April 30, 2020
In an Facebook post I stated that 'The Wuhan virus was never going to be anything more than a bad flu season. Just background noise against the 3,600 deaths which occur daily on average in Australia.'
I was asked do I believe that would be the case if we hadn't implemented the restrictions. My answer follows.
I do, though admit it's debatable.
Deaths and infections in Australia peaked before the stay-at-home restrictions were put in place. But you can argue we were isolating the known infected people, and implemented greater hand hygiene and social distancing before then.
But we didn't know about asymptomatic infected people back then and we still have no idea how many may have been carriers without knowing. We won't know that until we do widespread antibody testing.
Tests of groups of apparently uninfected people in the US and China have shown that between 3% and 21%, but mostly around 4% have been infected by Covid-19 without being aware.
This tells us a much greater percentage of the infected, weren't isolated and could have been spreading the infection.
That said, we haven't even hit 100 Covid-19 deaths in Australia. A typical flu season records 1,500 - 3,000 deaths, and severe flu seasons around 5,000 deaths.
It's also interesting to note that there are many countries which didn't take the actions Australia did, which have health systems nowhere near as good as ours, yet on a per capita basis have done as well or better than Australia.
One country with which I have a lot of connection is Cambodia. Officially they have reported only 122 cases and zero deaths.
How did they achieve that? Certainly not from hand hygiene, social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions. Based on what my Cambodian friends are posting on their Facebook pages, while there may be some government policies on all that, they aren't being followed or enforced.
I don't trust the Cambodian government so I asked my friends directly, and none are aware of anyone getting sick with Covid-19. Those official figures may well be accurate.
Such small infection and death numbers are mirrored in Laos, Vietnam, and so many countries around the world. They can't all be lying.
However one thing that seems common between most of the countries which have reported relatively low levels of infections and deaths, isn't restrictive government policies, great health systems, isolation or lack of foreign travellers, it's their relatively fine weather and outdoor lifestyle, and to a lesser extent lack of high density living.
We've seen recent news about the effectiveness of temperature, humidity and sunlight in killing the Covid-19 virus on surfaces or suspended in droplets.
In fact that knowledge isn't new, it's just new to our understanding of Covid-19. They've been using UV and temperature to sterilise hospital equipment, surgical tools, surfaces and even wounds for many years. The AIDS epidemic meant dentists and hairdressers and good nail salons installed UV sterilisers.
In addition, you are probably aware of how vitamins D is important in helping to ward off infections. Sunny weather means the population are getting their necessary vitamin D.
So it seems that good weather, not government policy, may have been most responsible for the good numbers achieved by many countries because the good numbers don't correlate at all well with government action/policy.
Incidentally some one asked, 'But what about NZ?' yes, coincidentally they have been having a period of mainly sunny weather too.
Without the great
weather, I have no doubt Australia's numbers would be worse. But we are
a very long way from the average number of infections, hospitalisation
'In Australia, influenza on average causes 1,500 to 3,000 deaths, about 18,000 hospitalisation
Chances are, we will have a mild influenza season in 2020 due to the hygiene measures we have introduced and which are uppermost in people's minds. Even if it just makes those with symptoms stay away from others, that would have a big impact. Then there's social distancing rules. It will be a long time before we are packed cheek to jowl in clubs, theatres, conferences and sports events.
It may be that Covid-19 deaths, plus seasonal influenza deaths will be lower than the average number of seasonal influenza deaths, if we don't have an unusually cold, long winter.Influenza Fast Facts
A WORD FROM TIM:
A few points 1.The U.S. has been having a very cold spring, which has helped make things worse here and 2.the vast majority of our infections are in New York. Actually, the most infected places are all in states run by liberal Democrats. 3. I looked at the infection data and a lot of Eastern Europe, which should be heavily infected, are not especially high. Given that these countries have experience with the kind of things the West is doing now one must suspect they are NOT imposing such strict regulations. I don't know for certain but it appears to me that at worst there is no correlation between strict controls and infection rates. If anything we see correlation between a heavy hand and higher infections.
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