Updated: Apr 30, 2020
Boat parties, beach parties, pool parties. Anything with sun, warm water, cold drinks and lots of bikinis.
Count me in to let the beer flow and the COVID spread.
Many of you are absolutely positive that this is a reckless and foolish idea. Are you sure? Might be time to man-up to some painful truths.
Currently we seem to be following the suppression strategy as detailed in the March 16th, 2020 report by the Imperial College. Imperial presented three strategies with the goals of flattening the curve in hospitalizations and reducing total deaths.
Suppression Strategy: The population hides in the closet cutting off the spread. “It will be at least 12-18 months before a vaccine is available. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that initial vaccines will have high efficacy.” [Imperial pg 3]
Mitigation Strategy: The population is gradually exposed to the virus. “In this scenario, population immunity builds up through the epidemic, leading to an eventual rapid decline in case numbers and transmission dropping to low levels.” [Imperial pg 3]
Adaptive Triggering of Suppression Strategy (hybrid): This is a hybrid strategy. Two months in the closet (suppression) followed by one month of freedom and exposure (mitigation) – until November 2021.
To be clear - Intentionally letting the virus spread is a plausible and possible solution. It's called "Mitigation". It was proposed and modeled by the Imperial College. From the New York Times: “With ties to the World Health Organization and a team of 50 scientists, led by a prominent epidemiologist, Neil Ferguson, Imperial is treated as a sort of gold standard, its mathematical models feeding directly into government policies.” [NYT1]
Imperial College rejected mitigation in their March 16th report: “Perhaps our most significant conclusion is that mitigation is unlikely to be feasible without emergency surge capacity limits of the UK and US healthcare systems being exceeded many times over.” [Imperial pg16] “We therefore conclude that epidemic suppression is the only viable strategy at the current time .” [Imperial pg16].
While mitigation was rejected it didn't mean they thought suppression was a significantly better solution. “However, we emphasise that is not at all certain that suppression will succeed long term; no public health intervention with such disruptive effects on society has been previously attempted for such a long duration of time. How populations and societies will respond remains unclear.” [Imperial pg 16].
Imperial didn't conclude that they had a clear winning strategy. All were bad. Every strategy modeled resulted in large numbers of people dying with significant collateral damage. I argue that Imperial College simply recommended the “least worst” strategy of suppression based on their current assumptions.
I can promise you that I, and millions others, are not hiding in a closet for 12-18 months and even if we all did good luck trying to get any semblance of our lives back. The lives destroyed by actually implementing this plan would be catastrophic. Forget about money, this is about lives. Millions of lives would be irrevocably destroyed. [Reason1]
Now, over a month later and armed with new data and common sense we must re-evaluate.
First we must accept that we aren't actually doing a total suppression strategy. Some people would be able to live in near isolation but if we all did it then society would crumble long before we reached 12-18 months. At the very least we need people to grow food, process it, package it and eventually we need to get it. Person to person contact is unavoidable for survival. Regardless of any “planned strategy” there will be some level of mitigation occurring.
Next, there is evidence that Imperial grossly overestimated the fatality ratio (IFR) because the number of people infected was grossly underestimated. This is not meant to disparage Imperial in any way. They didn't have the data that we have now. Two recent studies indicate that as many as 28 to 85 times more people have been exposed to the virus than previously believed lowering the IFR to roughly that of the seasonal influenza. To be clear, I am not saying that COVID-19 is the flu. It's not. I am simply relaying the results of these new studies which suggest that the IFR of COVID is similar to that of the flu as opposed to the horrifically terrifying figures that have been widely reported. See tables below.
Imperial College IFR vs Adjusted IFR based on new studies. Adjusted IFR = Imperial IFR x 0.15/0.9 All of these numbers need to be confirmed.
Finally, I am not convinced that Imperial College modeled a common sense hybrid strategy. Their hybrid strategy consisted of 2 months of quarantine followed by 1 month of liberation and then repeated. This is an entirely unrealistic strategy to implement on a scale suitable for the United States. Imagine trying to quarantine the USA like we are on a traffic light. It also assumes a uniform number of cases throughout the USA which as shown by New York City vs California is clearly incorrect.
We are a nation of free-thinkers and builders. We adapt, we overcome. That's what we do and what we have always done. Sitting back and letting our lives and fortunes be dictated and decided by un-elected scientists with faulty and inaccurate assumptions doesn't make any sense to me.
Here is what I know....
• We can't live under a suppression strategy for 12-18 months.
• Mitigation is going to happen regardless of any plan.
• Many more are going to get COVID. Some of us are going to die. No way around that. I want to say "suck it up" but I won't.
• COVID disproportionately kills the elderly and other at-risk-population segments.
• Young and healthy people have the highest chance of surviving COVID.
• Data suggests that the IFR is much lower than previously reported or believed.
• It doesn't feel right to me to keep our elderly and at-risk population locked up in the attic for years like Ann Frank or giving them a pain pill.
I know this could infuriate a lot of people. I get it. You want everyone to do exactly what you want them to do and what you feel is right. Like a little mini closet dictator tattling on your neighbor's lack of social distancing. Fortunately there will be Americans who aren't going to take this lying down and they will be the ones to liberate you from your closet - not the other way around.
Time for the young, like me, to give back and contribute and shield the vulnerable.
Cover picture is of me, Daniel Barringer, on March 19th in Puerto Vallarta Mexico looking for a party.