Pro Perspectives 6/24/20

June 24, 2020

With all of the fear the media is stoking from the rise in cases in some states, let's revisit what we know.

To start, we know a lot more about the virus and its health impact than we did four months ago. 

As a backward looking analysis, if you don't live in a long-term healthcare facility, your chances of death from the virus get nearly cut in half.  And if you look at a state like Pennsylvania, where 70% of the deaths are from nursing homes, that number of LTHC facility death rate (as a proportion of the overall rate) nationwide is probably much higher.  

Add to this, the case fatality rate overall is much lower than the experts originally thought. Of the CDC's most recent projections, their best case scenario has death rates at 0.20% of those infected.  Their highest confidence estimate is 0.4%.  Either way, it's much lower than what was thought back in March.  You can see it for yourself in this chart …

With the above in mind, the crisis in New York was the turning point, not the starting point for the country. That's where they threw everything at it, and clearly, back in early April, something worked (some therapeutics/treatments). The severe cases began to decline.  That translated into declining deaths. And ultimately, the crisis in NY has subsided.

As you can see in the chart below, the peak in daily deaths in the United States was mid-April.  That lagged by a week or so, the peak in New York (which was early April) – and the crisis nationwide has been subsiding. 


Now, with all of this, it was just two weeks ago that an official from the World Health Organization took five minutes to explain to us why the spread of the virus was "very rare" by asymptomatic people.  Take a few minutes to watch it for yourself, by clicking the image below (or here). 
As we discussed that day in my Pro Perspectives note, this would be a game changer – a cause for celebration.  

In the hours that followed, this official took a lot of heat, and by the next day, she was trying to walk it back.  But the retraction, wasn't much of a retraction. If we listen to her, it's fair to say that she didn't make a mistake, but the WHO doesn't want that message out as policy.   

You can see that in the video below (just click the image or click here). It picks up at 1:35 and runs through the 5 minute mark. 

By the way, this was not just some spokesperson, this was from the technical lead of the Covid response, and the head of emerging diseases at the WHO.  She's a Cornell and Stanford educated epidemiologist, who was on the ground in China for two weeks in March and regularly does press conferences.    

Finally, with this perspective and with the rising cases, keep in mind that young people are representing a large proportion of positive tests.  And many young people are asymptomatic.  And employers (such as restaurants) are requiring employees to get tested, in order to return to work.  As schools reopen, the numbers will continue to rise, and so will the positivity rate.

As for the economy, regardless of the trajectory of cases, Trump and Mnuchin have made it clear that there will not be another economic shutdown.