power your advice

Two Coronavirus Facts We Need to Research

Written by: Ian Smith | Technical Team Head of IRIS.xyz.

Research is based on research ending Mar 10 2020.

Choices are based on the information provided. When we are told by a spouse, business partner, software developer or a government agency information necessary to planning, our plans reflect that information. The Center for Disease Circulation (cdc.gov) needs to be honest about COVID-19 and correctly inform the public so they can make informed decisions.

This is an opinion piece by a programmer, I am not a medical professional. Information is slowly coming out and people are making their own research and trying to do what is right. The source of that information needed to be the Center for Disease Circulation if they were going to make any attempt at Control. Conspiracy theories grow because of people seeking truth when confronted with misinformation. The market crash is getting worse the longer it takes for facts to be uncovered.

From medical journals, studies and press releases by research groups I have read from the international community several key points stand out: Firstly, people are contagious several days (officially: 0 to 14) after exposure. SARS was a 10 day incubation (from exposure to being contagious) The estimate I see most experts use is 2 days as a nominal number. Secondly, people are contagious with no symptoms. Thirdly, COVID-19 has jumped 14 day quarantine repeatedly and infected medical staff treating people in quarantine. I state these items as facts because I do not believe they are honestly in dispute among professionals. It cannot be contained and most people I spoke with realized that already.

There are 2 critical pieces of information that we will not know for months. The more we delay gathering solid data, the longer that 3 to 6 month result becomes. If we start testing in earnest in April, the soonest that information may become available is July. Will it be honestly presented?

The first critical research question, which we won't ever be able to measure until we start testing is the reinfection rate. How often will the average person catch COVID-19 per year? If the study is done well, that will be broken down by the type of job (not just industry) that they perform, personal health history and their DNA. This last point is critical long term, because we may find people who are supercarriers (like Patient 31 from S Korea) and we may find people who are never contagious despite repeat exposure. We know that reinfection happens, but it is based on very few samples. Simply assuming that there will be 0 reinfection is a false assumption, because it has already happened with a 2 week delay. (Sick people reinfected in Japan and in China )

The second critical research question, which depends on the first one, is the mortality rate on reinfection. Without frequent (weekly) monitoring, we won't know the number of times that individuals catch COVID-19 per year. Does the risk of mortality increase or decrease with each subsequent exposure? If they are "independent events" without increase or decrease, the mortality rate of certain demographics (of which I am one, being immune compromised insulin diabetic with a heart condition) may be 1 in 7. If I was infected 12 times in one year, is that a single 1 in 7 chance, or 12 separate rolls of the dice, each 1 in 7?

My personal belief is that the misinformation by the CDC has resulted in people not having a chance to safely visit their elderly loved ones. Is it a risk for each visit? We don't know, and the mortality by age group we do have is based on so little collected data. It is very easy to have low numbers for Covid-19 infection and death rate: simply don't look. The first SARS victim in Canada was originally reported as dying from a heart failure. Only after a test was developed and the corpse tested again was it discovered that SARS was present in Canada. I blame the CDC for not testing. Many people consider the official WHO mortality rate was announced as 3.4% on Monday. The seasonal flu has 0.1% mortality rate and kills 40,000 people per year in the USA. I consider the number skewed in two ways: the majority of people tested have not recovered, but some have died. Some more will still die, but they are doing a math error in the press. ( With an 11 day median time from symptom to death, it is important to look at current mortality vs positive tests 11 days ago. I prefer to measure based on outcomes.) The chance of recovery will go down based on infrastructure becoming overwhelmed. (Unconfirmed reports in Italy: they have to pick who dies since they can't treat.) Mortality rates by age bracket will not include other information like prevalence of obesity, smoking (8-10% vs 2% for a sample), heart disease, diabetes, etc. Until we have granular data, we have guesses based on bad data and I will use the WHO numbers since they at least looked at the data and can do math, unlike many reporters for major publications.

Society is going to change permanently as a result of Covid-19 and hopefully the next major outbreak of a disease will be dealth with quickly, transparently and honestly. Perhaps we will even research the survival of our species, in addition to its destruction.

Related: Maintaining Your Composure in the Face of COVID-19