Don’t believe me.
I stand by the recommendations to avoid a coronavirus infection that I made in February – wear a mask, wash hands, avoid food you didn’t cook yourself, avoid closed spaces.
My recommendations weren’t based on any one prediction, but on what makes sense from a risk-management perspective. I would recommend the same personal preventive measures today as I did back then, with some extra vitamins on top.
It has worked out for me just fine in New York, the epicenter of coronavirus fatalities in the US. I didn’t get sick (impossible to prove), and the people who followed my protocols didn’t get sick either. Obviously, there are no guarantees that I won’t get it this winter.
A year into the pandemic, I want to share what I have learnt since and how I was wrong.
This will shock you, but there are only a couple of material things – from a risk-management perspective – that we know now which we didn’t know in early 2020.
The reinfections, the damage to internal organs, the impact on the central nervous system, the infected domestic animals – we already knew all that at the beginning.
Two big things have emerged since then, and both of them have to do with how the disease spreads (so far – the pattern can always change as the virus mutates).
The first new learning is that the Chinese – and the US government – had been covering up the coronavirus much longer than we originally thought.
Reports through informal channels and fringe websites suggest that the infection in Wuhan began as early as August-September 2019. Not in October-November as we originally thought. Reports suggested that US executives and senior government officials received intelligence reports of an epidemic spreading in Wuhan as early as November.
Why is this important?
Because it led me to overestimate how quickly the disease spreads. It took 4-5 months and the onset of winter for Wuhan to become a disaster zone, not just a few weeks. That’s the main reason why we have “only” 200,000 coronavirus deaths in the US, and not the 1,000,000 I expected by the end of this year.
(The rest has been mostly as expected – total government incompetence, no leadership, lying, denial etc.)
This is good news because it means the disease can be eradicated by controlling its main vectors of spread – testing everyone who boards a plane or crosses a border, mask-wearing in shared spaces, washing hands etc. It won’t be hard to end the pandemic without vaccines and lockdowns – if there is leadership, and that’s a big “if”.
The wildcard is what happens when winter sets in.
As I explained in a previous missive, the dynamics of natural selection for all respiratory viruses lead to more contagious and more deadly strains becoming prevalent in the cold season.
Flu epidemics often don’t peak until February, so it’s too early to tell what happens with the coronavirus. Coronavirus infections and symptoms are rising in both the United States and Europe. Not a good sign.
The second major thing we learnt since February is that the virus spreads very differently from the common influenzas and coronaviruses.
With our regular winter guests, transmission is pretty close to uniform. Every infectious carrier infects about the same number of people. That’s one reason the Spanish flu killed so many people – it was a variation on a virus that already “knew” how to transmit reliably.
The transmission of the wuhan is more stochastic. This means that the average replication rate of cases tells us very little about how dangerous each individual case is. Many of those infected fail to transmit the virus further, but there are also those who infect dozens and even hundreds more. This has been documented fairly well in East Asia.
This is even further encouragement that we can eradicate the virus quickly and at a fraction of the cost in economic damage so far. If we cover the basics and stop the superspreaders.
Questions and comments – let me know immediately.
Take action now!