THREE CORONAVIRUS MYTHS to help you fight the fear...

(Data as of 3/10)

America and the world are rushing headlong into a global recession sparked, not by a deadly virus but, by FEAR of a deadly virus.

Since the ramifications for our nation -- and for you and me individually -- are quite enormous, I want to offer you some context and resources that can help you sort out the TRUTH of what's really happening.

+ + Biggest FEAR PLAY I've ever seen

First off, this is without a doubt the most widespread FEAR PLAY I've ever seen. Visit Drudge Report today and you'll discover TWENTY-SIX links at the top of the page about the Chinese Coronavirus -- all DOOM AND GLOOM.

There is no context. No counterpoint. And it's the same just about everywhere.

As I'm writing this, the U.S. death toll stands at 30. Global deaths have exceeded 4,000. Yes, it's a new, deadly virus, but the actions being taken by world leaders to SHUT DOWN entire countries (Italy is now shut down) is a dangerous overreaction. Those decisions will impact your family far more than the virus -- and could decide this fall's presidential election!

If we allow FEAR to rule the day, we could find ourselves in a global recession that negatively affects our families in profound ways and even directly impacts our November elections.

So why am I more concerned with the FEAR than the VIRUS?

+ + Busting the Myths...

Because I've been doing some digging...

And it's looking more and more like the Chinese Coronavirus will ultimately end up very similar to the 2009-10 Swine Flu Pandemic than the Apocalypse that Drudge and everyone else is pushing.

Before I go on, I want to say that we must take the Chinese Coronavirus seriously. There is a good possibility that hundreds of thousands of people (or more) may die as a result of this virus. And if that happens, it will have a similar impact as the 2009 Swine Flu which infected 60 million Americans and killed more than a HALF MILLION people worldwide.

Yet, I don't recall ANY GLOBAL SWINE FLU PANIC in 2009 -- certainly nothing even close to the "SHUT DOWN" fears we're experiencing now.

Interestingly, Swine Flu at its outset was thought to possibly have a 4% mortality rate -- about the same as the current chatter surrounding the Chinese Coronavirus. In retrospect, the mortality rate for the Swine Flu Pandemic turned out to be far below 1% (perhaps .1%). Still, a HALF MILLION people died. Yet the stock market didn't go through historic convulsions because of the flu. Countries didn't shut down. Life went on.

So here are three CORONAVIRUS MYTHS I want to bust with some fact-based realities that can keep us from cultural and economic shutdown.

  • Myth #1 -- Chinese Coronavirus's mortality rate is OFF THE CHARTS
  • Myth #2 -- Chinese Coronavirus is SUPER VIRAL, way worse than the flu
  • Myth #3 -- Chinese Coronavirus is an INDISCRIMINATE KILLER

To bust these myths, here are four realities about the Chinese Coronavirus...

+ + REALITY #1 -- The mortality rate is likely FAR LOWER than currently feared

Currently, the FEAR PUSHERS are reporting that the mortality rate from this Coronavirus is 3.4%. That's not true. The World Health Organization says the "crude mortality ratio" (total deaths divided by total infected) is "between 3 and 4 percent." But a mortality ratio and a mortality rate are two different things. First off, the early predictions of mortality rates for these outbreaks are almost always high and misleading because we simply do not have enough data. (See more on this here.) Once there is additional data, the mortality ratio generally drops, and thus, the mortality rate predictions drop as well.

So what's the best guess for the mortality rate for the Chinese Coronavirus? Here's what Adm. Brett Giroir at the Department of Health and Human Services said last week: "The best estimates now of the overall mortality rate for COVID-19 is somewhere between 0.1 percent and 1 percent. That’s lower than you’ve heard probably in many reports."

If Giroir is correct, then we can stop all the panic. Yes, LOTS OF PEOPLE WILL DIE -- just like the Swine Flu Pandemic of a decade ago. Yes, we should take precautions. But this will not be a culture-shifting event. And it shouldn't be treated as such.

But is Giroir correct? 

Most likely, yes. The strongest data set we currently have to project the Chinese Coronavirus mortality rate is coming from South Korea, where extensive testing has been done. Here's the latest data out of South Korea:

  • 189,000 people tested
  • 7,513 tested positive for COVID-19
  • 52 deaths

Do the math. The current "crude mortality ratio" in South Korea is .69% (52 / 7,513) -- about 80% lower than the 3.4% discussed commonly. This is amazingly consistent with the mortality rate in China outside of Wuhan -- .7%. Even the small case study of the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was stranded at the onset of the outbreak also suggests a lower mortality rate -- 705 infected, 6 deaths (.9%). So far, Germany has reported an even lower rate -- 1,139 cases and just two deaths (.017%). (You can see the latest numbers for every country reporting here.)

The real data right now indicates a high probability of a CEILING of .7% mortality rate, at least in developed countries. I say CEILING because with awareness will come more testing and early diagnosis and better treatments and fewer deaths. Thus, I believe it is quite reasonable to project, based on what we now know, that the actual mortality rate for those who contract the Chinese Coronavirus will be less than .7%. (For comparison, the odds of a car crash being the cause of your death is roughly 1%, and since only a smallish percentage of us will contract the Coronavirus, cars are still way more likely to kill you than this coronavirus.) Yes, America's mortality numbers from this coronavirus look bad right now, but that's primarily because of the small sample size and that we haven't really begun any widespread testing. 

I want to be clear. Even a .7% mortality rate could result in a global pandemic that could kill hundreds of thousands (remember, Swine Flu killed more than a half million). It's a major deal that needs to be taken very seriously. But it does not justify GLOBAL PANIC, shutting down entire nations, disrupting our everyday lives, causing massive job losses, forcing America and the world into global recession, and possibly swaying the outcome of our presidential election!

+ + Reality #2 -- Coronavirus may be LESS VIRAL than seasonal flu

After all the fear mongering and end-of-world posts everywhere, I was surprised to discover in the WHO literature that influenza likely "spreads faster" than Coronavirus. Also, the Coronavirus is LESS LIKELY than influenza to be transmitted in the first days of symptoms or before symptoms present. Here's how the WHO explains it:

Q. How are COVID-19 and influenza viruses different?

A. The speed of transmission is an important point of difference between the two viruses. Influenza has a shorter median incubation period (the time from infection to appearance of symptoms) and a shorter serial interval (the time between successive cases) than COVID-19 virus. The serial interval for COVID-19 virus is estimated to be 5-6 days, while for influenza virus, the serial interval is 3 days. This means that influenza can spread faster than COVID19. Further, transmission in the first 3-5 days of illness, or potentially pre-symptomatic transmission – transmission of the virus before the appearance of symptoms – is a major driver of transmission for influenza. In contrast, while we are learning that there are people who can shed COVID-19 virus 24-48 hours prior to symptom onset, at present, this does not appear to be a major driver of transmission.

So the Coronavirus is possibly LESS VIRAL than the seasonal flu. I'm not hearing that much from the FEAR MONGERS. One would think we're all doomed to get the virus, and then death is a crapshoot. Not only are we not all doomed to get the virus, if you do contract COVID-19 you might not get get sick enough to know it or even go to the doctor, and you'll very likely survive just fine.

Which leads us to our third important Coronavirus realty...

+ + Reality #3 -- Coronavirus targets the elderly and especially those with existing health conditions

Unlike the seasonal flu or the Swine Flu Pandemic which impacted both young and old and everyone in between, we now know that the Coronavirus very much targets people over the age of 70 and especially the elderly with respiratory and other pre-existing ailments.

At the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, this Coronavirus resulted in a very ominous mortality rate of nearly 15% for those 80 and over and perhaps 10% for those in their 70s. But skew the age down to people in their 50s and the morality rate plummeted to 1.3%. And the younger you are, the more resistant you are to the virus: .4% mortality rate for those in 40s, and just .2% for ages 10 to 39. From what I can see there are NO REPORTED DEATHS in China of those under 10, which is quite a stunning fact of this virus that is terribly under-reported by the FEAR MEDIA.

Also, the Chinese Coronavirus acts like other respiratory illnesses in that it is exacerbated by pre-existing conditions. Based on China's data, here are the mortality rates for those who had the Chinese Coronavirus:

  • and cardiovascular disease: 10.5%
  • and diabetes: 7.3%
  • and high blood pressure: 6.0%
  • and cancer: 5.6%
  • and no other reported health conditions: .9%!

That last line is very telling. It may prove out that existing health conditions are for more of a concern with this virus than age. And here's another important point: Unlike the seasonal flu and the Swine Flu, not only are children far less susceptible to the Chinese Coronavirus, children are not the main transmitters. Children who do get sick seem to get the Chinese Coronavirus from adults, not other children. So we don't need to shut down the schools.

All this is very significant. Instead of a WIDE-SCALE SHUTDOWN OF SOCIETY that is now being forced upon us, perhaps we can target our response to safeguarding those over, say, 70, or those with existing health conditions. Let's do aggressive testing for those over 70 or those with health conditions. Let's learn from countries like Germany, whose excellent elderly care may explain the country's current low mortality ratio of just .017%.

So we may have caught a break. Yes, seniors are in danger. But our response to the outbreak can be very targeted, and since children are less susceptible both to the disease and as transmitters, it may not prove to be as widespread as, for example, the Swine Flu (which infected 60 million Americans!).

The targeted nature of the virus toward the elderly is another good reason NOT to panic and NOT to disrupt our normal lives and NOT to throw our nation into lockdown and NOT to create an economic meltdown and NOT to allow fear to determine our future!

Even beyond economic disruption and societal shutdown and the possible ramifications on a U.S. presidential election, our FEAR RESPONSE to this virus poses an even greater danger. It's possible that long after this Chinese Coronavirus event has come and gone, our society will have shifted further into the realm of fear and isolation.

We'll stop shaking hands and instead adopt the "elbow bump" as part of our new norm of "social distancing" (a phrase just added to the lexicon for most of us)... We'll have even more justification for interacting virtually instead of in person.... Churches will only serve communion in those individual hermetically sealed communion packets... And we'll cement in our psyche a presupposition of social fear and isolation.

So let's get educated. Let's have open discussions in our circles of influence. Let's take prudent steps to protect our families. And let's refuse to give into the fear.

Steve Elliott, Grassfire

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