For earlier entries “Against the Corona Panic,” see:
Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven,
Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve
Spread the word! Sweden’s vindication is complete.
It was really complete by mid-April, the vindication, when new deaths stopped growing. And all signs pointed towards vindication all along.
The pro-Panic side could always say “wait and see,” darkly implying that Sweden’s Corona-Apocalypse was coming. Any day now. We’ll have no more of that. By late April, the game is over.
(Update, May 22: )
See also updated graphs for June 5 in the comments.)
The Panic-pushers are now discredited. If nothing else, Sweden has discredited them. The anti-Panic side is therefore vindicated along with Sweden.
It is time to go on the offensive. It is time to punish the guilty. It is time to reverse the results of the “Corona Coup d’Etat.”
But as for now, it’s reached time to review of “the Swedish coronavirus natural experiment,” as it stands as of this writing. A review of this historically-not-so-remarkable, two-month-long flu-virus epidemic as told through two graphs and accompanying table; the rest of the post will elaborate on what you see in the graphs. This follows up extensively on the Sweden section of Part III in this series.
- The end of the epidemic in Sweden is now in sight, without anything close to the predicted catastrophe;
- The pro-Panic, alarmist predictions/guesstimates (e.g., pro-Lockdown extremist Neil Ferguson) were far too high, off by about two orders of magnitude, i.e, 50x to 100x too high;
- The epidemic in Sweden passed through the population naturally, as every other flu-virus does, and caused losses among the weak and elderly at a similar rate to a usual bad flu strain;
- The Panic and the Shutdowns were therefore completely unnecessary;
- We should have followed the Swedish approach;
- With the data now in, there is less and less room for further dispute that Sweden was right; most remaining pro-Panic holdouts will likely disappear with the warmth of the Sun in May.
There are a lot of implications and ancillary commentary possible. I want to focus here, though on showing, as clearly and directly as possible, what the epidemic looked like in Sweden in observed-reality, then compare it against the pro-Panic side’s wild mid-March projections, which look embarrassing at the least, reckless, irresponsible, bordering on criminal, given that they triggered the destructive shutdowns…
The story of Sweden’s triumph is told in two graphs.
I created these graphs using the latest data from the Swedish Health Ministry (April 29) and the Imperial College / Neil Ferguson predictions from his tragically influential March 16 paper “coronavirus catastrophe” which did so much to bolster the pro-Panic side, to our collective loss.
(Update: These graphs were created May 22; see comments for the latest June 5 update):
(See originals here and here.) [Update, May 2: See a comment below for the latest graphs.] [Update: May 5: See comment update for latest graphs and extensive comments.] [Update: Friday May 8, the largest update of the week: See a comment below for graphs and table.]
[Graphs updated in new post, May 10: Given the progress of the epidemic in Sweden, we can make calls on the final scope of the epidemic; see Part XI:
Stay-Open Sweden set to lose 0.02% of total population to Coronavirus, in line with usual peak flu years; 2020 may equal 2018 in total mortality; why did we destroy the economy over this?
[Updated graphs and table: Friday May 22; see comments.]
The first graph is the actual, observed data, from the daily updates from the Swedish Public Health authority (the Folkhalsomyndigheten). The second includes the estimates from the Neil Ferguson paper (published March 16) as applied to Sweden.
A few notes here:
- The numbers for observed deaths is essentially final through April 25;
- The curve for coronavirus-positive deaths is pegged to date of death; likewise, ICU intakes are pegged to the date a patient actually entered an ICU;
- The numbers can and do adjust (e.g., with +/- a small number of deaths which were mis-dated being corrected to the true date of death); the small adjustments seldom or never change the way the curve looks any earlier than “Date of Update minus 4 days;”
- I did not include the April 27 and 28 data, which, as of this writing, is partial;
- These death totals by day encompass both “deaths with the virus” and “deaths from the virus,” which means the true impact of the epidemic is somewhat less given the well-known “deaths with vs. deaths from problem.”
The first graph, therefore, is observed reality. I will return to the first graph in a moment.
Having established what the Swedish epidemic-curve looks like in the first graph, the second graph is the more relevant. The exact same information from the first graph (the blue curve, observed/actual coronavirus-positive deaths by day) is displayed on a graph along with the Neil Ferguson wild projections from mid-March, “one person’s guesstimate” that did so much damage. It is now clear that Ferguson’s blunder was in publishing this wildly speculative study; he should have consulted with other experts first.
The second graph is based on a similar effort made eight days ago by Rob Slane; it applies the US fatality-rate estimate, given that the US and Sweden have similar population densities, on the UK’s timetable, given that we believe epidemic may have been seeded earlier in Sweden than in the US. Ferguson provided no estimates for the “swamped hospitals effect” that he predicted, which was central to his reasoning in arguing for the “Lockdowns,” but he implies collateral losses would be high, meaning ordinary health emergencies could not be treated; potentially this could double both curves, making prediction vs. reality into “mountain vs. molehill.”
I will also return to the second graph in a moment.
First a word on Sweden’s response:
Sweden’s Triumph Over the Corona-Cult
When the dark clouds of the CoronaPanic were looming in late February and early March, most found it hard to resist the then-building international chain-reaction of Panic. At the national level in the West, Sweden alone distinguished itself, from beginning to end, and led the West’s best response to this flu-strain pandemic.
“We, the Swedish government, decided…in January that the measures we should take against the pandemic should be evidence-based. When you start looking around for the measures being taken now by different countries, you find that very few of them have any shred of evidence basis…”
— Dr. Johan Giesecke, world-renowned epidemiologist, adviser to the Swedish government, and the man who hired Anders Tegnell to direct the Swedish coronavirus pandemic strategy, speaking April 17
The anti-Panic side argued for this approach all along. All but the most panic-addled and committed of the pro-Panic side were beginning to recognize, by the second half of April, that Sweden was right, that there was no need for the shutdowns, that this flu-virus is not fundamentally different from any other flu-virus in its behavior. (See also Part III: Just the Flu Vindicated.)
The anti-Panic side also argued throughout March that our governments were going down a fool’s path of potentially catastrophic overreactions. Despite numerical strength, the anti-Panic side completely lost the initiative to the pro-Panic side, the un-skeptical and anti-skeptical lockstep-media’s drumbeat.
It was here that Dr. Ferguson, or “Doctor Frankensson,” showed up on the scene with his wild “guesstimate” about millions of deaths, which was based on little to no evidence. The pro-Panic study he released on March 16 is seen as key to the caving in of anti-Panic forces in several countries including the US.
It should be said that Ferguson was not alone among a handful of academics on the pro-Panic side making wild guesstimates of Corona-Doom. Even as late as April 15 one group predicted “52,000 to 182,000 deaths” for Sweden as a result of the epidemic and the Swedish response to it (“Intervention strategies against COVID-19 and their estimated impact on Swedish healthcare capacity,” lead author Jasmine M. Gardner). This “up to 182,000 deaths” was another reckless estimate, about in the Ferguson range, which by April 15 had been untenable for weeks. I can only guess at possibly psychological reasons why Jasmine Gardner published such a pro-Panic study as late as April 15, against the best data.
Propped up by the hatchet-jobs by Ferguson and others, the evil deed of shutdowns and “Lockdown” were all-but-complete across the West by March 23. The unnecessary shutdowns go on, as of this writing, as do the effects of the “corona coup d’etat” and the unnecessary major recession, and more, all of which will have unclear effects for the coming few years.
As for Sweden’s triumph over the “Corona Cult,” the lesson is less “Sweden was smart and we weren’t,” even though that is true on the surface level. A suitable way to phrase and conceptualize what happened was that a coup d’etat or rather series of coups d’etat occurred in March 2020, with various stages of the coup occurring throughout the month and differing by specific locality; but after a coup d’etat inevitably comes martial law for a time, which was also reality in late March and April for most of the West.
Except not in Sweden. Sweden had no Corona Coup d’Etat. Sweden maintained a no-shutdown policy, kept schools and businesses all open, treating this flu like every other flu.
Revisiting “Just The Flu”
All flu-viruses behave in a similar way: They mutate somewhere; eventually, given conditions to do so, they spread; if they begin to spread, they follow a predictable arc, they begin to make some people ill; they kill a small number of the most vulnerable.
This is what flu-viruses do, and always have.
We are very much better at treating them now than in the first half of the 20th century (see Part III, sections 5 and 6), but they still kill.
The now-all-but-complete data constituting the epidemic-arc for the coronavirus epidemic in Sweden indicates that the Wuhan Coronavirus is, and always was, a ‘regular’ flu virus; it looks exactly like every other flu virus in its epidemic arc, carries no alarmingly higher fatality-rate, and affects the same vulnerable group as other flus.
Looking back at the first graph in this post, note that the vertical lines designate Sundays, and so the period between two lines represents a seven-day window:
You can see that the “hit” of increased deaths lasts three weeks (in the fifth, sixth, and seventh weeks in the graph) [See comment below for updates on the “three-week hit”]. The three-week duration for noticeable “hits” from any particular flu virus, before it burns out and fades, has been known for decades (see Wittkowski); in the worst flu seasons, there would be several of these bad flu strains active in succession, causing several peaks on top of an already high level of activity in the general period of late fall to early spring.
This coronavirus ran its normal course in Sweden, as it started to do in the US, and elsewhere, in Q1 and into Q2 2020. It would have been a totally unremarkable phenomenon (given that we ignored the bad flu strains several times in the 2010s; see Part III section 1), if not for the media-directed Panic around it.
As of this writing (April 28/29), Sweden is probably already at herd immunity in localized areas, especially in Stockholm County where the local epidemic started, and will be at herd immunity nationally by early May. We can therefore pronounce the epidemic in Sweden “already over.”
Evaluating the Coronavirus Epidemic Arc(s) in Sweden; Dating the Peak
With the epidemic-arc in sustained decline as of mid-April, coronavirus-positive deaths stood as 2,427 as of this writing, perhaps rising to as high as 3,000 to 3,500 by the (imminent) end of the epidemic.
This means up to 0.03% of the total population will have died during this period while positive for the virus. In the period mid-March to mid-May, something a little over 0.15% of the total population is expected to die anyway (the normal death rate); a number of new babies equivalent to about 0.10% of the living population is expected to be born. (Yes, the number of new babies is definitely lower than deaths; Sweden has long now had deaths exceeding births, along with the rest of us in the West; another story…).
Even without going into the “deaths with vs. deaths from” problem, this raw number, suggesting up to one-fifth of deaths in Sweden were positive for this particular flu-virus while dying, looks unremarkable and like a typical peak-flu-event. I wonder how many would be positive for another given flu virus, upon death, in other times?
Dating the Peak
With the epidemic arc now all-but-complete, we can date the peak with confidence. Sweden’s coronavirus-positive deaths peaked broadly between April 2 to 23 (actual deaths over 75 most days).
(Update, May 5: The narrow peak, or “peak of the peak,” as measured by the rolling-average was April 7 to 16.)
[This section updated May 5.] The sum of coronavirus-positive deaths in this twenty-two-day peak period of April 2 to 23 was: 1,937 [as of May 5] for an average of 88/day.
New deaths broke 100/day on four separate days between April 7 and 15, but deaths have been in steady, sustained, and clear decline since then. Measured in terms of five-day rolling average, deaths declined at a rate of 3/day in the two weeks from April 14-28, towards less than fifty per day by the end of April.
On the downward slope of the epidemic curve, deaths have averaged about 60/day for the down-slope period April 20 to 30 [as of May 5]; they will likely be under 25/day by mid-May, as the epidemic curve works it was back towards zero.
Next we can date the peak for “ICU intakes.” Measured in terms of a three-day moving-average for respiratory-disease patients positive for the Wuhan coronavirus and admitted to ICUs, ICU-intakes peaked March 29 to April 14, at about 40/day. The ICU-intake curve peaks about five days before the deaths curve peaks, which is entirely unsurprising and in line with what we know of epidemiology for respiratory diseases.
Here is a table of the data as it existed on April 29:
Because deaths are a lagging indicator, we can also say with reasonable confidence that the transmission phase peaked in the first half of March, probably something like two weeks before the ICU-intake curve’s upswing begins (the third and fourth weeks in the graph). This is the same story for lots of other countries; all the lockdowns came after the epidemics were already running their usual and inevitable course. (See Part III, section 9, and a forthcoming post here, for discussion of when Germany’s transmission phase peaked and began to naturally decline; it is certainly well before the lockdown order.)
The sharper peak for the ‘Deaths’ curve than for the ‘ICU-intake’ curve is explainable by the “culling effect,” that the epidemic took some of the weakest, those already at death’s door; most of these would otherwise have died in coming weeks or months even if they had never had contact with the Wuhan coronavirus, or any other flu-virus; whatever the effect of the infection was, it did no more than move up death slightly in many cases. This culling-effect also puts light downward-pressure on deaths in the coming months.
Oh, and it turned out that Swedish hospitals had plenty of spare capacity even during the peak; the Ferguson predictions (on which more again shortly) had anyone foolish enough to take a Swedish-style response ending up with lots of non-virus excess deaths due to those “swamped hospitals.”
Here is a comment from Swiss Propaganda Research‘s “A Swiss Doctor on COVID19” series on the Swedish case:
The average age of death in Sweden is also over 80 years, about 50% of deaths occurred in vulnerable nursing homes, while the effect on the general population has remained minimal, even though Sweden has one of the lowest intensive care capacities in Europe.
Despite the low intensive care capacity, Sweden has never even approached its limit. It reportedly was at 50% capacity ca. Apri 20 and has hit as high as 70% capacity; the number of people in intensive care is reportedly stable (at 549 on April 29).
How much of Sweden’s aggregate-expected-life-years did the Coronavirus epidemic cost?
(Section updated May 22 in line with newest data/graphs.)
This is a calculation I proposed in Part III, section 3. The sum of Sweden’s coronavirus-positive deaths as of this writing is 2,427 [update, May 22: to hit 4,000 in late May]. It may rise to ca.
3,500 [update, May 22: With all indicators in decline for several weeks, the newest data suggests a final total that may reach 5,000 or possibly even slightly higher total corona-positive deaths] by the end of the epidemic, as the curve completes itself and returns to circa zero.
The aggregate-lost-life-years to these
3,500 5,000 (or so) corona-positive deaths in Sweden between March and June 2020 will be minuscule, given the average age profile in their late 70s, 80s, and 90s. Deaths are certainly not among the most healthy of that age-group, and indeed many being terminal patients in the first place. (See Part X: The Deaths With vs. Deaths From problem in Sweden).
The aggregate-life-years number can be estimated something like this:
Sweden total resident living population: 10,4000,000 @ 45 years expected life left (for the average resident) = 468 million aggregate-life-years for the total population, plus 575,000 expected new births in the five-year period Jan. 2020 to Dec. 2024 @ 85 expected life years each = 50 million more aggregate-life-years; adding the two, we have society’s currently-living and soon-to-be-living population has as much as 520 million aggregate-expected-life-years to live.
Coronavirus-positive deaths, which could total
3,500, 5,000 may average @ 5 expected-life years each, including many with <1 expected-life-year and others with somewhat more, but very few with decades left ahead of them. Multiplying the two, sum of aggregate-life-years lost to this flu-epidemic we can now say looks to be <20,000 25,000.
– Living and soon-to-be-living aggregate expected life years = 520 million
– Of which, loss to the Wuhan Coronavirus =
= Wuhan Coronavirus will cause a loss of ca.
0.0035% 0.005% to the population’s expected remaining life-years, a rate which will hold for other countries regardless of their policies.
The surprising thing is, this represents a net loss of just one day in the life of a person who lives to age eighty-five (update, May 22: Now it looks like 1.5 days — that is 36 hours — in a normal, full, first-world lifespan today; it will very unlikely exceed 2 life-days). In other words, if you have lost at least one day to the Corona-Panic in any form, you have already been a net loser from the extremist Corona Shutdowns, based on these numbers. In countries in which the epidemic was worse, it could sum to two or three days, but unlikely any more.
The fact is that all life is limited and therefore all our time in these earthly bodies is valuable; “time is the one thing,” it is said, “that money can’t buy;” that is to say, when your time comes, no Shutdown-fanatic can buy you more time; as Jesus said through a parable (Luke 12:19-20):
In “Lockdown” countries, many will end up losing an equivalent of many hundreds of days of their lives to the effects of the Corona Response, which Sweden proves was wholly unnecessary. Considering the recession and social disruptions, which are ongoing, a net-loss equivalent to hundreds of life-days will probably be about the median for the Lockdown countries; this before factoring in things like suicides, worse health outcomes as a result of recession, and a decline in fertility associated with a major recession and job-loss period. Some could lose thousands of life-days’ equivalent; an unlucky few (say a prime-age suicide induced by the effects of the Corona Response) could even lose tens of thousands of life days.
Therefore the Corona-Panic can now be confidently said to be hundreds of times worse than the actual virus threat ever was, as a conservative estimate. It could plausibly even be thousands of times worse, when all things are factored in. A disastrous overreaction. The case of Sweden proves it.
When will “Sweden was right” become common knowledge?
The pro-Panic holdouts will be forced to admit that Sweden was right by early May, or mid-May at the very latest given a “narrative” lag time. But that is only among thinking people.
Most people can be conned along by pro-Panic forces and those who would “instrumentalize” the pro-Panic remnants and keep the embers of Panic burning bright, by just saying, “Sweden has had more deaths,” ignoring the unseen effects of the extremist lockdowns across all aspects of life.
The pro-Panic side feeds on Innumeracy, and lies. As such it is possible a bitter, pro-Panic holdout element will never admit Sweden was right. But the majority of thinking people will.
Could “we” have been Sweden, too?
The problem is, at the critical moment the people in charge of guarding the metaphorical asylum let a coalition of wackos, fanatics, misanthropes, and panickers take over the asylum, and the asylum guards (those in charge of keeping sane policy) were tied up and kept in a closet for a while.
Speaking of experts being ignored or silenced: Knut Wittkowski identifies the critical period in the policy catastrophe as March 10-15 for the US (it would be earlier in some parts of Europe), when experts were sidelined, the media disgraced itself by pushing for and creating a shockingly destructive and unnecessary Panic, and extremists took over.
Wittkowski wrote on April 21:
The point of decision (at least in the US) was around March 10-15. At this time, there should have been a discussion involving epidemiologists who could question the Frankenssonian predictions. If that discussion would have had, we would not have had a shutdown.
Wittkowski’s “point of decision” must be a translation of the German Entscheidungspunkt, the critical moment in some development, the point of no return. A poetic way some have been known to express this is with Caesar’s alea iacta est when he crossed the Rubicon. The Corona-Rubicon crossed, the damage is done. It is our task now to try to reverse the damage, starting with identifying the guilty and asking, “Why?”
Why did they push the Panic? What was Neil Ferguson’s role in the pro-Panic coalition?
The underwhelming reality stands in contrast to the alarmists’ predictions of mid-March (with holdouts still predicting maybe 180,000 deaths into mid-April; e.g., the Gardner prediction published April 15), and one important question remains, relevant to the “Coronavirus Deaths in Sweden, Projections vs. Actual” graph:
Recall again that the prediction of “swamped hospitals”-related collateral deaths could well double the implied excess deaths curves, potentially meaning a one-time population loss of up something like 1.5%, above normal deaths of ca. 1.0%, meaning 2.5% could die whereas 1.0% would die in a normal year. In fact, final mortality for 2020 might rise from 1.00% to 1.02% (all else equal) in Sweden, maybe not even that high; using these round numbers, this would mean Ferguson overestimated deaths by at least 75x, a tentative estimate we could make given the now-all-but-complete Swedish dataset.
The question is, what led Ferguson make such reckless predictions? Wittkowski deals with this in his latest interview (April 28). It’s bad this question is so hard to answer and leads quickly into “conspiracy thinking.”
Ferguson was so wrong as to leave one wondering: Was it a sudden fit of panic and no one running a sanity check? Was he/they drunk or otherwise intoxicated when preparing this absurd “millions of deaths” report? Was the report outsourced to team of dunces? Were the dunces intoxicated?
More seriously, and potentially disturbingly, to what extent might have the “millions of deaths” apocalypse predictions have been a conscious hoax meant to incite panic and empower the “Corona Coup d’Etat” faction?
The Panic-pushers are largely not guilty as individuals, but those like Ferguson who had key roles at the top are definitely guilty: Ferguson may single-handedly be responsible for a more staggering amount of net human misery than any other single individual now living; a remarkable burden to bear. He should be ashamed. He and the other pro-Panic ringleaders should be internationally humiliated over this. Do not forget.
Ferguson and other pro-Panic fanatics and ringleaders are the villains in this grand story (a smaller-time villain will be profiled in a future post in the works). But there are also heroes, one of which is a country which has been the topic of this post.
By way of conclusion, on Sweden,: To use a phrase where it is justified, let me say:
Hail to you, Sweden.
Would like to disseminate this in full elsewhere with attribution and link. Let me know if that is okay.
To quote myself, “Spread the word! Sweden’s vindication is complete.”
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“As such it is possible a bitter, pro-Panic holdout element will never admit Sweden was right. But the majority of thinking people will.”
But how do you define “thinking people”? It should be blindingly obvious that the whole corona threat was greatly exaggerated and that the response was a utter disaster. Yet, the Powers That Be continue to push the same agenda/narrative. It’s like if we just believe hard enough, it will be real.
They are like a gambler doubling down. The closings and cancellations began in early March and the measures became increasingly restrictive. In the beginning, we supposedly had to flatten the curve so that the healthcare system would not be overwhelmed. We were led to believe that this would be a short term thing. Now, we are seven or eight weeks in and there are only the slightest loosening of restrictions that were unthinkable when this all started.
P.S. Excellent post, as usual. I can’t thank you enough.
Federalist, I’d say that fades into “Corona Coup d’Etat” conceptual territory.
I’ve come to conclude that the best way to understand the whole Corona Response is to start from the premise that a revolution occurred. New factions began struggling for power, some following “old-line” divisions, some following new divisions, most simply dazed and not knowing what to do, but finding themselves emotionally or otherwise committed to one or either side. There are lots of factors as to who ended up on which side, and though many of my posts here are arguing the case by data, I would concede most people don’t make decisions that way.
Here are the total excess death numbers from the 24 countries that participate in the Euromomo survey.
Week 17 just released today.
These totals for Weeks 1-17 are from the years 2018 and 2020- we must keep in mind that this is all during a described global pandemic of historical proportions that has been the stated cause for the lock down of 3-4 billion people and the shutting down of numerous economies across the world- not to mention the immense suffering caused by both of those reactions to this pandemic.
Europe Excess Death Totals Weeks 1-17- All Ages: 2018: 1,244,275
Europe Excess Death Totals Weeks 1-17- All Ages: 2020- 831,679
Can someone explain how in the world, if we are in the midst of the equivalent of the Black Plague there are over 400,000 less deaths in 2020 than in 2018.
There is no amount of “social distancing” or fewer cars on the street or the wearing of masks or…that can account for a full reduction in total excess deaths of a full 33%.
Anyone want to try to explain this?
Was 2018 (weeks 1-17) are really bad flu season? It looks like corona was not even “just the flu.”
Allen, I don’t get what “excess deaths” means, if it’s not versus some base year. Is is just deaths for a specific time period that are above what the yearly average deaths would be over that same length of time?
Please explain for me. Thanks.
I reviewed the latest EuroMOMO release and this is what I calculate for the periods of early August to late April (Week 31 to Week 17) for the reporting countries:
2016-17: 2,111,730 total deaths, all causes
This translates to about the following:
2016-17: 0.72% of living population died in the period
2017-18: 0.73% ” …………. ”
2018-19: 0.71% ” …………. ”
2019-20: 0.74% ” …………. ”
Without making any further comments, and there are some important ones to make (some deaths are Panic deaths; culling effect means downward pressure on deaths for rest of 2020), I’d say that anyone glancing at these numbers at a great distance of time or place would just gloss over that +0.02% for 2019-20 over the previous three-year average. It wouldn’t merit a second thought or trigger someone to think, “Wow, what a terrible, apocalyptic year 2020 was!”
“Europe Excess Death Totals Weeks 1-17- All Ages: 2018: 1,244,275
Europe Excess Death Totals Weeks 1-17- All Ages: 2020- 831,679”
Those numbers are not correct. Even a glance should tell you that 1.2 million EXCESS deaths in 17 weeks cannot be right. I dunno where you are calculating them from. Are you adding cumulative figures and not weekly?
Excess Mortality 2018 Weeks 1 to 17: 115,785
Excess Mortality 2020 Weeks 1 to 17: 159,483
Pooled Deaths 2018 Weeks 1 to 17: 1,024,004
Pooled Deaths 2020 Weeks 1 to 17: 1,084,132
The argument still stands though, are the measures commensurate with the risk? These graphs don’t show cause of death either, we have no idea how many deaths are non-covid 19 deaths, or ones partly caused by not being able to leave the house, fear of going to hospital etc.
RE: Richard’s comment above:
Yesterday I counted as follows, slightly different totals:
Weeks 1 to 17, All-Cause Mortality for selected countries in Europe (EuroMOMO)
– 2017: 987,722
– 2018: 1,018,433
– 2019: 968,712
– 2020: 1,077,693
The longer the time window, the more useful, in general, which is why I calculated the total for August to late April (Week 31 to Week 17 of the next year).
Also useful: Including the months after a peak-flu-event is over, because a drop below average mortality always follows an excess-death event (due to the culling effect;the peak-flu-event takes many of those closest to death at once instead of one, two, three months later; this is normal and happens several times a decade at least). I would propose looking at the clean “Week 31 2019 to Week 30 2020” period, when it becomes available in Aug. 2020, to see what the final count is. I still see, now in early May, no indication 2019-20 will greatly exceed the others.
Another thing to consider is that (1) the total population in the selected countries increases each year (due to immigration) and (2) the average age in these countries continues to edge upwards due to decades of low fertility, with both things implying slight upward pressure on what we’d expect total number of deaths to be.
Whatever final-count excess-mortality we are left with, the embarrassing point for the pro-Panic side is that we know a large portion of excess deaths are Panic- and Lockdown-caused (e.g., corona-negative heart attack victims too scared to visit the hospital who die at home unnecessarily).
At this point, the Panic-attributable deaths (which I calculate to be at least two-thirds of excess deaths in NYC with indications of similar numbers in the UK and some other places, less in most places) easily account for the entire 2020 vs. 2018 gap.
(Of course, this does not apply to No-Shutdown Sweden, the hero of the hour.)
I found this through a Facebook link. I read with interest what you say abt Sweden and the coronavirus and its estimates being too high. Thanks.
I don’t know viruses much but I do know my Bible, and one suggestion:
Luke 12:19-20 is not the key verse there you want. It’s Luke 12:25!
Luke 12:25 says:
“Doctor Frankensson” clings tight to the (Corona-)Cult he helped found.
Frankensson/Ferguson claimed in an April 25 interview that Sweden’s epidemic curve (shown in the graph in this post) will defy the rules, reverse itself, and start soaring…real soon.
Sweden’s Johan Giesecke on Ferguson and on the latter’s clinging to the Corona apocalypse cult even as it unravels:
Mr. Hail, just a minor quibble – I think in your line “making reality vs. projection into mountain vs. molehill.” you should swap around the order, “molehill vs. mountain” or swap the first pair. (I don’t know, in case someone just skims through and hits that part.)
Thank you for all the hard work in documenting the real story.
Good point; it is best to be clear:
Mountain = the projections, guesstimates, and “imaginary horror scenarios” by Ferguson (a.k.a. Doctor Frankensson) and others about millions of deaths;
Molehill = Reality.
Updated graphs (for May 2)
[See May 5 update below for newest graphs]
This Friday update is probably the most substantial until about next Tuesday to account for some degree of usual weekend lag:
As the new numbers come in, signs point to Deaths at <30/day by the first week of May and <20/day already by no later than the third week of May. That said, there are still a few hundred in ICUs, and some of them were not in good shape anyway with rather limited life expediencies. This is a distortion that may skew the bell-shape of this Deaths curve somewhat towards the right, a “wider right tail.”
I see no realistic scenario for final corona-positive deaths in Sweden at anything much over 3,500, maybe 4,000.
A commenter at Lockdown Sceptics is critical of these graphs and believes the numbers could shoot up. Any day now…
When the apocalypse does not come on the day foretold by the cult, one tactic is always to continue to repeat: “The data is still not 100% complete; we need to wait and see.”
Interestingly, the population number you give for Sweden is VERY CLOSE to that of the State of Michigan. (I’d looked it up for my post on the out-of-control Nanny Governor Gretchen Whitmer I wrote yesterday.)
This just begs for a comparison post between these two Sovereignties, with a little part of State’s-Rights dreaming wrt MI. I may do that later today and put a couple of other posts aside.
Re: Michigan vs. Sweden,
The way I’m seeing the latest numbers (see May 2 update), I see little prospect for the Deaths curve in Sweden to complete itself in which the final count goes above 3,500. (That’s, btw, for all corona-positive deaths, subject to the usual ambiguous-cause-of-death problem there.)
What will the final count be for similar-population Michigan, led by a junta of Lockdown-Fanatics, be? And, equally as importantly, when will the epidemic by declared/recognized as well-and-truly over in Sweden, even by low-info people? What about Michigan?
The last gasps of the epidemic in Sweden, given herd immunity, are set for May. As of this writing (May 2), experts believe Stockholm County is now at either at herd immunity or about to hit it. With the rest of Sweden following, the epidemic is over.
I already staked out this “3,500” prediction for Sweden in the original post here. It is not based on Doctor Frankensson-style wacko doom predictions, but simply by observing the curve. Even with the downward tail of the Deaths curve double to triple as wide as it was on the upward swing, the epidemic doesn’t look like it has enough “steam” left to go above 4,000. Right now it looks like if the final number is higher than 3,500, it won’t be by much. That’s with no shutdowns.
(Even this ca. 3,500 number was somewhat artificially high: According to Dr. Giesecke, the deaths are disproportionately associated with immigrant groups, especially Somalis in Stockholm for some reason, and some of the nursing home deaths were because refugee staff who didn’t speak Swedish didn’t (were unable to) follow instructions issued by the government for protective measures at these places during the peak weeks of the transmission phase; these measures are also usual for peak-flu-activity periods.)
“The last gasps of the epidemic in Sweden, given herd immunity, are set for May. As of this writing (May 2), experts believe Stockholm County is now at either at herd immunity or about to hit it. With the rest of Sweden following, the epidemic is over.”
Part of what makes these discussions problematic is that “herd immunity” is not a fixed thing, but something that changes according to context (as I believe you have pointed out elsewhere).
So does this mean herd immunity in the situation as it stands currently, with significant social distancing in practice, or does it mean sufficient immunity in the community that those measures are no longer needed? Presumably the former. Which would mean the epidemic is technically over, but not the problems created by the response to the disease.
Note: Peak Stupidity wrote a post on Michigan vs. Sweden:
Michigan v Sweden in Corona Challenge (May 2),
which follows a a post on the anti-democratic Democratic Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer (who has effectively dissolved the state legislature and is ruling by decree, lockdowning by decree, because there is some flu-virus somewhere out there and someone might die).
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Re: Mark, writing above:
I believe we can conceptualize Herd Immunity in very general terms as represented by a point along the Transmission Rate (or R0, R-Naught) curve (See Part VIII), which rises and falls, generally in a bell-like shape.
Here is the graph from Part VIII:
Once a given flu strain’s transmission rate begins to decline, we can assume there must be a causal mechanism (i.e., that it is not magic and that the decline is not thanks to rituals done to appease the gods).
The most likely mechanism is the start of the herd immunity process, by which there are no longer enough unexposed in a population/region/city left to sustain spread at such a high rate. We might assume in Germany’s case that major changes in population behavior are the cause, a highly reasonable assumption but in a close look at what it might have been I failed to find any change in behavior that predates the peak, suggesting even in Germany by ca. March 10, the natural process towards herd immunity was underway, in embryonic stage (then disrupted by the Lockdown).
Anyway, I believe your “sufficient immunity in the community that those measures are no longer needed” scenario.
The more important point, though, remains what those “measures” are; why hurt the 99.95% in an impossible dream of crushing a flu virus to supposedly save the 0.05%? Why not instead keep the economy/society fully open, limiting “measures” to protection of the most vulnerable? What doctor would make the kneejerk decision to amputate a patient’s leg when he comes in complaining of a minor ache?
Hi Hail! Many thanks to you for the work you’ve done. Could you help me out with something? I’m currently in a debate with a Panicker. Naturally, we quickly came to the canard that the reason the death count is so low as compared to modelled projections is because of the lockdowns. I’ve been using every bit of my free time for the past month to study this CoronaPanic, and I know I’ve seen a number of graphs for different areas which show the lockdowns were put in place after we had passed the peak, but I can’t seem to find them, although the graph in your comment above is precisely what I am looking for. Do you have any other such examples handy? Or do you know of an article that specifically address this issue? I know Andrew Mather at the Peerless Reads YT channel is one. Thanks!
The other one I am aware of is for Switzerland:
The lockdown there, too, post-dates the decline of R0.
When and why the transmission rate (R0) fell is a topic which I got deep into in Part VIII here: “The coronavirus transmission rate (“R0”) fell long before the Lockdown orders; What caused the decline?“; I would love to see these graphs in other countries. Somehow I’d only expect full disclosure at this time from countries like those in northern Europe.
There is also a delay inherent in this information. Germany’s public health agency, the RKI, published these findings April 23, for the period of early March to April 9, with increasing uncertainty after April 1. So for the period of interest (early to mid March), we had the data in hand even for open-data Germany more than a month after the fact.
LOL. I didn’t even realize you had a new post up. I had just left this page open on my browser to get updates. Anyway, thanks again.
This one for Germany has the advantage of being up to date (and in English):
Look at the graph for onset/report numbers. It’s pretty clear-cut: their sharp rise in onset/reported cases ended around 19th March, so presumably reflecting a peak in spread a few days earlier (5.5 days incubation), whereas national lockdown was 23rd March, as stated at the end of the report.
Also interesting that there is absolutely nothing in the graph to indicate the national lockdown had any effect at all, beyond perhaps maintaining steady an already downward trend.
It’s pretty likely the virus spread peaked before lockdown here as well (UK) but the data just isn’t good enough to prove it beyond doubt at the moment.
Mark, thanks. I republished your finding as a comment in Part VIII.
Mike Whitney has emerged as a pro-Sweden, anti-Panic figure:
“Sweden is the Model” (May 4).
“Why Sweden Succeeded While Others Failed” (April 30).
He entered the pro-Sweden, anti-Lockdown position already by mid-April:
“Sweden is Right. The Economy Should be Left Open” (April 17)
His writing as of mid-April was still “maybe the virus is bad but the costs are not near worth it,” the cost-benefit argument is of course correct; the true case for the anti-Panic side, via the triumph of Sweden, is substantially stronger still, which his latest writing moves towards, and which I predict will be common knowledge (“I knew it all along!”) by late May.
C.J. Hopkins, is now strongly against the panic. In March he was a neutral. Now strong against the panic. You’ve got to read his latest:
May 5 update to the Sweden graph; comments and reflections
(Portions of the main post here, originally written April 29, have been updated with this latest data and the graphs replaced. Sections of the text updated are marked as such. See here and here for the original graphs)
I’ve made new graphs that include a rolling average to see the direction of the curve more clearly, overlaid on the old day-to-day curves:
Is there any “hope” left for the pro-Panic side, which needs more deaths in Sweden ASAP?
Expect the most substantial update of the week from the Swedish Public Health authority on Friday May 8. Weekend- and holiday-associated delayed reporting is usually updated by late week. The pro-Panic side is betting it all on thisMay 7-8 late-week update to bring forward many news deaths, or their last chance is over. The data would need violate all known rules of natural phenomena and suddenly reverse itself to start approaching the extreme Ferguson model. It will have to be soon or never, and the odds are very heavily now on “never.” Since we have heard no news reports of any shocking early-May death spike, the chances of this are down near 0.00%.
Thoughts on dating the peak given the five-day rolling average and the now near-complete data through the end of April:
– Dating the “peak” is going to be, in some ways, subjective. One way to do it is to choose a threshold above baseline daily respiratory-disease deaths, or baseline x2. I don’t have this data handy, and even if I did we immediately run into the problem of “how many of these are genuine deaths of the virus, vs. deaths with the virus?”
– The usual “three-week hit” for an epidemic flu strain (See also Wittkowski on the three-week hit of a flu epidemic) is still clearly visible now with this near-final data. It coivers the period of the middle of the fifth week and all of the sixth, seventh, and eighth weeks in the graph. April 1 to April 25. Three and a half weeks. The period above 60/day in the rolling average.
– On the other hand, the true peak period, or “peak of the peak” — in which numbers are at sustained high levels and no longer growing nor yet in sustained decline — is clearly the sixth to late seventh week. This turns out to be an eleven-day window, April 6 to April 16, 95/day as measured in the rolling average.
Dating the tailing off and completion of the bell surve. the
– Now (May 5) that we are well into the tenth week (of the graph), with reliable/reasonably-final data through end of the ninth week, the epidemic is in very clear decline, which confirms the “declaration of victory” made in this post six days ago.
– Based on the shape of the Deaths curve, the five-day average may go below 25/day already by mid-May, no later than late May.
– The curve will fade back towards zero in June, with the tail end of the epidemic in Sweden, visualizable as the completion of the bell-shaped curve.
Other reflections on the Corona-Panic, Corona-politics, the pro-Panic vs. anti-Panic split, in the context of the Swedish data.
– Trump swings and misses on Sweden. It was right in this “peak of the peak” period that Trump foolishly attacked the Swedish strategy (April 8), which was originally also the US strategy until the pro-Panic coup d’etat of mid-March. Real leadership would have been moving US policy back towards the Swedish strategy, not demagoguing against Stay-Open Sweden during its very-much-expected peak death period., under control with no destructive shutdowns.
– I was inspired to begin this series in early April (Part I was published April 5), right at the beginning of Sweden’s broad peak-deaths period (April 1 to 25), though I personally turned against the Corona-Panic in the second week of March. I had hoped the victory of the pro-Panic forces would not be as total as it was and it might pass by early April. I first wrote against the Panic elsewhere on March 26, when Sweden’s deaths curve was on the definite upswing.
– Further reconstructing my own reaction to the emerging Corona-Panic, in light of this rear-view look at the past two months: While I was always a Corona-skeptic, it was the period March 13th to the 17th that was critical to my decisively coming to the realization that the anti-Panic position was correct; the more we learned in late March, the more solid it seemed, and everything was confirmed in April. The anti-Panic side’s total vindication is now a done deal. But that is just in the realm of “truth.” In Corona-politics terms, anti-Panic forces were routed during the same time window when I realized Corona was a false god, and indeed an evil god, a god of destruction (mid-March). The anti-Panic side had to regroup and find each other; having lost the initiative. Many former friends and allies had joined the pro-Panic coup d’etat regime; even families were divided. Dark days were ahead, as the Lockdown-fanatics held the whip hand, empowered by the general pro-Panic side they had brainwashed into a new religion.
– Given that Sweden’s first death was only March 10, and that its Deaths curve had weeks of ascent left before its peak (April 7 to 16) and before its decline began (second half of April), taking the pro-Sweden position in March was clearly be something hard to do for many. The Donald Trump “They are suffering badly in Sweden” comment, which was probably fed to him by the pro-Panic junta around D. Fauci (a simplistic look at total deaths alone, as if that told the relevant story) was an example of this.
– It was right after the “peak of the peak” period that Part III (“Just the Flu Vindicated”) of this series was published (April 19). After a substantial review of evidence supporting the anti-Panic side, Part III praised the Swedish response as the most rational. At that time of writing (April 18-19), it wasn’t yet clear that the peak had been passed and the decline had begun. Given reporting delays, this was clear by about April 23, and of course data analysis always awaits more data to confirm apparent trends.
This comment became the basis for some of Part XI.
(On the Deaths With vs. Deaths From Problem.)
A friend points out something on the Deaths and ICU Intakes graph: The Deaths curve is much higher than the ICU-Intakes curve. I haven’t seen anyone else point this out either or ask what it means.
This simple observation leads down an intriguing path, related to the well-known problem (at least to those of us on the anti-Panic side) with Corona reporting and the media’s beloved “rolling death counts,” namely the “Deaths With vs. Deaths From Problem.” It is obvious at a glance that the Deaths curve covers a lot more territory than the the ICU-Intakes curve. But wouldn’t the true virus-victim deaths generally all first go through the medical system and end up in ICUs? Given that the virus doesn’t cause instant death, but an onset of symptoms for which people would seek medical care.
We also know that the ‘Deaths’ curve is all coronavirus-positive deaths. If we can reasonably expect a large majority of “Deaths From” to be first hospitalized then sent to an ICU, the figure “Total ICU intakes” would be a upper-bound for “Deaths From.”
As of May 5, ICU-Intakes for COVID19 are at a cumulative 1,601, while coronavirus-positive deaths are at 2,843. Some of the ICU-Intakes have recovered and been discharged. I don’t know what %. If one-third recovered, Deaths + Current-ICU-patients would be ca. 1,075, or ca. 38% of total deaths. Some of the current patients will recover, pushing this figure down further, leaving us with something like ca. two-thirds as Deaths With, one third as Deaths From, which interestingly is also the estimate reported in early April (Fraser Nelson, The Telegraph, April 3):
What do others think of this indirect way of estimating Deaths With and Deaths From?
A full-post elaborating on these thoughts on Deaths With vs. Deaths From in Sweden is now up:
Against the Corona Panic, Part X: The problem of “deaths with vs. “deaths from”: Only one-third of corona-positive deaths as genuine “deaths from” in Sweden
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Updates to the Sweden graphs, May 8
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Can you explain why your data differs from the data at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/sweden/ ? Their figures for “daily deaths” for May 4-6 (for example) are 90, 85, 87, whereas yours (in the chart just above) are 37, 32, 21. And their graph for daily deaths may look a bit lower than its recent peak, but doesn’t look “descending” now (though it’s really too noisy to tell, by eyeballing it anyway).
Apologies for this being spam-filtered and lost until now. The spam-filtering mechanism here is working hard as many posts are being inundated with spam, and yours fell victim as a “false positive” for whatever reason. The comment is now recovered and public.
There are two answers to your question
First, in general terms: The death data is always subject to revisions, especially for the most recent few days, as new reports come in and are confirmed. This makes the most recent three to five days unreliable. There are also weekend- and holiday-associated reporting delays. Lesser-magnitude adjustments go back as much as ten days. Final figures are sometimes adjusted after even as much as a few weeks (usually +/- 1 death, if misdated).
Second, as to those specific numbers, I believe the numbers you quoted are total new deaths reported on a given day, not total deaths occurring on a specific calendar date. In other words, some days get more new reports in/confirmed than others, but obviously people die at a steady rate. Deathbed patients don’t say, “Oh, the weekend is here, let’s stop dying till Monday.” But reporting authorities do have such delays because staff is off weekends and holidays. There is a bureaucratic layer here; it isn’t some kind of 24/7 doctor live-feed info.
The source for my numbers is the Swedish Health Ministry, here:
Deaths occurring May 4 to 6 as of this writing are:
May 4: 66 deaths
May 5: 72 deaths
May 6: 77 deaths
Here are the figures for the full-weeks of the epidemic through the epidemic’s Week 10 (Ending May 9):
Week 1: 3 ICU-intakes, 0 deaths
Week 2: 16 ICU-intakes, 5 deaths
Week 3: 85 ICU-intakes, 44 deaths
Week 4: 240 ICU-intakes, 190 deaths
Week 5: 276 ICU-intakes, 451 deaths
Week 6: 290 ICU-intakes, 665 deaths
Week 7: 252 ICU-intakes, 660 deaths
Week 8: 237 ICU-intakes, 544 deaths
Week 9: 187 ICU-intakes, 533 deaths
Week 10: 155 ICU-intakes, 477 deaths
Data for Week 11 (just completed) and Week 12 (ongoing, to May 23) is incomplete but previous weeks are final or near-final. Early indication is that ICU intakes for Week 11 will be <130 when finalized (by about this Friday), continuing the decline trend. Death reporting lags longer than ICU reporting but should also be “near final” with the Friday May 23 update.
To confirm these numbers, look at "Avlidna/dag" (Deaths/day) and "Intensivvårdade fall/dag" (Intensive-care-intakes/day) tabs at the link. The updates to the dataset are made public just ahead of the the Swedish government's daily 2pm Stockholm time's Corona briefing.
Thanks very much. All that makes sense. I guess the worldometer numbers for those days were too high (due to delayed reporting) (and they still are too high, since they apparently never correct for delayed reporting, even much later), and the Health Ministry numbers were initially too low (since the ones you quote above for those days are higher now) — I’m not sure why that would be, unless they try to be cautious, and hold back some recent reports until they have more data about them.
(I agree that delayed reporting by worldometer is the only plausible explanation for the strong dependence in death rate on day of week, and that they must be never correcting for this, even much later, since that variation is still strong in their graph for weeks long past.)
In the worldometer linear-scale graph of total deaths, it does look [today] like the slope could possibly be decreasing at the end, which is what your interpretation of the Swedish Health Ministry data would also predict. So I guess these numbers are less different than I thought (though I didn’t compare them fully).
(I wonder if worldometer has any public statement about why they never correct their data for delayed reporting of death?)
You may be interested in the newest graphs/table from the newest (Friday May 22) data: See below.
My experience has taught me to pay special attention to the Friday update. It is the biggest of the week. It is also the best in that it is the closest we ever get to “real time data” (bringing what we see, in reported data, closest in line with current conditions of a few days earlier).
Why is Friday the biggest update? I think the bureaucracy works hard to finalize things as much as possible before people go home for the weekend. There appears to be a directive to withhold date-of-death-ambiguous or unconfirmed cases until Friday midday, work hard at confirming them during the work week, and try to close the book on them by late morning Friday. Then lunch. Then the Swedish response team, led by Dr. Tegnell, holds its press briefing at 2pm using this fresh data.
The idea (I believe) is that the Friday briefing can tentatively present finalized data for the period two weeks earlier and substantially updated (near-finalized) data the period one week earlier.
What the causes of the “straggler data” are I am not sure but lots of possibilities present themselves.
It might help to reference what I mean directly with the newest table:
Conceptually, what I mean is the “end of Week 12 update” (today) finalizes Deaths data for Week 10, and near-finalizes Deaths for Week 11, sometimes bringing substantial updates.
By next week (Week 13)’s end-of-week update (Friday May 29), I would expect a small rise for Week 11, as straggler-data is confirmed, and a modest rise for Week 12, as later-comer reports are confirmed. Checking the Health Ministry numbers daily, this is the way it works, as I have observed it. Saturday and Sunday updates are not even worth checking because there is no little movement.
If Week 10 is confirmed, per my explanation here, the decline off of the plateau period (which begins May 5 in the five-day-average) is now sustained.
What caused the initial peak and then the plateau (see graphs), or as I call it in the table, the Off-Peak Steady period? I believe the initial peak was Stockholm which had lots of cases in nursing homes. The lower plateau period ending in early May reflects deaths in the rest of the country, as Stockholm declined. Now the decline is everywhere.
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RE: The comment above:
When Week 11 (to May 16) is finalized, indications are we will probably see around 400 deaths. If breaking 400, it will not be by much. The Ferguson deaths-projection for a Swedish-style response was up to 5,000 deaths for Sweden during the same week, and that from the virus alone not counting “swamped hospital deaths” which he also predicted. This was still ahead of the predicted peak.
See again this graph:
New Sweden ICU-intake and Deaths graphs/table. Incorporating the Friday May 22 update (fresh as of a few hours ago) from the Swedish Health Ministry.
Friday afternoon Swedish time is the most substantial update of the week. We can therefore now say with confidence have final data through May 9, largely final through May 13/14, substantially complete thru maybe May 17. On past experience, ICU data becomes complete more quickly than Deaths.
Both Deaths and ICU-intakes are now at, or in sight of, one-third their peak levels in April.
Did my earlier prediction (first made in late April) of “Under 30 Deaths/day by mid-May” hold up (see previous graph)? It’s still too early to say. It looks like the period May 11 to 21 (“mid-May”) will probably come in 30 to 35 deaths/day.
I’d say tentatively that it was the right call in that some days in mid-May will start to come in under 30 deaths/day (for the first time since March 24). This comment is time-stamped so we can check back with the May 29 update and especially the June 5 update. Maybe it will only be late May when we start seeing <30/day.
The important thing is, the epidemic in Sweden is ending even on the most-lagging-indicator of all, deaths, and still on track to align with the findings of Part XI, Sweden set to lose 0.02% of population to this flu virus (on ca. 5000 total deaths by end, with something more than half of those dying of other causes with the virus).
Lesson: No Lockdown. No Problem.
Updated graphs and table with data as of June 5, showing the continued move towards the end of the epidemic, in line with what I have been writing here for two months. The mildness of the epidemic in Sweden proves that there was never any need for shutdowns or any particular alarmist reaction.
Sweden will lose a trivial share of its total population, any slight uptick being about on the scale of normal year-to-year fluctuation; for a discussion on that, see here:
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