Where’s Waldo? (COVID-19 edition)

Through 2020-May-05.

26 responses to “Where’s Waldo? (COVID-19 edition)

  1. Martin Smith

    Here in Norway, the stay-home rules have worked well. We have had 216 deaths in a population of 5 million compared to Sweden’s 2941 deaths in a population of 10 million. In both nations, most of the deaths have been old people, like me (70). But now we are learning that the corona virus might have been circulating much earlier in Norway than the first confirmed case (26 Feb). A case has been found in France from 27 Dec last year. The Swedish health minister says he believes the virus was in Sweden as early as November.

    Coincidentally, I had the worst case of flu of my adult life on 4 Jan. I argued with myself about whether to go to the hospital. It was that bad. Now I wonder if it might have been corona virus. I look forward to getting a reliable antibody test. Not available here yet.

    • This French study is not too reliable. They only made a standard virus test, that is okay for admitting someone to an hospital, but for a scientific publication making rather big claims one would expect to get the sequence of the virus and an antibody test for the patient and his son who was also claimed to have had it. The more so as these measurements are quite easy to make.a

  2. Martin: Same here. Also located in Norway, and had severe, flu like symptoms in early to mid-January, after having spent Christmas with (coughing) Italians from the highly affected Bergamo area. I had severe headache (extremely unusual), nausea and brutal sinus pain that lasted for weeks. All symptoms located in the upper respiratory system, as far as I can tell. I am doing endurance sports at an elite level, but have felt no negative impact on lung capacity this winter, rather the opposite, luckily enough.
    I have never, ever had the Flu (ie. never had symptoms stronger than a regular cold), so I likely have a pretty good immune system in regards to these kinds of viruses. Several others in my family had the same symptoms, starting in late December, for them, also including a fever and a very extended period of sneezing. Very much looking forward to the antibody test, whenever that might be. Could be a while. Possibly when the Norwegian Institute of Public Health stops bad mouthing the use of masks in public, ie. when hell freezes over. We’ll see…
    We have far from heard the last word on when and where this virus originated, i think.

    • Martin Smith

      Esop: I had much the same symptoms you list. On the worst night I lost 4 kg from vomiting and diarrhea. But yesterday I couldn’t remember the exact date of my illness. I wanted to know if my “flu” could possibly have been corona. Then I remembered I had sent an SMS text to a friend that night describing how bad it was. I don’t delete my SMS text histories now. My smart phone has so much memory, there is no need to delete anything. I scrolled back through the history and found that message on Jan 4.

      I’m thinking that many people who were as sick as I was probably sent an SMS text to a friend to tell them how bad it was, in case they later needed help. They probably still have their SMS text histories too. So I sent an email to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, suggesting they put out a call for people like you and me to come forward if they could document in some way the date of their illness. They could create a file of all these people (name/person number/date of illness), and when the antibody test becomes available, call us all in for testing. If there are positive results, it could give them a clearer picture of where and when the corona virus started and how it spread.

      Surprise, surprise, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health replied saying they don’t have time to respond to suggestions.

      • John Mason

        Martin, this is interesting. In early January I went by train from rural Wales to the heart of Birmingham to visit my father. I must have been variably in contact with thousands to tens of thousands of strangers. For the following week (13-17/01) I was very unwell. Wild fever. Dry nose and dry cough that seemed to come from the base of the lungs, but could not shift a darned thing that was causing it. Some difficult-to-manage incontinence problems at peak fever – it was frankly a nightmare. For the entire following week, ridiculous exhaustion – sleeping 16 hours out of 24 on some days. I’ve had the ‘flu a few times in my near-60 years but it’s never been like that. Yet it’s now far too late to know for sure what it was – the only definitive answer would likely be a blood-test that showed no antibodies to COVID, because then that could be ruled out, in principle.

        As you might imagine, the new findings in France did catch my attention, too!

  3. Here in Slovenia (population of 2 mio), after month and a half or relatively strict measures (stay at home, but allowed to go out for recreation and grocery shopping, stay close to your home, forbidden crossing of municipalities with “diameter” ranging from couple of kms to about 40 kms), we’ve managed to limit daily cases from 50 per day down to less than 5.
    Our scientists had conducted national survey, where people were tested both for presence of coronavirus-19 and the antibodies for coronavirus-19.
    With about 1450 cases detected so far (by incomplete), the results were that about 2-4% people got infected (41 out of 1368 people tested were positive for antibodies).
    I would also like to remark that at the height of epidemic, where our rather limited health capacties started to get crowded with COVID-19 patients, there were changes in protocol, for whom to test (but protocols for hospitalisation and accepting to ICU didn’t change between that period) – however, the order for people was that if you were in contact with infected person, you should lock yourself down, and that we treat each other as potentially infected and keep distance. When you do not have better data, you should keep people apart.

  4. Keith McClary

    Having just read “The Pandemic Will Soon Test Rural America”
    I am looking for some analysis of such a trend.

  5. any thoughts on why the east coast is hit harder?

  6. Michael Sweet

    It seems to me that many European countries are getting much better results from social distancing than the USA is. Are Europeans taking distancing more seriously than in the USA? Was the delayed start of social distancing in the USA a big contributor?

    What do people here think?

    [Response: My opinions:

    Are Europeans taking social distancing more seriously than in the USA? Yes. In Europe, do you have armed protesters with assault rifles in government buildings demanding an end to social distancing? I don’t think so.

    Was the delayed start of social distancing in the USA a big contributor? Yes.]

    • Martin Smith

      Most people took it all seriously in Norway. Today I see a survey indicates that 25% of Norwegians think we are restarting too quickly. We started the social distancing system on 13 March. People returning to Norway were required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Several people who broke that rule were fined 20,000NOK each (about $2000). The basic social distancing rules are kind of easy for Norwegians, I think. My sense of the Scandinavian cultures, after living here for 25 years, is that they place a lot more emphasis on cooperation than they do on competition.

      I think the early start here was most important, followed by the general fitness level of the population. Not much obesity, most people exercise regularly, and I think the average diet is more healthy here than in the US. One oddity is that we were never encouraged to use face masks. They aren’t even widely available.

    • To be fair, Europe never has armed protesters. We would lock such lawless idiots up. And to be fair, also America would not allow armed protests from people of any other political leaning or skin color.

      Yes, my impression is that most Europeans take the social distancing very seriously. They are well educated and well informed on the virus. There were no heads of state downplaying the thread (not even in Sweden, who made some curious choices, but knowing fully well what they were choosing.) Except for the UK naturally, which has similar problems as America.

      In Germany the mandatory lockdown was quite lax, but most of the people already did this well before it was mandated. The mandate was mostly to get the last few percent on board and not have their presence in the media demotivate the normal people. For example, well before meetings were no longer allowed all physical meetings in my calendar were cancelled or moved online.

      What helps a lot is that staying at home when you are ill is easy. We have paid sick leave. There is less pressure to ease the restrictions because people are mostly not fired, but if they cannot work they are a “short work” program, where the work less hours and the state and the employer compensate for most of the income loss. This also makes starting up the economy later much easier, no hiring and training, no loss of skills.

      If you know some German (or use automatics translation which is very good for German to English) this is also a nice example of a well educated population. https://old.reddit.com/r/de/comments/ghllc3/coronareproduktionszahlsch%C3%A4tzung_des_robert_koch/
      Yes, it is Reddit (but the general Reddit for all things Germany in German), yes the title is a bit nerdy (“The reproduction number estimate of the CDC”), but here are normal citizens having a informed rational discussion on the pros and cons of two methods to estimate the reproduction number by the German CDC and a big research institute. It is not yet a scientific level, but one thread devolves into a comparison of the coding languages R and Python. It is the opposite of the ignorant insane American culture war. Investing in education pays off.

  7. {sarc}
    Liberate McDonald’s!


  8. There was the chaos that resulted from the snap travel ban from Europe. Huge crowds trying to get through customs probably spread the disease widely.

    • Actually, that is a good point. The travel ban was too abrupt and forced large densities of people together when the virus was really taking off in Europe and just starting to be under control in China. An excellent example of knee-jerk reactions making the situation worse. At this point, the US, with 4% of the population has ~33% of cases globally and over 28% of global deaths. The response of the government has been catastrophic, and the response of the citizens incomprehensible. Frankly, I think at this point, the National Guard should be called out for the anti-isolation protests with live rounds.

      • Greg Wellman

        Yes. I recall commenting somewhere the night the giant customs lines happened that “Trump has just killed many people”. And yeah, even the non-crazy people aren’t quite serious enough. There was no enforcement of quarantine on returning travelers before, or after that fiasco. Even now, only half the people I see in the grocery store are wearing masks. Agreed about the National Guard.

      • One of the difficulties around this is that at least significant numbers of these armed militias appear to be “boogaloo bois” who are actively seeking armed conflict with the government. So there’s some considerable value in not just giving them that which they seek.

        On the other hand, I think if a forceful response were decided, it would be criminally irresponsible at the tactical level not to be ready with live rounds, as it is certain that the militias will be using the same. (And probably a nasty mix of armor-piercing and fragmentation loads, at that.) It’s very much *not* a decision to be taken lightly. If it were me, I’d be considering rather arresting ringleaders once they go home, but I’m not sure that the legal basis for such is there–so drastically have the rights of normal citizens to be free of the threat of lethal force been eroded by supposedly “conservative” legislators.

  9. Diaminedave

    I am sure that you are all avidly looking for the best information possible.
    The chair of global public health at Edinburgh seems to have been talking with a reasoned and consistent voice since the start of this pandemic. She outlines the courses of action available in this piece


    and also gives a link to some possible long term complications of the virus


    I am sure being intelligent people you might realise that this second link is heavy on speculation and is really pointing the way for future research into Covid19 long term effects.

    Here in the UK I can’t quite shake the feeling that everything that has been done as far as lockdown etc. is more about the show

    all the best

  10. russellseitz

    “The response of the government has been catastrophic, and the response of the citizens incomprehensible. Frankly, I think at this point, the National Guard should be called out for the anti-isolation protests with live rounds.”

    in the name of humanity, all decent Snarcocrats should insist the Guard limit itself to killed virus vaccine shots

    • Russell, you know as well as I do that no government would tolerate protests with this much potential for violence from any other ethnic/political group. We have to stop treating militia types with kid gloves. They are terrorists. Period.

  11. Here in New Zealand, it certainly seems as though the lockdown (at two levels) has worked, with zero new cases for three days in a row. We’re now out of lockdown but with a few restrictions so we’re keeping fingers crossed that clusters don’t pop up again. However, I found this paper which claims that lockdowns don’t help beyond other measures. I can’t get into the maths and wondered if anyone else had seen it? It’s a preprint, so may not get through peer review but does this guy have a point?