COVID-19: The Movie
You can substitute the word "Coronavirus" for "zombie" and the context is almost the same. Fear of disease is right at the bottom of the human brain stem.
Stay at home. Don't go outside. Stay safe. The Infected are roaming the streets. Someone tested positive. Your loved ones are at risk. An unknown virus which originated near a virology lab in Wuhan, China is sweeping the world and randomly killing millions. There's no cure, nobody knows how it spreads, and governments are issuing complete lockdowns to stave off armageddon. Newscasters have 24-7 death counters on-screen.
This millenarian death cult eschatology might sell newspapers, but it has to stop. What is millenarianism, you might ask?
"Many if not most millenarian groups claim that the current society and its rulers are corrupt, unjust, or otherwise wrong, and that they will soon be destroyed by a powerful force. The harmful nature of the status quo is considered intractable without the anticipated dramatic change."
Ordinary people are theorising it's really the New World Order's plan transmitted by 5G. Celebrities and corporate brands falling over themselves to appear virtuous in public.
No, it's not the plot of Resident Evil. It's somehow yet another surreal inversion of reality created by the madness of politicians obsessing over their mentions on social media. Fear of disease has a way of bypassing our faculties of reason and emotional brakes to provoke the cavities of our reptile survival instinct: a SARS-like illness has finally hit scale.
For a dying traditional media, it's a godsend. It's wall-to-wall, minute-by-minute, death-by-death panic coverage. The rhetoric is at epic levels. Even Google, Uber, Spotify, Apple, and all those do-gooder corps are in on the virtue concern-trolling goldrush.
Only one problem: a lot of this doesn't add up, does it?
Inciting Incident: how our outbreak starts
No, not because a bioweapon is deliberately released from a lab by communists intent on killing the president. Or more likely, some panhandling lab worker short on cash sells rodents from work to a local market seller.
It is, however, interesting to note SARS v1, the prequel, just couldn't manage to stay inside the lab:
The original outbreak occurred in November, and peaked in February. Also:
"Early in the epidemic, the Chinese Government discouraged its press from reporting on SARS, delayed reporting to WHO, and initially did not provide information to Chinese outside Guangdong province, where the disease is believed to have originated." (Wikipedia)
If you did want that kind of storyline, you'd definitely like this kind of recent background reading:
Given the above facts, either:
– A coronavirus spontaneously mutated and jumped to humans at a wet market or deep in some random bat cave which just so happened to be 20 miles from China’s only BSL-4 virology lab, a virus with an unusually slippery never-before-seen genome that’s evading zoological classification, that may be as much as twenty-times more contagious than SARS and whose spike-protein region which allows it to enter host cells holds an unique HIV-like signature with the concomitant clinical response, that somehow managed to infect its patient zero who had no connection to this market, and then be so fined-tuned to humans that it’s gone on to create the single greatest public health crisis in Chinese history with approaching 100 million citizens locked-down or quarantined – also causing Mongolia to close its border with its largest trading partner for the first time in modern history and Russia to ban Chinese citizens from entry into their country.
– Or, Chinese scientists failed to follow correct sanitation protocols possibly while in a rush leading up to an international virological conference and during their boisterous holiday season, something that had been anticipated since the opening of the BSL-4 lab and has happened at least four times previously, and accidentally released this bio-engineered Wuhan Strain – likely created by scientists researching immunotherapy regimes against bat coronaviruses, who’ve already demonstrated the ability to perform every step necessary to bio-engineer the Wuhan Strain COVID-19 – into their population, and now the world. As would be expected, this virus appears to have been bio-engineered at the spike-protein genes which was already done at UNC to make an extraordinarily virulent coronavirus. Chinese efforts to prevent the full story about what’s going on from getting out are because they want the scales to be even since they’re now facing a severe pandemic and depopulation event. No facts point against this conclusion.
However, the truth concerning the panic seems far more boring: a scary academic paper written by a disease specialist at Imperial College, London: https://www.scribd.com/document/452114163/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-Modelling-16-03-2020
It described 3 scenarios. The worst: 2.2 million deaths in the US, and 500,000 in the UK.
A virus less infectious and/or deadly than SARS (30% fatality rate) - when we have the best medical resources in humanity's history - is going to infect more of the population than the Plague, which had none?
This all sounds a little familiar. Where have we heard of that researcher before?
"However, it has now emerged that Ferguson has been criticised in the past for making predictions based on allegedly faulty assumptions which nevertheless shaped government strategies and impacted the UK economy. He was behind disputed research that sparked the mass culling of farm animals during the 2001 epidemic of foot and mouth disease, a crisis which cost the country billions of pounds. And separately he also predicted that up to 150,000 people could die from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or ‘mad cow disease’) and its equivalent in sheep if it made the leap to humans. To date there have been fewer than 200 deaths from the human form of BSE and none resulting from sheep to human transmission.
Michael Thrusfield, professor of veterinary epidemiology at Edinburgh University, who co-authored both of the critical reports, said that they had been intended as a “cautionary tale” about how mathematical models are sometimes used to predict the spread of disease. He described his sense of “déjà vu” when he read Mr Ferguson’s Imperial College paper on coronavirus, which was published earlier this month."
Preserving our collective immuno-vulnerability by isolating ourselves individually is the best way to decrease it?
A few weeks later, 7 million in the US have filed for unemployment. 8 million in the UK. It's the greatest disaster in living memory and since World War II:
All since we only recently just had 10 years to save the planet:
The last time we had one of these was 10 years ago in 2009:
"Some studies estimated that 11 to 21 percent of the global population at the time – or around 700 million to 1.4 billion people (out of a total of 6.8 billion) – contracted the illness. This was more than the number of people infected by the Spanish flu pandemic, but only resulted in about 150,000 to 575,000 fatalities for the 2009 pandemic. A follow-up study done in September 2010 showed that the risk of serious illness resulting from the 2009 H1N1 flu was no higher than that of the yearly seasonal flu. For comparison, the WHO estimates that 250,000 to 500,000 people die of seasonal flu annually."
(NB: Swine Flu had a fatality rate of 0.02% and an R0 of 1.6, whereas COVID has spread far more widely)
Those who write the extraordinary dissent
Maybe it's the colder air. It could be the viking sensibilities. Two countries are pursuing vastly different strategies to the life-saving hero mongers: Iceland, and Sweden.
“We have had a fair amount of people looking at it and they are sceptical,” says Tegnell. “They think Imperial chose a number of variables that gave a prognosis that was quite pessimistic, and that you could just as easily have chosen other variables that gave you another outcome. It’s not a peer-reviewed paper. It might be right, but it might also be terribly wrong. In Sweden, we are a bit surprised that it’s had such an impact.”
510,000 deaths and 80% infection is a stretch further than "pessimistic". It verges on absurd for a disease which is asymptomatic in 50% of cases, and non-fatal in 97%.
Sweden's public health agency seems to think lockdowns are counter-productive: how are you supposed to "self-isolate" if you've lost your job and end up homeless?
Further west in Iceland, the most aggressive and comprehensive testing schedule in the world has been enacted.
"Not all the results from Iceland’s tests have come through yet, but the ones that have, show that half of all cases are asymptomatic (at the time of testing). This would suggest that, on one hand, the virus is not as dangerous as we thought, but on the other hand, it would also suggest that it has spread far more than we are currently aware of."
As deCODE’s founder and CEO Kári Stefánsson puts it with characteristic bluntness:
Until they do random testing, he says, “they do not have the faintest idea of how and why it is spreading in the society,” he says. “It is as simple as that.”
So to round that up, despite widespread infection, neither of them have lockdown strategies. One of them has an entire scientific community decrying the report which sparked the governmental response; the other has real data, and claims only 50% of people actually show any symptoms.
As the old Hollywood adage goes, it seems nobody knows anything.
Iceland: 25,394 tests, 1,486 cases, 4 deaths (population 364,260)
Sweden: 36,900 tests, 6,830 cases, 401 deaths (population 10.2M)
Plot lines: the actions's great but the dialogue sucks
If you can count on one thing during a crisis, it's not that politicians will mismanage it, so much as they will work with the media to milk it for their own benefit as fervently as it will allow. And that means not only torturing the language, but wildly and ignorantly manipulating it at a scale they rarely get to with other news.
It's not a single organism. Coronaviruses are a group of virii identified in the 60s. They include 229E, NL63, OC43, HKU1, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and this latest one, SARS-CoV-2, the sequel, which comes in two mutations. The first four cause the common cold. SARS-COV-2 is the virus; COVID-19 is the disease it spreads.
Corona beer. Dear God.
"Coronus" means "crown" in Latin. It refers to the group's characteristic sprouts seen under the microscope. They lost 10% off their share price. A "corona" is also an aura of plasma that surrounds the Sun and other stars.
"There is no cure"
If you want to be pedantic, there is no real "cure" for any disease. There are only treatments. Penicillin does not "cure" bacterial diseases; it gives the body a chance to fight it off. Viruses have very few treatments, and antibiotics don't work on them. There are millions of viruses; only a few hundred are harmful to humans.
"The first time it has jumped from animals to humans"
There is no possible way to know that, and no credible scientist would make such a claim. It's the first time we have observed it in humans. It may well have been in existence 200 years ago in human-transmissible form.
"It came from bats"
No, it didn't. Bats are vectors for viruses. It most likely came through a "middle" animal. It shares about 90% of its genetic material with coronaviruses that infect bats. MERS hopped through camels.
"It's new: our bodies have never seen it before"
Our bodies are specialised in dealing with things they have never seen before: they are known as foreign bodies and get attacked by multiple different types of defenses. That's how immunity is created and shared. That's how our miraculous immune system works: it attacks anything it doesn't recognise.
"We have no immunity to it"
We have no natural immunity to anything. Babies get theirs from their mothers' milk. Immunity, as exemplified by vaccination, is the body having enough antibodies available to destroy invading compounds and organisms before they replicate to the critical mass where we start showing symptoms.
"More infectious than..."
Potential infectiousness is determined by Basic Reproduction Number, or R-nought. The score denotes the average number of people who will be infected by one person who is infectious with a disease in a population with 100% vulnerability and no immunity whatsoever. An R0 of 1 means 1 other person, an R0 of 3 means 3 other people. There are so many variables involved that it is essentially meaningless: a crowded subway train makes an infectious person very, very infectious; an empty field makes them not. Measles has an R0 of 12-19 and you can get it by walking into an empty room that an that an infected person left 2 hours earlier; HIV has 3-5; Flu around 1.9. We cannot possibly average out an R0 yet for a novel virus, but somehow, it's magically around 1.8-2.3%.
What? Like "self-love"? If you're isolated, whether they did it or you did, you're by yourself. You cannot "self-isolate", even if you can withdraw. You cannot "go into self-isolation", you can only go into isolation.
"Practice social distancing"
What? Like Yoga?
WTF are you talking about?
"80% of the population will be infected by..."
80% of a population have never been infected by anything. In the most closely concentrated localised outbreak - the Princess Ferry - the infection rate maxed out at 17%. In fact, infection rate is lower among children and women. Flu affects 5-20% of the population every October - May.
"It can remain active on surfaces for days"
Most viruses can, if they don't come into contact with soap or detergent. Some samples of flu have remained active for more than 2 weeks on hard surfaces. SARS-COV-2 has been observed to survive 72hrs on plastic, glass, and steel; and around 24hrs on cardboard. Nothing particularly unusual.
"We're following scientific advice from experts"
They're politicians, which means they're hiding behind experts and copying each other because they haven't the slightest idea what to do. Almost every government's plan is based on the same report by Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson from Imperial College in London, which absurdly predicts an 60-80% infection rate without any social measures.
"This is about saving lives"
No, it's about saving political careers. There is absolutely no hope any government has of defeating mother nature.
You mean, they die?
"X many people so far have been infected"
We have absolutely no idea how many people have been infected. We only know those who have self-guessed, been diagnosed, or been observed. Since so many can be asymptomatic, we will never know. Meaning: it could also be far less than we are guessing.
"Thousands and thousands of deaths"
Every day 151,600 die (8 out of every 1000). That's 6,316 per hour, or 105 per minute. It's about 3 million Americans or 56 million humans globally. According to the CDC, up to March so far, the 2019-2020 flu season has killed over 59,000, just in the US. AIDS infected 25 MILLION. If 2000 people die in 50 states over a year, that will be 100,000, which is about roughly about 3% (the disease's supposed morbidity) - you can see the circular logic at work here.
"... deaths from Coronavirus"
SARS-COV-2 (the virus) doesn't kill you. Nor does COVID-19 (the disease) kill you: like flu, it triggers the secondary problem that kills you. It can provoke viral pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, or an auto-immune cytokine storm (leading to organ failure). Deceased patients all over the world with underlying conditions who also caught the disease (i.e. co-morbidity) are being ambiguously reported as it being the cause of death.
"It has already mutated into a deadlier form"
Viruses mutate. That's what they do. The reason we haven't got a vaccine for the common cold is because it constantly mutates.
"Elderly and younger people with underlying medical conditions are most at risk"
They always are. For any illness or disease.
"Young people may be just as susceptible"
Who gives a shit, when 97% of people already survive it, and 80% of cases are mild?
"... reduce your viral load"
There is absolutely nothing anyone can possibly do to control the amount of virus their body takes in.
"Higher fatality rate than..."
Fatality rates are like R0 values: meaningless unless they are segmented into demographics and variables. A population without medical facilities, or more elderly, or more sick people, has a higher fatality rate for anything. SARS: 10% average. Ebola and Avian Flu: over 60%. The hospitalisation rate for flu is 2% (death rate 0.1%), compared to 10% for COVID-19, which appears to have a morbidity rate of 3-5%, - half the original SARS, or 20x that of flu. 3.4% of people who became infected died, meaning 96.6% are fine.
"It hurts to breath"
As it always does with constant coughing, fatigue, and lung disruption.
"Children will die"
Less than 10% of cases in China were children under 10. Kids are constantly sick. It turns out the mystery here is why so few children are getting very sick at all, even if we are seeing more cases as the total rises.
"Spanish Flu killed 100 million"
The "Spanish flu" was normal influenza, but (falsely) believed to most prevalent in Spain. According to research 100 years later, the actual problem was "malnourishment, overcrowded medical camps and hospitals, and poor hygiene which promoted bacterial superinfection". There weren't any medical systems.
"Everyone should wear a mask"
Even according to WHO, (correctly) wearing a mask (and changing it regularly) is, at best, "insufficient" to protect a person from being infected by COVID-19, because the virus can spread through the eyes, skin contact, and potentially through the fabric itself. It can, however, minimise the amount of virus you cough over others and stop you touching your mouth. Face masks are not designed to filter out viral particles.
"... weeks away from having a test"
Tests look for the presence of antibodies against the virus, not the virus itself. A positive test simply means someone has been exposed to the virus and the body has reacted; not that they are immune, or sick. It proves very little at all.
"Hydroxychloroquine can cure it"
There are no cures for anything; just treatments. Hydroxychloroquine was investigated as a treatment for SARS in 2004 because its alkalinity seemed to inhibit the virus's ability to replicate. In a petri dish. 50% of the time. It also messes with the heart's electrical signalling.
"China has showed the way"
Well, they should have the expertise by now, as they have unleashed 4 near-pandemics from their wild animal markets. They've also lied to the world, "disappeared" scientists, suppressed their population, and, oh, previously killed tens of millions of their own citizens for their own political goals. The Communist Party and their Socialist utopia are all over us like a rash.
"Lockdown will prevent the spread and flatten the curve"
It will slow transmission rates by slowing everything. But it will also increase mental illness; destabilise the criminal justice system; wreck the economy; inflate bankruptcies, unemployment, and homelessness; not to mention explode isolated loneliness, addiction, and obesity.
"3% the population is a lot of people"
No, it's not. 10% is. 1.-2% die every year regardless. Over 30% of the African continent became infected with HIV. Up to 20% of the population are infected by flu during the season. 8 million a year die from heart disease.
"It's actually caused by...."
A virus. It's caused by a virus. Not an engineered one; not an extraterrestrial one; not a magical version of poisonous 5G waves; nor Satan's last attempt at the New World Order. An old-fashioned, boring, micro-pathogen, out of the millions which exist, injecting its RNA into a mammal's cells in order to reproduce.
"From our family to yours..."
You are not a "family". You are a company with employees and shareholders, and your first priority is exploiting them both to extort money from your frustrated customers. No-one wants your social and political messages. The sanctimonious, vomit-inducing "family" and "experience" marketing is already bad enough.
"It's being worsened by the spread of misinformation"
"Bill Clinton is a rapist Epstein didn't kill himself Infowars dot com!"
Here we go again; out come all the greatest hits
Never let a tragedy go to waste. Ideology is the gift which never stops giving, and in a time when nobody knows anything, we're all looking for someone to blame.
For Trump, it's the Chinese: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-25/trump-says-he-ll-stop-using-chinese-virus-easing-blame-game
For everyone else, it's Trump: https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-edit-trump-record-20200405-w6rbz25ohfcl7mob6pizlbk6em-story.html
For Russia, it's America: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/02/14/russia-blame-america-coronavirus-conspiracy-theories-disinformation/
For the Guardian, what a surprise (!), it's capitalism: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/31/the-coronavirus-crisis-has-exposed-the-ugly-truth-about-celebrity-culture-and-capitalism
For the right, what a surprise (!), it's communism: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/chinas-chernobyl-communism-reason-coronavirus-so-dangerous-119066
For the hard left, it's the far-right: https://time.com/5789666/italy-coronavirus-far-right-salvini/
For the libertarians, it's authoritarianism: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/were-all-orban-now/
For the conspiracy nuts, it's 5G, the rapture, vaccines, and The Conspiracy: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-52172570
For the feminazis, it's a feminist issue: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/03/feminism-womens-rights-coronavirus-covid19/608302/
For LGBT groups, it's their heightened vulnerability to, you know, everything: https://news.yahoo.com/lgbt-community-heightened-risk-coronavirus-203910721.html
For the leftist nuts, it's identity inequality: https://nypost.com/2020/04/03/aoc-calls-for-coronavirus-reparations-for-minorities/
For the religious fundamentalists, it's atheism and immorality: https://www.newsweek.com/christian-pastor-claims-coronavirus-gods-death-angel-blames-parents-transgendering-little-1484473
For the atheists, it's religion: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/even-during-coronavirus-atheist-group-antagonizes-governments-for-holding-days-of-prayer
And of course, for the digital blogs, it's another chance to lecture all us unenlightened types without liberal arts queer theory degrees on why we're wrong, from their totally neutral and unbiased perspective:
That doesn't even cover the celebrities and "influencers" who are hard at work virtue-signalling and concern-trolling at an industrial scale for us all to stay at home and "stay safe".
So what do we know?
Like everything, it changes as information pours in. That said...
- 50% of people apparently show no symptoms;
- 97%-ish of people survive;
- 85% or more cases are mild;
- It's about as infectious as the flu, give or take;
- It's not as bad as SARS. But SARS and the others didn't hit scale;
- It's about 20x as lethal than the flu for older or immuno-compromised people in the 20% of cases which are troublesome;
- It kills around 3% of those infected (e.g. at 100,000 cases, NYC had 3000 deaths)
- The virus is spread through droplets and first concentrates in the throat, making it sore;
- Face masks don't stop you getting infected;
- Symptoms generally appear in around 5 days, but can be up to 14 - the entire time of which a person is infectious (which IS a problem, compared to the flu);
- The virus then moves downwards to the lungs, causing a dry cough and fever;
- Steroids can make it worse;
- In mild cases, it comes in "ripples" as the body fights it off; in the most severe ones, it causes pneumonia (lung inflammation) and cytokine chaos, requiring ventilation and intensive care, and causing death around 3 weeks;
- We don't yet know if immunity is permanent.
- The Chinese have done what they did last time, which is lose control of a virus near their country's most "secure" disease lab, and tried to cover it up;
- The 'experts' who produced a report which wasn't peer-reviewed and gave their peers a sense of "deja vu" from their wildly overblown estimates which have previously destroyed entire industries.
However, the world is ending. The infected who have tested positive are roaming the streets and we all need to stay safe by isolating ourselves in our homes to save the world and millions of lives.
Half a million dead in one country alone from a disease 97% of people survive and of which 50% show no symptoms? Entire economies destroyed? Military forces deployed onto the streets to enforce a pseudo-police state?
No, it's not some kind of conspiracy. It's far worse, and far older.
COVID-19 is forcing a complacent world to confront a far more disturbing truth it doesn't want to face: we are almost irrelevant to nature and her merciless ways. People die. We are mortal. We are powerless. The personal is not political when it comes to the barbarity of our planetary ecosystem. The government can no more legislate for this than it can the wind.
Reality is painful. Reality is uncomfortable. Reality is, unfair; inequitable.
No kids, you can't save the world like a superhero by your personal climate change politics. Your plant-based diet won't strengthen your immune system against something microns-long which exists only to replace your DNA with its RNA. Your religion of "safetyism" isn't merely making you "cleaner" than others, it's making you more fragile and susceptible to nature's eternally-brutal ways.
Governments cannot stop disease. Or death. Neither can ideologies. We are nowhere near to being the morally and technologically advanced sci-fi species we self-righteously believe we are.
Governments cannot "save lives", let alone "millions" of them. Nor can we personally. Neither can science or medicine in many cases. You are off your rocker if you think political ideology or activism could.
People die. Even infants and children. It's often random. And it's certainly not fair. The inconsolably horrific grief from the loss of innocent loved ones is a tragedy no-one should have to endure. Nature doesn't care. She; doesn't; care.
But somehow, yet again, the cure is worse than the disease; the good intentions and virtue-signalling are about to cause destruction which will take years to fix.
The real disease, as religions and philosophies have told us over and over, for thousands upon thousands of years, is our own self-righteousness.
As always, the last word belongs to Carlin
Viruses killing the old and unhealthy is not new. If you take up stupid fad diets like veganism, your immune system depletes. If you eat trash and don't exercise, you end up with obesity and diabetes, which is an indicator for COVID-19. If you isolate yourself, your body cannot function as it should.
It would be prophetic, but it's the same thing, again. Over and over.
What are you going to do when some super-virus comes along? Georgie has an answer to that.