Good News About COVID-19! It’s in the Data!
March 21, 2020
From Ahvie Herskowitz, MD
While I was writing my last post of the day, I received the post by Dr. Diamandis below, and agree that we MUST also focus on the hopeful trends in the current data:
COVID-19 Confirmed Cases Count – Global
1) The mortality numbers in the USA, so far, are relatively “flat”, much like Korea, Japan and Germany. This is GREAT news! If they remain relatively flat for the next 1-2 weeks, many locations in the USA will be over the worst of the pandemic.
COVID-19 Mortality Count – Global
2) For those in San Francisco and California at large: Similar flat curves, unlike New York and Washington. We are hopeful that lockdowns in all 3 States will be effective going forward. It is long overdue to have a national policy.
3) New cases in China are almost zero, and recoveries are largely complete. The same is true for Korea and Japan. Essentially, for all 3 countries with extensive testing, and those who have weathered the COVID storm, there is NO EVIDENCE OF SECOND SURGES OF CASES. In the USA and in Western Europe, the numbers of new cases are difficult to interpret, since testing capabilities have lagged, but outside of Italy and Spain, there is hope for the UK, Germany, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries.
4) Drugs that work – More information here.
5) Testing is finally coming – but, frankly, even this is a two-edged sword. The California Governor announced yesterday that the State’s model suggested that 56% of the population will become infected. While the trends of cases and mortality DO NOT currently suggest this, if we follow with large scale testing as in Korea, we may ultimately find that we have a mortality rate of 0.5% or lower. Since this is a possibility, we may cause further havoc in society. For example, what are the consequences of long quarantine times if a single person tests positive in a large high rise building, or at an essential work place with thousands of staffers?
6) In the most recent published study on mortality from Italy, less than 1% (0.8%) of all deaths occurred in patients without pre-existing conditions – almost half (48.5%) occurred in patients with 3 or more conditions (most common, 75% had hypertension, 35% diabetes). The average age of those who’ve died was 79.5! All of Italy’s victims under age 40 were those with serious pre-existing medical conditions.
The main take away point is, IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER… It is not possible to determine what the mortality rate truly is because so few persons have been tested. The number is calculated by the “number dead” divided by “the number who have tested positive” (currently ~8,000/200,000) — the denominator, but will the true number be 4% or 0.4%…. Numbers from Korea, Japan and Germany, suggest the lower number. Numbers from Italy suggest the higher number. We don’t know why such a discrepancy exists, but we are all grateful that our USA mortality numbers are still relatively flat! We will find out as soon as large scale-testing comes reliably, online… and the best approach will be estimates by random samples of groups across the country, regions, cities and counties. The anticipated large rise in positive cases over the next few weeks will NOT give us a good picture of the virulence of COVID-19!
Post by Dr. Diamandis: https://www.diamandis.com/blog/good-news-covid-19
About Ahvie Herskowitz, MD
Dr. Herskowitz’s extensive training includes a medical degree from The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, residencies in Anatomic Pathology and Internal Medicine, and Fellowship training in Cardiology at The Johns Hopkins Medical Center. During his 12 years at Johns Hopkins, he became Associate Professor of Medicine and Immunology and Molecular Microbiology and led a research team in the study of molecular and immunological mechanisms of inflammation, autoimmunity, ischemia, heart transplantation rejection and congestive heart failure.
Dr. Herskowitz’s latest academic appointment was as Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC San Francisco. To learn more about Dr. Herskowitz, you can read it bio here.
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