Friday, April 17, 2020

Surviving the Coronavirus: Part 11

Magnum Postus Edition

Magnum Opus is Latin for "Great Work." I'll allow you to guess at what I mean by Magnum Postus.

This is my 616th post for this august blog. The statistics page tells me that this blog is approaching nearly a million page views. That's chump change compared to the top blogs, but it's substantially more than most non-august blogs. I was going to write a post, seemingly within the next few months, bragging that this blog had just surpassed a million page views. Now it just doesn't matter. Who cares about such things? I don't.

I have usually written of freedom wrongfully denied and of needles wrongfully injected. I have been pretty much ineffective. After failing to prevent the execution of someone I believed absolutely innocent, I walked away from this blog. I returned, and I walked away again. Now I am back once again, considerably older and a tiny bit wiser, still grasping at some faint hope that I might help, in some faint way, to resolve a serious problem.

Based solely on the number of page views, my magnum opus is Johnny Frank Garrett and Bubbles the Clairvoyant. Some 37,000 pairs of eyes have zoomed across that article. It was certainly the title, much less certainly the contents, that attracted the viewers.

I sincerely hope that more eyes will soon fall on this post, and be amazed, and excited, and hopeful. Based on what I intend to relate herein, I consider this post to be my magnum postus. I urge you to stay tuned, to read to the last word, for new information on how we can get ourselves out of this deadly pandemic mess.

I am deadly serious.

As I have explained since the beginning of this coronavirus series, we will not be completely out of this deadly pandemic mess until we reach herd immunity. We will reach herd immunity only after a certain percentage of us are immune to the virus, either naturally (due to having survived the infection) or artificially (due to having been vaccinated).

The percentage required for herd immunity can be easily calculated from the starting reproduction number, a.k.a the Ro, R zero, R naught, whatever. The best estimate for the coronavirus Ro has, until recently, been somewhere between 2.28 and 2.5. That Ro range would indicate that we will be completely out of this deadly pandemic mess only after 56% to 60% of us have somehow gained immunity.

Unfortunately, the long term picture may be substantially bleaker than even a 60% threshold for herd immunity. The authors of High Contagiousness and Rapid Spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 argue, persuasively in my discouraged opinion, that the Ro is more likely 5.7. If they are correct, then 82% of us will need to somehow become immune before we cross the threshold to that herd immunity wonderland.

I have also argued from the beginning of this series that, until an effective vaccination is available and widely applied, we need to seriously distance ourselves from one another, also that we need an effective treatment, toot sweet. With a Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) of 0.66% (the current best estimate) and an R zero of 5.7 (the most recent best estimate), the virus, if left to its own devices, will take 82% x 0.66% = 0.54% of us. In the US alone, with our 330 million souls, the pandemic would claim 1.8 million.

Social distancing does delay the spread of the infection. It buys us time until vaccines can be developed, tested, and distributed. The vaccines will take a year or so, however, and the adverse effects of social distancing (on the economy and on our basic infrastructure) can be deadly in themselves. We need a means (oxymoron trigger warning!) to quickly ease back into a sustainable way of life while we await the vaccines. That is why I've stressed the need for a treatment, with chloroquine (or some variation thereof) being my unprofessional, not worth a nickel, top pick for most likely to succeed.

What I did not fully appreciate, however, is that there might be one or more prophylactic preventative measures that could act as a temporary pseudo-vaccine. Any such prophylactic preventative measure would be far better even than an effective treatment. Much better to avoid contracting the disease than to burden the system by suffering through an infection.

Social distancing is actually a prophylactic measure. It keeps us from infecting others or being infected ourselves. It does not, however, allow us to go about our lives as if we've been vaccinated. It is the non-disruptive pseudo-vaccination preventatives prophylaxes in which I have most recently become interested in, and in search of.

I believe that I have pseudo-stumbled across not just one, but three, effective prophylaxes that we can rapidly adopt, that will allow us to get back to work as a society, that will spare an untold number of lives. In this post I will present the evidence on which I base my outrageous claim. In this post, and many to follow, I will explain that each measure is being effectively used, either consciously or unconsciously, in multiple other countries. In this post, I will present what I believe to be a safe, low-cost approach for getting our lives back in order while, at the same time, saving more lives than we will thankfully ever count.

That is why I consider this post to be my magnum postus. Not because of its magnus writing, but because it reveals a simple, life-saving path forward.

To identify potential COVID-19 prophylaxes, I wrote my own database. It is an exceptionally simple database, at least for those accustomed to writing databases. Nonetheless, it has become my magnum databasus.

Because what I believe I have learned is too extensive for even one of my posts, which tend to be a bit on the lengthy side, I will use this post to summarize my conclusions. I will follow with a new series of posts to provide detail.

Focusing on countries north of the tropics, my results reveal:

Finding #1: Countries that began widespread use of face masks prior to 1 March 2020 have 11 times fewer infections from the COVID-19 virus compared to those countries that have delayed widespread use of face masks.

Finding #2: Countries suffering malaria at a rate in excess of 0.1% of their population have 66 times fewer infections from the COVID-19 virus compared to those countries with a lower rate of malaria.

Finding #3: Countries suffering tuberculosis at a rate in excess of 0.1% of their population have 83 times fewer infections from the COVID-19 virus compared to those countries with a lower rate of tuberculosis.

Based on the results just summarized, my conclusions are:

Conclusion #1: Widespread use of face masks provides society with a powerful prophylaxis against the COVID-9 virus.

Conclusion #2: There is at least one malaria medication, already in use prophylactically in some countries, either intentionally or unintentionally, that is an effective prophylaxis against the COVID-19 virus.

Conclusion #3: There is at least one tuberculosis medication, already in use prophylactically in some countries, either intentionally or unintentionally, that is an effective prophylaxis against the COVID-19 virus.

Based on my conclusions just summarized, I offer the following recommendations:

Recommendation #1: Face masks should be required for all people who venture out and may come near anyone else. If we adopt this recommendation, we can safely ease social distancing measures.

Recommendation #2: To identify specific medications that can act as safe, effective prophylaxes against the COVID-19 virus, we need quick-turnaround observational studies that are superior and more detailed than mine. If we identify and adopt even one such prophylactic medication, then we can safely eliminate nearly all social distancing measures.

Details to follow in subsequent posts.

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