Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics

Much has been made by bloggers whom and on sites which I respect, about certain prognostications by Mssr. Briggs, statistician, regarding Kung Flu.

I'm not quibbling about his numbers, just what he makes of them, evidently from an utter lack of knowledge about that of which he speaks.

Unfortunately, Briggs' combines his statistical skills with what he doesn't know about science in general, and epidemiology in particular.

1) There are, indeed, "good" flu years, and "bad' flu years. But it's not a 1- or 2- variable problem set.
    a) there are always older people, some of whom are more frail, and many of whom are going to die. But surviving flu one year doesn't, ergo, make you another year older and thus more likely to die the next year. That's kindergarten math thinking.

    b) How many other conditions does any given grandpa or grandma X have?

    c) What is their general health condition?

    d) Did they get a flu shot that year, or not?
        d1) Did the flu vaccine witch doctors guess the actual flu strain mutations well, and formulate a great shot (a year with a 95% efficacy) or poorly (a year with 15% efficacy). {e.g., in 2018, IIRC, there were 635 individual strains of flu rampant in the US, and that year's shot had about a 15% effectiveness. This is nigh on to worthless, relatively speaking.}
        d2) Was there even a flu shot at all?
(In, to my best recollection, 2010, there was no flu vaccine available at all. Whichever year it was, it was a record low flu year. Because CDC and FedGov bombarded the airwaves with PSAs telling people to "Wash your goddamned nasty hands! Stay home if you're sick!" in so many words, and mirabile dictu, old people and parents of young children actually did it. Flu visits to the ER that year were negligible.)

That exact level of concern, plus masks, and distancing, is why, by all accounts, this year's flu season cases will probably be contained in a thimble.

Those are just some of the 100-500 variables behind who dies, and why, from flu, Kung Flu, or any other thing, in any given year. Not just whether it was a "good" or "bad" flu year, last year.

Yes, it was world-record @$$holian to put known COVID+ cases into convo homes, which are the lowest form of medical care other than anything found in the Turd World, and you get a perfect storm of the most vulnerable patients, and the most execrable level of care not delivered by actual gypsies and witch doctors (and in most convo homes, there's little difference between them. The fact that they reek of sh*t and piss the moment you walk in is what poker players call a "tell".) Those deaths were, indeed,  low-hanging fruit.

That such deaths may have accounted for nearly half the initial wave is bad.
It does nothing for the next wave, unless you stop doing that. I have yet to hear that it's no longer policy. And even if it was, that overlooks the obvious problem: Kung Flu presents asymptomatically in up to 50% of cases (which is why checking for fever temperatures at building entries is like looking for elephants in trees: asinine and pointless.)

If they really wanted to keep infected people out of convo homes (which are still chock full of vulnerable patients, in 50 states and 7 territories), they'd have to be rapid-testing every patient they admit, before entry, and rapid-testing every staff member, daily, and every single visitor, vendor, etc., and holding them in quarantine outside until they test negative (an hour or two later). We don't even do that in first-class hospitals.

Doing so would cost a large fortune, and bankrupt everyone, everywhere.

So the exact same thing is going to happen, over and over and over, because you won't pay for doing it right. No one will.

Own that.

It's the exact asymptomatic Gilligans - the young and "healthy",  who won't get really sick nor die from this - who have been and will continue spreading this virus around, until it hits the susceptible victims, and makes a guaranteed percentage of them very sick, and some of them very dead.

Some of them, yes, will be the aged, infirm, and those with levels of disease that were killing people at age 66 in 1933. (That's why FDR had Social Security kick in at age 65; FedGov expected you to be dead within a year. And then medicine, the same bunch that know-nothing idiots bitch about for the cost, went and started increasing everyone's life expectancies to the 80s. See if you can guess why SS is broke.)

And yes, we know a little bit better what to do (and not to do) to care for those hardest hit by Kung Flu. Which will make about a 1-25% difference in fatalities in subsequent waves. Because those in the roughly 3% likely to die, are still going to die. So maybe now the death rate goes down from about 3% to 2.7%. (The death rate for flu, BTW, is about 0.1%, since ever. Don't you feel better now, knowing this is only 27 times worse than flu, instead of 30 times?)

The biggest problem with those prognosticating from ignorance in general is overlooking the fact that most of the population, in this or any country, has yet to be exposed to the virus.

E.g. Califrutopia, last I looked, has tested about 10% of our 40M people.
The rate of those infected at some point, is running damned near 10%.
With millions tested now, rather than dozens, those numbers are statistically valid (unlike, say, Biden's pre-election poll numbers) and thus (unlike Biden's vote tallies) aren't going to widely fluctuate. Right up until we throw open the floodgates, eliminate any precautions, and start spreading Kung Flu virus around like it was welfare money in a Blue State. (Or blank mail-in vote bundles at any Democrat HQ building.)

Then, the more people you infect, the more people will die.

Yes, only at that +/- 3% rate.
We're pushing 250K dead now, with the infection rate of 10% in certain places (mostly highly populated areas), and probably less than 0.1% in most of the country denigrated as Flyoverland.

So, roll the dice, and tell me what happens when the infection rate goes up everywhere.
Especially if the infection rate goes up by leaps and bounds, rapidly.
And for a special bonus, in the exact places where true modern medical care is 1-4 hours away.
On a good day.

Then we get to the fun questions:

Does infection confer immunity?
I have no goddamned idea. Neither does WHO. Neither does CDC. 
Neither does Pfizer, or any-effing-body else.
I have one firsthand example of repeat infection, hospitalized in front of my face. 
I have dozens of cases reported anecdotally.

I have seen zero literature explaining this.
I have seen or heard of zero literature documenting exactly how widespread this is.

No one knows how much, or how widely, the original strain is mutating.

Thus any claims of vaccine efficacy are so much bullshit.
Any claims of herd immunity are so much whistling past the graveyard.
Any extrapolation of how bad this is going to be, with those exact unknowns being so glaringly obvious, are nothing but Bandini Mountain, with a sewage frosting from downstream of the septic plant.

Do I want fiat lockdowns again?


Make a case, trot out evidence, not SWAG bullshit, and weigh the benefits and costs.
Medical, scientific, economic, everydamnedthing. Talk it over, and think it through, FIRST.
Then have the legislatures pass laws, or not, and have governors sign or veto them.

Y'know, like republican government has worked going back to, oh Magna Carta, or even Rome and Greece. If only for the novelty.

I went over a month in a SoCal ER with no likely COVID patients. I tell you, it was heaven. A crappy night with no COVID patients was like old times.

That ended last week. Just about 3 weeks behind the spike in cases, we just had, on my shifts alone, 3 slam-dunk sure-as-hell-got-it COVID patients. I had 2 of them personally, and one of them was the re-infection case I wrote about previously. When I left yesterday, we had a guy who literally desatted from 80% to 60% oxygen level in the two minutes it took to get him from the triage tent to an iso room inside. He was in his 50s.

The ICU nurse who died from my hospital got it from a patient who was uninfected, then exposed by an asymptomatic patient in a regular ward, brought it to the ICU, and infected 10 nurses there before they knew it was a COVID case. That nurse was in her early 50s, not her late 80s.

Times, in 25 years of my career, that happens with flu: never.
Not one goddamned time.
Not even a consideration.

So I'm getting pretty damned tired of ignorant @$$holes burping out pure undiluted horseshit quotes like the following:

Young (under 65) healthy people are not being killed by the doom—or much of anything else.
Yes, they are. On a regular basis.
Pointing out that they do so at a lesser rate does nothing to remove the lie from the quote above.
And noting that old people die more often is cold comfort to someone whose 30- or 40-year old spouse died because to pointy-headed number crucncher, they were just a rounding error, or "within the margin or error". If you don't have to look the survivors in the eye while their loved one's bodies are still warm but heading for room temperature, kindly STFU about things when you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

Suppose I told you, with absolute statistical confidence, that if you ran red lights, you only had a 3% chance of getting bashed to hell, killing someone, or going to prison. 
Would you do it?
Suppose I told you that your meatloaf was 97% steak, and only 3% bullsh*t.
Would you eat it?

If you answered "yes", how much shit could I put in your meatloaf before you'd turn it down??

You can tell me that driving is hazardous, because of drunks and idiots. I'll still drive.
Mainly because I don't drive 100% of the day.
But unlike bar fights, liquor store robberies, or drunk driving deaths, everybody alive on the planet breathes, non-stop, 24/7/365, without any choice in the matter.

So unless you can live isolated, or hold your breath for years on end, or live in a spacesuit 24/7, that makes a respiratory ailment in widespread circulation one hell of a lot bigger concern than the other causes of death which, exactly as the CDC and Briggs note, knock off about 50,000 people every year in this country. 

Which makes statistical prognostications from someone like Briggs sound to me exactly like a fresh hot steaming pile of cowshit smells.

I can listen to statistical bullshit from people who don't know what they don't know, or I can believe my lying eyes, backed up by medical evidence, and common sense.

You guess where I'ma come down on that one.


Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

Aesop thanks for the information it really helps to hear from someone you can believe. All the horseshit information from the other side these 9 months has many of us frustrated not knowing who to believe especially with those commie gubermint types destroying many peoples lives and livelihood. That repeat patient is scary. My neighbor knew a 34 year old fit female that died. My Doctor said yesterday their frustration is not knowing why or how it effects people in different ways young and old.

Reltney McFee said...

I work in a walk in clinic. I occasionally see somebody test-positive for coronavirus.

Folks ask me if it is as bad as "they" say.

I tell them, from my sample, no, BUT!!! my sample is very, very skewed. Away from OMFG! Sick Dude!" and towards "Just da fru, bro". which is a very poor set from which to extrapolate.

So, I tell those who ask me, if rolling the dice, with a revolver with one filled chamber is your thing, rock on. Me, I'm risk averse and assume that my sample is skewed, not representative of the spectrum of possibilities, and that there ARE folks who get "OMFG!" sick, and I am not curious if I will become one of them.

So, I take care. Just as if Semmelweiss knew a thing or two.

SiGraybeard said...

I wasn't clear enough that the idea that easy flu years lead to more deaths in the more intense years is not from Briggs, it's mine and the actual subject of the post title "Most People Don't Think Like This", so don't blame it on Briggs, blame it on me.

As with virtually everything you get in health statistics "he who" studies, it's association, not cause and effect. ("he who" study = like "he who" eats X is more likely to have Y)

Technically, it's the idea of a Ph.D. biochemist in big pharma that I kind of know, but that's not important, either. Blame it on me.

Grey Fox said...

Question: Where are you getting your 3% figure from? Ive seen all kinds of figures ranging from .023 or some such nonsense to 1.3 or so from a recent study (which I forgot to bookmark!). If my memory serves me right, 3% was the rough estimate when it first spread out of China, but I haven't seen much trustworthy data on it since.

docfromjerusalem said...

Doc, If I understand your recommendations properly:

1-You don't know, nor does any one else know, yet, what is better than facemasks, social distancing and washing hands;

2- Even this post-COVID19 patient [over 65], fully recovered [or so I think], who tested positive for COVID19 antibodies, should continue only short visits, with appropriate safeguards, with his dozens of grandchildren.

Unknown said...

I've heard plenty of talk about how criminal it was for governors to force nursing homes to take Kung Flu patients, and it was, but of late I grow suspicious as to how many people who are carrying on about Governor So-and-so making nursing homes take those people are the same ones who refuse to wear a mask in public.

I'm totally in favor of holding governors who screwed nursing homes by making them take Kung Flu patients accountable, but it we do that, it's time to fine or jail those who refuse to wear a mask in public places. For all they know, they have infected some nursing home employee who in turn became an unknowing carrier of Kung Flu into the nursing home.

But only Evil Government makes bad decisions. When it comes to personal choice, well, devil take the hindmost.

We need to scrap "in God we trust" off US coins and replace it with our new motto. After this year, "devil take the hindmost" is far more appropriate for this country.


Aesop said...


Consider yourself blamed for that subset.
The greater issue was the quote, from Briggs, wherein he flatly stated that no one healthy under 65 is dying from this. He couldn't be more wrong.

3% as the figure from actual studies before kung Flu became a thing, and everyone with an axe to grind pissed into the statistical pool.
It also held pretty true by McThag, as he compared Florida's case infections with deaths, pretty much from late winter through spring and early summer, when the first wave abated notably.
If anyone has reliable figures showing a lower rate, I'd like to see them. Most of those pimping numbers are already convinced it's the Black Death (it's not), or else that it's "just the flu, bro" (it's not), so I discount their horsesh*t hypotheses on sight, since they usually cherry-pick want they want, and try to mold the resultant ball of dung into a jeweled scarab.

@doc from J.,
Essentially, yes. And from anyone else, absent precautions. Asymptomatic Gilligan carriers have driven this bus from the first deaths to 5 seconds ago, and that won't change for another year. If ever. The idea that we can re-open everything, and not test everyone, is kith and kin to the idea that there's an acceptable amount of steer manure that should be baked into your meatloaf, and you should both like it and eat it.

That's been the byline for most of the crackpots pooh-poohing this since Day One.
They're just as culpable, if not more so, as the idiot governors like Fredo from NYFS, who has the blood of tens of thousands of dead con-home patients on his hands.

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

New info. Got a note from a rural friend yesterday, Grandfather, father and son our age all died of covid in the last nine months or at least died. Why, I want to know? Genetics from some hereditary thing? Comorbidity issues?

Aesop said...


Without knowing specifics, no idea.

BTW, people don't die because of the co-morbidities, those just make them more likely.
Just like few, if any, people die from drunk driving because they were drunk. Unless they had a BAL of 900, and fell asleep, and stopped breathing. They die because of that pole they hit at 90MPH while drunk, and because the one leads to the other.

The people who got wrapped around the axle of deaths with COVID (or co-morbidities, like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, etc.) vs. because of. People don't die from the co-morbidities, they died because those things sapped their body's ability to deal with things when the COVID pneumonia in both lungs, everywhere, simultaneously, taxed their ability to breathe and survive beyond what it could handle. Generally because they were too frail, fat, old, weak, and sedentary, which is how you get to be fat, diabetic, hypertensive, etc.
But when you walk around for decades fat, sedentary, diabetic, and hypertensive, then get COVID, and die in 3 weeks, it wasn't those co-morbidities which killed you, it was the Kung Flu.

Just like if you had all those co-morbidities, and got eaten by a lion while on safari.
The lion killed you, not the co-morbidities. The co-morbidities just made you easier pickings.

What they died from, in all cases was cardio-respiratory failure caused by COVID pneumonia. Everything else just piled on to decrease their survival prospects, but noting that sick people die more frequently than healthy people isn't exactly a blazing piece of medical insight.

People who focus on the co-morbidities like it's an "A HA!" moment are as ignorant as the idiot-savant people that actually think guns just randomly jump up and kill people, all by themselves, and they don't seem to get that focusing on them just underlines their ignorance on the topic.

There may be some genetic component as well, but absent evidentiary research, that's just a Hail Mary guess by some people uncomfortable with admitting that they have NFI what causes the Kung Flu to kill 3 people, hospitalize another 7, get 30 sick, and leave 60 completely untouched. I'd rather wait for the answers rather than grunt and squeeze them out of my hindquarters.

And in the meantime, wear a mask and gloves, and wash my hands, which has worked flawlessly for 10 months, to date, in close proximity to rampant cases, to leave me uninfected.

Nick Flandrey said...

I just today learned that two of my great aunts got covid, one in her 90s but still active and vigorous got it at a party in the Fl Keys, and recovered.

The other in her 90s, sick and in care home, died two weeks ago.

3 kids and a staff member tested positive at my kid's school this week, out of 450 kids. This is the second bunch since in person school resumed as an option. The first time it was one each.

Even formerly conscientious people are becoming complacent and sloppy in their PPEs and habits.

I get a lot of "you don't have to wear that mask in here" from certain business folks, small businesses, with open roll up doors mostly. I answer "I've been coughing for 3 days." They all say something like "well maybe you should keep it on then" like it never occurred to them that *I* might have a good reason to actually wear it rather than "fear" or "baaaaa".


Aesop said...

For those who don't frequent it, go read CA's take on this over at WRSA:

He is absolutely right, and "get's it".

Kung Flu is a a thing. it's real. It can't be reasoned with.
Your totalitarian would-be overlords are absolutely using it to play you, and extend their control over your lives, because they "never let a crisis go to waste".

Neither of those truths are mutually exclusive.


Prepare and live accordingly.

lynn said...

So, there is still a 3% chance of death if you get Covid. Ok, 2.7%. Is that include both the asymptomatic and the obviously sick ?

Or 0% if you get treatment like the Trumper with two experimental drugs.

Unknown said...

Aesop, while I don't doubt the report at WRSA, stupid Americans played into the Communist's hands on this one. They were bent on believing it was no big deal, that the entire planet faked a pandemic to get rid of Trump, or any other thing other than acknowledge the truth and take the most basic precautions. The fact that they act like they were asked to sacrifice their children to Moloch when they were told to wear a mask in public beggars belief.

I believe it was someone on your blog who said that if everyone had obeyed the lockdowns and stayed home, this would have been over in a month. Americans set themselves up for this, and certain political sectors, despite disavowing Communism, made this too easy for the Communists.


SecessionIsTheAnswer said...

I would agree with CA's take at WRSA as you recommend. Be an adult, make informed choices /reasoned decisions and get on with life ( if the government clowns will let you).

However as you are on the front-lines treating this virus, I would like to know if your hospital has tried any ozone O3 treatments with infected patients. A hospital is the best place for this type of treatment as O3 treatment needs to be professionally administered, but there are studies showing positive results with killing viral/bacterial infections in the lungs and body.

Just curious if used, what the results in your hospital has been?

OvergrownHobbit said...

I have another data point for you on the re-infection question.

Bad tests. And not just 3rd World WHO tests where a goat, a papaya and a chicken all tested positive. Modern U.S. folks taking 4 tests (aka Elon Musk) and getting different results each time. Lots of those.

Then there's the one lady I know who had Shroedinger's Wuflu. Positive by the distinctive chest x-ray, (and progression) but, as she said to me over the Zoom chat: "They kept testing me and testing me but it came back negative."

Make of it what you will, but at the bare minimum we do not, in fact know the case penetration. It's like the same people running the election fraud are also in charge of our SARS2 CoViD 19 response, or something. What are the odds?

And I am still bemused by your support of the semi-permeable fabric membranes: virus goes in but it can't go out. Cotton is magic.

Particularly when your 2010 flu data supports what's required: Hand washing. Avoiding crowded spaces. Not self-innoculating... And a population capabable of following these simple rules.

Which we don't have. Not the aristos. Not the mobs. Not the semi-literate peasantry. So why are you all-in on the mask kabuki? What's the point? And that is assuming that the fake glorified sneeze-guards used by hoi-polloi
actually do more good than harm.

I'm really not trying to take the mickey: you're the only online pro-cheapo-mask (as opposed to pro PPE which no-one can get) who isn't scientifically illiterate, a gullible
Branch Covidian, or both.

I know a lot of the anti-mask sentiment (as opposed to argument) is that its also a public badge of support for the criminal, murderous locked downs. But that's an entirely different problem.

OvergrownHobbit said...

A question I've been meaning to ask for a while: what are your homeless numbers for this?