Plus ça Change, Plus c’est la Même Chose

For a while I’ve been making the observation that perhaps herd immunity occurs at about 25%- 35% infected. The first dataset to support this was the experience of military and cruise ships.

Today, the best observation is Sweden, for the reason that they (as reported) have performed lower impact mitigations than many other places (i.e. they are not “fixing” it much):

Unfortunately we are not seeing that pattern in many places, at least as measured by a positive PCR-RT test.

Returning to  very popular view in the press, the USA does not fit that pattern:

This is the graph one would choose if they want to tell a story about how badly the USA has managed the pandemic, how our mitigations have been wrong or poorly timed, or how we suffer from our own lack of discipline. And, we want to fit the story to the curve. You construct this graph by plotting the most scary thing, “cases” against time, and then add a scaled deaths line. The scaled deaths line implies to those not paying attention to (frequently omitted) axis values that cases and deaths are … roughly … in the same order of magnitude.

Of course they are not. Not even close. Nor are death rates getting worse. People are still dying though, so total deaths continues to climb.

While this deception is easily discovered, it still common.  I see a variation of this graph 2-3 times / week. The ones from large media outlets do a better job with fonts and colors.

When there is little or no actual correlation between the things being plotted, you can make many stories fit.

With a slight modification, I can make the story that neither masks nor social distancing reduces cases:

What is likely actually going on is that the virus is moving geographically:

I’ve written elsewhere that the PCT-RT is subject to a large number of false positives. If you accept this, then “cases” becomes a terribly misleading indicator of anything. We know that it isn’t a good predictor of hospitalizations or deaths, and is likely much worse as variable in the effectiveness of mitigations.

But what if we use actual deaths to compare approaches. Contrast the USA and Canada, scaled per million people:

The graphs shapes are very similar, which we wouldn’t expect if the mitigations were substantially different, with different outcomes, as is commonly reported and believed. The magnitudes are different, but not dramatically so.

Sweden (again), with little mitigation (scaled/M). Note the magnitude of the peak is on a different scale, and is larger (i.e. the peak was worse):

If we calculate actual cases as the number would result in the actual death rate with a 2% CFR (red), and contrast this what the PCR-RT is telling us (blue). The difference is the number of false positives daily.


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