March 20, 2020

Where will we be in one year?

"The Best-Case Outcome for the Coronavirus, and the Worst" by Nicholas Kristof (NYT) begins with a presentation of 2 alternative scenarios, set one year in the future.

The worst:
More than two million Americans have died from the new coronavirus, almost all mourned without funerals. Countless others have died because hospitals are too overwhelmed to deal adequately with heart attacks, asthma and diabetic crises. The economy has cratered into a depression, for fiscal and monetary policy are ineffective when people fear going out, businesses are closed and tens of millions of people are unemployed. A vaccine still seems far off, immunity among those who have recovered proves fleeting and the coronavirus has joined the seasonal flu as a recurring peril.
And the best:
Life largely returned to normal by the late summer of 2020, and the economy has rebounded strongly. The United States used a sharp, short shock in the spring of 2020 to break the cycle of transmission; warm weather then reduced new infections and provided a summer respite for the Northern Hemisphere. By the second wave in the fall, mutations had attenuated the coronavirus, many people were immune and drugs were shown effective in treating it and even in reducing infection. Thousands of Americans died, mostly octogenarians and nonagenarians and some with respiratory conditions, but by February 2021, vaccinations were introduced worldwide and the virus was conquered. 

68 comments:

The Vault Dweller said...

As far limiting the ends of the spectrum to still being in the realm of plausible, this sounds about right to me.

The Vault Dweller said...

The only thing I will add, is that on the bright side of the spectrum if this Chloroquine treatment pans out, then the deaths may only be in the hundreds.

Todd said...

The economy has cratered into a depression, for fiscal and monetary policy are ineffective when people fear going out, businesses are closed and tens of millions of people are unemployed. A vaccine still seems far off, immunity among those who have recovered proves fleeting and the coronavirus has joined the seasonal flu as a recurring peril.

Unless the mortality rate is WAY higher than the "seasonal flue", most people will not "fear going out". Nothing to date indicates that the mortality rate is anywhere near "never go out again" levels. The mortality rates shows to-date indicate those of advanced years and/or with compromised respiratory systems are most at risk from sever illness or death. Life will go on, the country will not end, and if God is paying attention a Democrat will not be PODUS this next election (or two).

If you are going with the actual "worse case", it would be all of humanity is wiped out, life as we know it ends, and the Gia worshipers get their wish...

exhelodrvr1 said...

The options don't address the potentially significantly increased levels of government control, which (if it occurs) would be much worse than the deaths.

agentlesoul said...

Current policy seems designed to create an economic depression that will be far worse than the virus. That part of the worst case scenario, at least, looks likely.

Big Mike said...

At the risk of being called a COVID-19 “denier” yet again, the best case scenario also strikes me as the most likely case.

George said...

Best Case .... and Trump is re-elected.

Ann Althouse said...

"Current policy seems designed to create an economic depression that will be far worse than the virus."

What you have to factor in is some projection of what would have been the economic effect of the unchecked spread of the disease. The medical system would be overrun. How would it work? People would abandon work — because they are horribly sick, dead, or terrified. Compare what we have with what we would have had, down the road, not with the economy we had in the recent past. That was already at the mercy of the disease, one way or another. The experts chose the lockdown approach, and I think that was based on comparing it to the *future* alternative. If it seems misdesigned to you, I think that's because you are not looking at that future, the future we are spared from living through.

tim maguire said...

Those sound like plausible scenarios—call it the “if we do nothing” and the “if we do all we can” paths. I'm optimistic, but I think realistic, that Kristof’s best case scenario is also the most likely scenario.

Matt Sablan said...

"The experts chose the lockdown approach, and I think that was based on comparing it to the *future* alternative."

-- The experts also lied to us about Ebola and have dropped the ball multiple times with this virus. I don't know if this is the correct choice, but I'm hesitant to trust experts too much. We'll find out whether this is Black Plague or something else.

David Begley said...

This thing is finished by April 15th.

Jersey Fled said...

Interesting that the best case scenario that Kristof can imagine involves a second wave and lots of people dying.

My best case scenario would involve the NYT repenting in sackcloth and ashes for the harm they've done the country by their fake news over the past three years and voluntarily ceasing publication. Forever.

Heartless Aztec said...

Peaked and done by May 1.

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...

Kristof can’t describe the present.

We expect him to describe the future?

Matt Sablan said...

"This thing is finished by April 15th."

-- You're thinking of tax season.

Ironclad said...

What Kristof misses is that this will end with the MSM totally discredited - the ones yelling fire in the theater need to have their day of reckoning. Furthermore - the "scientists" that published such insane predictions need to be removed from any position of authority.

TreeJoe said...

For what it's worth:

- COVID appears to hospitalize 20% of those above 60 years of age, on aggregate.
- It presents differently in different regions. In the U.S., we're hearing early reports of really significant hospitalization requirements in younger populations.
- COVID presents in the lungs, radiologically, just....bad. And unique.

I understand the focus on mortality rate. And that's not an unimportant number - been tracking it closely myself.

But there is a reason this emerged as an emergency in China and Korea and it's not simply because of mortality rate. It's because it spreads like wildfire, there were no known treatment options, patients are very sick for quite awhile when they require hospitalization, etc.

And all of that is to say....trust social isolation + emerging treatment options to knock this MFer down. And trust that the world's strongest economy can take one helluva shock and recover. Probably by the end of 2020.

Dan said...

I think that the best case is much better than what is presented here, and the worst is much worse. If one or more of the treatments that are being tried are found to be effective, life could return to normal much sooner. And, on the other end, we could have a real breakdown in society, with civil unrest including roving street gangs controlling vast areas, beyond the control of martial law.

Hey Skipper said...

If you like the economic effects of the Wuhan Flu, you will absolutely love the Green Leap Forward.

Krumhorn said...

By the second wave in the fall, mutations had attenuated the coronavirus

There is no basis to assume that. This is a very successful genetic blob of RNA. It passes easily from person to person usually producing mild cases. It will be with us annually, along with the 4 other seasonal coronaviruses, unless, like smallpox, we can vaccinate it out of existence. What would be the incentive to mutate?

- Krumhorn

rcocean said...

Talking about "Millions of deaths" is irresponsible. We don't even know what will happen one month from now. Its this sort of tall talk that's responsible for empty grocery shelves.

rcocean said...

Given that most people over 60 are "unless eaters" - a virus killed off a million would actually help the economy.

RMc said...

Best case (for the NYT):

A bunch of deplorables die, and Trump is summarily executed by a mob of deferentially-abled black Muslim lesbians. Pence and the GOP leadership flee the country, and Hillary is proclaimed president for "the remainder of the emergency", which will be approximately 20 years after she dies.

Worst case:

We get over it.

Krumhorn said...

What you have to factor in is some projection of what would have been the economic effect of the unchecked spread of the disease.

On what evidence do we presume a worse future, on an order of magnitude, than the annual effects of flu? In the US: Over 40,000,000 sick, 800,000 hospitalized, and over 60.000 dead. And with widely available vaccines.

- Krumhorn

Calypso Facto said...

exhelodrvr1 said..."The options don't address the potentially significantly increased levels of government control, which (if it occurs) would be much worse than the deaths."

Snippets of this morning's paper: "Nation Guard deployment" ... "Emergency powers limiting sale of firearms" ... "Federal government will take partial ownership of the companies it bails out" ... "elections postponed" ... "switch to electronic voting"

What could go wrong?!?

narciso said...

he was an enabler of Beijing, when he was the times correspondent there, fox butterfield, ridiculed in other places, was more discerning,

narciso said...

the bigger picture
chi haotian was the official that threatened Clinton over the Taiwan straits crisis in 95

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I think that the best case is much better than what is presented here, and the worst is much worse. If one or more of the treatments that are being tried are found to be effective, life could return to normal much sooner. And, on the other end, we could have a real breakdown in society, with civil unrest including roving street gangs controlling vast areas, beyond the control of martial law.

I agree. I think early to mid-April is the point where the pressure for a return to normalcy is going to burst the dam. Absent an explosion of hospitalizations and deaths -- which despite all dire warnings is not materializing -- enough will be enough. People want to send their kids back to school, go back to work, get a f'n haircut, meet a friend for coffee, not stand in line at 5 am to buy a loaf of bread under the watchful eye of security guards. If they continue to be forced to live this way, and start to run out of the things they need, compliance with the measures is going to erode quickly, and we will start having civil unrest and bloodshed in a way that makes a handful of flu deaths look like a spring picnic. No one wants that, and we will collectively decide to take our chances with the flu.

DavidUW said...

He forgot the best case scenario includes a wipeout of democrats at every level in government.

Matt Sablan said...

I really wish there weren't so many doom sayers. Everything has led to this sort of doomsday scenario in the last few years, form net neutrality to this.

West Texas Intermediate Crude said...

What Kevin said at 0643:
"Kristof can’t describe the present.
We expect him to describe the future?"
Or-
Nobody knows anything.
Still zero cases in my city/county.
This is 20% serious, 40% hysteria, and 40% agenda driven.
YMMV.

Rich said...

The NYT loves to print crap like this. Like everything they write the overt or subliminal message is the same. Trump's fault and look how bad things are because of him.

Sebastian said...

"we will collectively decide to take our chances"

Considering that for the vast majority of people, the chances of anything serious are minimal, the return to normalcy needs to happen sooner.

The costs imposed on people 22 and younger are unconscionable.

What say you, progs? Do you prefer to use the crisis to amass power and sink Trump, or are you still all about "the children," like Nancy P?

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

“This thing is finished by April 15th.”

Finished or not, the panic will be waning by then. All the predictions of economic disaster seem particularly Chicken Littleish. At the first sign of anything remotely resembling an All Clear the economy is going to absolutely roar.

Bob said...

There will be lots of babies named Nick or Noel - lockdown babies born near Christmas!

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

A postwar boom after a two month non-war. Say what you like about Americans, the little fuckers are irrepressible.

bagoh20 said...

"...many people were immune and drugs were shown effective in treating it and even in reducing infection."

That's really the coming story, and it is always the story with epidemics, and it has little to do with shut downs and and government action. Most of us will get it, not get sick, and become a dead end for the virus, and that's what will fix this. Drugs will deal the final blow.

bagoh20 said...

I expect a powerful and steep economic rebound. The left in over-blowing this will make Trump look even more effective that before.

bagoh20 said...

43 states have less than 5 deaths. 22 have had zero.

Charlie said...

Nicholas Kristof is an idiot, are we taking that into account?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Absent an explosion of hospitalizations and deaths -- which despite all dire warnings is not materializing...

Epidemiologists predicted that, absent significant countermeasures, deaths would rise exponentially. Deaths are currently rising exponentially in the US.

I'm happy to listen to anyone who publicly predicted that deaths would be rising exponentially at this point. If you did not make such a prediction, I'm not sure why I, or anyone else, should value predictions you are making now over predictions the epidemiologists are making.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I’ve said over and over that if things change, I will change my opinion.

Just over 200 deaths so far. Maybe it’ll be a meaningful number in a week, maybe it won’t. But every day we wake up and it’s not.

tim in vermont said...

by Nicholas Kristof

What does the drug addicted street preacher marching up and down Times Square have to say?


"which despite all dire warnings is not materializing...”

I read a prediction that every ICU bed would be taken up by the middle of May, not late March. Like continental drift, it takes time but is sort of inevitable, and the slowness of it lead many to deny it. Sure it could be delayed, or even defeated by an effective drug therapy, but absent any interventions, it is going to grow like kudzu.

Emerald ash borer did not instantly spread from Detroit across the country, it grew exponentially, and has killed billions of trees and is still killing stands of ash trees right now in New England and Maryland, by my personal observation.

I think that a lot of people read “exponential” as “explosive” but that’s just not what it means.

tim in vermont said...

"Just over 200 deaths so far. “

Number of cases is jumping daily, and the number of deaths lags the number of cases by a couple of weeks. It’s math.

Incidentally, I agree with Boris Johnson that the young and healthy should live their lives and stay clear of the oldsters. And we oldsters should stay clear of it as long as possible. Models show that this minimizes deaths. To take that position knowing that hundreds of thousands are going to die as the best of a lot of bad options takes some serious balls in a person who has the power to make a decision like that.

tim in vermont said...

People say that testing will lower the death rate by changing the denominator, and maybe so, but our death rate is tracking Italy’s for where we are in the epidemic, though we are doing a little better than they did.

tim in vermont said...

death count, I meant. Which sort of eliminated the denominator.

Matt said...

How the f does Nicholas Kristof have any idea what things will look like in a year? He doesn't. No idea at all. The idea that a journalist would have some magic ability to divine what a pandemic looks like in a year is insulting.

F Nicholas Kristof for writing this BS and f the NYT for publishing it.

Assholes.

tim in vermont said...

He’s not even a journalist, he’s a propagandist.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Maybe it’ll be a meaningful number in a week, maybe it won’t. But every day we wake up and it’s not.

I'm not sure just how many daily deaths it takes to be a meaningful number, but if you wait until you get to a meaningful number to implement countermeasures, then by the time their effects are felt you end up with about 16x that meaningful number of deaths each day. And possibly many more if it overwhelms the healthcare system.

And then, the number of death might continue to rise, just more slowly. Or it might fall, it only fall slowly.

bagoh20 said...

All that really matters is the death count. More cases also means more immunity and cases could skyrocket with few people getting sick becuase of 1) expanded testing, 2) isolation of the people it hurts, which is only the old and sick. The exposure will and needs to expand eventually, otherwise our immunity can never defeat the virus. Lack of new cases is not a bad thing, but more new cases is not necessarily bad either.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Apparently ventilators can be used for multiple patients using new valves that have just been invented; also masks can be created via 3d printing. SO expect those shortages/potential shortages to be significantly mitigated, if not eliminated.

Jeff said...

What would be the incentive to mutate?
Mutations that make the virus less deadly also tend to lengthen the period from initial infection until death or recovery. People with the less-deadly strains are infectious for longer times and thus spread their versions of the virus more than people whose variants kill them quickly. Natural selection at work. This happens with most epidemics.

The virus most people are getting today is not as lethal as the virus people got back in January. If you can remember that far back, there were many horror stories about people becoming symptomatic and then dying only a few hours later. It was terrifying, but also self-limiting. Today's patients are lasting longer, not because they are more fit, but because the virus is evolving to become less deadly.

Fernandinande said...

Mutations that make the virus less deadly also tend to lengthen the period from initial infection until death or recovery.

Sometimes.

"Is Wuflu bound to evolve to become milder? No. That does not always happen. For example, smallpox remained highly lethal for thousands of years. Falciparum malaria remained dangerous over thousands of years, as did sleeping sickness.
...
Is this coronavirus being selected for lower virulence? Understand first that it already has fairly low virulence – it only kills a few percent of those infected. It is already mild, as such things go."

Fernandinande said...

there were many horror stories about people becoming symptomatic and then dying only a few hours later.

More likely those were just MSM scary stories.

Unknown said...

There is a middle path. The virus itself will have died out by summer, but the devastation, suicides, bankruptcies, loss of lifelong businesses will linger for years. I think our strategy is asinine.

Unknown said...

The stock market is NOT the economy for the millions thrown out of their jobs/businesses by over zealous, cowardly politicians, and I sadly add Abbott of Texas in that group. The idea that small businesses that have closed or fired their people will spring back to life is just not reality based.

Sam L. said...

I trust NOTHING in the NYT.

narciso said...

nick Kristof enabled Robert Mueller's witchhunt against steven hatfill, (he did apologize somewhat) but not specifically pointing to meryl nass and susan hatch Rosenberg, who conjured up Suspect X

tim in vermont said...

"All that really matters is the death count.”

True right now, and our death count is tracking Italy’s 10 days behind in terms of the shape of the curve. "Why won’t Italy just go away! Why is everybody talking about Italy!"

twallan51 said...

I think it is the tragedy in Italy which really kicked in what I consider to be an overreaction to this viral epidemic. No one wants to see in their country what is happening to Italy but how long can we partially shut down the country before severe damage to the economy which will likely be quite worse than what we see with the virus?

Achilles said...

Aunty Trump said...
"All that really matters is the death count.”

True right now, and our death count is tracking Italy’s 10 days behind in terms of the shape of the curve. "Why won’t Italy just go away! Why is everybody talking about Italy!"

People are pointing out that Italy is in a completely different situation with completely different circumstances than we are.

You are just repeating the same things over and over about math being hard.

Achilles said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Current policy seems designed to create an economic depression that will be far worse than the virus."

What you have to factor in is some projection of what would have been the economic effect of the unchecked spread of the disease. The medical system would be overrun. How would it work? People would abandon work — because they are horribly sick, dead, or terrified. Compare what we have with what we would have had, down the road, not with the economy we had in the recent past. That was already at the mercy of the disease, one way or another. The experts chose the lockdown approach, and I think that was based on comparing it to the *future* alternative. If it seems misdesigned to you, I think that's because you are not looking at that future, the future we are spared from living through.

What was different about Swine Flu?

What is different about the seasonal Flu every year?

Are you going to blame the media for misleading you when this is all over?

exhelodrvr1 said...

" If it seems misdesigned to you, I think that's because you are not looking at that future, the future we are spared from living through."

You are assuming that the future this was designed to prevent had a realistic likelihood of occurring.

PB said...

You never know which way mutations will form or their effect on humans. We got lucky with SARS and MERS. They mutated on a direction less harmful.

n.n said...

but by February 2021, vaccinations were introduced worldwide and the virus was conquered

The development of natural immunity, anthropogenic vaccines, and tamped down redistribution channels, mitigate the progress of pathogenic pathways and expression.

bagoh20 said...

Italy has 778 deaths per million. The U.S. is at 57. To expect the same outcome, we would need to be on the same path and a month behind them, but we are neither. On Feb. 15th they has 3 cases and we had 15. So we did not start behind them. Their population is older, smokes more, and the epidemic in Italy initially took off among older people, and they received a bigger initial infection load, which overwhelmed them before they could react. Our curve is flatter for a lot of reasons. We will flatten the death curve further, and nobody should care much about the number of cases if we do.

The Godfather said...

We have meds that may be effective in treating this illness. Let's not wait until the next 200 Americans die of Covid-19 before we start using them. And let's start telling well people when they won't have to continue to stay at home and can start resuming their normal lives. And let that be soon.