Random COVID-19 Thoughts

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A few thoughts and predictions about what is going on with regards to the coronavirus pandemic – and what is to come. Touching upon the United States, Spring Break, the ‘real’ death rate, a projected peak time for cases in Canada… and cancer.

Prediction Time

  1. Canada will see a peak of single-day new cases in mid-April. The number will be alarmingly high, and it may cause fear across the population. It may cause doubt, because we’re doing all this isolating and taking extra-special care, yet we still got XX number (500?) of new cases in just one day. I can only hope that we keep taking those precautions and remain patient and vigilant, because the steps we take now will pay off in two or three weeks. The numbers will start going down after mid-April and, provided we continue our vigilance, could feasibly reach a ‘zero-cases’ day at the start of June. At the end of June, businesses re-open and sports start up again – cautiously.
  2. The United States won’t be so lucky. Too many rebels. Plus the ‘Spring Break’ syndrome I’ll touch upon later. Their peak will be later in June, and things may not filter down until well into July – delaying national sports that mostly reside in that country.
  3. Donald Trump feels that the country may open up again in a week or two, feeling that the sacrifice of ‘some’ would actually result in fewer lives lost than a destroyed economy would cause. This understandably has many people (the intelligent ones) concerned. But a week from now, the United States will see some truly mind-blowing numbers. As I write this, the country sits third in the world in total number of cases, steadily ‘moving up the charts’ over the past two weeks (actually passing Spain Saturday). Would 30,000 new cases in a single day get Mr. Trump’s attention? It certainly would. And it will happen – much of the reason due to Spring Break (below). The US has already had a 10,000 new-case day. Would 1000 coronavirus deaths in a single day get Mr. Trump’s attention? It certainly would. The United States passing Italy in total cases? That will happen before April. And passing China? Yes – probably around the same time the USA passes Italy. I wouldn’t be afraid of Trump opening businesses again in two weeks. That shocker of a day is going to come, and it will change a lot of minds – including any thoughts of re-opening businesses.
  4. Speaking of China, why does it seem like all of these viruses originate from there? I did some research on this. SARS is suspected to have come from there, with many theories believing it started from a bat, which then bit a pig (similar to today’s coronavirus). H1N1 originated in Mexico. The Bird Flu originated in Hong Kong. The common thread I’m seeing here is that these serious novel viruses are a direct result of animals crossing the virus over, and then humans contracting it from there – likely via eating the meat. I can see the countries of the world coming together to insist that everyone, all countries,  follow a standard of raising animals for the purposes of food – from birth through adulthood – and further standards and regulations for processing the meat. No longer will we see meat set out willy-nilly in an open market, unrefrigerated. No longer will we see farmers in these countries go about their business unregulated or with weak regulations. A strict code of conduct will be created that all countries in the UN will adhere to. Leaders will most definitely have learned that the best way to stop a novel virus is to not let it get into the human population to begin with.
  5. By the way, the term “novel virus” refers to a virus not seen before. Generally speaking, in terms of modern usage of the term, since this is the main reason for us not having seen it before, the novel virus refers to a virus that jumps from an animal or mutates within humans.

 

The Spring Break Effect

We saw footage of all the dummies dancing around on the beaches of Florida. We all know that some people flew down to the Caribbean for March Break, a combination of not taking the pandemic seriously enough at the time, along with the strong desire to not lose their deposit (or worse – to take advantage of great deals). I wrote a bit about this being a bad idea here. We are already starting to see the impact of this, but in two weeks this will be painfully obvious.

I have been paying attention to the ‘new cases’ for Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Florida. The Dominican has seen new cases increase by 150% over the last three days. Mexico jumped over 20% Monday – 65 cases in a single day. Cuba is increasing at a normal rate so far. In Florida, new cases jumped by 220 on Monday and another 200 so far today, bumping the total in that state to 1400. So…up 40% in two days. Spring Break, eh?

 

What Is the Death Rate?

A lot of numbers get bounced around for this, from 1% to 3% to 4%. Most people understand that this depends on the geographic location as well as the age and health of the people diagnosed. The overall number of cases, as I write this, is 396,035 and the total number of deaths is 17,244. That puts the percentage at 4.35%. By age, it is 14.8% for those above 80 years of age, 8% if between 70 to 79, 3.6% if between 60-69. Those under 39 years of age, the death rate is 0.2%. Death rates for a healthy person versus someone with cancer, heart problems, or lung disease is significantly lower. But, bottom line, what is the actual death rate? I don’t think we can nail this to an exact number until this is all behind us. But I think it should be tracked based on resolved cases. If you get the coronavirus, you either recover from it, or you die from it. Yes? Wouldn’t that give you the ‘death rate’?

Well, if we use that, then 17,244 people worldwide have died from this. And 103,748 have recovered from it. Another 275,000 cases are still active. And while we hope that all of them end up falling into the ‘recovered’ category, we just don’t know. For now, based strictly on the cases that are ‘resolved’, 14.25% have died. A high, shocking number. But keep in mind that it will go down. It will go down because the early cases were unexpected and unplanned for. But my point is – this is the number we should use for ‘death rate’. And it’s most definitely higher than 4%. My guess, and I’m far from a medical professional, is that this lands at 5.5%. There are thousands of cases out there that aren’t diagnosed or documented that will bring this number down. Of course, thousands of cases never will be diagnosed or documented either.

 

Cancer

I realized today that with everyone on lockdown right now, the last thing people are in the mood for is to rush out and give blood or get added to the stem cell registry. That’s not good. How can we keep this going, without putting donors at risk? We can’t. And not only that, but health care professionals and medical labs have bigger issues to deal with right now, so resources dedicated to this stuff will be at a minimum. So there will be a shortage of donors for the next several months. The battle against cancer gets delayed. Had I been diagnosed with MDS (or, as was the case later, AML) last week – I don’t think I’d live three years. Currently I am 31 months post-transplant, 34 months post-diagnosis. Had I been diagnosed last week, finding a stem-cell match would take much, much longer and would have a much stronger likelihood of not being found. And the transplant and preparation treatment would have taken longer, and the medical staff available to help me (and the lab resources available to test me) would be significantly reduced, thereby decreasing my odds of success. The timing of my diagnosis was very, very lucky. Others won’t have that luck. Please keep them in your thoughts.

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