One thing about Coronavirus media coverage is, has always been, and remains: “Don’t trust the media.” Their reporting has been histrionic from the start, and really equivalent of “yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” The Panic Pandemic may not be entirely a creation of the media, but the media was the fanners-of-the-flame-in-chief.
“How many people have gotten the virus?” is a very important question but one on which the media had always obfuscated or given bad info, confusing confirmed cases with actual cases. This itself is of the central swindles of the entire Panic.
Needless to say, as we of the anti-Panic side have said all along, the actual number of those exposed to the virus is much higher than the “confirmed cases” reported. It’s a respiratory virus. It spreads between people in close contact. Get over it.
The swindle is this: Getting people to think of ‘Corona’ as a rare and terrifying killer-virus itself reinforces the Panic. Common things are not terrifying. Ironically, then, it is this deflation of the virus total that has been one way they were able to heat up the Panic and perpetuate it.
The answer to the question of “How many have gotten the Virus” is “many tens of millions,” and has been for a long time now.
Somebody ranting about an imminent virus apocalypse sounds less scary (more pathetic) if you know that tens of millions have gotten said virus and recovered. We need not heed his dark visions of doom the next time:
Major US antibody study finds tens of millions of Americans have gotten the virus, easily recovered
Thanks to a large-scale antibody study in the US, we can finally provide fairly firm data on how many people really got the virus in the US on a nationwide basis.
In early October, a study began to be picked up in the press. The study itself was published in late September and was based on fieldwork done in July. (Why it took so long to get this very important study done is anyone’s guess. We had major studies like this out of Europe and elsewhere already by May.)
The one-line summary of the study: 33 million residents of the US had been exposed to the Wuhan-Coronavirus by late June 2020. That is based not on the “rolling big Scary Number counts” on CNN. It’s based a large, random-sample antibody study.
(The paper: “Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in a large nationwide sample of patients on dialysis in the USA: a cross-sectional study,” by Shuchi Anand, Maria Montez-Rath, Jialin Han, Julie Bozeman, Russell Kerschmann, Paul Beyer, et al; published September 25, 2020 in The Lancet; see pdf.)
The exact figure they calculated was 9.3% (confidence range: 8.8%–9.9%) of Americans had antibodies against this strain of coronavirus in the first two weeks of July 2020. Antibodies take some time to develop after the virus enters your system, usually around one week and sometimes two weeks. Given that testing was done for almost all in the sample between July 1 and July 15, this 9.3% estimate for US nationwide exposure reflects a nationwide virus penetration level as of late June.
There was major regional variation, with New York State the highest at 33.6%, an important point to keep in mind on any discussion on herd immunity (below).
What kind of error rates are there in the test used? I’m not sure, but there are people exposed to the virus who ‘recover’ (if they were ever sick) but do not develop antibodies. To account for the non-antibody people who did in fact have the virus pass through their systems, the number can be somewhat rounded up by several tenths of a point.
By mid-October (this writing), given that respiratory viruses will always spread, it may be up to 20% by now (=67.5 million US residents exposed to the virus).
A team at Northwestern University found 20% for Chicago, speaking to the Chicago Tribune October 9 but probably reflecting testing from September, suggesting to me a virus penetration of 20% in Chicago by sometime before September 1. As the rest of the country catches up, 20% nationwide is likely, by mid-October.
(Recall that up to 90 in 100 people never have any symptoms at all, some have mild symptoms [including President Trump] and only 1 in 100 has severe symptoms.)
There are three important questions worth asking:
- (1) If we are at 20% today, how much more is left to go? What is the exact herd immunity threshold for this virus?
- (2) What does the revelation of 9.3% antibody presence as of late June suggest about the true death toll (i.e., untangling “deaths with” vs. “deaths from”)?
- (3) Lockdown-induced deaths. If we can calculate a “deaths with” number, how does it compare to total excess mortality in 2020? If excess deaths are more than true virus deaths, the remainder must be accounted for. They were caused by the endless disruptions, stress, and dislocations of the Lockdown and the Panic itself, including Lockdown-induced deaths of despair.
The Herd Immunity Threshold
Herd Immunity is the mechanism by which all respiratory diseases are defeated, fade, and disappear from a population. The lockdowns disrupted this natural process in many places. The full mechanism was able to work in Sweden and some other places, including some that did lock down. (See Dr. Knut Wittkowski on herd immunity; sadly Wittkowski, a world-leading epidemiologist, was banned from Youtube for “violating CDC guidelines”)
What is the herd immunity threshold for this flu virus strain?
There has been a lot of confusion about this, with numbers as high as 80% proposed. This discarded all previous research on coronaviruses which suggested a much lower herd immunity threshold are much lower — flu viruses the corona family usually to achieve less spread within a population before fading out than other flu viruses. In other words, coronaviruses have a lower herd immunity threshold than, say, flu viruses from the influenza family.
Swiss Policy Research has reported on studies that corroborate these findings, finding a 20% spread is usually enough to break the back of transmission for this particular virus:
[T]he infection rate dropped as soon as about 20% of people had developed antibodies against the new coronavirus. This value is much lower than the initial estimate of 60 to 80%.
This is inevitably simplified, of course, and it is a mistake to assign some kind of iron value to herd immunity, as if it must be 80.0% (not 79%!), or 60%, or any figure. Every virus is different by its nature, every place is different, every time/season/year is different, every climate is different, every population is different. All these things can and do affect epidemic dynamics and thus herd immunity. Different areas of the same country, even different areas within the metropolitan area, will even have different herd immunity thresholds.
Many will be surprised to know that so many tens of millions of Americans have gotten the The Apocalypse Virus and never even knew it, with the 10%-by-late-June figure in the US now a matter of science and not speculation. So how much further till the herd immunity mechanism kicks in?
For all the demagoguery still ongoing over the virus, and for all the crowing by the pro-Panic side on how impressive are the victories they’ve won for their (anti-)Virus God since March, the joke may yet be on them: Herd immunity may already have been achieved locally in some places in which authorities and the pro-Panic coalition maintain their policy of major disruptions to life in all aspects. If so, their efforts are a total waste and possibly counter-productive even in epidemic management terms by undermining the herd immunity mechanism. The best course of action has always been to stay open (re-open) and just let it happen, as Sweden did.
Sweden has had all-cause deaths in the normal range since late June, with four to five weeks before that slightly elevated, following about seven weeks of significantly increased deaths from late March to mid-May. Sweden is going to end the year with full-year mortality not significantly different than its recent years.
The herd immunity mechanism is what allowed Sweden to pass through the flu wave (with minimal disruptions) and return by summer to total normalcy. Sweden ran several antibody studies, and we know that as of mid-April, 17% had antibodies, suggesting that level of penetration had been achieved already by or before March 31. The epidemic had another month left in it
The magnitude of that flu wave itself would have been less if Stockholm nursing homes had followed proper procedures but the broader point here is on herd immunity:
Given no mortality rise following the receding of the epidemic, we can expect this means Sweden achieved herd immunity and transmission could no longer sustain itself. The alternative explanation is that the virus disappeared in Sweden by magic. Whatever exact %-level that was, it will be different for the USA because the countries are different. (In fact, it is the same mechanism with every flu wave down through the centuries.)
As for the USA:
We see in the big antibody study by Anand et. al (Sept. 25, 2020) that New York state had achieved a virus penetration level of 34% by late June. We also see that the deaths-curve has hugged the ground, near zero, since then.
This suggests: (1) the herd immunity mechanism broke the back of the epidemic in New York state (the same way every respiratory virus is beaten, always and everywhere, year in and year out); (2) the herd immunity threshold in New York state was somewhere around 30% (which would be consistent with other coronaviruses).
Here is the graph of corona-positive deaths in New York state:
The pro-Panic side will, I am sure, insist the reason the curve stays so flat from June onward is because people obeyed the holy diktats of the Corona junta (on which topic, would you like anti-walrus insurance? I’ll sell it you at a discount).
The actual reason is the same as why the deaths curve for Sweden looks all but identical in shape, including the long tail (epidemic over): Herd immunity.
At least for New York, a tentative herd immunity threshold may be somewhere in the vicinity of 30%. None of the lockdown measures mattered. The only policy that would have made sense would be to have done the opposite: Keep everything open, allow the virus to circulate among low-/no-risk groups, and protect nursing homes alone. Refuse to allow Panic-pushers to force shutdowns, which only delays herd immunity and unnecessarily prolongs the disruption.
Deaths with the Virus vs. Deaths from the Virus; insights from the antibody study
The antibody study suggests two thirds of reported US corona-deaths are people who died of something else but were positive for the virus at time of death and were recorded as such. Virus Panic Death Inflation.
We know, from study after study elsewhere, that in a country with first-world demographics the all-population death rate from Wuhan-Coronavirus has been shown to fall between 0.05% to 0.20%, with the exact value more dependent on local demographics than anything else (just as the total death rate in any given year varies country to country in the first place) and any cases that locally exceed 0.20% being attributable to spread disproportionately affecting nursing homes. (The risk of death for anyone healthy under age 75 or so is less than the risk of regularly driving a car.)
There were reportedly 129,000 “COVID deaths” by July 15 in the US, the end-date of the Anand et. al. antibody study. This 129,000 stands against the 33 million who had gotten the virus two to three weeks earlier (rounding up, slightly, to 9.75% to account for non-antibody-producers).
Mathematically, this yields a 0.39% death rate (129k reported deaths / 33m who had the virus pass through their systems by late June). The problem with this is it would mean the same virus is somehow three, or four, or even five times more deadly in one country (the USA, computed 0.39%) as in others (usually in the 0.1% range). Can this be?
The alternative explanation, which we of the anti-Panic side have been pointing to since late March, is that the reported deaths are inflated. Not necessarily a conspiracy, but driven by the Panic. The majority of the reported deaths are fairly called “deaths with the virus, not deaths from the virus,” given the age-and-condition profile of the majority of victims — nursing home patients and persons hospitalized with other chronic and serious conditions.
Given that 33 million Americans had gotten the virus by late June, on a 0.05% death rate that would imply 16,500 “deaths from the virus.” A 0.20% death rate would imply 66,000 “deaths from the virus.”
Media claim: 129,000 deaths as of July 15.
Antibody test suggests: 16,500 to 66,000 true virus-caused deaths by July 15.
Between 50% and 85% of the media’s corona-deaths were “deaths with the virus present, but from some other cause.” This is a finding corroborated often, and easily grasped at a glance by the fact that most deaths are above age 80 and in nursing homes.
As of this mid-October writing, the number of true “Covid deaths” would, therefore, still likely be <100,000, not the 219,000 media-reported number.
I know some are bound to protest: You say true corona-deaths are only in the tens of thousands, but there were more excess deaths than that!
The CDC reports for 2020 Weeks 1 to 39:
- 2,425,784 deaths through Sept. 19th;
- 2,155,174 “average expected number of deaths” for the same period;
- 2,234,416 “upper-bound threshold for excess deaths” for the same period.
This means there could be 3.25 million deaths for the full year over the expected 3.0 million. But we’ve already seen that around two-thirds of the Covid deaths were deaths with the virus and not from it, leaving us a substantial number of excess deaths not attributable to the virus. During the peak-Panic period, we had people too terrified to visit hospitals and dying at home in record numbers of treatable conditions. We see the same thing in the world’s now-leader for brutal lockdown regime, Australia. Countries that cave in to full-Panic do indeed get people too scared to seek treatment.
Deaths of despair, including drug overdoses, have risen significantly, and that over the high-point they’d already achieved in the 2010s.
We are not given any official count on suicides, but reports here and there suggest they have risen by as much as 50% over 2019. This alone would mean tens of thousands of marginal deaths, none of which would have occurred without the Panic/lockdown pushing unstable people over the edge.
The year 2020 in the USA was supposed have 3,000,000 total deaths. It may have 3,200,000, with one-third to one-half of the excess attributable to the virus (with these deaths being primarily elderly or very sick people, putting light downward pressure on 2021 total-mortality, their date of death simply moved slightly forward) and one-half to two-thirds attributable to the Lockdown itself, the stress and fear it induced, and the pro-Panic side’s stranglehold on the discourse.
These unnecessary deaths will, in aggregate be younger and healthier. On any calculation of aggregate expected life-years lost, the Lockdowns/shutdowns.disruptions start to exceed the virus by huge margins, easily hundreds of times worse.
The “Dog that Didn’t Bark” Lockdown-induced population hit: Babies sacrificed to Corona-Moloch
The success of the pro-Panic coalition’s push to shut down over the virus and prolong the Panic will reduce births. This is a major and overlooked demographic hit from the craziness and is not to be neglected but is inevitably neglected because no one pays attention to “the dog that didn’t bark,” as the saying goes, to events that don’t happen but should or could. I have long been planning a separate post on this.
Every year, a certain number of people die and some are born, partly offsetting the loses to deaths. The number expected to be born was 2,750,000 in 2021 should be babies conceived April 2020 to March 2021.
Starting in mid-December, we’ll begin to see what kind of hit the Corona-Panic did to births.
A lot of couples are going to wait on having a child during the Panic and the recession. Those lost babies may never “come back.” Fertility lost to recessions tends not to recover in our society today. The 2008-09 recession caused a down-shift in fertility which never went back up in the ten years of recovery that followed. See how this happened in 1915-19 in Europe:
Given that we already have a demographic problem, including decades of sub-replacement fertility, the Corona-Panic is likely to cost us hundreds of thousands of births, hundreds of thousands of net lost births. This was all madness.
If just 3% of couples who statistically would have had babies born starting in December 2020 (nine months after the Corona-Panic began) decided to forgo having that child “for now,” that alone is a net loss of 82,500 births, which may exceed the number of genuine corona-deaths. If the fertility rate declines 10% for 2021, which is very possible, that’s a net loss of 275,000 expected babies never to be born, easily soaring past the total number of genuine corona-deaths. While the genuine corona-deaths may have lost a few years of expected life, the babies-not-born lost their entire lives. There is also probably dysgenic pressure here, as more conscientious people are more likely to forego the baby during the Virus Apocalypse Emergency.
The wild experiment that was Virus Lockdown of 2020 was in no small part about trading the lives of the young (including infants) for the lives of the elderly.
Looking back on the false alarm, seven months later
Data defeats Panic. That ought, anyway, to be the case.
The problem is, if good data is collected and released but no one sees it, does it “make a sound”? The long-time-in-coming large-scale nationwide antibody study got hardly any play in the media. You’ll say, not surprising under the Corona regime given how committed the media is to keeping the Panic alive. We are under a hostile, Virus Junta regime now.
The antibody study does help a lot of the pieces of the puzzle fall more firmly into place, including:
- How close the US may already be to herd immunity (pretty close), making all continuing Panic-driven measures unnecessary and even counter-productive;
- Just how inflated the media-pushed “Covid Deaths” total is (only one-third nay be genuine); and
- the scale of early deaths attributable to the Lockdown (probably more than the number of direct virus-caused deaths already, and that’s before mentioning the hit domestic fertility is likely to hit).