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Myth #4: We Can Defeat COVID in Many Months OR in a Few Weeks

Myth #4: It’s going to take many months to win the battle over such a contagious virus

-OR-

Myth #4: The virus can be eliminated in a matter of weeks

Both of the above statements cannot be true… so which is it? Well, the data from China supports the presumption that the virus can be eliminated quickly. To wit:

This shows a 98% reduction in case count and 84% reduction in deaths in one month. Comparing May 1-11 to the peak month of February (prorated per day, of course) shows a 99.8% reduction in case count and a 100% reduction in death rate. And the drop is even more dramatic than that- China reviewed counting procedures and announced on April 17 that 325 cases and 1290 deaths were being added to the overall count from undetermined times in the early months (so they are not included in the counts above). China has reported one virus-related death total in the 27 days since April 15th.  In other words… COVID-19 is almost a thing of the past.

How does that compare to other countries? The graph below compares China to the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain. Why these four? The United States is included because it has the highest case volume, highest death count, and is similar to China in that it is a large country with the presence of a huge city hotspot (New York = Wuhan City). Italy, Spain, and the UK are included because they are #2-3-4 in deaths & have had similarly aggressive containment strategies.

What can we learn from this? The United States dwarfs the rest and is showing wild swings. Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom all appear to be past their peak and are easing downward over time. The same general pattern can be seen with other countries coming off their peak. China, on the other hand, didn’t really have a death count peak- there has been only one day in which as many as 150 deaths have been reported.

On the other hand, look at the new case per day volumes for the same countries:

There is a peak in the data from China here, on February 17th. This followed a change in the definition of what counted as a COVID case and included cases from several days prior to that point. Time magazine reported on April 1 that China had already changed its definition eight times. And shortly after that last change, the case count basically flatlined.

In the book Jurassic Park, an attempt was made to isolate genetically engineered dinosaurs on an island. Chaos theory expert Ian Malcolm said that such isolation was so clearly impossible that he didn’t need to do the math to prove it, because “history is that life escapes all barriers. Life expands to new territories. Life finds a way.” And he was talking about containing a couple hundred huge animals on an island. Fiction? Of course. But let’s look at what we know:

Despite all that, China’s containment strategy has been vastly superior to other countries if the numbers are accurate.

So what’s the point? Well, I’m not a virologist and I’m not monitoring each country’s protocols, so any interpretation must be based solely on imprecise data. Really hoping the numbers from China are accurate- that means the myth that this is going to take many months to defeat is not true, and we have a ready-made roadmap to follow.

The other possibility? It’s time to feed your pet brontosaurus.

We’ll wrap up this series with the biggest myth of all: #5 – I Know How to Fix This.

Ralph Smith

Read COVID-19 Myth #1.
Read COVID-19 Myth #2.
Read COVID-19 Myth #3.

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