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History of Pandemics

Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic 2020

Older dated entries are still relevant, and have been updated.

April 23, 2020

R0 (Transmissibility) can be further reduced without a lockdown, by everyone wearing a mask. “In Hong Kong, only four confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 have been recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, despite high density, mass transportation, and proximity to Wuhan. Hong Kong’s health authorities credit their citizens’ near-universal mask-wearing as a key factor” The Atlantic, April 22nd

Compare this to the less successful Swedish approach, of only sanitizing, hand washing, and social distancing. They may be mistaken in their belief that facial coverings are not effective. Or, they see this virus as not apocalyptical, and don't think it warrants that specific change in lifestyle. Refer to the entry below about Objectivity.

Covid Daily New Deaths in Sweden
source (updated)

For now we have these trends. More will be learned about cause and effect as time goes on.

April 20, 2020

COVID is different from other viruses in that the sick do not show symptoms in the first 2 to 14 days, with an average of 5 days. Although being asymptomatic during this period, they are contagious. This makes containment difficult, if you are only trying to isolate those showing symptoms.

The countries / cities that fared the best are those whose citizens had advance warning, and took precautions to reduce contagion, early, before a large number of cases took effect. Below a model showing a possible effect of waiting one day:

Social Distancing Measures Taken One Day Apart

April 19, 2020

Comparing COVID-19 to the Hong Kong Flu

Previously, I compared COVID to swine flu, but COVID likely has a higher R0 (transmissibility) and a higher mortality rate. So looking back on the timeline, for a disease with a higher kill rate, is the Hong Kong Flu of 1968.

The mortality rate of the Hong Kong Flu is not given the same metric as is given in the media for COVID. It is given a crude mortality rate (CMR). Scientists measure the increase in mortality of the entire population from all causes during the pandemic, instead of giving a ratio of deaths to cases of flu. The increase in the mortality rate of the entire population during the Hong Kong Flu was 0.017%, or an additional 16.9 dead per 100K deaths. Over three years this amounted to approximately one million deaths.

I can't find the going Crude Mortality Rate for COVID. Tons of sites incorrectly give the Case Fatality Rate (CFR), while calling it the Crude Mortality Rate. Lies!

Let's say that COVID has a similar CMR to Hong Kong Flu. The population of the earth is 7.8 billion, so in a year the number of dead from COVID would be 1.32 million in the first year! Am I going to be all wrong in having predicted 300K-500K in the first year for COVID?

For Hong Kong Flu, the “Estimates of the basic reproduction number (R0) were in the range of 1.06–2.06 for the first wave and, assuming cross-protection, 1.21–3.58 in the second.” source

COVID has an unquarantined R0 of 3.86, and a Case Fatality Rate of 0.5%. Assuming the virus reached 1-1/R0, or 74% of the population before herd immunity took effect: 7.8 billion x 0.74 x 0.005 = 29 million deaths, which makes it more comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic. However, people do take precautions, and the R0 is lowered dramatically.

Possible Long Term Changes in Socialization

When R0 is lowered by people exercising precautions, the fraction of people that will contract the disease before herd immunity takes effect is lower, and calculated as 1 - 1/R0. So if R0 is lowered from 3.86 to 2, then only half the population will contract the virus, as opposed to 74%.

Perhaps everyone will be wearing mouth coverings in the future? Social dancing may have a new look, as all will be adorned in hijab. Or perhaps a better treatment will be found for COVID, or the number of daily deaths will be low enough to appease the news media gods, and things will return to “normal” until the next pandemic.

April 18, 2020

Lack of Objectivity

Let's take a long hard look at “normal”. For comparison, the CDC states that globally, there are 1.35 million vehicular accidents every year. Does the population freak out about the risk, like it has with COVID-19? Hardly. The topic doesn't get that level of sensationalist mass media. People will drive to Starbucks for a coffee, just to get out of the house. Somehow, people have lost objectivity, that there is an equal chance of dying from a car accident compared to a viral infection.

In Los Angeles, the quarantine has reduced auto accidents by half, which should help free up hospital beds. “The reductions in air pollution in China caused by this economic disruption likely saved twenty times more lives in China than have currently been lost due to infection with the virus in that country.” source

CDC states that the “Seasonal flu kills 291,000 to 646,000 people worldwide each year, according to a new estimate that's higher than the previous one of 250,000 to 500,000 deaths a year” source. Wait, that's even more than the Swine Flu pandemic! Oh, that's because there's always more than one virus going around at the same time. Maybe, while your immune system is under attack, it's a good idea to stay out of the hospital, far away from other diseases. Doesn't that just make sense? In France there are mobile doctors.

What I'm trying to say here, is that social normalcy is barbaric, and people are in denial of that fact because of an inherent need to think otherwise. An inherent need to live in a fairy tale where they are not actively involved in supporting barbaric practices. Having an intelligent conversation is difficult when reality is politically incorrect. If you are not connected to reality, you will follow the news media mob.

Most politicians want to ride this wave, where they can be seen as taking command of the situation. It's very fashionable right now to protect against COVID. Fashionable to have a police state.

Not all countries are taking freedom away from its citizens. For example, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven made the following statement: “Us adults need to be exactly that: adults. Not spread panic or rumours. No one is alone in this crisis, but each person carries a heavy responsibility”

Another country that is successfully containing the virus without a lockdown, is Iceland.

If you want to raise a child to be a responsible adult, you must treat them as capable of handling responsibility. Sometimes this involves risk. If you want to have a nation of responsible adults, you will have to give them the freedom to make mistakes. Think of God and free will.

Many will want to take away the freedom of the individual to leave their house, because of the potential that this individual could spread or contract the virus, affecting others in time. What holds more value? Safety, or freedom? People have different value systems. I want the individual to have freedom, and the education to take care of themselves and others.

Back to Normal

Based on the projected schedule for Wuhan, China, one could estimate a cycle of 3 to 4 months before precautions are lifted, and civilization mostly goes back to normal. For NYC, that could be the end of May. However, NYC is not Sweden or Iceland. Nor does it have a quarantine that is as strict as China's.

April 13, 2020

COVID-19 Comparison to Swine Flu

Is Coronavirus more contagious than Swine Flu? It depends on when the R0 (contagiousness or transmissibility) measurement was taken. In Wuhan without containment, the R0 is estimated to be around 3.86. After lockdown, R0 fell dramatically.

The following chart from a Nature article compares the R0 of historical contagious diseases. Swine Flu of 2009 had an estimated R0 between 1.4 and 1.6, with a fatality rate of 0.026%.

Compared to other viruses, someone with COVID is contagious in the first few days, without showing any symptoms. This makes quarantine much more difficult. Where the sick are isolated at the onset of both symptoms and contagiousness, R0 is dramatically reduced.

A different metric for viruses is the Case Fatality Rate. COVID CFR is yet unknown. Update 20200414: The fatality rate for COVID is 0.5% best measured in the country whose testing has had the broadest reach: Iceland. This is quite different from the 20% CFR mass media was shamefully broadcasting. Another lie.

R0 of Covid Compared to Other Diseases

Do they actually know how many people have contracted coronavirus? No, they don't. They don't test everyone. In the USA, they turn away people that don't have a fever, then have the nerve to say that most people that get coronavirus get a fever. “Iceland lab's testing suggests 50% of coronavirus cases have no symptoms”

The difference that stands out, is that hospitals are overrun compared to the time of the swine flu. See and But how much of that may be attributed to cuts in hospital readiness compared to before? Although unlikely as hospitals worldwide are affected.

Hospitals Run Near Capacity

When they say that hospitals are overrun, what exactly does that mean? CNN covered a hospital in Brooklyn, one of the hardest hit. The hospital has a 300 bed capacity, and 100 beds were filled with coronavirus patients. So it seems it doesn't take much to overrun a hospital. They are usually running near capacity.

Projected Deaths in the First Year

Based on the following chart, it appears that the death rate among many countries is about to plateau, and follow a trajectory similar to China. I guess the total deaths globally between 300k and 500k in 2020. A lot more than I originally thought when there were only 30K deaths at the end of March. Granted, if the virus mutates to a newly infectious strain, the figure may be higher. I'm counting on doctors getting better at treating people, finding better treatments, and getting more/better supplies.

Daily Death Tolls

Common Cold Treatments


Some supplements such as garlic, may help prevent or shorten viral infections. However, every viral strain is unique, so what may work for one strain may not work with another.

Other supplements to look into:
Astragalus Membranaceus1
Zinc and elderberry lozenges or syrup, except that the “vast majority” of studies were funded by a company that sells a patented extract.

Cough Suppresant

Theobromine in cocoa outperforms pharmaceutical based cough suppressants. Pharmaceutical cough suppressants are not much more effective than placebo, and I have no idea why people keep taking them, despite the lack of evidence for efficacy.


Bromelain supplement may reduce congestion. I wish more studies were done on it.

If your nose is completely stuffed up, and you can't sleep because breathing through your mouth doesn't work for you, you can use flonase (fluticasone), a nasal spray which is a corticosteroid. If I have remembered the med correctly, it will clear up your sinus in seconds. However, this medication works by reducing the work of your immune system. You get twice the chance of dying or having pnemonia as a complication Although, if you can't sleep, it may be the lesser of two evils.

If you have a CPAP nearby, it can force air through your nose, and keeps the drip at bay until you wake up a couple hours later and blow out a storm.

Intermittent Fasting

It may not be good to fast during a common cold, because of studies showing that cellular autophagy metabolism promotes viral reproduction:
Autophagy induction regulates influenza virus replication in a time-dependent manner
Autophagy Promotes Replication of Influenza A Virus In Vitro
However, different viruses may exploit different cellular machinery, so this conclusion may not apply to all viruses.

health/viruses.txt · Last modified: 2020/04/27 01:48 by marcos