You’ll be surprised whose analysis is incorrect

To be blunt, the social epidemiology of this is quite simple: there is a trade-off between how quickly we allow the virus to spread, and how many people die and what the economic impact of the epidemic is. We can go for saving people, or we can go for saving the economy, but we cannot go for both.

What you need to know is that the government is choosing the economy.

And at some point they should too. Because the economy is people. And if the economy crashes then people will die because the economy has crashed. The longer it crashes for the more people will die.

We are thus looking for the optimal number of people to die from each – or either – cause.

This is not rocket science, this is simple economics. But then that’s why Snippa is getting it wrong of course.

Do note that I’ve not said that the current trade off is the correct one – only that such a trade off exists and that we cannot have everything plus a pony. Nope, not even with coronavirus QE.

23 thoughts on “You’ll be surprised whose analysis is incorrect”

  1. The Potato formerly known as Professor must be frotting himself in glee with this virus thingy. Probably shouting “I told you so” from the window of the back bedroom of his end terrace in Ely.

  2. I haven’t seen anyone pondering and comparing the estimated cost of the “carbon neutrality” for the UK (£3tn) with the global cost of the Corona virus (at some stage earlier I read £2.5tn, some days, week ago I think). Perhaps the comparison will focus some minds, there seems to be no idea in people’s mind how massive £3tn is. Say, comparing it against how much equity markets or something else globally have lost so far.

  3. We are thus looking for the optimal number of people to die

    The ‘optimal number of people’ or just the ‘optimal people”?

  4. ‘An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last winter [2017-2018], according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.’

    About 220 per day.

    ‘At least 32 people have died of the [corona] virus nationwide’

    Flu don’t get no respect.

  5. Does he say whether the Italian government is favouring the economy or people? They appear to be disproving his assertion – how extraordinary is that! – by both tanking their economy and achieving a mortality rate of 6%.The UK is achieving 2%,comparable with France and Netherlands. Are they going to suffer his wrath as well?
    Incidentally South Korea is achieving 0.6%.Those evil capitalist bastards!

    Surprisingly North Korea is unaffected (according to official data, unofficial reports seem oddly different) although the 2 adjoining Chinese provinces are at about 1%.

  6. @diogenes – re North Korea i read a report somewhere that some diplomat returned to North korea infected with the virus and fat boy had him shot. True or not -it seems a drastic way to stop the development of supercarriers.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset

    Gamecock, whether or not declaring an emergency now is the right response there’s definately and out of control train heading down the track.

    As well as that Joe Rogan link on the other thread you might also want to listen to Nicholas Christakis on the Sam Harris Making Sense podcast. He’s not known for his hyperbole and is somewhat concerned.

    Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University, where he directs the Human Nature Lab and is the Co-Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2006, the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society, and known for his research in the areas of social networks, biosocial science, behavior genetics, and public health.

    And unless the USA, which both those scientists claim is as unprepared as every other country, has some sort of secret that isn’t being divulged yet this is what happens:

    You’ve got about 2-3 weeks to prepare.

    I’m taking it very seriously, but trying to live a fairly normal life whilst practising the social distancing and other steps recommended although I’m wondering if being an early victim might be better whilst there’s still capacity in the health care system might be an option, assuming I survive.

  8. @Diogenes: The Netherlands doesn’t even hit 2%…

    (more general: as of 11-3-2020, 17.00 CET )

    5 confirmed deaths attributed to Covid-19. 3 of those were 80+ and already in hospital ( = On Their Way Out Anyway over here.)
    The two other cases were around 70, both with “pre-existing conditions” ( vine tree has it that one case was COPD related, one Chemo ( = immune system shot), but nothing official.)
    Everyone Else is reported to have “mild, flu-like symptoms” . Period.
    There may be a number ranging from none to gods-knows of severe/critical cases, but like the Good-Boi the Netherlands is: those people are not yet a Statistic, so Privacy trumps fact-gathering. No way to tell.

    Total confirmed and tested cases is currently at 503, with the caveat that families aren’t individually tested anymore. If a case crops up the whole family (plus any contacts in the last 48 hours) is considered infected, but not tested unless there is a pressing medical reason to do so. So the actual number of infections is conservatively estimated in the 2k+ region.

    The vast majority of proven cases are linked to holiday-ing in northern Italy, and ( weren’t they in quarantine?) the cruise ships that hit the news at the start of the outbreak.
    Interestingly, the first early confirmed cases not directly linked to those two happened during “carnaval” where the south of our nation packs itself up in pubs, runs around in silly costumes, and generally has a Good Time for a solid 5 days. In the middle of Flu Season…. ( for the amurricans: think Halloween on Steroids. )
    Even just those two cities, Doing the Rounds during that festival, that’s easily couple 100’s, if not 1000’s possible contacts…. Yet there is no Canaval Spike anywhere in the number of infections.

    Even more indicative, but more anecdotal: I volunteer for the Salvation Army over here. Between the habits of the homeless, the dorms, the weather, and the ongoing infections, there have been no infections within S.A.NL anywhere. Seems Covid-19 is a wuss, because I have caught everything else ( and shrugging it off like a nursery maid/ childcare employee) early since october-ish, and counting. And I’ve had to have had my TB shots rechecked ( cultural improvement…) and failed to catch yet again another case of Noro….
    If Covid is as bad as the Panic implies, it would have raged through my bailywick like mad… It’s had several chances. It hasn’t.

    Make of it what you will, but in my opinion the damned thing is less dangerous than even a mild influenza.
    I’m not a medical doctor, but I
    am a biologist of the molecular persuasion.
    Nothing in the current progression and symptoms indicates, at least to me, the Next Black Plague on this one. It’s more of a wet fizzle, where the countermeasures and kneejerking do more damage than the actual affliction.

    And yes, the laws of biology state that some day we will get another whopper that will…. bring some equilibrium… Covid-19 isn’t it…

  9. @BiND – do you like to bet?
    I reckon that on 24th March 2020 at 3pm the declared cases of Covid-19 in the UK will be less than 12,000 ( the current tally for Italy is 12,462 and for which cretin Marler thinks the UK is 13 days behind, so you have a little margin on your side if you want to take a bet at evens ).

  10. Grikath, you’re right. I was looking at figures of 4 fatalities in 382 cases… A tad over 1%.

    So your figures have 1 more death and 121 more cases. Keeping the figures pretty much stable, as in no obvious acceleration or worsening

  11. Bloke in North Dorset


    I wasn’t defending them but I think there’s something in that rate of growth based on what I’ve been listening to and reading recently, so OK. How about £10 to your favourite charity if we agree a source.

  12. I agree to the bet BiND. You’re a top man for putting a little money behind your viewpoint.
    I propose we use the pandemic by country and territory data table at
    My favourite ‘good cause’ at the moment is Continental Telegraph – you have to donate £10 to that if the UK cases number is below 12000 at the end of 24th March.
    Let me know your preferred recipient if you prevail

  13. Bloke in North Dorset

    Let’s go with your proposal because the numbers line up better, JH is showing fewer confirmations.

    CT it is then Tim can confirm we’ve paid 🙂

  14. That’s an interesting bet. My gut, from looking at the numbers earlier, says Bongo will win – but, isn’t the UK about to increase its testing rates. And we know all countries are missing numbers of mild cases, which “might” then be more likely to be picked up.

    Whatever, my money is on Bongo Tim…..

  15. BiND, it’s not hard to find people who embrace your paranoia.

    Osterholm is selling his book. And seeking validation of his prophecy. His projection of 480,000 deaths from coronavirus has no basis. It is not reality. It is a prediction of the future.

    He mentions MERS. Mortality rate 10-20X that of coronavirus. Coronavirus is not MERS, nor Ebola. The Panic is based on the belief that it is.

  16. @moqifen

    Yes. DRNK treatment for Covid-19 is bullet to head

    @Gamecock, Dennis

    Another USA state declares Emergency and releases National Guard

    Yet you insult ‘Keep calm and carry on’ [wog] UK?

  17. Bloke in North Dorset


    Its hardly paranoia. I listen to the warning, take stack, and at this stage I’m basically carrying on as normal. I just happen to believe the infection rates will be as high as we’re being told and expect government’s to act responsibly on that expert opinion.

    If they are wrong then little harm is don, if they’re right then we’re prepared.

  18. @BiND. I’m feeling smug – on latest numbers UK is about 15 days behind Italy, and not the 13 previously advanced. Thank you for taking on the sporting bet. Now pay up, smiles.

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