COVID-19 was sold to us as the worst pandemic since the 1918 Spanish Flu, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide and caused 675,000 deaths in the United States.  On March 16, 2020, the Imperial College London (ICL) predicted that an unmitigated epidemic would cause 2.2 million deaths in the US alone.  Adding, even in the best-case scenario, with extreme mitigation and treatment, 1.1 to 1.2 million Americans would still die.  Gabriel Leung, chair of public health medicine at Hong Kong University, said that COVID-19 could infect 60 percent of the world’s population and kill 1 in 10 of those infected -- killing 50 million people worldwide. 

These dire warnings inevitably snowballed and created widespread fear and pandemonium.  Panicked shoppers stocked up toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other goods creating a supply shortage.  The media predictably jumped on the bandwagon with their nonstop media coverage.  Governors and mayors, in turn, responded by enacting extreme quarantine and social distancing policies effectively shutting down the US economy.  This same scenario played out all over the globe causing the greatest viral panic the world has ever seen.  However, it didn’t take long for the initial projected deaths to become revised:

On March 29, 2020, NIAID director and White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci lowered initial estimates to between 100,000 and 200,000 American deaths.  

On April 8, 2020, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) revised their estimates from 94,000 deaths to 60,400 deaths, a decline of 26 percent.

April 9, 2020, Dr. Fauci said the final toll currently looked more like 60,000 deaths rather than 100,000 to 200,000 deaths.  Incidentally, an article co-authored by Dr. Fauci had predicted that COVID-19 “may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza.”

In less than a month the estimates were revised from 2 million to 60,000 deaths.  Currently, there are 21,993 deaths in the US as a result of COVID-19.  No doubt that number will increase before this is over, but it has yet to compare with a bad flu season.  For instance, according to the CDC 61,000 Americans died during the 2017/2018 flu season.  There were no mass quarantines, stay-at-home orders, or economic shutdowns when that happened just two years ago.

According to Dr. Fauci, the models were revised down because social distancing has been effective, but how can we know that for sure?  There’s a certain degree of plausible deniability involved no matter the outcome.  If the initial estimates were correct then the experts can say “See, we told you so.”  And if the initial estimates were wrong the experts can say “See, we saved you!”  In other words, even if they’re wrong, they’re still right.

It appears unlikely that even with extreme social distancing measures the initial estimates could be lowered so drastically within such a short period of time.  Especially considering many of the models did factor in some degree of social distancing.  Regardless, how do we account for countries like Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Iceland, and Sweden among others?  These countries are dealing with COVID-19 without taking the same extreme social distancing measures, and they haven’t experienced exorbitant death tolls as a result.  Taiwan, for example, currently has had 388 cases of COVID-19 and only 6 deaths.

There are several things we must reevaluate in light of current events.  The first is the blind faith we put in computer models.  Models are not crystal balls, they can’t predict the future with any degree certainty.  They are designed to persuade and change behavior, and that is exactly what they have done.  Second, we should reevaluate the faith we put in the “experts”.  Experts are good at what they do, but it also makes them prone to tunnel vision.  They see problems and solutions only as it relates to their field of expertise. The experts do not take into consideration the social or economic ramifications of their recommendations, and are often unable to relate to life outside their own narrow field of specialization.  Expert advice must be balanced with the real world and the people that live in it.

Finally, we need to reevaluate if these drastic measures were warranted in the first place.  We’ve had pandemics before, such as SARS in 2003 and H1N1 in 2008, but we’ve never taken these kinds of actions before.  Not even during the Spanish Flu were such actions taken.  Yes, they had quarantines and partial economic shutdowns due to labor shortages, but not a nation-wide economic shutdown like we are experiencing now.  The actions we are taking are unprecedented and we don’t fully know the extent, especially to the economy.

The economy is our life-blood. There is never a good reason to shut down the entire economy because if we lose the economy we lose everything.  If that happens a pandemic may be the least of our problems.  A depression would cause untold misery, unemployment, and food shortages.  In addition, if the economy goes so goes our healthcare system, leaving us in a worse position if we need to battle another pandemic.  As President Trump said, "We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself."

 At the time of this writing, there are approximately 113,902 deaths globally as a result of COVID-19.  While a single death is still a tragedy, it must also be put into perspective.  Seasonal flu kills an estimated 291,000 to 646,000 people worldwide each year.  The H1N1 pandemic killed 151,700 to 575,400 people globally.  In comparison, COVID-19 is shaping up to be the worst pandemic that never happened. However, the consequences of our actions will have long-lasting repercussions.  It may take us years if not decades to fully recover from it.

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Great post, Watchman!

It is looking more and more like this virus did not come from the wet market as they were saying, but, from the bio lab in Wuhan. This whole thing smells to high heaven and in time we will find out the truth!

I believe in Trump!

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