In 1892, the great medical pioneer William Osler referred to pneumonia as “the natural end of the old man.” In common use, this has become “pneumonia is the old man’s friend.” That is, pneumonia is the final step in ending the suffering that is common near the end of one’s life. Curiously, it is a pneumonia that seems to be the most common terminal event in COVID 19 infection.
There’s one item we’ve heard a lot about in the Wuhan Flu pandemic: co-morbidities. In Obamacare-speak, these are “pre-existing conditions.” Now you should be able to tell the rest of us that these are bad medical conditions you had before you got the virus.
North of 80% of all Wuhan Flu deaths have serious co-morbidities. The Italian data indicates that the average dying patient had 2.7 of them. Of course, you can’t have 0.7 of a morbid condition, so some had more and some less. We also know that the average age at death was 82. Hmmm.
According to World Health Rankings, average life expectancy in Italy is 82.8. In other words, those 82 year old victims already had one foot on the banana peel before the virus arrived. They only had months left before their subscription ran out anyway. In Obamacare-speak, they didn’t have many “Quality Adjusted Life-Years” (QALYs) left.
Then Dr. Deborah Birx let it slip (4/7 briefing) that anyone who died while his ex-wife’s second cousin had COVID 19 is listed as a COVID 19 death. That’s simply dishonest. You didn’t die from the virus just because you had the virus in your body. There are 2.7 other valid reasons to put on your death certificate that wouldn’t inflate the excuse for the government to destroy our freedoms. Let’s look at just one of many very ordinary situations.
Suppose you’ve got bad coronary disease from your obesity and Type II Diabetes. You’ve had an angioplasty, your follow-ups have been iffy, and you’re due for another. But you can’t get your stress echocardiogram and SPECT scan right now because they are “elective.” Those would indicate that you need another “elective” angioplasty. And that’s illegal right now.
So your “maybe” angina waits for you to get infected when you go to the grocery store. You start feeling poorly, and because you’ve heard the Fake News Media say that Wuhan Flu is a death sentence, you rush to the hospital. You are stressed beyond belief. Your adrenaline starts pumping out. Your blood pressure goes up, and so does your blood sugar. Your angina starts to be obvious. This creates shortness of breath, so you have to have supplemental oxygen. You’ve got “COVID pneumonia!” And when your coronary artery completely obstructs due to the inflammatory response to stress and high blood glucose, your heart fibrillates and a useful rhythm can’t be restored. You assume room temperature in the Emergency Department.
Two days later, your test comes back positive for Wuhan Flu. Your death certificate gets filled out with the virus as the cause of death. And it’s a lie. You died from your underlying coronary disease, which was a direct consequence of your high carbohydrate diet which, by the way, has been recommended by the CDC for decades. (That tells us how much we should trust the CDC.)
This sort of guilt by association is inflating the numbers of Wuhan Flu deaths. We don’t know by how much, but it’s clear that all the government numbers of all sorts are simply SWAG (“Scientific” Wild-Assed Guesses). The original estimate of deaths was 2.5 million. On Tuesday (4/8) the IHME, Fauci’s preferred modeler, lowered its prediction from roughly 90,000 deaths to 60,000. That puts it in line with seasonal flu. And a new paper in Lancet indicates that the real mortality rate from COVID 19 is about 0.66%, very similar to what I’ve been saying for some time. Of course, this number is probably inflated by the death certificate issue.
So what’s really happening with the Wuhan Flu?
There are two factors at play. The advertised issue is that we don’t have herd immunity, and that’s true. Because this is a new virus, nobody starts out immune to it, although that’s not entirely certain. A number of exposed people don’t get the disease for reasons we don’t understand. As more people become exposed and recover, more people become immune. Eventually enough people become immune that the bug doesn’t have very many targets, and only a few people get sick. At this point, it quits being a big deal.
There’s a second way to create herd immunity – vaccination. In the 2009 H1N1 epidemic, we had vaccines approved in five months. Let’s see. Our first cases in the US were in February, so by June we should have vaccines available. But Dr Fauci says we can’t have them until 2023. He’s a major roadblock. He wants to keep America on ice for years. And Trump is listening to him?
In over 80% of Wuhan Flu deaths, we start with people who are at serious risk of death in the near future without any illness. Any stress can tip them over the edge. It can be the lost job because we locked the country down. It can be a cold or flu. It can be ____ (fill in the blank). What kills these people? The final stressing event is often identifiable, but so are the risk factors. For that 80%, without the massive risk factors they already have, Wuhan Flu would probably just be another not-so-good week where you stayed home. But they had already reached that point where the Grim Reaper was a likely visitor.
At the risk of seeming cold and unsympathetic, an evolutionary biologist would call this “thinning the herd.” While the wolves will kill the occasional healthy elk, most of their victims are weaker members, typically very young or infirm. Most of the COVID 19 deaths are people who were near departure anyway. The disease was simply the old man’s friend, sealing the lids of their caskets.
When all the deaths are counted for the year, it seems likely that all the Wuhan Flu deaths will be lost in the noise over auto accidents, overdoses, suicides and every other cause of death. Yes, it caused some immediate stress to the medical system in some cities, but perhaps we would have done better to follow Taiwan and South Korea’s model. As long as you use masks (and gloves where appropriate) along with disinfection and testing (as available), you can go about your business.
If we keep America closed, how many excess deaths will we have from other preventable or treatable causes? How many extra suicides will there be? And for what? Are we trying to eliminate the old man’s friend?