The view from inside

By March 24, 2020Other

An article in one of our local newspapers refers to ‘vulnerable oldies’. That’s us. The article in question was built around the views of my wife’s geriatrician, and they are exactly what the official advice is: keep isolated, wash our hands, stay out of trouble. Of course, we need some food (I make a lot of my breakfasts) and either I go out to a supermarket or my daughter does, or (as at the moment I’m using an online supermarket). There are about a hundred of us in this aged-care facility, and like Macbeth some of us are showing some of the signs of being  ‘cabined, cribbed, confined’. It’s now impossible for visitors to come, and there’s tons of parking. A son and another daughter came to visit me the other day, and we sat outside at the regulation distance away from each other. It was not the most satisfactory encounter we have ever had, but at least my rellies came. That was then. Now we are in total lockdown.

It was not the rellies’ fault. The facility made it hard. You had to go through tests (not the Covid-19 test) and have your temperature taken, and you had to be a close family member. It was not the facility’s fault. It was only doing what it was told to do. The ACT Minister had issued new restrictions. That was just a day or so ago. Covid-19 is a fast-moving event.

“Visitors will be restricted to care and support visits that are limited to one visit per day of no longer than two hours made to the resident by one person, or two persons together,” she said.

People under the age of 16 will not be able to visit, according to Minister Stephen-Smith, who said they can only visit for compassionate reasons for the purposes of anyone who is at end of life.

The traffic past our place has shrunk a great deal, and it is a major road. I can feel the growing isolation. Indeed, I can see it: no one comes at mealtimes, though they used to. My wife and I have each other, and that is a huge plus for us. Two other married couples in the place have the same benefit. The rest are singles, mostly widows, and all of them, all of us, carry some life-threatening disease that requires high care. Otherwise we couldn’t be here.

And we’re just at the beginning of what the Prime Minister says could be a six-month endurance test. Why mightn’t we succeed? I’ve thought a bit about this, because for a variety of reasons I do rather more for the facility than most other residents can (I’m mobile and sentient, and used to doing things that need doing), and I’m a tad worried. To start with, some of the residents, lacking visits and interaction, will retreat into themselves, and thereby reduce their quality of life. The facility is doing its best, by keeping activity going. But my guess is that it is the intimate contacts that will become increasingly important as the six months roll on. Somehow we have to be able provide them. Mind you, there are people here who have no friends or family in Australia, let alone in Canberra, so none of this is new to them.

The second worry is interaction between residents. Not everyone is universally popular! From time to time there are spats, and the common politeness we acquire quickly once we’re here (if we didn’t have it before) can become quickly abraded. Aged-care facilities are highly democratic places: it doesn’t matter who you were or what you’ve done. Once you’re here, you’re like everyone else. Dementia is common, and presents in all sorts of ways. What was once funny can become irritating, and lead to words, and even to physicality. I think I can see signs of that already.

A third worry, and it follows naturally from the second, is harmful interaction between the residents and the carers. Our place is divided into four ‘communities’, and each of them has about 24 residents and a set of carers and a registered nurse. I cannot speak highly enough of the devotion and assistance given by the carers and the nurses. But as nerves become ragged, I can see carers being assaulted by residents. What are they to do? An angry resident, especially one without much control anyway, can assault a carer, scratch and punch. I’ve seen it happen, and I worry that the incidence will increase. You hear about carers assaulting residents. I’ve seen the other side. Usually the carers are quick to avoid contact, but it doesn’t always work. In any case, that is not what they are there for.

Three worries are enough. I’ll say it again. This facility I live in is a great place, and senior management and everyone connected with ageing sick residents are doing their best. Yet I worry about six months of this endurance test. What will it be like elsewhere? I had wanted to say that if you know someone who is in such a facility, see if you can pay them a visit, or ring them up. But now we are in total lockdown. For the foreseeable future it will increasingly be like prison, and from time to time I already feel a bit stir-crazy. I want to go out and lead a normal life, at least for half an hour. But unless I’m shopping my drive, though important to me, would be regarded as non-essential unless I’ve got that wrong. My wife needs a drive every other day so she can see the world. It is good for her dementia. We used to do a lot of that kind of driving. It’s going to be a tough half-year.

I jump to another thought about ‘culture’. Many years ago I welcomed our first Bangladeshi students. They were all dressed to the nines, the girls especially so. I shook hands with the young men, and began to do so to the girls, who retreated. The diplomat attending them said to me, ‘They do not shake hands with men. It is not part of their culture.’ Of course, I felt like a complete ning-nong, but afterwards I thought again. They’re coming in to our culture, and in our culture we shake hands. It is a sign of agreement, of welcome, of equality in some respect. Why should they bring their culture and expect us to honour it? Of course, I’ve had to wrestle with that one for the last twenty-five or so years.

The other day one of our carers did something for me, something important she did well. I was unable to do it. When it was done, and I saw the result I was pleased indeed, and as she came toward me I gave her a kiss on the cheek. ‘Wonderful! Thank you,’ I said. One of the other carers said to me, observing my lapse, ‘You do not kiss in her culture!’ It was a gentle reproof, not a severe one.

   ‘Ah,’ I said, the Bangladeshi incident still in my head, ‘aren’t you lucky you’re in Australia, where we do kiss!’

   ‘Yes,’ she said, grinning.

Join the discussion 163 Comments

  • Peter S says:

    Don,
    There is a video conferencing app called “Zoom” which is available for Windows and Mac devices. You can connect for 40 minutes for free. I use it frequently when conferencing with my contacts at UNE. IT is a thin client and works well at moderate connection speeds. Have a look at it. Maybe you can tackle your isolation by engaging with friends at family on-line

  • Mike Dinn says:

    Fascinating Don. I have second hand knowledge of this, with a partner in aged care. I also have concerns about long term implications. Paraphrasing Trump (which I never thought I would!) I hope the cure is not worse than the ailment.

  • Peter E says:

    Thanks, Don, for this insight. I hope that you do all right.

    • spangled drongo says:

      You’re doin’ a good job, Don.

      I’ll be happy if I can do half as well as I’m headed in the same direction.

      An old friend who is at a similar facility at Ormiston turned 99 today and I could only ring and talk to her. Still very bright. She used to take the minutes of our environmental group meetings in shorthand many years ago.

  • beththeserf says:

    Thank you , Don, for such an insightful post, as we would expect from you, re the human plight of people in Care facilities. So many impacts…
    Government cut backs on human freedoms, economic consequences… been reading Hans Zinsser, ‘Rats, Lice and History, published in 1935.

    Meanwhile, herewith ,Don, memories of past gatherings in the city square. )
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceX5jJ5fggs

  • spangled drongo says:

    A bit of inside info:

    This is advice given to hospital staff. Explains the virus and how to prevent the virus. Please share with family , friends and work colleagues.
    Internal email for RBH (Royal Brisbane Hospital) staff:
    Virus Detection:
    The simplest way to distinguish Coronavirus from a Common Cold is that the COVID-19 infection does not cause a cold nose or cough with cold, but it does create a dry and rough cough.
    The virus is typically first installed in the throat causing inflammation and a feeling of dryness. This symptom can last between 3 and 4 days.
    The virus typically then travels through the moisture present in the airways, goes down to the trachea and installs in the lungs, causing pneumonia that lasts about 5 or 6 days.
    Pneumonia manifests with a high fever and difficulty breathing. The Common Cold is not accompanied, but there may be a choking sensation. In this case, the doctor should be called immediately.
    Experts suggest doing this simple verification every morning: Breathe in deeply and hold your breath for 10 seconds. If this can be done without coughing, without difficulty, this shows that there is no fibrosis in the lungs, indicating the absence of infection. It is recommended to do this control every morning to help detect infection.
    Prevention:
    The virus hates heat and dies if it is exposed to temperatures greater than 80°F (27°C). Therefore hot drinks such as infusions, broths or simply hot water should be consumed abundantly during the day. These hot liquids kill the virus and are easy to ingest.
    Avoid drinking ice water or drinks with ice cubes.
    Ensure that your mouth and throat are always wet, never DRY. You should drink a sip of water at least every 15 minutes. WHY? Even when the virus enters water or other liquids through the mouth, it will get flushed through the oesophagus directly into the stomach where gastric acids destroy the virus. If there is not enough water, the virus can pass into the trachea and from there to the lungs, where it is very dangerous.
    For those who can, sunbathe. The Sun’s UV rays kill the virus and the vitamin D is good for you.
    The Coronavirus has a large size (diameter of 400-500 nanometers) so face masks can stop it, no special face masks are needed in daily life.
    If an infected person sneezes near us, stay 10 feet (3.3 meters) away to allow the virus fall to the ground and prevent it from falling on you.
    When the virus is on hard surfaces, it survives about 12 hours, therefore when hard surfaces such as doors, appliances, railings, etc. are touched, hands should be washed thoroughly and/or disinfected with alcoholic gel The virus can live nested in clothes and tissues between 6 and 12 hours. Common detergents can kill it. Things that cannot be washed should be exposed to the Sun and the virus will die.
    The transmission of the virus usually occurs by direct infection, touching fabrics, tissues or materials on which the virus is present.
    Washing your hands is essential.
    The virus survives on our hands for only about 10 minutes. In that time many things can happen, rubbing the eyes, touching the nose or lips. This allows the virus to enter your throat. Therefore, for your good and the good of all, wash your hands very often and disinfect them.
    You can gargle with disinfectant solutions (i.e. Listerine or Hydrogen Peroxide) that eliminate or minimize the amount of virus that can enter the throat. Doing so removes the virus before it goes down to the trachea and then to the lungs.
    Disinfect things touched often: cellphone, keyboard, mouse, car steering wheel, door handles, etc Jos Sent to us just now + we wanted to share this knowledge & advice with you all. Pls do the same.

    • Boambee John says:

      SD

      That has been floating around for a while, but I am not sure of its provenance.

      The first time I saw it it was credited to Stanford Uni, recently I saw it supposedly from the UK NHS via “Princess (sic) of Wales” hospital. There are a couple of words in it (meters, cellphone) that suggest a US origin.

      There might be sometning in it, but I think it should be checked first.

      • Jeffrey Dun says:

        This advice has also been posted on Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s medical blog. It was claimed to be from the NHS.

        Dr Kendrick replied:

        “This is complete and utter non-scientific nonsense. I have only approved this comment in order to dismiss this advice out of hand. For starters the average temperature of a human is 37oC. At this temperature the virus lives completely happily and reproduces itself. The idea that you can flush the virus down into the stomach is also completely ridiculous…. Enough. I assume that this comment has been put in good faith, but I can only advise everyone to completely ignore it.”

        • Chris Warren says:

          Boambee John

          If the original post was posted by the house Drongo – then of course you can take for granted that it should be ignored. It is just a typical example of the crap that emanates from this hole.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Dear ol’ irrelevant blith.

          • Chris Warren says:

            I have now checked the Drongo post.

            It is absolutely fake news being spread by very dangerous and mischievous individual.

            For heavens sake – ignore anything coming out of the Drongo.

            You could risk your life otherwise.

          • Peter S says:

            Stop trying to big note yourself Chris. Others have already pointed out the deficiencies in the Spangled Drongo’s post and unlike you in other circumstances (“Closing down coal power is as easy as pie…”) he has not attempted to defend it. That adds to his credibility rather than diminishing it. You are a slow learner.

          • Boambee John says:

            Chris

            You really are a pompous prat.

          • Chris Warren says:

            Boambee John

            You are a stinking red neck

          • Boambee John says:

            And good morning to you too Chris.

        • Boambee Joan … I agree; this needs checking. Gargling with hydrogen peroxide? I hardly think so, unless it’s been diluted, and even then, it wouldn’t be pleasant.

  • spangled drongo says:

    A flash of potential good news from the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic: A treatment is showing promise. Doctors in France, South Korea and the U.S. are using an antimalarial drug known as hydroxychloroquine with success. “We are physicians treating patients with COVID-19, and the therapy appears to be making a difference. It isn’t a silver bullet, but if deployed quickly and strategically the drug could potentially help bend the pandemic’s “hockey stick” curve.

    Hydroxychloroquine is a common generic drug used to treat lupus, arthritis and malaria. The medication, whose brand name is Plaquenil, is relatively safe, with the main side effect being stomach irritation, though it can cause echocardiogram and vision changes. In 2005, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showed that chloroquine, an analog, could block a virus from penetrating a cell if administered before exposure. If tissue had already been infected, the drug inhibited the virus.”

    Dr. Colyer is a practising physician and chairman of the National Advisory Commission on Rural Health. He served as governor of Kansas, 2018-19. Dr. Hinthorn is director of the Division of Infectious Disease at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

    Wall Street Journal

  • dlb says:

    Chloroquine seems to be all the rage at right leaning websites. There seems to be much antagonism at these sites to the way Governments are handling the pandemic and the Keynesian methods they are using to keep the economy going. The attitude seems to be, bugger the lockdowns, just take a course of Chloroquine and get back to work!

    It’s a wonder the ABC or the Con haven’t yet done a takedown of Chloroquine. After all Trump is in favour of it.

    So if the ABC won’t do it I will

    https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/world/man-dies-after-ingesting-chloroquine-in-an-attempt-to-prevent-coronavirus/ar-BB11BNRn?ocid=spartandhp

    • Boambee John says:

      dlb

      What he ingested was fish bowl cleaner containing chloroquinine phosphate, a different compound, not a pharmaceutical product.

      Perhaps the ABC was right to ignore this furphy?

  • Hasbeen says:

    I really can’t see why anyone should be stopped from going for a drive, particularly if they have no desire to stop. Surely you are keeping your distance from others in your car. I drove into the chemist today, & thoroughly enjoyed my 50 kilometer round trip. It was while at the chemist i was in some danger, not in the car.

    The chemist staff are acting fairly paranoid. I don’t blame them as they are often the first call for sick people, & their response was making me nervous.

    I regularly communicate with people all over the country, & over seas on a couple of web sites, one a classic car site & the other a remote control aircraft site. After 18 years on the car site I have a number of friends I will never meet, but they are warm friendships.

    I have never used the social web sites, but some of them probably offer such contact, & perhaps should be encouraged during this time.

  • Neville says:

    Don thanks for your report on your daily experiences during these trying times. I wish you and your wife all the best for the coming months or until we start to emerge from this trial.
    BTW I think the Worldometer Corona Virus site is still the best site to try and understand the daily spread of the C Virus.
    As at this morning OZ is still doing better than most wealthy countries with 0.3 per million cases and Canada 0.7 per M and USA 2 per mil. Most OZ deaths are from NSW 5 and 1 Vic, 1 Qld and 1 WA , that’s a total of 8 people out of a pop of about 25.5 mil.
    Also OZ present critical cases are only 11 people out of 25.5 million or very low indeed. See the different columns to try and understand the data.
    African countries are very low, but I wouldn’t entirely trust their reporting either. And ditto China, Iran etc.
    And dlb I think chloroquine is still something that we should consider for elderly patients and a number of doctors/ researchers seem to hold that opinion as well. Here’s the link and is updated daily from the WHO.

    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

    • BB says:

      I prefer https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-current-situation-and-case-numbers#in-australia because it is more local to Australia. For instance there are 44 people currently in the ACT that are infected out of a population of 400,000. On that data it now appears the rate of new infections is declining dramatically in Australia as a whole the data I have so far though is not a lot.

      • Chris Warren says:

        BB

        This comment is at your usual standard. “…it now appears the rate of new infections is declining dramatically in Australia.”

        The facts are exactly opposite – the rate of new infections is rising exponentially as shown here:

        https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/australia/

        The chart of “Daily New Infections” does NOT show a dramatic decline.

        • Peter S says:

          For heavens sake Chris, which graph are you looking at! There has been a significant decline over the past two days. Whether this will be sustained is a different question. Nevertheless it takes a number of such days to flatten the cumulative growth curves. Do you simply not understand data?

          • Boambee John says:

            Peter S

            Alarmists gotta alarm.

            There is definetely cause for concern, particularly among the elderly and health compromised, but no real evidence that collective doom is upon us.

          • Chris Warren says:

            There is only one graph that is relevant. It shows a clear rising trend with various episodes of short-run declines but only so far as each later temporary decline is higher than precious declines.

          • Chris Warren says:

            “c” => “v”

          • Peter S says:

            Clearly Chris does not understand data. The number of reported cases has declined for 3 days in a row. If this will continue we don’t know, but if it does the cumulative curve will begin to flatten.

          • Chris Warren says:

            Clearly Peter S does not understand data. If he made the slightest effort he would see that the number of new cases for March 25 was 359. On March 26 the number of new cases was 374.

            Now normal people will call a move from 359 to 374 an increase. But Peter S says there was a decrease.

            Everyone should have a look at the data themselves – scroll down below the charts, here:

            http://archive.is/gSKye

            Maybe Peter S was reading the numbers back-to-front?

          • Peter S says:

            As usual Chris you are confusing your data. The Worldometer data is lagging the Australian data and so is its graph. I suggest if you want to be up to date then you should look at the Australian Government site. But you will also notice the graphs on both sites lag the published statistics.

            Of course in retrospect we should both have referenced the data we are using. I assumed you would be looking as I do at the most up to date information. For example as I write Worldometer says there are 3050 confirmed cases in Australia. If you look at the Australian Government site there are 3378.

            https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-current-situation-and-case-numbers#current-status

            You will also note my comments were also qualified, but yours weren’t. It may well be that when the latest data is published, the downward trend in reported case will reverse. That will be unfortunate. As of yesterday (27th) at 3:00 pm there have been 212 new cases

          • Chris Warren says:

            There is no confusion with data on my part, and I always give the reference when necessary. This was a gratuitous accusation.

            You cannot use Australian Government data for recent trends because it contains an appropriate warning, namely;

            “Interpret the most recently reported new cases shown in the graph with caution as there can be delays in reporting.”

            http://archive.is/bVOXB#selection-735.0-735.115

            Also if you want to use data to compare trends across the globe – which is the real event – then worldometer serves as well as any other.

            The only thing that has changed recently in Australia is that what was an exponential trend is now a steep linear trend, so there has been some effect from recent public policy steps.

            The Australian ratio of deaths to recoveries is now 8% well down from 15% a fortnight ago. we need this ratio to fall to zero.

          • Peter S says:

            And you think the Worldometer does not contain the same caveats. Nonsense. You constantly see things from an angle that doesn’t allow you to reasonably assess the data. The reality is you do not understand how to interpret data. Your world view renders you incapable of doing so. Previously in a discussion on a claim you made about eliminating coal power you refused to admit you were wrong, despite overwhelming evidence to demonstrate that.

            And I remind you all my comments on the corona virus data have been qualified. Yours have not.

          • Boambee John says:

            Surely Chris is not deliberately “cherry picking” which data set he uses?

          • Chris Warren says:

            Peter S

            Why are you resorting to deliberate fakery.

            I do NOT “think the Worldometer does not contain the same caveats.”

            There is NOTHING wrong “about eliminating coal power”.

          • Peter S says:

            Believe if you will that the Worldometer site is not subject to the same caveats as the Australian government site. All that demonstrates is that you do not understand data. This interview with Professor John Ioannidis from Standford University may, hopefully, help to improve your understanding.

            https://youtu.be/ZEr4rmjwd0g

            And returning to our earlier discussion I remind you again of your exact words.

            “Closing down coal power generation is so easy..”

            You were blatantly wrong , and blatantly wrong in the example you cited to support your statement. So please desist from changing your words to wriggle out of admitting you were wrong.

            If you can’t admit to error then you have no credibility.

          • Peter S says:

            Chris,
            For some reason Don’s site rejected the link to Professor Ioannidis’s interview.

            Hopefully it won’t do so for this one. Enjoy and learn.

            https://tinyurl.com/wrkmrr3

  • Neville says:

    Willis Eschenbach checks the data for Italy and some other countries and comes to a disturbing conclusion.
    Most deaths from the C virus in Italy are the elderly and perhaps there may have been an introduction to their health system before anyone had heard of the C virus.
    Nth Italy had a steady influx of Chinese workers for a longer period or so it seems.
    But if he is correct it seems that already sick elderly people could have been infected during routine visits to hospitals or clinics etc before they were even aware of the c virus in Italy. Who knows?

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/03/24/the-italian-connection/

  • Pete S says:

    Thanks Don – a delightful read like a sonnet with the two themes beautifully interwoven – I reckon you should submit it to The Spectator.

    And, Spangled Drongo, great info from the hospital staff.

  • Aert Driessen says:

    Don, you and Bev seem to be coping in somewhat trying circumstances, and that is heartening. I have only one comment and it is political. I agree with you 100% on the way you feel about ‘honouring’ other cultures. Of course I respect the cultures of other people/groups but I baulk at the prospect of having to compromise my Australian culture, in Australia, for the sake of accommodating a foreign one. I detest identity politics and I see this as one of the ingredients of that. Australian culture is all about respect and good will, blended with humour.

  • Alex Martin says:

    Hi Don,

    You are doing more great work on the “inside” of a much under represented group. It’s important to hear from you as much as possible on this aspect of your life. We need your insight to that world especially now. I’m sure you will use this time to continue writing and to keep those directly around in good spirits. I hope so. Keep well. Alex

  • spangled drongo says:

    Good read from an immunologist at Johns Hopkins University

    “Not really feeling sick and do not want to be… but if you are feeling confused as to why Coronavirus is a bigger deal than Seasonal flu? Here it is in a nutshell. I hope this helps. Feel free to share this to others who don’t understand…

    It has to do with RNA sequencing…. i.e. genetics.

    Seasonal flu is an “all human virus”. The DNA/RNA chains that make up the virus are recognized by the human immune system. This means that your body has some immunity to it before it comes around each year… you get immunity two ways…through exposure to a virus, or by getting a flu shot.

    Novel viruses, come from animals…. the WHO tracks novel viruses in animals, (sometimes for years watching for mutations). Usually these viruses only transfer from animal to animal (pigs in the case of H1N1) (birds in the case of the Spanish flu). But once, one of these animal viruses mutates, and starts to transfer from animals to humans… then it’s a problem, Why? Because we have no natural or acquired immunity.. the RNA sequencing of the genes inside the virus isn’t human, and the human immune system doesn’t recognize it so, we can’t fight it off.

    Now…. sometimes, the mutation only allows transfer from animal to human, for years it’s only transmission is from an infected animal to a human before it finally mutates so that it can now transfer human to human… once that happens..we have a new contagion phase. And depending on the fashion of this new mutation, thats what decides how contagious, or how deadly it’s gonna be..

    H1N1 was deadly….but it did not mutate in a way that was as deadly as the Spanish flu. It’s RNA was slower to mutate and it attacked its host differently, too.

    Fast forward.

    Now, here comes this Coronavirus… it existed in animals only, for nobody knows how long…but one day, at an animal market, in Wuhan China, in December 2019, it mutated and made the jump from animal to people. At first, only animals could give it to a person… But here is the scary part…. in just TWO WEEKS it mutated again and gained the ability to jump from human to human. Scientists call this quick ability, “slippery”

    This Coronavirus, not being in any form a “human” virus (whereas we would all have some natural or acquired immunity). Took off like a rocket. And this was because, Humans have no known immunity…doctors have no known medicines for it.

    And it just so happens that this particular mutated animal virus, changed itself in such a way the way that it causes great damage to human lungs..

    That’s why Coronavirus is different from seasonal flu, or H1N1 or any other type of influenza…. this one is slippery AF. And it’s a lung eater…And, it’s already mutated AGAIN, so that we now have two strains to deal with, strain s, and strain L….which makes it twice as hard to develop a vaccine.

    We really have no tools in our shed, with this. History has shown that fast and immediate closings of public places has helped in the past pandemics. Philadelphia and Baltimore were reluctant to close events in 1918 and they were the hardest hit in the US during the Spanish Flu.

    Factoid: Henry VIII stayed in his room and allowed no one near him, till the Black Plague passed…(honestly…I understand him so much better now). Just like us, he had no tools in his shed, except social isolation…

    And let me end by saying….right now it’s hitting older folks harder… but this genome is so slippery…if it mutates again (and it will). Who is to say, what it will do next.

    Be smart folks… acting like you’re unafraid is so not needed right now.

    #flattenthecurve. Stay home folks… and share this to those that just are not catching on.

  • Neville says:

    Here’s some really good news via the Bolter from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Vic.
    A new trial is about to begin on the latest malarial drug to see whether this will be helpful in the fight against the CV -19 virus. If the trial goes well we could be able to use the drug during this flu season.
    Let’s hope for the best.

    https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/no-panic-heres-hope-instead-for-a-coronavirus-vaccine/news-story/92f8db1ca2d4e5c4667daa7167a83d1b

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    I had thought better of the immunologists at Johns Hopkins.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Thanks, Beth. It was pleasantly familiar!

  • Neville says:

    An interesting interview by Bolt with a young bloke+ wife who has just arrived back from Taiwan and the different way they’ve tackled the CV-19 crisis.
    Very little shutdown of industry or jobs but Taiwan has been very strict on any arrivals and the care etc of the elderly, vulnerable people has been amazing. And sanitation, disinfecting etc has been extremely thorough and immediate.
    Very small country, just a little over half the size of Tassie but the pop is very close to our 25.5 m people. Here’s the link.
    And to be fair Bolt has been very critical of our handling and neglect of those returning from overseas since the start of this emergency, so he has runs on the board from the very start.

    https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/tonight-all-travellers-to-be-locked-up-in-quarantine-but-has-the-scare-gone-too-far/news-story/a0bbaf6c17fa1a0afeb8091af7fc0ea7

  • Neville says:

    Sorry but the above link doesn’t include Bolt’s interview, but I’ll link to it when it’s available.
    BTW so far OZ has 13 deaths from the CV-19, about 0.5 deaths per mil and now 23 serious or critical.
    Taiwan so far has 2 deaths, about 0.1 deaths per mil and now none serious or critical. See Worldometer CV.

    • Chris Warren says:

      Usual Neville’s cherry-picking

      Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan and India (and others) have done a much better job so far, than Taiwan.

      • Boambee John says:

        Chris isn’t even good at sarcasm.

      • Peter S says:

        Chris you are cherry picking. One needs to be careful when comparing data from different countries. The lag times for advising infections differs from country to country. Also it is affected by how far the virus has progressed, and also on population demographics, the degree of development of each country and upon their ability to test and confirm. It is complex.

    • Peter S says:

      Interestingly Neville the mortality rate has been fairly constant at 0.5% despite the rising number of infections. It is one of the lowest in the world. That may change of course if the infection escapes more widely into the general community, which it will do if people don’t modify their behaviour.

      • Chris Warren says:

        Notice how those incapable of understanding data and facts constantly give percentages without describing what the percentage is based on. You can easily construct a ridiculously low percentage if you inflate the denominator and the clue to this trick is hiding the denominator.

        When you lift away the camouflage you find that these tricksters have often used all cases as the denominator even though they do not know what proportion of current cases will either recover or die.

        Just incompetent. we should look at trends in closed cases as this is only where the data is correctly categorised and will be the main statistic when the epidemic is over.

        • Peter S says:

          Chris you really should not return to invective to conceal your own inadequacies. Grow up and get real

          • Chris Warren says:

            Notice how those incapable of understanding data and facts constantly give percentages without describing what the percentage is based on. You can easily construct a ridiculously low percentage if you inflate the denominator and the clue to this trick is hiding the denominator.

            Get real.

  • Neville says:

    Here’s that Bolt interview at long last. And OZ has certainly done very well compared to most of the wealthier EU countries, but Taiwan and Singapore have done very well and not had our heavy lock down.
    But they have been very strong in strategic areas and gone in very hard. See the video.

    https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/learn-from-taiwan-beat-this-virus-without-closing-shops/news-story/9363114830d35580bf2ab027375e3d21

  • Neville says:

    Probably the most interesting statistic is that of the now 27,417 deaths from CV-19 all but 2,475 have been endured by the top ten countries. ( as at 28/3 )
    And of the remaining 180 + countries the total deaths have been very low so far. OZ included, so far.
    Top 10 countries average is about 2,494 and the 180 countries average is about 14 so far. ( 28/3)
    All of Africa, even Sth Africa is still very low.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Another attention-seeking alarmist suffering from irrelevance syndrome:

    “The Green New Deal from Joe Biden or anyone else is a bad idea at any time. It is a worse idea now – like rubbing salt in a metastasizing economic wound and public health emergency, with each producing real victims.”

    https://www.cfact.org/2020/03/27/biden-exploits-pandemic-to-push-green-new-deal/

  • spangled drongo says:

    Never let a crisis go to waste:

    The Guardian’s biases produce bogus COVID-19 claims

    By Paul Driessen

    The Guardian (a very liberal London newspaper) does some excellent reporting – about 40,000 children slaving and dying in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) of Central Africa, mining cobalt for cell phones, laptops, Teslas and Green New Deal technologies, for example. But other stories are a bizarre mix of fact, fake news, junk science, random conjecture and utter nonsense.

    A case in point is its recent attempt to blame the coronavirus crisis on human activities that The Guardian and its writers tend to detest, even though they are essential for modern civilization and living standards:

    https://www.cfact.org/2020/03/26/34997/

  • spangled drongo says:

    Nothing like a little “green reality” to open our eyes:

    “Britain’s chief bourgeois misanthrope, George Monbiot, was hot on the heels of the UN’s eco-medievalists. He says Covid-19 has shattered humanity’s self-serving myth that it has achieved ‘insulation from natural hazards’. There is a grotesque glee in the way Monbiot describes what Covid-19 has unleashed – ‘the membrane has ruptured’, he says, and ‘we find ourselves naked and outraged, as the biology we appeared to have banished storms through our lives’.

    https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/03/25/covid-19-a-glimpse-of-the-dystopia-greens-want-us-to-live-in/

  • Chris Warren says:

    Oh dear, I think Peter S is a troll;

    You cannot quote “Closing down coal power generation is so easy..” without the context of what DRAX achieved and the context of sustainable biomass fuel (pellets). And without the clarification that such words do not mean;

    Closing down all coal power generation is so easy.

    Peter S is either a troll, incapable of comprehension, or a trickster.

    • Peter S says:

      Chris,
      As much as you wriggle and obfuscate you cannot get off the hook. Unless of course you are prepared to admit you were wrong.
      Closing down coal power generation is NOT easy.
      Instead of being a clown just acknowledge that you were wrong.

      • Chris Warren says:

        Read what was written – not what you want.

        You are only projecting denial and the usual tricks we get from denialists in many fields.

        • Peter S says:

          Chris,
          “Closing down coal power generation is so easy…” your exact words. Then you went on to cite Drax as the example. You simply can’t expect to wriggle off the hook of your own creation by obfuscation and slinging insults. You were wrong. Admit it.

          • Chris Warren says:

            Once again for slow learners …

            Read what was written – not what you want.

            You are only projecting denial and the usual tricks we get from denialists in many fields.

          • Peter S says:

            Chris you are a sad case. Your written words exactly: “Closing down coal power generation is so easy…” Who is the real denier?

          • Chris Warren says:

            A denialist includes those who deliberately quotes out of context even when the context has been explained to them several times.

          • Peter S says:

            Chris,
            Arrant nonsense.
            “Closing down coal power generation is so easy…”
            Yours was an unqualified statement supported by a citation of a possible solution that has been thoroughly debunked.
            Simply admit you are wrong and move on. Otherwise remain labelled a denier!!!

          • Chris Warren says:

            Huh?

            Repeating your misrepresentations does not help you.

            Please, in future – connect with reality.

          • Peter S says:

            Chris,
            Again you obfuscate. Just admit you were wrong. It isn’t hard. Otherwise continue to be a “denier”.

          • Peter S says:

            Chris,
            Yes I have misrepresented you. I have been quoting your assertion as “Closing down coal generation is so easy…” when you really asserted that “Closing down coal power is as easy as pie…”. Sorry for that, but admitting mistakes is not hard.

            But you have a hide calling others deniers when in fact it is you who is the denier. Just a reminder of your exact statement:

            Chris Warren commented on My last ‘climate change’ essay, for a while at least.
            in response to BJ2DESIGN:
            I started becoming interested in climate change in 2005, when I was writing a speculative book about the next fifty years in Australia. It was plain I would have to do a chapter on the environment, which forced me to come to terms with global warming, then the widely used term. I knew that Ian […]
            Closing coal power is easy as pie …
            https://www.drax.com/about-us/our-businesses/

            So clearly you have not been quoted out of context. Instead you continue to refuse to admit you were wrong. It is not hard. And there is no punishment for doing so.

        • Boambee John says:

          Chris

          The first step in that “easy” process is to spend a couple of decades planting timber to grow the trees necessary for the pelletised wood to fuel your “Drax solution”.

          After spending a couple of decades growing the fuel, and gaining the collateral benefit of the trees absorbing atmospheric CO2, you then burn the fuel, returning the CO2 to the atmosphere, together with the CO2 emitted in planting, harvesting, pelletising and delivering the fuel to the power station.

          Great way to reduce atmospheric CO2!!

      • spangled drongo says:

        Peter S, our blith, like all left wing operators, thrives on propaganda and denial of truth.

        Truth is what brings them undone:

        “Should China succeed in the global propaganda war around coronavirus, as it appears to be attempting, the CCP will have achieved a revision of history in real-time on the screens of social media users everywhere.”

        http://catallaxyfiles.com/2020/03/29/the-coronavirus-propaganda-war/

  • Chris Warren says:

    I would have hoped that a sustained decline in daily cases would emerge, with all the cuts to international travel and increase in social isolation, but the latest uptick in daily cases in Australia does not forebode much good to come.

    I thought 500,000 global cases would be reached by the end of this month, but we are now racing towards 700,000 and everything points higher.

    Globally, based on current data, it looks like the eventual death rate will exceed 4% if medical services are not improved. The problem is that this 4% hides much higher rates for particular age cohorts.

    • Peter S says:

      Chris,
      Once again I refer you to an expert analysis:

      https://youtu.be/ZEr4rmjwd0g

      Watch it. You may learn something.
      But the latest data does confirm my earlier comments, which you are now conceding and which are now confirmed by our PM. But my qualification remains – these are early days.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      Chris the actual data show a mortality rate of about 0.4% in Australia.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        Compared with a rate of 0.27 for the 2019 flu season. Hardly a cause for the current hysteria.

      • Chris Warren says:

        Bryan Roberts

        What numbers are you using??? If you provided the data – you will probably find that this particular figure mixes those that die, those that recover with those who currently have the disease. This is 3 categories.

        You cannot calculated the real death rate until the epidemic is over because at this point only is there now just data on thise that died and those that recovered. There is then no data representing “those who currently have the disease”. There is only 2 categories.

        if the current rate of “deaths” to “recoveries” continues the death rate will be catastrophically high but we have put in new public health steps to keep the worst at bay – until a vaccine or better medical treatments are rolled out.

        Once you have blocked 100% of travel, at least some means to control the epidemic arises. The problem is not normal virus transmission, but the fact that corona transmission is not normal – non-symptomatic cases spread the virus.

        Every time I have guess-estimated the rate or quantity in the future – the outcome has been dramatically worse, so it is possible that at the end more than 5% or higher will have died.

        There are other aggravating factors – the change in seasons and the risk of a second wave.

        We really need a vaccine.

        • Peter S says:

          Chris
          Have you actually viewed the interview with Professor John Ioannidis? Take the time. You may learn something.

          • Jeffrey Dun says:

            Chris

            You estimate that the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of covid19 in Australia could be around 5%, or higher.

            A CFR (ie the number of confirmed deaths compared with the number of confirmed cases) of around 5% is not particularly remarkable for an influenza season.

            For example, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA estimates that at this point in their flu season there have been 24,000 flu deaths from a total number of confirmed flu cases of 284,840. That is a CFR of 8.4%.

            We know from research coming out of China and Italy that up to 90% of people who contract covid19 are asymptomatic and are, therefore, largely undocumented. If we knew the denominator, then we would be able to calculate the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) for the virus, which would be significantly lower than the WHO’s estimate of 3.4%.

            It is probably more interesting to work out how much the total death rate has been affected by the virus.
            This is being overestimated currently on the published score cards because the death of everybody who tested positive is attributed to the virus.

            We know from the Italian data that only 2% of those dying had no co-morbidities. So, for many of the others, what killed them was what was going to kill them anyway.

            We will get a better idea of how lethal this virus is when we are able to calculate how many “excess” deaths we had in 2020.

          • Peter S says:

            Jeffrey,
            An excellent summary. I like it

      • Peter S says:

        Brian,
        Chris does not understand data, and he clearly is incapable of understand what Professor John Ioannidis was saying. But Chris is actually the real denier here.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    From the Australian Government Department of Health website
    “As at 3:00pm on 29 March 2020, there have been 3,966 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia…16 have died…”

    They are two categories, giving a mortality rate of 0.4%.

    You are simply wrong.

    • Chris Warren says:

      Bryan

      You provide no source for your statement and the figure 3,966 includes people who will die. 16 is not the total number of deaths that will arise from the 3,966.

      When people state “you are simply wrong” with no explanation – I invariably find they are in fact wrong themselves. Such arbitrary declarations are a common tactic of denialists.

      As I have explained previously, you can only calculate the death rate from “closed cases”. If you want to use 3,966 then you also need to calculate the recovery rate.

      You know you have got accurate figure only when “death rate” + “recovery rate” = 100%.

      You can get all this data from here:

      https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/australia/

      This proves I am not wrong.

      • Boambee John says:

        There is an interesting psychological phenomenon being displayed here and on the many (catastrophic anthropogenic) climate change threads.

        It seems that anyine who disagrees in any way with Chris on any subject is a “denialist”.

        Perhaps it is just a sign of a narrow, closed, mind?

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        The figures are from the Department of Health, and reflect the mortality rate at this point in time. It may vary as further data become available, but the larger the numbers, the smaller the change will be. Why is this so hard to understand?

    • Peter S says:

      Actually Brian in an epidemiological sense Chris is correct if one assumes that the mortality rate should actually be calculated from the total number of people infected including those who are asymptotic. Of course that number is unknown unless you test the entire population or a representative subsample of the population. That is a key point made by Professor Ioannidis.

      But Chris being a denier and technically incompetent doesn’t realise that that calculation would make the mortality rate lower.

      But the comparison you make between the mortality rate of the flu and CV-19 is perfectly valid as they are both calculated the same way, with the denominator being the number of reported infections.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Nobody knows the number of people infected.

    And when known, that will reduce the death rate even further.

    Probably to flu figures.

  • spangled drongo says:

    We are very lucky that climate change is in its warming phase:

    In a study published in the Lancet in 2015, researchers examined health data from 384 locations in 13 countries, accounting for more than 74 million deaths—a huge sample size from which to draw sound conclusions—and found cold weather, directly or indirectly, killed 1,700% more people than hot weather. No, that is not a typo – 1,700% more people die from cold temperatures than warm or hot temperatures.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Daryl McCann on Trump Derangement Virus:

    “My wish – which might turn out to be as unlikely as the Russiagate and Virusgate fantasies of the mainstream media – is that one day the city of Wuhan will be associated with not only Covid-19 but the end of communist dynasty in China. Emperor Xi, not unexpectedly, has done his very best to deflect all the blame rightly coming his way. Xi’s foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, recently suggested on Twitter that the US military introduced the novel coronavirus to Wuhan, miraculously transmuting the Chinese Virus into the American Virus:

    When did Patient Zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be the US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owes us an explanation!

    PRC propaganda outlets and overseas diplomats appear to be engaged in a concerted effort to persuade the world that COVID-19, unlike the virtual entirety of America’s pharmaceutical supplies, was not necessarily made in China. Conspiracy theories, by necessity, must always have a victim, and the intended victim of this Beijing malevolency happens to be the biggest victim of Beijing’s imperialist-Leninism. So-called “liberals”, the PC brigade in the West, remain entirely clueless. By reconfiguring COVID-19 as “the Trump virus”, Gail Collins, the New York Times opinion writer, has – objectively speaking, as Orwell would say – done some useful heavy-lifting work for the Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.”

    https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2020/03/emperor-xi-has-no-clothes/

  • Chris Warren says:

    While globally, deaths are increasing faster than cases, nonetheless the rather dramatic lock-downs and social distancing plus restricted travel is having an effect. Cases are now increasing at 8% per day.

    If maintained – this means cases double every 9 days instead of every week as before. Deaths now double every 8 days.

    Of course this varies across countries, but any health system is likely to break if demand for its services double every 8, 9 or10 days.

    While Australian confirmed cases are increasing @ 7.5%, some states (Vic, WA) are still increasing around 12% per day. These state systems are facing a doubling of demand for health services every week.

    The ACT could be in a similar situation if such rates are maintained for several months – which is the plan under the “flatten-the-curve” scenario.

    And we still have right wing commentators contesting the imposition of current preventative measures that really are our last hope.

    Some are even calling for “lifting restrictions” !!! This is a recipe for a disaster being spread by the likes of Andrew Bolt and Co.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Poor confused blith conveniently ignores the fact that curves are flattening and doesn’t get that when the number of infected is not known and the deaths are mainly from people who were half dead anyway, that the true situation is probably comparable with any flu epidemic:

    https://spectator.us/understand-report-figures-covid-deaths/

  • Chris Warren says:

    Jeffrey Dun

    I replied to your comments, but as I put in several links, it seems to have been caught in moderation.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Check the petition to sack the WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom, from Ethiopia, who is responsible for much of the current problem:

    http://joannenova.com.au/2020/02/stinks-slow-wmo-let-coronavirus-run-but-ethiopian-chief-was-part-of-chinas-debt-trap-diplomacy/

  • Stu says:

    Good to see SD off on his usual hysterical right wing propaganda pony. He uses consistent terminology at least and quotes reliably ultra right wing sources, e.g. McCann. All, including the latter in a frenzied attempt to deflect blame from a total failure of the White House to recognise and get on top of the problem. So they blame the Chinese (valid), the WHO (hard to justify), the media etc, etc.

    The White House (Trump) is guilty because it disbanded the internal pandemic response group established by the previous administration. Quote “I am a business man, I hate paying people to sit around when there is nothing to do”. Guilty for weakening the world order by undermining the UN and its agencies including WHO. Guilty for withdrawing the expertise embedded in the Chinese infectious diseases unit early last year (she could have made it hard for the Chinese to be slow with information. Guilty for ignoring the pandemic response brief passed on from Obama. Guilty for ignoring the pandemic response exercise carried out in mid 2019. Guilty for ignoring the signs and not acting early enough. Guilty for being slow to roll out proper testing. Guilty for not exercising the Defence Production Act sooner, and still not very well. Guilty for talking down the pandemic “will soon be zero cases, we will fill the churches on easter sunday” etc. I could go on.

    Were there early warnings. Yes, consider this:

    “On New Year’s Eve, Helen Branswell, a reporter at the science and medical news website Stat, was finishing an article about the development of an elusive Ebola vaccine when she got an inkling of her next big story.

    “Hopefully this is nothing out of the ordinary,” she wrote on Twitter, adding a link to a report of an “unexplained pneumonia” in central China.

    Two days later, she tweeted a South China Morning Post article about the outbreak and wrote, “Not liking the look of this.”

    Stat published Ms. Branswell’s first article on the “growing cluster of unexplained pneumonia cases” on Jan. 4. There was some indication, she reported, of “a new virus, and perhaps even a new coronavirus.”

    Stat, a digital publication in Boston founded in 2015, was early to a story that would dominate the news. In January, a month before the first confirmed case of unknown origin in the United States, the site published articles on the coronavirus’s ability to be spread by asymptomatic carriers; how it could test President Trump’s penchant for undermining established science; and the determination by experts that containing it “may not be feasible.”

    Finally, at least we can be thankful we have a Coalition government or SD and others here would be ripping them to shreds for over reacting and destroying the future with reckless spending. After all as SD wrote above “it is no worse than the flu” (or words to that effect). Just imaging if it was labour running the show. But you go on with attacking so called TDS and other baloney. Time to admit Trump is totally out of his depth and should be replaced under the 25th Amendment.

    • Boambee John says:

      Stu

      Off on your usual left wing rant.

      Check the performance of the WHO. Slow to admit there was a problem. Criticised countries like Australia when bans were imposed on travel from China. Advised that there was no evidence of person to person transmission when it was already quite obvious that there was. Delayed declaring a pandemic until after several countries had made such a declaration.

      A good example of the “quality” of politicised UN “science”.

      I will not comment on your hysterical Trump Derangement Syndrome except to suggest a cup of tea, a good lie down, and a wider range of reading material.

      • Stu says:

        Oh “and a wider range of reading material.” you mean like checking on the Trump TV ratings, very important subject. Could that be what is driving his policy and actions. Come on you can do better than that. Or is your Trump Adoration Syndrome too far advanced, in which case I truly feel sorry for you.

        And also “Delayed declaring a pandemic until after several countries had made such a declaration.”. Trump “I always new it was a pandemic”. He can’t spell that and he still has no real idea what it means except that it threatens his re-election.

        • Boambee John says:

          Stu

          You haven’t learned much about Trump’s Twitter strategy in four years have you? He deliberately misspells words, the media trumpet his ignorance, and he gets multiples of the publicity.

          And you fell for it as well!

      • Stu says:

        And if you cannot fathom the reference to TV ratings look it up in the reliable media, it is not covered in the Murdoch/Fox/Sky world.

        • Boambee John says:

          Stu

          “not covered in the Murdoch/Fox/Sky world.”

          Your paranoia is showing, as is your tendency to stereotype those who disagree with you.

          For the record, I don’t watch Fox or Sky, and the last time I picked up a Murdoch paper was when visiting family in February (they subscribe, why I do not know, waste of money).

          Yet you seem intimately familiar with all the “bogey-man” sources you accuse others of following, not just those three. As I have said often, widen your range of sources. But also apply a little critical thought to what you read.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Our stu screams “hysteria” and then proceeds to be more hysterical than anyone.

    But while admitting China is guilty he alibis the WHO leader who didn’t call them out and then summons his Trump Derangement Virus to put us all straight with his “detailed” history of events.

    Go back to your self isolating, stu, and try getting your mind right.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Some facts for you to familiarise yourself with in self isolation, stu:

    https://spectator.org/the-impeachment-that-killed-americans/

    • Stu says:

      You are a sorry case, poor old soul. Take care lest you trip. You really thInk Trump knows how to spell? He cannot even manage the self correct function. You have been sucked into the vortex and will not find your way out. The emperors new suit is not there. But I do grant you that the man has amazing powers of persuasion one on one, how else to explain the arse kissers around him. I watched an interesting series on Netflix about WW2 and it was striking the similarities with Hitler and the Donald. Scary really. Can you recall a president where every speaker at his events begins with such pitiful, obsequious bull shit as happens now? I know you always change the subject and never respond to any point made, but please address this issue one.

      • Boambee John says:

        Stu

        Stop trying to cover up your embarrassment at falling for a simple trick. You are with the geniuses of the media in that.

        Netflix?? Really scraping the bottom of the barrel there! Are you waiting for the Barack and Michelle show stopper?

  • dlb says:

    With the exception of Jo Nova, right leaning websites are becoming apoplectic about the Government’s lockdown of the economy and personal freedoms. God help anyone who makes a comment in support of the Government or Epidemiologists.

    Typical protestations being: “He’s worse than Whitlam!”, “It’s Socialism!”, “the one world government has arrived”, “How are we going to pay for this!”,
    ” A ban on guns and ammo!”, “The UBI has arrived!”, “The ABC have got what they wanted”, ” More people die with the flu”, etc, etc, etc

    I suppose we must have freedom of speech, but If the results of the “The Australian Conservatives ” at the last election is anything to go by, these people don’t realise what a minority they are.

    Haven’t heard much from Pauline or Jacquie lately, I would be interested to hear their “everyman” view on the crisis.

  • Neville says:

    Dr Roy Spencer is always a very thorough data man and here he compares normal European deaths for this time of the year with the last 3 years.

    He finds no increase in deaths and even a slight drop this year compared to the last few years. Perhaps people being locked down/isolated and much improved hygiene like regularly washing hands etc has helped to reduce deaths from the flu etc this year? Who knows?

    Here’s the link and his post and some interesting comments as well. Check out the graph at the link.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2020/03/covid-19-deaths-in-europe-excess-mortality-is-down/

    COVID-19 Deaths in Europe: Excess Mortality is – DOWN?
    March 29th, 2020 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

    Given the global hysteria over the spread COVID-19, you might be excused if you are very surprised to learn that the most recent week of mortality data in the EU shows an actual decline from what is expected for this time of year.

    In the coming months there will be an increasing debate over whether the virtual shutdown of our economy was warranted given the threat of the latest form of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. While there are still large uncertainties about how fast it spreads and how lethal it is (statistically, those are inversely related), I suspect we will ultimately realize that our response might well have done more harm than good to society as a whole.

    This is mainly because poverty is the leading cause of premature death in the world, and shutting down the economy leads to premature death for a multitude of reasons related to poverty. In the extreme example, you could save lives in the short run by keeping everyone at home, but in the long run we would all starve to death.

    But that is not the main subject of this post.

    A couple weeks ago I started expressing the opinion on social media that if our reaction to the spread of COVID-19 turns out to be overdone, it might end up having the unexpected consequence of reducing total virus-related mortality.

    Let me explain.

    As I am sure you are aware, seasonal flu is a global killer, with 300,000 to 650,000 deaths on average each year, mainly among the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions. At this writing, COVID-19 has killed 10% or less of that number. (Yes, I realize that number might have been considerably higher if not for our response).

    Here’s the point: It might well be that the increased level of hand-washing, sanitizing, and social distancing we have exercised might save more lives from reducing influenza-A and -B that were lost to COVID-19, and that net virus-related mortality might go down this season.

    I personally became more careful about not spreading germs several years ago. No so much for myself (I have a pretty strong immune system) but so I would not carry disease home to my family members. I carry antibacterial wipes in my car and use them religiously. We are hearing more and more now about how such habits can help prolong the lives of those around us who are elderly or have compromised immune systems.

    Now, recent results from Europe suggest that the COVID-19 response might be having the unintended benefit of saving total lives. This is all very preliminary, I realize, and that coming weeks might see some change in that picture. But it is worth thinking about.

    Early Results from Europe

    Every week (on Thursday) the Euro MOMO project (European MOnitoring of excess MOrtality) publishes a report of mortality statistics across the EU, including stratification by age group. The latest report (which I believe includes data through March 24, but I am not sure) shows (green line) no uptick in total mortality from the assumed baseline (red line). In fact, it’s a little below that line (they also account for missing and late reports).

    Amazingly, this flu season is seen to be surprisingly mild compared to previous flu seasons in the EU. On the chart I have also indicated the number of reported COVID-19 deaths in the most recent week, around 7,000.

    Why do we not see an uptick on the chart? The charts for individual countries do show an up-tick for Italy (for example), but not unlike what was seen in previous flu seasons.

    The report itself provides two or three possible explanations, none of which are particularly satisfying. Read it yourself and tell me it doesn’t sound like the people writing the report are also somewhat mystified. They don’t mention what I am discussing here.

    So, the chart begs at least two questions:
    1) Are the effects of practicing increased hygiene in response to COVID-19 saving more lives that would have been lost to seasonal flu deaths, than are being lost to COVID-19 itself?
    2) Why are we not outraged and deathly afraid of the seasonal flu (-A and -B), given the widespread death that routinely occurs from those viruses that come around each season?

    You might claim, “It’s because COVID-19 can kill anyone, not just the elderly.” Well, that’s true of the seasonal flu, as well. The case of an apparently healthy 44-year-old Texas man who recently died of COVID-19 probably scares many people, but according to the CDC approximately 5 “healthy” young people a day in the U.S. under the age of 25 die from sudden cardiac arrest. Maybe that Texas man had an underlying health condition that was previously undiagnosed. Unless they do an autopsy, and the family reveals the results, we will never know.

    And, you might well think of other reasons why EU deaths have not experienced an uptick yet. Human behavior involves many confounding variables. I’m just mentioning one potential reason I am not seeing discussed.

    I am not trying to minimize the deaths due to COVID-19. I’m trying to point out that if we are fearful of death from COVID-19, we should be even more concerned about the seasonal flu (many people are saying this), and that one benefit of the current experience might be that people will be more mindful about avoiding the spread of viruses in the future.

    • Jeffrey Dun says:

      “God help anyone who makes a comment in support of the Government or Epidemiologists.”

      Which epidemiologists are you speaking of dib ? The Imperial College London study that suggested that 500,000 could die in UK alone, or the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine that have estimated a fatality rate of around 0.2% (similar to the flu) ?

      I note the recent (editorial) comment from the Oxford Group concluded with the following:

      “Lockdown is going to bankrupt all of us and our descendants and is unlikely at this point to slow or halt viral circulation as the genie is out of the bottle. What the current situation boils down to is this: is economic meltdown a price worth paying to halt or delay what is already amongst us?”

      When the experts don’t agree it’s only natural that there will be vigorous debate among the rest of us. There is a lot at stake !

  • Stu says:

    So it is not just SD pushing the “impeachment caused this catastrophe” argument. Even the not so great Moscow Mitch McConnell is on the game. The problem with that argument is that:

    “Look at the calendar. The impeachment trial ended on Feb. 5. . .Trump managed to get to Mar-a-Lago at least four times in January and February . . .He held five campaign rallies around the country during the impeachment trial” — @gtconway3d.

    And until last week it was all going to be over by easter Brilliant, but his ratings are good, better than the Bachelor finale! You should be careful his stupidity might rub off on you. What is that you say, he really is smart and misspells to get more attention? If you believe that you have already been infected.

    SD and company I suggest you all go to one of the large gatherings evangelical folk are planning around that time to defy the lock down advice. The more of you there the better. After all “it is no worse than the flu” is it guys?

    And I see the White House is now saying that if they do everything right only 200,000 will die in US. That does not sound like flu. And do you think it is normal to have refrigerated trucks outside New York hospitals to store the bodies?

  • Neville says:

    Here’s my comment on Don’s latest post about choices.

    Neville
    April 1, 2020 at 9:26 am
    Don I agree with your summary and I too have no idea how long it will take us to pay our way out of debt.
    BTW more than half of the CV- 19 cases + deaths in the USA come from just 2 states and they are New York and New Jersey with a combined pop of just 29.5 mil people out of the USA pop of 330 mil.
    Europe has a much higher CV-19 death rate than the USA and very much higher if NY and NJ aren’t counted.
    But then again total deaths in Europe are slightly lower this year, at this time, compared to the last 3 years. Who knows why and perhaps this could change?
    BTW I’ve used Worldometer CV site for USA deaths by states, deaths etc.

  • Stu says:

    For the Trumpers to consider when saying the impeachment process made things worse.

    “It’s a lose-lose question for him.
    If he says the impeachment slowed him down, he’s admitting he didn’t do well.
    If he says the impeachment didn’t slow him down, he can’t use it as an excuse.”

    And neville a question for you on deaths in Europe which you say “are slightly lower at this time” . Not sure about that but it raises the question where have the usual 7,000 a month road deaths gone? Perhaps that explains the drop, no one is out and about. But not a good reason to discount the Covid death toll.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Poor ol’ stu is so overcome with Trump Derangement Virus he can’t focus.

    Aren’t you getting a pay rise this week, stueyluv?

    • Stu says:

      Can’t focus on what? You really are a piece of work! I would rather have the so called derangement syndrome than be a victim of TAD, trump adoration disease, which you clearly seem to have a double dose of.

      A good read today is the editorial in the Boston Globe (tuesday there). But I am sure the usual troop here will denounce the Globe as one of those “lefty” media outlets, indicating the lack of understanding of US politics and media. There is practically no leftist media in USA, even the Democrats cannot be called left, merely left of the far right Republican camp.

      • Boambee John says:

        Stu

        “TAD, trump adoration disease,”

        Diagnosed over the web by Dr Stu.

        Sole sympom: not instinctively rejecting the Satan Trump and all his works.

        • Stu says:

          “Sole sympom: not instinctively rejecting the Satan Trump and all his works.”. No mate you have it all wrong. It is not instinct, it is the result of careful consideration of all the evidence (which continues to mount along with his thousands of lies), you should try it sometime, if you can get your blinkers off. Good luck.

          • Boambee John says:

            Stu

            Who is wearing the blinkers is like a differential – a matter of a pinion.

          • spangled drongo says:

            “Can’t focus on what?”

            Try reality for a start, stueyluv.

            You know, the two things you always have trouble with.

            Reality and evidence.

            As in not being able to supply evidence of AGW in your blog-lifetime.

            I don’t think you have any idea about evidence.

            But here’s something you can really get hysterical about; COVID-19 itself may actually erode public support for stronger climate action, as the pace of climate ambition wanes during times of economic hardship…..

            You bed-wetters might discover that you just didn’t realise how lucky you were.

  • Boambee John says:

    From tge BBC, so should be OK for Stu to accept.

    “A number of European governments have rejected Chinese-made equipment designed to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

    Thousands of testing kits and medical masks are below standard or defective, according to authorities in Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands.”

    Note, the goods were purchased, not donated.

  • Stu says:

    SD and BJ as usual quoting from sources they don’t fully read or understand. Example, sd appears not to comprehend the US legislative system. So what about the Pelosi bill, it did not survive and was replaced by a worse one passed down from Mitch in the senate. In both cases there is a habit of adding provisions not always related directly to the bill at hand. The process is called earmarking, was meant to be ended but has not. That is how bits of many bills which the House had sent to the Senate and been ignored were used as the basis this time. Last count over 500 bills have been totally ignored by the Mitch run Senate.

    Regarding the bill that did pass both houses there were some odd things in there also. Such as provision for testing of sunscreen lotions, including winding back rules on animal testing. A few million of course does not go astray in the home state of Moscow Mitch. Oh and as the Politico story says, there were no windmills in the House Bill.

    And regarding the BBC, yes they are a good reliable source of truthful reporting. Here is a quote from an article titled “Coronavirus: What this crisis reveals about US – and its president” by Nick Bryant BBC News 24 March. The whole article is worth reading and you can find it via the BBC app.

    “Of the three questions, the last one is the least interesting, largely because Donald Trump’s response has been so predictable. He has not changed. He has not grown. He has not admitted errors. He has shown little humility.
    Instead, all the hallmarks of his presidency have been on agitated display. The ridiculous boasts – he has awarded himself a 10 out of 10 for his handling of the crisis. The politicisation of what should be the apolitical – he toured the Centers for Disease Control wearing a campaign cap emblazoned with the slogan “Keep America Great”.
    The mind-bending truth-twisting – he now claims to have fully appreciated the scale of the pandemic early on, despite dismissing and downplaying the threat for weeks. The attacks on the “fake news” media, including a particularly vicious assault on a White House reporter who asked what was his message to frightened Americans: “I tell them you are a terrible reporter.” His pettiness and peevishness – mocking Senator Mitt Romney, the only Republican who voted at the end of the impeachment trial for his removal from office, for going into isolation.”

    Enjoy

    • Boambee John says:

      And at the end if Stu’s tutorial, grandma finally knew how to suck eggs.

      For prolix irrelevant pomposity, you give Chris a good run for his money.

      • Stu says:

        Did you read the article Dick? Oh and by the way did you see your hero now admits the death toll in USA might be on the wrong side of 100,000 and I am being conservative there. And yes sure, the cash will not be there for climate change actions, but guess what, there may be a renewed respect for scientists and the advice they give. Sleep well fool, carry your guilt fully.

        • Boambee John says:

          Stu

          Your big problem is that you have a binary view of everything. You are incapable of any nuance. It is either Trump evil, evil, evil or Trump is a hero.

          I am happy to admit that Trump is not perfect. He is a human being, and can never be perfect. You, OTOH, see everything in black and white. Develop some intellectual maturity, if at all possible.

  • Stu says:

    Things sometimes are binary, like good and evil. In some things lately they are more than out of balance. You presume way too much, but prey tell me some of the good things the Trump administration has done. US$133million for golf, so far. Delayed response to corona out of fear for re-election etc etc. But I am open to positives. However I will not be convinced of wondrous stories regarding North Korea or China trade deals, Afghanistan, NATO etc, not yet. True he is a human being and cannot be perfect, but we have become accustomed to Presidents with just a little humanity, modesty, brains, humility, common sense, ability to listen to sound advice etc etc. Your man sadly for us all displays none of these traits, so sad, for us all. But of course you are welcome to your opinion. Cast your mind back over recent reigns, none come close to this one. By most reasonable reviews Trump goes down as the worst president in memory, maybe even history, and there have been some real failures. Don’t you cringe when you hear him speak? No emotion, no empathy, no compassion, no understanding of the meaning of the words. You are welcome to him, so long as he does not take us all down.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Just as I have been telling you stu.

      Trump Derangement Virus truly is your problem.

      If he is as bad as you say, why are you so concerned?

      He will be easily defeated in November.

      But judging by the level of the Dems [and your] hysteria, he will obviously win and you and Nancy will be really up the creek.

      • Stu says:

        Answer the question, what good has he done? And yes our great fear is that he will win again to the detriment of all of us. Tell me why you are so confident that will be in your best interest. Or is your adulation so great you can see no down side at all? Regarding November the worry is that the US system is somewhat rigged. Did you see the man the other day actually admit that if the Democrats succeeded in making voting easier (presumably for the virtually disenfranchised) then the republicans could not maintain control (of the Senate). Do you realise the US has no equivalent of our AEC, each state does its own thing, to the detriment of many. But there you go, democracy eh, and I expect your knowledge of the USA and its political system is not very deep.

        • Boambee John says:

          Stu

          “Regarding November the worry is that the US system is somewhat rigged”

          All those dead voters can have that effect.

    • Boambee John says:

      Stu

      “but we have become accustomed to Presidents with just a little humanity, modesty, brains, humility, common sense, ability to listen to sound advice”

      I’m sure GW Bush would be grateful for your endorsement!

      Obama? ROFLMAO.

      But enough of this “my politician is smarter than yours”, can we drag the discussion back to Don’s original post?

      • Stu says:

        No you are a long way gone from there, your fault. And yes even that low brow character Bush the second seems like a genius now. And a big chunk of the world would be very happy to have O back, except of course the ultra right. Satisfied are you?

  • Neville says:

    Interesting to look at the EU 27 countries versus the USA and deaths from CV -19.
    The USA now has 12 deaths per mil and the EU now has 27.8 deaths per mil or more than double the US number.
    Check the latest data from the Worldometer CV site.

  • Neville says:

    Another new trial to start from the Doherty Institute to treat 2,400 CV patients with Hydroxychloroquine and one other drug to try and protect them from the worst outcome and hopefully lead to a recovery from the illness.
    Here Andrew Bolt talks to the professor who will be running the trial. It should start in a matter of days and is funded by three billionaires, two are Aussies and one Chinese.

    https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/virus-hope-big-test-of-drugs-on-australian-patients/news-story/e3dda0727e7b1f06af81bd99ab041ba8

  • Chris Warren says:

    Tomorrow will go down as a Black Friday as it looks like from Worldometer that we will pass 1 million cases

  • Neville says:

    Most of the highest number of USA deaths from US states are sourced from Democrat led governors.
    In fact 8 of the 11 top states have a Democrat governor and 3 are Republicans.
    In fact the 7 top states with the highest number of deaths have Democrat governors and NY and NJ ( just 8.6% of USA pop) have nearly 50% of deaths so far.
    At the lower end of the scale about 19 states still have no more than 10 deaths and a few have no recorded deaths so far to 2/4/20.
    Look up the data from Worldometer CV-19 for yourselves.

    • Stu says:

      Nev, you really do wear your politics on your sleeve don’t you? Can’t you leave the left/right bullshit out of it just for now? I refer to your statement “Most of the highest number of USA deaths from US states are sourced from Democrat led governors.” Or do you have some valid reason for that kind of statement?

      • Boambee John says:

        Stu

        You really are narrow minded and not in the least self-reflective.

        Go back and read some of your comments yesterday. Most them were far more political, and far more nastily phrased. Your politics weren’t just on your sleeve, they were on the front of an XXXL shirt.

        On the subject, isn’t it time you updated from the old and dated left/right paradigm. It is far more useful these days to use one of the following dichotomies:

        Cosmopolitan/parochial,

        Internationalist/nationalist,

        Anywheres/somewheres, or

        (Self selected) elites/ordinary people.

        PS, I think the reported numbers might be a “valid reason for that kind of statement”.

        • Stu says:

          Political as in saying that Trump is hopeless and has lead a terrible response to warnings of a pandemic. That is not party political. But you are clearly with your endless left right rubbish. Time to grow up or shut up. Meantime you ducked the simple question as usual “what was the point of your most cases in democrat lead states” posting.

        • Chris Warren says:

          Also

          “red neck/progressive”

          I assume Boambee was too embarrassed to include himself.

          • Boambee John says:

            Chris

            Actually, that is Rational/regressive.

            Most so-called “progressive” policies are extremely regressive when actually implemented.

            And you have broken your word. This is at least the third time you have responded to me since stating that you would ignore my comments.

            PS, do try to upgrade the quality of your insults. “Red neck” is primary school level name calling.

          • Stu says:

            BJ, you and Nev are so close it does not matter, what is good for the goose etc. You responded to my post replying to the evil one and I responded to that post. Back to the numbers, sure that is what the figures show but so what? The fact that the two most populous states have the biggest exposure to overseas arrivals and have dense settlement explains the high numbers early and has nothing to do with political colour. I look forward to your assumptions when things catch up with the smaller (often Republican) states. Of course the fact that some Governors (eg DeSantis in Florida) have been slow to act will influence the outcome. In fact in the case of Florida he is helping the spread by exempting religious gatherings from the social distancing and lock down rules. Great idea. That might change the political colour of Florida over the next few months. Likely one more for the other side of your political balance sheet.

            I don’t think this thread is adding much value now and ought to close.

          • Peter S says:

            I’ve been watching the exchanges. I am not really into simply arguing opinions, which is why I have chosen to simply observe. However I will express one opinion. The best way to close a thread is simply to abstain from commenting or replying. Over to you guys..

  • Neville says:

    For the usual donkeys here is a clue. First find EU 27 countries on say Wiki, then look up each country at Worldometer and write down deaths per mil and then add them up and divide by 27.
    Click on Worldometer and click on USA to find states deaths etc, or then search online for Governors or whatever.

  • Neville says:

    Most of Africa has been a hell hole for malaria for a very long time, yet this may also be a help in fending off CV-19 because of the malarial drugs used over the years.
    South Africa has a pop of 59 mil and very low infection so far from CV-19 and this seems to have extended to their 5 mil or so whites as well.
    So far there have been just 5 deaths, 7 now serious or critical and just 0.08 deaths per mil people. Australia’s health care is the best in the world and yet our 25+ mil pop have recorded 23 deaths and our deaths are now 0.9 per mil.
    Very good compared to most other wealthy countries, but nothing like all the African countries or parts of Asia etc. Even Papua New Guinea is doing very well.
    Let’s hope we have some good news from the latest trials taking place in OZ and around the world.

  • Stu says:

    Peter S, I agree. See you on the other side of this crisis. Don, stay home, stay safe.

    Om mani padme hum

    • spangled drongo says:

      Before you go stu, just observe the typical stupidity of your green friends’ “environmental” solutions:

      San Francisco was one of the first cities in the U.S. to ban the use of plastic shopping bags in 2007 to reduce the environmental impact caused by plastic waste.

      Now they ban reusables with the new ordinance from the San Francisco Department of Public Health reinforcing existing social distancing protocols by restricting customers from bringing their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items to essential stores.

      Maybe now when idiots like this admit they were happy to make you sick to “save the planet” people will be able to sue them for squillions.

  • Suellen says:

    Hi Don.

    Another great insight and followed by some lively discussion.

    I am also concerned regrading the mental health of those who are in isolation for long periods of time. I happen to be undergoing chemotherapy and am immunosupressed. Working in a hospital it has always been a concern of my managers, despite being cleared by my oncologist to work non-clinical (this is my usual job).
    I was made to take 10 days leave and having my trip to the US cancelled I had a stay at home holiday. Living alone (apart from my dog) I missed the social interactions. There is only so much Netflix you can watch.

    I returned to work this week, only to find that I was not returning to my office, but working from one of the outer buildings away from the main hospital. There would be nobody around. Again more social isolation. I have argued and continue to do so that my mental health is just as important as taking cautions not to get COVID.

    It is this social isolation by the community as a whole that really concerns me. My father is 85 and far more social than I am!! He is usually out for dinner at least 3 times per week and catchs up with friends for coffee most days. The first problem is that he really does not understand the severity of COVID and the effects. He was still “shopping” each day up until last week. (my father has several degrees in engineering so has some intelligence). Since he had a stern talking to by both his daughters, he has stayed home. My sister has seen a decline in his mental status as the lack of social interaction starts to take hold. He is becoming more depressed and as a result does not want to do anything. Thus the cycle begins. We are lucking. My sister is re locating him and his dogs to her property.

    What will happen to others that do not have family to look after them? You have very clearly detailed the issues with the residents. What can we do with all the others that are in the community in social isolation and whose mental health is at risk? This does not have to be just the elderly. What about the immunosupressed?

    The COVID has thrown up more issues than just being a pesky virus. It will make us look at ourselves as a community and how we look after those who are the most vulnerable.

    • Boambee John says:

      Suellen

      Well said.

      The deaths so far from Kung Flu (despite poor advice and decisions by the WHO, have been limired in number. Meanwhile, tardy or apparently incompetent actions by our Commonwealth and some state governments have caused despair in parts of the community affected by the partial shutdown.

      I suspect that the final toll of suicides and broken lives will exceed the number of coronavirus deaths.

  • Boambee John says:

    Good morning Don

    Bit quiet in here, but I would like to wish you and your wife the best.

    Have a happy Easter, I hope that at least some of your family are able to visit you.

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