How this ends.

Ok so this is not at all agreed upon. The CDC has twenty-one different models forecasting cases and deaths. Those forecasts are only shown on the CDC website to predict what will happen for about the next two weeks- until September 12th. The models are from various universities and teams- MIT has two models, Harvard has a model, Columbia University, Hopkins, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, etc. etc. (the usual suspects). And even in that short time frame, they are all over the place.

Why are they all over the place? Well the biggest thing is that they make different assumptions about social distancing and behavior- it will continue as it is or change. Also some of them are assuming herd immunity, ahem, and some not. The Columbia-UNC model appears to assume herd immunity as it is predicting a decline in cases and not saying anything about social distancing (see below).

But, regardless of that mess to sort out, [which I will sort out- I just don’t want to go through 21 different models atm to write this post- that’s going to take a while], they are only going through September 12th so who cares? That doesn’t tell us how this ends.

I actually have been in a pretty good mood lately because I think this ends soon and with less deaths than I originally thought. That doesn’t mean that this was in any way ok or a lot of people won’t have died. This was most definitely NOT ok, any of it. 220,000 people have already died- more than 6X the Flu. And this was preventable. So 100% not ok.

But here is what I think will happen. I think herd immunity is happening and I actually think that my original idea and the idea Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) COVID-19 team was promoting, actually naturally is occurring. I think the public health messaging got out there and the highest risk people are being more shielded than in the beginning of the pandemic. Whether that’s them being more careful or their families being more careful around them, the age of cases has dropped and thus the death rate is dropping. Proud of you America. Your government sucks but you are looking out for the vulnerable people on your own.

I actually think the protests were probably in some senses GOOD for this pandemic because the people protesting were by and large low-risk for dying of COVID. They were younger and probably most didn’t have a condition that put them at high risk- like asthma or cancer. Therefore the herd immunity we are seeing at 20-30% is a healthier 20-30% of the population. They are shielding the more vulnerable people from COVID with their immunity. That’s not to say anything about disparities- that’s a whole other can of worms that is terrible and I won’t get into here.

But bottom line? Cases are dropping and deaths are not as bad as we thought. Achieving herd immunity at 20-30% is huge! It is an unexpected and really lucky turn of events. I thought it would be at 60-70% and have a lot more deaths involved.

Daily new US cases
Daily new US Deaths

But let’s be clear–

The herd immunity threshold depends on how responsible people are being. More mask wearing, more distancing, and more protecting of high-risk people will make herd immunity possible at lower levels. It will also save lives. So we need to keep doing this until the cases drop completely.

From UCSF grand rounds talk by Dr. Trevor Bedford.

I think it won’t be that much longer though. We need to hold on just a bit longer to save lives. I know it’s a lot to ask. Depression rates have doubled and anxiety is through the roof. And the economy is suffering.

But I think cases will have dropped enough and we will be immune enough for things to feel a lot more normal by Christmas. And a vaccine will be here in ~January 2021. The memorial day 2021 parties are going to be spectacular. This is what Wuhan province looks like- you know the place in China that originally locked down and then eradicated COVID. It’s off the hook there. Please someone start planning this pool party for me. Really- that looks amazing.

Wuhan pool parties draw crowds after coronavirus largely ...
Life after the coronavirus: Thousands flock to Wuhan pool party

We could be much smarter this fall if we didn’t deny herd immunity is happening. For example, we could send the highest risk people to the places that are the most immune so they could be shielded. Like send grandma to New Orleans for the fall semester.

Jokes aside, I really think some innovative strategies would make a lot of sense. But this hasn’t been possible during this thing because of the mass confusion, party in fighting, fake science news, and paternalism. So I have really no hope of them happening in the fall. I do think states that are not yet at 25% infection rates (herd immunity threshold) should not be opening schools- that’s just asking for disaster. You can see how immune you are in this map- darkest purple is likely immune- click on the picture to get to the site and zoom in on your region.

But who is listening to me anyway? Like 200 of my facebook friends. I have been shouting into the void this whole time. It’s been worth it though. I’ll shout into the void with you all any day.

Let It Out: Record your scream for broadcast into the empty ...

*****These views and analysis are solely my own. And while I fully believe that I’m right (lol), this is merely a blog post and thus should not be taken as gospel. Like if you really want to send your grandma to New Orleans for the fall, we should probably have a chat and think it through a bit more.

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