Don't Expect Millions To Die From Coronavirus, Says Richard Epstein

The NYU Law professor thinks we're in for a mess of bad epidemiology, ineffective stimulus, and misguided quarantines.


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How many people worldwide will die from COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus? Estimates range into the millions, but New York University law professor Richard Epstein says such guesses fail to take into account all the actions that are already taking place to contain and suppress the pandemic. 

In an interview conducted via Skype, Epstein, who is also a fellow at the University of Chicago's Center for Clinical Medical Ethics and a podcaster and columnist at Ricochet, explains his math, which draws on his work dealing with the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and '90s.

He also discusses why the stimulus plans being floated are unlikely to help the economy in the short run but will cause major problems in the long run, why he thinks local and state governments are overreacting by shutting down businesses and schools, and why he expects the crisis to ease up in a few months, as it already has in the Asian countries hit first.

Interview by Nick Gillespie.

NEXT: Coronavirus Is the Health of the State

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  1. The numbers in China may be a magnitude higher than is being reported.

    1. If the Chinese are lying by a factor of 100, they STILL have a total of fatalities of 400,000.
      This in a country of 1,000,000,000, most in tightly-packed urban areas, a late response, medical 'issues' and medical care not quite up to US standards.

      1. I am also suspicious of the Chinese numbers, particularly the sudden drop in mortality, but look at Italy, France, and now Spain. Iran is a special case.

    2. Fantastic work-from-home opportunity for everryone… Work for three to eight hrs a day and start getting paid in the range of 7,000-14,000 dollars a month…Weekly payments……

    3. I hate communism as much as the next red-blooded libertarian, but the wild-eyed conspiricist thinking around here is getting annoying. Do you have any evidence that the PRC is lying about the numbers, or are you just lashing out reflexively because Red Man Bad?

      1. China recently threw out ALL American journalists. That adds to my suspicion. They are also pushing the story that it came from the US military.

        What do you think?

        1. "Two weeks after the U.S. told a handful of Chinese state media entities to slash their U.S.-based staff, Beijing has retaliated with an order of its own"
          Just tit for tat, but that's what passes for foreign policy nowadays.

      2. First, we know that China lied about Sars,

        Then we have reports that they suppressed the original news of the Covid19 virus and ordered the original lab samples destroyed.Then we know they quarantined roughly 15 million people when their official numbers had roughly 1,000 cases.

        Plus there are social media comments, like the Doctor posting that she didn't have it but both her parents had gotten it and died and that many of her medical colleagues were sick. That they were struggling to keep patients alive and a lot had died. What are the odds (assuming the official numbers are correct) that this one doctor had 2 parents die out of the 3,000 cases in the entire province? She didn't give it to them, because she never caught it. Furthermore, she didn't report the death of her parents as if it were exceptional news, but that everyone was loosing parents.

        There are numerous videos showing ambulances with multiple body bags and hallways with the same. And yes we know people are dying, but do the math. Officially they had roughly 3,000 deaths in Hubei province. Granted this was mostly in 1 month. However, This is a province of 58.5 million people. Which means that under normal conditions, (death rate of 7.4 per 1,000), approximately 35K+ people die per month. So, how does a 10% bump in the death rate for the month account for those unusual conditions?

        Also, there's the somewhat unlikely coincidence that the day after the official Communist standing committee met to resolve the issue, the numbers all started steadily dropping. The day the committee met marks the high water mark for cases outside of Hubei province.

        None of these are truly significant but when you look at all of it, you'd have to be a fool to believe the Chinese, despite lying the last time, are being completely honest this time.

      3. Non....The Red Chinese have a track record: SARS, swine flu among them. They lied in every instance.

        The question is: How can we trust them at all?

      4. Do you have any evidence of the accuracy of the Chinese data? There is no compelling reason to believe anything they say. None.

      5. "I hate communism as much as the next red-blooded libertarian, but the wild-eyed conspiricist thinking around here is getting annoying. Do you have any evidence that the PRC is lying about the numbers, or are you just lashing out reflexively because Red Man Bad?"

        Not my point.
        I was suggesting that *even if* they were lying by that amount, it still is a pretty small death rate.

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  2. The great Chi-com / deep state hoax of 2020.

    Donald J. Trump has folded like the Atlanta Falcons in SB 51. If he was any kind of a leader, he would have trusted his instincts and he would have refused to call this hoax a crisis.

    BTW, Dr. Fouci should be FIRED. NOW.

    1. Trust his instincts? You really want the President to trust instincts over data?

      He wanted this to be a hoax so badly. You think he would have changed his mind unless he was being presented with OVERWHELMING evidence?

      1. Yes, I do.
        The panic is 'a hoax' (which is what he called 'a hoax').
        The panic, by now, is far more dangerous than the disease seems to be.

        1. "The panic is ‘a hoax’ (which is what he called ‘a hoax’)."

          No, he called the Democrats saying his administration wasn't doing anything a hoax.

      2. The leader of the country who shut down travel and implemented restrictions was the one who believed it a hoax? Not the ones calling him racist?

      3. I never trust anyone who says "trust the data." Data always has to be interpreted, it never speaks for itself. People who are saying it does are hiding biases.

        What you want is a good interpretation of the data -- or, ideally, the best interpretation of the data. I want a leader to listen to scientists who have good reputations in interpreting data, and then use his instincts (what you might call "inductive reasoning") to make a judgement on who is right. If the scientists he's listening to have good interpretations, then I'll have to trust the leader to see that by his instincts, because that's his job.

    2. Donald J. Trump has folded like the Atlanta Falcons in SB 51. If he was any kind of a leader, he would have trusted his instincts and he would have refused to call this hoax a crisis.

      Why would he do that? This was a god-sent for him. A stock market crash and economic slowdown was inevitable, and this lets him blame corona virus for it. And his actions probably make him more palatable to a lot of voters who might previously not voted for him.

    3. It's thinking like this that is going to make this worse and last longer. Why must there be a conspiracy around everything? What good does it do to make this about something other than the public health crisis that it is? We have had scientists studying pandemics for a long time, warning us one would certainly occur. Now that it has, a lot of people want to figure out how to blame it on something nefarious rather than accepting the science behind its inevitability.
      What do you think we should do about it?

    4. Trump was FORCED by a hoax infected Media to over-react. He didn’t have a choice.

      Trump is now making Hydroxy Quinone available for all those who test positive. The studies of this anti-malarial drug, which has been available for over 3O years demonstrate cure within 6 days, or significant drop in viral load.

      This is not an innocuous drug, and has some significant side effects. Some patients may be damaged by those.

      But a “reasonable prediction” that the epidemic will end in 4-6 weeks after its “generalized” use.

      THEN, We need to FIX the terrible economic damage done by Leftist Media.

      Sanjosemike (no longer in CA)

  3. I'm going to guess more people will die in fires this year.

    1. Well, then, we must immediately DO SOMETHING about this cruel fire risk. We will start by prohibiting people from living, working, or being near all things that burn. And we each must wear an asbestos (oops, I mean some kind of all natural, organic, nonflammable ) suit, water pack, and fire detector.

      1. "Well, then, we must immediately DO SOMETHING about this cruel fire risk..."

        How about we just sort of shut down the economy? No one dies from being poor, right?
        If all we end up in a depression, but save just one life, well...

    2. And if not fire, then some other kind of oxidation reaction.

      1. Rust from inaction,

    3. I'll take the epidemiologists' science over AlmightyJB's gut feelings when it comes to this virus. Thanks for playing though.

  4. Huh so is it safe to go outside now ?

    1. Probably as safe as it has been during flu seasons for many years.

  5. This is the best argument that this is really just a bad flu season.

    86% of infections are undetected, yet these are 55% as contagious as the known infections. They are responsible for most of the spread. Fatality rate would therefore drop from 3% to really 0.5%.

    This then works out to be a bad flu, except a bit differently distributed with a higher infection rate, and a long tail of symptomology.

    1. Coronavirus Denier!

    2. How dare you!

    3. From the link:

      These findings explain the rapid geographic spread of SARS-CoV2 and indicate containment of this virus will be particularly challenging.

      Our findings underscore the seriousness and pandemic potential of SARS-CoV2. The 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza virus also caused many mild cases, quickly spread globally, and eventually became endemic. Presently, there are four, endemic, coronavirus strains currently circulating in human populations (229E, HKU1, NL63, OC43). If the novel coronavirus follows the pattern of 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza, it will also spread globally and become a fifth endemic coronavirus within the human population.

  6. Stanford biophysicst Michael Levitt thinks this thing will wind down very soon. He asserts that many, if not most people are naturally immune to C19. I've heard of natural immunity, but how common is it? Is it really possible for large numbers of people to be innately immune to a virus?

    1. He is absolutely correct, and it’s nice to hear someone out there telling the truth. For the overwhelming majority of people under 70, their immune system has little to no difficulty deafest ing this strain.

      But if you’re sick or you’re over 70, then this virus becomes a serious concern. If you’re over 80, it becomes a grave concern.

      1. His bottom line is this:

        "...Levitt said, although he praised the government for its preventative measures. "The more severe the defensive measures taken, the more they will buy time to prepare for needed treatment and develop a vaccine,” he said.

      2. It's not that you know it's true. It's that you want to believe the good news. It's natural.

    2. Is it really possible for large numbers of people to be innately immune to a virus?

      Yes. Usually it happen by simple natural selection. There are usually at least some people resistant to any given virus, usually because of some genetic defect. If a similar virus previously wiped out most of the people susceptible to it, then in subsequent generations, a large percentage of the population would be resistant to it.

      1. Yes, but it takes many generations for that natural immunity to become widespread. Each human generation is about 25 years. In only a few hundred or a few thousand years most of us would be immune.....

        ....if we were under conditions of natural selection. But we are not. We keep people alive with all sorts of 'defects' that would have killed them in ancient times - bad eyesight, allergies, trisomy 23, etc. - so this is a ridiculous way to fight a disease of this type.

  7. Comments not working?

    1. Fuck it. Wont let me link.

      Top of has a story of 3 studies of an anti viral basically curing covid. Drug is also found in tonic water. So get drunk.

      1. Just think of all the people that could have been helped if we just kept the bars open!

        1. The coolest part of the story is that the anti viral is a cure for malaria. So one of the figures at the end of the article is a map of covid spread and a map of malaria exposure. The two maps are basically inverse. Of course the high malaria countries take the anti viral often.

          1. It's not an antiviral. Which is why it would be weird if it worked

          2. Quinine? The tonic water ingredient? It comes from tree bark, I think.

            I’m also pretty sure malaria is caused by a microscopic parasite, not by a virus or even bacteria.

      2. In 1/10 of a therapeutic dose per liter.

      3. The levels of quinine in tonic water are far below therapeutic. You'd probably have to drink enough tonic water to put you at risk of water intoxication to have any sort of effect. Just get the quinine from your doctor. It costs about twelve bucks for the entire course.

    2. That's probably for the better. The number of "I think it's nothing..." posts trying to raise gut feelings to the same tier as real science, as though all information is equally valid regardless of its source, is disheartening. It'll change as this keeps getting worse. It just bums me out that so many people opt for the comfort of denial because Americans are too damned entitled to accept that they may be inconvenienced for quite some time.

      1. "...It just bums me out that so many people opt for the comfort of denial because Americans are too damned entitled to accept that they may be inconvenienced for quite some time..."

        Realistic =/= "denial".

  8. my mom and my brother are both out of work because of the democrats' "social distancing"... my mom has MS and now has no health insurance to provide her with the vital medicines that keep her alive... she will probably lose her house... but HEY! we have got to flatten that curve!

  9. Epstein doesn't just say not to expect millions to die from this cordoba thing, he estimates total deaths in the US to be about 500.

    So, we should be able to gauge the accuracy of his estimate before too much longer.

    1. It doesn’t matter now.

      1) The steps off the cliff has already been taken. The economy is wrecked. If we stopped the madness now there could be a chance at a quick recovery, but we won’t. Every new positive test will justify even more restrictions.

      2) Even if that prediction is true, and even if it would have been true without trashing the economy and issuing shady orders closing down businesses and restricting people left and right, they will claim victory. The low number of deaths will be BECAUSE of the massive intervention and shuttering of society.

      This is a wet dream for the state. They will say they tried but the thing was just too much to handle in the event of calamity, or claim victory in the much more likely scenario of this being a huge fucking dud. Either way they win, and the ratchet takes another click the next time.

      1. Muzzled Woodchipper; I just worked that out as well. Victory claims when corona virus isn't as virulent as the hysteria predicts it will be and victory if it does turn out to be a pandemic. Common flu has killed 20,000 this flu season among them 105 children. And yet only 45% of adult get a flu shot, neither is it front page news the annual 500k global flu deaths. F the media. This hysteria is undignified.

      2. I got into this precise argument with my boss. I asked how come Ebola, SARS, and MERS had the same dire predictions and very few deaths, and never needed to shut down the economy. The answer was that you never know and it can't hurt, better safe than sorry. I pointed out that trashing the economy like this has consequences of its in death and illness, and haven't heard back. The argument cannot be won.

    2. We're on pace to hit 500 next week, maybe early the week after. So if that's right, it's almost over. (It isn't)

  10. Exactly. And when the virus inevitably fizzles out, the states and cities and counties that issued the most economy-wrecking mandates will claim the death toll would have been orders of magnitude higher without their intervention, even though it will be roughly the same in cities and states that did far less to disrupt everyone's lives. And then they'll have a new government tool to whip out whenever a new virus pops up.

  11. This is it, the libertarian moment. We shall rebuild a libertopian paradise on the ashes of the old world. A new day is dawning brothers and sisters!

    1. huzzah, a new golden age

  12. It's Y2K all over again. The insanity of these people.

    1. Again, democracy is something humans cannot do.

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  14. Finally. A good data source for Italy including breakouts for Lombardy.

    28700 total active cases (exc dead and recovered) increasing at 10%+ day
    14,400 in hospital (rising 11%/day), 2257 in ICU (10% per day), 12100 home isolation. Looks like Italy has only tested those who had some sort of symptoms serious enough to see the doctor - data from elsewhere indicates 50% of total infected are asymptomatic. Maybe another 15% with symptoms that are truly mild. So 3x confirmed cases may be the total infected.

    Lombardy is where hospitals are full so no more hospital/ICU growth. A chance to see the untreated virus CFR. 17700 total confirmed cases, 1959 deaths - so 11% CFR run rate going forward. Schools have been closed in Lombardy for 3 weeks, subclusters there under lockdown for about same, total province lockdown for just under 2 weeks. Not really good news if that has only reduced the daily growth rate from 25% to 10% but that 10% is probably more accurate re actual RO and will drop down now under lockdown.

    Lombardy has 10 million peeps - so prob 50k total max have been infected. 5% infection and 11% untreated CFR means about 4% total mortality - so 400,000 dead there with 100% infection. Vast majority will die in wave 2/3/etc not wave 1. Age demographics for dead in this wave look very old (treatment doesn't help their odds much) - but next will skew younger since hospitals will be full on day 2. My guess is about 2/3 of total dead will be over-60 and 1/3 under 60.

    1. Today (through 18-March 18:20 local) Italy reports 35,713 cases and 2,978 deaths. So a 20% jump of cases and 50% jump in deaths from your numbers.

      1. Actually those are still the Italy numbers from that site.
        28710 active cases +
        4025 recovered +
        2978 dead =
        35713 total cases

        You're right though. It's still going to be going up fast every day

        1. The deaths number I cite is just Lombardy. Lombardy (the richest province in Italy) seems to have about 50% of the total cases and 65% of the total deaths in Italy.

          In the US, our cases are far more spread out. And we still aren't testing all hospital admissions yet. So most likely, our hospital system will explode in more places simultaneously - but still a couple weeks away. So two more weeks of 'this ain't even the flu' denial.

          1. While I often disagree with you on policy, I look at the numbers and see the possibility of very serious consequences. I am not heartened that so many here think it is 'just the flu.'

            Of course, I have 2 close relatives with compromised immune systems (3 if you count a newborn), so I am more concerned than most. Perhaps if I was 30 years old and single I wouldn't care so much.

            Most likely it is not as severe as the worst scenarios, but certainly worse than a typical flu season. I think Bailey said it would be like a very bad flu season.

            1. While I often disagree with you on policy,

              I often disagree with myself on 'policy'. Fortunately I have not yet been caught walking around in broad daylight loudly disagreeing with myself.

              Personally I've already lost most of my interest in what happens in this wave - except for finding data/knowledge sources. What happens now at this point will happen. It's the next wave that interests me. That's the one that will really change things long-term.

              Good luck to you and your family. My parents are in the high-vulnerable age but generally very healthy. The personal concern is what ultimately can drive a successful outcome.

        2. Current numbers on Italy (3/22/20, p.m.): 59138 cases, 5467 deaths. Fatality rate: > 9%.

    2. Italy's fundamental problem is how old the population skews.

      Lombardy data from citypopulation .de for lombardia.
      Mortality rate date from Buzzfeed’s 3/13 “coronavirus-death-rates-age-charts-us-china”
      Report rate from Stat News dot com for 3/16 ‘lower coronavirus death rate estimates’

      Sorry no links, but reason eats comments with links.

      Based on death rates out of china, people 0-9 have no fatality rate and vanishingly small numbers of severe infections. 10-39 have a 0.2 fatality rate, 40-49 have a 0.4 fatality rate, 50-59 have a 1.3 fatality rate, 60-69: 3.6, 70-79: 8, 80+: 14.8 (all given as percents). Those are death rates of *confirmed cases* only.

      There's also an estimate out of China that 86% of people who catch the disease never seek medical treatment (either they develop no symptoms, or they're mild enough they don't bother). That number is going to skew by age too, because overall severity skews by age. So let's call it ~90% under 40, ~85% 40-49, 75% 50-59, 60% 60-69, 50% 70-79, and 40% 80+. (That's going to average a higher medical attention rate than the 14% estimate, but that's fine, we're being conservative to find a worst case estimate).

      That means the population-wide death rates by age would look like: 0-9: 0, 10-39: 0.02, 40-49: 0.06, 50-59: 0.325, 60-69: 1.44, 70-79: 4, 80+: 8.88 (again, in percents).

      Outcomes by age: age bracket, lombardy population, expected deaths (assuming whole population is infected)
      0-9, 884k, ~0 deaths
      10-39, 3130k, ~630 deaths
      40-49, 1591k, ~960 deaths
      50-59, 1566k, ~5k deaths
      60-69, 1182k, ~17k deaths
      70-79, 994k, ~40k deaths
      80+, 711k, ~63k deaths

      So, my worst case prediction, assuming all of lombardy gets infected (highly unlikely) is ~127k deaths and another 127k critical cases not resulting in death. (~Half of critical cases result in deaths, also from the Stat News site, which also shows that ~80% of confirmed cases are mild and don't require hospitalization, but they don't break that down by age).

      This also seems in line with what we know of populations that were fully tested, such as the Princess Cruise ship passengers. The big variable is, of course, how many people have it and don't seek medical help. I'm inclined to think 84% is an underestimate, based on how fast it's spreading.

      1. The reason China locked down Hubei - for close to two months now - and the entire rest of the country for a few weeks was to be able to clear the non-Hubei hospitals in order to send 30,000 medical staff to treat people in Hubei - and to rush-build 11 or so hospitals in Hubei. There are STILL couple thousand patients (all younger - the old already died) in ICU's in Hubei - who haven't died and haven't yet recovered. If they've been there this long, the prognosis is not great. You can't just assume zero fatality cuz they haven't died yet. They are still in ICU/hospital. What is certain is that they would all be dead now if not for that hospital/ICU treatment.

        Your worst case prediction (china data) assumes treatment in hospital and ICU's is basically available for everyone for all but a few days and that everyone who lingers in hospital/ICU survives healthy.

        Lombardy is more like the situation many places (including possibly Lombardy and Wuhan) will face in wave 2 - when hospitals are full immediately, there aren't 30,000 medical staff coming in from elsewhere, no rush-build hospitals, and triage happens from day 1. Wave 1 is more a test of which places are skilled at this and which suck at this. Wave 2 is more - Ladies and Gentlemen Boys and Girls Dying Time's Here. I hope I'm wrong - but that's what worst-case scenarios are supposed to be. Errors on the pessimistic side not errors on the reassuring side.

        1. Eh, I'm extremely doubtful. China's over the hump on new infections. Most people who have survived this long will probably survive. And talking just about the number of cases obscures the important data - how many of those ongoing cases are critical cases?

          Also, there's pessimistic, and there's grossly unreasonable. Most of the worst case estimates are grossly unreasonable given the data that is available. The above *was my absolute worst case estimate*. It overestimates diagnoses and it overestimates total infections, probably by wide margins.

          Only ~4.5% of people who are officially diagnosed even have critical cases, and literally only critical cases die. If the official diagnosis rate is really 16% of all actual infections (it could be more or less, but that's probably within 10% either way), that's a 0.72% overall critical case rate among those who are infected. It's no worse than a ~1.2% critical case rate (among infected), and could be significantly less. Current estimate is that half of critical cases die, but even if it's more like 60%, those still aren't terribly scary numbers.

          That said, older populations are at substantial risk. They should definitely take precautions and social distance. (That will of course bring down total infections, and since they're at significantly higher risk, will substantially cut the critical case rate and death rate).

          (It bears mentioning that there's also significant cross-correlation with things like heart disease, diabetes, etc..., and people should consider those factors when assessing their risk profile as well).

          Meanwhile, the damage from shutting down the economy for weeks or months is HUGE, and will be measured in bodies as well. I give it another two weeks, tops, before we start seeing news stories on suicides related to the coronavirus clamp down. Young healthy people (I'd say under 50 and relatively healthy, but certainly under 40 and relatively healthy) should be free to carry on with their lives, and just wary of interactions with the older population.

          Meanwhile, closing colleges and sending a bunch of 18-22 year olds home to live with their probably 50+ year old parents (and/or possibly grandparents) is probably not a smart public health decision.

          1. Addendum: and that's ignoring that these kinds of diseases tend to evolve less lethality fairly rapidly - it's not in covid-19's "interest" to kill us either. Less lethal strands win the natural selection game. Add to that building population resistance/immunity, and expect death rate to go down over time.

          2. Most people who have survived this long will probably survive.

            That's not how ICU works. They don't just get up and walk out because everyone else is getting healthier. And the fact is that if new patients keep coming, the triage decision for patients who've been in ICU for awhile will be to turn them off to make room for a better chance of survival. China didn't have to do that. Lombardy is going to have to.

            The rest of your post is attempts to justify why we should be fudging analysis and cherry-picking sources in order to confirm existing agendas/biases. I taught stats and managed this sort of stuff in the workplace for years. What you are trying to do with numbers is very common but not remotely ethical or accurate or informative.

            1. So I'm cherry-picking because I'm using the data from the population exposed first (which has relatively few new cases and so mostly represents the full impact of the disease)? Really?

              Are there sources who disagree with those numbers for Wuhan cases? That break it down in 10-year age cohorts? Most news reports don't have enough granularity to do anything with. I'm happy to consider any quality data I can find, but it needs to be at least as granular as 10-year age cohorts, and hopefully breaks cases out by severity too.

              I'm not sure why you think I'm biased one way or the other. I found the best granular data I could, and made some conservative assumptions.

              Meanwhile, i'm sure shutting down the economy as a panic response is totally ethical. You want to give a ballpark consequence of the impact of that? Do you even bother to estimate or take it into consideration? As pointed out in another article here, the WHO recommendations for flu pandemics don't support this level of lockdown even if the worst of the fearmongers are right.

            2. And by the way, your numbers seem grossly irresponsible. You don't differentiate by age (which is clearly a major covariate), and you just pull numbers for fraction of undiagnosed out of thin air. Your numbers of '15% mild' are unsupported by the other reporting i've seen (which suggests ~80% of diagnosed cases are mild). Your true fatality rate of 4% is higher than the WHO's 3.4% that is a known overestimate because it only measures based on known infections. Even a 'worst case' estimate needs to be based on something real, and yours seems completely divorced from the actual data.

              The Princess Cruise ship is the only population where we had full testing. ( ). It's estimating a 0.5% true fatality rate. (Still not comprehensively broken down by age, sadly). It also found over 50% had no symptoms at all, and that's an older population which is prone to more severity at all levels. Article doesn't say anything about severity except the fatality rate, sadly.

              So we've got a relatively vulnerable population in close quarters on a cruise ship, and it's nowhere near as bad as your prediction.

              I'd say promoting unnecessary panic is the unethical action here. The panic is going to be far worse than the disease.

              1. you just pull numbers for fraction of undiagnosed out of thin air.

                Both Diamond Princess and the town of Vo are examples where everyone was tested. In both, the % of asymptomatic was 50% of positive test results. Like you, I assume they are totally undiagnosed outside those two unique settings.

                The only thing that idk - and neither do you - is what % of total positives/infected comprise the range between what we might call mild symptoms (where one wouldn't normally go to the doctor) v serious symptoms (where one wouldn't think twice about that). That info is not in either the cruise or Vo data.

                But in both Lombardy and Hubei - when an epidemic is raging - and the symptoms are publicized - then even people with mild symptoms will tend to go to the doctor for diagnosis IF they can get tested and IF they can afford to go to the doctor and IF the consequences of testing positive aren't to be shipped off to some gulag.

                Lombardy (unlike Hubei) provides the info on how many people they've tested total - 52244 - broken down as 19884 positive and therefore 32360 negative. So even if Lombardy was simply passively reacting to people coming TO the medical system to get tested, they tested a lot of people who had mild symptoms (likely fever, cough, body ache) but not exposure. Which means they also tested lots of people who had mild symptoms AND exposure. Even so, I'm splitting the diff between Hubei's 20% serious and the two other sources 50% asymptomatic to come up with the 15% - mild symptoms who actively resist going to the doctor to be tested even when it costs them nothing and they are in lockdown anyway. That's not worst-case. Worst case would be to assume all the mild symptoms did go to the doctor to be tested where the prescription when tested positive is the same as tested negative - home-isolation (also in the Lombardy data but not the Hubei). In which case, the total infected would be 2x the tested-positive rather than 3x. And therefore a lot smaller % of the population currently exposed.

                As for the age cohorts, yes that's wonderful. But that is still only recording a single outcome - dead. There's an outcome that's apparently quite a bit larger than dead - which is 'still in hospital after a couple months'. Easily the most expensive medical outcome. And it skews much younger than dead.

    3. That Italy site updated for today so two days data.

      Useful that it's tracking total swabs/tests as well as 'stage of care' stuff like in-home, hospital, ICU. We should be doing that at state level at least.

  15. The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers".

    1. Excellent first step. Attorneys think they know everything, yet they know nothing. Because the state gifts them such ridiculous amount of power, they think they are experts on every subject. They earnestly believe that all problems can be easily solved through an assortment of rhetorical tricks and favors from the Judge.
      Reason embarrasses itself, yet again, by appealing to the expertise of a lawyer in a medical crisis.

      1. "...Reason embarrasses itself, yet again, by appealing to the expertise of a lawyer in a medical crisis..."

        You again make an ass of yourself by lying.
        "...Epstein, who is also a fellow at the University of Chicago's Center for Clinical Medical Ethics..."
        Fuck off and die.

  16. I get all my advice on public heath issues from a lawyer. Suppose if I wasn't in a high risk category (over 60, respiratory issues and married to a heath care provider) I could lay back and not worry.

  17. With all due respect, not much respect is due to a NYU Law Professor professing on a subject outside his field.

  18. So I get it. The CDC, NIH and WHO are all in cahoots to make us THINK there is a serious issue here; that the numbers we are seeing are NOT just the top snowflake on the tip of the iceberg; and that the probable number of deaths and mortality rates are all complete guesswork? With respect, I will get my information from CDC, NIH and WHO, not from a LAW professor with minimal scientific or medical knowledge. Hope he doesn't take it personally...

  19. Being a lawyer makes him a medical expert. Really?

    1. To all of you chicken littles:
      "...Epstein, who is also a fellow at the University of Chicago's Center for Clinical Medical Ethics..."

      No, it doesn't make him an expert in medical matters, but Fauci is no expert in economic matters and yet there are plenty of folks who seem more than willing to allow him to shut down the entire economy if it saves JUST ONE LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Who's saying he's a medical expert? Does he need to be one to be able to do simple math and statistics, and maybe take rational human behavior into account? I admit, I didn't watch the interview (I never watch videos, I come here to read), but if he does say 500 deaths, yeah he'll probably be low. But I feel pretty good about saying it will end up a hell of a lot closer to 500 than to a million, never mind "millions."

    Not sure what is up with all these comments saying "he's not a medical expert, how can he know more than the experts??" Well I don't really know, but if those experts are predicting millions of deaths in ANY scenario, clearly he does regarding this particular topic. Should we demand he stop providing an opinion because he's not a licensed medical professional? Not very libertarian of us.

    1. Yes, he's not even talking about any medical issues -- yet people here are criticizing his lack of medical expertise. He's discussing a range of issues that fall into social science and statistics, not medicine.

      I guess you can criticize him for being merely a lawyer and not a social scientist (do people ever hold that kind of standard?), but maybe we should start criticizing medical experts for not being social scientists, first.

      This is part of more general problem I've seen. People are taking a leap from 'trust the medical experts', to 'trust the public measures politicians are instating,' as if politicians are just dutifully following the prescriptions of medical experts, who also happen to be social scientists. Yes, medical experts say social distancing will help. But how does shutting down non-crowded stores help, if people are crowding into packed supermarkets, which are staying open, and are particularly crowded because of panic buying? Or crowding into subways, which are staying open? How does having people stay in take-out lines rather than sitting down to eat help? How has any of this stopped young people from just ignoring public warnings and going to social gatherings?

      How much of the panic has been counter-productive, causing more social contacts than would have happened otherwise?

      1. "...This is part of more general problem I’ve seen. People are taking a leap from ‘trust the medical experts’, to ‘trust the public measures politicians are instating,’ as if politicians are just dutifully following the prescriptions of medical experts, who also happen to be social scientists..."

        See Climate Change.
        Those whose specialty is 'climate science' are welcome to advise us regarding their predictions of trends, which we, as the source of government authority, will weigh as best we can.
        Those same people should then promptly STFU; they have NO expertise in devising supposed solutions to predicted problems.

  21. like George Will, very smart, very persuasive, then blows his credibility on any scientific issue (where neither one is trained) with climate change scepticism

  22. Where does Bill Weld stand on this pandemic thing and why isn't Reason reporting on it?

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  24. I believe it would be proper to plan for the worst early, then back off. Also I prefer medical advice be given by those with expertise in infectious viruses not a law professor because his opinion is what I hope to happen.

  25. The mass hysteria and public panic being created by this administration, politicians R & D alike, the Federal and State bureaucracies, and the media causing the economic holocaust that is sure to ensue is likely to cause more deaths in the US in the long run than this particular corona virus itself.

    1. The administration isn't the main driver of the hysteria this time. It's the media.

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  29. Has big government ever met a problem -- alcohol abuse, drug abuse, gun violence, smut (erotica) -- that it did not exacerbate through "controls" that had (supposedly) unintended consequences of making things worse not better?

    The winner of the ATF Good O'Boys Roundup Liar of the Year contest was a guy who walked out on the stage (a flat bed truck), said "I'm from the government, and I am here to help you", and walked off. (Reported by the DoJ OIG Report on the Good O'Boys Roundup.)


    There appears to be little or no airborne catching of SARS Corona virus. The usual method of spread is from an infected person to surfaces by coughing. Most people get the virus by transfer from contaminated surface to hand to mouth or eyes. The proper use of a mask is to keep the infected from spreading the virus by coughing in public. Wearing a mask is not a protection against catching the disease.

    Most people (the young and healthy) who get the Coronavirus exhibit mild symptoms (usually confused with ordinary cold or flu) and will survive but the survivors can spread the virus to vulnerable populations (mostly the elderly and infirm).

    _ Avoid unnecessary public contact.
    _ Simple washing of hands and surfaces with soap and water kills the virus.
    _ If washing is not convenient, antiseptics including hand cleanser are substitutes for soap and water.
    _ Your hand to your mouth or eyes is the main route of infection.
    _ Wash your hands and clean under your nails. Repeat until routine flu drill.

    Protocols to stop spread of Coronavirus will also stop spread of ordinary Influenza A and B. Somehow the usual USA flu season of 30,000,000 to 35,000,000 reported cases and 20,000 to 30,000 deaths is no big deal, but USA Coronavirus epidemic with ten of thousands reported cases and hundreds of deaths is the end of the world as we know it and justification for massive surrender to central government. We aint Vincent Price or Franca Bettoia in The Last Man on Earth FCOL.

    As USA tests and tabulates US Covid-19 Coronavirus cases, by 21 Mar 2020 we have 23,623 reported cases with 268 deaths.

    Compare that apocalyptic pandemic to our current ordinary flu season: "The CDC estimates that, as of March 2020, the 2019-20 United States flu season has caused infections among 36 million people, resulting in 370,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths."
    "Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report"

    Coronavirus sanitary drill - wash hands before touching mouth or eyes - may save hundreds of lives from Influenza A and B virus.

    "I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely ...."
    -- Martin Luther, Works v. 43, p. 132. Letter "Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague" written to Rev. Dr. John Hess, 1527.

  30. Somehow the usual USA flu season of 30,000,000 to 35,000,000 reported cases and 20,000 to 30,000 deaths is no big deal, but USA Coronavirus epidemic with ten of thousands reported cases and hundreds of deaths is the end of the world as we know it and justification for massive surrender to central government.

    Naaman, a worldwide fatality rate > 4% explains that (Johns Hopkins, today, 329,275 cases, 14,366 fatalities; I took the liberty of putting their denominator under their numerator to reach the conclusion).

    Apparently, fatalities can and often do occur after a longer interval than most U.S. patients have yet endured. Also, the U.S. emergency medicine capacity has only begun the process of collapsing under the sudden-onset spike in case numbers this disease has been delivering in populations (all of them) without pre-existing immunity.

    Or, our nation could be under the protection of American exceptionalism. That's what you are betting on, right? That, or maybe you are an acolyte of the new science of ideological epidemiology being practiced on the political right. Is it that?

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