And Here We Go (Disease)
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2020-01-21 16:15 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 194 references Ignore this thread
And Here We Go (Disease)
[Comments enabled]

So tell me what the "plan of action" is on this one folks?

The new "coronavirus" has apparently jumped from China to the United States via someone from China that was infected, and is now in a Seattle hospital.

This means they exposed everyone on the aircraft and everyone in the customs clearing area as well -- hundreds if not thousands of people, plus whoever else they came in contact with before winding up in the hospital.

Never mind that the virus has now infected people in both South Korea and Japan, along with perhaps other nations -- in other words, even a quarantine of Chinese travelers doesn't help any more because "it's out."

So now what do you do?

More to the point, what posture do we adopt on a forward basis?

In the days of old when people traveled on ships international travel was a many day to many week process.  If you got sick you either were ok by the time you got there or not, and if others on the ship were exposed it could be denied dockage, keeping the infection out of the next nation.

In a world of airplanes that no longer works, and in addition to that most infectious diseases have a "latent" period during which one is contagious but is not overtly ill in a way easily detected.

In other words it does not require intentionally traveling while ill to cause trouble -- you can legitimately not know you're infectious and yet expose and entire airliner and the entire international arrivals and customs area in another nation, and then the next morning you feel like crap as the symptoms show up.

So far this virus looks to be of concerning but not crazy lethality -- assuming China isn't lying, which it might be.  They claim six deaths and 300 confirmed cases.  That's a nasty death rate (2%) -- much higher than the regular flu that goes around from year to year.  Note that a couple of years ago the "ordinary" flu killed about 80,000 people, most of them elderly (~90%) or otherwise immuno-compromised.  A 2% death rate, if actually the case here, with a virus that gets into general circulation among the United States population would likely kill a quarter of a million people and might be worse, depending on how much natural immunity exists in the US population as a whole.

We'd better take care this issue in the general sense, however, because eventually something that is both highly-mobile (e.g. has an "n" value something approaching that of measles) and in addition has a double-digit lethality rate.  If we are not prepared to both detect and absolutely slam the door on that before it gets into this country it will kill 10% or more of the American population.  This means we had better have put a near-iron-clad stop to the premise of "open borders" before that occurs because it is simply a matter of time until it does happen.

It has happened before in human history and it will happen again.  We can only have a response ready for it -- we cannot prevent the evolution of pathogens any more than we can prevent (or create) sunspots.

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