Update 2020-10-11: The trend of deaths going down may be reversing in some places, and needs more investigation. Unfortunately, the main site that I use, Coronavirus Update (Live): 5,304,001 Cases and 340,004 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Pandemic – Worldometer , does not give the fine-grained breakdown I would like to have. It may be that regional patterns, showing past true case and death rates for a limited geographical area would give a clearer picture, that is obscured by country-wide aggregate figures. Looking at this will be another project for another day.
Looking into Deaths and Cases
The Covid-19 infection appears to be dying down in many, many places. Sometimes infections are going up, but more often they are going down. Deaths are going down a lot in many, many places. There is a caveat: a more thorough survey of Covid-19 statistics from various locations has been done by others; such work needs to be done even more systematically and extensively. The pattern may not be always true. See Coronavirus Update (Live): 5,304,001 Cases and 340,004 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Pandemic – Worldometer. It is still possible that there will be a resurgence.
If it is the case that infections and deaths are trailing off, what are the possible explanations? There are several possibilities that I can think of: better social distancing and infection control, the virus has mutated to a less deadly strain, those who are most vulnerable are not being put at risk the same way as before, the susceptible have already been infected, there is pre-existing immunity from T-cells and previous Coronoa virus infections, treatment is better, and probably other things. Take your pick. My conjecture: most or all may be playing a role.
Here is a possibility:
Chris Martenson’s X,Y,Z hypothesis says:
X – Natural immunity – nutrition, genetics, epi-genetics, stress, sleep, youth, reduced co-morbidities
Y – long term T-cell immunity from previous Corona virus infections
Z – short term anti-body immunity from Covid-19
The percentages are debatable, but the overall scheme seems sound. We don’t know for sure what we need to have large scale group immunity, but previous estimates may have been on the high side.
Both DrBeen and Dr. Martenson have given their versions of this. Martenson suggested some percentages, just for the sake of argument, knowing that the data was not there. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7TWiweluwA&list=PLRgTUN1zz_oeQpnJxpeaEkFimDeepqyWf&index=11
You have the effectiveness of infection spread measures and possible (likely?) mutation of the virus as factors as well.
There are theories that humidity and that temperature also play a key role in viral suppression. I am not at all certain about the first and think the second seems unlikely looking at worldwide results.
Testing has redefined the term case in an unfortunate way.
The tests are unreliable – false positives and false negative. Testing is showing “cases” increasing wherever testing is widespread, but these counts are something to look at suspiciously. See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSsTCjbNPF0 in “Covid Testing: Bad Science Worse Policy.”
Of course the numbers are inaccurate, both over-counts and under-counts, but the overall trend seems somewhat clear. Look at places that have had a high infection per million, that are reasonably small geographically. The infection grows rapidly, and then goes down with a long tail, not reaching zero. Fatalities lag infections, and move to low numbers. Still, this is bad enough.
Country-wide statistics do not show that there are sub-patterns for each region, and each centre of population. The numbers are not always fine-grained enough. It is complex, but the overall trend seems to be an exponential peak, and a gradual fade out in infections and in deaths, a long tail. Treatment is certainly better, so fewer deaths, but maybe people are distancing enough to get a lower viral load and lessened infection, and the vulnerable in care homes are not being sacrificed.
Viral Loads and Inoculum
I have formed the opinion that reduction of viral load is crucial. I listened to a doctor last night making the claim that the research does not show viral load to be a factor, and that even one virion can be enough to cause an infection. This seems highly unlikely to me. She disparages three scientists for their pro-mask position because they were not medical scientists, and then lauds another scientist (Denis Rancourt) for his anti-mask paper, when he is a physicist. He also comes out with the “one virion can infect you” hypothesis.
I tracked down a paper on the “one virion can infect you” claim. Pretty iffy. One study on some other virus in insects, and some statistical massageleading to conclusions. I am not convinced that the results can be generalized. See: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2009.0064
I did not find other studies; such may exist. I did not find a rebuttal; such may also exist.
I am still wearing a mask when I can’t keep my distance. There are those who say that the 2 meter distance is not enough and masks are not protective, and can cherry pick studies to prove their point. I guess we all cherry pick.
Masks may or may not work – I lean to the side of probably do, and risk management says to me that we should wear them when we cannot keep our distance, or ensure good air circulation. Studies are in conflict on this. Wearing them when driving alone, or when sitting on your front lawn, shows a lack of understanding of how things work.
Will there be a resurgence? Maybe, maybe not. Where I live, in British Columbia, and particularly on Vancouver Island, we have not been hit very hard. So, we may still be subject to rapid growth if social distancing fails to be practised. I don’t know the long term prognosis. Will it disappear completely as SARS and MERS seemed to do? Deadly infections die out faster than less deadly ones, but this one is not as universally deadly as previously thought.
Diagnosis of cases creeping up, deaths staying low. Reasons? Varied I am sure.There are also some patterns with two humps,bi-modal, so a deeper analysis is required. When deaths decrease into a long-tail pattern, that still represents lives lost unnecessarily. See https://ephektikoi.ca/blog/2020/09/22/could-covid-19-be-effectively-over/
Biased reasoning? We all do it. Exposure to only some of the evidence? That is the norm. Conflicting studies? Always, in all fields. Poorly done studies, confounded studies, studies with meaningless or uninterpretable variables? Routine. Inability to integrate and interpret voluminous amounts a conflicting and ambiguous evidence? That is the typical case. Reasoning from current beliefs? How could it be otherwise?
Science lurches, sometimes forwards, sometimes off into alternative dimensions.
‘Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.’ — Paul Simon”
Some Graphs Showing a Pattern of Decreasing Deaths
For instance, here are some not unusual patterns:
Also in Australia, a bimodal distribution of cases and deaths. I would like to see this broken down by region.
Even in France, where cases are growing, deaths are not keeping pace. Why is that? Is it an artifact of the amount of testing? I dunno.