The end of the Panic Pandemic should be at hand by now. It would (long) be, if the matter were entirely evidence-driven. The apocalyptic virus it was so aggressively marketed to be has turned into a minor flu virus.
The evidence pointing against the Panic had been there all along, but ignored and suppressed. Strangely, the pro-Panic side doesn’t want to hear the good news, which raises questions of its own.
Not only did the pro-Panic side ignore the evidence and actively suppress the early evidence, they busily set up a religion around the Panic, entrenching it and giving it eternal privileges from criticism or skeptical inquiry, and immunity from logical consistency (flattening the curve turned into an extremist policy of total elimination of the virus, a fool’s errand). As core doctrines of the Corona religion were steadily refuted, they dug in. How this happened, reconstructing what went wrong with the Coronavirus Mass Delusion event of 2020, is the most interesting question of the hour.
For the time being I want to return to SWEDEN, where, with the epidemic in clear decline, we can by now see the outlines of the full-scope of the epidemic’s “hit.” Given that the country stayed open and took only moderate measures, this should be of great interest.
I think it may be helpful to present the final mortality impact of coronavirus in Sweden in terms of total-mortality against past peak-mortality years and pandemics, for perspective. No longer do we need models by pro-Panic, sloppy, pseudo-academic hitmen suffering from CoronaParanoia delusions (or with darker motivations, beyond the scope of this post). We have reality. We have hard data from observed-reality from Sweden’s “Stay Open” scenario, which the anti-Panic side argued for all along.
The surprising fact is the coronavirus epidemic of 2020 in Sweden, once all deaths are counted, is going to be demonstrably lower than previous epidemics. It’s true that people are dying, and these deaths may cause the highest mortality in Sweden since…2018.
How you place 2020 in historical mortality perspective in Sweden depends on how you count (% of population dying, or total deaths?), on which more below. Maybe it will go as high as 2002 by one measure. But there are always caveats and context: 2019 and the first thirteen weeks of 2020 had below-average mortality in Sweden (as elsehwere), so some of this is the catch-up effect. The point is that with Sweden’s epidemic in decline and herd immunity approaching nationally, it is clear that this was not an unusually dangerous flu virus that requires extreme measures. This was clear all along, but observed data is not really arguable anymore.
I wrote about these things, and much else about Sweden, in mid-April (Part III) and late April (Part VII, Sweden Vindicated) and returned to it a few days ago (Part X, Deaths With vs. Deaths From in Sweden).
Others, such the American Institute for Economic Research, later noted the same things I found, namely that the Ferguson model applied to Sweden “yields preposterous results.”
I believe my graph on Sweden Reality vs. Ferguson Fantasy shows this more clearly than any other figure I have seen.
Now, as of May 10, with data complete through the end of April and the end in sight, it is possible to make “calls” on the final magnitude of the epidemic’s impact, which can be compared to those of previous years, which is the purpose of this post: Making that call and contextualizing it.
This post will show the following:
- The updated graph for the Coronavirus Epidemic in Sweden (the observed ICU and Deaths curves) — The same general trend holding and the Deaths curve pushing its way towards completing its bell-like curve, probably receding to a very low level by June before reaching zero, the natural epidemic cycle complete;
- The observed-deaths curve in comparison to the pro-Panic side’s predictions they were releasing in March and early April (reality is much lower);
- The full ICU and Deaths data in table form;
- The epidemic in Sweden is mainly a Stockholm epidemic, probably moreso even than be expected by the epidemic starting there first;
- Calculate the now-in-sight final scope of the epidemic’s “hit” in full-year, total-population mortality terms in Sweden, in light of the likely magnitude of the “deaths with vs. deaths from” problem — It looks to be ca. +0.02%;
- ‘Perspective‘: A review of Sweden’s full-year mortalities for 1900 to 2019, with peak-mortality years and pandemic-flu years highlighted and comments on how these past years compare to the excess-mortality attributable to the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic of 2020;
- A word on herd immunity in 1918;
- 2020 coronavrisu’ true epidemic profile as fitting between 2009 Swine Flu and 1968 Hong Kong Flu, probably closer to Swine Flu;
- In just how minimal an impact the Stay Open, moderate-response approach is to daily life, as observed in Sweden;
- With the dataset through the end of April now all-but-complete and with the sustained decline holding, further comments on dating the peak;
- Thoughts on dating the tail-off — When will corona-positive deaths return to low levels? (before June 1, but this depends what you mean by low levels);
- Some reflections on the Panic in light of the conclusions of this post: On the victory of the pro-Panic side, on when I personally came to the anti-Panic side, on Corona-Politics, and on Donald Trump‘s foolish “They are suffering very badly in Sweden” comment;
- Final Thought: Is there any hope left for the pro-Panic side? They needed more deaths in Sweden, and didn’t get them. The decline holds, as it has held for now almost three weeks. It’s over. Also including thoughts on whether Neil Ferguson will commit suicide.
The reason for this focus on Sweden: They are our best dataset on what a “Stay Open” scenario would be (have been), and therefore what the impact of the epidemic would be without the destructive shutdowns or ‘lockdowns.’ The lockdowns were wrong, should end, and should not be revived in any form.
Graphs of the Epidemic in Decline in Sweden
Here are the graphs from the latest update from the Swedish Public Health agency (a graph series that has run here for the past weeks with occasional updates), with the Deaths curve continuing its downward slide:
The second graph includes, for comparison, the influential, pro-Panic estimates by Neil Ferguson of Imperial College [UK], also known as “Doctor Frankensson,”who gave life to the monster of CoronaPanic and ensured its victory over the forces of light.
Here is the full table of the data in the first graph (click to expand):
The Deaths curve shows a clear ascent, peak, and descent period. It is expected to show a longer “tail-off” period than a true bell curve would be.
- Ascent: March 10 to April 5;
- Peak: April 6 to 17;
- Descent: April 18 to circa May 14,
- (Followed by sustained decline to low levels, indistinguishable from background deaths, by no later than mid-June.
I will return to the question of dating the peak towards the end of this post.
The Swedish Epidemic is Really a Stockholm Epidemic
Though it is a side-point to the main one here, this may be of interest.
The lion’s share of excess deaths in late March and April were in Stockholm County, which registered 6,328 deaths in 2020 through Week 16. Its average for 2015-19 was 5,142 deaths. When Weeks 17 and 18 (just completed) are included, it could go as high as +1,750 deaths in Stockholm County for 2020 through May 3.
These excess deaths are mainly nursing home patients and an inevitable fall-off in deaths will follow (the culling effect). Some of these are due to reported failures at Stockholm nursing homes employing refugee staff who could not speak Swedish.
In most other regions, there is no net increase in deaths through April 19. Some regions had a small increase. Others had still not caught up to the average.
Here are all the regions’ near-final death totals as a percentage of the recent-past average for the same period (Weeks 1 to 16) (as of reporting date: April 30). All of them may end up going up by a small number as the small numbers of laggards are logged.
- SWEDEN: 103% of normal deaths in 2020 to April 19 (compared to 2015-19 avg.);
- Stockholm: 123% of normal deaths;
- Norrbotten: 110% of normal deaths;
- Södermanland: 109% of normal deaths;
- Dalarna: 109% of normal deaths;
- Västmanland: 105% of normal deaths;
- Jämtland: 105% of normal deaths;
- Uppsala: 103% of normal deaths;
- Östergötland: 102% of normal deaths;
- Jönköping: 101% of normal deaths;
- Kronoberg: 101% of normal deaths;
- Gotland: 100% of normal deaths;
- Västra Götaland: 99% of normal deaths;
- Halland: 97% of normal deaths;
- Västernorrland: 96% of normal deaths;
- Skåne: 96% of normal deaths;
- Kalmar: 96% of normal deaths;
- Örebro: 94% of normal deaths;
- Gävleborg: 93% of normal deaths;
- Värmland: 93% of normal deaths;
- Västerbotten: 92% of normal deaths;
- Blekinge: 91% of normal deaths;
For Sweden without Stockholm County, it was 101%, i.e., just about normal (100%).
This is probably partly because the virus’ transmission phase started later outside Stockholm. Still, none of these regions are showing no signs so far of rising to Stockholm excess-mortality levels, or they would have done so by now. Stockholm showed moderate excess deaths in Week 13, and significant excess deaths in Week 14, 15, and 16.
A large neighboring region to Stockholm, Södermanland, had a rise in deaths starting about the same time, but it rose much less, standing at only 110% normal mortality, now also apparently past its peak. This might be expected to be more like the national norm, considerably lower than Stockholm’s due to the nursing home staff problem. The other high-end cases, Norrbotten and Dalarna, I expect could be explained by having high-average-age populations.
The rest of this post will examine full-country mortality.
Total Population Loss in Sweden to the Wuhan Coronavirus; a proxy for the virus’ true impact in the Stay-Open Scenario
(Executive summary: It looks to probably be circa 0.02%.)
Based on the shape of the current Deaths curve the trendline as it works its way down, and the signs that regions outside Stockholm are showing lower excess-mortality, total coronavirus-positive deaths may reach as high as 5,000 in Sweden.
Also, relevant to full-year total-mortality: There are zero deaths associated with the pro-Panic side’s much-prophesied “swamped hospitals.” In March and into April, one heard this line everywhere: We have to disemploy hundreds of millions and disrupt/ruin lives, and destroy the economy “because swamped hospitals.”
The health care system in Sweden never came close to being swamped. Nor was it swamped in any other country. The Panic-pushing media’s intense focus on micro cases conned many, but the facts are that hospitals have never been emptier, an odd cognitive dissonance doctors began reporting by the very end of March and still largely suppressed. (The precise opposite problem turned out the be the really salient one: People too frightened by the media’s pr-Panic agitation to go to hospitals for any reason and dying unnecessarily at home, by the thousands in some places, of treatable problems like heart attacks; I see no way to avoid attributing these sorts of marginal deaths to the pro-Panic side, even if they meant well, they were wrong.) Meanwhile, healthcare workers have been furloughed without pay for lack of work.
But as to those five thousand total coronavirus-positive deaths. Sweden still reports its corona-deaths in these terms. We have reason to believe that as low as one-third of the deaths are “deaths from the virus” (not deaths with the virus; not deaths from the culling effect, in which the virus takes those closest to death who were already dying of something else and would have died in 2020 anyway, maybe one week later, maybe one month later, maybe three months later, maybe six months later).
The Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic in Sweden will therefore cause a total excess population loss (people who wouldn’t have died anyway) of fewer than 2,500 people in Sweden, which is in the low several-hundredths of one percent of total population. In percentage terms, the Wuhan Coronavirus’ direct, virus-caused mortality “hit” is therefore looking to be 0.015% to 0.025% of population. If the tail of the Deaths curve in the coming week turns out to be wider that the trendlines suggest, maybe this will be more like 0.02% to 0.03%. This is in line with a usual peak-flu-event.
Impact on full-year mortality. All else equal, deaths go from a baseline-expected rate of something like 0.91% to 0.93%. As a percentage of population, this puts deaths at about the 2013-15 level. (see also “Comparison with past total-mortality and past flu pandemics” section).
Another way to understand the number is to think of it as: 53 weeks of usual mortality occurring in 52 weeks (i.e., the 52 weeks of the calendar year 2020), with that “extra week” (or two, at very most) being entirely composed of the usual mortality profile in terms of age and condition.
Were the Shutdowns worth it at all?
The pro-Panic side will also fall back on “We lessened the impact by social distancing,” which I looked at closely in Part VIII and, surprisingly, found lacking. When held up to the light and demanding evidence, Corona always falls apart. A true giant with feet of the brittlest of clay.
Sweden stayed open, did not mandate draconian “social distancing,” and the epidemic there is passing with modest impact but no worse than peak-flu events seen regularly. The pro-Panic side is fully discredited by this; the anti-Panic side, fully vindicated. given that the counterproductive Lockdowns are causing excess mortality in the most Panic-addled hotspots (e.g., NYC), these Panic-deaths could exceed what the virus’ actual impact, judging by the Swedish experience. In Part IV I calculated that New York City has at least twice as many Panic deaths than virus deaths, a textbook case of why not to trigger a panic.
We also know that the average corona-positive death in Sweden is about 82 years old, and that considerably more of the deaths are over age 90 than under age 70, with very few (if any) deaths reported to be people under age 50 without serious health conditions. Even among the victims who are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, they are not among the most healthy of their age-bracket.
A population loss amounting to +0.02% in excess-mortality is just the “body count.” The true impact needs to combine that with the victim age-condition profile. when doing so, we see the true impact is at least ten times less given much shorter life expectancies of the victims, or a loss of 0.002% of the total population’s aggregate-expected-life-years.
This is so mild a figure as to frankly be laughable in world-historical terms. I am confident that people of the future will remember this event as a mass delusion event, an example of media-filtered reality in one of the very worst forms imaginable (More work needs to be done on the concept of the “media-run state” as it exists in the West in our era.) Decades from now, one might hear things like this: “Many years ago, in 2020 AD, a strange thing indeed happened. A mass-hysteria began, countries fell like dominoes to it, shutting down their societies, triggering major recessions, over a flu virus that threatened a net loss of 0.002% of life.” Posterity, if any, does not look kindly on such recklessness.
And then there is this: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
A core part of the anti-Panic side would argue that even if the impact were not the observed +0.02% in final-year mortality, but ten times higher at +0.2% mortality (0.90% to 1.10%), it would still not come near justifying the shutdowns, social disruptions, unemployment, soft martial law (so-called ‘lockdown’ orders, an originally prison-slang-word now shoved into mainstream international English by this bizarre mass-delusion event), the political Corona Coup d’Etat, the serious blows to personal liberty, the rapid advance of the surveillance state, the disarming of opposition of all kinds and the silencing of dissent, and the setting up of a bizarre state religion, the Corona-Cult, which is enforced by intense propaganda of the kind usually seen only in wartime.
While that is all true, it is also true that the numbers matter. Seeing so many people play so loose with data, or ignore it entirely in favor of fantasy-scenarios unmoored from reality, is what has inspired me to write this series.
As for whether the 0.02% hit were really a 0.2% hit. This is a fair thought exericse. But we need not concern ourselves with the pro-Panic side’s fantasy scenarios of something like +2.0% deaths on full-year mortality from this kind of flu virus. Such a fatality rate would considerably exceed the 1918-19 pandemic, in body-count at least. The doom-prediction guesstimates were always dubious, always likely far too high, and are now shown to be at least 100x too high, even as high as 200x too high for those of the pro-Panic side who played fastest and loosest with their doom-numbers.
The circulation of and repetition of the “millions will die” doom-predictions in the media amount to criminal acts. Info-terrorism. A mega-scale example of yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater (or a crowded civilization, as it were, if you prefer).
Comparison: 2020 total-mortality and total-mortality in 1900-2019 including past flu pandemics
We need perspective on Coronavirus. We need context. To make any informed decisions, those are two thing we really need. Here is what we do not need: We don’t need contextless fear-fluff from fanatics.
There is no better way to achieve sane, informed decision-making capacity, or by metaphor to plant the flag firmly the isle of Perspective, than by looking at total mortality numbers for Sweden going back 120 years.
Presented below, in terms of percent of population dying per year by decade, with a few years highlighted, are these numbers for Sweden. Sweden is known for its excellent mortality record keeping back centuries. These numbers are reliable. Since we now have the ballpark of the coronavirus epidemic’s final mortality hit, we can contextualize what it means.
Total Mortality in Sweden by Period (% of population dying by decade/year)
Sweden’s transition from high-fertility/high-mortality to low-fertility/low-mortality was underway as the 20th century opened, and the secular decline trend pushes the figures from north of 1.5% to <1.0% by the 1950s. They rose again due to the effects of low fertility.
(The year 1900 itself was as high as 1.684%. Without handy 1890s data, it’s hard to say if this was unusual or not.)
- 1900s: 1.52%; in steady decline
- 1910 to 1917: 1.39%; in steady decline
- 1918-19: 3.25% in two years (1918: 1.80%; 1919: 1.45%) [Spanish Flu pandemic]
- 1920s: 1.22%
- (1927: 1.27%)
- 1930s: 1.17%
- (1931: 1.25%)
- 1940s: 1.06%
- (1944-45: 2.185% in two years [1944: 1.102%; 1945: 1.083%])
- 1950s: 0.97%
- (1957: 0.99%) [influenza pandemic]
- 1960 to 1967: 1.00%
- 1968-69: 2.09% in two-year period (1968: 1.04%; 1969: 1.05%) [influenza pandemic]
- 1970s: 1.06%
- 1980s: 1.11%
- (1988: 1.15%)
- 1990s: 1.08%
- (1993: 1.11%)
- 2000s: 1.02%
- 2010s: 0.92%
- 2020: 0.93%? [Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic]
Recalling that the final “hit” of the 2020 coronavirus epidemic in Sweden will probably be +0.02% in full-year mortality, we can compare it with previous pandemics, as well as the general trends of the past 120 years, with some interesting insights.
1990s/2000s/2010s vs. 2020
The general down-trend in deaths in terms of % of the population over the last thirty years is obvious. The chance that coronavirus-associated excess mortality in %-terms will even come close to the averages for the 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s can now be said with certainty to be “zero.”
We cannot say what else will happen in 2020 (maybe a meteor will hit Stockholm?) but if all else is equal, 2020 full-year mortality will be in the 2010s range (mean: 0.924%). The fact that 2019 was so unusually low (0.860%) may also puts upward pressure on 2020.
In absolute terms, total deaths in 2020 could reach or exceed 92,500 (assuming a baseline of 90,500, the 2010s norm, and +2,000 virus deaths who wouldn’t have died otherwise), or perhaps something like 95,000 if rounded-out by catch-up deaths from the low-year of 2019 (which only logged 88,766 deaths). If 95,000 is right, this would put full-year mortality at equal to 2002 in absolute terms; 92,500 would be about the same as 2018 (92,185).
In percentage terms, 92,500 to 95,000 total deaths in 2020 would be 0.890% to 0.915%, which is about equal to the average for the 2014-18 period.
You can tell there is some wiggle room here for how one wants to present mortality in Sweden, but no way you choose to do it shows alarmingly excessive mortality, and the reference years are going to be those in recent memory. In other words, we’ve seen these kinds of flues before, and often.
1993 and 1988 vs. 2020
The highest mortality in our era for Sweden, if our era refers to the past several decades, was in several small spikes in the late 20th century, including 1993 and 1988.
In the 1990s excluding 1993, average mortality was 1.076%/year (see table). The year 1993 clocked-in at 1.113%. The year 1993 was therefore at +0.04% over its immediate neighboring years’ deaths average. This doubles the 2020 coronavirus-associated excess mortality that looks likely (+0.02%).
The same story holds for 1988. In the 1980s excluding 1988, mortality was 1.101%/year. The year 1988 came in at 1.147% deaths, which is a +0.05%, potentially double or possibly up to triple the now-expected impact of the 2020 coronavirus.
Do people have any memory at all of the 1993 and 1988 flus?
The average native-born adult in most of our countries today is born in the late 1960s. Therefore, most adults now living remember these years 1993 and 1988. That is to say, they remembered something about the years 1993 and 1988, something about what they were doing, or maybe world events of some kind, at least roughly. How many in Sweden have any memory of the flu season being bad those two years?
It is highly unlikely that if you quizzed someone who was in his/her late teens, twenties, thirties or forties at the time (therefore socially aware) about what they remember of the year 1993, say (and peak years will often differ by country), I cannot imagine even one in one hundred saying, “Oh, 1993, that was that terrible flu year.” Maybe if one person out of our hundred were, by chance, a specialist in epidemiology, he might get around to mentioning that the flu was bad that year, if you spend a half hour with him asking him for everything he can think of about 1993, and allow him to consult reference material. Most likely in our thought-experiment, zero of a hundred will mention flu for 1993. And yet, as we know see, 1993 might be twice what 2020 is.
1993 is one thing. but what about the 1968-69 pandemic, which has recently gotten so much renewed attention in the Corona era?
1968-69 vs. 2020
In the total-deaths-% table above, you can see the influence of the 1968-69 Hong Kong Flu pandemic:
Deaths were at 2.09% of population for the full two-year period, for about +0.09% for a given two-year period over the average for the time. The impact of the Hong Kong Flu in Sweden was presumably felt about November 1968 to February 1969, about the same time it affected the US. I excess deaths in these years are attributable primarily to the Hong Kong flu strain (first identified by specialists as a new strain in July 1968 in Hong Kong), deaths could be expected to carry into both years about equally.
There were definitely excess deaths associated with the 1968-69 pandemic strain, but I feel it’s important to say again two things of relevance to today:
(1) There were no major disruptions to life anywhere in 1968-69 over the flu pandemic (much less a coup d’etat in which a pro-Panic factions seized control of governments and set up, defacto, “virus-response”-oriented juntas);
(2) As usual with these flu epidemics, the demographic most hit was the elderly and weak.
In fact, the year 1970, after the modest “hit” from the Hong Kong Flu cleared out of the system, registered the lowest mortality (0.995%) seen in the entire period 1960-2008. The culling effect in action. This should be regarded as evidence that many of the 1968-69 excess deaths were those closest to death anyway, and would have died within the next year anyway. The same is definitely applicable in 2020.
The other notable thing about the 1968-69 bump is that it could easily be missed entirely at a glance, amid the general rise in deaths in the 1970s associated with underlying demographics, an aging population. Rising deaths in the 1970s reflect high fertility in the 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, and 1910s (and lower fertility after that) and the major advances in health care during those people’s lifetimes, with more than ever living to old age. That is, natural factors overshadowed the 1968-69 flu impact, and the same is true with the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
As for direct comparison with 2020. The 1968-69 impact (+0.09% measured by full-year total-mortality) looks to be as least (conservatively) three time worse than the 2020 coronavirus epidemic in Stay-Open Sweden, possibly as high as six times worse.
1957 vs. 2020
The 1950s excluding 1957 were at 0.966% total mortality/year (see table), while 1957 was at 0.993%, +0.027%. The 1057 pandemic was relatively mild in Sweden, therefore. Odds are now that the 2020 coronavirus-associated rise in total-mortality will not reach this level for full-year 2020 in Sweden.
If you look closely at the 1950s numbers, you also find that 1954, 1955, and 1956 were all mild years, meaning more survived these winters than would statistically be expected to, and 1958 and 1959 were also mild years. Viewed in terms of three-year brackets, the 1957 pandemic is shown to have had no clear impact at all.
The same will also apply to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic: Winter 2018-19 was the mildest season in years in Sweden (as in many other European countries). The lowest mortality ever recorded in Sweden, as mentioned above, came in 2019, at 0.86%. This can be seen as thousands of expected deaths that did not occur. Many of the coronavirus-positive deaths reported in March to June 2020 will include people in this category, a correction to the baseline.
EVen more recently, across most European countries, winter 2019-20 was unusually mild with weak flu activity and below-average deaths, including in Sweden:
Statistics Sweden reports that in 2015 to 2019, an average of 22,401 deaths occurred in Weeks 1 to 12. In 2020 (before coronavirus), it was only 21,131; deficit: 1,270. A death-deficit for the last months of 2019 was also shown. A large portion of the excess coronavirus-positive deaths are a correction back to the baseline, which was only hit well into the peak period for the epidemic in Sweden. (Source: “Number of deaths reported to Statistics Sweden, per week, 2015-2020,” Statistics Sweden, preliminary; reporting date, April 30.)
1944-45 vs. 2020
The final big flu season before the rise of antibiotic treatments was the 1944-45 winter season (see table).
Like the viral pandemic that hit in 1918 (see below), this one was associated with war, peak-level troop deployments by the tens of millions, and the significant disruptions to life at all levels, across the world, including in countries at peace. In addition to the direct, war-associated excess death going on, disease epidemics also raged in various forms in various places, affecting civilians far from warzones (including the US, as measured in the small spike you see in the middle of the 1940s in the graph below), and even civilians in non-belligerent countries like Sweden.
With 2.185% of Sweden’s resident population dying in the two years between Jan. 1, 1944, and Dec. 31, 1945 and the normal rate for the time being about 2.08% for a two-year period, 1944-45 excess mortality in Sweden was again as high as +0.1%, which is around five times greater than the 2020 coronavirus’ impact looks set to be.
1927 and 1931 vs. 2020
In Part III, I included this graph, relevant here:
In the second quarter of the 20th century, flu deaths were much higher than they were in our era. In Sweden, we see (in the table above) that two of the peak years for total mortality in that period were 1927 (1.270%) and 1931 (1.254%).
The period 1921 to 1929 excluding 1927 comes in at 1.20% deaths/year, meaning 1927’s total-mortality (1.27%) included an excess of about +0.07%, potentially three to four times greater than the 2020 coronavirus impact in relative terms.
The period 1930 to 1939 excluding 1931 was at 1.16% deaths/year, meaning 1931’s total-mortality (1.254%) included an excess of about +0.1%, around five times greater (three to seven times greater range) than the 2020 coronavirus impact in relative terms, and on the same scale as the 1944-45 flu.
There many more deaths in absolute terms (see graph) than occurred in the later epidemics such as those mentioned above for 1988 and 1993, but excess is what we are interested in.
1918-19 vs. 2020
The 1918 influenza was an unusual flu pandemic in that there was no fall-off in mortality after it was over. It took the young and healthy at a higher rate than the old and sickly. It amounts to the last of the very-bad flu epidemics in history, and towers over everything else:
Circumstances in 1918-19 were particularly bad. As Knut Wittkowski has written:
In 1918/19, the world was in a disarray because of WWI and there were no antibiotics to fight the bacterial pneumonia that came after the influenza infection and killed people.
He elsewhere says this, in response to someone bringing up 1918:
[quote from a critic] “[Wittkowski] say[s] just go about your business[, that] it will come and go like every other respiratory disease but that’s not true as several have been disastrous […] 1918 […]” [end quote from a critic]
During the 1918/19 “Spanish” flue, the world was still devastated from WWI and there were no antibiotics available, yet, to treat the pneumonia that killed most people. This example doesn’t fit.
Among the others, COVID-19 (which is at least halfway through in the Northern hemisphere) may turn out to be similar to the 2009-10 Swine Flu, but not as bad as the 1957-58 Asian Flu and the 1968-69 Hong Kong Flu.
Nobody talked in 2009-10 about shutting down the economy […]
2020 coronavirus pandemic profile as between Swine Flu 2009 and Hong Kong Flu 1968, maybe closer to Swine Flu
Wittkowski is a world-class epidemiologist with near thirty-five years’ experience. He could see the epidemic curves this time going in their usual way, and by mid-April began suggesting the true Wuhan Coronavirus would have a profile (impact) between the 2009-10 Swine Flu and the 1957 and 1968 flu pandemics. This analysis corroborates that, at least for Sweden, the Stay Open moderate-response natural experiment. It looks that way from the best information we have as of May 8.
Wittkowski suggested it could be closer to Swine Flu than to the 1968 influenza. It would be hard to measure this for Sweden’s case because Swine Flu was so minor there. Sweden showed no excess in mortality for 2009-10, meaning the Swine Flu strain’s impact was extremely minimal.
This (2009-10) was a time Sweden was actively bringing in young-age-profile refugees at a rate of thousands per month, a policy that depressed the final mortality-percentage by inflating the young population, which continued in the 2010s with the policy of bringing in substantially more refugees, notably during/after the 2015-16 Merkel wave.
The impact of the 2009 Swine Flu strain appears to have been <0.01% in total-mortality terms almost everywhere, implying a modest or even insignificant share of usual flu deaths that year everywhere.
The initial hype about Swine Flu, in 2009, already long forgotten within a year by circa late 2010, came from many of the same people in the pro-Panic coalition of early 2020. Any history of the 2020 Corona-Panic will have to re-examine Swine Flu mini-panic in full; Swine Flu Panic in 2009 didn’t break through, but Corona-Panic in 2020 did. Why wonder why, and there are good ideas being proposed.
Herd Immunity in Practice, 1918
Returning briefly to 1918-19: Deaths were highest among those infants under age 1 and young adults age 25 to 34. Why was this?
Research in 2001 proposed that the same flu strain had circulated in one or more seasons in the 1840s and earlier, before fading, and gave those who survived it at the time immunity. This particular virus strain never broke through again, over the next about seventy years, until it found its “super-spreading networks” via soldiers and other war disruptions related to the disastrous World War I. (Troop deployments are also found to be the vector by which the 1968 Hong Kong Flu entered the US in fall 1968, via soldiers returning from Vietnam.)
This would explain the unusual finding that those in ther seventies and over showed no excess mortality in 1918-19, even lower than expected excess mortality for the year, while younger people died. The oldest had immunity from the wave(s) of the same virus, or a close variant, to which they were exposed to in their youth. The herd immunity they developed will have prevented further outbreaks in the third quarter of the 19th century, because so many were immune. (“Observations on Mortality during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic,” Jeffrey Luk et. al., Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol. 33, Issue 8, 2001.)
This means that the act of attempting total suppression of flu viruses, even among those not in at-risk groups (which is the irrational demand of the pro-Panic side across the West), even if theoretically possible, would people will not get immunity and would be vulnerable for years to come, meaning no net gain.
The minimal impact on society of the “Stay Open” approach (vs. the disruptive and destructive impact from extremists dictating policy in the pro-Panic juntas in some other countries)
Here is a sign of just how little life in Sweden has been impacted for most:
Movement in restaurants, shops, and other activities linked to retail and entertainment is down 13 percent in March/April compared to January/February
Foot traffic at restaurants and other entertainment venues are still at 87% its usual level!
The small decline is in line with the oldest and most vulnerable staying home more often, with others carrying on as usual.
If not for the pro-Panic coup d’etat, this could have been all of our experiences, and the epidemic would be all but over across the West. Experience also shows no major difference in impact between full-shutdown countries (including the most extremist among them, such as the martial law in Michigan), moderate-shutdown countries, and no shutdown countries.
Schools in Sweden have also remained fully opened, and children will have been among the primary drivers of herd immunity, as usual.
Epidemiologists and other experts, to the extent that the pro-Panic side and those running the show in the CoronaPanic juntas now in power bother listening to (humoring) them, say schools never should have been closed, given that children are not at risk. Statistically, children affected at the same rate as, or lower, than the usual flu.
We have to make these kinds of major decisions on data, not on media fear-fluff anecdotes. Children unaffected; closing schools is an entirely negative action that hinders herd immunity; do not close schools. Very simple.
A strong faction on the pro-Panic side now wants classes at both the K-12 and university levels closed in much of the US even in Fall 2020. Since the extremists dictate policy on the pro-Panic side (the problem of “purity spiraling” applied with disastrous policy results), they may just get it. Maybe the pro-Panic side elsewhere will also get push and get it.
If the extremists succeed in more shutdowns, especially of schools, it would be the mark of a truly unserious culture, one too terrified of a minor virus of the sort we have seen regularly to continue on with the work of civilization. (“Of the sort we have seen regularly” is demonstrated by every study showing fatality rates in the range of the various influenza strains, also demonstrated in this post’s review of a century of mortality for Stay-Open Sweden against their approaching-completion Corona-positive Deaths curve.)
Thoughts on dating the peak of the epidemic in Sweden
Returning to the graph at the start of this post:
Given the five-day rolling average and the now-all-but-complete data through the end of April, some revised thoughts on the “peak.” The general outlines we have tentatively known since about the third week of April and could be guessed at already as of mid-March with early information and given what we know of how all these flu epidemics work:
– Dating the “peak” is going to be, in some ways, subjective.
– The broadest peak period, above 50 deaths/day (amounting to several times normal flu deaths; numbers dropping far below 50/day, especially considering the Deaths With vs. Deaths From problem) are soon lost in background flu noise), is March 31 to May 3.
– The “three-week hit” for an epidemic flu strain (See also Wittkowski on the three-week hit of a flu epidemic) is still clearly visible in this near-final data. It covers the period of the middle of the fifth week and all of the sixth, seventh, and eighth weeks in the graph, April 3 to April 24. The period above 75/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 and seventh weeks. This turns out to be an eleven-day window, April 6 to April 17, at or above 90/day as measured in the rolling average. (Actual deaths hit 90 for the first time on April 5, reached a two-day peak April 14-15 (224 coronavirus-positive deaths in two days), and were still near i,t at 89/day, as late as April 17-18.The three-week hit and the peak-of-the-peak periods are probably associated with the peak of the epidemic in Stockholm County, which had the highest number of deaths in absolute and proportional terms (see deaths in Sweden by region as a % of normal through April 19). Both would have been higher but for the counter-measures in place to protect the vulnerable, which no doubt prevented some deaths but merely delayed others deaths to the following few weeks.
See for yourself in the data table:
Dating the tailing off and completion of the epidemic deaths curve
– The epidemic continues in clear decline, which confirms the “declaration of victory” made here April 29, on behalf of the anti-Panic side.
– Based on the shape of the Deaths curve, the five-day average could even go below 30/day as soon as next weekend (mid-May) at the most optimistic, and no later than late May, once the effect of the Stockholm’s higher death rate fades;
– The curve will fade back towards zero in June, with the tail end of the epidemic in Sweden. This visualizable as the completion of the bell-shaped curve we have seen forming for the past two to three weeks.
Reflections on the Corona-Panic, Corona-politics, and the pro-Panic vs. anti-Panic split, in the context of the Swedish data
– Trump swings and misses on Sweden. It was in the above-discussed “peak of the peak” period (April 6 to 17 as proposed above) that US President Donald Trump foolishly attacked the Swedish strategy (April 8). Ironically, this was originally also the US strategy, and the one Trump himself favored, 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, which was under control with no destructive shutdowns.
– I first wrote against the Panic elsewhere on March 26, when Sweden’s deaths curve was on the definite upswing. I was inspired to begin this series thereafter, in early April (Part I was published April 5), right at the beginning of Sweden’s broad peak-deaths period (see dating the peaks[s]).
Further reconstructing my own reaction to the emerging Corona-Panic, in light of this rear-view look at the past two months, as seen through the data for Stay-Open Sweden:
– I turned against the Corona-Panic in the second week of March. In the preceding weeks, I followed with skeptical interest, always wanting more evidence and steadily finding the data and narrative mismatched greatly.
– I was actively anti-Panic by the third week of March. There is little that disorganized forces can do after a coup d’etat occurs and a religious cult-like takeover occurs of the culture, except speak out for Truth, Reality, Rationality, and Honor to the extent they can.
– I had hoped (mid-March) that the victory of the pro-Panic forces, which I sensed gathering and which had crossed a Rubicon, would not be as total as it was; I remember feeling/hoping that the Panic might pass by April 1 (I felt/hoped this even before the early shutdowns, which said “until April 1, to flatten the curve”).
– When a “Panic passing by April 1” scenario proved unlikely, as the pro-Panic side dug in and jealously guarded its gains, I was , I was was gladdened to see the Easter reopening (April 12) proposed by Trump.
– In retrospect, writing now May 9-10, even Easter reopening was hopelessly optimistic given the scope of the pro-Panic side’s revolution. Now it looks like the best-case-scenario is for the effects of the pro-Panic side’s revolution to be fully lifted some time before the end of the year 2020. The Corona-Rubicon was a lot deeper a river than we realized. The Panic won a full victory; true-believers in the Panic still hold “the whip hand,” with experts sidelined or suppressed. Experts such as Dr. Wodarg are reduced to giving interviews to dissident media outlets.
– While I always leaned towards Corona-skepticism, as I say, I believe it was specifically the period March 13th to the 17th that was critical in my decisively coming to the realization that the anti-Panic position was not only the correct one, but that the anti-Panic side badly needed advocates. The more we learned in late March, the more solid this was. Everything was confirmed and reconfirmed and triple-confirmed in April. The medical debate is now over, but few on the pro-Panic side seem to care.
– While anti-Panic was the “more correct” one by mid-March, by some point maybe early April it became so stark as to be like a sane, healthy man dealing in the light of day (anti-Panic) vs. a paranoid, delusional man scared of daylight and UFO abduction (pro-Panic).
– I realize (1) that the anti-Panic side’s total vindication was a done deal by or before May 1 (as in, no longer arguable by reasonable people from the evidence available), but that (2) this 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. That was mid-March, with the escalation-spiral of madness and corona-demagoguing by politicians getting worse and worse.
– The anti-Panic side had to find itself. Having lost the initiative, dissidents on the losing side of the revolution had to cautiously find each other. Many former friends and allies had joined the cult during the mass-conversion event, and were loyal servants of the new, pro-Panic regime. Families were often divided. Dark days were ahead. The Lockdown-fanatics held the whip hand, empowered by their brainwashed-zeal within the new religion.
– Sweden’s first death was only March 10, and at that time its Deaths curve had weeks of ascent left before its peak (April 7 to 16) and the decline began (second half of April). Taking the pro-Sweden position in March was clearly something hard to do for many. An example, I think, is the the early-April Donald Trump line, “They are suffering badly in Sweden” comment. I suspect it (the idea) was fed to him by the pro-Panic junta around Doctor Fauci, and is easy to accomplish with someone like Trump. A simplistic look at total deaths alone, as if that told the relevant story, can do the job. The “relevant story” requires non-Panic conditions and expertise.
– 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 that the decline was about to begin. Given reporting delays, this was starting to become clear by about April 23, and of course data analysis always awaits more data to corroborate apparent trends. What was already clear by April 18-19 is that Sweden was not going to see any huge spike in deaths as guessed at by people like Doctor Frankensson (Ferguson).
Some Final thoughts in light of this discussion on Sweden:
Is there any “hope” left for the pro-Panic side?
They needed more deaths in Sweden, ASAP, and they didn’t get them.
As expected, the most substantial update of the week from the Swedish Public Health authority came on Friday May 8. Weekend- and holiday-associated delayed reporting is usually updated by late week, with the biggest update on Friday before the next weekend. The pro-Panic side was reduced to betting it all on this May 7-8 late-week updates to bring forward hundreds of new deaths, or their last chance was over.
The data would have needed to violate all known rules of epidemics and other natural phenomena of this kind and suddenly reverse itself to start approaching the extreme Ferguson model that caused so much needless, senseless damage.
It occurs to me that in Japan, Ferguson would be found dead from suicide by now, or soon. The man is shameless. Ferguson instead has been shamelessly violating the ‘lockdown’ that he himself agitated for — and got, to the great loss of all of us — to carry on a sexual affair with married woman. There is a reason that infidelity is grounds for failure to get a government security clearance; blackmail, yes, but also a sign of character.)
As for the pro-Panic side’s prospects. Since we heard no news reports of any shocking, early-May death spike, the chances of “Ferguson being right after all; the apocalypse is here!” were very low, if not already zero. As the substantial May 8 update showed no major upswing to reversed the decline trend, it really is over.
The pro-Panic side loses on the evidence. They still have the lies and the media-directed mass manipulation. They still have the energies associated with the mass-hysteria they created. But those, they always had.
What do we have?