Nearly 25% of NYC residents have coronavirus antibodies says Gov Cuomo, lockdown to extend past May 15 in parts of New York state

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Apparently the number is only around 5% for LA/SF area dwellers in California. We can forget “herd immunity” any time soon. The highly communicable nature of the virus means you need a very high percentage of the population to have immunity for it to work. Given the death toll in NY and the way the hospitals have been overloaded, there’s no path to herd immunity that isn’t a disaster.

Also, we still don’t know if antibodies provide long-term protection against the virus. We have no evidence it does. (Which is complicated by the fact that survivors apparently have highly variable antibody numbers. So even if antibodies do provide long-term protection, that still might not be true for all survivors.)


If these percentages hold up as more people are tested for antibodies, then the New Yorkers that have tested positive would be only 10% of those that have contracted sars-cov2. Considering that NY has tested a higher percentage of people than the national average, that would correspond to over 10 million in the U.S. having contracted the virus.

As the number of unidentified, active cases is this biggest determinant for whether it is safe for people to return to socializing, this is not very encouraging


Sweden expects to reach herd immunity in May. We’ll see how that goes. But they do have a different kind of health system, and a different attitude in the population. Also noteworthy, they expect GDP in 2020 will shrink 4-10%, which is probably ok for Sweden, but that number would be a disaster for many other countries where a larger percentage of the population is in an economically unstable position (like in the USA):


Yeah, the death toll is entirely a function of how overloaded the medical system is. (I was just reading a news story about someone incredibly sick with the virus, and it was pretty clear that if he hadn’t had around-the-clock, close attention, he would have died. That’s not available everywhere.) Plus, in the US, in the absence of testing, people only go to get care when they’ve become short of breath, by which time they’re already pretty sick and their blood oxygen is severely low.

Still, they’re counting on herd immunity at 60%, which is a much, much lower number than I’ve read elsewhere as being required for meaningful herd immunity. (I’ve seen numbers in the 90-odd percent range.)

It’s also pretty clear that NYC has seen far, far greater exposure to the virus, per capita, than any other part of the country. So we can’t extrapolate anything, leaving the rest of the country a big ol’ question mark as to how many cases there might be.


While the hospitals in nyc were and are stretched, I’m not sure they had problems to the point that it accounts for the higher death rate than elsewhere. Unfortunately I think the high mortality rate may have more to with the large percentage of people having underlying weak immune systems due to working too damn much, eating crap, breathing diesel soot, and always stressing out about childcare and making rent. And having those same stressed people in contact with a lot of other people because they have transaction type jobs and live in high density.

In other words: income inequality.


Well, my point was not just that hospitals were stretched, but that the entire nature of the US health-care system that has a negative impact (exacerbated by the federal government’s lack of action). People aren’t getting tested; people can’t afford to be treated; there aren’t the medical resources needed to treat everyone, much less give them the treatment that would maximize their survival. Which means people aren’t getting any medical attention until they’re dangerously sick - assuming they get attention at all. (Apparently people aren’t being treated until they’re short of breath - but at that point, the virus has already done serious damage to the body.) On top of which are the death-rate increases caused by inequality issues, pre-existing health problems, etc.

Basically, there’s some theoretical minimal death rate for the virus under ideal conditions (which is still perhaps close to 1%, which makes any “herd immunity” approaches baffling), and then there’s the death rate in the worst possible conditions - i.e. in the total absence of any medical care - where the percentage of seriously ill patients, who at the very least need oxygen, could be more than 15% in the US, with our generally poor health care and larger number of people with pre-existing conditions. The actual death rate is going to be somewhere in between, based on the medical resources available to both patients and doctors, and varying from community to community (both in terms of physical location and socio-economic demographic).

I think it’s exactly the other way round: the US population is in poor health because of a lifestyle that breeds several of those so-called pre-exsisting conditions that are entirely preventable without a health system. That situation is massively exacerbated by inequality issues.

Only on top of that is a fucked up health system, but if people were enabled to lead a healthy life style, COVID-19 would mostly affect those with preexisting conditions that aren’t preventable by a healthy lifestyle, so just a fraction of those at risk now. Therefore we’d see a lot less hospitalisations, and a lot less severe outcomes, and we could take better care of each of those.

I think it’s really important to make that distinction, because it shows there is an obviousway out of this mess: giving people back the agency over their health, which has been eroded by unfettered capitalism, exacerbated buy an view on public and individual health that is entered on preventing and curing diseases rather than building and maintaining health and well-being (salutogenesis).

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