Ten Things I Think I Think About COVID As of April 3
1. Almost every analysis of the plague progression relies on the number of positive tests and/or the number of deaths. I think these numbers are so unreliable as to be only marginally useful. Many tests give unacceptable high false-negative numbers. Many infected are not getting tested. Many deaths are not being counted. These data may be useful for telling if and when we’re bending the curve in individual countries. But be very cautious of drawing grand conclusions from them.
2. The new blood tests are being touted as a way for people to get back to work once they’ve had it. I don’t put much faith in that right now. Again, the false positive rate is too high. And blood tests are not cheap.
3. We have no idea if chloroquine works. Only three studies have been published and all three are seriously flawed. Unlike Orac, I don’t object to a kitchen sink approach in desperate times. But temper your expectations.
4. Social distancing seems to be working in that most of the curves are flattening instead of continuing on an exponential course. But that’s not 100% clear yet. The new push for wearing masks will be a force multiplier for it, though.
5. A lot of our strategy hinges on a vaccine being available in 2021. Maybe. But vaccines are tricky things. In the end, our only option may be slowing the pandemic as it kills millions worldwide.
6. The PPE crisis is far more important than the ventilator shortage. Only a small fraction of those who go on ventilators survive. Meanwhile, doctors are being exposed to massive doses of the virus, which may worsen their outcomes.
7. Supply chains are a concern, particularly on food. The problem isn’t so much a shortage of food — although that could become a problem if migrant labor is hit by this. It’s that our food supply chains are geared for us eating half of our food in restaurants. I suspect we will adapt. But that probably means buying huge shipments of ground beef instead of individual patties.
8. We haven’t even begun to feel the economic pain.
9. The headline is needlessly hysterical, but it’s hard to imagine anyone more unqualified for this crisis than Jared Kushner.
10. Despite all of this, I am trying to remain optimistic. We’re going into a very rough and dangerous time. But if we keep our heads, we can emerge from it. I won’t say we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel yet. But I will say we’re seeing that it is indeed a tunnel and not a bottomless pit.
(I originally stole this bit from Stephen Bainbridge but I don’t think the concept is original to him.)