Flatten the bell curve? We don’t even know if the plotted curve was accurate.

Pratt on Texas - copyright Pratt on Texas all rights reservedThere are a lot of people congratulating themselves on the effectiveness of so-called social distancing and lock down orders who, for all practical purposes, are little different than someone who did a rain dance with smoke signals and happened to have a thunderstorm dump some rain later the same week.

Empirically we simply do not know if lock downs and social distancing as has been experienced and is still being advocated has had any significant effect on the spread of COVID-19. We do not even know if there was any significant flattening of the curve so often mentioned.

the data used to plot the mathematical bell curve was incomplete and may have been grossly overstated

Given that all modeling was so grossly wrong about the Wuhan virus, from transmission rates to percentages of patients who would need clinical care to fatality rates, the bell curve plot we were trying to “flatten” and spread out over time in relation to hospital capacity was likely fundamentally in error to begin with.

In other words, the data used to plot the mathematical bell curve was incomplete and may have been as grossly overstated as were the fatality rates projected from the same modelers. The curve’s lower than expected peak might well have simply been the natural peak of the outbreak irrespective of all the actions we took and costs incurred. We do not know and that is why those claiming restrictions worked are speaking precipitously.

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Sweden’s in the middle of the pack.

Sweden took a less restrictive approach and as of 12 May, when it comes to a fatality rate it is a trifle better than the UK and Switzerland, equal to the Netherlands and Ireland, and a bit worse than the US and France. As Willis Eschenback put it: “So if the lockdowns and the “shelter-at-home” orders are having an effect, you couldn’t tell it by looking at Sweden.

Humans have long gotten wrong the cause and effect relationships of even the most basic things. Authentic science tests those ideas, over and over, and the questions generated by such challenge often lead to discoveries that make our formerly accepted wisdom (sometimes even our “settled science”) seem stone-age laughable.

 

More: Can we trust COVID modeling? The evidence from Sweden suggests not.

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