Re: Basket Cases
It ill-becomes you to accuse the BBC of scientific illiteracy. I'm not entirely sure how to read your statement.
It's simple really. The BBC doesn't have any scientists on staff (AFAIK) and it's been churning out junk science in the guise of 'climate science' for many years now. Latest probably being California's 'record' heat that isn't.
On the other, perhaps you mean an ideal situation would be one in which everyone had had the virus.
Yup, so the population has developed herd immunity..
Firstly that would mean that a very large number would have suffered a very bad experience at the worst end of the symptom spectrum.
Yep. Such is public health. A very large number of people have had a very bad experience with job losses, restricted liberties.. So it's finding the balance. Is the cure worse than the disease? But a very large number of people may have experienced no symptoms, or very mild symptoms. There's been some stuff recently looking at exactly when the outbreak started, which may have been sooner than previously thought and symptoms just being regarded as flu. But over time, there's been a better picture as to who's most vulnerable, and who's least. So the young less vulnerable, over 80s a lot more vulnerable.
Secondly very many would have died; a greater proportion than actually died because the health service would have been overwhelmed.
Kind of. To date, the NHS seems to have been somewhat underwhelmed. Lots of patients sent back to care homes to infect people there (the elderly being particularly vulnerable), and lots of in/outpatient appointments cancelled. So a number of patients will have died as a result of those lockdown measures. That's one of those things statisticians are looking at, ie any deaths directly attributable to Covid, indirectly as a result of policies and I guess deviation from expected mortality.
Thirdly in some cases there seems to be long term damage to at least some survivors so in your ideal situation a large number of people would be experiencing that.
Perhaps. From papers I've been reading, this may be (sort of) normal. So virus infects, leads to viral pneumonia, and then potentially organ failure. The further that progresses, the more likely it'll create long-term damage.. Something it seems to share with other lung infections, ie the worse it gets, the more likely it'll create scarring inside the lungs. There seems to be less certainty that there's anything specific to Covid.
Fourthly we don't yet know how effective the immunity is.
True, and there have been reports of people reinfected. So for some at least, there's little, or short-term immunity.. Which also links into how effective vaccinations might be.
My ideal would be a vaccine that's at least good enough to need no more than an annual top-up until such time as the virus can be eliminated like smallpox was
Yup.. Although of course there are real risks with vaccines, especially if they're being rushed into production. A polio vaccine's been in the news recently for spreading polio. Then again, it'll soon be time for the winter flu shot. Tried and tested, millions of doses administered, and assuming we've picked the right strains for the upcoming season, rather effective. But there's far less certainty with current Covid candidates, other than some (the balm of Gilead) having little effect on anything other than Gilead's share price. But like flu, Covid's able to mutate, so like flu, it may need an annual shot to work against circulating strains. Which is also why I think it's unlikely that it'll be eradicated like smallpox.. Unless a vaccine does some general immunisation, but that's a whole lot riskier than one that just stimulates antibodies to a specific virus.
And there may be alternatives, ie some cheap medication, or combination of medications that can prevent symptoms progressing. Don't develop pneumonia, don't risk lung scarring.. Which is kinda back to early claims for stuff like quinine + zinc. I'm still not sure what the consensus is on that one.
But back to R0 and the BBC.. Experts have assumed it's been >1 since the outbreak started, so 'news' that it's over 1 isn't.. news. After all it's one of the variables that kick-started policy via dire predictions and models that have since been falsified by empirical evidence. But that evidence gets fed back into models, and R0 isn't the whole number, especially as outbreaks progress. So there's also the effective reproduction rate, or Rt, where t=point in time and the reproduction rate is against the susceptible population. So over time, Rt reduces, because people are no longer (or never were) susceptible through natural immunity or acquired immunity.. Or in the worst case, are dead. Herd immunity again.
But that's also one of the risks with policy, ie Rt <1 gets pushed back in time by ham-fisted control measures, so herd immunity doesn't develop, and as long as the virus is 'out there', the process has to start all over again.
And then there's the misuse of 'cases' rather than detections, and the BBC getting all excited that as more people are tested, more 'cases' are found. But hey ho, such is the latest incarnation of Project Fear.