The Covid Letters – August 7, 2021

To Whom It May Concern:

I applaud your efforts to quantify the effects of Covid-19 in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, both individuals and often country governments have stopped trusting salient information, two two reasons:

A) Conflicting information from multiple sources

B) Very poor presentation of information in disjointed and constantly shifting organization.

I am writing to you as a Data Scientist and management consultant with military CBRNE* education, training and real-world experience. I have multiple degrees, am a retired veteran, and have long had a knack for presenting information in a clear, concise and relevant manner. I hope to help you improve your presentation in useful ways, most notably via a simple, tiered approach to both overall and recent mortality rates by country.

BACKGROUND:

My first contact with the issue began on January 14, 2020, when China stated they had seen no clear evidence of human to human transmission. This occurred during the middle of their Jan 11-17 CCP meeting held in Wuhan, which concluded with their insisting there were no new cases.

For no other reason than statistics being one of my hobbies, I began collecting and analyzing data on January 15, and by January 17 had concluded there was potentially significant cause for concern. I sent a letter to President Trump and my Congressional Representative late that evening, following it with an update just three days later on January 20. On January 24, President Trump formed the Coronavirus Task Force, and on January 29, he announced its formation to the U.S. and the world.

Ever since I have endeavored to “herd cats,” reigning in the surprisingly vast, varied, and often incorrect comments, responses, and mandates which have flooded the airwaves, social media and halls between government offices around the world ever since.

My goal has always been to separate the chaff from the wheat, to clearly and decisively identify what does work and what doesn’t work with respect to fighting this pandemic, preferably before it develops into a vaccine-resistant strain which could result in humanity having to go through all of this again, if not in perpetuity.

That will only become unnecessary IF all of humanity adopts the correct posture and holds to it, unswervingly, until the virus has been eradicated in all countries just as it has indeed been eradicated in some countries.

KEY CURRENT COVID-19 STATISTICS:

We’ve had millions of points of data from which to form an exceptionally clear picture of effects of Covid-19 and the three vaccinations upon the American public.

1 in 547 unvaccinated Americans have caught Covid-19 and DIED.

The odds of a vaccinated Americans either catching Covid-19 and dying, or dying of the vaccination, is 1 in 53,534.

The ratio of these two numbers gives us the relative risks between getting the vaccination and not getting the vaccination: 53,534 / 547 = 97.9

Thus, you’re 98 TIMES safer by getting the vaccination than by refusing the vaccination.

Put another way, you’re 98 times more likely to die of Covid-19 by refusing the vaccination than you are of dying by either Covid-19 or the vaccine by getting the vaccination.

THE SOURCE: A spreadsheet into which I’ve poured about 1,400 hours, mostly in learning a great deal about the fields of study surrounding Covid-19:

It is a CRIME that U.S. politicians and the mass media are refusing to state these simple, extremely well-verified facts before the U.S. population at large. Because of their failure to do so, countless ignorant people have come forth with all manner of absolute JUNK science, misleading people left and right, often to their DEATHS.

WHAT WORKS:

Most of the advice floating around out there has been wrong. A few things, however, have proven to be correct:

  1. PPE (masks and eye wear, including larger diameter personal glasses) work. The better the mask’s rating and it’s fit upon each wearer, the more effective it is. As the mucous droplets containing SARS-CoV-2 viruses are largest at their source, but dry out very rapidly (within a couple of seconds) as they travel away from the source, ensuring that masks are worn by anyone at risk for contracting and spreading the disease, even asymptomatically, is absolutely key. While inoculations greatly reduce mortality by a factor of around 100x, they only mildly reduce transmission, so this includes those who have been vaccinated. In other words, masks must be worn by everyone within, say, 50 feet of another (MIT study distance plus a 33 foot pad), or indoors. This pad to 50 feet will help with those (most) who are apparently inept at estimating any distance beyond the ends of their noses.

Improvement from a simple cotton cloth mask to an N-95 mask: ~50% to 96%. Corresponding Reduction: ~50% to 4%. Improvement ratio: 50/4=12.5. Thus, a 12.5 times (1,250%) improvement.

Outright Ratio: 25

  1. Social distancing. Although 6 feet reduces the transmission of the most heavily laden droplets by about 95%, an MIT study proved still-air dispersion extended upwards of 27 feet. Ergo, dispersion caused by moving air, such as ventilation, can extend it’s reach much further. Trying to social distance by 27 feet is largely unmanageable. However, by doubling social distancing to 12 feet, we achieve a nearly five-fold improvement in droplet dissipation from roughly 5% to around 1%.

Improvement: 95% to 99%. Reduction: 5% to 1%. Ratio: 5.

Outright Ratio: > 20.

  1. CBRNE-level awareness. While washing hands and using hand sanitizer is a start, both are largely useless if you then turn around and handle pretty much anything. Plastic barriers are excellent at reducing contamination by inadvertent vocal dispersion, mainly through plosives, but contamination continues as cashiers handle every item. Two solutions exist: A) Cashiers wipe down conveyor belts and item handling and bagging areas between each customer before changing gloves using hospital procedures; B) Customers decontaminate their own groceries. The first quickly becomes prohibitively expensive for the store. Periodic sanitation is about the best we can hope for them to accomplish without going out of business. Customer decontamination, done properly, only requires about ten minutes post-shopping yet can reduce the possibility of contamination by upwards of 90%.

Ratio: 10

  1. Closing borders to all except for absolutely critical traffic, and then, mandatory 15-day quarantines with quick medical checks on Days 1, 5, 10 and 15 (upon release). Several countries have achieved nearly total, if not completely total, eradication of Covid-19 and all variants within their borders. Their general populace is free to go about their business.

Improvement: varies to greater than 90%. Ratio: 10

  1. Routine screening. While it does work, it doesn’t work well. Frankly, it’s hit or miss, for a number of reasons. First, those who are actively contagious only have a temperature for part of the time they’re actively contagious. Outside that window, temperature screening is ineffective. Second, people can be contagious without ever having a temperature at all. Third, let’s be honest: People lie about how they’re feeling, particularly while traveling, when they really do not want to be detained at an airport, much less miss their flight. Thus, at best, and within a highly honest population, this is only good for identifying roughly half the cases, at best, regardless of where it’s being used.

Ratio: 2

When a geographical region combines these five procedures without fail, they can achieve upwards of a 100,000-fold decrease in Covid-19 cases. Failure to achieve this is practice is largely the result of those who are lax, incompetent, covid-deniers and anti-maskers. The numbers within all four categories were greatly enhanced by means of both gross over-politicization and sheer incompetence of a number of government officials in many countries.

If the world as a whole isn’t studying this intently as a means of learning what NOT to do, then heaven help humanity. I recall the outstanding disaster preparedness plans of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, the product of lessons learned during World War II. Indeed, the city in which I live has a high percentage of veterans, and its published disaster preparedness plan is among the best. In fact, it’s provisions, published in 2008, very closely match the five provisions above.

MYTHS:

  1. Weather i.e. sunlight, heat, cold, high and low humidity. While eight hours of direct sunlight might indeed kill the virus, the few seconds required by airborne transmission allows the virus to proceed unabated. This was proven during many spikes, including the post-2020 Mardi Gras spike, 2020 spring break spikes, summer 2020 spikes, 2020 Thanksgiving and Christmas super-spikes, and most recently, the summer 2021 spikes. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a hot or cold swamp or a hot or cold desert, much less sunny Florida or sunny California, both of which are rampant with cases right now. If you can live there, so can the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. There are no magic climatological pills for stopping Covid-19. Only proper behavior by each citizen as well as the general populace as a whole has a snowball’s chance in hell of stopping this and similar pandemics.
  2. Aggressive contact tracing. This may appear to work because governments implementing aggressive contact tracing are also implementing other procedures, which themselves work very well. However, when you compare the number of transmissions prevented through aggressive contact tracing to the number of transmissions prevented through other means, such as PPE, social distancing, CBRNE-level awareness and hygiene, and closing borders, it’s absolutely minuscule. Besides, contact tracing is largely requiring the government to herd cats after they’ve been let out of the bag. Simple, clear, concise and most importantly CONSISTENT public education has proven to be far more effective at reducing transmission rates than contact tracing.
  3. Shutdowns. While shutdowns do work somewhat, their use is highly problematic and their effectiveness is limited to areas where PPE, social distancing, CBRNE-level awareness and hygiene, and closing borders are either not being followed or are being followed poorly. Moreover, shutdowns create a whole host of additional problems, not the least of which was a near doubling of suicide rates and the economic crumbling of governments who’re needing to spend even more resources combating this pandemic. Overall, far better results have been obtained worldwide by means of public education and enforcement of PPE, social distancing, CBRNE-level awareness and hygiene, and closing borders.

Special case: School classrooms. There has been zero conclusive evidence that normal surgical masks impair a student’s cognitive ability, even when worn for 7 hours straight. This jibes with the fact that surgical teams often wear masks on a routine and regular basis for similar durations of times. Thus, students should wear masks. Additionally, mating a 20″ square box fan set on Low to a cheap dust filter, then a not-so-cheap but highly effective HEPA filter rated at or above MERV 13 / MPR 1500-1900 / FPR 10, dramatically (>90%) reduces the accumulation and presence of viruses in the classroom. These rating do indeed stop viruses. They certainly stop the far larger mucous droplets encapsulating viruses. They can be mated with a couple of strips of simple packing tape. The incoming air should pass through the cheap ($1) dust filter, first, before passing through the HEPA filter. See the following link for more information: https://ryoc.us/the-33-box-fan-filter-for-covid-19/

  1. Politics. Without taking sides, let’s just say neither Pelosi telling Chinatown and the world at large to “come out and party, have dinner, ‘it’s very safe’ ” on February 24, nor President Trump’s persistent disdain for masks helped either the U.S. or the rest of the watching world much at all. In fact, ignorant, arrogant politics and the resulting confusion are largely responsible for both the vast majority of Covid-19 deaths as well as the current, large amount of distrust of the government.

Conclusion: Hugely counter-productive during any natural disaster or emergency. Get rid of the damned political egos, people. You’re KILLING MILLIONS. Seriously. Damned, egotistical mass murderers.

  1. Social media. While it can be an effective tool for the dissemination of information, it’s a significantly more effective tool for the dissemination of misinformation, primarily because the vast majority of people using social media on a regular basis lack the education, training and experience to be able to separate the chaff from the wheat. Furthermore, about the only thing Facebook’s and Twitter’s censorship has accomplished has been to reinforce the distrust people have with respect to the federal government.

Conclusion: It’s a multiplier for ignorance. Strongly discourage its use as any sort of reliable source of information.

  1. Official government websites. Had the CDC put a Covid Protocols on PAGE 1 and KEPT it there, things would have been vastly less complicated. Sadly, one or more blithering idiots over at the CDC kept trying to reinvent the wheel, scattering highly relevant information throughout their website, with never enough information present on any single page to ascertain what was really going on. I managed to find what I needed, but I’m a Data Scientist and it took a herculean effort to grab it all. I cannot imaging the immense frustration and distrust produced in the average citizen who went to the CDC’s website looking for answers never to find more than 10% of the whole story on any given page. Phooey! What an incredible goat rope, not to mention dereliction of duty by the ONE government agency in all of this which could have GREATLY

BOTTOM LINE: If you want to know precisely what’s going on with a particular phenomenon, hire a statistician. Clearly, neither politicians nor the media seem interested in conveying clear, accurate and actionable information to the general population. While most doctors are coming up with the right answers, they’re reluctant to speak to anyone but their patients, and the only ones to whom mass media has given a voice are the quacks, thereby lining the media’s pockets but greatly adding to the confusion.

*CBRNE: Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Environments

Updated: August 9, 2021 — 12:59 am