Getting stuff wrong about the virus

Ram Z Gates Paul has been spiraling over the past month in regard to the virus, digging in his heels when confronted by his viewers about being wrong and his tendency to keep contradicting himself. His vids are getting down-voted big time.

well no there’s an Oxford study that is
indicating up to half of Britain could
already be exposed to this virus and
that would have profound ramifications
that means were getting close to the
herd immunity and it would show that the
mortality rate is drastically lower than
we’re calculating now because remember
when we calculate the mortality rate
we’re just taking the people that we
know that were infected and the people
that died now the people that die we
kind of know pretty well because there’s
a body there right it’s hard to hide a
body I suppose someone could have it and
died in the woods and we never find the
body I don’t think there’s many of those

He cites a recent paper as evidence that 1/3 of the UK may already be infected, implying a very low morality rate (about .2%), but obviously this cannot be right and fails to agree with the empirical evidence of a 1-3% death rate, which has held constant for almost all countries and even in self-contained environments such as cruise ships. The high morality rate in nursing homes and the elderly suggests that the .2% figure must wrong, as 18% of the UK population is over 65. Having as many as 4-5% of old people dying of a mystery respiratory ailment and presumably untold millions falling seriously ill would have surely made headlines early this year if the virus was secretly spreading, but no such evidence exists.

Moreover, the paper makes no claim that 1/3 of the UK is already infected and hence herd immunity is close, but rather 1/3 of the pop being infected would imply a .2% morality rate. All the paper is doing is running simulations of outcomes based on different mortality rates. Semantically similar but the meaning is different. Also Ramz is contradicting himself again. First he says that not many people are infected but then cities this study, which he misinterprets and presupposes to make an opposite argument that contradicts his first.

Going through the transcript:

Trump has double down and he’s saying he
plans to have businesses and restaurants
and everything reopened by Easter which
is April 12th I

Ramz is spreading fake news again. Trump never shut anything down, so therefore he cannot reopen anything either. I explained this earlier. All he did was make a recommendation about keeping crowd sizes limited to no more than 10 people. State governments are to blame for shutting stuff down.

we’re looking at the data and the data
is looking good
well good if you’re for the health of
the people I guess it’s bad if you’re
hoping society crumbles and you can take
charge or something but for normal

What data is he possibly talking about? According to the virus tracking websites, there were 60k cases on the 26th, a 13% gain from the 25th. The numbers keep rising. I agree that this will likely not be that big of a deal a year from now and I remain long stocks. I also agree that we probably will not see millions of deaths, but you cannot say that the data is good either. There were 17k cases in the US on the 26th, another record, for a total of 85k. This is not good no matter how you try to frame it, unless by ‘good’ you mean fewer possible people that can be infected.

death rate has dropped both in Italy and
in the United States this is huge
it was supposed to happen this place
especially in the United States
everyone’s saying oh we’re just starting

That is due to lag. The death rate is optimistically 1% for the general population assuming optimal care and .2-.5% for young people, which has held constant since this began.

whole crapload of people that have this
virus but never got sick enough to go to
the hospital because remember this virus
except for a few cases if you’re elderly
or you’re sick then it can be quite
dangerous other than that for the vast
majority of people it’s like the common
cold it really is which makes sense it’s
a corona virus with some common colds in

But it’s not though. The common cold and flu does not send 14% of people to the hospital, and this is young people. The reason why young people may still go to the hospital is due to breathing difficulties, which is a serious symptom that may necessitate observation. 60% of people have mild disease that is indistinguishable from a flu or cold, and maybe 20% have symptoms resembling a bad flu, and the remaining 20% of have breathing difficulties, and of those 20%, 5-10% may have critical symptoms due to pneumonia. While it is true that most cases are mild, there is still a huge gradient in terms of possible outcomes. The 5-15% who have serious disease impose a large medical and societal toll, which is potentially a lot of people if the worst projections come true. Just saying that most cases are mild paints an incomplete picture. Young people are more liekly to survive by a factor of 10-20x, but treating them is not necessarily cheaper, as they have the same hospitalization rates as everyone else.

are now if we’re seeing a lot of good
news from a health front we’re seeing a
lot of good news on the political front
the stock market by the way was huge up
today because there’s optimism that
people will finally be going back to
work and so forth and so I think there’s
a general sense of optimism and if

Ramz is assuming the stock market is a forward indicator. In some cases it is, in others it isn’t. The market surged 9% on 3/13 for no particular reason, only to fall 10% the following Monday. If every store was to reopen, would the economy return to normal. Hardly. The market was already down 30% and economic forecasts were being slashed before state governments began imposing the shutdowns. The shutdowns began around the 13th, but by then the S&P 500 was down 30%. Travel and retail stocks were already down considerably in anticipation of reduced consumer discretionary spending. The only thing that is really going to help is if the number of daily cases falls a lot. Some people will return to work and will resume their old consumption habits, but others will be more risk averse and stay home instead of going to work, traveling, or shopping.

Could the peak of of this virus be near? Possibly. But we don’t need yet more prematurely optimistic and wrong projections and falsehoods to get there.