kills very few most deaths are not directly due to the virus but by a secondary bacterial infection taking advantage of a distracted immune system. H1N1(1918)’s spike in young adults was due to a different problem, here direct damage was done by an over reaction by the immune response (AKA cytokine storm) which destroyed lung cell walls along with the virus. In COVID most of the damage is a direct result of the virus killing the Type 1 and 2 cells which line the alveoli walls and normally allow O2 to diffuse into the fine capillaries to oxygenate the blood. The damage allows fluids to leak into the lung and reduce blood oxygen levels. This damage is made worse by both the cytokine storm aspect and the bodies attempt to patch the leak by building a plaque that is not gas permeable, too much patching and you dry drown (dry lung but no blood oxygenation).
The deaths from COVID are then generally caused by SARS-2 while those from flu are often bacterial but would not have occurred without the viral infection.
Which leads us to case definitions and mortality. For flu sentinel test stations provide polling data from which a picture of the waxing and waining of the flu season along with dominant subtypes are determined and this can be compared to other years. It does not directly give a case count this is estimated by looking at total death patterns due to unidentified respiratory disease and apportioning these based on documented cases by proportions observed.
This is a wildly over simplified picture, if any one wants detail on any aspect say so and I will try and provide a link.
I think the panic is because the disease is very contagious.
2003 SARS was much more deadly but was much less contagious.
As one expert put it, it has the perfect balance. It spreads quickly making many people who require hospitalizations.
I sort of know a Doctor and her spouse who got it in UK and both of them were really sick (but did not require hospitalization) for more than 10 days. I think the Husband has had asthma and he says it really sucks.
Eric Newhill says
Yet when H1N1 came around in 2009 we didn’t jump on the Soros train and wreck the economy.
Why would we, all that happened was we swapped one mild H1N1 strain for another. The only additional problem was everyone who had immunity to the old strain had none to the new.
COVID is a lot more virulent, it is not a replacement but an addition to the existing mix of respiratory pathogens and again no one has immunity.