Category: Covid-19

Covid-19 and Risk. Why Covid Restriction are Bad.

Field-Marshal Sir William Slim wrote that “…risk is danger multiplied by time”. The implication here is that risk increases the longer danger persists. If you want to reduce risk, either mitigate the danger or reduce the time of exposure to the danger. How does this bit of wisdom apply to the current Covid-19 pandemic?

The pandemic has spawned all sorts of unprecedented government actions, mostly by Democratic officials, such as Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. These measures have included the closures of businesses they deem “non-essential”, limits on the sizes of gatherings, mandatory mask requirements, and enforcement actions with agencies such as OSHA and Public Health Departments. 

It may be that the dire expert predictions of a public health disaster at the beginning of the pandemic justified the draconian measures implemented by officials. We are now past that point. Most of the predictions have proven wrong. Infection rates and death rates have proven to be far below what the experts predicted. 

“…risk is danger multiplied by time”

What are the “dangers” which public officials are trying to prevent? Here two of them:

  1. The danger of the virus making us sick.
  2. The danger of the virus killing us.

These dangers are serious concerns, but you have to ask, are they really a more significant threat than most of us usually face? For most people, the answer is no. Most of the deaths attributed to Covid have been those in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. Most of the deaths involved other underlying medical conditions. There is considerable doubt whether Covid is even the cause of many of the deaths attributed to it. The point here is that many people have little risk from the pandemic because the danger to them is small. Others, we know now, are at considerable risk because of their age and health. Why are we allowing officials to treat everyone the same?

The intelligent approach would help individuals assess the risks they face, provide information on how to mitigate the risks, and then leave them alone to act appropriately. Beyond that and standard public health measures, there is now no reason for the ridiculous and often arbitrary restrictions imposed in places like Oregon. If we apply Slim’s risk formula, we can see that most people’s risk is small because the danger is small. To use the coercive force of government to impose unnecessary restrictions on them is an act of tyranny, not mercy. 

Check out my book, “Trail to Peril”.

It’s available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

False Positives

One of the astounding things during this whole Covid-19 pandemic is just how misleading the statistics are, that are being reported. The worst metric and the one used to drive public policy in Oregon at least is reported cases. There are several reasons why you should be skeptical.

Reported cases are not based on random samples and therefore do not tell you anything about the population. The number of reported cases is a function of the number of people tested. The people that are tested are self-selected, not randomly selected. This means that sick people are oversampled, and the actual infection rate in the population is probably lower than reported.

Testing is pretty reliable but not perfect. If you assume a 10% rate for false positives and a 15% rate for false negatives and then plug in an infection rate of 4.5% into a Bayesian model, it shows that about 78% of positive test results are false positives. In other words, if you test positive, there is a 78% probability that you do not have Covid-19. The New York Times published similar information here. It makes one wonder if the concept of “asymptomatic cases” isn’t being used to cover up a very low infection rate. 

Finally, because the number of reported cases closely correlates to testing, the number of cases can be manipulated by testing policies. If a Governor wants it to look like her policies are working to stem the tide of infections, all she would need to do is test fewer people. 

The use and reporting of bad statistics and wrong and conflicting information indicates the need for reform in managing pandemics. That should probably be done at the Federal level. 

Link: NY TIMES: Up to 90% Who’ve Tested COVID-Positive Wrongly Diagnosed! TRUTH: A Whole Lot Worse!