Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Covid is ending in UK, CZ... no one must be allowed to obfuscate the fact

Here is the graph of the daily "cases" i.e. first positive PCR Covid-19 tests of a person. It's taken from the main Czech national Covid statistics page.



You may say that we have had about four "waves". You probably see the three big ones on the right but there is also a tiny one on the left, look carefully, which occurred exactly one year ago. In fact, the highest daily number of "cases" in Spring 2020 took place on April 3rd, and it was 333. There is a tongue twister in Czech that involves 333 and the letter Ř. ;-) We had April 3rd last Saturday. That's quite a reason to expect an even faster drop after April 3rd, 2021, as I will argue.



It was conceivable one year ago that people had gotten exposed to tiny amounts of the virus and obtained a nontrivial immunity. But we know that this wasn't the case now – because lots of people were ill and some have died. Now I think it's true that only some 1% of the population got the immunity after the first tiny wave; the first wave killed about 1% (300) of the currently known Covid fatalities. The total number was 30% after the second wave, 55% after the third wave, and 75% roughly now, when almost the whole fourth and final wave is over. We will get several thousand extra deaths on top of the 27k now; most of these people are already infected now.



After the first wave, during the free Summer 2020 etc., many of us also believed that it could have been the final one. It wasn't. In October, we saw the first clear excess deaths due to Covid-19 ever. The second wave had to start because the virus spreads more easily in the colder autumn weather and similar restrictions (as those in Spring 2020, let alone our "no restrictions" system from Summer 2020) are simply no longer enough to prevent the growth. By the early December, the daily cases collapsed to a tiny fraction of the peak, however, the "second wave" ended, and we saw some loosening. I do believe that the virus was restarted because of that: the third wave occurred because we opened the shops etc. in December and R0 was above 1 with the same strains of the virus. At the end of December or so, we got used to the shut down shops and other things once again and it continued up to today. Covid cases decelerated to a local low in late January and early February (that's where I put the end of the "third wave") but then a fourth wave started. I think it's mostly due to the new variants, indeed.

The British variant got omnipresent in Czechia and it increased R0 by a factor of 1.5, making sure that it numerically defeated the previous, non-British (Italian-Chinese Pizza Kung Pao) variant. On top of that, the Brazilian (Samba) variant is invisible to some 50% people with the immunity towards other variants. I think that the British one was still more important because its reproduction was exponential and had to numerically beat the Brazilian one soon. But the Brazilian phenomenon is more threatening in the long run.

At any rate, even these efforts of the virus to survive are failing. Czech authorities are reporting an amazing drop of R0 to 0.66, basically an all time low. R0 started at 2.5 a year ago, the most recent peak in late February was above 1.2. This very low R0 is equivalent to the halving of the disease in 2 weeks or so and we are indeed observing this kind of dynamics now. The crashing number of cases is due to many reasons such as
  1. the natural herd immunity, the percentage of the Czechs with antibodies is almost certainly well above 50% now (I think 75%)
  2. the immunity from vaccination; some 12% of Czechs have been vaccinated at least once (mostly people above 70), including 6% of them who were twice (many of them above 80)
  3. the warmer weather that was getting more obvious since early March
  4. replacement of simple face masks by N95 respirators (mandatory in shops etc.); the former could have reduced the infections just by the negligible 2%, the latter may have increased the efficiency to 10% or more
  5. the extra new restrictions such as the border checks between districts that are truly dystopian but I do think that this particular thing did have a huge impact on R0 which was lowered a lot (the night curfew after 9 pm had a smaller but nonzero effect, I think)
  6. a much higher number of tests in 2021: 30k+ PCR tests/day (which could be "proportioal" to the conditions in 2020 but) plus 150k+ antigen tests/day in average
  7. perhaps a better tracing system now, too
My broader recommendation is that we should think about the expected dynamics by using Spring 2020 – the events that were happening one year ago – as a useful benchmark. Do we expect the observed R0 to be higher than a year ago, or a lower than a year ago? I think it's obvious that we should have a much lower R0. It is true that the British variant has increased R0 by a factor of 1.5. But the other differences push the comparison in the opposite direction: a much faster drop in 2021 is expected, relatively to 2020: better respirators and a much higher percentage of the immune people (mostly naturally immune ones but some vaccinated ones, too). In particular, the latter may be reducing the number of infections by a factor of 3 or more now.

On the opposite side, one must notice that a year ago, the lockdown included the shutdown of actual factories including Škoda Auto.

Because the epidemics was decreasing in Spring 2020, basically since April 3rd, as I mentioned, we must expect the same thing now. It is almost obvious that like Summer 2020, Summer 2021 will be basically Covid-free, too. I sincerely hope that in Czechia, it will also be a restriction-free summer, just like Summer 2020 was. There is a nonzero probability that some new wave will reappear in Fall 2021 but the default expectation should be that it will be a minor event that won't surpass the normal Fall 2021 annoyances caused by the influenza. Covid-19 will almost certainly not be extinct globally and totally by Fall 2021. But it will become a small player and it should be treated on par with flu, regardless of the question whether it will go completely extinct in the coming year or years or it will stay with us.

Look at the graph at the top again. Do you remember the fear exactly one year ago? It was substantial even thought the number of Covid infections was lower by 1-2 orders of magnitude. The psychological and political reaction has basically nothing to do with the underlying numbers! Now people see that it is a disease that is similar to flu, after all, and the individuals claiming something else have a much harder time to persuade others because everyone has heard about some Covid non-events (and very many have had a mild Covid themselves).

Of course, if Covid-19 were able to produce new and new mutations that circumvent the immunity obtained from the previous variants, i.e. "new Brazilian-like variants", then it may be with us for quite some time or permanently. But it's also possible that the virus has depleted the genetic opportunities how to usefully mutate in similar ways. I think that the virus is pretty much doomed, especially because lots of countries are frantically vaccinating and the efficiency of the vaccines (often above 90% or even 95%) is much higher than that of flu vaccines (that are as low as 35% in the U.S.).

Given the obvious fact that Covid-19 is ending in so many countries, surely including my homeland and the United Kingdom (check that country's shockingly dropping graphs), all reasonable people must demand the policies and the work of the media to be affected by this essential fact. Yesterday, The Independent brought an incredible story that even shopping for clothes could require vaccine passports, even after June 21st. Wow.

There is virtually no Covid-19 in the U.K. now – the drop of cases per day from the peak is some 95%, and the drop of deaths is some 98% from the peak. Some 30 Britons are dying every day from Covid, on top of 1600 deaths per day that occur from other causes. 30 out of 1600 is pure noise and it is totally possible (and likely, I think) that the U.K. is getting a lower than normal rate of deaths now, and if it doesn't, it's because of the deaths caused by the lockdown, not by Covid. These Covid daily figures are almost guaranteed to keep on dropping in coming weeks let alone months, and the exponential drop is dramatic, you know. It is absolutely insane to plan any restrictions for the early summer – let alone super-draconian restrictions such as the ban on non-vaccinated Britons in the shops with clothes. All the people who participate in this kind of planning should be caught and hospitalized in padded cells of psychiatric asylums – this is the most essential task for the British healthcare system now!

The disease is so unlikely to be substantial in the U.K., Czechia, ... in the coming months and in the summer that it is pointless to be vaccinated. In particular, it is a bad idea for mostly healthy people below 55 to be vaccinated because their risk of getting Covid in the future and being seriously ill with this disease is much lower than the risk of vaccine complications if you assume that they do get the vaccine. Note that EMA, a European regulator, seems to have concluded that the blood clots (with some deaths) were clearly caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine. Other, less obvious, negative consequences may be discovered in the other vaccines.

There are lots of science-fiction novels and movies that discuss some policies that were introduced because of a "crisis" but the powerful found it convenient to keep these policies – because terrified sheep are easier to control. Sexmission had the underground feminist totalitarian civilization that was telling all the babes that there was some "dangerous radiation above the ground (caused by the M bomb against the men)" which is why they had to be kept in the basements. Similarly, Ondřej Neff's novel started with the crisis that "light stopped working in the Universe" but when it was fixed, the powerful were so in love with the "new normal" that they prevented the millions from learning that the problems has been fixed.

Do you really want to live in such a dystopia? If you don't, you just can't allow any suggestions that "the Covid epidemics will continue" unchallenged. You must viscerally (and not necessarily non-violently) attack every liar who wants to spread these lies and build his or her own career on these lies. Most of our countries did experience a Covid epidemics, after all, but it's over once again and the numbers of infected people are below the usual epidemics thresholds once again. There is really no epidemic anymore and it's even more obvious that there won't be one in June 2021.

Yesterday, the Czech Supreme Audit Office (nku.cz) issued a verdict that some 50% of the government's deficit cannot be explained by the fight against Covid-19. I think it is a fair estimate. Much more generally, Covid-19 has become the ultimate excuse for all conceivable kinds of pathological behavior, laziness, and theft of the public money. It must end just like the epidemics did!

P.S.: We have the fourth Covid era minister of healthcare today. After Adam Vojtěch and Roman Prymula, Jan Blatný was fired today, too. Petr Arenberger, a skin doctor and a director of a hospital (a member of a supervising council of the public radio, too), was partly appointed because he supports Sputnik which Blatný opposed. He will take an undeserved credit for the collapsing Covid numbers in coming weeks and months. Otherwise he has Prymula-like tendencies that terrify me. We will see. Arenberger will be the 23rd Czech minister of healthcare since the 1993 birth of separate Czechia, Slovakia. The average one survived for 1.2 years.

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