Your thoughts regarding the media coverage?
I skim-read multiple news aggregators daily, and for weeks now, every single day, 75% or more of the news is specifically about Covid-19.
By comparison, it is worth reminding younger readers that we didn't even know about the Spanish Flu until ~30 years ago. During WWI, we (humans) suffered the deadliest pandemic of the modern era, and it took 60-70 years before anyone even noticed.
If you didn't grow up before the Spanish Flu became common knowledge, that may be a hard thing to grasp ... but during the late-80s and into the '90s, there was this slow, years-long trickle of news from medical researchers, historians and (FFS) archeologists (?!!?) about how there might actually have been a massive global pandemic during WWI that no one knew about.
Today in Wikipedia, there is just one little tidbit about how various things like (intentional) under-reporting and co-mingling of flu deaths with war casualties, led to it being nicknamed "the forgotten pandemic" ... which doesn't really capture that sense of "Holy Fuck"-ness when you discover that up to 100 million people died of the flu one year, and no one even noticed.
Okay ... at any rate .... you get my point. In 1919, the news intentionally under-reported it worldwide (except in Spain ... hence the name), in part to help prevent panic.
Today, the news media coverage is just incredible. Nothing on Earth happens any more, except Covid-19. A few thousand people die (I'm sorry, but yeah, more people die in car accidents), and the Media loses its mind.
OTOH, honestly, it's mostly been pretty good, accurate, up-to-the-second coverage (as best I can tell), really driving home the message of "we know it sounds lame, but wash your hands, dammit ... a lot", and etc.
So ... thoughts? This constant in-your-face media coverage ... good or bad? How much is media causing the panic vs just reporting on it?
If we've adequately prepared, or over-prepared, by the time this is all over, we'll never know.
If we've under-prepared, nothing will be more apparent.
If you panic too much, you don't help anyone. If you don't panic enough, you're likely to help spread it.
I think there's an appropriate level of panic. That being, just enough panic to be diligent about washing your hands, monitoring your own symptoms (or lack thereof), covering your mouth (not with your hands you filthy boy) when you cough/sneeze, avoiding unnecessary travel, avoiding crowded areas, etc.
Going full-on Doomsday Preppers helps literally nobody. But this myth that SARS-CoV-2 is not as dangerous as the flu, and the lackadaisical attitude that comes with it is extraordinarily dangerous. The flu is only worse until a shitload of people get Corona.
I'm going to let y'all in on a little secret: the fatality rate is not 3.4%, it's over 7%.
See, you'll see numbers like 2% or 3.4% thrown around by the media and by layman for one of two reasons:
In epidemiology, there's this thing called the Case Fatality Rate. You do not find it by dividing deaths by total cases. You get it thus:
This is because if you count unresolved cases, you're really just padding your data to make something sound less bad. Unresolved cases are those infected, but haven't either died or recovered yet. They can still go either way; they will die or they will recover, but until they do they don't get to count in the Case Fatality Rate.
Using the most recent numbers—at the time of my writing this comment—from Johns Hopkins University, we currently have, worldwide:
Bing, bang, boom, and the math gives us 7.8% fatality.
Harvard epidemiology professor, Marc Lipsitch, predicts 40–70% of people worldwide will become infected in the next year.
Dr. Brian Monahan, attending physician of Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court, expects 70–150 million people in the U.S. will become infected.
If we take them at their word, and ignore that the math is a little more complicated than I'm making it out to be, that's roughly 237–418 million people dead worldwide, and 5.4–11.6 million dead in the U.S.
Let's not let it get so bad, yeah?
Yes, it's not that simple.
Yes, risk factors.
Yes, blah blah.
The takeaway point ought to be: if we don't concern ourselves enough and can't contain this before it infects a significant portion of the world population, then the body count will be decidedly not awesome.
From my perspective here from Afghanistan, a lot of people back home in the U.S. are not yet taking this seriously enough (and yes some people are going too crazy). If they don't begin to concern themselves, a lot of people are going to die who could have lived.
Don't buy all the shit-paper.
Avoid high-density areas.
Wash your hands.
There is not a single true number for the fatality rate because the denominator is tricky. What counts as recovered? If you mean, how many who were hospitalized with pneumonia recovered, then you will get a different answer than in a country where they tested everyone and you count everyone who tested positive.
Recovery rate will also vary with demographics and available medical care. It's not a stable fact about the disease.
There's a reason I put a bunch of disclaimers in my comment. Again, yes, it's not that simple.
The Case Fatality Rate fluctuates as more data comes in. As well, Johns Hopkins has a page on uncertainties in their model.
I think my point stands, however. This is more dangerous than is commonly understood, and we ought to take it seriously enough to limit its spread as much as possible.
We could potentially expect that fatality rate to rise in a surge-scenario; a not-insignificant percentage of recovered patients required mechanical ventilation to survive. If too many people get ill at once, the medical system will become overburdened and there won't be enough ventilators for the people who need them. Thus, people will die who could have survived.
That seems to me, less than ideal.
Yep, not ideal. I think that's all true, but on the other hand, common understanding is moving pretty rapidly, at least here in California. It's a little late, unfortunately.
They did the same math on the Diamond Princess after the required 17 days passed, and determined the death rate is 0.5%-1% depending on demographics.
The problem with your math is you are looking at known recoveries. There are so many unknown recoveries, because of a lack of testing. If you do the math on South Korea, which has the largest number of tests per capita you will realize the death rate is very similar to what happened on the Diamond Princess.
We work with the numbers we have. If we want to count the numbers we don't have, we might as well make up whatever we want, or alternatively don't bother trying to count at all. After all, if we can't be 100%, why even try at all?
The best analogy I have is calculus. If one wants to estimate the area under a curve, they would utilize rectangles and find their cumulative areas. The more rectangles you use, and the finer their width, the more accurately you can estimate the under under that curve. This represents data points, and unlike calculus we can't just simply integrate and find the limit of a sum to ascertain the really-real fatality rate.
More data points = more accuracy.
As more people get infected. As more people recover. As more people die. As more testing occurs. As the data continue to flow in, the Case Fatality Rate will begin to settle near its actual. At least, as actual as the real world will permit.
Another thing to consider is that the 1% mortality rate out of S.Korea seems to be a best case scenario too, as they got things under control very quickly and their healthcare system was not overwhelmed as a result. Italy, on the other hand, got forced into triaging Covid patients and has almost a 10% mortality rate as a result. And where the rest of the world is going to land after this all shakes out is anybody's guess. :(
Are you in Afghanistan for deployment?
Of a sorts. I'm former Air Force, current civilian contractor. I came out here intentionally.
I mean this very non-agressively: this is simply not true. Other news does get reported, it even gets frontpage. But it doesn't get the prime front page real estate so it jumps out less.
And that's part of the issue we're dealing with: covid19 is on people's mind so subconsciously your eye is going to focus on that bit of the news more than the rest. This seems to be a kind of deeply rooted characteristic for a lot of people, in times of big uncertainty and/or crisis we want relief from the news and also hunger for more at the same time.
The online media, in turn, is dependent on tapping into these subconscious desires for survival. If you want advertisements and pageviews you need to report the news people are looking for, and that means covid19 currently. But this has more or less been a thing since the advent of the 24 hour news cycle, even before the online presence was as large as it is now.
Of course this creates an effect of making the subject feel more urgent and all-encompassing, because otherwise why would it be in the news right? So a feedback loop emerges where people go to the news for information about covid19, get a lot, and then keep coming back in case there's more.
It is a kind of perverse, self-reinforcing system, but it's not even really a deliberate construction or a lack of desire to do better that makes it so. It's kind of just the ways thing are, and if the media doesn't play along it risks getting sidelined and possibly going out of business.
Are you saying I'm biased? the readers notice it more? Or that the media presents it disproportionately, to draw in readers?
Because, for my part, this is not subconscious bias. I am literally counting the articles. Today on my primary news aggregator, the count is 12 out of 64 articles whose titles do not explicitly refer to the coronavirus, covid-19, pandemic, quarantine, etc. So ... 82% == Covid-19, 18% == Everything Else.
The latter two, it's a combination of both.
I don't know which news aggregator you use, but usually aggregators will push the stories that get the most views, so they're less of an adequate representation of what news gets reported and more of what news gets promoted and what gets read. A more qualitative study would be to take the titles from news feeds of various news sources and count the mentions in there, possibly even to use a more sophisticated text parsing system to see which articles are about the virus itself and which simply mention it.
Is the coverage not more about the people who will soon die, who just haven't done so yet? We can see the trends, and know that at our current best guess, ~1% of the people who get it will die, and that will happen in ~17 days from infection. More people will die if the healthcare system is overwhelmed. If you look at the curves, that quickly leads to a very large number. It makes complete sense to me that this would dominate the news.
[I made a tool over the weekend to try and put relative geographies into perspective, in case you are interested.]
Super cool tool! Very fun to compare with, it seems the exponential rise is inevitable, but the plateau is less clear.
I am curious why Japan hasn't seem to grow exponentially nearly at all.
One of the problems with using this data is that you have no control over e.g. testing rates. Clearly, at the very least, you can only increase by as many tests are are performed. I'm going to expand it later today to look also at deaths / recovered / current cases, and fix a few bugs. If you had any things you'd be interested in looking at, feel free to let me know!
If you switch to log view, Japan does appear to be roughly exponential. It just has a much lower growth factor than... basically every other country I can think of. Even South Korea has that same high growth rate until it plateaus.
Edit: Our World In Data has a (very) similar visualisation here.
Absolutely. And as I said, by and large, the reporting I've seen has been very good. Media is certainly handling it better than certain Federal Govts who shall remain nameless.
I think this is really bold (and incorrect) claim.
By any historical accounts I found, there was tons of media coverage at the time the flu happened about the flu; there were media outlets giving advice to stay home (social distancing), the economy had issues, statisticians adjusted the life expectancy (in some cases by as much as 12 years, like the US), entire health-related companies made millions of dollars, such as Vick's, whose yearly intake more than tripled the first year of the flu. People knew about the flu as it happened. What makes you think that people didn't know the flu was a thing?
I may be exaggerating (a bit).
I'm not saying no one knew there was a flu ... I'm saying no one knew that it was a devastating global pandemic. To the vast majority of people, it was just another flu.
It's anecdotal, but for the first 20-25 years of my life, I swear, No One had ever heard of the Spanish Flu.
They literally named it the Spanish Flu because Spain was the only country that didn't repress news about it, and so everyone thought there was an especially bad flu that only hit Spain.
My instinct is to be mad at "the media" but FFS, it's doing fine? It reports on the reasonable measures to be taken, which match what experts seem to say, it tells people to take measures but not to panic. Even twitter is mostly fine. A lot of good info on twitter. I'm not saying there aren't some crazy conspiracy sites out there posting insanely stupid shit, but overall... it's fine.
Relevant article on Columbia Journalism Review today: The everything story
It can be pretty hit or miss, honestly, and I have an example. I was trying to find some data on the claim that patients will have diminshed lung function after recovering from the disease. Here's an example. Follow this link, and click through to this link. The trail went cold, until I got lucky with the search terms and found an observational study just trying to find some sort of common symptoms to use for diagnosis in the absence of viral testing. I've seen people claiming this issue as well, and it's a known effect of pneumonia, so it's not impossible, just, as far as we know, rare for viral respiratory infections.
I went down this rabbit hole after somebody seemed panicked in my university's subreddit, and I became determined to understand where a rumor that "some patients will suffer diminished lung function" as a result of this virus came from. With "some" seeming to sound like a significant amount, and the poster in question mentioning it would be 17% of ICU patients, which is still a very small amount.
The main thing I'll say is the truth is out there, but more, now than ever, you have to pay close attention and see where the news media is oversimplifying or sensationalizing this situation. I don't know what the news really looks like (I don't follow any specific publications), but these are the issues for the corona-related articles I've read. The media coverage of this is about as bad as any science journalism, to be completely honest. The best site I've seen so far that is not a medical publication is stat, as even their publishing of opinion is really informative. It's not too hard to arm yourself with information, provided you have the time (school and work closed, and I'm being fully paid for work, I have time in spades), especially considering places like PubMed are publishing all sars-cov-2 publications for free in the public interest.