More d&mn Virus

Clarissa’s blog states some numbers:

Across the US, 2,6% of all COVID deaths are of people under the age of 45.

In Massachusetts, only 14,8% of deaths are under the age of 70.

In Minnesota, 81% of all COVID deaths are in nursing homes.

In Connecticut, 6,3% are under 60 and 18,8% are under 70.

In PA, there are more deaths over the age of 95 than under the age of 60.

Worldwide, there are more deaths over the age 100 than under the age 30. Obviously, the number of people over the age 100 is massively lower than that of the under-thirties.

My comment (longer than her post. Pithy, I ain’t):

Also, it’s not like nursing home populations are homogenous. The majority of the people stuck there are going to die sooner rather than later. A 2010 study in SF showed 80% of nursing home patients died within a year of being admitted. but the average stay is still 2.2 years – because some, especially those with dementia and Alzheimer’s (and little else) typically live 5-10 years.

What you end up with is a churn: there’s a constant flow of patients who die soon – that SF study showed a median survival time of 3 months(!) for men and 9 for women. Those poor souls show up with one foot on the threshold of St. Peter’s gate, and pretty much promptly step over. BUT – as, anecdotally, I see when I go caroling at the same nursing home year after year, SOME residents live for many years, skewing the average stay high. The median ‘stay’ is like 6 months; the average is 2.2 years.

The takeaway: while some elderly people who would have otherwise lived a few more years no doubt died of COVID 19 in nursing homes, I’m betting – and that autopsy video you posted bears this out, where all 12 victims were extremely ill before they caught the virus – that mainly the virus is doing little more than accelerating the deaths of extremely sick people, if even that. The sad truth: people in nursing homes are put there to die; in the old days, if an 80yr old died, the cause of death was ‘old age’, with a nod, maybe, to the cold, flu, infection, or other otherwise minor illness that pushed them the last inch over the finish line.

Thus, even if everything was done right, as you described, chances are all that would have happened was that the ‘curve’ of deaths in nursing homes would have been ‘flattened’. As was always inherent in the math, the same number of people would have died, just spread out a little more. Applying this to the whole population, OTOH, only guarantees that the virus hangs around for longer and longer – until as Gavin Newsom clearly hopes, flu season starts up again, and an airborne virus that would have died out in the spring is given a second life.

The video mentioned above, in which a doctor describes a German report on 12 autopsies done on COVID 19 victims:

It’s a bit long and over-detailed for us non-specialists. The key points, from my perspective, are at 1:00 in, where he says some calming (to the rational mind) things about outcomes (although, since his numbers seem to be more case-based than population based, about 400% less calming than they should be), and most especially at 2:30 on, where he discusses the characteristics of the 12 poor people who died. Average age: 73; condition: all 12 were in extremely poor health BEFORE they caught the virus. All 12 already had one foot in the grave.

It’s a good video, but illustrates my main point in all these blog posts about the virus I keep throwing up: we humans are bad at assessing risk, and wildly, recklessly, and disastrously overestimate the risks of COVID 19. One could even say, based on the evidence, that we’re incapable of assessing risk: once frightened, we rush to embrace any bad news, and are incapable of integrating good news. Here, this doctor, a charming, even-handed fellow, even faced with the cold, hard reality that, with very few exceptions, COVID 19 doesn’t kill anybody UNLESS the victim is already very sick, drones on about the need to understand risks. The risks are in front of him; he even explains them, but he doesn’t understand them; the understanding he seems to be seeking will not change the risk profile of Joe or Jane average American one iota.

What risks? If you aren’t quite old and very sick already, you’d be almost better off wearing a helmet 24/7 just in case a meteorite were to hit you in the head.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

12 thoughts on “More d&mn Virus”

  1. Incidentally, if you want to know where this is all coming from? How scared people are? An anecdote:

    Did you see the CDC guidelines for reopening schools? They’re comically stupid.

    Now leave aside the whole “We don’t want schools to reopen!” thing. Not my point.

    My point is this: On a teacher’s forum I saw teacher’s complaining about schools being opened in August (AUGUST!!!). And working normally, since duh, the CDC guidelines are ludicrous.

    The response of the teachers?

    How dare schools put their healths at risk. They should ask the schools where they’re getting the science to support reopening, so they know who to sue.

    That’s right. *If schools open normally in AUGUST teachers are threatening to sue*.

    And THAT is the reason we’re shutdown.

    1. OTOH, the proper response is to ask to see the ‘science’ behind lock downs and social distancing. But that’s assuming a level of rationality and self-awareness that has been scrupulously avoided.

      Was out shopping for essentials at Harbor Freight, and they had some radio on in the background, and several times during my brief visit propaganda under the guise of advertising masquerading as public service announcements were inflicted on the shoppers, We’re all in this together! Terrible epidemic! Protest each other by, one might imagine, not shopping at Harbor Freight? But certainly, stay terrified!!!


      1. The idea is that if anyone gets sick, lawsuits follow.

        Unrelated (heh): Not only did my siblings and I get swine flu in 2009, a girl in our school DIED from it, a freshman.

        Obviously it was complications resulting from a lot of other issues that piled on top of it with tragic timing (maybe food poisoning at the same time, or am allergic reaction or something like that). But that’s how any young person is going to die of something like the flu or a bad cold.

        Yet nobody threatened to sue the school. Hmmmmmmm…

      2. (Keep in mind that one of the things they tried to scare us about regarding swine flu is that young people caught it – which is not the case with king flu.)

  2. I have been reading in places that those who get mild cases end up with permanent lung and other organ damage. It’s a curious thing.

    I blame the consistent non-stop gaslighting and misinformation.

    1. I have been meaning to look into some of that stuff a little more; earlier on, when I tried to find some real data backing up the assertion that one out of six COVID-19 victims has permanent lung damage, I couldn’t find it anywhere. In general, I stay 100% away from panic porn and just look at raw numbers and individual studies not filtered through the news. But it’s getting really tedious.

      1. So far the one study that WAS a real study (of kids lungs post Wuflu) came from China. The rest which show the spattered-paint whole lung crud vs. spot lung damage (i.e. normal pneumonia) are all coming from ER docs using it to diagnose.

        Early days yet. If we re-opened more we could pay under-used clinics threatened by the lock-down to research it.

      2. The point I am always trying to make is the question of scale: certain numbers of children drown in pools, get run over by cars, fall off bikes, run into polls and all sorts of things kill or maim them constantly. How does this risk compared to those? Is it somehow more terrible because it’s a flu like disease?

  3. Agreed. I suppose my point is that fears of the King flu vs CCP Herpes vs the Wuhan Gurgling Death are going to be different.

    It’s not just about playing the odds, or folks wouldn’t learn to drive defensively and swop out their convertible for a Volvo when they had kids.

    There’s not only a mad disregard for the variable risk factors by population type and setting, but what the worst-case scenarios are, or why, and what really an individual can do (or not do) about them.

    Mask Sharia is a great example. Over at raconteur report, he’s still on about how surgical masks can protect other people (correct) not noticing that most people talking about the protective value of masks are talking about t-shirt material ones. Not his fault. He has been correct about what masks can and cannot do from day one.

    Mask usage is simple: If you do not have a surgical quality ofr better mask, keep well away from other people: at least 3 feet. I’d add “unless you have proof you are not an asymptomatic carrier, but there’s loads of “expert” doubt about what that means. Wear it properly over nose and mouth. Don’t touch it (unless you can wash your hands thoroughly after), dispose of it in the trash after 2h max (and wash your hands) and replace with a fresh one.

    If you are coughing or sneezing, and do not have a surgical mask, stay home.

    The end. But at work we will be issued 3 cheap cloth masks to wear as a magic talisman whenever we might get closer than 6 feet.

    As a dress rehearsal for so the next serious Wuhan virus, say, the neo-polio, we’re so doomed.

  4. Joseph, a fine article and I agree with most of your conclusions, but where did you get the 60% for the proportion of nursing home facilities? I’ve found a table that gives 42% nationwide, ranging from 13.8% (NY.!!!) to 77% (RI). By the way, I think that other factors besides nursing home occupancy are also important. I’ve done a factor analysis of covid-19 death rates in PA counties that confirms this. See here:
    and stay well.

    1. 60% for the proportion of nursing home facilities

      Can you directly quote?

      I came over to see if I could untangle it– figured it might be the NR article— and now I don’t know what you’re asking about. I’m only a cup into the morning, but I know if I don’t ask I’ll forget.

    2. I’ll post a link to what I have a when I get to my computer. Short answer: I could not find an overall number for the US, but did find numbers for many of the larger western nations. For those with large outbreaks, the number ran around 60%: Canada, 62%; France, 62%; but the real countries of interest – Italy, Spain, and the US of course – don’t report those numbers. So I recklessly used 60%, because it seemed reasonable on the one hand and actually doesn’t make much of a difference to the argument on the other, so long as the US number is large versus the 0.4% in such homes.

      The gotcha in these numbers, like virtually all the numbers thrown around, is definition and perhaps local practice. E.g., Is assisted living included in nursing homes and long-term care? More important, do nursing homes ever send extremely sick patients out to hospitals? Are they a nursing home or hospital death if so? And probably a lot of other questions as well. One of my overall beefs with this whole affair is the inherent sloppiness of all the numbers.

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