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The Corona Crisis

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brianvds
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« on: March 16, 2020, 10:36:42 AM »

Strangely enough, apart from brief mention in the conspiracy theory thread, we seem not to have a separate thread for this topic. Where are all the skeptical views? :-)

Here's an interesting article:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/why-most-deadly-viruses-arise-in-africa-or-asia

I disagree with the author on urbanization - if anything it is part of the solution rather than the problem. But the other points are probably correct. I find it particularly ironic that Chinese traditional "medicine" may have been the origin of this outbreak. Not only doesn't that shite work, it is now causing the deaths of thousands, maybe millions, of people.
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brianvds
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2020, 07:31:45 AM »

I see in the news this morning that on Monday there were more or less 20 cases diagnosed. Yesterday it was 40, and today 80. Erm, yeah, this genie may well be out of the bottle.

Of course, diagnoses are typically just a fraction of the actual infections. This may mean things are far worse than they look, though it may also mean that the apparent exponential growth rate just reflects medical services catching up in terms of diagnosis. But either way, things are not looking too rosy. In another week or two, there will effectively be no more medical services in the country; hospitals will be overrun. In a month or two, as many as two million South Africans may be dead.

Of course, I may be overly pessimistic, but even in a best case scenario, the world really has to wake up now and smell the sewage.

At least theoretically, this kind of pandemic is unnecessary and can be prevented, because time and again it has the same, limited number of sources:

1. Tropical deforestation (which brings people in contact with animals they have never contacted before).
2. "bush meat" and other similar markets, with unhygienic practices and where the meat of who knows what the hell gets sold.
3. Traditional "medicine" that contains parts of exotic animals (and it is by no means just the Chinese who are guilty; right here in SA traditional "healers" are constantly poaching things like vultures and who knows what else to put in their quack remedies).

Can we hope that when the dust has settled in a year or so, and the world takes stock of what happened, that it will be realized that the above practices need to stop? Because if they don't, it is only a question of time before the next pandemic hits. This time round we got off lightly, because thank ye merciful deities, at least it appears that children are by and large not affected. Imagine a disease that kills two million South African children in a month or two. It will be a level of tragedy we have not seen since the frickin' Middle Ages.

I am none too optimistic. Traditional practices are sacrosanct, tropical hardwoods valuable, and people just never learn from history - in a year or two when this thing is over, people will see it a once-off anomaly, and it will be business as usual.
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Mefiante
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2020, 07:51:56 AM »

Some simplified statistical estimates, very well explained, of how the spread of COVID-19 could go in SA.

'Luthon64
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2020, 08:07:44 AM »

How is this for just plain greed?

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2020/03/17/theres-ordinary-evil-and-then-theres-greedy-grasping-gratuitous-evil/
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brianvds
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2020, 09:28:05 AM »

Some simplified statistical estimates, very well explained, of how the spread of COVID-19 could go in SA.

'Luthon64

As the article notes, we have the added complication here that most of us quite simply cannot afford to shut down our personal economy for months on end. For many, social distancing is a luxury they simply don't have. We have lots of uneducated people who will not know anything about what to do either. The massive rumour mill that I see on social media is not really helping either.

And thus I very much fear we are probably looking at his worst case scenario here, but we'll see over the coming week or two where the thing is headed.

I recommended to my landlady to have her domestic worker stay home, and to simply keep on paying her to stay home (her 86 year-old father lives with her, and he must not be exposed at all costs). I would make this recommendation to everyone with a domestic worker in general, but of course, people will not want to pay for no work done, so workers are going to hide their symptoms and go to work anyway. I suspect many a domestic or garden worker will now simply be fired, and who knows what impact that is going to have on the country's politics.
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2020, 12:26:58 PM »

Some simplified statistical estimates, very well explained, of how the spread of COVID-19 could go in SA.

'Luthon64


I recommended to my landlady to have her domestic worker stay home, and to simply keep on paying her to stay home (her 86 year-old father lives with her, and he must not be exposed at all costs). I would make this recommendation to everyone with a domestic worker in general, but of course, people will not want to pay for no work done, so workers are going to hide their symptoms and go to work anyway. I suspect many a domestic or garden worker will now simply be fired, and who knows what impact that is going to have on the country's politics.

I've done this, my help is quite old herself (I dont want to guess), and I've paid her for two weeks and told her to stay home. She was mortified as "I cant get paid if I dont work" upon which I responded that she cant be paid if she's dead, and my folks who are in their 80's. Nor can I afford burial costs at this point as an after thought.
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brianvds
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2020, 16:19:37 PM »

I notice that people are taking it fairly seriously: the shops are quiet and at the entrance of supermarkets they have ladies with squirt bottles of hand sanitizer. But I fear in a week or two the novelty will wear off and people will become lax about it, and then is precisely the time when this thing is really going to take hold.
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Mefiante
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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2020, 10:02:20 AM »

UK’s Imperial College report on COVID-19 spread scenarios.

Bottom line:  Even if suppression strategies (the severest forms of social behaviour intervention) are fully successful and a successful vaccine is developed soon (apparently, three candidates are currently in accelerated testing), the threat will remain in place for at least 18 months more.

'Luthon64
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brianvds
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2020, 12:24:05 PM »

UK’s Imperial College report on COVID-19 spread scenarios.

Bottom line:  Even if suppression strategies (the severest forms of social behaviour intervention) are fully successful and a successful vaccine is developed soon (apparently, three candidates are currently in accelerated testing), the threat will remain in place for at least 18 months more.

'Luthon64

I wonder whether even the richest of countries can afford to suspend their economies for 18 months...
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brianvds
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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2020, 16:11:27 PM »

Man, the things you get yourself embroiled in. I am a member of a South African Skeptics group on Facebook. Somebody started a coronavirus discussion, I posted my concern about unhygienic meat markets and traditional "medicine" - and then promptly got angrily accused of racism and anti-Chinese ethnic hatred. Also, there is apparently no evidence that such markets or alternative medicine is the source of either this outbreak, or any others. Well, if there isn't any such evidence I already feel a bit better...
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brianvds
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2020, 13:31:49 PM »

I see there is still not really any sense of panic among people.TV is showing light entertainment, social media full of jokes, people exchanging bits of gossip and such things as their dreams for the future.

I feel the way I always feel when I see that footage of the big tsunami, with people ambling up and down the beach, curiously but without any alarm gawking at the approaching wave. Perhaps the panic will start after the president's address to the nation later today. Or perhaps not. But once we begin to resemble Italy, the panic will be here.

We may not be facing the end of civilization. But we are facing the end of civilization as we knew it.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2020, 22:20:24 PM »

I see there is still not really any sense of panic among people.TV is showing light entertainment, social media full of jokes, people exchanging bits of gossip and such things as their dreams for the future.

Know someone personally that has been exposed (no word on the results yet): It drives the point home plenty soon enough. Also seeing videos of otherwise healthy middle-aged people lying in the ER connected to oxygen makes you realise that your age and health mean nothing. People think this is the flu. It's not that simple.

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I feel the way I always feel when I see that footage of the big tsunami, with people ambling up and down the beach, curiously but without any alarm gawking at the approaching wave. Perhaps the panic will start after the president's address to the nation later today. Or perhaps not. But once we begin to resemble Italy, the panic will be here.

Panic is anyway not preferable to calm, rational pragmaticism.

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We may not be facing the end of civilization. But we are facing the end of civilization as we knew it.

In a way every day is the end of civilization as we knew it. But anyway, I'm sure after past pandemics people thought much the same. Things will be different for a while, maybe a decade or so before everyone forgets again.
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brianvds
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2020, 11:26:29 AM »

Just about what I have been wondering...

Why a one-size-fits-all approach to COVID-19 could have lethal consequences

https://theconversation.com/why-a-one-size-fits-all-approach-to-covid-19-could-have-lethal-consequences-134252
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2020, 12:20:14 PM »

I am yet to see the number of tests that came out negative reported. Surely that would be important, statistically speaking. Only reporting the positives tells us nothing about the state of the population. I think it pertains to, effectively, knowing the sample size.
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Mefiante
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« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2020, 12:43:52 PM »

I am yet to see the number of tests that came out negative reported. Surely that would be important, statistically speaking. Only reporting the positives tells us nothing about the state of the population.
Exactly right.

I think it pertains to, effectively, knowing the sample size.
Assuming that samples are truly random, the sample size (within limits) only affects the confidence level of the results in that a larger sample will have narrower error bars, and so it will be accepted as a more reliable estimate of what is being measured.  A much more important consideration is the sampling methodology, which is where things often go astray.  If a large enough sample is drawn randomly from the general population, it cannot help but be representative; in contrast, if sampling is limited to arrivals at airports and hospitals, the sample cannot help but be biased, and will probably overestimate the overall population incidence of infection.

'Luthon64
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brianvds
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2020, 12:46:55 PM »

I think there is an outside chance that we might still pull off here what they did in China, and stamp it out. I am not optimistic about it though. And whatever happens now, there is going to be catastrophic economic fallout.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2020, 12:56:37 PM »

.. in contrast, if sampling is limited to arrivals at airports and hospitals, the sample cannot help but be biased, and will probably overestimate the overall population incidence of infection.

Yes, that's more than likely the case. Thanks.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2020, 13:25:43 PM »

"Lockdown", a deceptively fun word to say
 in an American action movie kind of way.
 Better start heading
 to where we want to be,
 hey.
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brianvds
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« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2020, 15:30:59 PM »

"Lockdown", a deceptively fun word to say
 in an American action movie kind of way.
 Better start heading
 to where we want to be,
 hey.

The rumors are flying that we are about to have a lockdown. We'll have to wait and see what the prez says. I do hope that if and when it becomes clear that it is not working (which should be in a week or two) it will be entirely lifted, because otherwise we are truly fucked.

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brianvds
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« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2020, 04:56:03 AM »

And so it is official: in order to save ourselves, we are committing collective suicide. Well, it is what it is, and who knows, perhaps it will even work. But I would suggest to everyone: prepare yourselves for a possible complete collapse of society.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2020, 09:55:39 AM »

It's a great idea for the wealthy. It's not a great idea for the really really poor. But then, there are no better ideas.
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brianvds
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« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2020, 11:26:11 AM »

It's a great idea for the wealthy. It's not a great idea for the really really poor. But then, there are no better ideas.

There is a better idea: society accepts that 2 to 3 % of us are going to die, and that for several months there will be effectively no healthcare services. And then we get down to doing the only thing we still can do: try to save some remnants of the economy, because if we don't, the eventual death toll from that will be much, much worse than that of the virus.

After these 21 days, if (or I would say when) it becomes clear it is not stopping the spread of the infection, the prez should lift all further restrictions, and explain clearly why he is doing what he is doing. He'll have to consider martial law too.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2020, 12:03:20 PM »

.. if (or I would say when) it becomes clear it is not stopping the spread of the infection
I don't think they are hoping to stop the infection, just curb its rate a bit. Or as the man said, flatten the curve so we theoretically have less sick people at any one time, which allows better care.



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Faerie
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« Reply #23 on: March 24, 2020, 12:31:55 PM »

.. if (or I would say when) it becomes clear it is not stopping the spread of the infection
I don't think they are hoping to stop the infection, just curb its rate a bit. Or as the man said, flatten the curve so we theoretically have less sick people at any one time, which allows better care.





And its buying time, there are already human trials for a vaccine and if it does happen to prove effective by luck and science, we will be able to save many more. All in all, I believe we are doing the right thing, I shiver to imagine being in the US at the moment where economics are deemed more valuable than a human life.
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brianvds
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« Reply #24 on: March 24, 2020, 15:43:38 PM »

.. if (or I would say when) it becomes clear it is not stopping the spread of the infection
I don't think they are hoping to stop the infection, just curb its rate a bit. Or as the man said, flatten the curve so we theoretically have less sick people at any one time, which allows better care.





And its buying time, there are already human trials for a vaccine and if it does happen to prove effective by luck and science, we will be able to save many more. All in all, I believe we are doing the right thing, I shiver to imagine being in the US at the moment where economics are deemed more valuable than a human life.


The problem is, economics is human life. If we suffer complete economic collapse, more people will die of starvation than of the virus. Moreover, children instead of mostly the elderly.

Anyway, the lockdown is what it is, and there is perhaps little point to debating it, because it's going to happen now, whether right or wrong. I fervently hope I am completely, utterly wrong in every single thing I suspect about what is going to transpire here. I fervently hope that six months from now, I'm going to look like a total idiot for my pessimism.
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brianvds
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« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2020, 08:47:16 AM »

Can't remember now where I got this from. Perhaps even from this board, in which case I apologize...

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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2020, 09:44:19 AM »

The problem is, economics is human life. If we suffer complete economic collapse, more people will die of starvation than of the virus. Moreover, children instead of mostly the elderly.

Food structures are not shut down, at least yet. Shutting everything down is impossible for the reason you state. BUT, this is going to take a heavy, heavy economic toll.

As the first behemoths are starting to fall already. The real losers here though, are you and me: Retirement funds will be "quaint" by the time this is all over.

BUT, I do expect that this is going to create HUGE latent economic demand. People are going to be sitting home creating lists of stuff they need to buy day 0 when the shops open again (at least, those who are still getting paid). It could go two ways, only time will tell:

(a) People all rush the stores on the 21st (22nd? I don't even know) to stock up on stuff they haven't been able to get the last 3 weeks.
(b) The virus runs rampant and people voluntarily shut in because of fear past the 21st.

The main thing is, you can't do without general goods for a hell of a long time before you're going to HAVE TO head to a shop.

I EXPECT this is going to be a huge boon for the online shopping places. I already got mails from TakeALot saying they want to appeal to gov to keep shipping stuff as that helps enhance social isolation instead of deteriorating it. I do think they have a point. They super promised to wipe everything down... that may be harder to sell.... But they may have a good point. Stuff breaks, people do really need certain "non medical, non food" items. What if you break a window at your house? Your oven breaks. Geyser explodes, electrical system fails.... etc... Life is not that simple.

Quote
Anyway, the lockdown is what it is, and there is perhaps little point to debating it, because it's going to happen now, whether right or wrong. I fervently hope I am completely, utterly
wrong in every single thing I suspect about what is going to transpire here. I fervently hope that six months from now, I'm going to look like a total idiot for my pessimism.

Maybe not six months from now. But I mean this has happened before. On the long-term everything will be fine. The question is mostly about how-long-a-term. We're lucky. Extremely lucky. This is the kind of death rate they would've coveted during the black plague et al...  I think though Brian, this is not a case of humanity being in control and we're really forced to "play the ball where it lies": Nobody expects any outcome here to be favorable.
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« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2020, 11:25:42 AM »

Maybe not six months from now. But I mean this has happened before. On the long-term everything will be fine. The question is mostly about how-long-a-term. We're lucky. Extremely lucky. This is the kind of death rate they would've coveted during the black plague et al...  I think though Brian, this is not a case of humanity being in control and we're really forced to "play the ball where it lies": Nobody expects any outcome here to be favorable.

The whole thing is full of weird ironies and inversions of all the normal rules. Had this happened in the Middle Ages, they would most likely not have been aware that there even was a an epidemic going on. Well, for one thing, they were less connected, so the thing might not have spread, but even if it did, at worst, they would have noted that this winter, rather a lot of older folks died. That would be it. Their economy and way of life would not have sustained so much as a dent. Heck, they lived through the Black Death without their society actually completely collapsing.

Same goes for people like, say, the Masai. I'm not sure they're even going to notice anything is amiss. Except maybe fewer tourists who stream in to come treat them like zoo exhibits. (It will be a tragically different story for those of them who made themselves dependent on tourism instead of their traditional lifestyle!)

Our global civilization has been proven to be a house of cards. Post-corona, we are going to have to rethink the way we do things.
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brianvds
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« Reply #28 on: March 28, 2020, 14:26:01 PM »

And yet another view, but it might be too late now...

https://medium.com/@joschabach/flattening-the-curve-is-a-deadly-delusion-eea324fe9727

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brianvds
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« Reply #29 on: March 29, 2020, 06:46:48 AM »



Interesting that the most prepared country is doing the worst, while some of those at the bottom will hardly notice anything different... :-)
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #30 on: March 29, 2020, 11:46:55 AM »

Very nice diagram, and we are jolly well positioned for a country with green in its flag.
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« Reply #31 on: March 30, 2020, 15:35:32 PM »

Schadenfreude (I'm a horrible human being, I know. I may regret this when divine retribution hits me in the form of a COVID-19 infection, as I am one of the 'vulnerable ones' who may lose the battle)

https://maroelamedia.co.za/nuus/sa-nuus/covid-19-buchan-het-virus-glo-voor-mighty-men-gehad/
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« Reply #32 on: March 30, 2020, 16:49:38 PM »

Schadenfreude (I'm a horrible human being, I know. I may regret this when divine retribution hits me in the form of a COVID-19 infection, as I am one of the 'vulnerable ones' who may lose the battle)

https://maroelamedia.co.za/nuus/sa-nuus/covid-19-buchan-het-virus-glo-voor-mighty-men-gehad/

Nie geweet die ding infekteer aartappels ook nie...
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« Reply #33 on: April 05, 2020, 01:15:20 AM »

Now this https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/04/opinion/coronavirus-ventilators.html] [url]https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/04/opinion/coronavirus-ventilators.html[/url] is a bit of an eye-opener. This information should be made widely available.
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« Reply #34 on: April 05, 2020, 08:55:40 AM »


Link just gives me a blank page.
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cyghost
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« Reply #35 on: April 05, 2020, 09:48:44 AM »

here

PS I used {url=the url}any words{/url}  with [ instead of {
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« Reply #36 on: April 05, 2020, 10:47:40 AM »

Thanks. Laptop in bed = schlep.
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« Reply #37 on: April 05, 2020, 18:14:42 PM »

sounds cozy though   Tongue
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« Reply #38 on: Today at 04:19:56 »

Ye gods have mercy...

https://city-press.news24.com/News/what-about-our-muthi-traditional-healers-herbalists-want-their-services-recognised-as-essential-20200406

It's because of the frickin' muthi that we have this crisis in the first place...
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