COVID-19 – Anatomy of a Pandemic

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Oh, but wait, it’s not really a pandemic because WHO hasn’t made the official declaration. This despite confirmed COVID-19 infections in 62 countries, with infectiousness and lethality higher than the annual flu that is supposed to be so much more serious. I would not be a bit surprised to find that WHO delays on the official pandemic declaration until July, when the “pandemic bonds” mature. There’s about $425 million at stake there. If WHO declares before then, it’s probably going to be because even an idiot can see that they are playing politics, and the pressure will be too much for them. And no, I’m not really all that cynical, but I am realistic.
So is it a pandemic? The official definition (found on WHO’s website) is “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.” Transmissibility and disease severity don’t enter into this definition, although it’s clear we have both with COVID-19. By the way, as of this writing, the US has had its first death (Washington state).
How good is the data? Mind you, it’s pretty clear there are plenty of people who have the disease and have not been tested, so they aren’t included in the official numbers. It’s also clear that the infections are spreading in the general population among people who have not traveled or been in contact with anyone who has been officially diagnosed. Another safe bet: the numbers in the US are way under-reported because so little testing is being done. Yet another: since several of those either confirmed or being tested worked or lived in places like schools or university dormitories, we can expect to have outbreaks in those institutions. There’s one “under observation” in Washington, a nursing home in which staff and patients have a respiratory illness. And yet one more: The US health care system cannot handle the kind of pandemic occurring in China – we don’t have enough hospitals, enough beds, enough equipment or enough care providers. And we are already facing shortages of supplies and medications.
At this point, you should be prepared for lock-downs – especially in cities – home quarantines, school closures, travel restrictions (already happening), cancellations of events with lots of attendees and shortages of food, medicine, basic supplies. Oh, and let us not forget the economic impact on a society and world already deeply in debt.
But COVID-19 is not really a pandemic…

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