Essay: "Week 15 Of WW III Bioterrorism"

Apr 24, 2020

Steve Plotkin
Credit publicity photo

We are in Week 15 of WW III Bioterrorism.

By Steve Plotkin

There is talk of a unilateral, rolling, cease-fire among the 50 combat zone commanders, governors.  However, this involves 50 separate negotiations and certifications.

A decade of job growth has been destroyed in one month.  And there is rising impatience with the medically induced economic coma.  It boils down to balancing the financial threat, vs. the medical threat.  

But there is a major glitch.  There are very limited measurements available for a data-driven decision process.

And the high command is offering limited solutions to this problem.

What We Learned

We have learned many things.  One item is that we spent $685 billion on a defense budget, and merely $8 billion on the CDC, and only $2 billion on pandemic programs.  So, for this war, are our monies being wisely spent?

The WHO benchmark is to achieve 10% or lower, of those tested to come back as positive.  Korea has achieved an enviable 3% positives.  For the USA, the average is about 23% returning positive.

Many assert that the end point has everything to do with a successful vaccine, and there are now dozens of world-wide programs underway.

We learned that 35 jobs were lost for each diagnosed case of coronavirus.  Also, that healthcare workers constitute 10-20% of the coronavirus caseload.  They are revered as the saviors of this generation.

Good Data

Data has been a core problem from the onset of the pandemic. First came the Chinese suppression of data, followed by a world-class lack of candor.  Compounding this was the insidious nature of the coronavirus, which masked its own presence for the first five days or so.

Testing

At this point, after 15 weeks of combat, the lack of widespread testing has become an obvious obstacle to

gathering reliable data. There is a straight line between reliable testing of the population, good data, and an intelligent exit strategy.

Testing really asks just two questions - Do you have it; or did you have it?

Since the beginning, with no national testing plan, our default was, and is a state-by-state testing strategy compounded by a basic lack of testing logistics.   For example, Rhode Island has performed diagnostic tests on 3.7% of their population, while Kentucky has tested merely 0.7%.

This infers that Rhode Island knows what it is doing. Nationally less than 1% of the 325 million citizens have been tested. After 15 weeks, a national testing strategy seems to be finally emerging at the federal level.

Here is some shocking news. 

Experts now suspect that current testing is catching merely a fraction of the true infections.  A new USC study infers that we may be catching merely 1 in 50 infections.  That suggests a massive paradigm shift, where, on the one hand, the disease is far less deadly than we think, but, on the other, it is far more contagious than expected.

I remember the concept of Imaginary Numbers from high school algebra where we used a regular number and placed a small "i" next to it to signify that it was not real, but imaginary.  

Just in the interest of full disclosure, wouldn't it be nice, if our political leaders used imaginary numbers when they speak of testing, facemasks, and the such? 

This is Steve Plotkin