This could as well be going to this topic.
I just got a message from family. The read the Rheinische Post and asked about my input on an opinion piece by Stefan Homburg, an economist, published today in the RP.
I’m not going to onebox this: https://rp-online.de/ panorama/ coronavirus/ wirtschaftsprofessor-stefan-homburg-warum-der-lockdown-unberechtigt-ist_aid-50253127
Do me a favour, please and do not click that link. I deliberately put blanks in it so you don’t. A google translate version follows:
Statistics contradict Lockdown
Guest contribution by Stefan Homburg
Opinion Hanover The economics professor and ex-advisor to the federal government, Stefan Homburg, rejects restrictions such as blocking contacts in the corona pandemic. In his guest contribution, he justifies his controversial thesis in the professional world with official figures.
Unlike in Sweden, for example, many people in Germany are extremely worried. They worry about being infected with the coronavirus and possibly dying from it. In this fear, they are reinforced by Chancellor Angela Merkel, who warns sharply of the easing of the lockdown that has been in effect since March 23.
The factual situation seems unclear to many, because the public debates mostly revolve around an ominous “reproduction number” that cannot be observed directly, but can only be estimated using mathematical methods. This article tries a different approach that doesn’t require math skills, just common sense. The accompanying figure shows all daily reported corona diagnoses in Germany, starting on March 2nd. The data comes from Johns Hopkins University. They are accessible to everyone free of charge on the Internet and make it possible to graphically depict and compare the situation in well over 100 countries.
If you look beyond the peaks, which are based on reporting delays, the illustration shows a pattern typical of epidemics: Viruses multiply faster and faster before development reaches a plateau and then subsides. In the case of influenza viruses, popularly refers to the shape of the curve as the “flu wave”. The figure here shows the corona wave accordingly. The same wave pattern also applies to other respiratory infections because it has a deeper reason: the more prevalent the virus is, the longer it will take to find people who are susceptible to further infection. The danger of a virus wave depends on how infectious the virus is and what health effects it has. Both factors are not yet known exactly in the corona virus,however, the overall effect is similar to that of the influenza virus in the opinion of the physicians and on the basis of the observed death rates, in Germany it is rather less. Mortality mainly affects people whose immune systems are weakened; the average age of the corona virus is 82 years.
The figure shows that the news peaked around March 30, and the corona wave subsided in April. No numbers game can fool this fact; it is obvious. What does this mean for the peak of infections? The figure also provides information about this, because the federal Robert Koch Institute (RKI) estimates that two to three weeks pass between infection and notification: a newly infected patient is initially symptom-free, and this incubation period is estimated at around five days. If symptoms occur, the patient goes to the doctor after a while, who takes a smear and sends it to a laboratory.
Positive test results are sent to the local health authorities, from there to the state health authorities and finally to the RKI, which collects and publishes the reports centrally. The delay of two to three weeks, averaged around 17 days, leads to an important conclusion.
Since the newly reported Corona cases peaked around March 30th, the actual new infections, which cannot be observed directly, must have reached their maximum around 17 days before, i.e. on March 13th. At that time, major events had been banned (March 9), while school closings (March 16) and large parts of the economy lockdown (March 23) followed later. The graphic is hardly compatible with the thesis that only school closings and lockdown prevented worse.
On the contrary, the graphic suggests that the virus spread would have stopped even without drastic measures. There are two further arguments for this. First, in late February and early March, all respiratory infectious diseases were in retreat. One may object that the lockdown also stopped the spread of influenza and other viruses. According to data from the RKI, respiratory diseases also automatically decreased in previous years towards the end of the cold season. At that time, as is well known, there was neither hysteria nor a lockdown.
The exponential increase assumed by the Federal Government has not occurred in South Korea, Sweden and Taiwan, either, which have waived lockdowns and take far milder measures. This was to be expected because epidemics only spread exponentially in the imagination of some politicians (and their preferred advisors). In reality, respiratory infections always follow the course of an “epidemiological curve” with an increasing and then decreasing rate of spread. In retrospect, this pattern can be seen in the data of many countries, regardless of whether they have damaged citizens and the economy through historically unprecedented measures.
Why is an economist concerned with these questions? Because epidemiologists don’t cure patients, which of course only doctors can do, but work with data, computer programs and mathematical models. In terms of qualifications, epidemiologists are often mathematicians and statisticians and they use the same methods as economists. Virologists, on the other hand, are biologists who study cell and virus interactions.
Politicians are familiar with the above figures and facts; she just doesn’t know how to get out of the number and continues to stir up fears. The politicians who are now supporting the swift lifting of the excessive measures will soon be ahead of the polls.
I didn’t try to fix mistranslated sentences this time, may do this later. No time right now, and I am fucking livid.
This regionally respected conservative-leaning newspaper, published in a ‘political powerhouse’ region of Northrhine-Westphalia, is giving him an opinion piece right now, only days after he published a blog post on a openly racist neocon platform complaining he is being painted as a villain on public broadcasters and calls this “gouvernmental desinformation”, aka fake news…
FUCK THIS SHIT RIGHT NOW.
And family contacts me and wants to have my opinion from a statisticians viewpoint.
I don’t even.
Same family members, by the way, want to visit us ASAP. And I caved in, because they are suffering, really big time, from depression. I want to help them. But this might get really problematic.