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London may have gone into a Covid-accelerated decline (economist.com)
153 points by jxub 1 day ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 520 comments





The article takes a long time to essentially get around to saying this:

> But covid-19 and the extreme social-distancing measures used to combat it pose a new and more profound danger to the capital

I feel that during lockdown a fair few people have turned mildly insane - they seem to honestly believe that we're going to stand very far apart from other humans for the rest of time.

It's just not the case. I'll be in the pub by the end of the year.


Considering that the virus is here to stay for a few years at least, how can we blame them for thinking this way? Lifting the lockdown is not gonna make the virus disappear.

Out of sight out of mind.

I returned a bike yesterday in North Beach (SF) and people were crowded together. Maybe half of the people were wearing masks. There was a 4 piece street band walking around playing brass instruments like it was a carnival.


I play in a jazz band, and one of the first things that came to mind when the lockdown started was standing next to the all of the horn players blowing their spit all over the place. Fortunately, both our rehearsal and performance spaces shut down before we had to decide as a group whether to continue operating.

>> standing next to the all of the horn players blowing their spit all over the place.

That's an aspect of the universal 6-foot rule that everyone seems to forget. It originally appeared as advice for business (restaurants). You don't want to sit too close to someone else in still air. But if we are spitting, singing, shouting, coughing, panting, playing in a Jazz band, or are simply downwind of someone, that 6-foot distance is probably not enough. Airlines have basically said as much about their cabins. If the air is being circulated artificially in a closed environment, specific measured distances are probably irrelevant.


The "universal 6-foot rule" is anything but universal. Other countries have recommended 1m, 1.5m, 2m, etc. The distance rules are almost entirely arbitrary and not based on sound science.

Distances can be both arbitrary and based on sound science. You can scientifically determine that your chances of infecting someone at 1.5m and 2m are e.g. 40% and 50%, but you still have to pick one to recommend.

No one has scientifically determined the infection risk at various distances. Such an experiment with human subjects would never pass ethical review due to the serious risk. Some scientists have created mathematical models of virion distribution, but those models are basically a joke and don't appear to align with observed reality.

I do appreciate that public health authorities have to make clear and simple recommendations to avoid confusing people. But let's not pretend there is anything scientific about it.


IMO it’s scientific as soon as someone uses data to get an edge in prediction over random chance. It’s technologically relevant when it can outperform an average person’s guess.

My understanding is that the six foot distance is based on the expected air speed of a cough/sneeze and distribution of droplet sizes in a cough/sneeze. Given these two factors you can calculate how far droplets are expected to travel from a cough before hitting the ground.

When a person stands in a checkout line and breathes into the air and all over the plexiglass that stands between you and the cashier...and you carefully stand 6 feet back and then walk into the same exact airspace the person occupied just seconds prior...believe me, you're breathing in droplets from that other person. Our bodies contract diseases all day every day. There are millions of viruses and bacteria that but for our immune system, would bring us to our knees in a matter of days or weeks. We cannot carry on like this. Social distancing will tear society apart and destroy the economy, resulting in far more deaths and misery.

That argument only works if everyone caught the disease if they were exposed to even a single infected droplet. In fact, infection is highly non linear: below a certain concentration, the probability of infection is practically zero. That's because if you're exposed to a very small amount of the virus then most people's immune systems can fight it off immediately without "catching" the disease.

If you walk into the space previously breathed in by an infected person (or even if you just stand a couple of metres away from them) you will still indeed be breathing some infected droplets, but far less than if you stood closer to them. The result is not just that you chance of being infected is less, but that it is disproportionately less. This is born out in the observed consequences of social distancing in many countries. It's pointless to dispute it.

Forgive me for being presumptuous, but I suspect that this isn't really the point of your comment or the main reason for your view. I suspect that you think social distancing is a bad policy even if it does prevent infection. So I suggest against tacking on "oh and by the way it doesn't really prevent infection anyway", which is obviously not true; you're only weakening your credibility which undermines your main point.


Well, it seems to have worked out well for some of the Asian countries (and countries like Australia/NZ) which have gotten COVID-19 under control. The US still ha a major problem with deaths in the tens of thousands, as do many of the European countries.

I take your point that there will be economic paint - but I think you're being a bit hyperbolic about "tearing society apart" and "resulting in far more deaths and misery". This is the sort of rhetoric that Trump has been using - whilst I agree in principle there is economic pain - please don't treat people's lives as meaningless, or that the almighty dollar is all that matters. It's the job of governments to guide the country through these crises - this is where government stimulus and spending should be used - not just letting people die needlessly.

COVID-19 is a new and novel disease that's highly spreadable, has no known vaccine, and is killing an unprecedented number of people.

And we're not just talking about yourself - perhaps you're young/healthy and are prepared to contract COVID-19 and roll the dice.

However, those around you - family, or friends - may not be so lucky, or it could be a potentially life-threatening condition. Please think about people around you.

The US death toll is nearly 100,000....

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-24/coronavirus-update-co...

That is absolutely heartbreaking.

That is over 30x the death toll from the 9/11 plane attacks - and look what lengths the government went to combat that?

I just got my second COVID-19 test (fortunately came back negative) - my parents (who are older and vulnerable) are paranoid I'll give it to them. So when I got a sore throat, I went to get the test. And a few weeks back, my son had a cough, so I got myself tested.

Our government (Australia) is encouraging people with any symptoms to get tested - and I think that's a good thing, towards eradicating this illness.


It's not just about the dollar. We are social creatures, we thrive off of social interaction and contact and we benefit from community. Businesses, schools, churches, concerts, dancing, sporting events, all these things that give people joy and fun are shut down. We only get a few dozen trips around the sun. I do not want to spend my life cowering in fear and in a society that cowers in fear. I want kids playing in neighborhoods and playing ball, I want concerts on the regular, dancing in public squares and I want to live.

But to your point about the economy, we are seeing unprecedented damage to the worldwide economy from the shutdowns. It's not the virus that's doing this. It's the shutdowns. 40 million people are unemployed in the U.S. alone and rising, rapidly. This is unsustainable. The economy has to function or everything falls apart. And a big part of that functioning is travel and tourism and restaurants and it creates value and moves trade along. It's very important to re-establish those things.

Much of those deaths are in nursing homes with extremely vulnerable populations. I think its a tragic shame that many of these outbreaks occurred especially in nursing homes all over the northeast (NY, NJ, PA, CT, etc). However, once a patient gets moved to a nursing home, the average length they live is about 1 year. We can make nursing homes cleaner and safer and we should probably get those patients outside a bit more, but there's also only so much that can be done for people in the last months of their life.


Lockdowns vs no lockdown is an false dichotomy. The lockdown didn’t impact many people like myself, and many people can still be financially impacted even without a lockdown. Some people and businesses have actually been thriving. So your model is too black and white and doesn’t really match reality.

>> and is killing an unprecedented number of people.

Black death.

Bubonic plague.

Smallpox.

Malaria.

Measles.

Polio.

There have been many more virulent and many more destructive diseases than this one. Malaria in particular has been so destructive over thousands of years that it has modified human populations, forcing observable natural selection for traits such as sickle-cell anemia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_malaria


You're correct that historically, there have been other illnesses hundreds of years ago that killed more people.

And in many developing countries, there are tragically many deaths caused by poor sanitation or healthcare.

However, this is a disease that has - even with incredibly draconian lockdowns and a global effort from every country to combat it - tragically killed nearly 350,000 people in a matter of months. And this is often in countries with state of the art healthcare systems, and every effort made to keep those people alive.

And as another commenter pointed out, this is often in countries not used to such scale of health disasters, as they have healthcare and good sanitation. Ironically, I read that things like air travel and holidays actually worsened illnesses like this.

Imagine if we'd simply let the diseases run its course.

The thing that baffles me is the US - advanced Western nation - with a death toll of nearly 100,000 people. How is that even possible?

I am hoping we've seen the worst of it.


> historically, there have been other illnesses hundreds of years ago that killed more people.

AIDS has killed around 34 million people since 1981.


> AIDS has killed around 34 million people since 1981.

That's on average 100k deaths per year since 1981.

Right now we are in our first quarter of covid19 and the official death count is at 340k.


And the response to AIDS was malicious neglect for years in many countries. A large portion of those deaths were due to bigotry.

So I suppose somewhat like the situation in the US with COVID-19 today.


That’s .. staggering.

>> And as another commenter pointed out, this is often in countries not used to such scale of health disasters, as they have healthcare and good sanitation.

Polio.

"On Saturday, June 17, 1916, an official announcement of the existence of an epidemic polio infection was made in Brooklyn, New York. That year, there were over 27,000 cases and more than 6,000 deaths due to polio in the United States, with over 2,000 deaths in New York City alone.[15] The names and addresses of individuals with confirmed polio cases were published daily in the press, their houses were identified with placards, and their families were quarantined."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_polio

Measles too. These are diseases that hit the western world, the rich countries, killed thousands, in living memory. They causes panic. They caused quarantines. They caused social change. Polio lead directly to the disability rights movement. Wheelchair ramps as mandatory in all buildings: that's from polio.


Nursing home outbreaks are a huge chunk of those deaths.

I think if smallpox was spreading in America today it might also be a good idea close restaurants and offices to slow that down.

Those aren't killing people in rich countries with good healthcare and sanitation though

Or the one that makes me laugh is the sterilization of the credit card keypad versus the handling of cash without sterilization.

I don't see what's funny about that. If you have some measures that are feasible and at least somewhat helpful (wiping the keypad, encouraging people to use contactless payment instead of cash) and some measures that are infeasible (sanitizing cash), obviously you do the feasible stuff and not the infeasible stuff.

It's hypocritical. Much like the medical advice pandered by the media.

the experiments done were on how far these sorts of particles can travel, not on how infectious they are. so if we know a potentially infectious particle can travel 2m then we know the best chance to avoid infection is to not get in that radius.

it doesn't mean you won't get it outside that radius or that you will get it inside that radius, just that the opportunity to catch it is increased or decreased based on distance.


People have looked at well documented super spreader events as real world evidence even if it’s not a formal experiment. Aka infected person A sitting at X with local airflow Y infected N people at these locations without infecting people at K other locations.

Such data is much harder to collect after an infection has become endemic, but early contact tracing can provide great data.


There are a handful of unscientific experiments circulating around, like this Mythbusters one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0f4sUNWkq60 . Tl;dr: 6 feet is optimistic. But, compared to 2 feet it's probably worlds better. It's a numbers game.

It is scientific, but only partly. It has to include practicality, adherence, and every other human factor. They can’t say 2 miles because nobody could comply. They can’t say “2 meters minus the (square root of the outside temperature in Kelvin) in centimeters” because everyone would be flummoxed by the math. When getting a large group of people to coordinate an action, communication clarity/effectiveness is more important than the specific recommendation itself.

The fact that it's an arbitrary cutoff point still matters, though. If there's a cliff of infectiousness at the 2 meter line, you'd better send out people with rulers; if it's an arbitrary cutoff, you can give some wiggle room to restaurants where some tables are only 1.8 meters on a diagonal.

They are based on science, the further you are apart the longer that interaction is (probabilistically) safe for. Different governments are a) using different models; b) choosing different (and yes, arbitrary) times over which they want interactions to be safe ('enough').

It also depends on motion and speed. In France at some point there were talks about a rule of 10 meters when people are in motion, for skateparks or jogging for example. Because the droplet of the person in front of you takes sometime to fall to the ground, depending on your speed you can end up breathing it.

Imagine someone smoking a cigar. If you could smell it, then you are in contagious range.

The virus survives in water droplets or aerosol which fall down faster than smoke.

You can easily smell cigar smoke at 10 meters but you are ver unlikely to get infected at the same distance, current estimates put it to 4 meters in hospital settings.

Also,the amount of virus you receive matters, and distance decreases it.


You are right about viral load being a factor. You are not right about only macro droplets being a problem. Micro dropplets, that are suspended in air and do not "fall to the ground" soon carry enough of the virus to be infectious in accumulation. This is why indoor areas are problematic regardless of the 6 foot spacing, as the air just gets saturated over time unless you have a continual strong crossdraft.

The smoke analogy is not perfect, as it's composition is less moist, but it is closer to the truth than the '6 foot' model that was itself already a compromise between the now accepted as disproved macro fluid projectile model and economic concerns.


And that strong cross draft can be blowing it directly into someone else’s airspace anyway.

There is not much difference between smelling cigars and smelling my neighbours smoking weed, is there? It never occurred to me, that being able to smell this might indicate danger.

Is smoke water droplets?

In case of tobacco smoke, Wikipedia says yes:

"The particles in tobacco smoke are liquid aerosol droplets (~ 20% water), ..."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_smoke


Vape is, isn't it?

A disturbing claim, for sure. Any pointers to evidence for it?

Not OP, but I had the same theory but with cigarettes. According to Google results, cigarette smoke particles are 0.25 micron at the largest, Sars-CoV-2 virus is 0.12 micron, so about half. They're both so light that gravity probably has little effect.

So, sharing a room with someone sick probably gives you a high chance of encountering the virus, but outdoors one hopes the concentrations would be so low that our bodies can fight it off.

And if you're wearing a mask and can still smell cigarette smoke, then surely it means that mask would let the virus particles through as well.


And in fact, this is how you test the respirator fit in professional setting. You don your respirator, and then somebody sprays a funny-smelling substance. If you can smell it, it means it doesn't have a proper seal on your face.

Instrumental orchestras and choirs are some of the causes of the worst clusters. It's good they stopped your practice.

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-03-29/corona...

https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/05/13/how-coronavirus-sprea...


Indeed, there was no chance that we were going to continue. I live in a town that was ahead of the curve about shutting down. When the band's performances were canceled, most of the musicians were already in the process of clearing their schedules.

[flagged]


Even if that is true, it is missing the point. Avoiding infection is not just for your own good; more importantly, keeping the speed of the virus spreading down is for protecting everybody.

And what you say isn't even true. Plenty of healthy young people get very very sick. The percentages are lower than for older and/or less healthy people, but the numbers are still significant.

Don't think you're invulnerable, cause you're not. Don't think that if you get no or only mild symptoms, no harm is done. Think about the other people you have unknowingly infected, and how you've contributed to the spread of the virus. (Where 'you' = the generic 'you', not you personally).


>> Don't think you're invulnerable, cause you're not. Don't think that if you get no or only mild symptoms, no harm is done.

Such statements were true a few months ago. Now 1 in 6 Londoners have had the disease. So those 1 in 6 know exactly how it will impact them because it already has. There are now more than a few people out there who can confidently say "I'll be fine" because they are fine. In coming days/months many people will be getting tests and learning that they have suffered and recovered from the disease at least once. Others will learn that they have been living with someone who has had the disease but it didn't spread even within the household. The days of shouting "you don't know, you might die" at every naysayer are behind us.

"With further statistical adjustments, they found about 17% of London adults had been infected; this compares to only 4.3% in the north-east of England."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/world-52749186


> So those 1 in 6 know exactly how it will impact them because it already has.

It could impact them differently if they contract it again.


That is as true for any flu - or indeed any disease - as it is for COVID-19. There are many diseases out there and most people don't know very much about any of them regarding what a 2nd infection might do. It isn't a reason for them to behave any differently to how they behaved in 2019.

How common is that? I know there have been a few cases where it's believed to happen, but similarly there are some cases of people getting chicken pox more than once. With chickenpox, that's rare enough that chicken pox is generally considered something that you only get once, but it does happen.

The common cold is a coronavirus. There’s reason to believe immunity to this might last only a handful of months.

For chicken pox, it is not as rare as you might think. There are routine vaccinations for children and elderly alike.

I frankly would be unsurprised if an eventual covid vaccine is similarly administered to at-risk age groups, if not everyone.


That doesn't answer my question though. What does the data actually say about the covid reinfection rate? I've heard of anecdotes, but haven't seen any numbers.

Have there been any confirmed cases of people contracting it after having antibodies and having symptoms?

See the thread on coronavirus passports. While unpopular in some quarters, it's the beginning of a way out.

Only if immunity is long lasting, which it may not be.

Your reply would be better if it bothered to address the other sentences in the paragraph you quote from.

It's incredibly tedious that you didn't.

It's fine if the reply would be about the same, the problem is that you don't address the meaning of the words you quote!


> Now 1 in 6 Londoners have had the disease.

Please do not spread misinformation. England has had 132k reported cases. London has a population of 8.9M.


"The top stories on Thursday: UK government data suggests around one in six people in London and one in 20 elsewhere in England have had coronavirus"

"With further statistical adjustments, they found about 17% of London adults had been infected; this compares to only 4.3% in the north-east of England."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/world-52749186

That's the _BBC_, perhaps the most respected news organization on the planet, and unarguably an expert on all things London. They are citing information released by the UK government: 1 in 6 Londoners. Misinformation my a--.


One of the things we have learned during this pandemic is that reputable sources are capable of publishing false information. So we can’t just take their assertions as facts. We have to ask them to explain how they arrived at them.

The claim that one in 6 Londoners have had the virus is particularly suspicious because Sweden made similar claims about infections in Stockholm based on rough estimates and they turned out to be wrong when actual studies were carried out.


The BBC has a fairly dire reputation for it's scientific reporting

Thank you for the source. I only checked Google data and wasn't aware of the report.

The BBC an expert in all things London? Maybe if you define away all the people in the city who aren't like BBC employees! Your view of the BBC is quite out of date. Most of the British population say now in polls they don't trust it. It's an open question for how long it'll stick around.

It was the government figures, and it raised far more questions - London has an IFR of half that of the rest of the UK, does that mean it’s spread more widely amongst healthy people? Does the antibody year require a higher viral load (which you’d get spending a long time on the tube compared with driving to work in north east).

Need larger antibody tests and data broken down by demographic, globally, but we’ll have them by summer.


The data (and you have to scroll down to find the details) is based on antibody tests carried out on a sample of 1000 people living in London and elsewhere and extrapolated from that, and not on people who have tested positive for the virus. The selection criteria are not mentioned, but a random sample of 1000 would have an error margin of 3%. False positive rate for the test is 0.2%: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52656808

> "England has had 132k reported cases. London has a population of 8.9M."

I personally know about a dozen people in London who have had probable Covid-19, including myself. None of those cases were ever actually confirmed by testing or "reported" to anyone.


Until you actually have an antibody test result, be careful to equate "probably COVID-19" with "COVID-19". I have a friend who lives in the NYC metro area who was sure he had COVID-19 in March. All the symptoms matched, felt like he was dying for 6 weeks. Never tested, because tests were in short supply then, but his doctor said it was very likely COVID. He just took an antibody test and got the results yesterday. Negative for COVID-19.

Swine flu was going around this winter, which also will knock you out for a month. If you didn't specifically get a coronavirus PCR test positive, there's about a 10:1 chance that what you actually had was the flu. Outside of major hotspots like NYC and Chelsea MA, I believe the serological studies that suggest about 2-4% of the population has had coronavirus.


It’s not clear yet how reliable the antibody tests are. Antibodies fade over time, and we don’t know how long Covid-19 antibodies remain detectable in your blood. It’s quite possible that after 6 weeks or so, you’ll no longer have easily detectable levels of antibodies.

We also do not know the seroconversion rate for mild or asymptomatic cases (every study measuring this seems to use an entirely-hospitalized or mostly-hospitalized cohort).

EDIT: Hey hey it looks like some information is finally coming out, and what do you know, it supports the idea that milder cases don't develop IgG antibodies as often: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.21.108308v1


But among a cohort of mildly-symptomatic hospital workers, almost all developed detectable antibodies: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.19.20101832v...

I can't believe that people are quick to tell me that the pneumonia I had in January couldn't possibly have been COVID-19, but they say that every death since January is COVID caused.

> but they say that every death since January is COVID caused.

I have no idea where you came up with this nonsense, but if anything there are academic studies demonstrating that, even in countries that do a honest job reporting covid19 deaths, Covid19 deaths have been systematically underreported.


Is that "deaths with COVID-19" or "deaths by COVID-19"?

Who, exactly, says every death since January is caused by COVID-19? I cannot find any statistics which suggest that about 20 million people have died to coronavirus this year.

You may be confusing this with excess deaths count, which is tracking the difference between deaths in a given month of 2020 and deaths in the same month in previous year (or years, averaged). Assuming no other unknown disease or phenomenon other than COVID-19 is silently ravaging our societies, this is the most reliable metric we have - as government after government has been caught on underreporting COVID-19 deaths.

But that's clearly a false assumption. It assumes hospitals can be emptied and society put under house arrest with no excess deaths as a consequence, which is not only a very strange assumption but contradicted by huge amounts of evidence.

There's by now a whole lot of people, including many experts in many domains, who are concluding the lockdown will kill more people than the disease itself. Far more if it turns out they had little impact, which there is also quite some evidence of.


You can filter out deaths by suicide and similar, of which there isn't many so far (but yes, maybe the lockdown will kill more; it hasn't now). You kind of already have to filter out things like deaths by traffic accidents, of which there's much less now.

Only 8% fewer traffic deaths in March: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/0...

And consider that heart attack and stroke centers are seeing precipitous drops in patient referrals, almost certainly meaning that the fear of catching COVID-19 is causing many people to avoid treatment and die at home: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/patients-with-heart-at...


Same here, and that's ignoring the asymptomatic cases, so you can at least triple/quadruple that number.

Can you? Citation needed, not heresay.

Helpful neighboring comments from hours before yours: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23287505 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23288767

Unless you want a source that many cases are asymptomatic, in which case you can easily google that yourself.


Well, did your symptoms match the disease?

Have you had high fever and anosmia (lack of sense of smell) or maybe difficulty breathing?

If yes it probably was Cv19, if not, probably no.


In my case, fever which lasted less than 24 hours. Felt like I was coming down with a bad flu, but the fever was over much more quickly than any flu would be.

Lingering symptoms for a week or so afterwards: “shortness of breath” feeling with slightly sore/tingling chest (but no congestion, snot or phlegm), mild dry cough, all-over muscle aches, feeling much more tired than usual, and sleeping longer than usual. I did not notice any loss of sense of smell.


Hard to tell... if it was a high fever (> 39C or whatever that is in your favourite measurement) that might have been it.

It might be worth getting an antibody test if it's suspected.


Reported vs actual are very different numbers.

In Toronto Canada:

- Number of tests available are limited still (and were severely so until recently) - People who are showing symptoms but aren't high risk have been turned away after pre-screening - People who are showing symptoms but aren't front line workers have been turned away after pre-screening - People who have had severe exposure but aren't showing symptoms have been turned away after pre-screening

(Heck, understanding it's an anecdote, but my neighbour showed all the symptoms, after waiting hours and talking to all the pre-screeners, they told him, literally "Yup, you have it; we don't need to bother testing". )

Anecdata notwithstanding, it is crucial for people to understand that the number of tested positive cases is by definition, always, under all circumstances, always going to be some subset of people actually sick. And sometimes significantly so... sometimes by order(s) of magnitude.


I am always rolling my eyes at breathless news reports along the lines of "the actual number of deaths may be higher than the official count!"

Of course they are going to be higher.

Even the official counts can be fuzzy. For example, people dying of cancer are often carried off by pneumonia due to their weakened state. Was the cause of death the cancer or the pneumonia?


Root cause analysis is a tricky thing

Died of a heart attack

Caused by blood loss

From being impaled on a fence

After a car crash

While not wearing a seatbelt

And driving too fast

On an icy road



So what are the numbers if they are significant?

Avoiding infection is not just for your own good; more importantly, keeping the speed of the virus spreading down is for protecting everybody.

Twas ever thus. Norovirus kills 200,000 people every year, and yet we don't close entire cities every time there's an outbreak.


> Norovirus kills 200,000 people every year

That's true, but it kills very few people in the developed world. Deaths from norovirus are mostly a result of inadequate treatment, and/or lack of detection.

And, frankly, if covid was only going to kill 200k people, we probably wouldn't be closing anything much. It has already killed almost 350k people, and that's _with_ most countries imposing variously draconian measures.


I don't understand this thinking. Do you think it's fine if new endemic diseases are added that will kill multiple of 10k or 100k people a year, every year?

Nobody freaks out over automobile deaths.

The entire car safety industry is a result of people freaking out over automobile deaths. Car safety is reactive. People die, friends /relatives /society freak out (justifiably) and the car industry responds. These responses are also debated and argued by the population (seatbelts, safety ratings, speed limits etc.)

IIRC, noro is too infectious for a lockdown to work, even though you can only catch it from the… emissions… when the patient goes off at both ends.

This is preposterous. The measures we are taking will kill far more than the disease itself when all is said and done - look at the referral numbers for stroke centers alone. If this was a test of our collective ability to meet an emerging threat, then we failed about as badly as it is possible to fail. What’s worse is that we failed not so much because of an initial honest mistake, but because we’ve turned out to be superstitious cowards. Shame on us all.

We shouldn't compare it with the number of people who eventually die from covid. We should compare it with the number of people who would have died if there were no measures taken.

I’m not OK with that option. We can make up nonsense on computers as many times as we like, but it will never mean that reality “would have” been anything. Science doesn’t work on “would have” questions, and anyone who claims otherwise is a charlatan.

So we may not be able to resolve this disagreement. Just understand that I’m at least as pissed off as the people on the other side.


> The measures we are taking will kill far more than the disease itself

You're comparing (cost of measures) to (cost of disease after taking those measures), which is a nonsensical comparison. It's like saying "parachutes are too expensive; almost no one dies from skydiving!"

How many people would die from skydiving if skydivers stopped using parachutes but continued to skydive? Am I a charlatan if I give a rough number?

Surely there is a continuum of uncertainty between the skydivers and "it's impossible to know." Surely diseases can be modeled, and those models used to predict outcomes with various degrees of uncertainty. Surely those predictions have meaning.


We can test the prediction that parachutes improve skydiver survival with a simple experiment. It would be an inhumane experiment, so in this case it is fair to assume the theory would be proven correct (but we can always test a similar prediction that parachutes prevent human-like objects from being destroyed, if you prefer).

With a global pandemic, it is in fact impossible to know, and anyone who claims otherwise is in fact a charlatan. That’s the key detail you’re missing here: The skydiver theory can be phrased as a “will” question, but this is always going to be a “would have” question. We can’t run an experiment to test any prediction - where’s the control Earth? If we can’t run an experiment, it is not science. Period.

You are allowed to believe whatever you like, but this shameful episode will be the final nail in the coffin for all pop-bullshit “science”: https://guscost.com/2020/05/12/pandemic-woo/


People were saying that in New York in February and going to street parties. A month later the hospitals were overwhelmed.

I think it is reasonable to ease restrictions when case numbers fall. Hopefully enough people will maintain distance and minimise unnecessary contact to slow it spreading and keep the pressure off the hospitals. However free riders recklessly endangering themselves, others and health care staff should be ashamed of themselves.


I live in New York and I'm under the impression the hospitals were never overwhelmed. That was the fear, but it didn't actually happen.

They also thought they would run out of ventilators, but never came close to using all of them, started giving them away to other states, and then discovered that ventilators were not actually a good treatment anyway.


NYC hospitals increased capacity dramatically, with people treated huge wards and some sent to temporary facilities. That’s what being overwhelmed looks like, it’s not a binary condition just a decrease in the average quality of care.

In terms of ventilators many people where kept off of ventilators who would have been given them in normal conditions. That was likely a good thing as ventilators have huge risks associated with their use, but things where a long way from ok.

That said, the lockdown likely prevented a much worse situation at local hospitals.


> In terms of ventilators many people where kept off of ventilators who would have been given them in normal conditions.

Sadly, that wasn't the case in NY. Even though Chinese doctors warned of the risks of ventilators in Jan/Feb, the US ignored that. There were 2 reasons:

1) intubating patients protected staff from aerosolization after the intubation

2) old understanding of oxygen levels led doctors to intubate way too early for corona.


I have a friend who works in a NYC hospital and they absolutely were overwhelmed. Every available space (including supply closets, ERs, staff briefing rooms) converted into a coronavirus ward. A few staff members (including their ER director) died from coronavirus.

They never ran out of ventilators, but they did run out of beds.


Who is the ER director you're talking about? I tried looking it up but couldn't find any articles.

That’s hardly surprising, there’s no reliable record of health care worker deaths. “...US officials say they have no comprehensive way to count those who lose their lives trying to save others.”

Also: “In some facilities, the person who is supposed to do the reporting is caring for patients and is overwhelmed,” Schuchat said.

[1]https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/15/coronavirus-...


My friend is an ICU nurse in Manhattan and they were(are) absolutely overwhelmed. PPE shortages, mandatory overtime, staff shortages due to infection, and almost every department became a covid department.

>> A month later the hospitals were overwhelmed.

Really? There are well-regarded articles stating that most hospitals were well below normal capacities. The emergency hospitals setup across NY state were barely used, some are closing have not treated even a single patient. No doubt some parts of some hospitals were hit hard, but I see no evidence of the city/state as a whole being anywhere near capacity.


I'm not sure about the articles, but my SO had worked nights in the ICU just outside of NYC for the past two months. Notes from her:

- They quadrupled ICU capacity, taking over empty hospital beds from elsewhere in the hospital. At one point the only patients were COVID. No other admissions.

- Out-of-work doctors like cardiologists, soldiers, out-of-state nurses came in to help. They didn't know what to do in the ICU, so they mostly got in the way.

- At the peak they needed about double the normal number of beds.

- Most 12-hours shifts were done without sitting or having time to go to the bathroom.

So they overestimated the flood of COVID patients and were able to deal with it, possibly because they over-prepared, and there were essentially no non-COVID patients. At least that's n=1 ICU physician's perspective. Her friends in difference cities seem to have had similar experience (all east coast doctors, though), but the only overwhelmed ones are in NYC metro.


In the beginning of March Mayo Clinic circulated a COVID ICU protocol which virtually everybody implemented. Cleveland Clinic had something similar though NYC, Philadelphia and Baltimore hospital systems went with Mayo. It had metrics and trigger points at which point different units at hospitals were converted into COVID ICUs. Such protocols are absolutely standard for any large scale disaster scenarios. "Overwhelmed" means "handling of this event is not in a protocol". That has never happened. 2x the normal ICU beds was would not have triggered even the 2nd implementation of a second phase.

To me, overwhelmed means not able to provide the expected standard of care to a majority, or large minority of patients. In many cases the patient to nurse ratios went up to 3 or 4 times higher than would normally be considered acceptable, and patients dying before the nurses can even get to them. Simply having a bed isn’t enough.

That is an insane redefinition and goal post moving.

It is not. It is exactly the same as event one's AWS installation has a capacity problem. You do sort of have that plan, don't you?

If I attempt at AWS load balancing was “cut down all other services for the purpose of this particular services up to and including the full shut down of other services to divert to this service” I would definitely say this instance is wildly out of hand and an unacceptable state and that we may need to evaluate if this is temporary or if we need to grab more AWS $$$.

You just described the plan. That's exactly what it is.

This definition you have concocted isn't real. Just because everyone stops what they are doing and starts bailing water out of a boat doesn't mean the boat isn't flooded.

You can't hallucinate some new definition for being overwhelmed and then say New York hospitals weren't overwhelmed. That is not rational.


So, they were not overwhelmed?

Completing 12 hour shifts without a moments break isn’t overwhelmed?

Read this article about two of the nurses in NY that committed suicide due to the stress of watching patients die and not having the resources to help them, then tell me those people were not overwhelmed.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/04/28/emts-a28.html


Waving people's deaths around like this is crass and offensive. It's very sad that these nurses died, but when people say "overwhelmed" in this context they mean that people cannot obtain healthcare.

> when people say "overwhelmed" in this context they mean that people cannot obtain healthcare.

The “no non-COVID patients” part didn't happen because suddenly no one needed ICU care or other hospitalization for non-COVID reasons, it happened because people were systematically excluded starting with methods from soft (discouragement to seek care) to hard (bans on classes of procedures, triage prioritization, etc.) from hospital care for non-COVID reasons.

Hospitals in and around NYC were, like those in Italy at the peak of the crisis, using criteria beyond medical need to allocate ventilators because medical need exceeded supply. That's overwhelmed, and ant standard which suggests it isn't is a dumbass standard.


Oh I see, the human cost to health care workers doesn’t count. Got it.

Maybe your threshold for what counts as ‘getting health care’ is different from mine. For me it amounts to more up than just being physically in a hospital. If the people described below were your family, would you be satisfied with their health care?

"Some of them, bless their souls, can't do anything for themselves," she said. "How can I take care of 14 people when I have one tech and they have 30 patients. It's so bad here you guys."

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/coronaviru...


You know you're being dishonest here and I'm not going to engage.

That’s a real shame. I just don’t understand at all where you’re coming from, or in what way I’m being dishonest.

To me is seems straightforward to say that a system that is no longer able to provide an acceptable standard of care to a majority, or large minority if it’s patients, has been pushed beyond its capacity.


I’m under the impression that this is in fact what an overwhelmed health care system looks like. That the people in the system would rather die than continue being in it. This is also how we measure the despair of poverty.

That specific hospital wasn't. But, again:

> At the peak they needed about double the normal number of beds.

If they had not been able to annex a portion of the hospital for more beds, they probably would've been overwhelmed. Most of the people with normal things (heart attacks, severe diabetes-related issues, alcohol withdraw, etc.) stayed home, so they were able to create more capacity. I think every hospital did the same, so there's no good control group.


Lock down + ramp up capacity sounds like something that would result in having excess capacity.

It's a better result than if the lockdown hadn't worked and they hadn't ramped up capacity, or if they'd ramped up without the lockdown


New York came distressingly close to capacity, but indeed didn't hit a saturation point like Madrid or Milan.

But that's, quite frankly, just dumb luck. At the rate of growth we were seeing in the early epidemic, their safety margin comes out to something like two days. The lockdown almost missed the target.

Quite frankly, a very large number of New Yorkers probably owe their lives to the other early movers in the US that enabled the NYC lockdown: Washington State was a big one. Also when the history is written, the NBA cancelling its season is probably going to be one of the biggest heroes.


Milan didn't hit saturation either, I believe, you may be thinking of Bergamo.

But the saturation was not reached because of lockdown, clearing hospital beds from electives, adding more beds, recruiting new sanitary personnel from all over the country.

If all of italy had kept going "business as usual" we'd likely count deaths at a 30x rate.


I 100% agree with you. Also don’t forget the mayor of SF. I don’t like her politics but objectively she had the courage to make a very hard choice and locked down the SF Bay Area much sooner than anywhere else. She saved thousands of lives right here.

The lockdown order wasn’t her doing. It was supposed to have been orchestrated by Santa Clara county’s health director , Sara Cody. Also, SF has no power over the other counties. It was a joint health order.

It’s remarkable the amount of just plain wrong information that people believe in.


Except for the ones that will end up fighting the worst illness in their lifetime. It may not be them but their parents or grandparents.

You ever had/lived with multiple relatives going with cancer or Alzheimer's. I'm sure it's un-PC to say it, but Covid is a relative cakewalk in comparison...

I have (both my parents died from cancer in their 50s). How is this related to this topic? Lockdown or not, crowding and not wearing a mask is irresponsible - you aren't just putting yourself at risk, but also the people around you.

It's relevant because we currently have two sides going at each other raising irresponsible levels of hyperbole, virtue/team- signaling and fear mongering on both sides, just in different directions.

Covid is simultaneously currently worse than the flu, but on the order of genuine avoidable human suffering it SHOULD have (and should still) be treated rationally: isolating and protecting the most vulnerable, practicing good hygiene, a moment to reflect on our lifestyles, policies and our self imposed diseases that make us more vulnerable to the virus. It has a mortality function that, statistically, correlates most strongly with a person's already existing X year survival probability. If you plotted out the frequency of ages and deaths over time, it would primarily register as a small blip/compressing of deaths primarily amongst the older.

People who go off on the other end of the spectrum: that this should be the end of society/ socialising, commerce/trade and public life, are just as ridiculous and irresponsible as those who think nothing should be fine, because they illicit fear, partisanship, and stop our finite resources being spent where they do most good, not to mention the harm that's going to come from all the poorly targeted reactions.

In this case it's an opportunity to drop the hyperbole and rationally visit how we deal with healthcare and end of life, because how we deal with the elderly already, especially our experiences with those illnesses I mentioned, are qualitatively worse than the experience of dying relatively quickly from covid, but we accept it because it was "part of the everyday" (or in a lot of societies, deliberately excluded from the everyday so we don't think about it too much).


The rest of your comment is valuable commentary but I want to point out that

> If you plotted out the frequency of ages and deaths over time, it would primarily register as a small blip/compressing of deaths primarily amongst the older.

is not strictly true. In certain regions, NYC as an example[1], you have to look at excess mortality, or the number of deaths that are in excess of expectations given a periodic seasonal model. In some areas the number is much, much higher than normal. It's not enough to read off the reported deaths because there are many more that are attributed to other causes.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6919e5.htm


I think the point the parent was making is that many of the people who died in the last 2 months would likely have died in the next year anyway - so although there's clearly high numbers of excess deaths today, we may actually find that many of those deaths are just brought forward by 6 months. We won't know whether that's true for years though.

I keep seeing this idea that people are demanding the lockdown last forever and everything should be over, but it seems to primarily come from people using it as an attempt to seem rational by taking a standpoint in the perceived middle rather than any sort of reality.

The actual reality is that one side wants people to wear masks and gradually open up in a safe manner because other places that opened up irresponsibly were hit by a second wave of infections. The other side takes mask wearing as fascism and will do literally everything in their power to harass people who wear masks or attempt to bypass the requirement for the sake of making themselves feel better. You calling COVID19 a cakewake is irresponsible hyperbole in itself considering it is dangerous and we should not be under any delusion that it is not. But it is manageable if people don't operate under delusion.


What if your Alzheimer’s parent died of Covid. Should we assume this is a cakewalk for me? Stop acting callous.

Depends, if you’re 70 and diagnosed with cancer, you may still have a few years or recover completely.

If you are diagnosed with covid you have a pretty high chance of being dead before a month has passed.


If you are 70 and get Covid-19 you have a 90% chance of recovering. You make it sound like you have a 90% chance of dying which is an extreme exaggeration.

You are right, for some reason I was under the impression that COVID-19 was much more lethal to older people.

I think because of the early cohort in Japan, of which most 70+ people ended up deceased.


In 2017, a 70 year old American man had a 2.2% chance of dying that year and on average was expected to live another 14 years. I'm curious how the average life expectancy of a 70 year old has changed from that year to this one. Is it down to 13 years yet?

You can’t catch cancer or Alzheimer’s, and the hospitals are set to handle the predicable case load. This is a situation where you can prevent a massive increase of simultaneous cases on top of all the cancer so people are trying to do that. Stabbing kills you more quickly but still seems worthwhile to prevent.

You can absolutely catch cancer. Just work in a toxic environment or have a spouse that smokes a couple of packs a day. It just takes a lot longer.

Catching means the disease itself is contagious - it is the environment or habbit which spreads it as opposed to a cancer patient coughing on you and giving you cancer - unless radiation treatment has gone /very/ wrong through historic levels of medical malpractice.

Indefinite chaining area of effect vs just area of effect roughly.


I think you are mostly right but reality, as usual, is much more complicated than that. HPVs give you cancer.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_papillomavirus_infection

Also there are other viruses that also cause cancer

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virus#Cancer

So you very well could have a cancer patient coughing on you and giving you cancer but the underlying cause is the virus that they have (that caused their cancer) rather than the cancer itself. So you have chaining of cancer (albeit via a virus).


Maybe, maybe not.

"Maybe" at individual level becomes "certainly" at city, state, or nation level.

In my state you aren’t shamed for not wearing a mask, thankfully.

Come on, just wear a mask. Why would you resist it as though it's something to be proud of? Even if the only thing that it does is make other people feel safe, that's a good enough reason.

When did I say I don’t wear a mask? You’re making some big assumptions. This is the danger with vilifying someone who you disagree with.

There will always be different opinions and views. Being civil and accepting of others seems to be less and less common under the guise of doing “the right thing”.


Well the same reason you don't share your email with the FBI and agree to be monitored at all times.

I wear a mask, and I choose to wear a mask. I also wore a mask before it was "supported" by the CDC. If tomorrow it was legally required, I would stop wearing a mask.


> Well the same reason you don't share your email with the FBI and agree to be monitored at all times.

Perhaps you could spell out this reason, and explain how it also applies to wearing face masks?


The issue is not wearing masks. The issue is legally mandating them.

You should wear a mask. You may be an asymptomatic carrier, and masks have fairly good odds (~90%) at stopping liquid droplet spread.

However legally mandating masks is a different problem. The state is engaging in compelled action - which is usually right out save a few cases. Just as the state can't legally mandate someone to say they support the president, the state can't mandate helpful behavior - it's just not a power the state has.

Could the state legally require condoms unless you were intending to conceive? Condoms are effective at stopping almost all std/sti, and are 99.98% effective when used properly at preventing unwanted pregnancy. We could eliminate HIV tomorrow if the state forced their usage. You should use a condom, but that isn't the same as legally mandating them.


You are confusing mandating masks in order to protect the wearer with the real purpose: to protect people around them. Wearing masks protects other people from being infected if you unwittingly have the disease. Clearly, states have the right (and indeed responsibility) to mandate that their citizens do not recklessly endanger other citizens in specific encoded ways. For example, do you think it is unreasonable for there to be speed limits on roads? Or even that if someone shot their firearm around at random in a crowded place and happened to kill someone that they shouldn't be held responsible if they could prove they hadn't specifically meant to hurt anyone, they were just having a bit of a laugh?

Maybe you actually do think the state shouldn't intrude on those freedoms, but you would be in a minority holding those views. Personally, I like laws that impose mask use during pandemics, speed limits on roads and restrictions against firing shots randomly into crowds, because their absence intrudes on my freedom to continue existing.

I even consider it possible to like these things while not considering it reasonable to "share your email with the FBI and agree to be monitored at all times". An analogy about condom use does not explain the connection at all.


This is a subtle point but it's a difference between compelled action and a restriction.

When I'm not allowed to drive over 65mph, that's a restriction. I have no innate power to use government roads, so even requirements like a license and a seltbelt are aligned.

Let's talk about discharging a firearm since that doesn't have some of these special cases like government vs private roads. I do have a right to bear arms, I don't have a right to discharge them.

Typically there are restrictions even on private property. You can't discharge a firearm in a city, or on property that is too small. But, if I have several acres in the country I can discharge a firearm. If my discharge (either the noise or the round) crosses my property, then I may have an issue.

I agree these are good things but good and legal are unrelated. I think universal condom usage and donating to non-profits is good, but legally mandating those things would be problematic.

If everyone shared all of their data with the FBI - well, we could stop a lot of crime. Insider trading, lots of fraud, some premeditated murder. Though, that would be a grave invasion of your rights, wouldn't it?


I see. Well, that is a very specific, and frankly rather bizarre, thing to get hung up on.

Would you consider a law that disallows people from getting too close outside, or being in the same room, acceptable? Technically that is a restriction rather than a compelled action... one that's much more onerous than a mask mandate, but that's not the point, right?

Edit: "universal condom usage and donating to non-profits" are still red herrings regardless of this technicality. The point of masks is stop you from personally and directly killing someone that did not consent to you getting near to them and infecting them. Condoms only directly affect people that consented to be with each other (if one didn't consent then obviously that's another matter). Donating to charity may save lives but that's not the same as stopping you from personally killing someone.

Edit 2: I also feel like masks could be phrased in terms of being a restriction rather than a mandate. Surely a law not allowing you to spit in someone's face is a restriction? What about a law restricting the concentration of your breath droplets that get onto other people's faces, at least during a pandemic? If the only way to satisfy this is to stay well away from everyone or wear a mask, that's still a restriction. (Even I feel like that's cheating. But I also think that the existence of "cheats" like this is part of why the distinction is so silly to start with.)


Are you liable for killing someone if you go to work when you may have the (regular, seasonal) flu?

No, of course not. This is just a matter of setting a sensible threshold when the borderline from acceptable to unacceptable is fuzzy, and applies to any number of other things that you'd surely consider reasonable.

Going back to speed limit analogy, driving at 100mph down a crowded high street (I'm thinking of a narrow European-style street here where there's no such thing as jaywalking) is tantamount to murder. But - like your seasonal flu argument - even if you set the speed limit at 10mph (imagine a fantasy world where people stuck to that speed limit) occasionally there would be a road death to pedestrians. Does that mean that is essentially murder too, and that we should ban all driving altogether? No, we have to choose some threshold, a speed limit, that is an acceptable trade off between allowing people to live their lives vs safety to others. Any limit like that will always be somehow wrong - too high and too low at the same time, in some sense - but you have to draw the line somewhere. The same goes for a limit to how much we allow people to risk spreading potentially deadly diseases to others.

If that trade off only involves the safety of the participants then you can leave it to them to choose that threshold. For example, some might choose to take part in extreme sports while others consider them too risky. But if the trade off is between the benefit of the participant vs risk to an unconsenting third party, then the threshold of course has to be set in law.

(BTW, on the subject of comment votes, I've not been down voting your comments (except the first one so others don't end up down this rabbit hole), actually I've been upvoting them to ungrey them. Although I still find your views extremely strange it has been interesting and you do seem to be constructively engaging, and I hope I have been too.)


I would not be surprised if at least one “reckless endangerment” had not already been filed for that reason in the past. Probably many years ago.

I recall reading years ago about an AIDS patient who was convicted for manslaughter after knowingly having unprotected sex with many people without disclosing their condition.


Phrased as a restriction, the requirement for masks is a limit on how many droplets of saliva can fly out of your face in public. If it's worded that way, are you satisfied?

> it's a difference between compelled action and a restriction.

No, you're making the wrong distinction. The right distinction is between causing actual harm, and not causing actual narm.

You do have a right to travel unimpeded over public roads (since you're a member of the public and a taxpayer). Imposing a 65 mph speed limit on you and giving a cop the power to stop you and write you a ticket that imposes a fine (or a court appearance) for exceeding the limit, even if you have caused no harm to anyone, is wrong. However, posting a sign that says "maximum safe speed 65 mph", and then imposing extra liability on you if you cause an accident and it is found that you were exceeding that posted limit would be fine.

Similarly, forcing you by law to wear a mask in public, even if you have caused no harm to anyone, is wrong. But if you aren't wearing a mask and you cough or sneeze on someone and they get COVID-19 because of that, having a law that imposes liability on you would be fine.


ah, the old post-facto libertarian dream. in short, it's only OK to sanction behavior after it has caused harm, never OK to sanction behavior that increases the odds of harm.

there are places you can live in the world that work much more closely to your post-facto ideal. however, if you want the benefits of the rest a contemporary western industrial society, you'll either have to convince a lot more people that post-facto only is right, or just live with the fact that most of the rest of us thing that post-facto only is wrong.


> most of the rest of us thing that post-facto only is wrong

Yes, because most of the rest of you do not see the harms caused by sanctioning behavior that some government official believes increases the odds of harm. If you did, you would realize that only sanctioning behavior that causes actual harm is the right rule for the government, because humans simply cannot be trusted with the power to dictate the behavior of others based on some estimate of "the odds of harm" when no actual harm is caused.

Most of the rest of you also do not realize that the sanctions of law are not the only kinds of sanctions that can be applied. For example, I do not believe the government has the right to require me to wear a mask whenever I go out. But I do believe the grocery store I go to, for example, has the right to require me to wear a mask before I enter the store (which it does, and which I happily comply with--indeed, I'd be doing it even if it wasn't required), as a condition of being allowed to shop there. (And all the store employees are wearing masks as well.) I also believe I have the right to require anyone who comes into my house to wear a mask (as my wife and I did a few days ago when two people from the flooring company came to look at gaps in the laminate floor they installed--they made no objection to wearing the masks).

When I describe cases like this, I get asked: well, if you're doing the same thing the government is telling everybody to do anyway, what's the problem? The problem is that the cases I just described are the easy ones. What about the hard ones, where someone's particular circumstances make the best thing for them different from what the government is mandating for everybody? For example, an acquaintance of my wife's recently was forbidden from visiting her dying grandmother in a nursing home, because of government mandated lockdown rules. (No family members were permitted to see her.) The family would have been fine with wearing masks and gloves, washing their hands, and taking all other prudent precautions; but nobody was even permitted to exercise common sense, because the government lockdown did not allow for that; it was just a single, one-size-fits-all, hard and fast rule. So the grandmother died with no loved ones there with her, because of a government diktat. That is simply wrong in any country that calls itself a free country. And a government that forces such things on people loses the confidence of the people.


In this case, the core of your position seems to consist of 3 fairly conventional libertarian axioms/tropes:

  * government policy/law is always one-size-fits-all and that never works
  * government is incapable of nuance or intelligence when deciding policy  
  * government preventing harm preemptively is oppression
I have 500MB of transcripts from rec.politics.theory during the first half of the 1990s that consist of discussions between libertarians of several stripes and other non-libertarians (including me). Some of those folks are still floating around online (hi, Perry Metzger!)

So far, I see no evidence that you have any arguments that were not a part of that usenet group from 25 years ago. I feel fairly comfortable with the way these were debated and shot down back then, so in the absence of an actual new argument, it doesn't seem worth continuing.


> the core of your position

Is not what you say. If you insist on breaking it down into "axioms", here are some:

(1) Government policy/law cannot take into account the individual circumstances of individual cases, since it is impossible for government officials/lawmakers to obtain that information; so government policy/law that dictates what people must or must not do will always dictate the wrong thing for some people.

(2) The government dictating the wrong thing for anyone is wrong in a free country.

(3) Therefore, government policy/law should not dictate what people must or must not do at all unless failing to do so would make it impossible for a free country to exist.

Whether or not the government dictating that everybody must wear masks in public, or must not leave their homes except for a certain small number of reasons, would be justifiable under #3 is a question that might be worth discussing (I personally think it wouldn't be, but others might be able to give reasonable arguments that it would). However, the grounds under which the government dictating those things is actually being justified is nothing like that. The grounds on which it is actually being justified is that we don't actually have a free country: that the government does not need to meet anything like the above standard before dictating what people must and must not do.

If your response is basically, yes, indeed, we don't have a free country (which is what it seems to me to be), then I guess you're right that the discussion isn't worth continuing. But it certainly seems like a sad outcome considering the country's original goals.


Is drunk driving a problem we should have laws and enforcement about in advance of a collision?

Same logic as I said: driving drunk, by itself, if you don't cause any actual harm, should not be punishable by law. But a law imposing extra liability on you if you cause an accident and are found to be drunk would be fine.

Driving whilst intoxicated (or under the influence of drugs) is straight-up illegal in basically every single civilised country I'm aware of.

This is because alcohol impairs your judgement and reflexes - and when you're driving a 1 tonne piece of metal that can maim and kill, you want your wits about you.

I confess I find this kind of reasoning very bizarre - I truly do admire the US, and all the freedoms, literature, and amazing critical thought it's given to us. But I still don't understand the strange logic that seems to emanate from certain circles - where people will sincerely claim it's their God-given right to drive over the speed limit and kill people, to take drugs and kill people, to shoot guns and kill people, and other such things.

It's also in this context I hear people from the US complaining a lot about the "nanny-state".

Or that somehow, if the government provides any modicum of healthcare, you are infringing on their God-given right to make really poor healthcare spending decisions.

I get it there's happy medium between the two - and I apologise if there's hyperbole in the above - but as an outsider looking at how the US has handled the COVID-19 pandemic - it's heart-wrenching.

As a country, you have nearly 100,000 people dead (the worst in the world I think?) - and people are still talking about how "mask wearing is oppression", or "lockdowns are trampling on our rights!".

Even your leaders - if the press can be believed - apparently see wearing a mask as a sign of weakness. Yet other governments (e.g. UK, Australia, Scotland) have sacked high-level ministers, simply because they breached the health lockdown rules. It's the complete opposite - those governments are taking it seriously (or at least trying to be seen to be).

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-52553229 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/apr/10/nsw-m... https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-52177171


> where people will sincerely claim it's their God-given right to drive over the speed limit and kill people, to take drugs and kill people, to shoot guns and kill people, and other such things.

I have made no such claims. I did not say anyone had a right to harm anyone else. I explicitly said that people who cause actual harm should be punished.

You are simply attacking a straw man here. And you should definitely not be judging the US by what you see in the popular press.


So wait - you're saying it's ok to engage in risky behaviour - as long as it doesn't result in maiming/killing somebody?

Surely you can see that's a recipe for disaster?

People are very bad at judging risks - and everybody things they're cleverer/more careful/better than the average.

That's exactly why no government that I'm aware of has ever enacted what you dscribed.

Ok - so you make it that driving whilst drunk is OK - and you will only be charged if you kill/maim somebody. You will soon get a whole bunch of young 20 year old males, who think they are invincible (or that they can hold their liquor like Captain America) who end up destroying families in completely preventable MVAs.

Everybody thinks they're a "better driver than the average" - or that "their reflexes are really good". Unfortunately, the average is exactly that - the average.

Sure, according to you - you can now charge them after having killed a mum and her kid walking across the road - but what about the fact that you've essentially encouraged this behaviour, and raised the probability of such things happening?

Similar logic applies to any risk taking behaviour - yes, there are certainly grey areas - but there's a reason handguns are a restricted item and not anybody can buy them at any corner store. Having a gun in and of itself doesn't "harm somebody", as you say - but having more handguns distributed among the population, without any attempt to reduce the risk (e.g. background checks, safety checks, licensing checks) will increase the risk that something bad will happen.

Likewise drugs are a controlled item.

And with public health directives like this - the aim is to force people to take sensible precautions to protect those vulnerable among the population. I hate to say this, but people are sometimes selfish and only think of themselves (we all do this). So sometime you need somebody to look out for society as a whole.


> you're saying it's ok to engage in risky behaviour - as long as it doesn't result in maiming/killing somebody?

No. You evidently lack basic reading comprehension, so I suppose it's futile to ask you to go back and re-read what I wrote to see that I explicitly contradicted this.

> People are very bad at judging risks - and everybody things they're cleverer/more careful/better than the average.

First of all, speak for yourself.

Second, evidently you have no clue about how people who actually are good at judging risks get that way. Hint: it isn't by "thinking" anything. It's by objectively evaluating your own behavior the same way you objectively evaluate other people's behavior. Everybody can see when someone else is doing something dumb. All you need to learn is how to look at yourself as the someone else. This is a learned skill.

Third, if it's true that "people" are very bad at judging risks, that's just as true of government bureaucrats and lawmakers. Why should I trust them to properly balance all the risks vs. benefits of various laws and policies? Let alone "look out for society as a whole", to use your phrase? All the historical evidence we have says that they suck at it.

Fourth, drunk drivers don't kill other people, if and when they do, by magic. And they don't do it purely on their own. There is always a chain of events, and there are plenty of places to break the chain. For example, you describe a drunk driver killing a mother and child walking across the road. How did the mother and child come to be walking across the road when a car was coming? If they had waited, they'd still be alive. If you say "well, it was a blind turn and they didn't see the car", why weren't they taking extra precautions if it was a blind turn? And so on.

Similar remarks apply to other situations where irresponsible actions by one person harm others. Everybody focuses on the harm to the victims and the badness of the irresponsible person. Nobody spends any time teaching themselves, or their friends, or their kids, how not to be the victim. But knowing that there are some irresponsible and dangerous people in the world, and learning how to keep from being harmed by them, is supposed to be part of being an adult human being in this world. Certainly an adult human being is not supposed to expect the government to make sure no bad things happen to them; no government can possibly do that, or even come close. But that's what our mentality has become.


In the US, we don’t have the same faith/trust in our government that many Europeans seem to either enjoy or suffer from, depending on one’s political views.

There are some things our government does well and many things it does far less than well. Government is also self-perpetuating, so if you’re going to make a mistake, I think it’s wise to make a mistake in having too little government, as that’s easier to correct.

(In any event, I think it’s also fair to observe/predict that “drunk driving is OK as long as the outcome does not result in a crash” is an extremely minority view in the population and does not reflect the laws in any US state.)


> “drunk driving is OK as long as the outcome does not result in a crash” is an extremely minority view

You are misstating the view I was describing.

I did not say drunk driving was OK as long as it doesn't cause actual harm. I only said drunk driving should not be punishable by law if it doesn't cause actual harm. Not being punishable by law does not make it any less stupid or irresponsible.

I also did not say that there are no ways at all to address drunk driving that doesn't cause harm. For example, consider the following scenario: I'm a cop, and I see a car driving erratically. I turn on my lights and pull the car over. I am perfectly justified in doing that because the car is driving erratically.

I find out that the driver of the car is drunk. I tell the driver, "sir, why don't we leave your car parked here, off the road, and lock it, and I can call someone to come and pick you up?" If the driver protests, I put him in the back of my police car, make sure his car is safely parked and locked, and drive him to the police station--where I then call someone to come pick him up. No ticket, no citation, no fine--just getting him safely home and avoiding possible harm to anyone else.

Have I overstepped the boundaries that I have argued must be placed on what the government can do? Not at all. First of all, a cop is still a citizen, and any citizen has the right to try to stop someone from continuing obviously reckless and irresponsible behavior. Second, I didn't punish the person; he gets no fine, no jail time, no record of any offense. So the rule that nobody should be punished by law unless they cause actual harm has not been violated.

It is true that supporting the kind of regime I just described, in preference to what we have now, is an extremely minority view. But I think it's because people have simply failed to think through the implications.


Okay, let's take another thing turns out fine by itself but might cause harm with irresponsible behavior. If I discharge a gun at my spacious property while pointing it at someone and miss, should I be punishable for attempted manslaughter or a similar offense?

> If I discharge a gun at my spacious property while pointing it at someone and miss, should I be punishable for attempted manslaughter or a similar offense?

Were you firing it at someone on purpose? Or did you just not realize you were pointing it at someone?

If you were firing it at someone on purpose, even if you didn't hit them, that's already a common law crime: in most jurisdictions it's called assault with a deadly weapon or something similar. Whether it would also qualify as attempted manslaughter would depend on your intent: were you actually trying to kill them, or just scare them?

If you just didn't realize you were pointing it at someone, and you didn't cause any harm, you should not be liable for any offense. But if I were the someone you were pointing the gun at, I would do my level best to avoid all further interaction with you since you're clearly a careless and irresponsible person. I would also spread the word amongst the neighbors so they know it too.


Who cares? If among all the things the state shouldn’t do and doesn’t have the legitimate authority to do, this is where you put your foot down, you’re just being an ass. I can’t think of anything that could hurt the cause of freedom and limited government more than making masks the hill to die on.

I put my foot down on illegal seizures of poor people's property under the guise of stopping drug trade. I put my foot down on attempting to have legal penalties for supporting the Israeli BDS movement even though I don't personally support it.

I also put my foot down on legal penalties for compelled actions such as mask wearing. I also give masks out for free to my neighbors and friends. I support wearing a mask, I will never support fining or jailing an American over not wearing one.


With rights come responsibilities.

The quote is "With great power comes great responsibility", it's from Spiderman, and it doesn't occur in any legal theory.

With rights come... well just rights.


> the state can't mandate helpful behavior

The state requires me to wear underwear on the bus, put kids in car seats, signal at intersections, keep a gun safely, not let my tires go bald, and many other things to protect people around me.


If you drive a car you are legally required to have liability insurance.

If they had made it a temporary law and fined people heavily at the very beginning it would have saved thousands of lives and jobs. Look at the countries that acted swiftly back in January and February.

In the US, legal requirements would have been met with more resistance and people not wearing masks intentionally and probably civil unrest.

Sometimes asking is better than demanding. Texas asked and had excellent compliance. Michigan demanded and had angry protestors.


That people consider civil unrest because they're told to wear masks for a few months in order to prevent countless deaths is more a sign of a broken culture than anything else.

This is a US specific phenomenon, and it's not a new one. I will further argue it is a critical principle for Democracy.

The issue is not being asked to wear a mask, the issue is legally mandating them.

I can ask you to donate money to a political party - you may say no, but me asking is perfectly fine. If I force you under duress to donate - well, that's something else, isn't it?

Freedom is the ability to say no, even if that isn't an optimal choice. Taking that freedom away leads to bad outcomes like arresting people for unpopular views and sending Muslims to "re-education" camps.


I assume you're also against seatbelt and helmet laws. What about those laws applying to children? What about smoking laws?

The US already has numerous laws that few people complain about because they've come to recognize them as necessary for the public good. But that was only after they were passed and enforced.


I have no innate right to use government roads.

Likewise, kids do not have rights the same way an adult does. The government can compel education until you're 18 (thankfully).

We do not have laws because they are good. It is the case that some laws are good, but we have laws because the goal of governments is to govern the people. The difference between a democracy and an oligarch is the source of that right.

I have no special rights over you. I am not any better, I am not empowered by any god or special bloodline. I, if elected in a democracy, can pass laws but I can't limit your rights. I can't compel you to worship somebody, limit what you say or take your property - even if I have a good reason.


Well, being good and for the public good are separate concepts in my mind. That aside, you never addressed the smoking, seatbelt or helmet laws with regard to adults. Permissible or not?

Smoking laws are restrictions. You can't smoke within 30ft of an eating establishment or in a car with a child. You want to go home and chain smoke yourself to cancer? Have fun. Likewise, you couldn't restrict smoking at home typically.

Seatbelt and helmet laws are a condition of using property that isn't yours (the road). Likewise for drivers licenses and minimum road hours.

A good case here is the Texas anti-sodomy law (Lawrence v Texas) that was struck down in 2006(!) after being used to go after gay men. Here Texas made claims it was acting for the public good, SC ruled the state had no presence on a private matter outside the public eye.


> Seatbelt and helmet laws are a condition of using property that isn't yours (the road).

In England, at least, the law also applies in the (somewhat unusual) circumstances that you happen to own the road.

Going meta here: There seems to be a mental condition that causes people to try to interpret everything in terms of contracts and property rights. In extreme cases it leads to phenomena like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeman_on_the_land


> Seatbelt and helmet laws are a condition of using property that isn't yours (the road).

"Mask laws" are a condition of using property that isn't yours (the road, the town square, the park, the trail). Nobody is going to force you to wear on mask on your own property.


The government doesn't own public property. The public does. This is a subtle point.

Now, can Wholefoods (to pick a private business) force you to wear a mask as a condition of using their store? Absolutely.

Can your friend demand you wear a mask before you hang out and use their pool? Sure.

Can the government demand you use a mask on non-government owned land? No.

Can the government demand you wear a mask before entering a courthouse? Well, that becomes a whole thing and the answer is "maybe?".


The word "public" was used in both cases.

There is no "government" as an owner of anything. Anything not owned by individuals (within the USA) is owned by some sector of the public (either the entire nation, or a state, or a city etc. etc.). Governments do not own courthouses, they do not own national parks.

Governments are the structures we use to make decisions about legal, economic and social policy. They are not owners - the public is.

But I've forgotten your posting history, so I can't really tell if we're in violent agreement or if you're just flipping your terminology around.


What about wearing pants? Is wearing pants a compelled action?

Would you be running around naked unless someone required otherwise? Some of us just enjoy wearing comfy pants.

You seem to be changing the argument rather than answering the question. Do you believe public decency laws are the result of the state overextending its hand?

You are doging the question, maybe because you realize that you can't answer it without lying or contradicting yourself. Do you agree with the fact that you are compelled to wear clothes? After all a mask is essentially clothing.

> I have no innate right to use government roads.

Yes, you do, if you're a member of the public and a taxpayer.


Nobody checks these conditions when I use the roads. I could be a tax avoider and my use of the roads is unimpeded. Arrest of my use of the roads is consequent to being arrested for tax noncompliance, but I am not expressly forbidden from use of the roads.

Indeed, I could go live under a bridge and never pay taxes, and I would still be able to access and use roads.


> Nobody checks these conditions when I use the roads.

Yes, but that doesn't mean they don't apply. It is simply not worth the cost to verify that you are a taxpayer before letting you use the road.


Visa holders, undocumented immigrants, and more can use the roads. People without jobs, teenagers, etc. can use the roads. Your point is made without evidence and without observational adherence to reality as I've experienced it.

Do you have a source you can direct me to showing me the requirement that any publicly (taxpayer) funded road is only usable by taxpayers?


> the requirement that any publicly (taxpayer) funded road is only usable by taxpayers?

I never stated any such requirement.

What I did say was that taxpayers have a right to use public roads. That is not the same as saying anyone else is prohibited from using them. The latter is a matter of how we choose to make public policy.

Our current public policy is that anyone is, in practice, allowed to use public roads, whether they are taxpayers or not. We could choose a different, more restrictive public policy regarding non-taxpayers, but we don't. (That is probably, as I said before, because it's not worth the cost to check everyone using public roads to see their taxpayer status.)

But we cannot, at least not based on the legal principle I stated, choose a public policy that does not allow taxpayers to use public roads, since they have a right to do so.


So no source on the claim that one must be a taxpayer to use (i.e. exercise the right to be on) public roads?

If the right is not enumerated, then it probably isn't restricted to taxpayers. Right of mobility is a natural right.


As a taxpayer you benefit from the roads as a non-driver because of interstate commerce. That you get to go on nice roadtrips is a side benefit.

> Yes, you do, if you're a member of the public and a taxpayer.

The idea that being a taxpayer gives you an innate right of use of government resources is bizarre. Being a citizen gives you an innate right of supervision, of course, but being a taxpayer doesn't add anything to that, and supervision isn't use.


> The idea that being a taxpayer gives you an innate right of use of government resources is bizarre.

They're not "government resources", they're public resources. We all collectively own them. The government is an agent that we use to manage those resources, but it doesn't own them. The public does.


> They're not "government resources",

Yes, they are.

> they're public resources.

They are public resources that the public has elected to administer through the government. It is possible to have resources that are public because there are no constraints on their use, but the two types of public resources are not the same.

> We all collectively own them.

In much the same way that corporate shareholders collectively own the assets of a corporation. And, for much the same reason as this is not true of corporate shareholders and corporate resources, the constituents of a government don't each individually have the right to arbitrarily use the resources administered by government on behalf of the public.

> The government is an agent that we use to manage those resources, but it doesn't own them. The public does.

The public collectively does, but being a 1/~300millionth owner doesn't give you the right to arbitrarily use resources so owned in contravention of the direction of the management agent employed by all ~300 million owners to protect their interests.


> In much the same way that corporate shareholders collectively own the assets of a corporation.

A public road is not the same as, say, a factory. As a shareholder in a corporation, I have no use for a factory, and the factory is not built for direct use by anyone. It is built to produce things that get sold, and as a shareholder I get a piece of the proceeds. (Actually it's often much more complicated than that, but going into all the current problems with corporate governance would take way too long.) But a public road is built with public money for the direct use of the public.

> being a 1/~300millionth owner doesn't give you the right to arbitrarily use resources so owned in contravention of the direction of the management agent employed by all ~300 million owners to protect their interests

The management agent is still just an agent. Yes, I myself am only a 1/~300 millionth owner of the public roads, but I have the same right to use them as the other ~300 million owners. The management agent cannot arbitrarily deny or restrict that right of usage to any of the owners. All it can do is manage the roads: build them, maintain them, repair them, and assess taxes to cover the costs of doing those things.

At least, that's the legal doctrine that should be in place in a free country. Of course it's not the one that's in place in the US at present. To me that's a bug, not a feature.


I think the confusion stems from the fact that US citizens are used to thinking of "the government" not as their representative but as an independent agent that has its own interests that don't necessarily align with their own interests. A powerful institution that can compel them to do things they don't like. Sort of like banks.

This is something that has always made me wonder. The libertarian ideal of "less government" makes more sense if one sees the government as above, an independent agent with its own interests. As a citizen of an EU nation, the way I think of it is that voters elect a government to represent them, so "less government" means "less power to voters to represent themselves". But to libertarians it means "more freedom".

So when the government compels you to "shelter in place", social-distance, wear a mask and so on, it is clearly not doing that because it is trying to protect you, because government is not an agent that has your own best interests in mind, but its own. Instead, it's trying to take away your freedom, because that is what government does, it takes away your freedoms.

That's my best explanation, as someone who has never lived in the US. In any case it's clear that the question of "mask or no mask" has become politicised by being caught up in this peculiar interpretation of "freedom". Which is very unfortunate because it's not a political matter, whether everyone wearing masks makes it less likely that anyone will catch the virus. It's a practical matter and what is necessary is a practical decision. But such practical decisions cannot be taken when everything has to be politicised.


> such practical decisions cannot be taken when everything has to be politicised.

But what politicizes it is precisely the fact that the government is making the decision for everybody, instead of letting each free person make the decision for themselves. If the government didn't force its decision on everybody, then it would not be politicized at all. It would just be a practical decision, exactly as you say.


> I think the confusion stems from the fact that US citizens are used to thinking of "the government" not as their representative but as an independent agent that has its own interests that don't necessarily align with their own interests.

I think the confusion is on the other side, and stems from the fallacy of division, wherein people mistakenly treat what is true of the public collectively as true of members of the public individually.


> US citizens are used to thinking of "the government" not as their representative but as an independent agent that has its own interests that don't necessarily align with their own interests.

US citizens are (or should be) used to thinking of the first as the ideal and the second as the reality. The reason we favor limited goverment is that we know the reality will never measure up to the ideal, so the best we can do is to limit the extent to which we make the attempt.

> As a citizen of an EU nation, the way I think of it is that voters elect a government to represent them, so "less government" means "less power to voters to represent themselves".

Again, this is the ideal, but the reality is that "less government" means "less opportunity for the government to advance its own interests to the detriment of the people". There is simply no way to eliminate the inherent conflict of interest that arises whenever you give some humans the power to dictate what other humans have to do or not do, and that's what a government is.

> when the government compels you to "shelter in place", social-distance, wear a mask and so on, it is clearly not doing that because it is trying to protect you, because government is not an agent that has your own best interests in mind, but its own. Instead, it's trying to take away your freedom, because that is what government does, it takes away your freedoms.

I realize that some people's rhetoric frames it this way, but the actual conflict of interest is deeper and does not require a conscious intention on the part of government officials to take away people's freedoms.

The actual conflict of interest in a situation like the current one is that government officials can't predict the future, yet they know they are going to be held responsible for bad things that happen, because they know many people have this idea that the government is supposed to act in the people's best interest. Government officials cannot prevent bad things from happening, because they're not omniscient or omnipotent and no central authority can possibly know all of the individual circumstances in each situation. They can't possibly balance all the tradeoffs for each individual person. No central authority can. So the best they can do is minimize the chance that they will get blamed for the bad things that do happen. They are less likely to get blamed for issuing draconian orders to stay at home, wear masks, etc., and jailing people for non-compliance, than they are for letting indiivdual citizens use their best judgment in their individual situation. So they do the former and not the latter.

But from the standpoint of an individual citizen like me, I know I am a better judge of my individual situation than the government, so if my judgment of what's best for me conflicts with what the government is ordering everybody to do, I am going to have a severe problem. And in a country of hundreds of millions of people, there are going to be a lot of people in that situation. And if it's supposed to be a free country, having a lot of people in that situation is simply intolerable.

For example, my wife knows a woman whose grandmother recently died in a nursing home. The grandmother was ill and family members, including the woman my wife knows, wanted to visit her before she died. The nursing home would not allow it because of the government lockdown orders, even though all the family members agreed to wear masks, protective equipment, wash their hands, etc., etc. In short, the government took away what should be an inviolable right of people to pay their last respects to a loved one, and to have loved ones with them when they die. It does not help at all to say that the government has to go by the greatest good for the greatest number and some people are bound to be negatively affected. To a person who truly understands what freedom means, that's no better than Stalin's famous remark that to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs. People are not eggs.


Can you drive without a license or insurance? Can you legally walk down a highway?

> Can you drive without a license or insurance?

Current law does not allow you to do this, yes. But current law also allows you to be ticketed if you exceed the speed limit. So obviously not all of current law is consistent with the basic principle I have stated. The application of the basic principle I stated to these cases should be obvious.

(Btw, it seems a little odd for you to be saying, on the one hand, that certain current laws are wrong--such as the 65 mph speed limit--and on the other hand to be relying on other current laws for your understanding of what "rights" you have. Surely you should apply the same principles to all of the laws?)

> Can you legally walk down a highway?

I actually don't know what the law is on this one. The application of the basic principle I stated to this case, as to the ones above, should be obvious.


> > Can you drive without a license or insurance?

> Current law does not allow you to do this, yes.

Current law in much of the US absolutely allows this, as long as you aren't on a public road or private property where the owner has opted-in to the rules generally applicable to public roads.

Of course, most of the interesting trips a person might want to take by car involve traversing public roads.


> What about smoking laws?

I don't think the government should be able to make smoking outright illegal (except on government property like government buildings), but I think owners of individual homes and businesses and public spaces (e.g., malls) should have the right to prohibit it, with violations of the owner's prohibition being punishable by law (similar to how, say, trespassing would be handled).


> I assume you're also against seatbelt and helmet laws.

Laws that allow you to be fined or punished simply for not wearing a seat belt or a helmet? Yes, those are wrong.

Laws that impose extra liability on you if you are in an accident and cause harm (including harm to yourself) and aren't wearing a seatbelt or a helmet? Those would be fine. Indeed, people would probably be more likely to wear seatbelts and helmets under such a regime than they are now. Now they're just risking a fine. Under that regime they'd be risking, for example, not having their medical insurance cover the costs of treating them.


> Indeed, people would probably be more likely to wear seatbelts and helmets under such a regime than they are now. Now they're just risking a fine. Under that regime they'd be risking, for example, not having their medical insurance cover the costs of treating them.

That is not how people work. They never think it will happen to them.


"Laws that allow you to be fined or punished simply for not wearing a seat belt or a helmet? Yes, those are wrong."

Why should I have to pay, through increased insurance and other societal costs, for your increased economic burden if you are paralyzed or run up huge medical bills because you could not be bothered to wear a seatbelt?


> Why should I have to pay, through increased insurance and other societal costs, for your increased economic burden if you are paralyzed or run up huge medical bills because you could not be bothered to wear a seatbelt?

Go back and read the second part of my post, which you failed to quote, which addresses exactly this issue.


I think this is a prevalent culture in US. Individual freedom right trumps any kind of community right/effort.

This is an extremely dangerous line of thought. That’s not the type of country I want to live in.

It's not dangerous at all. The US already has helmet laws for motorcycles and kids on bikes, seatbelt laws, gun laws around safe use and numerous other laws that prevent people from inadvertently affecting others lives.

Making people wear masks in public transport or other public settings during a pandemic is hardly an overreach in comparison.


Are you wearing ONLY the mask? I assume you're also protesting the government's mandate on wearing clothing.

Is it government that mandates wearing clothing? If you are in your house are you always naked, or do you still wear at least pajamas?

You can never be naked in public, so the proper comparison is whether you are never naked at home. Most people probably sit around their room naked at some point.

So if the FBI didn't want to monitor everyone all the time, then you'd volunteer to be monitored?

No? You have a logic flaw here, you've inverted the consequent, which does not imply an inverted antecedent.

Because you've set up the comparison in an illogical fashion it inevitably leads to nonsense.

> Well the same reason you don't share your email with the FBI and agree to be monitored at all times.

So if G=government requires me to do thing X, and X=I do thing X

    G→¬X
    G
    -----
    ¬X
and then:

> I wear a mask, and I choose to wear a mask. I also wore a mask before it was "supported" by the CDC. If tomorrow it was legally required, I would stop wearing a mask.

assuming that again G=government requires me to do thing X, and X=I do thing X, you're saying that

    G→¬X
    G
    -----
    ¬X
and also (because you have been wearing a mask):

    ¬G→X
    ¬G
    -----
    X 
So then the "for the same reason" doesn't make sense. It invites the idea that the two cases are parallel, and the only logical way I see of forcing them to be parallel is if:

    ¬G→X
    ¬G
    -----
    X 
is also true in the case of the FBI and emails.

How is it "for the same reason" otherwise?


https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/logicalfallacies/Affirmi...

You've also treated two unrelated statements as dependent clauses.


I know enough logic not to need your links, thank you.

And, no, my point was that you have tried to relate, in a hand-wavy fashion, two unrelated statements. So you can't say "it's for the same reason".


> I wear a mask, and I choose to wear a mask. I also wore a mask before it was "supported" by the CDC. If tomorrow it was legally required, I would stop wearing a mask.

How ethical.


So how do you feel about speed limits then? Do you just go ahead and break the speed limit every chance you can get, because it's legally required to follow them?
fooker 1 day ago [flagged]

Nice strawman.

I don’t think it is a strawman. The parent commenter said he wears a mask, knows that it’s the right thing to do, but if there were a mask law he’d deliberately stop wearing it just to prove a point.

If tomorrow you started fining or charging people not wearing a mask, who would it be?

Statistically, a mixture of immigrants, minorities and the poor. Not a bunch of well off white soccer moms or gun toting rednecks, but the vulnerable.

And who can stand up for themselves the least? Well, it's those same people - people who have the same rights as you and I on paper if not so much in a court system.

So yes, I would challenge that, because I am in a position to defend myself and go to court. I have the funds, I own a suit, I can retain a lawyer. That's not true for those most likely to be affected by fines and criminal charges for not wearing a mask.


Right, so I think the analogy holds. If you believed that speeding laws were enforced disproportionately against the vulnerable, you would presumably endanger people speeding so that you could go to court and prove your point.

If you're racing around in a car, you probably aren't the vulnerable.

My family has already had Covid-19. We wear masks to not be jerks and make others fearful or uncomfortable because we can’t be bothered to put a simple article of clothing on.

Wearing masks outside when you are not close to someone from outside your bubble isn't necessary. The virus needs close human contacts for several minutes to spread successfully. On the outside you have wind and other positive factors.

There have been plenty of reports of infection with far less than a few minutes of close contact. Proximity to a single cough can do it.

The virus is not gonna disappear but it doesn't mean you are going to be infected as well. If you do infected, doesn't mean you are going to have the symptom. If you do have the symptom, doesn't mean you are going to have severe symptom. If you do have severe symptom, doesn't mean you are going to require hospitalization.

> If you do have severe symptom, doesn't mean you are going to require hospitalization.

Isn't "requiring hospitalization" pretty much the definition of "severe symptoms"? As far as I can tell, when doctors talk about "mild symptoms", that can include anything from a mild cough to weeks of heavy fever, muscle pains, ... .

But more importantly: even if you're complete asymptomatic, you're still very likely to infect other people and contribute to the spread of the virus and the disease. That's bad for other people's health, causes extra deaths, is bad for the economy, and generally makes everything worse for everybody including yourself.


>you're still very likely to infect other people and contribute to the spread

True, if you are scared then by all mean isolate yourself, do not meet other people.

>causes extra deaths

Assume, in the worse case everyone infected, the estimated death rate is only 1%, that's not going to make difference to most people life or the economy.


1% is 70+ million, which is more people than die every year from every other cause.

And most other causes are not simultaneously sending several multiples of that number to the hospital, or spreading like wildfire in same hospital.


It is a very large number . That’s about the number of people who died during the Second World War (albeit a higher % of population). The human population only grows by that number every year . The world population will shrink if this levels are reached

Sure, but most people not going to notice.

If you do require hospitalization it doesn't mean you need intensive care. If you do require intensive care it doesn't mean you are going to die.

If you are discharged from a hospital and require rehabilitation you will probably be placed in some form of nursing facility with other patients who may or may not have been infected.

The last part is the hidden disaster of the COVID-19 crisis.


Then why are we doing any lockdowns at all? If most of the young are near-safe, we should have just isolated the 60+ and kept society running as usual for the rest.

Clearly a lot of people are not willing to take the risk of contracting the virus.


The point of lockdowns in the US was to delay the peak of cases until hospitals had time to prepare and could more likely have enough capacity.

This seems a very difficult point for most people.

Early on, we had an exponential rise in cases and it appeared we would overwhelm hospitals. Therefore quarantine orders were issued (rather delayed imo) to offset the growth and allow hospitals to not have more cases than beds/equipment.

We had a lot less data initially and had to be proactive. The initial call was correct, and slowly easing it with monitoring is correct now.


There were different points to lockdown for different people. Depending on who you talked to, the point of lockdown was to flatten the curve, or to eradicate corona, or to wait until corona was eradicated. There was never broad consensus about what the point of lockdowns was.

the entirety of US popular culture, excluding fox news, was dominated by the meme "flatten the curve" in March and into April.

it is totally disingenous to suggest that anyone actually proposing the "lockdown" claimed that it was about eradicating it or waiting for it to pass (both of which are widely understood to be absurd goals at this time).


I don't watch cable news. I'm talking about the attitudes of people I've seen expressed online (including this website) or in public.

That was the initial strategy of herd immunity, and everything we learned about this virus vindicated this strategy. But it didn't go well because the vulnerable population wasn't isolated. My opinion is that it is because instead of passing on the message of what to do to isolate the sick and the elderly, the media were busy trashing "evil Boris" and his herd immunity strategy.

And no the lockdown isn't about "lot of people are not willing to take the risk of contracting the virus", it is about keeping the pace of the tiny fraction of infections that go bad to under the capacity of the NHS / ICUs. At least that was the stated goal. It seems now that we have switched to a goal of zero infection (and not sure that it makes sense, given that I hear the WHO now refering to this virus as an "endemic disease").


Well - "evil Boris" is responsible for one of the highest death rates in the developed world. And media trashing is the correct response when a senior adviser says that it doesn't particularly matter if some pensioners die, and the "herd immunity" strategy makes absolutely no scientific sense, and never did.

There is no practical way to "isolate the sick and the elderly" when there are no supplies of PPE or testing kits for care workers. The whole point is that the sick and elderly need care, and when there's a pandemic that care requires extra measures to prevent the spread of infection.

In reality the government did the exact opposite - knowingly sending elderly people with Covid infections back to care homes, and then saying "Oh that's nothing to do with us - every move was signed off by a clinician."

And that in turn makes even less sense when you realise that tens of millions were spent on Covid-ready Nightingale Hospitals, which were opened to great fanfare - and then literally left empty, while old people were being sent to nursing homes to infect others.

Evil, or "simply" stupid and incompetent? It doesn't even matter any more A lot of people are dead for no good reason, and far more are going to die in the UK before this is over.


My mum works in a care home, and the stories are harrowing. Anecdata leads me to believe they are the worst hit.

I don’t think it is just anecdata. I think in NY care homes represent something like 40% of covid deaths.

> That was the initial strategy of herd immunity, and everything we learned about this virus vindicated this strategy.

This is just completely wrong. It's a useful exercise to work out how many people would need to die before herd immunity could be achieved. Use mortality numbers based on what we've learned about the virus and estimates of what percentage of the population would need to be infected to achieve herd immunity based on the behavior of any number of other viruses.

And that's assuming infection confers immunity with this virus, which we don't know yet.


If you are still questioning whether infection confers immunity, then what other strategy than herd immunity do you suggest? If we don’t develop immunity naturally, there won’t be a vaccine either. Permanent lockdown?

As for the death rate, the rate to the non vulnerable population is immaterial. With appropriate isolation we could absolutely achieve herd immunity with minimal losses. Instead we have sent covid infected patients back in nursing homes in both the US and the UK with catastrophic results.


> As for the death rate, the rate to the non vulnerable population is immaterial.

The numbers don't look very immaterial to me. [1] Granted there's a weird amount of variance between regions and there's a lot that isn't certain.

> If you are still questioning whether infection confers immunity, then what other strategy than herd immunity do you suggest? If we don’t develop immunity naturally, there won’t be a vaccine either. Permanent lockdown?

(Let's hope some reasonable amount of immunity is conferred! It seems likely, but I think it's useful to consider the worst case.)

I'd be happy with people doing what they ought to be doing anyway: exercising some caution and doing the obvious things to limit the spreading of the bug. I'm in a constant state of amazement at how bad we are at all of this.

In the crazy worst case where there isn't much immunity conferred by the infection, we could hopefully rely on Darwin to eventually provide us with a less dangerous version of the virus.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortality_due_to_COVID-19#Mort...


Do you like good news? Then I have good news!

You're looking at the numbers for the case fatality rates (CFR). The CFR is not the same as the infection fatality rates (IFR) which represent "the fatality rate in all those with infection: the detected disease (cases) and those with an undetected disease (asymptomatic and not tested group)... The IFR will always be lower than the CFR..."[1]

Spanish government ran a seroprevalence study and got the following estimates of COVID-19's IFR[2]:

For the age group under 50, the estimated IFR is about 0.003%

For the age group 50 - 69 yo, it's 0.04%

And for those over 70, it's 4.1%

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Case_fatality_rate#Terminology

[2] https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/a... Look for the table on page 15


This is an interesting report that intrigues me.

Here is 14th May report https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/a... that is referenced below the table.

For some reason they chose to use total from the page 3, 19.155 total by age not 27.321, total by region from page 2. I presume that they do not know the details of about 8000 diseased, but it does not matter when it is the total number.

Again while number of >= 70 year old matches the table on the page 3 - 16559, so do age groups <10 and 10-19 but other numbers do not.

The table on the page 15 contains only 263 from the age group 50-69 but the table on the 14th May report contains 2303. The IFR for this age group would be then 0.32%. Not very big but not negligible either.

Group 20-49 contains only 23 people from the 20-29 but omits 62 people from the group 30-39 and 201 people from the group 40-49. The IFR for this age group would be then 0.03%.


I don't know, an overall IFR of 0.8% is not great news, but thank you for sharing the estimate! (and for reminding me that reading Spanish is not the kind of skill you retain without practicing it every now and then... sigh)

Does the document break out IFR-S? Some news came out in recent days indicating IFR-S in the United States was around 1.3%.


"I don't know, an overall IFR of 0.8% is not great news"

I agree, 4% IFR of people over 70 is a scary number. In my opinion, governments around the world should really focus on protecting these people.

The good news is for people under 70 personal danger from the virus is close to zero.

"Does the document break out IFR-S?"

Don't know, sorry. Deciphering that table is really easy as the column names are almost the same as the English terms. And Google Translate does a really good job on the footnotes.

But reading the whole paper I'll have to leave to someone who actually reads Spanish.


> The good news is for people under 70 personal danger of the virus is close to zero.

I feel like I'm missing some key context that would lead a person to declare that with any sense of certainty. It's on a chart and everything! But it's not in agreement with everybody else's charts, and it's early days when it comes to the epidemiology.

(and at least in the US, our treatment capabilities are vast, but our testing regime is cartoonishly bad)


"But it's not in agreement with everybody else's charts, and it's early days when it comes to the epidemiology."

I haven't seen any other IFR estimate that included a breakdown by age group from a government or another authoritative source. Do you have anything particular in mind?

Is it a certain thing the risk for people under 70 is close to zero? Strictly speaking, no, it isn't.

It's unlikely we're going to see precise IFR numbers any time soon. But countries around the world are lifting lockdowns. Where I am, they're lifting it too. So I'll have to evaluate my personal risks without full information.

Why do I tend to rely on Spanish numbers?

- They are one of the hardest hit countries. If they had relatively few fatalities in the age group under 70, it must be reasonable to assume other countries aren't going to have significantly more.

- Don't have a link handy, but numbers published by Italian government had similar numbers of fatalities per each age group. (They didn't try to estimate IFR, though.)

- I don't think Spanish govt manipulates their numbers. But -- if anything -- they have an incentive to overestimate the IFR to justify one of the strictest lockdowns and a high number of dead.

I'm privileged enough, to be working from home. And staying as safe possible. I just think bad economy can ultimately take lives (not only livelihoods) of more people than COVID-19.



Thank you for the links. I find them useful.

But one difference with the Spanish documents is they don't estimate their IFRs.

And if I'm not missing anything, doing it yourself is not trivial if possible at all. It's not enough to know that 5% (an arbitrary number, just to give an example) of a country's population developed antibodies. You'd also need to know the age structure of those 5%, which may or may not match the country's age structure.


And I thank you for the link to the Spanish study.

Yes, modeling prevalence is complex but once you have the total estimated infected then finding IFR becomes trivial. Calculating SMR would be much more difficult.

Many (most?) countries do not produce reports in English but only in their native language.

When you search in the native language then it is easier to find relevant data. Especially when you catch the right keywords they use.


There is something funny going on here.

Here is 14th May report https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/a... that is referenced below the table.

For some reason they chose to use total from the page 3, 19.155 total by age not 27.321, total by region from page 2. I presume that they do not know the details of about 8000 diseased, but it does not matter when it is the total number.

Again while number of >= 70 year old matches the table on the page 3 - 16559, so do age groups <10 and 10-19 but other numbers do not.

The table on the page 15 contains only 263 from the age group 50-69 but the table on the 14th May report contains 2303. The IFR for this age group would be then 0.32%. Not very big but not negligible either.

Group 20-49 contains only 23 people from the 20-29 but omits 62 people from the group 30-39 and 201 people from the group 40-49. The IFR for this age group would be then 0.03%.


Thanks for catching that.

I don't really understand why they are using numbers from one table and not the other.

I guess, it may be related to the dates they conducted the seroprevalence study, but it's only a wild guess.

I'll try to look through the documents more carefully later, maybe there's an explanation.


Becuase age and pre-existing conditions have such a huge effect, the overall IFR is going to vary depending on things such how effective measures are at protecting younger people vs. older people. Spain is likely to be particularly bad in this regard - their lockdown was one of the strictest in Europe and their care homes an absolute horror show: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-52188820

That's a weird dichotomy. What a shame.

Because we didn't know just how many people were asymptomatic when the lockdowns first began. The virus is still far worse than the flu but not nearly as bad as initially feared. At this point I think reasonable people can disagree on the right approach moving forward.

Unfortunately once you scare everyone into locking down you can't reverse course on a dime.


I hear this sentiment often lately. But it always looked like 0.6-1 percent deathrate. Already in february this was suggested by one of the researchers at Hopkins, based on the nrs of South Korea at the time. And it's still around that percentage with the latest studies in Europe. Even though it sounds low, that's still a lot of deaths if left uncontrolled.

The latest data indicates an infection fatality rate of about 0.3%.

https://www.sfgate.com/news/editorspicks/article/Los-Angeles...


Latest study in Spain around 1-1.3. 70,000 participants.

https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-05-14/antibody-study...

Most studies in Europe show this: 0,5 - 1.


NYC and Stockholm antibody tests would indicate an IFR more like 1% or a little over.

Though I'd be cautious about being too confident in antibody study results, for now. A lot can depend on test accuracy (especially where covid is rare anyway).


That study (and the related Santa Clara study by a subset of the same authors) were torn apart by statisticians for the shoddy methodology and irresponsible selling of its results to the media.

UK's model used .9%>. WHO never said >3% IFR, they only said that was the amount of deaths out of current known cases.

This was their criticized quote:

> Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died

It was true.


Clearly a lot of people are not in a position to make these decisions.

One they are being scared into thinking that if they get infected they will die a horrible death and so will everyone around them. This is obviously an exaggeration because for people under 40 the vast majority will not even notice the infection. And please if you reply grasping at the straw of ‘some people are ill for long’ specify how many people and if they are seriously ill or just tired for a long time.

Second they are not in a position to set policy. The people who make the rules are even more scared and make the rules much tighter than is useful.


You're totally missing the point of current public policy.

We know that sars-cov-2 is highly contagious - R0 values up above 2 without any action. This means that with no action, the entire population will be infected rapidly. Out of the entire population a certain percentage will have no symptoms. Another group will have mild symptoms. Another group will have severe symptoms. Another group will require hospitalization. Members of the last two groups will die.

The point of current public policy (at least from the POV of the people smart enough to understand and propose it) has been to decrease R0 so that it takes much longer for the entire population to become infected (which will almost certainly happen anyway unless an effective vaccine appears quickly). Why would we want to do that? Because if the entire population is rapidly infected, the numbers requiring hospitalization would vastly exceed the resources of our medical system. That means that:

1. Some of those who might have survived COVID-19 had they received effective hospital care will die. 2. People with other treatements requiring hospital care will find it difficult or impossible to receive it, leading to more deaths from non-COVID-19 causes.

None of this has anything to do with "if they get infected they will die a horrible death and so will everyone around them" - that's nothing but a silly strawman painted by people who, for some reason, want to downplay the risk of allowing a virus with R0 > 2 to plough through a population.


No, I’m not buying this story.

Everywhere you see governments building up these huge emergency hospitals and then tearing them down again without them being used.

If your story were true they’d keep the hospitals and loosen restrictions to maximize use, saving the economy while keeping a safe margin.

> allowing a virus with R0 > 2 to plough through a population

Sounds so scary but

> the entire population to become infected (which will almost certainly happen anyway)

Is the same thing, but put in a not scary manner.

These people making the rules are not as smart as you think they are. When the rules were made there was a lot of uncertainty and a lot of pressure to take action. Logically some of the rules work and some don’t. Truly smart people would just say ‘oh well we will remove the rules that don’t work’. Instead what you see is clinging to ineffective rules, defending them with poor excuses as doing otherwise means admitting you were wrong.

In the US, look at mr. Cuomo and his indefensible failure of sending infected old people to nursing homes. It’s clearly the worst thing to do and look at his reaction now that the results are in! He just says he didn’t know even though his signature is on the page ordering it. How smart is that.


> "Everywhere you see ..."

Handwaving nonsense. You said that, not people advocating for serious and sensible public policy re: COVID-19.

> "Sounds so scary ..."

Have you actually listened to the people who had COVID-19 and recovered from more than mild symptoms? If there was an army or a terrorist group about to invade the US and kill 100k people, mostly at random, I suspect you'd consider that fairly "scary", as would most other people.

> "Is the same thing..."

As noted by another sibling comment, no it's not the same thing at all.

> "... there was a lot of uncertainty ..."

There is still a lot of uncertainty. We don't really know what works and what doesn't work. What you characterize as "clinging to ineffective rules" I would characterize as "trying to be cautious in the face of massive uncertainty".

I would never defend all of Cuomo's actions as NY Governor. He made a number of extremely serious errors, even though his demeanour in his later press briefings was exemplary.


> There is still a lot of uncertainty. We don't really know what works and what doesn't work.

Yet there are the unnamed but great

> people advocating for serious and sensible public policy re: COVID-19.

According to you these people have no idea what they are doing. Indeed if you believe that, the only way to go is to keep doing nothing out of caution.


It's not the same thing.

> allowing a virus with R0 > 2 to plough through a population

puts a very concrete time estimate on it. We know that the SARS-CoV-2 replicates every 4 days on average, so this scenario has a doubling of cases every 4 days. Starting from a single infected person, the US would become completely infected in roughly 120 days, i.e. they would roughly be done by this point or early next month, with all the consequences that entails. In contrast,

> the entire population to become infected (which will almost certainly happen anyway)

does not imply any specific timeline. It could happen in 30 days, it could happen in 30 weeks, it could happen in 30 years.


_Permanently totally isolating everyone over 60_ is clearly not feasible. In a scenario where it was allowed spread willy-nilly through the younger population, that isolation would have to be absolute.

And it is not like under 60s are all that safe. In the US 25% of deaths are under 65.


_Permanently totally isolating everyone over 60_ is clearly not feasible.

More or less infeasible than throwing millions of people out of work and forbidding everyone from seeing their friends and families?

And it is not like under 60s are all that safe. In the US 25% of deaths are under 65.

85% of the US population is under 65. So 15% of the population has 75% of the deaths, meaning a randomly selected person over 65 is 17 times more likely to have died than a random person under 65.


Yes that was my thinking when Italy locked down the first little towns and I'm still with that opinion. Not many viruses target specific groups of the population, but this one does and it was clear by end of February.

For politicians it was just easier to lock us all in because such measures are more accepted by the public if everyone has to give up and not just a few. On the other hand, the lockdown for all created so much noise that we didn't focus enough on those at risk and easing their lockdown in some way. Even Sweden got it wrong by banning visits to elderly homes only by late March.

Besides the lockdown for elderly (and a growing list of others at risk) I wish they'd broken up elderly and care homes where-ever possible. If just half the residents moved to a younger relative for a year (and pay the relative for their work, obviously) the homes might not be those death traps they are.

Here in Austria the government worked a lot with Angst. It went so far that the younger were more afraid of the virus than the elderly. I had to spend days to persuade a 35-yr-old that she doesn't have to be afraid and from her initial "I don't want this virus" position she moved to "I already had it" six weeks after...


Banning visits to the elderly in care homes in late March is better than Singapore, which amazingly didn't ban them until the start of April: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/no-visitors-allowed-a... (This was back when the press elsewhere were still pointing to Singapore as the coronavirus success story everyone else should follow. The first foreign news story noticing the warning signs was literally that day, and the existing narrative carried on for a while elsewhere.)

If most of the young are near-safe, we should have just isolated the 60+ and kept society running as usual for the rest.

Young people in their 20's and 30's are dying too, just at a lower percentage.

Many young people who survive COVID-19 end up with permanent lung damage and other on-going issues.

A New York Times staffer who's 33-years old ran 3 miles and walked 10 more the day before she came down with COVID-19 on April 17.

And now this: "I am one of the lucky ones. I never needed a ventilator. I survived. But 27 days later, I still have lingering pneumonia. I use two inhalers, twice a day. I can’t walk more than a few blocks without stopping."—https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/14/opinion/coronavirus-young...


> Young people in their 20's and 30's are dying too, just at a lower percentage.

Far lower. It may be still undesirable, but if we want to talk about risk, there is no absence of risk for anyone, yet the risk changes a lot depending on age and comorbidities. This matters if one wants to take the risk or not, given that it will never be zero.

> Many young people who survive COVID-19 end up with permanent lung damage and other on-going issues.

Some of these issues apply to any type of pneumonia. It takes a year or so to fully recover if you had a bad one. And to evaluate "permanent" damage, we need more time. It would be better to say "we don't know yet if the damage is permanent or not".


That is an excellent question, and essentially exactly the argument Sweden is making.

TBH, I have yet to hear a decent argument against this, given the following thoughts:

1. Development of a vaccine will take a minimum of 12 months, more like 18.

2. It is not feasible, either for democracy or our economy, to stay locked in/sheltered at home for this long.

3. Thus, the main concern should be to "flatten the curve": keep the infection rate low enough so that, even though people still get infected, hospital systems don't get overwhelmed. I think it's important to note that the only places yet that have had overwhelmed (or close to it) hospital systems had extreme density (Wuhan, NYC), often coupled with lots of mixing of young and old (Northern Italy).

4. A corollary to number 3 is that as long as hospital systems aren't overwhelmed, or close to it, that you shouldn't lock down further. The belief is that the majority of society becoming infected within 12/18 months is inevitable, so extreme lockdowns will do little beyond push deaths out a bit.

5. Do everything you can to protect the highly vulnerable (old, immuno-compromised) as they appear to be at exponential greater risk.

I mean, as the US starts to open up, it is quite clear the virus has not been contained, so for better or for worse the above is the approach we are taking as well.


The alternative, which much of Europe is following, is lock down until cases are at sufficiently low level that test, trace and isolate can work effectively. Community wide measures such as mandatory mask wearing help with this.

We are deeply embarrassed about Sweden.


The trouble is, there doesn't seem to be any reason to believe that test, trace and isolate can work effectively. The characteristics of Covid-19 - infection just from being in the same room as someone with no symptoms, low mortality, lots of asymptomatic cases and non-specific symptoms in most other cases - do not seem even remotely amenable to contact tracing-based approaches.

Supposedly, Singapore and South Korea were proof that this could work anyway, but it seems to have failed in both places - Singapore had to give up and lock down after cases exploded, whilst South Korea also had a whole bunch of spread that completely escaped contact tracing and nowhere near enough testing to pick it back up again, but somehow managed to reverse it through stricter social distancing measures well short of a full lockdown for reasons no-one has explained. I'd be very interested to see what serology studies have to say about South Korea's actual infection rate.


Apparently (I can't back this up with sources right now) infections usually happen with someone you spend a significant amount of time with - e.g. together in a restaurant vs crossing their path at the supermarket. With mandatory masks on public transport and elsewhere, this distinction is reinforced and contact tracing becomes easier.

It is hard to imagine SK's infection rate is anything other than very small, given their extremely low death rate (264 for a pop of ~50MM) - to insinuate otherwise is, well, questionable.

Sadly a different dimension has crept into what should be a reasoned public health emergency response. I'm not sure from where, or why, or indeed who - but we should be vigilant, the cost is terrible.


Sweden is 6th worst in deaths per capita in the world among non-microstates, and still isn't very close to herd immunity.

Natural herd immunity is an utter fantasy. There has never been herd immunity for polio, measles, or even for chicken pox.

Herd immunity only happens when a critical mass of the population - >70% at a minimum - is given immunity by a vaccine.

This creates a population with a low enough R to guarantee that outbreaks die out, even if some people aren't vaccinated.

Even then it still doesn't guarantee personal immunity, because people in small clusters can still become infected. But instead of a national health emergency which threatens to overwhelm primary care, you get small localised individual/cluster outbreaks which are very much easier to handle.


That diseases come in waves seems like evidence of herd immunity to me. Like starting with a naive population you get a wave of infection. People become immune, spreading (mostly) stops. Over the years immunity is weakened because of old people dying and new people being born. Eventually the fraction of the population that is immune is low enough that a new wave gets going.

Absolutely right. People need to understand this.

> There has never been herd immunity for polio, measles, or even for chicken pox.

I think you've got a selection bias there. Those illnesses are household names because they are/were so prevalent. But what of the illnesses that never became prevalent enough to become household names because populations developed immunity fast enough to suppress the spread?


What's the last illness that never became prevalent enough to become a household name because populations developed immunity fast enough to suppress the spread?

I can't think of any.


4% of mortalities are <65, with ~1% mortality rate overall.

2017 flu had 60k deaths, despite likely undercounting.

As Nietzsche once put it: “insanity is rare in individuals, but common in the herd”


Statistics on flu deaths are effectively fabricated through statistical voodoo. Health authorities count up how many people died from pneumonia, subtract the number of people they think ought to have died, and label the difference "flu deaths". I'll grudgingly admit that there are valid use cases for this kind of thing, but it's meaningless to directly compare it to a count of people where a doctor wrote "COVID-19" on the death certificate.

doesn't this cut both ways though?

you could be severely sick with some other disease then get COVID19 in addition, what killed you?

I think 10 years from now we will look back at this time as the time where everything was counted as COVID19


It does - there are surely some number of deaths that would be recorded as flu deaths if doctors considered that a reasonable thing to do. I don't think any conclusions in any direction can be drawn from the comparison.

Despite the your downvoters, there is good evidence to suggest we are already doing that in the US. According to the CDC, for the week ending in 5/9, there were more COVID19 deaths than there were "excess" deaths.

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/COVID19/index.htm

These data are subject to being modified after the fact.


> there were more COVID19 deaths than there were "excess" deaths

This still makes sense if the lockdown has lowered other causes of death like car crashes.


Fair point. Though the excess seems to already eclipse car crash deaths in their entirety, and I'm not sure if other major causes of accidental deaths (e.g. drug overdoses) would really be expected to go down during a lockdown.

https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-mortalit...


Around a quarter of cases are working age.

A non-trivial proportion of those become seriously ill for months. It's possible they're going be left with permanent health problems.

I know of one music app developer in his forties with no health issues who spent more than a month on a ventilator. He recovered - barely - but it's going to be a while before he's back to working full-time.

Nonsense about flu statistics is just ignorable whataboutery. Covid is a very nasty illness, and until a vaccine is developed it has potential to do huge direct damage.

Without lockdowns it would have spread like wildfire and a lot of people would have been off work at the same time. Some food supply chains in the US are already struggling.

Imagine what would have happened with only ten times more casualties.


Not everything is about "you". By definition, a virus propagates to others.

> If you do have severe symptom, doesn't mean you are going to require hospitalization.

You had me up to that one. It does mean you're likely to require hospitalization if you have severe Covid symptoms. You may not require a weeks long stay in the ICU and you may not require a ventilator. If you have severe symptoms, you're at a very elevated risk of death. This is why so many young people have been hospitalized by it as a percentage of all cases ending up in the ICU, even though they're still far more likely to live through the severe symptoms.


But there aren't, percentage-wise, that many young people that _have_ been hospitalized. And those aren't healthy young people - they're obese, they're drug users, they're diabetic, immune-compromised, asthmatic, have heart disease, lung disorders, or all the above, etc.

If you're in those categories by all means, update your will and self-isolate. But otherwise you'll do fine. Even the healthy elderly, and there are plenty of them, do fine.


Except the young and healthy who have an overreaction in their immune system. NPR had a recent story of teen who nearly died and could have some lastly heart or lung damage

Why would you classify a person as "young and healthy" if he appears to manifest a cytokine storm response (supposedly) to Covid-19?

Such a case is very unusual and I would question severely the use of "young and healthy" to describe such a person. Sorry if that seems harsh but naming is meaningful here.

So while there are relatively few Covid-19 patients and even fewer Covid-19 deaths, there are indeed a minuscule percentage of such cases. It's not worth worrying about for the average person.

Indeed that is the point: Covid-19 odds are so low that there is no reason for a normal intelligent person to be unduly concerned about catching Covid-19. Take precautions and go about your business. Truth is you're more likely to get killed in a car accident than by Covid-19.

The real problem may be characterised by the fact that half of the population has an IQ below 100. However as a society we've given up on eugenics, so that is a path not chosen!


> Truth is you're more likely to get killed in a car accident than by Covid-19

In the US during 2018 there were ~36,000 auto fatalities. For the first half of 2020 Covid-19 is nearing 100,000 deaths with all the precautions. And there may be a surprising number of people with health complications of one kind or another (over 30% of US population is obese) that could be exacerbated by this virus.

> The real problem may be characterised by the fact that half of the population has an IQ below 100. However as a society we've given up on eugenics, so that is a path not chosen!

We are stronger when we work together. Suggesting that the government regulate procreation to increase society's IQ is ... not going to help toward that end.


Not years, but decades. However, I think the virus will hit an equilibrium state sooner than we expect because there will be less of an appetite for lockdowns when the fall/winter wave hits. Covid deaths will be seasonal but not headline news.

The 1918 flu never mutated enough to become endemic and it dissapeared. Endemic mutation is not an inevitability.

Virus also evolve to be less deadly I understand. Thus Covid19 becomes more like the common cold over time. How much time required? I don't know that.

Interesting, I hadn't heard about this. Do you mind sharing the reasoning around this?

This article from The Scientist provides an overview of why it happened in a rabbit population: https://www.the-scientist.com/features/do-pathogens-gain-vir...

> The question Fenner asked was: What happens when such a virulent virus spreads through a very susceptible host species on a continental scale? He focused on two possibilities. First, the highly lethal virus might evolve to become less lethal. Second, the highly susceptible rabbits might evolve resistance. Thanks to Fenner, we now know both happened.

> The work showed that the almost invariably lethal progenitor virus strain was replaced within a few years by strains with case fatality rates of 70 percent to 95 percent. Some field isolates killed fewer than half the lab rabbits. Over the next few decades, things settled down, and strains at both ends of the lethality spectrum become increasingly difficult to find. Fenner showed why. The highly lethal progenitor virus killed rabbits so fast that its infectious period was shorter than that of the less lethal viral mutants. That meant that the less lethal strains were able to infect more new victims and spread throughout the population.


I'm not sure if the same thing would apply to a virus that's 0.1-0.5% lethal. Since this is through natural selection, what we're selecting the virus for right now is strains that spread at long distances and through face masks, strains that spread well in a household, and strains that spread will for certain occupations.

And for not showing symptoms for as long as possible, which if it never shows symptoms is the perfect spreader ...

Which virus are you speaking about? From the study in Spain with 70000 people covid has a mortality of 1.15%, looking at New York antibody test the mortality is at around 1.5% counting the excess deaths, looking at South Korea that detected pretty much every case the mortality is 2.3%. So in no plausible scenario covid-19 has a 0.1%/0.5% mortality.

Here is a link to some meta-analysis that suggests differently. Note that this is a twitter discussion with an epidemiologist, David Fisman. https://twitter.com/BenHouston3D/status/1260194923816550400?...

Not always. Common flu has been evolving to become more & more deadly over the past few years.

FYI: common cold != common flu

That's why I specified flu.

I guess we've lost sight of how important early containment is and the reality that once the virus is in the wild it's essentially a force of nature.

Cambridge recently released a study estimating that 9% or so of the UK population already have antibodies. You only need to get to ~60% and (assuming it doesn't become endemic) you have herd immunity, it doesn't matter that the virus is here to stay.

We don't even know still if immunity would last for more than a couple of months, it seems that would be a short duration issue in any case, so the herd immunity plan has some loopholes on it.

There is a paper (not peer reviewed) that suggests that herd immunity starts occurring around 20% as long as mass gatherings remain are banned. If true life could go back to normal a lot quicker.

Eventually we will have herd immunity, a weakened virus, a vaccine, reduced pressure on health care facilities, or all four. At some point we'll be back in the airport bar. There may be a few waves before we get there, but get there we will. This social isolation will not go on, it is not the new normal.

FWIW, in most of the US and Europe there is no pressure on healthcare facilities. Most hospitals are seeing lower than normal utilization, primarily from non-Covid cases.

Edit: as an example, my county (Santa Clara) is using under 10% of hospital beds for Covid. This is typical, check your county dashboard if they have one and you are likely to see a similar number. Source: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/dashboard.aspx#ho...


My take is that what happened in Northern Italy freaked out the world, but it was actually rather unique. Very high density coupled with lots of intergenerational living.

One reason Sweden's approach may work out in the end is they have the highest proportion of single person households of any country on Earth.


> what happened in Northern Italy freaked out the world, but it was actually rather unique

Was it? NYC has reported more deaths than Lombardy (with less population) and NY/NJ as many deaths as Italy with half the population.


The high death count in NY/NJ is probably related to the fact that in both states, the governors ordered that nursing homes not be permitted to refuse coronavirus patients.

Massachusetts and Connecticut are not far behind, for what it’s worth. I don’t know if the same factor applies.

This site lists NY, NJ, Massachusetts and California as the four states to issue such orders: https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/health/info-2020/coronavirus...

Interesting, thanks. But apparently MA didn’t really do it, according to that article.

I made a comment in another thread, but NYC is also quite unique in the US: extreme density and extremely high usage of public transportation.

So far all the places that have had hospital systems overwhelmed (or on the verge) have had extremely high density, lots of intergenerational mixing, or both.


Sweden approach gave them a spot in the countries with the highest mortality rate per capita (so far ~376 deaths per million, versus 55 and 44 in the neighbour Finland and Norway [1][2]).

It may work out for them because it's a lowly populated country but I wouldn't try that model anywhere with an higher density.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/21/just-7-per-cen...

[2] https://www.businessinsider.com/sweden-coronavirus-per-capit...


> It may work out for them because it's a lowly populated country but I wouldn't try that model anywhere with an higher density.

Sweden has a very low population density on average, but they also have some densely packed metro areas. Just the Stockholm and Gothenburg metro areas make up over a third of the total population.


- Japan effectively had no lockdown and basically no testing[1].

- Japan is populated extremely densely[2].

- Japan is number 2 by the population's median age (for comparison, Italy is 5th)[3].

- Japan had 808(!) COVID-19 fatalities[4].

- Despite the lockdown, in New York "most new coronavirus hospitalizations are people who had been staying home"[5].

- New York had 29112(!) deaths[6].

One just has to ask, do lockdowns even have that big of an impact on the spread of the virus? Or did it just ran its natural course in each country -- in lockdown or not -- and differences in the numbers of deaths are just down to dumb chance?

"... there’s little correlation between the severity of a nation’s restrictions and whether it managed to curb excess fatalities..."[7]

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-22/did-japan...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependen...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_median_ag...

[4] https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/japan/

[5] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/06/ny-gov-cuomo-says-its-shocki...

[6] https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/usa/new-york/

[7] https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-opinion-coronavirus-...


The problem with this kind of "constructivism" (since the beginning of time) is that it is easy to neglect other factors that play a crucial role in the development of a crisis that may or may not be exclusive to each geographical region. For example, I've lived in Sweden and I've lived in London. The amount of differences (social, economic, political) that could be contributing to Covid-19 in one way or another is immense, and so obviously are their strategies. I would imagine the same applies for a country like Japan. Want another extreme example? Cyprus initiated a lockdown far earlier than London, and they have had 17 (0.0014% of the population) deaths so far. One can not and should not simply cherrypick situations and arguments to support one's case.

I wasn't asking rhetorically and am quite open to be proven wrong.

What kind of differences do you have in mind for Japan given their population of ~126 millions, density and median age?

"One can not and should not simply cherrypick situations and arguments to support one's case."

I don't think the fallacy of cherrypicking applies here. One counter example is enough to challenge a hypothesis and ask very serious questions about it. I gave two -- Japan and people staying at home and still getting infected in NY.

Do these counterexamples immediately disporve lockdowns effectiveness? I don't think so.

Do they mean some very strong evidence is necessary to confirm the effectiveness? In my opinion, absolutely.

"Cyprus initiated a lockdown far earlier than London, and they have had 17 (0.0014% of the population) deaths so far."

I'm going to give an absurd example but consistent with this line of reasoning.

So, I claim the Sun still rises thanks to lockdown, and as a result of initiating their lockdown earlier the Sun is brighter over Cyprus. So does the Sun still rise everyday? Yes. Is it brighter over Cyprus? Yes. Hence, my claim is proven!


Northern Italy was repeated across various big counties. I'm also wondering where you're getting your information from Sweden from. It's not easy to get a good insight into any country. E.g. Sweden's approach is quite different than what you might read if you read/follow US based news sources.

Unsure how its going to "work out in the end", unless they intend to resurrect their dead.

Who would choose to die now without a "lockdown" when the other option is die later with a lockdown, including the added bonus of there being more work done to understand the virus and how to treat it, which might mean not dying at all.


Nobody is choosing to die now to avoid a lockdown. They're choosing a ~0.1% chance of dying now to avoid a lockdown (I'm assuming the old and sick are in favor of the lockdown).

0.1% of the rest of my life is less than three weeks, it's not a bad gamble to avoid an 18-month lockdown if that were the choice.


> Who would choose to die now without a "lockdown" when the other option is die later with a lockdown

Umm, lots of people? If we prohibited all vehicle traffic we would prevent 1.3 million deaths worldwide, yet lots of people appear willing to drive.

Look, I don't mean to minimize the deaths, and the lockdowns were a very rational response given what was known initially. At the same time, humans make risky choices all the time, and it's not unreasonable to ask if the cost of the lockdowns is worth the lowered risk, especially in lower-density locales.


Covid-19 killed twice the annual car deaths in 1 month and half in US. And this with a lockdown in place.

Much of this is because any non urgent care is suspended.

There is a lot of pent up health care need building up. Some of it lethal.


There is a lot of pent up health care need building up. Some of it lethal.

The impact of the lockdown is going to be 10-100x that of coronavirus itself. No healthcare system is prepared for it.


I agree the lockdown(s) have a real, destructive impact that has to be acknowledged and weighed.

But you blew it with those crazy numbers..


How would the hospital load look like in the US today without lockdowns?

In New York? They’d be fucked. In most of the rest of the country? Simply canceling sporting events, concerts, conventions, and other mass gatherings would probably have been enough. Even the CDC is now saying surface transmission is highly unlikely and that the aforementioned superspreading events were disproportionately responsible for the early exponential growth,

You don’t need a giant gathering to have a potential superspreading event.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/23/missouri-hai...


So a disease that’s easily on its way to being the number 3 or 4 killer in the U.S. this year is going to be outweighed by...what, exactly?


75,000 potential suicides is terrible, but that’s about two orders of magnitude fewer than a reasonable worst case for the virus.

Addendum: and we have financial tools to deal with the economic stress. We don’t have much in the way of treatment for the virus yet.

The fact that we’re not throwing money at the unemployed is a crime.


Europe is way too varied to day that. I noticed various countries whereby the healthcare is overwhelmed. Various things were done to ensure they could cooe. E.g. by delaying some of the medical care. But also by taking various actions to slow down the spread.

I'm not sure what's the basis of your idea.


Is there any data on that?

Yes, lots. My county (Santa Clara) has less than 10% of beds used for Covid: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/dashboard.aspx#ho...

This is direct, primary source data, not a media report.


You're entirely incorrect though about 'Europe'. Though seems kind of logical if you follow US based news sources. They leave out a lot of detail and get things wrong. Various countries in Europe were heavily affected healthcare wise.

That you say it's not the case while linking to only your own county.. feels bad.


I’m living in America so I mainly follow the cases here. Do you have any data showing European hospitals going over capacity?

Like major hospitals furloughing employees:

https://www.foxnews.com/science/mayo-clinic-furlough-or-cut-...

All the field hospitals in the UK and US have been now closed.


See reverse Tinkerbell effect

> we will have herd immunity

Eventually-eventually, but if it turns out immunity lasts a year and 10% of the population has had it next February, you'll never get herd immunity until people say "fuck it."


If we can get the virus contained then there is no need to stay in lockdown.

Compare with Ebola. They don't have Ebola in Europe. But if it pops up somewhere, we will contain it as soon as possible.

It doesn't mean that they need to live in isolation for the rest of time.


People who are spreading ebola tend to be bleeding from their eyeballs. Covid can be spread widely by someone with no symptoms. The transmission of the two viruses are so different that comparing them is extremely misleading.

As of https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/ebola/frequently-as... ebola is not very infectious until you show symptoms. And when you show symtoms (feever, headache, vomitting) you probably won't run into the cinema or restaurant the next day to spread the virus.

Ebola couldn't be more different from Corona.

Millions of people with Corona are asymptomatic or have mild flu-like symptoms and are therefore easy carriers.

OTOH once you have Ebola symptoms (and that's when you are infectious), you have only a coin's flip chance of surviving it. You can be pretty sure no random guy on the street is giving you Ebola. You can't say the same for Corona.


To be honest, the debate is still open on whether the asymptomatic people spread it as much as the people who show symptoms. I haven't been able to find a paper that does not offer more than just circumstantial evidence.

I‘m in a city of 3.5 Million that saw 15 to 20 new infections per day over the last week (Berlin, Germany). At that level, it’s perfectly possible to mostly open up again and still reduce infections further by extensively tracking every single case and their contacts.

Who tells you that? Of course it does disappear, at least until the next winter. Without lockdown much earlier.

The problem with London are the aristocratic measures of social distancing. The danger of being caughed at at low distance is exponential. The recommendation is 1-2 meter. The UK did 2m, likely because the ones who came with that idea never use public transport, and want to be safe from the plebs. Face masks don't help at all against direct caughing. only against droplets.

2m distancing doesn't work in public places at all. 1 - 1.5m do work, if in the subway, bus, restaurant, pub somehow. I don't know who else did 2m. And the death mortality is directly proportional to the severity of the measures. Maybe not causal, but those are the numbers. 2m don't help at all. When you are being caughed at, it goes far over 5m, even up to 20m. So social distancing in public places does not help much. indirect caughing via droplets is not that dangerous, transmission via surfaces at very low percentages. there's no known case so far. but hard to prove.


Germany did (and is still doing) 2m. I'm actually unaware of anywhere doing 1-1.5m - perhaps the US?

I'm in Germany. Most signs/posters say 1.5 meters.

Weird! Where I am in Germany they all say 2 metres.

Here in Belgium it's 1.5m

Ah, cool. Good luck to you all. :)

Does anyone have a good idea on what the probability is if you get COVID-19 this year that you will be immune to it next year?

Based on recent animal experiments and past experience with other coronaviruses, the probability of immunity lasting at least 12 months is high. However no one can give you a precise number.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/05/19/scie...


Would you like next week's lottery numbers too?

> Lifting the lockdown is not gonna make the virus disappear.

Lifting prohibition wasn't going to make alcoholism disappear.

Lifting the war on drugs won't make overdoses disappear.

There are many things we could do in society to make negative externalities that cause hundreds of thousands or millions of deaths disappear. Yet we don't do those.


Do you think that the lockdown actually makes the virus more prevalent? Seems like a strange analogy

> Considering that the virus is here to stay for a few years at least, how can we blame them for thinking this way?

It has been widely reported since the very beginning of the pandemic that the likely time to develop and deploy a vaccine is on the order of 18 months. Yes, it might be more, it might also be less (quite a few are already in testing!). But the idea that this is permanent has never been a feature of any expert advice nor mainstream reporting.

The idea that the people who support lockdowns (which is, let's be clear, almost everyone) want to be shut down forever is, itself, a fever swamp hallucination.

Stay home until it's beaten, and then open up slowly so we don't lose control again. Much of the world outside the US and the UK, in fact, is already opening up.


The virus may be around for a few years but surely it is likely we will have an effective vaccine in the next 18 months if not the next 6 at which point the risks will become similar to the flu?

A vaccine has never been developed that quickly so I’m not sure you can say “surely”.

A vaccine has never had the resources put behind its development as much as this one before either. Human trials have already started in the US, UK and China which has never happened so quickly either.

9 women can't make a baby in one month. I for one don't want to inject myself with something rushed through trials and whose testing was hand-waived away.

If anything it only gives the anti-vaxxers more ammunition and brings down the overall credibility of vaccination as a concept, and heaven knows we don't want to deal with that right now.


We develop flu vaccines every year, and we do have knowledge of other coronavirus.

I tend to agree that there is some potential for fuckups, but 12-18 months seem reasonable to have most (if not all) of the vaccines as reliable.


One thing that's funny is everyone keeps saying 12-18 months. But it's already been 3 months so shouldn't that estimate at the very least be (12 to 18 minus 3) if the confidence was going up.

At least in my intention the "12-18 months" are related to when research started not the time I made the comment.

For example, the Oxford University team said it may be ready by next fall[0] some weeks ago, and they seem on track for now (i.e. human trials already started and being expanded). Moderna also started human trials and had preliminary positive results.

Other entities said they aim for this winter.

Considering early 2020 as the start of the research I would say that fits the 12-18 months figure.

[0] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-11/coronavir...


[flagged]


Please go talk to a doctor who works on the ICU.

Im in a pub right now.

I just don’t think that people are going to quarantine any longer. Almost no matter how bad it gets, I think people care about social interaction above almost all else even their own safety.

Now that said: I’m in a bar that is only outdoors, it’s sunny, there is a breeze, and the closest person is 15 feet away. Everybody is wearing a mask who isn’t eating, everything is getting washed and sanitized.

People will find a way to keep doing this, and it isn’t going to be VR or zoom calls. It’s going to be real in person experiences where you can see other people’s faces.


Preface: I'm glad you're in a pub. I wish I could be! Sounds nice, masks and all.

> Almost no matter how bad it gets, I think people care about social interaction above almost all else even their own safety.

Ultimately, my struggle is that I don't understand this. I don't value social interaction this way, and most of my close family and friends don't either (though it's far closer to 50/50 than I am comfortable with).

Ultimately people are irrational. People want to be masters of their own destiny. Is it illegal to go outside? Am I going to get in trouble? So long as people can act without consequence, they will.

With a deadly virus that spreads so silently, I really fear for humanity here. The fools will be the end of us all.

The only hope of real consequence is contract tracing and frankly, I don't think the majority of people want contract tracing to even work, especially Americans, who value their liberties to such extremes. People would rather kill anonymously without consequence.

This all makes me so sad.


Being charitable - you're inadvertently being dishonest here.

Your "close friends", unless you met them all on IRC or whatever, literally _exist_ because you met them. Your family exist because you spent time close to each other.

I don't think you really understand what this whole brave new "social distancing" world means. It means never forming social bonds. It means young people never finding a partner, having children. It means children growing up thinking that their friends are virons.

We can do it in lockdown, for a while, that's what we're doing, and sensible people have no issue with that.

If you think we are going to do it for years, you're being daft. It's like imposing a chronic disease on 100% of the population.


If it helps, think of social interaction like sunshine. If you could only be safe by never ever going out into the sun, at all, for a year or more, could you do it? Social interaction is like this, it warms people up, makes them healthier, and people feel the loss when they can't, yes, even introverts.

I could probably avoid the sun forever. I don't have some innate requirement to be exposed to the sun to survive, or to enjoy life.

I think your broad point is accurate. It's going to be a spectrum. Many people will want that social interaction in some form that is not just virtual, but the form it takes will vary a lot.

Sure, some people will go right back to indoor dining, bars, nightclubs, whatever is allowed to open back up. But, a lot of people aren't going to go back to pre-Covid behaviors just because things are open. Many will seek to resume social interaction, but in safer ways, and your example of the pub is a good one. Time for more beer gardens!

Just thinking about myself, I probably won't dine inside a restaurant for a long while. But outdoor dining set up in a reasonably safe way? That's possible.

For better or worse, we're moving into reopening, so there should be a big focus on harm reduction: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/quarantine...

> What does harm reduction look like for the coronavirus? First, policy makers and health experts can help the public differentiate between lower-risk and higher-risk activities; these authorities can also offer support for the lower-risk ones when sustained abstinence isn’t an option. Scientists still have a lot to learn about this new virus, but early epidemiological studies suggest that not all activities or settings confer an equal risk for coronavirus transmission. Enclosed and crowded settings, especially with prolonged and close contact, have the highest risk of transmission, while casual interaction in outdoor settings seems to be much lower risk. A sustainable anti-coronavirus strategy would still advise against house parties. But it could also involve redesigning outdoor and indoor spaces to reduce crowding, increase ventilation, and promote physical distancing, thereby allowing people to live their lives while mitigating—but not eliminating—risk.


> I'll be in the pub by the end of the year.

I mean, you might be, but it may not be the pub as you know it. The current Irish plan calls for reopening of pubs in phase 5 (last phase) in late August (I don't think the UK has a concrete plan on this, but it'll likely be similar enough). But it will be pubs with social distancing.

EDIT: Looks like UK pubs may be allowed reopen in July, but with social distancing and table service. So, not very pub-like, then.


In the real world, people across the country will be piling in to pubs to socialise (actually socialise, not just 'chat at 2 metres away from a person they already know') and a blind eye will be turned.

People will go out, get smashed, snog, dance, hug, etc. If you force them out onto the street they'll do that. Maybe we'll even have a resurgence of good old pub violence.

Most pubs can't even support this nonsense - a business with 10% of its' normal capacity is a dead business, there's no point in even opening the doors.

I'll accept that the Government _might_ attempt a re-closure after the above happens, but I find that unlikely.


"In the real world"

This is denial masquerading as cynical realism. Covid-19 cases in the UK continue to increase at 1% or 2% a day. This is much better than the double digit growth of March and early April, but it is still bad.

At 2% a day cases double every 5 weeks. Would anyone apply this reasoning to any other disease? Can you imagine anyone saying "We have AIDS under control, cases are only doubling once every 5 weeks."

You might say that on the best days, the increase has only been 1%. That's fantastic. As soon as people start going back to the pubs, the rate of spread will again accelerate to something more than 1% a day.

Classic psychological denial is clearly operating in force. A textbook case might be the man with pain in his chest and numbness in his left arm but instead of thinking it's a heart attack he keeps thinking "It's nothing, just stress." Denial is in force when things are so grim that people do not feel comfortable facing how grim they are. Some people don't see reality until they are forced to. Some people only have a lucid moment when they are in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Some people never have a lucid moment, they simply die.

In reality, the struggle against Covid-19 will take at least another year and might take two or more years. Things are going to be very bad for a long time. But no doubt, some people won't see that clearly till they've personally known some people who've died.

The biggest worldwide increase for this illness was 2 days ago:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-52748894


I think the point he's trying to make is, so what?

The people will stop caring, they've already stopped caring.

They're not the ones who are going to die. The realization is dawning that it's only the old that die.

Much like the starving kids in Africa, it's rapidly becoming a "Well, it's tragic, but I can't see it" problem.

Note I don't know how I personally feel about this, I think this is just the reality of what's about to happen in Western democracies.

I think the old will ultimately be chucked under a bus. We'll get lots of tragic stories about care homes and a whole load of hand wringing, but no-one will actually care all that much to bring in another lock-down.

Or, as you say, the other option is that we all throw 5-10 years of our lives away in a massive global recession for some old people who've already had the best years of their lives to live a couple of years more.

I think we've got to start hoping beyond hope for a magic cure, or that basic social distancing kinda keeps r below 1, so we don't have to look ourselves in the mirror in 5 years time and have to face the reality of what we just did.


FWIW, I don't feel that way at all (re throwing old people under the bus).

I think that what's happened is the opposite - the young have been thrown under the bus (even disregarding social activity we have things like school closures, university admissions, exams cancelled), and that economic activity is being hindered unnecessarily, which is having enormous knock-on effects already which will persist for a generation.

I think that the appropriate response is for the vulnerable (old, immunocompromised, or really just anyone with low risk tolerance) to isolate and be given the resources to do so.

Care homes, for example, should be dealt with via paying the staff much higher salaries and having them stay on-site, effectively 'sealing off' the care home and creating an isolated unit.

If you're poor and have to go to work, you should be given enough money such that it's your free choice and you can stay at home if you want.

My vulnerable friends and family are forced into doing this, lockdown or no lockdown, they're disinfecting packages, haven't been outside for months, and probably will be forced into a "new way of life" for the foreseeable future.

This is the sort of thing that we should be using the severe lockdown time for - determining an appropriate way of protecting the individuals which we know to have very high fatality/complication rates - the people for whom we're bothering to do this at all.

What I strongly disagree with is the idea that the lives of the healthy should be deleted in some asinine attempt to drag out the (in my view, inevitable) death toll over a multi-year period.


But those things aren't in place and they won't be. Because our government sucks and are incompetent.

So now you're in a place where you're intelligent enough, and aware enough, that you follow the rules or you play Russian Roulette with people's lives.

Rage all you want about what could be and reality, the two rarely meet.


Yeah, I'm doing everything I can personally at the moment, this is more a discussion around how in N months I feel hands will be forced.

The current situation is some sort of distributed trade of mental health for physical health; the brains of the youth for the bodies of the old. It's not a stable state and will break at some point.

Regarding "russian roulette":

Everyone I know who feels at significant risk is doing the whole "don't leave the house" thing.

Care homes are almost certainly fucked regardless.

I tend to think the major impact is going to be amongst 50+ year olds who are in good health and decide that they can't be arsed with staying inside. We basically don't have a way to deal with this issue collectively.


>> The current situation is some sort of distributed trade of mental health for physical health; the brains of the youth for the bodies of the old.

The young are the old, in due time. I'm guessing that the majority of young people today would prefer to grow old in a society that will care for them, that has demonstrated that it will care for them, rather than one that is prepared to "throw them under the bus" to "protect the young".

All of us are young at some point and many of us will grow old. We must be treated fairly in both states. The sensible way to do that in the current situation is to establish some sort of protocol for interaction with each other that will allow economic life to go on, because obviously everyone wants that, but without exposing the vulnerable to the virus. And that doesn't mean locking them up until it's gone, because that is still throwing them under the bus. After all, there is a substantial minority of people with chronic diseases etc that are still young, and have many productive years of life ahead of them. But for the rest, also, there is what I say above: if we throw the old under the bus now, we'll throw the young under the bus also, when it's their turn to be old.

And this protocol must necessarily be a strict form of social distancing and some measure to reduce transmission, like wearing masks. We know that works. Until there is a better solution, that's the best solution.

So there's no point in saying "this can't be done, you'll find me at the pub". It has to be done. And it has to be done for the good of everyone, young and old, vulnerable and strong. There's no point in thinking that "I'm young, this doesn't affect me" and carrying on as before because "it only kills the old and sick". One day, you yourself will be old and sick. And whatever kills the old and sick at that point will get you, unless the young and strong around you take care of you, like we are asked to take care of the old and sick right now.

And if young people don't care for the old and sick right now, they're digging their own graves.


Why can't the old be "locked up"? They already are, along with the rest of the population!

> they're digging their own graves

Digging our graves for when we're old? Yes, we are all going to die, and probably when we are old. I find your framing interesting though, as if it would be the young treating old people like crap by ultimately choosing to get on with their lives as the mental health costs creep up and up. No, it's the virus, a force of nature, that is doing that. Denying our humanity by enforcing social distancing, well I fail to see how this is a objectively moral position, either.

Lockdown and social distancing is fine and good, but it cannot extend towards a year or more, people will not stand for it.


Risk of coronavirus is a gradient due to age. But more importantly IMO is the number of other people who are also at risk- the obese, the diabetic, the immunocompromised... and of course all the family and friends and roommates who also may go into isolation so that they don’t accidentally expose their loved ones.

That looks very close to a lockdown to me... (especially in my country with a very high proportion of obese people. There’s probably an order of magnitude more of people living with an obese person.)


>> Digging our graves for when we're old?

Yes. If we don't treat the old now as we want to be treated when we are old ourselves, why would anyone do us the favour? We work towards the world we'll live in the future, right now, in the present. What we do now, how we behave towards those whose place we will be in one day will determine how we are treated when we are in their place.

>> Denying our humanity by enforcing social distancing, well I fail to see how this is a objectively moral position, either.

This is a bit of an exaggeration, don't you think? "Denying our humanity..."? By not going to the pub?

I note also that the narrative seems to have shifted a bit lately. A few weeks ago it was along the lines of "we can't keep the lockdown for ever, or the economy will go bust". Now, judging from this thread, it's changed to "we can't keep social distancing for ever because our lives will be destroyed".

Or just because the weather is good and people must go to the pub.


>Yes. If we don't treat the old now as we want to be treated when we are old ourselves, why would anyone do us the favour? We work towards the world we'll live in the future, right now, in the present. What we do now, how we behave towards those whose place we will be in one day will determine how we are treated when we are in their place.

We wouldn't be treating old people badly by not completely shutting down the entire country.

>This is a bit of an exaggeration, don't you think? "Denying our humanity..."? By not going to the pub?

Humans are social animals. Being unable to socialise is dehumanising, yes. It's not just an inconvenience, it's very real and very harmful.

>I note also that the narrative seems to have shifted a bit lately. A few weeks ago it was along the lines of "we can't keep the lockdown for ever, or the economy will go bust". Now, judging from this thread, it's changed to "we can't keep social distancing for ever because our lives will be destroyed".

It's not a coincidence, it's because the human cost is creeping up. You're literally just observing the negative impact of lockdown on people's health, but instead you seem to be choosing to interpret it as a negative and selfish character trait. Lockdown is obviously and trivially unsustainable, but so too is social distancing in the not too long run.


>> We wouldn't be treating old people badly by not completely shutting down the entire country.

Can you show me in one of my comments where I advocated for "shutting down the entire country"? Or stopping people from socialising?

I'm sorry but I don't have much patience for that kind of conversation. It tends to waste too much time with clarifications and refutations of wrong assumptions.

Here are the HN guidelines:

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Please read them again, or for the first time if you haven't done so already. Especially the one about responding to the strongest interpretation of what someone says.


> Care homes, for example, should be dealt with via paying the staff much higher salaries and having them stay on-site, effectively 'sealing off' the care home and creating an isolated unit.

That's not feasible. Those people have families, too.

They can't even realistically do this with the NBA and associated support staff, and that's a hell of a lot fewer people than vulnerable/old people and their support staff.

I, too, wish it were that easy, but it's simply not.


"That's not feasible. Those people have families, too."

Why not? I don't think the parent meant staff should stay on-site forever.

There can be shifts. Staff on shift get tested or even stay isolated for two weeks, then enter the unit, spend a month on-site and leave for home.

Does this sound like a dream job? Not really, I guess.

Does it sound that different from sailors, long-haul drivers, deployed military personnel and many other professionals who stay away from their families for prolonged period of times?


Strawmen everywhere as of late.

It has to happen, because people cannot stay inside forever, with all the will in the world.

This is definitional unless you're planning to create a police state and forcibly prevent the young from interacting with each other for years at a time.

Protecting the vulnerable is the only practical solution.


>> Protecting the vulnerable is the only practical solution.

It is not a practical solution because there is no political will to do it and there is not the competency to do it even if the political will was present.


> Staff on shift get tested or even stay isolated for two weeks, then enter the unit, spend a month on-site and leave for home.

So we have four weeks of quarantine for every month worked. That means we would need double the staff, and also we would have to pay them way more to even find someone willing/able [1] to accept this shift arrangement. This means that a huge part of the inhabitants will be priced out of the nursing home market and forced to stay at home with inadequate care.

[1] Re "able to accept this", for instance, single mothers would not be able to work under these conditions at all.


> Much like the starving kids in Africa, it's rapidly becoming a "Well, it's tragic, but I can't see it" problem.

That's exactly how this is different. Most people in the UK or US don't have a starving African kid in their direct family. They do have people at high risk for COVID-19 in their direct family.

> Or, as you say, the other option is that we all throw 5-10 years of our lives away in a massive global recession for some old people who've already had the best years of their lives to live a couple of years more.

I must live in a weird bubble because none of my friends are willing to sacrifice their parents'/friends'/coworkers' lives for economic indicators. Besides, that is a false dichotomy: adapting to new circumstances is not "throwing 5-10 years of our lives away".


> adapting to new circumstances is not "throwing 5-10 years of our lives away".

This really resonates with me. yet I've seen highly educated good friends go from "shit we need to do something about this" to "I don't care if people die, I want my summer vacation" within two months now. It's really depressing to see.

It seems that for many people, changing anything about their previous lifestyle is already pain enough that they stop considering the impact on others. And this was a person who prides themselves in adapting and who constantly rants about how people resist change...


But this isn't just "changing anything" about our lifestyles is it? It's a complete pause on life itself. I'm lucky to have a job that I can do from home but the depression is seeping in and some days I am just floundering. That's what I take issue with, that's why I hate lockdown.

I don't know where you're located. I'm in Germany, where R0 is currently hovering at a sustainable 0.8-0.9 and the country is slowly opening back up. Shops, restaurants, cinemas and barbers are open, albeit with distance rules and obligatory face mask usage. Big gatherings are still forbidden, so sports events are being played in empty stadiums and there are no concerts. The only really huge issue ("huge" as in "impacts life daily") is education. Daycares and schools are slowly opening back up, but in a frustratingly slow pace since SARS-CoV-2 transmission through children is still not understood as much as we would like.

So yeah, there are definitely restrictions, but "a complete pause on life itself" would be a wild overstatement. If it's different where you are, it's either because the government failed to take effective steps early on and thus contributed to the spread of the virus, or if your society's culture facilitates the spread better than ours in Germany.

EDIT: For completeness' sake, I am worried that many businesses (restaurants, cinemas, etc.) will not be sustainable if they have to operate under social distancing guidelines indefinitely, since their price calculations are based on a certain occupancy rate. But I'm not an expert in this regard, so I'm honestly not sure how this will play out. Maybe rents will drop when landlords realize that this calculation looks similar for every prospective tenant.


I'm talking about the time after the "real" lockdown. When we're supposed to "go back to normal."

I don't think going back to normal is practical, nor desirable. Ref work-from-home, air travel, etc. But for many people, apparently the bar for acceptable is "everything is exactly as before or it's too much change."


"The people will stop caring, they've already stopped caring."

Who are you talking about? You and your circle of friends? Large majorities of the public continue to support lockdown measures, in both the USA and the UK.

You should consider that those who are not in denial are looking at the situation with a risk assessment very different than your own, and such people as those currently constitute the majority.


The article here is describing a time-frame of years.

Yes, most people are on board with a lockdown of a few months. Flattening the curve is a sane aim.

If you persist with this idea of deleting social interaction for multiple years, people are going to rightly conclude that you're insane and just want to force your antisocial vision on them.

That's what's causing the antsiness - there's no exit plan, it's all "oh, well, you might be able to have a normal life.. or perhaps post-2020 we deleted society".

If you can't understand that, you're probably in a special situation (either very introverted, or living with family so you already have some social contact).


Who introduced the term "deleting social interaction" to the conversation? Right now, the talk is of "social distancing" and "self isolation". But "deleting social interaction"? That sounds like a contrived exaggeration.

At the moment we _still_ have no date in the UK for when people will be able to visit their wives, husbands, partners or children if they're not cohabiting.

If you're living alone, then you still have no idea when it will legally be permitted for you to embrace, play games with, spend the night with, kiss, hold hands with - experience humanity with - literally anyone else.

If you're single, all of that _plus_ you now need to fight through a 2 metre social bubble in order to perform basic human functions like, for example, attracting a mate in order to perform sexual intercourse.

All of the above is very silly to me. I honestly think the whole "let's wait for the science" approach misses the point. At an absolute minimum we need a hard deadline of something like "look, in N weeks/months you can go and be a husband again".

People _will_ take a risk of death in order to do the above. If you think this is all about young individuals believing that they're invincible you've completely missed the point - the issue is that a life without those things is _not life_ - 1 year of being a hermit for many may as well just be a deletion of 1 year of the prime of their life, i.e. a >1% mortality rate imposed upon them anyway.

The longer term view on this is people actually starting to worry that perhaps that's just it - their parents had a good life when you used to be able to go out, party, meet a girl, and so on and so forth - and now, oops, that's illegal, sorry, we're doing social distancing for the next 10 years. It's utter madness.

If the Government refuses to address this, and they very much are refusing to do so, then the inevitable consequence will be that people just begin to wholesale ignore the guidelines.

If I had children on the other side of the country I'm not watching them grow from age 5 to age 6 over a video link regardless of what the R number is. There's no political process to address these concerns, other than just doing it anyway, so people will do it anyway.


As before, you're exaggerating the extent of social distancing that anyone is discussing will have to be adhered to in the long term. It makes sense that some aspects of social life, as well as economic life, that are currently restricted will have to be supported with looser regulations if we are to keep to social distancing in the long term.

But you seem to be advocating for abandoning social distancing altogether and just letting everyone do whatever they please, without any rules at all. Or am I misrepresenting your comments in this thread?

You have repeated a few times that there is no exit plan (do you mean an exit from the lockdown or from social distancing rules?). Indeed, there is no such thing currently in the UK where I understand we both live because the current government is a travelling circus run by a band of incompetent clowns (and don't let me get started on the opposition). However, again, that is no reason to advocate for just letting everyone run wild and do whatever they please, regardless of whether it puts others in danger or not.

Other EU countries, many of which had severe outbreaks of the disease, like Spain, France and Italy, have managed to enter and exit their lockdowns and to establish new social distancing guidelines, all in an orderly fashion. Yet other EU countries, like Greece and Germany have managed to impose a lockdown early enough to avoid the worst of the disease and are also now exiting their lockdowns and imposing social distancing measures again in an orderly fashion. It is my undestanding that in every such case, social distancing measures and even the lifting of the lockdown are provisional and can be expected to either loosen up or tighten down in the future, depending on how the pandemic progresses in those countries (and outside) and always with a mind to allow social and economic life to go on as freely as possible which is of course everyone's aim.

I don't understand why it is not possible to do the same thing in the UK or why, like you say it's madness or antisocial etc etc.


It's possible for a short period. It's not possible for years. We won't do it. Really, we just won't. I can't be clearer on this, I consider it pointless, frustrating even, to discuss - it feels like arguing against a strawman - if you think that humans will simply stop mixing for years on end, viewing each other through a screen or far away enough that we can't even smell each other, there are really only two explanations in my mind:

a) you have some atypical neurochemistry which means you don't/can't understand human socialisation properly

and/or

b) you're locked inside with your family and so you can't "feel" the dread that millions of people are feeling right now, wondering whether they'll ever touch another human again

For me, it's an urge almost as strong as the urge to drink water. If you refuse to take that on board and just pretend that people are being irrational because your brain doesn't work that way, you're going to remain confused by this.

If you don't want to go to a language class, a theatre, a gallery, a pub, a cafe, sit on a bus, a train, a restaurant, go on a date, have children play in a playground, work in an office, and so on and so forth, for years, or you want to replace them with some wanky dystopian "social distancing" version in which you sit behind screens, wear masks, and have 10 people in a hall built for hundreds, that's cool, you do you. I'll do it for a few months, I won't do it for years, because that represents the imposition of a >2% mortality rate on me anyway by removing all of the good parts of life. My response to this is pretty much "OK introvert", you know?

That over with;

Of course, I do think that we should, for a few months, attempt to reduce the spread of the virus, via whatever measures are reasonable!

I strongly disagree that the status quo of "you can get on the tube to go and work in a supermarket, but can't cuddle your partner" is sustainable.

There's no guidance. As I've repeatedly said, we need a plan to deal with mental health _right now_. Not next week, not "if the R number goes down", not "if Boris has a good day", we need a date at which it will be legal for people to have autonomy and decide whether they want to take the risk to visit their friends and family, and to make new friends.

Notice, by the way, that you're not giving any concrete plans for this in your post - it's all wishy washy "oh, well, we might do this, or I suppose that, well maybe" nonsense. There's no sense of urgency at all. You're really not understanding that many, many people would rather die than live in a dystopian world in which people treat each other as virons. A few months, sure we'll take it. A few years - completely intractable.

We were urgently locked indoors, the world was turned off, and now our needs are being ignored with this child-like "we're not there yet, darling" fluff.

So again - I ask you - what's the plan for long term partners meeting each other? Family members? For dating? For meeting new friends? Do you have one? You do realise that the Government has literally broken up families so that they can prioritise the flower shop opening?

Or are you going to twiddle your thumbs and moan about people breaking the lockdown whilst giving them zero indication that it's ever ending (and seemingly actually _enjoying_ it?)

When people bottle up mental health issues the inevitable result is a release like a pressure valve.


I see you've moved on to assumptions about how my brain works and other personal characterisations.

What an awful communication style. My mistake for trying to hold a civilised conversation, then.


From what I understand, the risk of dying starts rising at the age of 65. You don't have to be 80 to be thrown under a bus.

Also, that's the risk of dying. Serious illness that can do long-term damage is another issue. I'm not sure how common that is supposed to be.


> At 2% a day cases double every 5 weeks. Would anyone apply this reasoning to any other disease?

I don't know but maybe the flu [1]? I don't think focusing just on the infection rate is useful.

> Classic psychological denial is clearly operating in force.

I think the denial is in thinking that we can beat the virus by extending the lock down for years (you say "might take two or more years"). It is likely that all we are doing is slowing down the spread, and that it will eventually infect most of the population, stopping only when we reach herd immunity. I say this is likely because this is where we are headed unless we come up with a vaccine or treatment at an unprecedented speed -- not something I would bet on.

If this is indeed where we are headed, it may be better to open up as much as possible short of overwhelming the healthcare system. Note that in many places, the healthcare systems are significantly below capacity (e.g. [2]).

[1] https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situati...

[2] https://www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/dashboard.aspx


It’s certainly true that we’ll be fighting the coronavirus for the next year or two, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be doing it the way you might prefer.

> Classic psychological denial is clearly operating in force

Yes, that's the point that people in this thread is making.

It doesn't matter how serious covid-19 is, nor what the R rate is: young people perceive themselves to be at low risk, and they don't care about the risk to other people, so they're going to go out as much as they used to.

You only need to look at crowded parks and beaches or queue outside fast food places to see this.

Cummings' shenanigans haven't helped (which is I suspect the point of them).


[flagged]


> I only hope that your asinine plan doesn't result in half of the population either going insane or revolting because you're stealing a significant portion of their youth.

There was a polio outbreak in the early 1950s here. A few hundred people died, thousands crippled. My grandmother recalls that the fairs were closed and she couldn't see her friends.

A footnote in history. No one wen insane or revolted. The only significant portion of anyone's youth that was stolen was the impact of polio on its victims.

In 100 years, the only footnote for 2020 will be all the deaths and suffering that this caused. No one will care that you were sad because you couldn't see your friends or go do sports.

> My vulnerable family members will be doing exactly that, regardless of Government advice, and it's very difficult for me to deal with the fact that I won't be able to see them as a result.

It would be easier if you also stayed inside -- then we could eradicate this virus and you could see them again. If only everyone were able to realize that.


> In 100 years, the only footnote for 2020 will be all the deaths and suffering that this caused. No one will care that you were sad because you couldn't see your friends or go do sports.

It's weird. Why do you empathize with victims of the disease but not with victims of financial hardship? Do you not see people suffering when looking at hour-long lines at food banks and historical unemployment numbers?

Perhaps what will be remembered is the pain of those who were plunged into deep poverty in a New Great Depression that will take us years to recover from.


I definitely empathize with victims of financial hardship, speaking as one! I have zero income right now, and I am not sure where I'll land at the end of this. But financial hardship is solvable -- food, housing, etc. can be handed out. You can't hand out extra lives to victims of the disease. The US government is literally printing trillions of dollars.

In my first-world country, most people I know are either: - working from home, otherwise normal - got laid off and are receiving government income, which is pretty modest for doing absolutely nothing. - working with reduced pay/hours, which is subsidized by the government.

Are people starving? Are people dying on the streets of malnourishment? I don't see that happening.

People are dying in hospitals due to a disease. That pretty much trumps everything else that isn't killing people.


I am sorry to hear you’ve lost your source of income.

> But financial hardship is solvable -- food, housing, etc. can be handed out.

That depends on the size of the handout. At the scale we’re talking about, I’ll just say that I don’t think it’s that simple. It is also without a successful precedent.

> Are people starving?

I don’t think so, but we also know that many people in the US live practically hand to mouth. By now, millions of Americans are probably without any savings or income. See the long lines at food banks for evidence. I expect that the longer this goes on, the more Americans we will see become poor, homeless, and find it difficult to feed their families. I don’t think people will starve, but how will this be resolved? Maybe instead of starving they will go to loan sharks and dig themselves into a hopeless financial hole.

I find it disturbing that you are willing to put all of this aside because you don’t know anyone who is experiencing serious hardship. Do you know anyone who goes to food banks? I don’t, but I know they exist and I don’t want to ignore them and say they will be fine because “we can hand out food”.


We are not eradicating the virus, we are flattening the curve.

The goalposts have moved, I support lockdown on the original basis, not your fantasy, because it's not only physically impossible - we are not doing it politically or socially, so it's irrelevant.


One of my local pubs was open today with the caveat that people has to drink outside.

There were enough people outside to make it impossible to have everyone at 2m distance, but for a second I considered breaking social distancing for drinking a beer in a warm sunny day.


Where I live they closed the beach, and they "closed" the benches across the promenade around the beach, but you're still allowed to exercise. You're not allowed to sit down anywhere.

So everyone is going back and forth in that narrow band, some jogging, others walking their dog, others pretending, etc.

The whole thing makes absolutely no sense.

I think many politicians don't know how humans actually behave and write policy based on the assumption we're robots or slaves. Or maybe they did not realize that reducing the size of the public space we're allowed to use implies a higher density of people in the remaining space we're allowed to use.


I’d like to believe you’re right about the end of the year, personally I don’t think things will be “normal” for a bit longer. But yeah, the “rest of time” is a very long time, and these theories forget how quickly we adapted to this in the first place. It’s reversible.

> I'll be in the pub by the end of the year.

Does this mean that you think the risk of serious morbidity or mortality is overestimated, or because you think at some point the reduction in social interaction is worse than the pandemic itself?


both

Not to mention that everyone can see that as in many countries measures are being loosened with little effect.

This is sort of inevitable though: if the disease were not serious and measures were an overreaction, you would see little change as they were lifted. If the disease were serious, measures were effective and they were lifted sufficiently late, you would also hope to not see much difference after they were lifted. The only cases one would expect to see a large increase in cases would be if the measures were ineffective (but then you’d also have seen an increase while the measures were in place) or if the measures were lifted too early.

Personally I’m mostly indifferent to whether or not the current restrictions are an overreaction, though I’m in the fortunate position of not being particularly severely affected by them. I would rather an overreaction than an underreaction.


Why would you see a large increase in cases when ineffective measures are lifted? Ineffective measures have no effect.

Well cases would continue to increase after as before. That case was included for the sake of completion

> I'll be in the pub by the end of the year.

You maybe, but how many others will? 10-20% less people in pubs, fewer tourists visiting west end shows, banks and other companies using work from home, could have a huge knock on effect on other businesses, property and taxes.


Counterexample: pubs reopened this past weekend in NZ and every venue was at capacity. No tourists, but increased domestic consumption.

This will obviously be more pronounced in countries with a greater historic discrepancy between tourism expenditure and receipts.

e.g. Spain will no doubt be more effected than NZ, whereas the UK could actually benefit:

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/ST.INT.XPND.CD?end=2018...

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/ST.INT.RCPT.CD?end=2018...


> and every venue was at capacity. No tourists, but increased domestic consumption.

I can't help but wonder if we're gonna have another century repeat: After the Spanish Flu came the Roaring Twenties.


And then right around the corner is World War III.

Don’t forget an enormous economic depression in between...

Yeah but unlike the US it's possible the the virus is no longer present in NZ.

That's thinking too macro. The virus will plausibly be eliminated in the US gradually, e.g. French red/green zones.

Red/green zones or just about any partial/segregated lockdown seems likely to not work. Being in a red zone is worse than being in a green zone so people are incentivised to move from red zones to green zones (if they can). This is not what you want. It seems hard to restrict movement or enforce a strict quarantine in countries that are generally not planned to support restricting movement across internal boundaries.

I doubt this. It was spreading the Bay Area in late December. The first reported case with local transmission was in late February. That said, we weren't really looking for it, but without incredibly widespread testing, they best we can do is keep it lurking in the background.

The longer it's allowed to persist the more social and economic damage.

For every pint they don't drink, I'll drink two? :)

I feel like I’m already doing that now.

You're in good company there ;)

>You maybe, but how many others will?

I'm willing to bet you in the next ~12-24 months virtually everyone. This isn't the first pandemic in human history. It's frankly ridiculous how people seem to have no awareness of how strongly we tend to overestimate events simply because we're living through them.


Yes but prior large pandemics have had triggered losing lasting social and economic changes. Things won’t necessarily go back to how they were before. Only time will tell

I can tell you how it is in Copenhagen (which has lifted many restrictions within the last two weeks); there are people at the pubs, at the high street, and in the metro. It is not crowded as it used to be and it is a noticeable younger crowd. But people do come back.

> "I'll be in the pub by the end of the year."

Some London pubs have already figured out that they can legally sell take away beers in plastic cups. So while you can't sit down inside the pub, everyone stands around in the street outside the pub drinking their "take away" beer.


I've noticed this start to happen in SF. They sell you a drink in a coffee cup with a lid and people stand around on the sidewalk outside. I think it's probably completely illegal, but the opaque cup raises legal barriers to search.

I guess it's likely ok as long as it's an open container - that's how it works in the UK.

Presumably they have to be off licenses to do that?

It's an open container. Entrances to half the pubs in London are, British weather permitting, perpetually encircled with punters, fag and pint in hand.

It’s just normal to go insane when isolated from the world. Only the newer generation that lives digital lives. This lockdown forced me to open social media accounts and that only made thing worse. I am glad that I have so many hobbies to dive or else I would have gone insane.

> I'll be in the pub by the end of the year.

You may be in a pub by the end of the year, but you won't be in a pub at the end of the year, because at that point we'll locked down in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus, with some pent up seasonal flu thrown in for good measure.


Yeah, I reckon that's fairly probable (the lockdown - not the second wave, I think that's inevitable, where the case numbers sit after that is yet to be seen though).

I figure we have N waves, with herd immunity building during the process, and an eventual vaccine which may or may not need to be applied across the whole population by that point.


Perhaps seasonal lockdowns will be the new solution to reducing nhs funding while not becoming overrun by flu cases in the winter.

And if immunity isn’t long lasting?

And how many people have to die to reach it?


Not sure about 'by the end of the year' but agree with the basic sentiment. The key of course is whether or not the virus can mutate to avoid the immunity provided by antibodies to the current strain.

What I've been reading so far, the genetic analysis of its mutations[1] has not suggested that it will.

That isn't to say that it won't evolve into something more like the common cold, just that the features that make it SARS appear to me to be locked into specific genetic elements of the current virus (and MERS and SARS-Covid-1).

If this trend continues, then the vaccines developed will provide immunity for people and prevent further widespread outbreaks. Covid-19 will become "just like the flu" in that you get a shot for it (possibly only 1 or 2), and your chances of catching it become low enough that even if you are exposed to someone with it, your immune system will kill it.

At which point the world goes back pretty much to exactly the way it was before, except that we have experienced a worldwide pandemic in "living memory" and there will be a crap ton of sovereign debt which is going to drag on the various economies of the world for a decade at least.

Things to watch for are the results of vaccine trials, and follow the genetic tracking with respect to the virus' use of its 'spike' to infect cells. Good results in vaccines and no change in the virus without also making it just a regular cold virus, and the world goes on.

[1] https://www.pnas.org/content/117/17/9241


It doesn’t even have to mutate if the antibody reaction fades over time, as there is evidence for with other coronaviruses.

True, if it were an annual vaccine like influenza it wouldn't be a much of a change from our previous lives either though right?

> I'll be in the pub by the end of the year.

"The war will be over by Christmas."


See, it's this kind of thing that makes me worry social distancing proponents aren't confronting reality. Many countries are already opening their pubs; do you really think the UK population or any other population will submit to have them closed until 2021?

I use the phrase 'mild insanity' because I honestly feel that it's some element of cabin fever that's caused a minority of individuals to become paralyzed in this way.

At this point we've gone way beyond any semblance of 'flattening the curve' and gotten stuck because there was no plan to unwind the lockdown.


You don't know what things will be like by the end of the year.

As long as 1) the virus is still around, 2) we do not have a vaccine, 3) we have not reached a certain level of herd immunity, policy making should be based on the day to day data that we have, and about the immediate term.

Perhaps the evolution of the situation means that it will be safe to be back in the pub celebrating with your buddies for Christmas. But then again, perhaps not. We don't know.

Claiming broad things like "I will be back in the pub by the end of the year" is not about sensible decision making, it's pure emotion and is not what we need right now.


I don't agree. It would be a complete abdication of responsibility to not have a concrete plan after months of lockdown.

Have people always been this petulantly childish, or is this a new thing?

(Watch the people thinking "You're not taking our need to socialize seriously!" burn this comment to the ground...)


You're not taking their need to socialize seriously! I hesitate to even respond, because the idea that it's childish to have concerns about extreme social distancing for 9+ months is so absurdly disrespectful that you frankly don't deserve my time. Hopefully you'll be able to look back in a bit and reevaluate why you felt the need to be so rude.

This. I live alone and after 5 weeks my mental health has deteriorated significantly. This is not a situation that can last as is till 2021. We'll have a suicide and mental health crisis.

Ironically, something we already had.

I thought as the parent comment at first. A bit more than 3 months in, I now think like you.

People are horrendously social creatures. Even I as a self labeled introvert am really feeling the cabin fever.

A lot more people have lost jobs. Restaurants continue to go bankrupt. Retail and airlines continue to let people go.

To sell the other side as petulant children is bordering on slanderous.


I'm a nerd so I don't mind being in front of the computer all day (I do resent the loss of civil liberties though).

But I have a friend already going through depression who is going through hell with this stupid lock down. It affects people differently.


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Surely, now that things are beginning to reopen, the deniers are the ones who believe that it’s not getting safer and we have to stay inside.

I've seen so many people comparing COVID to war, which I find to be bizarre and misleading. It's such a fundamentally different thing.

> I'll be in the pub by the end of the year.

Until there is either a vaccine that I have taken, or a complete eradication of the COVID-19 in London; then "the pub" or any other voluntary gathering of strangers in close quarters is an unnecessary risk that I will not be taking.

That is the reality of our situation. You have to face up to it, disbelieving it does not help anyone.


I think everyone is facing up to it. It's likely to be a risk, and you're free to not take it, but the rest of us can't be expected to follow your extreme risk aversion for years.

It's an extreme situation, so an "extreme risk aversion" response is actually proportionate.

The problem with the thinking of "you do that, I'll do otherwise" is that with an infectious disease, what our neighbours do impacts us. To germs, there really is such a thing as human society.


It bears repeating again - as responsible individuals, we can handle lock down for a few months. It's a reasonable thing to do given the uncertainty of the situation.

We won't do it for years - that's a delusion, a fantasy that ignores how the human mind works.

It sounds like you don't want to take the risk of either contracting, or further spreading, the disease.

No-one _wants_ to take that risk.

But if the only alternative that you can suggest is deleting 1, 2, ... years of the prime of my life, staring at screens or meeting friends behind plexiglass, you've lost me completely, because you're describing the actions of a paperclip maximizer, not a human being. You're impacting others by expecting them to give up their lives.

In that world view, either I'm autistic or you are; we don't have the same brain chemistry; your experience of the world is _so far_ from my own and most people I know that a blanket policy for both of us makes no sense.


> we can handle lock down for a few months. ... We won't do it for years

This is binary, black-or-white, false dicotomy thinking: either lockdown, or we all go to the pub, movies, gigs, football etc, like before.

I accept that it can't and won't be the full lockdown for years. But it won't be the other extreme until it's safe. It will be somewhere in-between.

> But if the only alternative that you can suggest is deleting 1, 2, ... years of the prime of my life, staring at screens or meeting friends behind plexiglass, you've lost me completely, because you're describing the actions of a paperclip maximizer, not a human being

You'd be surprised what people put up with in order to stay alive. Then again, I should say "some people" as there will be literal survivorship bias in that. People do need to realize that this is a period of relative hardship not seen in a few decades, and like WW1 it won't be "over by Christmas" and deal with it in ways that get us through.


it's amazing how Very Smart People(TM) can't seem to think past 1-2 months ahead.

That said, I was always a germophobe and always practiced social distancing on the train whenever I could so I support this.


You need to check with an app before you can get within 6 feet of a stranger. You want to make physical contact, that's going to be $20/months for 3 checks a month. Each person you get close to will increase your chance of getting hauled off to contact tracing quarantine. You'll also need a properly isolated location for 9 months if you want to get your wife pregnant. Population control advocates will be ecstatic.

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