The Wuhan (Chinese) Coronavirus


Yes, I’m going to call it that despite the outcry about using that descriptor.  It has long been common to name diseases after where they were first identified.  The list of examples is long.  German Measles, Spanish Flu, Rocky Mountain Fever, Lyme Disease (named after Lyme Connecticut), Ebola (named after the Ebola river), and on and on and on.  There’s nothing “racist” about it.  But the Chinese Communist Party declared it’s “racist” and their willing collaborators in government and the media go along with it. (I’m kind of partial to “Winnie the Flu” since that is tailor made to annoy Xi Jinping.)

First off, I consider the panic about it overblown.  This is not the disaster that some folk have been painting. (Yes, Italy has been bad but I’ll get to that shortly.) And there’s nothing about it that requires people to grab years supplies of toilet paper.  Really.  Diarrhea isn’t even a symptom.  A couple weeks supply, a month at most, and you’re golden.  Really.

On the other hand, some people have been utterly dismissive of it.  “It’s no worse than the flu” they say.  And now we get to Italy.

First off, let me be clear that Italy is not a good “model” for what results are likely to be in the United States.  Italians tend to keep very close personal space, as in, next to none.  They engage in a lot more casual physical touch than is generally considered comfortable in American society.  this facilitates the spread of diseases like the Wuhan Coronavirus.  However, the real issue can be seen here:

critical care beds

Note that this is “per 100,000” so that the US has just about five times Italy’s population has already been corrected for.  The simple fact is, America has the facilities to care for a larger proportion of its population in need of critical care than is Italy.  The closest anyone comes to the US capacity is Germany.  A large part of the problem in Italy is that their facilities were overwhelmed–more cases needing critical care than they had beds to handle.  What was an overwhelming crisis in Italy will be “a bit busy” in the US.

Now, this is not to say that the situation in Italy is not informative.  To the best of my knowledge, seasonal flu does not generally swamp Italy’s medical systems.  And so, while the fact that it is a crisis in Italy does not mean that it will be such a crisis here, nevertheless, I think it does point to Wuhan Coronavirus being worse than seasonal flu and probably even worse than the 2009 H1N1 strain.

So how much worse?  To consider that, let’s look at the Grand Princess cruise ship.  They had the disease aboard in a fairly closed environment.  Despite the best efforts of the crew, the ship was simply not equipped to fully isolate passengers from each other or from the crew.  Crew still ate in common and still had to interact with passengers if only to deliver food and other necessary goods.  We have 21 confirmed cases of Coronavirus on the Grand Princess.  Most of the passengers who didn’t show obvious symptoms declined testing.  Even with the attempts at isolation, we can pretty much presume that everyone on the ship was exposed.  Still 290 tests, 21 cases.  Given the situation on the ship despite efforts at isolation we can pretty much assume that everybody was exposed, that gives an infection rate of just under 10% and we can go ahead and round up to that  Estimates of death rates from those infected range from 0.5% to upwards of 8%.  Those higher rates, however, tend to be coupled with inadequate medical care (not enough beds to treat more serious cases–see Italy up above) and with older patients with other underlying health issues.  Also, those figures do not count minor cases which are never recognized as Wuhan Coronavirus.  The person thinks they have a cold, or even don’t show symptoms at all, and goes on about their life.  And I am, perhaps, less inclined to dismiss the “older with other underlying health issues”.  After all, I am older (pushing 60) with other underlying health issues (diabetes).  All told, however, that 0.5% is probably closer to an upper bound, in a developed country with adequate facilities for critical care, than the higher numbers.

Still, at worst case then, we’re talking about a total of 30 million cases in the US and 15,000 deaths.  That’s somewhat worse than the 2009 H1N1 epidemic, but not much.

So, yes, some caution and care is justified.  The current panic, not so much.  So wash your hands, people.  You should be doing that anyway.  And if you’re sick, stay home so as not to infect other people.  Beyond that?  You’re good.  Really.

And once you’ve got more than a couple weeks’ supply of toilet paper, you really don’t need to get any more.  Honest.  They’ll make more.

9 thoughts on “The Wuhan (Chinese) Coronavirus”

  1. More recently, experts have proposed a third hypothesis: The Spanish flu originated somewhere in northern China in late 1917 and swiftly moved to western Europe with the 140,000 Chinese laborers the French and British governments recruited to perform manual labor to free up troops for wartime duty. Would anyone really be surprised?


    1. I would be, but I did some research into the 1918-19 flu. The last I heard, the origins seemed to have been a pig farm in Mead County, KS, thence to Ft. Riley, KS, and then the world.

      If is correct, we could be talking about two overlapping , coincident, influenza strains. I know some European sources (Hungarian, German) listed somewhat different symptoms than did US sources, but that’s not necessarily proof of much.


  2. I see Speaker is passing information from Iceland that 50% of positive cases are showing 0 symptoms. Which would indicate that this is much more widespread, and less deadly, then the media is crowing about.


    1. I’m wondering if this has been quietly spreading for far longer than a couple of months. Menbers of my family, coworkers and myself were experiencing Wuhan like symptoms back in October-December in widely disparate locations. Several people tested negative for flu but got better after being treated with pneumonia medications.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m pretty sure it has been. It appears it actually “got loose” in China last November or even earlier, long before the Chicoms even admitted it existed, let alone instituted any kind of quarantine/lockdown. Given the way folk have been travelling, that means it’s been global since before we knew it existed. The rise in confirmed cases isn’t a rise in infections so much as a rise in number of people tested for it.

        Which leads me to the question is where were the cases of unexplained pneumonia deaths which we can look back and say “Oh, that’s what it was.” Apparently we didn’t even notice. And that factor alone is enough to make me doubt pretty much everything in the hype about it. That said hype is politically useful for a lot of people is just icing on the cake, so to speak.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Me too. My daughter had flu-like symptoms severe enough that we took her into the walk-in clinic twice, once in December and once in January. She missed several days of school. Both times she tested negative for the flu.


  3. Just found out last night that a co-worker’s parents got a nasty not-cold, not-flu upper respiratory infect not long after a family (including coworkers – brothers, they are) trip to Las Vegas. Lasted weeks, went to doc, but not-cold/not-flu.. just “URI going around”. That co-worker? A day or two of sniffles (mid-20’s). But since nobody was TESTED, it doesn’t count. So… despite all the precautions, I’ve likely been exposed for some time and either utterly failed to get the darn thing, or have all but brushed it off. Oh, though I won’t go into details, chances are if my state goes for ‘shutdown’ (restaurants are already either closed or drive-through/delivery/take-out only) I’ll still be working.


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