I Hope Tens of Millions of Americans Have COVID-19

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My non-clinical, non-expert (but still informed) thought of the day on coronavirus….I hope tens of millions of people in the US are already infected. Why do I say that?

A Stanford epidemiologist recently said the data is so limited right now that, “We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300.”

With the FDA STILL inhibiting the fast track to mass testing in the US, we are left with extremely limited data sets.

Sooo…unlike multiple other countries, ONLY the sickest people are getting tested in the US. This means epidemiologists still can’t see accurate numbers on anything. From virulence of the disease to tru mortality rates, we still don’t have enough information.

With that testing limitation in mind, consider this thought…with 181k CONFIRMED cases in the US (at time of writing), that likely means anywhere from 543,000 to 54,300,000 people are infected in the US. Crazy range!

That would give an ESTIMATED mortality rate range of .6% (6/10th’s of a percent) on the high end to .006% (6/1000ths of a percent) on the low end in the US.

With a current CONFIRMED case mortality rate of 2% amongst the sickest people who have been tested, this unquestionably means the real mortality rate is MUCH lower. Lower mortality rates than originally projected is a very good thing.

Sooo….yes! I hope tens of millions of people in the US are already infected. That would mean the mortality rate is actually incredibly low, and we are approaching the high point of this virus cycle.

ARE tens of millions of people in the US already infected? I have absolutely no idea, but it’s unlikely we are that far along just yet. Unfortunately, the experts don’t know either.

I like the potential trends that show the spread is LARGER than first thought and mortality rate is LOWER than previously thought. Those are good things. I like those trends. Let’s hope they are right.

For my TN friends, here are our numbers from TN Department of Health daily update on March 31:
2,239 CONFIRMED cases
23 deaths from cases
Mortality rate on CONFIRMED cases only: 1%

We know that means the mortality rate is a lot lower, but how much lower? No one knows.

Here are some potential TN mortality rates based on epidemiologist’s potential spread factor range:
Low spread factor of 3 (likely spread is larger): .3% (3/10th of a percent)
Middle spread factor of 150 (unlikely spread is this large…yet): .006% (6/1000ths of a percent)
High spread factor of 300 (extremely unlikely spread is this large, and may never get here): .003% (3/1000ths of a percent)

Of extremely important note: these numbers assume the virus is spreading in exactly the same demographics as current CONFIRMED numbers. That’s definitely not the case. I am not trying to model anything with these numbers. Epidemiologists have to incorporate data of those tested into age and health demographics of larger populations to truly model something like this. What I have provided is simple math, not any informed, demographically representative model.

If that doesn’t make sense to you, imagine the virus hits a retirement community and also hits a new suburban development. Since we know the retirement community will have a much older age group and have a higher number of pre-existing conditions than a newer suburban development with a high number of school age parents and kids, its easy to see why we can’t assign the mortality rate of the retirement community to the new suburban development.

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