The first large-scale community test of 3,300 people in Santa Clara County found that 2.5 to 4.2% of those tested were positive for antibodies — a number suggesting a far higher past infection rate than the official count.
Based on the initial data, researchers estimate that the range of people who may have had the virus to be between 48,000 and 81,000 in the county of 2 million — as opposed to the approximately 1,000 in the county’s official tally at the time the samples were taken.
Early days, first proper study, risk of confirmation bias in terms of selection, etc. BUT…..
This takes us closer to learning at least the order of magnitude of the critically important denominator; how widespread is this virus already?
Extrapolating the mid-range of the estimated scale (50-80 times greater than originally thought), the UK’s infection rate might be 7 million (65 x 108,000).
With an idea of the denominator, we can apply the numerator – the official statistics suggest 14,000 COVID19 deaths. Assume it’s more than that due to a lag in reporting, let’s say 20,000.
20,000 / 7,000,000 x 100 = 0.3%
A “regular” ‘flu has a fatality rate of around 0.1%.
The probability of COVID19 killing millions in a short period of time is looking increasingly unlikely.
The probability of increased deaths, long term harm and hardship due to shutting the global economy is absolutely certain.
Which is more likely to be worse? Last week, we might have said the effects of the virus. This week, that’s not such a compelling argument.
The reasons given for the suspension of economic activity and personal freedoms were twofold; this is highly contagious and highly fatal and due to this, our health systems will be overwhelmed.
It’s starting to look like the “fatal” part of that argument was incorrect. Excess hospital capacity isn’t even close to being used in most locations. Our numerator/denominator question is starting to be answered.
In a moment of collective madness based on mendacious Chinese statistics and by listening to an Imperial College academic with a dubious track record, we’ve created The Great Depression 2020/21.
The antibody testing must continue in other locations and rapidly so we can make informed decisions about rebuilding what is left of the spark of the miracle that has saved more lives than any other invention; a freely moving economy.
In the meantime, reopen and keep a close watch on hotspots of infection as they arise.