The “CoronaPanic” marches on. It consists of, is driven by, and/or is propped up by a combination of: Fiasco, farce, fascism, failure, fantasy, fanaticism, and a ferocious fit of feeling-over-thinking.
While there is a flu pandemic going on, we now know it is a minor and rather unremarkable one. (Opinions differ on just how unremarkable; Dr. Knut Wittkowski, a hero of the hour, has recently suggested it looks a lot like the Swine Flu pandemic strain of 2009-10 in its true ‘hit’ potential.) The virus’ impact is dwarfed by a parallel force which I will capitalize for effect. Think of it as: the flu pandemic vs. The Hysteria Pandemic. An abbreviated way to refer to the latter is “the CoronaPanic.”
The CoronaPanic is as a demonic entity that has forced its way into our reality. In this post, I want to show the difference of the immediate effects of the flu pandemic vs. The Hysteria Pandemic, as observable in New York City (jump to the section on New York).
A brief word on why I am writing this series of posts.
I believe the fight against the CoronaPanic is a duty for “those of us who can see.” There remain cynics who continue to believe that the best thing to do is “beg the demonic force of the CoronaPanic for table scraps as it feasts on our national soul.” I deal with this in Part II (“Say ‘No’ to jockeying for political advantage on the coattails of Corona Hysteria”).
The evidence we have continues to be against the pro-CoronaPanic side’s alarmist predictions and apocalyptic views, as is observed reality everywhere, including/especially in the case of Sweden, the greatest hero of the hour we have (Update 4/29: See also Sweden Fully Vindicated; Graphing Sweden’s near-Complete Epidemic). The continuous stream of good news never seems to actually make its way into discourse, which is well and truly surreal to observe.
As one of the editors of OffGuardian, Kit Knightly, recently said:
“The most peculiar thing about COVID19 so far has been that they are not hiding the data […] The data is right there, and yet it is separate from the narrative, which never references the data; the data never references the narrative. What you have to do is basically ignore everything the media says, and just look at the numbers, and…where the numbers come from.”
Many of us realized this at about the height of the Panic, but the initiative had totally been lost to the Corona-extremists, who were enabled, if not led outright, by the media.
Why is the media ignoring the data and pushing a largely-data-detached narrative of cherry-picked, “scary-looking, big, contexless numbers“? Maybe it’s out of garden-variety ignorance; maybe it’s that they know better but have caved into the group-hysteria and group-think; maybe it’s out of a very cynical desire for the crisis to be as bad as possible so that they look good, even heroic, for reporting on it. I believe all of the above are true, and they partly explain the media’s disgraceful role in promoting CoronaPanic, which is nicely depicted in this image:
One way or another, to entrust the media with your Corona news is to entrust the henhouse to a team of foxes.
If the media “throws a number at you,” the simple act of asking basic, critical questions is often enough for the narrative to unravel in front of you. Which is what follows about New York City.
The surprise. In the search for answers, you can/will find hidden stories, such as the one I am going to try to tell below, in which we can tentatively quantify the impact of the Panic vs. the impact of the virus. The surprise is that even in terms of immediate-term body count, the Panic is much worse than the virus, the cure much worse than the disease for the body-politic; the net-losers, almost everyone.
The Coronavirus in New York: Piercing the Numbers-Fog
A commenter on the previous post (“‘Just the Flu’ Vindicated“) asks:
[W]hat do you make of the New York news release claiming 24000 deaths since March 1, which supposedly is 4 times normal. Is this true?
Good question. Given the sensationalist way the media has covered the US hotspot of New York City, there is no better opportunity to look for context, to practice the art of critical inquiry, to ask basic questions.
In an introductory section to the “Just the Flu Vindicated” post, I wrote about the media and the pro-CoronaPanic side (but I repeat myself!)’s “Scary-looking, Big, Contextless Numbers” tactic. The alarming-seeming numbers out of New York City are a good case study of this phenomenon. Twenty-four thousand!
MattinLA asks whether it is “true” that there were 24,000 deaths up to April 22. I don’t doubt that the 24,000 coronavirus-positive-deaths figure is true, in the sense that they have counted 24,000 bodies since March 1 which were positive for the virus. But this is not the same as 24,000 coronavirus-caused deaths, and in any case the number 24,000 itself needs context to have any real meaning.
What does the “24,000 deaths” figure mean?
As a first-off, bird’s-eye-view, one-line response, I’d offer this:
What a number like that (24,000) more likely shows is that the virus was/is widespread in the population at a given time that those ‘positives’ were logged on the death rolls.
In statistics we run what is called a Null Hypothesis test. If we assume the virus has a <0.15% fatality rate in New York, can we use the data we have to definitely reject that “null hypothesis”? It looks unlikely. (cf.: Austrian researchers have found that in their country’s case, the null-hypothesis that coronavirus-positives have been dying at the same rate as coronavirus-negatives in Austria could not be rejected; in other words, at the time of that study there was no firm statistical evidence for the virus being uniquely dangerous at all, in Austria at least.)
Put another way: Given that we have data out of a lot of places now that all suggests a fatality-rate between 0.02% and 0.2% (which is, embarrassingly for the Panic-pushers, within the normal range for flu viruses), which of the following is more likely on why we have seen a high number of deaths in New York City (although a fairly counted true toll is not 24,000; see below). Is it:
(a) that the virus in highly urban New York City spread more fully and sooner than it did in other places, and therefore has yielded more virus-positive deaths in roughly proportional terms to its spread, or
(b) that the virus is much more deadly in New York City than the same strain of flu virus is in other places, including neighboring localities, or
(c) that the data in NYC is right and the data most everywhere else is wrong; that only New York’s (seeming, at-first-glance) death figures are “true.” Most other countries, regions, cities, and testing authorities have either bungled their data, or are covering it up.
One of those three must be true. To immediately assume (c), to run with (c), brooking no dissent on (c), is the mark of the true “Doomer,” or CoronaCultist. The latter is someone so obsessed with the Panic that that they have effectively converted to a religion centered around it.
I believe the media’s default position is effectively a soft version of (c). They don’t say this directly. It is implied.
Few of the assumers of (c) stop to ask whether they have made a reasonable assumption. They start to love Corona in a perverse way. They start to their chains. Maybe it’s useful to think of it in terms of a “Corona Stockholm Syndrome” (ironically, the Stockholmers themselves proved ‘immune’ from this syndrome; see also Sweden Vindicated).
Now on to analyzing the “24,000 deaths” number itself. First we should establish the base population. Reports are that it applies to the NYC metro area, not to NYC proper. I assume they are using the NYC Metropolitan Statistical Area measure, population 20.3 million.
The first question to ask is:
How many deaths are normal for the same time period?
This is to say, how many deaths are statistically expected for the period March 1 to April 22, for the NYC metro area, in a regular year (53 days of late winter, into early spring), absent a peak-flu-event? (and what about with a peak flu event?)
The number of normal-expected deaths for the NYC-MSA is probably in the vicinity of 25,000 to 27,000, if their death rate is in line with the national average. (If someone has the exact numbers of deaths for the same period in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, those would be useful. I can’t imagine it will be far off 26,000.)
If, in February and March, this flu virus achieved the level of penetration in NYC that it appears to have done, a lot of the normal/expected deaths in March and April would have been “corona-positive” at death. They would have died imminently anyway, in many cases on exactly the same day and the presence of the flu virus is coincidental and did not contribute to death.
In other words, there is going to be overlap between the categories “normal deaths” and “coronavirus-positive deaths.” How much overlap is hard to say, but we know from elsewhere that it is high. It could easily be half (as it was in Hamburg, Germany, when they started dividing between “deaths with” and “deaths from” this much-hyped virus), plausibly even more than half (as seen in early reports in Sweden, which estimated up to two-thirds were “deaths with”). For simplicity of calculation, let’s say half.
Deaths could, therefore, not have risen 4x above normal because of the virus. If total deaths did rise 4x above normal, putting total deaths for the period at 100,000+, something else caused most of the excess deaths, because there aren’t nearly enough coronavirus-positive deaths to account for it. Epecially not when measuring deaths fairly (see paragraph above). This is the first hint that something dark may be going on here, the big surprise we find when we tug on the numbers: That the Panic has killed more people already than the virus.
I haven’t yet seen any official, all-cause-mortality data for NYC metro area for the CoronaPanic period. The New York Times published some graphs that appear to have been made by their staffers, manually adding all reported corona-positive deaths as marginal deaths onto a graph plotting a supposed historical-running-average; if so, that is dishonest but alas unsurprising for the way Corona discourse goes.
Conceptual categories for deaths during a peak-flu-event (and a Panic)
Useful would be thinking in terms of four categories of deaths, conceptually, all of which we can theoretically calculate when the smoke clears, and as for now make estimates:
- Corona-positive Normal Deaths;
- Corona-negative Normal Deaths;
- Corona-positive Excess Deaths….sub-dividable into: (3a.) those dying of a respiratory disease (some very large share of which may be attributed to “COVID19” during the epidemic); (3b.) those dying of, or primarily of, other causes, with the virus playing an ambiguous role at most;
- Corona-negative Excess Deaths.
The “24,000 corona-positive deaths” figure is distributed between categories (1) and (3). (1)+(2) must add to 26,000 (or whatever the exact number is of normal deaths absent a peak-flu-event temporary spike in deaths).
The deaths in “(3a.)” are true victims of the viral flu epidemic. In this case, because there was a Panic, the theoretically fully calculable figure of (3) must be treated with caution. The less-calculable figure (3a.) is what we are really after.
The deaths in “(4)” are unambiguous victims of the Panic. Reports are that hospitals in NYC have had record-low intakes, especially heart attack victims have dropped off. These deaths would not have occurred had a Panic been averted in mid-March. The Panic-pushers are responsible for these deaths.
The weeks-long, pro-CoronaPanic stranglehold on the media (looking set to last months more), and the successful pushing of the hysteria (see image above for an artistic reproduction) made many tens of thousands too scared to seek treatment when they needed urgent care.
Some thousands of these unlucky, frightened people will have died of (treatable) ailments like heart attacks. These are clear cases of “4.”
[Update (April 24):] Here is a graphical representation, found online, of the rise in “at-home deaths” in New York City. We know from much data elsewhere that coronavirus-attributable deaths very seldom occur at home, but are slow onset and victims are hospitalized first. It’s likely that the entirety of this excess is to people in category “4,” running hundreds a day for over a month:
The funny thing is, if someone dies in such circumstances — the heart attack victim who doesn’t seek help — and ends up positive for the virus at death, he still goes up onto the bloodthirsty media’s “Big Board of Corona Deaths.” This is a kind of ‘scam’ and bogus data that led some on the anti-CoronaPanic side to use the the term “Scamdemic.”
The practice of over-counting corona victims is satirically shown here, a jab at the pro-CoronaPanic side, circulating by early-mid April:
Some nursing homes have also been abandoned by cowardly, panicking staff (ultimately driven to the Panic by the media), and in such places there have been cases of elderly residents dying from lack of care. These deaths, at least some of them, are attributable to the Panic, not the Virus, mostly sortable into category 3b or 4.
What are best-guesses for the number of deaths in each category? If we have a known figure of 24,000 total Corona-Positive Deaths, and a figure of 26,000 Normal Deaths (recalling that these are overlapping), and if we have significant virus penetration/spread in the population which especially hit places like nursing homes where many are close to death in any case, the split may look something close to this:
Total Deaths in New York City metro area for the period (est.) (proposed):
- Corona-positive Normal Deaths: 12,000
- Corona-negative Normal Deaths: 14,000
- Corona-positive Excess Deaths: 12,000 (some unnecessary and caused by the Panic; 5,000-10,000 true coronavirus-induced deaths?)
- Corona-negative Excess Deaths: ? (all unnecessary, collateral victims of the Panic)
The (1)+(2) figure is 26,000 (the normal death rate), and here it is proposed 45% of normal-deaths were positive at death during the height of the epidemic, which may or may not run slightly ahead of the total-population penetration rate. It is reasonable to assume it runs ahead of the full-population rate because of spread within hospitals and other long-term care facilities with terminal patients whose time had come in March/April and would have come absent a flu-virus epidemic.
As for (3) and (4). If a Panic is ongoing, or there is some other non-virus-related mechanism causing excess deaths (in other words, if “(4)” is above zero), “(3)” must be subdivided. The force driving “(4)” will also be spilling over into “(3),” hence the proposed (3a.) and (3b.), which are harder to calculate. Just because you are positive does not mean you get a serious disease; very few do. But you might well still die of something else (like those heart attack victims who stay hunkered down at home) while incidentally positive and be an excess death.
[MAJOR UPDATE (April 25): See a comment below. The numbers now released for deaths occurring through April 18, including average age for corona-positive vs. corona-negative deaths, place of death for corona-positive deaths, and deaths in New York City through April 18, corona-positive vs. corona-negative) offer strong corroboration for the contents of this post.]
New York City at the cusp of Herd Immunity
If the number I propose there for “(1)” is correct, and such a large portion of corona-positive NYC metro area deaths have been in “people who were dying anyway” (suggested by, e.g., the report that half of corona-positive deaths have been to nursing home patients), this would mean the virus has reached a large share of the total population, something like 30% to 40% population penetration this writing. (= 6 to 8 million people in the metro area having had current or past contact with the virus), with terminal patients running ahead of that rate. If this is the case, we are once again down to the 0.1% fatality rate range for the virus itself.
Here is the calculation derived from the above:
<10,000 deaths in the NYC metro area fairly attributable to the direct effect of the virus
7 million people in the region whose bodies have had contact with the virus (@ 35% of metro area population of 20.3 million being either a past- or present-positive)
= ca. 0.1% fatality rate
…which is in line with the numbers out of just about every other large-area study since early April), and we are back to Just The Flu.
If the virus penetration rate is that high, it is good news, as it means New York City’s epidemic is already over, or very soon over, as they are at the cusp of Herd Immunity. It also suggests that the lockdowns were unnecessary and created a Panic that killed more than the virus ever could. A complete failure of policy, driven by a hostile media and cowardly or demagogic political leaders. If there are any responsible people left in charge, they need to take action to end the deadly and destructive Panic.
Just how deadly might the Great Hysteria Pandemic (as against the lesser virus pandemic) have been?
On non-coronavirus-attributable excess deaths
Recalling the four categories of deaths again:
- Corona-positive Normal Deaths;
- Corona-negative Normal Deaths;
- Corona-positive Excess Deaths…sub-dividable into: (3a.) those dying of a respiratory disease (some very large share of which may be attributed to “COVID19” during the epidemic); (3b.) those dying of, or primarily of, other causes, with the virus playing an ambiguous role at most;
- Corona-negative Excess Deaths.
What might be the totals for (4), corona-negative excess deaths, and (3b.), corona-positive excess deaths not caused by a respiratory disease? Put more directly: How many people have the lockdowns already killed in NYC?
When we get final and confirmed total-mortality data for the NYC metro area, which may not be soon (if someone has this, please leave a comment), we can calculate (4) as follows:
[Total Reported Deaths] minus (1) minus (2) minus (3) = (4).
[Update (April 24):] Recall this graph from above:
[Update (April 24), cont.:] We see that excess deaths at home may have pushed up to 7,500, cumulative, by April 22, for NYC proper alone; this may need to be up to doubled for the NYC metro as a whole. Therefore 15,000 may be a ballpark-estimate for for “(4),” plus thousands more in (3b.), adding up to Panic-caused deaths at twice or three times the number of true, coronavirus-attributable deaths (or “3a” above). The lesson here is: It turns out that when a Panic is created, people take it seriously, and the outcomes can cause increased mortality in the immediate term.
[Update (April 25): See also how the above estimates all compare to the latest CDC data for all deaths through April 18. The latest data corroborates each of the findings of this post.
The same phenomenon of Panic-caused excess deaths, documented in the UK
Figures out of the UK suggest “(4)+(3b.)” are at least as high as “(3a.)” in a high-panic place like New York City, and potentially pushing three times as high.
Health authorities in the UK estimate there have been more than 2,500 excess heart attack deaths in London so far, “excess” meaning those that would normally be treatable and make full recoveries but have instead died. (That is, since the bizarre about-face by the UK government, in which the government caved in totally to the Doomers and pro-‘Lockdown’ extremists [see also: UK Imperial College study shown to be laughably wrong]. In the words of anti-CoronaPanic expert Knut Wittkowski, the UK’s cave-in was based on “one person’s guesstimate” as other experts were sidelined or not consulted; a surreal episode and a disgrace to the Western tradition.)
London’s spike in total mortality, which drives the UK’s excess-mortality spike, is therefore largely explained by people too afraid to to the hospital when they needed to and dying easily preventable deaths, a fact now admitted in the Guardian (a sign that the pro-Panic coalition is fraying at the seams?).
The same holds true in New York.
Possible demographic factors in non-coronavirus-attributable excess deaths
A higher figure for “(4)” could partly indicate a low-trust population in the given area affected, one much less able to withstand any kind of stressor, less able to “come together,” one that may have little in common with each other, perhaps mutually suspicious of one another.
This general description certainly fits today’s metro NYC. A large portion of New York, especially in the outer boroughs, is all but completely devoid of Americans; it was here that the Panic may have struck hard and the people least ready for how to deal with the e social stressor thereof, and hunkered down, distrusting all and easy victims of the media-driven Panic. This produced bodies for the media in their bid to appease their new god; an evil self-fulfilling prophecy.
We also hear that as much as half of Stockholm’s corona-positive deaths at one point were to Somali immigrants, and a fair portion to other immigrants, putting ethnic Swedes’ total-fatality rate in Stockholm during the current flu epidemic at a very low level indeed, with deaths probably rounding to 0.0% based on the latest studies there. There may be something of an international pattern here.
The No-Lockdown Swedes have avoided much of a “(4),” as have other populations of higher social trust and regimes that blunted the impact of the evil-beast of CoronaPanic.
The non-corona-attributable excess deaths: Whose fault?
What causes a man to refuse to go to the hospital when he has a heart attack? What causes an immediate-term death of despair?
It is no cosmic mystery that the cause here is the Panic itself, and so we must ask: Who caused the Panic?
The CoronaPanic-pushers, large and small, in the media and elsewhere. The Corona opportunists, large and small, especially what I call the the Corona Coup d’Etat faction, which is to say many political leaders. (A great case has been made in OffGuardian today for the Corona Coup d’Etat Hypothesis).
(I wrote previously on the “Who is Responsible for the Corona Panic” question, March 26.)
The surprising finding that has emerged, in clear view by mid-April, and clear in the New York City data, is that the Panic-pushers have already killed more people than the unremarkable flu virus ever will, at least in certain hotspots. This is humbling, and enough to make the anti-CoronaPanic side redouble its efforts that we may be liberated from this “mind virus,” as each day it does more damage.
The hard times for us the living are yet to come, and will tower over the short-term hit in Panic-caused deaths (The Mass Hysteria Pandemic) that was a focus of this post. More and more are seeing this as among the most extreme cases of “burning down the village in order to save it” in our times. Aggregate life-years and life-year-equivalents lost due to the the effects of the Panic will exceed those lost to the virus by hundreds fold, and plausibly even thousands fold. A complete defeat for the pro-CoronaPanic holdouts. May they see the light.
None of this needed to be. May the guilty be disempowered and live out their days in shame; may the rest of us learn the right lessons that this never happen again.