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Coronavirus Analysis: the risks and protective actions you can take

February 26, 2020


Coronavirus Update Live 81 279 Cases and 2 770 Deaths from COVID-19 Wuhan China Virus Outbreak - Worldometer (1)

The Coronavirus infections have been increasing at an extraordinary rate.  On Jan 22 there were 580 known infections.  On Feb 24, over 80,000.

97% of infections (at least) thus far have come from China.  Therefore 97% of the data we have also comes from the Chinese government.  Given China’s lack of transparency, people feel very cautious to extrapolating much from that data.

Looking at the 3% of infections outside of China, Korea and the cruise ship represent the majority of that problem.  So 98% of the problem is currently in 2 countries (and a cruise ship).

Of all the closed cases that have a definite, known outcome (ie, they fully recovered or died),  there is a 91% recovery rate vs 9% death rate.

The Chinese CDC states the virus impacts older people substantially more.  This fits with common sense and most illnesses.

Preliminary conclusion: it appears if you contract the virus, and if you’re less than 60 years old, odds are probably 95-98% you’ll recover.  The odds are likely even better if you don’t have any other substantial health related issues.  

The real issue is that no one wants to trust their life to Chinese government statistics.  However, with the increase in infections outside of China, soon will we have a lot of believable data.

Counter-point:  Here’s a table of all other infected countries’ data.  I *highly recommend* looking at it for 2 minutes.  

A couple stand out observations.  If you do some quick math, new infections in some countries outside of China are rising by 5-30% per day.

If you look at total cases then look at deaths and recovereds, you get a sense of likely ratios (and that Iran is probably hiding/under-reporting, which they are being criticized for).  

The clearest and probably most important standout is the huge number of infected but not recovered or dead.  This shows the very high degree of unknown outcomes.  For example, in Korea, with nearly 900 cases, only 30 have known outcomes (9 deaths, 21 cleared).  That means we don’t know the outcome yet of 97% of those infected.  Currently, that’s also a nearly 33% death to recovered rate (much higher than China’s reported 9% rate).

With the hockey stick shaped rise in new infections outside of China, and with people being sick for 2-3 weeks, we probably just entered a window that will last 3 weeks where we will gain a much higher degree of confidence in how deadly (or not) the virus is; and its potential for a high number of deaths if it becomes a pandemic.

But it’s too early to say much with confidence.  And that is exactly the risk at this point:  so many unknowns with a virus that is spreading rapidly.

SolutionWhile this may be a black swan event, if the problem does significantly come to the US, what solves 80+% of the problem with 20-% of or less of the effort?  The key is to prevent contact, which means staying away from high risk public places.  Which means already having food and water and a way to cook the food for a long enough period of time.

Without getting too crazy, 80% of supplies probably look like:

  1. medications
  2. 15-30 days of food & water (Costco is cheapest per gallon of water; focus on buying a variety of food you know you’ll eat anyways that keeps/stores for longer periods of time.  Also freeze dried food is very tasty and keeps 8-25 years)
  3. propane tank(s) & single burner stove for propane
  4. N95 masks, disposable gloves, goggles, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes
  5. body wipes, toiletries (soap, TP, toothpaste), masks for children are different than masks for adults, and
  6. Pet food issues.

Understand that by the time an item is needed, everyone else realizes this, too (for example, N95 masks).  In a crisis, preparation must happen early, before it’s needed.

When looking at this list you realize, if you buy food you’re likely to eat, the net cost of being prepared early is quite low.

Key Realization: the odds of losing water/power more than 7 days baring fire/mother nature/war are really low.  Once you get past 14 days, then you’ll likely have another set of social complications/issues, like rioting.  Or attacking the helpfully labeled Mormon Foodhouse Storage. 😉

However, this is small tail analysis: rioting is likely in densely populated areas, stores are what get hit (much less houses).  The remaining 20% is probably built around a generator, gas, gun/ammo, water purifier, etc. Something to be explored later after the (80%) first level has already been solved.

Thanks to Craig for soundboarding this analysis with me and for Elliot for providing the link to this site (there’s a lot of noise out there).

As always, I welcome all data or analysis, confirming or to the contrary.

* * *

Lastly:  I think one of the greatest risks could be to the supply chain.  So many of the parts needs to make anything, even US built cars, comes from China.  Hard to build a car when you’re missing even a few parts from China.  How many of the basic things we need and make in the US are dependent on China-made products.  Even our phara grade meds are mostly out-sourced to China. Since the country worst hit is also the world’s greatest supply chain supplier, there’s real risk that’s begun hitting US companies like Amazon and Apple.  Which again means, lots of unknowns.

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