COVID19 Update 20 Feb 20

There are a number of topics I want/need to cover, but time is a hard enemy to beat. There is containment, which has not worked as well as hoped. There is some serious weirdness with how this virus is spreading and who it hits, for example there are effectively zero (statistically speaking) cases in younger patients. The economic impact is going to be huge, far more than expected if things don’t change for the better and soon.

First up for today is an interesting take on the horror-show that was the quarantine on the Diamond Princess. I don’t think there is a single expert out there who doesn’t see it as a disaster. By rights, done right, it should have been a model for quarantine and containment. So, what went wrong?

According to this man, Iwata Kentaro, it was the bureaucrats. For what it is worth, he is an MD, Ph.D., with Kobe University’s Division of Infections Diseases Therapeutics — in other words, he is a specialist in things like this. Listen to what he has to say, look up his background, and make your own informed decision.

I will say right now that if you plan to travel to Japan for the Olympics this summer, I recommend against it. To be honest, I recommend against any travel to SE Asia at this time, and for the foreseeable future. Have to attend a meeting? Telecommute.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention released new data (covered here by the Irish Times) which indicates that COVID19 is 20 times more deadly than seasonal flu. There are also some other oddities in there. However, keep in mind that this is still early data; and, moreover, it is data approved and issued by the Chinese government. The Chinese government has lied about COVID19 from the start, and apparently continues to do so even as they seek to censor their own people and others who expose those lies. Take it with a huge grain of salt.

Let me continue to note that it will be weeks, if not months, before there is sufficient accurate data to begin to understand COVID19 and what is going to happen. No matter what you read, any effective vaccine is probably at least a year away.

An interesting note while I’m thinking about it. There are a number of people crowing about bringing various types of manufacturing back to the U.S., including drug and medical supply production. Yes, it can be done. Personally, I hope it is done. However, re-tooling facilities of any type to do any new manufacturing means at least a year lag, as it will take that long to re-tool, reconfigure, and start producing products.

As for some of the industries being affected by COVID19 outside of China, see this update from Apple. There are more like this coming out in a variety of industries, feel free to share links to them in the comments if you like.

Oh, by the way, despite a degree and a goodly number of published stories (and even a couple of awards), WalMart says I’m not a real journalist. I contacted them in regards a shortage in rubbing alcohol that has been noticed. I asked if this was related to the situation with China. Deafening silence. No idea if it is or not, since they won’t talk to a mere online journalist/blogger/whatever.

If you have not implemented the steps I discussed in this post, I strongly urge you to do so now. Use the interactive graphic to keep track of things. Is COVID19 an epidemic? Yes. Is it a Pandemic? Not Yet. Is there need for panic? No. Should you be paying attention? Yes. Hell yes. Depending on how a couple of parameters go in the next few days, I am considering raising my personal DEFCON from Sit Up to Really?!? Much depends on what we see outside of China in that time. At this time, I still see the major impacts as economic.

Want to avoid catching COVID19 here in the U.S.? Wash your flippin hands frequently, then follow with hand sanitizer, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and stay away from those who don’t. Also, keep your bugger hooks out of/away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. In other words, standard flu protocols.

Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles:

COVID19 Update

Update & Quick Thoughts On Preparedness

Expansion On A Theme

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

COVID19 Update

There has been a massive jump in cases and deaths, pretty much all from/in China on the quick look.

There have been several previous reports that COVID19 spreads before symptoms appear (asymptomatic), but this NEJM article would seem to confirm that. Such a confirmation will change both how it is handled and the models on spread. It may also mean that efforts to contain it outside China may be in severe trouble.

Efforts to develop an effective vaccine continue, but are most likely a year away. That said, the U.S. government is providing direct funding to both vaccine and treatment development.

In light of this previous post, I do find it interesting that Xi had far earlier awareness of the situation than previously reported. This, along with asymptomatic transmission, are two things I would have expected were it some form of bioweapon that got out. Again, that is not saying it is: in fact, I still remain somewhere between neutral and no-it’s-not camps. But, these are two interesting data points. As is the Chinese Ambassador’s comments on the speculation by Sen. Tom Cotton. Note that he does not deny, but pivots to a different point. Again, an interesting data point.

There is more to discuss, including the apparent failure of many quarantines in China and with the cruise ship. In regards the ship, as noted in the linked article yesterday, something went very wrong.

Meantime, per the interactive graphic, it is still an epidemic and not a pandemic. Should you panic? No. Should you be paying attention and making preparations as discussed yesterday? Yes. Hell yes. Do I still expect the major hits to be economic? Yes, based on what we know right now.

Want to avoid catching COVID19 here in the U.S.? Wash your flippin hands frequently, then follow with hand sanitizer, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and stay away from those who don’t. Also, keep your bugger hooks out of/away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. In other words, standard flu protocols.

And while I’m thinking about it, there are two books I highly recommend for those interested in preparedness. Neither applies directly to this situation, but both capture the right mindset almost perfectly. The first is Alas Babylon, and for it’s age the lessons in it remain timeless. The second is Pulling Through by Dean Ing. Dean has written extensively on preparedness and survival, and I highly commend his works to you. And, yes, I am an Amazon Affiliate, see the disclaimers as you cheap jerks have yet to buy enough through my links for me to get paid.

Also, if you would like some good bio background as well as a fun read, allow me to recommend Under A Graveyard Sky by John Ringo. It looks at an engineered bioweapon that does a number on humanity. I’ve not been into the whole zombie thing (at least on a literary front), but as with almost all of John’s work, the series has been a fantastic read and well worth re-reading. Let’s hope we never live a Ringo novel of any type, especially this one or The Last Centurion.

Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles:

Update & Quick Thoughts On Preparedness

Expansion On A Theme

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

Update & Quick Thoughts On Preparation

First, while keeping in mind that both WHO, the CDC, and other agencies are political agencies first and foremost, here is an interesting interview (with some truly great weasel-wording) about the virus. There is a lot of good info in here, even with having to do some reading between the lines.

Second, I do believe in preparation. Unless something changes rather dramatically, I expect the major impact will be economic rather than in terms of public health. Longer post needed on that, but here is an article that lays out some of what has been discussed here before about the folly that was our former China policy — an idiocy that gave them control over several critical resources.

It’s not just medical and medicines, it’s automotive parts, it’s about the precursor components for a host of other products, it’s the things we often take for granted until they are gone. Ladies, do you know where your feminine hygiene products come from, or the components for them? Men, do you know where your razors come from? In both cases, some do and some don’t.

If you are going to prepare for this to hit the U.S., the first thing I would do is talk to my financial advisor on planning for both short- and long-term hits to the economy. Right now, I don’t think anyone has truly gamed out the cascade effect that is about to hit. It may be short and not bad (for us), or it could be worse and longer. For other countries, it won’t be recession but depression.

Second thing I would do is make sure I have as deep a supply of medicines, supplements, and basic supplies as I can. Check with your pharmacist: which of your medicines (if not all) are dependent on China in whole or in part? Get 90-day supplies if you can, and encourage your pharmacy to keep them in stock ahead of demand. It’s what I did a few weeks ago, now working on stocking up on OTCs and supplements.

Third, look at what other supplies you get that may be dependent in whole or in part on China. Me, I keep a few months supply of razor blades on hand (esp. after dumping Gillette and the other expense brands), but I plan to up that to a full year. I have a several month stock of toilet tissue, but even though it’s not linked to China (as far as I know) I plan to add more (see the story on the great toilet paper robbery in Hong Kong). Thinking about a new phone? Might want to do it now. Oh, and as with toilet tissue, boost your stock of feminine hygiene products.

Fourth, I have increased my ready food reserve. Since what I’m adding are things I already use, I can add it into regular use if not needed or things reach expiration date. The strategic coffee and hot sauce reserves are being upped a bit, and I’m slowly making sure I have water, the capability to store additional water, and other basics beyond my normal 3-5 day reserve.

Finally, and it is a finally, I have masks. I’ve always had some around given my allergies, and I use them for yard work, woodworking, metalworking, and other projects. Masks are currently my lowest priority here in the U.S. I have some (at lest one pack put up in a very good safe place, call if you know where it is) and while I may add a few more, the items above are a higher priority than the masks. Again, as I’ve stated before, I recommend the R95 masks as they have far more day-to-day utility and emergency use than just the N95.

Want to avoid catching COVID19 here in the U.S.? Wash your flippin hands frequently, then follow with hand sanitizer, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and stay away from those who don’t. Also, keep your bugger hooks out of/away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. In other words, standard flu protocols.

More later, I hope. Going to be a long day at work. Be safe, Be prepared, and keep an eye out.

Also, hat tip to Instapundit for the two articles linked.

Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles:

Expansion On A Theme

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

Well, Maybe I Was Wrong

Edited to add an interesting possibility at the end

It’s early yet, but in last Friday’s post on 2019-nCoV/COVID-19 I had my doubts about the virus coming from either the BSL-4 National Bio-Safety Laboratory or the Wuhan Institute of Virology. As I noted then, I remain agnostic on the first paper suggesting that it was engineered and still feel that the response would have been different had it been a leak of a bioweapon.

That said, there is a new scientific study and additional analysis that would appear to support both the original paper and the theory that the virus is bioengineered. Is it proof positive? No, not even close. It is additional data, and until other studies take place — and the White House has directed that research into the origin be a priority — we simply have some more data.

I maintain that if it were a bioweapon, it was not an end-stage product. We would be seeing many more dead and a higher infection rate if it were an end-stage product. That said, there is reason to believe it is more infectious than previously reported and good reason to believe that the death toll is much higher than the Chinese government has admitted.

Inside China, by all reports, the situation remains very bad. Outside China, provided it does not spread into Africa (where it could form a natural reservoir as has happened in China), there will be more cases but if quarantine and proper procedures are followed, it will remain an epidemic but not become a pandemic. I will caveat that by saying that this is based on what we know at this time, and given how little we truly know about it so far there is room for error.

Outside of China, the largest impacts will be economic and non-virus medical. Again, keep in mind that China provides quite a bit of the medicines in the world, as well as a large amount of the precursor materials for medicines, vitamins, etc. They also provide a great deal of disposable medical equipment, including masks.

So, where do we stand this morning? Per the interactive graphic we have the following:

Epidemic: Yes

Pandemic: No

Total cases as of 0545 Eastern: 71,810

Total cases in mainland China: 70,553

Total Deaths: 1775

Total Recoveries: 11,258

Alert Status: Sit Up

Best way for personal prevention outside of China? Wash your flippin hands frequently, then follow with hand sanitizer, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash; cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze; and, keep your bugger hooks out of your eyes and nose. In other words, standard flu protocols.

Hat Tips to Rod Dreher and Instapundit/Ed Driscoll.

UPDATE 1: It occurred to me a few minutes ago that the belief that this is not a bioweapon because both the R value and death rate are too low could be very sadly mistaken. About 20 years ago, there was a lot of work on forms of non-lethal/non-world-ending weapons. And, yes, there has been a lot of speculation and probably even efforts over the years to develop chemical and/or biological weapons that would incapacitate a population for a period of time. During that period, of course, actions could be taken such as invasion, disarming, etc.

Suppose that COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV was not intended as a weapon of mass destruction, but as an economic weapon? Release it into a target area and the spread as well as the deaths would have a severe economic impact (for China, it may well be crippling) but not totally destroy the target population. In that case, the R3 that seems to be emerging makes more sense from a weapons perspective. Purely food for thought, and to keep in mind as we start to get real and accurate data on the disease.

Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles:

Expansion On A Theme

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

Keeping Alert

There is a difference between being alert and in a panic, a distinction that is lost (or deliberately ignored) by those of our “betters” sniffing in disdain and saying the current nCoV outbreak is nothing to worry about and it will fizzle out like SARS. Such people are, for the most part, educated idiots without much of a clue. The rest of us do not, yet, have a true clue but we know that and acknowledge it.

Yesterday, there was briefly some hope that this would be like SARS: deadly, contagious (particularly in non-first-world areas), and brief. This hope was very short lived. Note that the chart(s) are part of the link I provided yesterday to keep up on things.

Here’s a good post on part of the poor response to the outbreak by all levels of the Chinese government. Here’s another take by a medical professional.

In the “closing the barn door” department, we have this, this, this, and this. In the department of “Duh” we have this. I think SF activating it’s EOC is both prudent and interesting. This is a neat fact: an AI system issued an alert for the virus a week before WHO, CDC, et. al. For the record, I think we should have shut down air/sea with China already, and that the evacuation of Americans in Wuhan directly to CONUS without quarantine offshore is a mistake.

That’s all I have time for this morning, hope to get back into some of the background, and some discussion on practical preparedness in the days ahead. Stay safe.

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

I had originally planned to write about the bigotry of Stephen King and some other authors along with a miserable trope in USA channel movies, but that will have to be later this week. Instead, I need to cover a more important subject.

There is a lot being written about the coronavirus that is raging across China, and headed world-wide. A coronavirus is any of a family of single-stranded RNA viruses that has a lipid envelope with club-shaped projections. Some of the family don’t really have a negative affect on humans; but, some strains do. While a suspect for some cases of gastroenteritis, the ones that do effect humans do so through the respiratory system. The common cold is a coronavirus.

Unfortunately, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are both of the coronavirus family. The strain currently spreading from Wuhan (2019-nCoV) is a new strain and is similar to SARS.

It can infect human lungs as easily as the common cold, it can be passed person-to-person (patient to caregiver is confirmed), and while England has issued some strong precautions, at least one of the cases in the US is being treated by telemedicine as much as possible.

Also understand that the Chinese government has lied about this disease from the start, and there is no reason for them to stop. They are severely censoring information as fast and as hard as they can. They are taking the virus seriously, but the question is will their efforts be effective. As a bit of background (hope to add more later), when the Chinese government was admitting to 50 cases, outside experts pegged it at 1,700. That was on the 18th, and there are reports suggesting that while there are roughly 3,000 confirmed cases, that the actual infection rate is in excess of 90,000 people.

Is there cause to panic? No. Is there cause to be concerned? Yes. A good resource for keeping up with the current outbreak is here.

What can and should you do? Well, I think having 3-7 days of food and water is a good start for anything. I try to keep that and a bit more (so I have a month’s supply of coffee, don’t judge my addictions) on hand at all times. For other reasons, I’ve been upping some of my preparations. If you don’t have a 3-7 day supply of food, water, medicines, supplements, and basic supplies, it is good to get and maintain them for general preparedness purposes.

If this does turn into a true global pandemic similar to the 1918 Spanish Flu (or worse), then you are talking a different level of preparedness. For that you will need 4-6 weeks worth of water, food, and supplies.

I will discuss practical preparedness, as well as preparedness for a pandemic more in the days ahead.