↑ comment by Viliam ·
2020-12-31T21:55:45.821Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
If I understand your model of herd immunity correctly, it's like a binary split of population, where everyone in group A gets infected at the same time, and becomes healthy 14 days later, while group B spends 14 days (plus some safety margin) in shelters, so at the end both groups are healthy and the pandemic is over -- at least within the country.
I believe this is something that works as a mathematical model, but not in reality, because the differences between the map and territory are big enough to make it fall apart. Specifically, getting infected by covid is hard to do reliably. I don't remember the exact numbers, but when you had two people living in the same household and one of them got covid, there was a two-digit probability the other also got infected, and two-digit probability the other did not get infected. So in a zero-precaution situation (for group A), some people would get infected quickly, some in a month, some in two months... Also, it is possible to get infected by covid repeatedly -- I don't know what is the shortest interval, but there are many people who got infected both in spring and autumn 2020. Which means the group B would never be able to safely leave their shelters.
In Slovakia, covid in spring 2020 was managed very efficiently; best results in the entire Europe, if I remember correctly. We started in early March with face masks, when most experts (including most experts in Slovakia) were saying that masks don't work and we shouldn't buy them because doctors need them. Schools were closed, people were discouraged from using mass transit. When 0.017% of population got infected, we believed it was pretty bad ("oh my sweet summer child!"), and had one week of lockdown, which reduced the number of infections again. In June schools were opened again, for one month.
Result: only one week of lockdown, two months kids out of school, only 28 people died of covid. In my opinion, this is an experimental proof that impressive results can be achieved with relatively minor inconvenience -- as long as you do not hesitate and do the inconvenient thing quickly.
Then in autumn we fucked up everything, and got the same results as the rest of Europe. People returned from vacations abroad and immediately put their kids in schools, so since September the numbers started growing exponentially. Government ignored everything until end of October... then we got mandatory testing and lockdowns, but it was too late, 1% of population was infected, which made tracking logistically impossible, so by now we have about 2000 dead and lockdowns and the number of sick people keeps growing slowly.
I am posting these data to illustrate that I reject the dilemma "deaths or lockdown". If you do the smart thing, you can have minimum deaths and minimum lockdowns. If you do the stupid thing, you get lots of lockdowns and also lots of deaths.
Unfortunately, what stops us from doing the smart thing is... well, the people who fight hard against lockdowns in principle, including in situations where a short lockdown would be able to save the day. Because you can't make me and it's hopeless anyway and herd immunity and...
By the way,
In the context of covid a good measure is to buy one of those cheap pulse oximeters that clip on your finger. It takes five seconds to get a reading on O2 saturation that could be the difference between dying or not.
this information is only actionable if the hospitals still have some capacity left. Here, now, they don't.Replies from: stuart-anderson
↑ comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) ·
2021-01-01T13:32:40.306Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
-Replies from: Viliam
↑ comment by Viliam ·
2021-01-01T16:28:38.781Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
There is the perverse relation that sooner lockdowns are more effective but less politically defensible. It can even backfire -- the good outcome of Slovakia in first wave was ironically used as "evidence" by people saying that covid is harmless or completely made up.
Good data is hard to get. First, too many things happen at the same time, it is hard to separate their effects. For example, I find it quite likely that closing schools makes a huge difference. It is one of those things Slovakia did immediately in spring, and refused to do in autumn -- but as they say, correlation is not causation; and you can't make people do controlled experiments. We used to believe at the beginning that kids are immune to covid. Now it seems more like they are asymptomatic but spread the virus... although not enough good data here either. If that is true, then lockdowns while schools are open (and school attendance is mandatory) are completely insane.
Second, people are busy. Like, in spring in Slovakia we pretty much knew who got infected by whom; and when a person died, it was possible to have a wide debate whether a person who had X and Y and covid should actually be counted as "killed by covid" or something else. Now, the hospitals are unable to take care of all the sick people, so no one bothers doing autopsies. Which leads to all kinds of complaints about methodology of calculating actual covid deaths. Okay, but...
...there is something wrong about the chain "too many dead to count properly" -> "dead not counted properly" -> "we do not have solid data" -> "so, maybe no one really died, or only few". Like, each step is defensible separately, but the entire chain definitely is not. Well, there are attempts to justify the entire chain, like attributing the excess deaths directly to lockdowns. Which doesn't quite explain why those people, presumably dying from poverty or depression, need so many ventilators. And the death toll of lockdowns is also ambivalent: more people dying from poverty and depression, but fewer by traffic accidents or flu. Another data point from Slovakia: during spring 2020, the total mortality was lower than during the same periods of previous years, i.e. the lockdowns were net life savers, at least in short term.
We do have an oximeter at home, still unpacked. I hope it stays that way.Replies from: stuart-anderson