Tuesday 17 March 2020

In the midst of the great coronavirus scare of 2020

In the winter seasons from 2013/14 to 2016/17, an estimated average of 5,290,000 cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) cases occurred in Italy. 9% of Italians caught ILI. There were more than 68,000 deaths attributable to flu epidemics. In other words, the average number of deaths from ILU over those four years was 17,000. This was roughly the same figure as in the UK.

The proportion of people infected with the new strain of coronavirus who die ('the mortality rate') entirely depends on how many cases were detected, which in turn depends on how many were tested. Most people who catch it have no symptoms at all. Others think they have a cold or mild flu, so are not reported or tested.

In previous years various types of coronavirus existed but no tests were made for them and no figures kept, so no comparisons can be made.

I don't know whether this suggests that there is less to worry about than people think but I certainly hope so. Still it's probably a good idea for Romania to close her borders.

I read somewhere that the overall death rate in Italy recently has not been higher than in other years, but I have absolutely no idea if this is true. That is what to look at, but certainly a lot of people are dying suddenly in Italy - eight priests in Bergamo alone!

I note the ridicule of Donald Trump by clever people when he banned people from most of the EU entering the USA. Joe Biden said it was reactionary and pointless. So did Justin Trudeau's government two days before he did the same thing. Macron also turned on a coin yesterday.

I still hope it all turns out to be an exaggerated scare like bird flu and swine flu, which killed lots of people but which were not nearly as bad as people predicted. If it does WHO needs to be reformed.

I do not have an opinion on how bad this crisis will be or how long it will last, beyond hoping and suspecting it will be less bad than people imagine. Experts, whom everyone prefers these days to politicians or bishops, and with reason, say different things. Remember the Hollywood maxim: nobody knows anything.

Still discretion is the better part of valour. As Leonardo de Vinci said, cowardice preserves life just as courage endangers it.


  1. Donald also clogged the airports with returning US citizens, backing them up for nonexistent "testing" and forcing them to stand in lines in close proximity for up to six hours. Sound healthy to you? Mismanagement and exposure to contagion for AMERICANS amid all the tough talk of the "Chinese virus."

    But in politics grand gestures are often valued over capably planning and getting things done....

    1. I am not here to defend Donald Trump but to point out an example of the very unfair press he gets. I understand why so many hate him but they should be fair minded. First he is accused of racism and undermining the EU by stopping flights - and shielding countries where he owns businesses - then of not doing enough soon enough. Biden said blocking entry of people from most of the EU was reactionary and useless - which proves he is not fit to be President - plus he is senile.

  2. Biden did fine in his last debate. Please do not throw stones from the mental frailty house. We have scads of video of Trump telling bald lies, unwittingly issuing untruths, and appearing utterly confused and overwhelmed. It would be great today if the country could be led by someone younger, but no one is ready.

    1. Trump's sometimes grave defects are well known, but Biden is starting to become senile. Did you read this? https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/my-worrying-encounter-with-joe-biden