Modern bureaucracy has every conceivable tool at its hands to manage a pandemic today, that it did not have a century ago, during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-1919.
Our current “Chinese flu”, since they still call the older flu “Spanish” although no one knows its actual origins (and India had 17 million of the estimated 50 million who died) has similarities with the Spanish flu. You would recognize this graph as it is just like the one that was drawn out in February as to how our might look, only this graph was hand-drawn after the flu had run its course in 1919.
In other word, this was a depiction of how things were, not might be.
That’s right, this wasn’t a “what might happen” graph, aka “a model”, but rather a “what did happen”, graph. Keep that distinction in mind. I’m not sure they even did predictive models then, but if they did, they didn’t mass broadcast them. For one, the didn’t want people to “get scared” (See below) when today that seems to be a prime objective. Our 1918 people were a tough lot, and our governments didn’t perceive them as children. That kind of thinking hadn’t yet permeated government. But also, there wasn’t much they could do about it other then treat it, and take common sense measures to prevent its spread.
Our worst month was October, 1918, taking the lives of 195,000 Americans in that month alone, then the Spanish flu dissipated as quickly as it had arrived, although it had a brief resurgence after crowds flooded city streets to celebrate the November 11 announcement of the armistice ending World War I. As I mentioned, Donald Trump’s grandfather died of this flu early in the outbreak, in May,1918. In New York.
(I recommend brief Google studies as to how things were different then, under far worse conditions in terms of the states’ collective ability to respond. They used common sense fliers and signs, especially “DON’T SPIT” and “DON’T GET SCARED” and “AVOID CROWDS” which you also see today in the places that are open. (Well, not “Don’t get Scared”. You could probably be fined for posting that.)
The modern Left likes to portray itself as Oh, so very much smarter that those people in 1918, but our country, in many respects were locked down then as much as they are today, only the police-state threats were absent and people still went to the ball park. And church as well.
For what it’s worth, the Spanish flu (which was an H1N1 virus, a variant of which Obama confronted in 2009-10) was a much greater killer worldwide, only, for obvious reasons, it was almost impossible to measure the worldwide case rates or death rates, so ranged from 17 million to 50 million, which is a very wide range, but also excusable because of the relative primitiveness in being able to collect data and collate it over so many countries, especially during the “war to end all wars” in Europe, World War I.
America, who calculated better, since there was no war going on here (our boys were over there, in France) lost 675,000, about the same number of soldiers who died in our Civil War 50 years earlier. Guesses, and that’s what they are, “guesses” suggests that “Lasting from January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a quarter of the world’s population at the time”–this taken from the world’s foremost authority, Wikipedia. If not fact, it is at least received wisdom tailored for the times.
From those numbers, we can estimate a 3.4%-to-10% mortality rate worldwide (which is very, very high), and the US deaths against an estimated 27 million cases, at 2.4%, which is considerably lower than the current COVID rates, as I’ll discuss below.
I use this to illustrate the driving forces of “national” science in 1918, which was to diagnose, treat, and if possible, save lives which we can compare to the driving forces of far more sophisticated science and medical technique in the United States and the World today, largely through the auspices of the United Nations and World Health Organization, in their handling of the China or Wuhan flu.
(In a follow-up piece that should be up in a few days, tentatively entitled “Before We Show the UN the Door…” I detail personal experiences of how and why the UN has routinely buried successful attempts at finding remedies and cures in the Third World, through their various grants programs, where they routinely bury any “technical fix” for a regional problem, if that fix would end the UN’s perennial role of tending to that problem. Their on-going philosophy is, even in science and medicine, “Why should be find cures or treatments that would end the need for our offices to be there, looking for those cures and treatments?”)
Here, I only want to center your thoughts on this one thing: From 1918 to 2020, a full century, has the United States and the World medical community gotten any better at diagnosing, treating, and even saving lives, than those medical professionals in 1918?
And if so, why doesn’t it show, in April, 2020?
In short, with our advances in technology in statistics and medicine, from diagnostics to treatment to prevention, are we able to narrow that wide upper-lower ranges of estimated cases (300-to-500 million) and deaths (17m-to-50m) from 1918, so that in 2020 we are able to actually assess how well we’re doing, and have done?
I would say no, not when our on-the-ground data collection and assessment seem to be no better, nor formulated any better, than what medical statisticians were able to do with columnar ledger pages and graph paper in 1919.
In theory at least, the ability to count, to actually collect the number of cases, then report them and to be able then to chart what has occurred on a day-to-day basis, and graph it in such a way as to prove or disprove the efficacy of the “models” modern scientists seem to insist on using to predict possible or probably outcomes, should be much improved from 1918.
Wouldn’t you say?
In 1918 those graphs were drawn by hand. On graph paper. Today numbers are keyed in and are assembled in a computer that is programmed to then reported and printed, all within seconds.
We’ve had a few minor “pandemics” from recent years to learn; HIV, in the 1980s, which was almost entirely behavior-spread (which behavior public-decorum will still not allow us to show) and Obama’s H1N1 epidemic (same as Spanish flu) in 2009-2010, which killed between 12,000 and 30,000 (same 3:1 range as 1918). As reported here by PJ Media in Feb, 28, 2020. the Obama response was “political first, and medical, second” from the very beginning, for the best evidence they were provided, by the same medical bureaucracies that have advised President Trump, the case count, spread count, and death count all fell within known ranges, and would likely stay below annual flu deaths and attack largely older Americans with other health issues. No sweat.
I know this has crossed many of your minds, but in hindsight is what the Obama Administration did and didn’t do the proper course; to wait it out, then take only measured action, mostly for the psychology of the people?
In short, no one was alarmed, no one “got scared.”
My real numbers:
Mark these dates: On March 20, 2020 I pulled out some 4-columnar ledger paper and began jotting down the US Corona cases/deaths, then began charting Worldwide reported cases/deaths two days later on March 22. China had been reporting its cases and deaths well over a month earlier, witness this CNN printed report, dated 21 Feb, a full month earlier.
Pay no attention to who reported this (CNN) but rather the calisthenics China was going through to get the reporting of numbers squared away, apparently as a key measurement against their reported deaths, for, as you know now, the more verifiable cases a country can report (thru testing) the lower (and better) its mortality rate will appear. Since China could care less what its people knew or felt, their opinions never mattering, they were doing all this for international consumption. At that particular time China had by far the largest number of reported cases, and also deaths, but they wanted their death rate to be below other First World nations; e.g, Europe. And they seemed to have worked it to that end.
In hindsight this is clear and CNN, who can’t tell the difference between Smuckers Grape Jelly and toe jam, was simply their useful idiot.
Also note that the first American to die in America was 8 days later, Feb 29, also reported by CNN, while there were only 22 reported Corona cases in the US.
I began my chart on March 20, three weeks later, when the case count in America was 19,000 (rounded off) with 300 deaths, or a 1.5% mortality rate. Very low. (For my tracking I use the Bing Worldwide Corona Cases, which is broken down by Reported Cases, Deaths, and Recoveries, updated hourly, reporting ALL the countries in the world that have reported cases, the United States, in the aggregate, as well as each states, and then, each county. I don’t use this site for accuracy, (I several across several errors in just a few recent day, but its sole sources of data, 1) for the US, is our CDC and 2) for the rest of the world the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO).
So, when WHO reports iffy numbers they are simply repeated by Bing, without even so much as an asterisk (*) to note that something is amiss, as MLB used to report Roger Maris’ home run record for years. This was very noticeable.
By Feb 21 China had changed it method of counting cases three times, and in mid-March reported it had stopped testing for Corona altogether. For several days it reported no new cases, not any new deaths, at a time when it was highest in the world in both. The Bing report obligingly reported this without any comment or note, even though all the other national comparisons were skewed and which now are absolutely unreliable. You will see how China has fared, just below. You will see how China has fared against the rest of the world because of these changes, just below.
When I began charting the world counts on 3/22 World count was 308K cases and 10K death, or 3.% mortality rate, vs the US’s then 1.2% mortality rate. On 3/26 I then began comparing the US to not only the World but also the EU; when we had reached 1000 deaths, against 69,000 cases or 1.4%. The EU on that day stood at 15,000 deaths (15 times larger the US) and a 5.8 mortality rate, while the World had suffered 24K deaths against 530K cases, or 4.5% mortality.
That’s an important date to because that is the date when the growth in US deaths and EU deaths, generally matched the worldwide growth. All the rest of the world amounted to the small difference.
Today, 4/21, the total US count is 41,114 and a mortality rate of 5.4%, as of 6AM, while the world count is 165,000 and a World mortality rate of 6.8%, but mostly attributable to the EU; since their top mortality rates are France, 17.7%, UK 13.8%. Italy 13.2%, Sweden 11.8 % and Spain, 10.4%,
Well in the worldwide middle, and below the US, is China, at 5.2%! Bingo.
Remember, mortality rates are a product of “known” Corona-virus cases versus “known” Corona-virus deaths, which the February CNN report (above) tells us China was toying with very early, and we now know that many hospitals, esp in the northeast US, have signed off on “corona” COD’s with scarcely more than a fever, but very aware of a hospital front office that would like to get a piece of that federal cash about to be voted in Congress.
In America, the money chase is on.
As is the political chase, especially in blue states, but not all (DeWine of Ohio and Burns of Maryland) who have a decided political bent to their reporting these numbers to the CDC, and possibly in communion with the CDC.
I’ll pass on the politics of money for now, and look at the politics of institutional counting and reporting, for it seems to me, with all the abilities we have today that America didn’t have in 1918, in Washington for sure, while it should have been easy, but instead appears to have become impossible, to understand what needed to be known, and how to go about finding those things out. Only their manuals of operations don’t work that way.
Bottom line is that despite all the technological advances is statistical calculation and communication we haven’t a clue as to how many Covid cases there are in the United States, mainly because our elected leaders and hired technocrats haven’t a clue as to how collect, collate and publish that information in any useful way to the citizens. And absolutely no idea how to develop protocols in their jurisdictions, much less across state lines with neighboring jurisdictions, that will enable the information they have to be made useful to the public; to reduce fear, and promote hope.
Since there will likely be a round two, perhaps we should revisit John Cleese words on the government experts;
“This leads to the logical conclusion that those who are not good at what they do haven’t the skills to know they don’t know they aren’t good at it.”
…and iron these things out.
But if you’re thinking this calls for even more authoritarian to-down control, let me disabuse you.
Again from personal experiences in the old USSR and Soviet Bloc for 20 years, perhaps Chernobyl the final kiss off, and all those tractor factories whose tractors came straight off the production line to a large lot where they rusted into scrap, it was all about their systems designs:
So when Inspector #4, Nadiya, who sat in between Inspectors 3 and 5, all the way to #8, in the axle assembly section took the week off to stay home and drink, since all she did was sit and stamp, and sit and stamp a silly certificate string-tied to the piece, the axle cannot move to the next inspection station until all 8 inspectors have stamped that certificate, sometimes shutting the line down for days. This is because no one cared since those tractors were going straight out to the back lot anyway, never breaking even a single meter of dirt, before they would rust away, anyway. The factory would continue to produce more tractors… once Nadiya Agripova Inspector #4 comes off her bender and returns to work.
Professional bureaucrats, alongside dozens of deficiencies not mentioned here, simply are not capable of stepping outside their boxes and “imagine” any solution that involves dealing with other bureaucrats in other jurisdictions, and collecting, collating, distributing and analyzing data, especially in designing new ways to do these things.
All they know, as do the Chinese communists, that the media is their best friend. With all things said, I think those bureaucrats with their green eye shades did it better in 1918.