May 26, 2020


Live free and die: Sweden's coronavirus experience (Sam Bowman and Pedro Serodio, 26 May, 2020, The Critic)

First, serology tests have shown that only fairly small numbers of people in Europe and the US have had Covid-19 (and nearly everyone who has had the virus seems to get antibodies against it). 

In the UK, a study reported by the Health Secretary indicated that about 5% of the population nationwide has had it, and about 17% of Londoners. A large serology study in Spain found antibodies in around 5% of the population, a study in Milan found antibodies in 4.4-10.8% of the population, and a recent Bayesian estimation of the IFR for US states using data from European countries found about 4% nationwide prevalence, and around 16.6% prevalence in New York.

Second, the number of deaths combined with those antibody test results are consistent with an infection fatality rate (IFR) in the order of 0.49-1.01%. This may be a conservative estimate, since not all deaths caused by Covid have been confirmed as such (for example, in the UK's care homes, which have had a hugely elevated death rate during the past few months).

Third, Covid-19 appears to kill people who still have a long life ahead of them. One study suggests that on average, men who die of Covid would have had another 13 years to live, and women another 11 years to live. These figures are already adjusted for comorbidities that would shorten their lives.

Attempts to downplay the severity of Covid-19 usually ignore or obfuscate one or more of the above factors. Some, even from experts, are just innumerate. The disease simply cannot have an infection fatality rate of one in ten thousand with at least 36,000 deaths in a population of 66 million, for example, despite the claims of one Oxford epidemiologist. 

All of these appear to weigh in favour of the lockdown having been the correct course of action, and against a rapid end to the lockdown -- until we have appropriate measures in place to ensure we do not get a second uncontrollable outbreak of the disease.

Posted by at May 26, 2020 12:00 AM