Of Coronavirus and Chartism 468

I am cheerfully optimistic that this Coronavirus, like asian swine flu and SARS before it, will prove not to be as deadly as may be prognosticated by journalists wanting to fill column inches. One day the human race will become extinct; but it is unlikely to be a virus that does it, as wiping out your host is not a clever survival policy for a virus. Even a disease as vicious as ebola proved not to be so potent against subjects who were not malnourished nor struggling with other health issues. So far this coronavirus seems to have a mortality rate of about 3%, which is probably an over high estimate as it is only a percentage of those who died after testing, whereas it appears there are large numbers with milder symptoms who are unlikely to have been tested in the first place. So coronavirus is not looking vastly different to ordinary influenza, which has a mortality rate of about 1%.

When you or I get flu we don’t normally panic as though we have a 1% chance of dying from it. That is again because we are well nourished, live in good conditions and have not been much weakened by other disease. Like this coronavirus, influenza generally carries off the old and frail. Whether the infamous Spanish flu after the First World War that killed so many was a particularly potent strain is open to doubt. A more powerful factor is probably that the population it wracked was suffering greatly from malnourishment, stress and disease already as a result of the war. But unlike this coronavirus, that one did attack children badly.

Which is not to say the current coronavirus might not yet mutate into something much more lethal, but as yet there is no sign of that happening.

I was educated both at school and university very much in the liberal tradition of history. At both levels, the curriculum featured a view of historic political development very much as “progress”. The “years of revolution”, 1830 and 1848, were landmarks in this, where liberal and national movements made some progress against monarchist autocracy across the whole of Europe. These political waves of convulsion on a continent wide basis undoubtedly happened, and in the UK resulted in the Great Reform Act and the Chartist Movement. They were taught in the Macaulay/Trevelyan historical tradition as very much the product of development in thought, as a product of political philosophy, as though the masses were moved by the elegantly turned phrases of a Benthamite pamphlet.

At university, I did add to this the knowledge that poor harvests had helped precipitate events, and indeed those had featured in my A level lists of “Causes of the French Revolution”. But it was only really a few years ago, when I was researching Sikunder Burnes, that I came to focus properly on the role of epidemiology in these human convulsions. Both the 1830 and 1848 European wave of revolutions coincided with the first and second ever cholera pandemics sweeping across Europe. The reason I came across this while studying Burnes is precisely that it was the opening up of Central Asia to trade in this period, largely through Russian exploration and expansion, that brought the disease into Europe. Burnes was in 1832 in a Bokhara ravaged for years by cholera. Its great canals – which are still there – were only being opened to fresh water once a month, and they served as both water supply and sewer, as Burnes documented in detail.

Without the misery inflicted by cholera, both directly and in economic impact, the desperate urban mobs may not have existed which enabled middle class liberals – and their own auto-didactic leadership – to start the establishment of western European democracy. It seems a very strange thing to suggest that cholera pandemics forwarded social progress. But there you are. I am now proceeding to an audacious discussion as to whether a lack of effective pandemics may retard social progress. Hang on to your hats.

[As a complete aside, I also discovered while researching Alexander Burnes that the great British liberal historical tradition was founded on a truly remarkable incestuous household menage a trois between Macaulay, his sister and Charles Trevelyan, father of the historian George who may well have been Macaulay’s son and nephew, rather than the official version of just nephew, and that Macaulay had also been having sex with his other sister. So much for Victorian respectability. Sikunder Burnes is a difficult book to describe because it presents an extremely detailed and painstaking account of the life of a 19th century British imperial functionary, and then from that framework sprout all kinds of exegeses on my wider intellectual interests. I hope it reads better than that sounds].

I do hope that I am right that coronavirus will prove, like SARS, not a great threat to us. The ability of modern nutrition, living conditions and medicine to ward off serious risk of epidemic and other illness has of course resulted in a very significant increase in human longevity. The relentless increase in longevity has slowed slightly as a result of the post 2008 economic crash, but I expect it to pick up again as it is a centuries old trend. In the UK, much has been written about the economic effects of this. In the UK, the concentration of wealth in the hands of old people who are not dying and passing it down, coincides with economic changes which have made it very difficult for young people to have good secure employment and to accumulate wealth, particularly property.

At the same time, the old people may own wealth but do not much generate it. With the increasingly aged demographic profile boosted by both people living longer and by historic falling birth rates, the percentage of the population in employment is in decline. The Office of National Statistics projects that while in 2007 there were 244 pensioners for every 1000 adults of working age, by 2041 there will be 419 per 1,000. This is a well understood economic problem to which, within the UK, the answer has lain in immigration.

It is not my purpose here to touch on these economic questions. I wish rather to look at the political effects. The UK has become a gerontocracy. The proportion of British adults eligible to vote who were aged over 55 in 2007 was approximately 37%. By 2041, that will be a majority of voters aged over 55. It is quite possible that a majority of those who do cast their vote in the UK are already over 55, as voter turnout is much higher among the elderly. So by 2040 it is perfectly possible that 60% or more of all votes actually cast will be cast by people aged 55 or over.

This is significant because it is a matter of indisputable fact that voting patterns are different between the old and the young. It was, to a truly remarkable degree, only the votes of the over 55s that stopped Scottish Independence, voted for Brexit, and elected Boris Johnson. Now any time I write on this subject I get offended older people saying “well I am old but I am not a Tory”. I know. I am not claiming every old person is a Tory. But Unionism, Brexitism and Toryism all are much more predominant among older voters. And while the issues may differ by 2040, I very much doubt there will cease to be differentials between the views of the old and the young.

The long term effects of western political systems which become increasingly dominated by geriatric voters are very unlikely to include a greater willingness to adopt progressive or innovative political approaches. I do not see how there can fail to be a stultifying effect on social progress. Again, I am 61 myself. Of course there are many radical older people. But there is overwhelming evidence that is not the norm.

Gaia has ways of restoring balance. It seems to me a fascinating speculation that, as the planet’s apex predator, mankind has succeeded in increasing individual longevity by increased nutrition and an ability to stave off pandemics which nature would use to keep down the numbers, and which normally would particularly kill older people. But the result of this may be a profound reduction in the adaptability and flexibility of mankind’s political hive mind as it becomes encrusted with geriatric thought, leading to seriously bad political decisions which ultimately will impact population anyway. Climate change is the most obvious example, but the process could have long term subtle effects in many ways.

Thomas Malthus was pilloried for centuries, but his critique of the dangers of human over-population now chimes with envronmentalist concerns. I have no desire to underestimate the suffering of those unfortunate enough to be affected by coronavirus. I do not actually wish to see elderly Tories and unionists carried off by flu. But I suspect you, like me, may very seldom get to read an article referencing the interrelationship of epidemiology, longevity and political systems. As the avowed purpose of this blog is to make people think, I thought readers and commenters may care to stretch their brains on this one.

Finally, as a restorative affirmation of the fact that older people can have very positive contributions to make to political thought, here is last week’s debate between George Galloway and myself on the subject of Scottish Independence. It has become unusual in British politics to see two people with fundamentally different views on a major political issue, discuss the matter with mutual respect and absolutely no rancour. It is a practice that appears to have deserted most professional politicians, as the last disintegrating days of the UK state become increasingly acrimonious.


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468 thoughts on “Of Coronavirus and Chartism

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  • michael norton

    According to YJC news agency, a branch of state television, the pair who died were Iranian citizens and residents of the holy city of Qom.

    So two people have been declared dead, in Iran, yet no virus was indicated, previously.
    This must be quite an underreported virus.

  • michael norton




    Countries / Regions affected

    Huge increase in South Korea, as of yesterday more than two hundred have it
    but strangely, still no reported cases for North Korea?

  • michael norton

    Two Japanese passengers who contracted the new coronavirus on board a cruise ship quarantined off Japan, have died, officials say.

    Both were in their 80s with underlying health conditions. They were being treated in hospitals after being taken off
    the Diamond Princess last week.

    At least 621 people on the ship tested positive for the virus, named Covid-19, the biggest cluster outside China.

    Japan has defended its handling of the situation amid criticism.

    One could imagine that the Diamond Princess passengers have been used as an experiment, to see how things pan -out.
    The British passengers are still on board, poor sods.

    This might be the death of the cruise holiday business.

  • N_

    Hi @Michael

    Agreed – a cruise ship would make an excellent site for an experiment.

    So would locked-down areas of other kinds.

    I would be very scared if I were a Uighur in a Chinese “re-education” camp. Camps make useful sites for experiments too. Even if infection starts in a camp by accident, some of the possibilities are grim indeed. Many Uighur burial grounds are being destroyed, in at least some cases using Uighur forced labour. That kind of policy smells of the dehumanisation of an entire ethnic group, and if it is not yet genocide it may soon be.

    Current figures from JHU: 76775 confirmed, 2247 deaths, 18855 recovered, so the mortality rate has risen from a little above 2% to 2.9%. The recovery rate is at 24.6%, so around 3 in 4 people confirmed to have the virus remain under observation, not having yet been classified as “dead” or “recovered”. Who knows what’s happening to those people?

    If you were in China and had the symptoms, would you report them, knowing there was no vaccine?

    • michael norton

      N_ know I would not want to be in a re-education camp, nor mental hospital, nor prison, nor university, nor factory in China at this moment.

      World Trade seems to be taking a nose-dive, too.

      Coronavirus: Car sales in China fall 92% in February,
      hardly surprizing, they have currently stopped private car driving – hence no current desire to purchase a new car.
      No current desire to go in an aeroplane, no current need to buy new Boeing 737Max.
      No current desire to go to the pictures, no need to make new films, no current desire to go on cruise ship trips,
      it goes on and on
      or rather the economy of China goes back fifty years, perhaps this was the plan.

  • Dungroanin

    Oh dear it seems the Europeans and Yanks and Australasians are keen to get this epidemic sooner rather than later.

    Locking up lots of people on a ship where they inevitably cross infect instead of triaging them or moving onto a reasonable facility.

    Now is the time of year when all these independent oldies, preschool young families and any number if backpackers and singleton travelers start returning fron their beaches of Asia.

    I just got a text from my surgery suggesting anyone travelling back from a large numbet of countries don’t go to the surgery but call nhs!!!

    SO no checks pre travel, in transit, on arrival or public transport but get home infecting as many as poss and then quarantine yourself – never mind infecting anyone in the house or shops or back at work or on more public transport!

    Yup we got it under better control than these backward Chinese. NOT.

    I expect a major crises in the next two months and a belated quarantine system. London is being set up for a lockdown along with other major conurbations across Europe.

    Hope all these who get caught in the mayhem have adequate travel insurance, they may not be coming home for a while.

    bernard at MoA seems to be catching up…

  • michael norton

    Total confirmed cases in South Korea surges to 433,
    229 new cases in one day!




    Countries / Regions affected

    more countries are being included in the tally.
    Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Israel have joined the gang.

  • michael norton

    Diamond Princess returnees cause much panic

    One of 11 Israelis who arrived, following quarantine aboard Diamond Princess ship tests positive,
    after entering 14-day isolation at Sheba Medical Center.
    32 British and European passengers were on board an evacuation flight, along with medical staff and British government officials.
    The plane is due to land at Boscome Down in the U.K. on Saturday morning.

  • michael norton

    COVID-19 outbreak: Italy puts 10 towns on lockdown after two unconnected people die of coronavirus!
    Italy has become the first country in Europe to have its own nationals die from COVID-19 coronavirus.
    Five medical staff, including nurses and doctors, have also tested positive.
    About 150 people, including medical personnel, were in isolation undergoing tests.

    Starting to get serious, in Europe.

  • michael norton

    Iran has detected 15 new infections with coronavirus, bringing the tally to 43,
    while eight people have died as of Sunday, a Health Ministry spokesman said.
    Speaking at the meeting, Japan’s finance minister Taro Aso told reporters he had warned the G20 that the world economy would suffer a serious impact in case of a dire scenario, where the virus spreads further.

    Hardly anyone will be buying new aircraft in the foreseeable, Boeing is a big part of the economy of America, it is almost on its knees, already.

    • michael norton

      N_ if you compare recovered with deaths

      you find that the % who die compared to recovered is 10.9%

      which is very frightening.

      • N_

        Recovered/deaths has risen, though, so that indicator has fallen. Is it rising again? JHU aren’t even graphing the numbers of deaths. The latest figure for Italy is 155. It can’t be long before borders start closing in Europe. The far right will say “If they can close borders for a virus, why didn’t they do it for immigration?”

        Of the people who have recovered, are some taking much longer than others? If so, I wonder what the reason might be.

        • N_

          On Friday morning the number of confirmed cases in Italy was 3; now, on Sunday evening, two and a half days later, it is 155.

    • michael norton

      New Zealand reports its first case of coronavirus
      A person who has recently travelled to Iran has become the first confirmed case of coronavirus in New Zealand.

      The person is aged in their 60s and arrived in New Zealand on Wednesday on Emirates flight EK450 from Tehran, via Bali.
      One of the few places that doesn’t yet have it
      would seem to be North Korea,
      how likely is that?

  • N_

    South Korea:
    18 Feb: 31;
    19 Feb: 51;
    20 Feb: 104;
    21 Feb: 204;
    22 Feb: 346;
    23 Feb: 602;
    24 Feb: 763 so far.
    And South Korea will have some serious defences against biological warfare, for obvious reasons. But the same is true of China.
    It wouldn’t surprise me if people are already dying from this virus in North Korea too.

      • michael norton

        Still no reported cases from North Korea, yet the two most infected countries are adjacent, South Korea and China, also Japan is badly troubled, yet only a short island hop away.


        In South Korea, seven people have died with 763 people infected. Around 7,700 troops have been quarantined after 11 military members were infected.

        • michael norton

          Twelve people have died and 61 people have been infected with COVID-19, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said during a news conference on state TV on Monday (Feb 24).
          Now also in
          Bahrain, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Kuwait, Afghanistan, U.A.E. but not Turkey, Iraq or Syria or Jordan, yet.

          Italy has now confirmed 219 cases of the virus, with Five dead, Angelo Borrelli, head of the country’s civil protection agency, said during a press briefing Monday.

        • N_

          North Korea has shut its border with China and is said to have quarantined 380 foreigners. Foreign Policy magazine is obnoxiously saying that “an outbreak would be a chance for the United States to do good.” They also say “North Korea’s rudimentary public health system simply lacks the ability to contain a major outbreak”, showing no understanding of biological warfare. The article goes on and on about the northerners being a bunch of incompetent sods. But anybody who thinks North Korea is not heavily prepared for CBRN warfare should think again.

          • N_

            Biowar defensive preparations: South Korea, North Korea, China, Taiwan – all of these, yes. Italy – probably not much.

            Britain? We may be about to find out. It’s remarkable there hasn’t been a big campaign saying do you have these symptoms and if you do then get yourself checked. But you know how anyone in authority treats the “Morlocks” or “members of the public” in Britain – there is near-total contempt, as if dealing with a highly irrational type of farm animal. “Not in front of the children”, etc.

            For what it’s worth, an unusually large proportion of the people I know, who live in various parts of the world, have reported having “flu” recently.

            I don’t want to twist what FP are saying. There are other types of preparation for biowar than being able to contain an outbreak.

            In Italy there has already been a lot of infection from one person to another when neither of them have any Chinese connections.

          • N_

            Supermarket shelves are running bare in Milan.

            (I’m OK – I got stocked up with food for ~4 months for Brexit!)

          • michael norton

            Biowar indeed.
            The viral outbreak apparently started at or close to the wild animal market in Wuhan, the only Level Four Bio Hazard Lab in China is situated less than three hundred metres from the wild animal market.
            The other day some British and Irish people were repatriated from Diamond Princess ( 600 plus Coronaviris victims)
            to land at MOD Boscombe Down, which we know is a five minute walk from Porton Down,
            our Level Four Bio hazard Lab.
            We later learn that four of these Diamond Princess returnees are infected with Coronavirus.

            Our Government are staying very tight lipped on the subject?
            There is supposed to be free movement of people within the European Union, this will change, very soon, the whole of Europe will be on lock down before this month is out.

  • N_

    The Daily Mail is encouraging, oops “reporting”, “coronavirus rage” against non-whites. (I know it was Asian men who started the trouble against the Indian woman and her Chinese friend according to that article, but that doesn’t matter. That’s not the “takeaway” that Daily Mail readers will get from it.) The kind of thing they talk about – mild violence with a bit of racial abuse, happens very frequently without getting into the newspapers. If I could stomach it, I would ask my racist neighbours what they think about the coronavirus. They would be bound to say it’s all the fault of “them lot, coming over here”.

    Those who determine what kind of things get in the newspapers and how they are angled know a great deal about the copycat effect. Anybody who doesn’t realise that is extremely naive and doesn’t begin to understand advertising, Facebook, fashion, the political opiniosphere, or the media spectacle generally.

    • michael norton

      I do not know about Coronavirus Rage but there should be Coronavirus Fear.
      Experts are suggesting one hundred million people could die.
      Look at the figures, the number of people catching it in Europe is exponential
      Ignore, for the moment, how many people have caught it but concentrate on the difference between who has died and who is better.
      It is a ratio of 1-10.
      So for every ten people getting better, one has died.

      They do not say what happens to those who linger in hospital, or or their expected life chances if they survive.
      Just having Pneumonia, is a most serious life chance debilitator.

      • N_

        It’s not exponential (yet), although the last few days of reports outside of China may be the start of exponential growth. To be exponential the daily growth has to be proportional to the total number of cases so far. The logarithm of the numbers of reported cases inside China has flattened out, meaning the increase is linear. (Even if it were quadratic or cubic, it still wouldn’t be exponential.) See the figures published by JHU for the daily increases of reported cases inside and outside China. I would expect China to be much more prepared to fight a biowar attack (or “accident” having the same effect) than Italy or indeed any other country in Europe. This will soon be a big European story.

        The fascist leader Matteo Salvini has called on Italian PM Giuseppe Conti to resign “if he isn’t able to defend Italy and Italians.” Salvini referenced Sunday’s docking in Sicily of the NGO Ocean Viking rescue ship with 276 African migrants, saying there was a need “to make our borders armour-plated.” He is associating non-natives with a virus epidemic, just as the German Nazis made similar associations regarding Jews.

        Spread in South Korea is very scary too. Some are asking “Was the virus developed in a biowar lab?” and “Was it spread deliberately?” But it should be recognised that EVEN IF the epidemic STARTED by accident, perhaps not even out of a biowar lab but simply because viruses do mutate naturally, biowar specialists are STILL going to be looking at this from a biowar perspective. That includes both defensively and offensively. One example of an offensive action would be that a power might get hold of this virus after the epidemic started and spread it on its opponents’ (or indeed even its own) territory.

        And THAT might explain what is happening in South Korea, Italy, or both – and perhaps soon Taiwan, North Korea, and Europe outside of Italy.

        Those who like to tell us all about “hybrid war” seem to be keeping their traps shut. (Personally I am with those military strategists who believe a better word for “hybrid war” is simply “war”.)

  • N_

    The fit for outside of China over the past 9 days is very close to cubic. (Correlation R^2 = 0.99).
    Figures from Worldometers.
    Call 15 February day 1 and define day number as x.
    Number of cases y = 17.547x^2 – 18.382x + 743.38, with correlation R^2 = 0.9862.
    If this fit were to continue, we would get
    1 March 4941
    1 April 38641
    1 May 103364
    1 Jun 203426
    And the millionth case outside of China would be reported on 11 October.

      • michael norton

        I’ve just watched this afternoons WHO meeting, very informative.
        They are not, yet, calling this a pandemic.
        When asked what is a pandemic, Mike, the Irish doctor, explained a pandemic, is a rapid disease that spreads to all continents, rapidly.

        Well it is already in Asia/Australia/Europe and Africa
        that only has South America and Antarctica to go?

        A useful bit of information was that there is a 10% transmission rate and most secondary victims catch it from other family members.
        Much more dangerous if you are already unhealthy.
        They are pleased with the lowering of the tempo in China.
        Tomorrow people are being sent to Korea/Iran/Italy to find out what is going on, also they hope to learn, what has been effective in China and what has not.
        This could go either way, either coll down, soon, or become full blown pandemic, they do not know, yet.

  • michael norton

    Italy coronavirus cases surges to 229 with 7 deaths.
    South Korea cases surge to 893 with 7 deaths.
    The BIG news is how many countries in The Middle East are now reporting
    Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, U.A.E., Iran, Afghanistan
    U.K. 4 former passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for coronavirus

    • michael norton

      So that makes the death rate in Italy 3%,
      which a little higher than the death rate in China but quite comparable.

  • N_

    This could be a prelude to compulsory mass vaccination worldwide – not necessarily with the same vaccine inside and outside China but backed by the WHO which is a front for Big Pharma. “Never let a crisis go to waste”. Hold on to your seats for the Big Cull by the end of 2020. The (interim) “Solution” to so many of us breathing out so much carbon may soon be upon us.

    They’re making it clear that

    * they’re preparing for a “second wave”
    * watch out for next (northern hemisphere) winter
    * we don’t want any of those “conspiracy theories”.

    What they mean by the last one is “we don’t want any critical thought to arise in the population”. Because EVEN if this epidemic started by accident and had nothing to do with any weapons lab, it is CERTAINLY a war issue now.

    The Dow will probably be at least 30% down within 12 months from now, the gold price at least 50% up, if it hasn’t trebled.

    XR won’t be blocking the way to hospitals any more if the proles are only arriving to receive their “sleep help” or “kindness”, or whatever the authorities call it this time round. They’ll be ushering the “losers” along. “C’mon – help the planet, you know it makes sense – there’s a good prole.”

    PS How did the coronavirus evolve in the first place? Could it be something to do with all the idiots getting their “flu vaccine” every year? Getting a flu vaccine is similar to getting an “app” on your microwave tracker to remind you when you need to use the toilet. “They thought they were free”.

    • michael norton

      Iran’s deputy health minister has tested positive for the new coronavirus disease,
      as Iran struggles to contain an outbreak that has killed 15 people.

      In a video, Iraj Harirchi said he was self-isolating and starting medication following his diagnosis.

      He was seen mopping his brow repeatedly at a news conference on Monday,
      when he denied the authorities were lying about the scale of the Covid-19 outbreak.

      They have reported 95 cases, but the actual number is thought to be much higher.

      The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the sudden increase in cases in the country is “deeply concerning”.
      The regional director of the UN agency was due to fly to Iran on Tuesday, but his departure was delayed.

      A WHO spokeswoman said it was finalising the dates of a separate visit to Iran by a technical mission and was also sending medical supplies and additional testing kits that should arrive in the next day or two.
      Countries with the outbreak,
      near Iran, are Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, U.A.E. & Afghanistan.

      Now Croatia & Austria have the outbreak.
      39 countries are suffering.

  • michael norton

    Coronavirus cases in Italy rise to 322; Death toll raises to 11 which gives a 3.4% mortality rate, so far for Italy.
    Spain confirms 6 more cases, first in Madrid.
    Korea now has recorded 1146 cases.
    Possible cases in Algeria, also Brazil, also Switzerland.

    If this is not a pandemic it will be before the month is out.

  • michael norton

    Iran may be very important as a spreader of Coronavirus.
    Iran ??

    95 reported cases
    15 dead
    0 recovered.

    That is 15.7% death rate, this shows us what can happen in a backward, unready country.
    It is though that from Iran, it has spread to Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, possibly Oman.
    War and mass movements of people, lacking hygiene/health care is a known spreader of contagion.
    Syria, not yet reported but it will get bad, very, very quickly.

    • N_

      Yes, it could rip through refugee populations.

      504 new cases outside of China were reported yesterday. Daily new cases for the past five days: 173, 330, 340, 374, 504, so the second derivative is clearly positive.
      Totals for the past 11 days: 697, 781, 896, 999, 1124, 1212, 1385, 1715, 2055, 2429, 2933.

      A cubic fit (R^2 = 0.9927) for those totals gives ~5600 by 1 March, ~49000 by 1 April, and the millionth case outside of China on 11 September. Of course at some point the cubic model will stop being a good fit.

      • N_

        The model predicts
        26 Feb 3330
        27 Feb 3830
        28 Feb 4390
        29 Feb 4990
        1 Mar 5640
        2 Mar 6330
        7 Mar 10480

        • N_

          Updated cubic model predicts:

          26 Feb 3187
          27 Feb 3649
          28 Feb 4152
          29 Feb 4694
          1 Mar 5277

          It obv won’t stay cubic, but if it did the 1 millionth case would be on 26 Sep 2020 using the updated model.

          • N_

            Oh dear…the actual figure for 26 Feb is 3333.
            We should hold on to our hats!
            Updated quadratic model (R^2=0.995):
            27 Feb 3759
            28 Feb 4295
            29 Feb 4875
            1 Mar 5499

            And if it were to continue to fit this model the 1 millionth case would be on 16 Sep 2020 now. (I made an error in previous calculations.)

            How is this going to affect the US presidential election? Trump wanted to nuke a hurricane. What’s he going to want to do to the coronavirus? He may lose the election. He may even fail to get the Repug nomination. As soon as anybody stops to think (OK, many of his supporters can’t think, but some can at least a little), it’s obvious he has no leadership skills. Nobody would want a nutcase like him in charge of a boat that was in trouble at sea.

      • N_

        The first case in South America (Brazil) was reported today. Let’s hope it doesn’t spread to the Venezuelan refugee population in Colombia and elsewhere.

  • michael norton

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there were no plans to stop flights from Italy, which attracts about three million British visitors each year.

    “If you look at Italy, they stopped all flights from China and they’re now the worst-affected country in Europe,” he said.
    seal the borders now, health is more important than the economy.

    • N_

      Don’t they plan for contingencies?
      You have to wonder where they get idiots such as Hancock from. That said, he probably isn’t kept in the know.

  • N_

    Then there’s the exponential fit, which is also good (R^2 = 0.989):
    27 Feb 3759
    28 Feb 4295
    29 Feb 4875
    1 Mar 5499
    1 millionth case on 23 Apr (!!!)
    Note: this is for outside of China, taking daily figures from 15 Feb (day 1) to 26 Feb (day 12).
    Model: no. of cases N = 568.2 * e^(0.1419*D) where D is day number.

    For comparison: the last available figure I have for casualties in road traffic accidents in Italy is 3333 in 2016. In Italy there have been 12 deaths from coronavirus so far, probably mainly of elderly people who also suffered from other illnesses. I think the first death in Italy was 5 days ago, so the average daily rate during those 5 days is about a quarter of the daily death rate on the roads. Send out the army!

    I have to wonder how many people in the US have read Dan Brown’s “Inferno” – probably many millions.

  • michael norton

    Two more victims of Coronavirus known in the U.K.
    The virus was passed on while they were in Italy and Tenerife, said England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty.

    • N_


      There’s no secret there’s a variety of things you need to look at, you look at things like school closures, you look at things like reducing transport.

      “The expectation is not that we will do all these things, the expectation is we will be looking systematically, using the science, at all the building blocks and balancing the effects against costs to society.

      You have to wonder why people who talk like that have any friends. They don’t deserve any.

  • N_

    Coronavirus: Wolverhampon school ‘with students of Italian origin’ shuts for deep clean:

    A statement on the school’s website said: “As a trust of schools, we have been monitoring the developing situation regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the advice being given to schools by the Government and Public Health.

    “Further to this advice and because our schools have some students of Italian origin we have taken the decision to close all three trust schools (Atam Academy, Redbridge; Khalsa Secondary Academy, Stoke Poges and the Khalsa Academy, Wolverhampton) at the end of the school day today, in order for a deep clean to take place on all three sites over the next two days of Thursday, February 27, and Friday, February 28.

    “All three schools are to remain closed for these two days and will then reopen as normal on Monday, March 2.”

    Nice contract if you can get it!

    They’re saying Eye-ties smell.

    Probably would have been cheaper to take swabs from everyone.

    • N_

      Let’s call what the school in Wolverhampton is doing by its name: RACIAL PROFILING. The pupils are said to have caused the closure and deep clean are NOT children who have recently been in Italy. They are merely of Italian descent, Italian background.

      I don’t know how many people are reading these words. But has someone got some news from the Bedford, Luton and Dunstable area? There are many thousands of people of Italian descent living in that small corner of England.

      Are Travellers going to get the blame next? Or Black British people maybe?

      Plague, with infection carried by incomers or those with foreign connections, is an extremely powerful symbolic notion. Matteo Salvini is in seventh heaven in Italy. This is so regardless of the good sense that there might be in certain circumstances of shutting the borders. Therefore pointing out that there would be good sense in such a decision in certain circumstances makes absolutely no dent in my observation.

  • michael norton

    Iran is looking like the super-spreader of countries.
    It is certain/likely that Iran,
    who are taking almost no precautions to contain the contagion, has spread the disease to many other countries, including
    North Macedonia, Romania, Georgia, Lebanon, Iraq, Oman, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kuwait

    Iran now has reported 245 COVID-19 cases
    with 26 fatalities

    • michael norton

      Estonia now has it

      Estonian Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik told Eesti Television (ETV) the infected person was a citizen of Iran who came to Estonia on Wednesday.

      • michael norton

        Several Iranian government officials have coronavirus, including a Vice President
        Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, is the latest high-profile government official to test positive for novel coronavirus.

        Iran has emerged as a regional breeding ground for the pathogen, with the most confirmed cases — 245 cases including 26 deaths — in the region. The vast majority of coronavirus cases across the Middle East have been linked to Iran.

  • michael norton

    It is time to shut down public swimming baths.
    Public swimming baths are breeding disease places during normal times
    and these are not normal times, this is very likely to be the pandemic of our times.
    It is now reported that a person has caught the disease enabled by CORONAVIRUS -TWICE

    • N_

      ?? The viruses multiply in a person’s body, hang around to show up in a test, all run away so as not to be present at the next test, and then their friends sneak back past immigration controls into the person’s body and start multiplying again?

      That seems unlikely.

      People put far too much faith in medical testing. Most medics don’t properly understand Bayes’s Theorem. E.g. say

      * 1% of people have an illness
      * there’s a test that has a 10% false negative rate and a 5% false positive rate
      * a person’s result is positive

      Most medics don’t know how to calculate the probability that the person has the illness. [*] That puts them in the same category as a roofer who can’t install a n new roof without it leaking all over the place.

      (*) The answer is 2/13 = 15.4%. People might try that one on their GP some time.

  • michael norton

    World Economy taking a nosedive
    Brent Crude now worth less than any time during the last twelve months.
    Expect The Schengen Area to lock borders by end of next week.

  • michael norton

    “We are facing a crisis, an epidemic that is coming,” Emmanuel Macron said while visiting staff at the La Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Gay Paris, where the first French person carrying the new coronavirus died Tuesday.
    France has reported 18 cases so far and two deaths, including an 80-year-old Chinese tourist who was the first casualty of the virus reported outside Asia.

    The second was a 60-year-old teacher, a case that has worried officials because he had not travelled to an outbreak hotspot.

    A 55-year-old man from the same region as the teacher, who also had not travelled to an outbreak zone, was also hospitalised with the virus, and investigations are under way to try to find the source of the infections on French soil.

    Japan orders all schools to be SHUT.

  • michael norton

    So it will be in Southern Ireland as well.
    Northern Ireland has diagnosed its first case of coronavirus, bringing the UK’s total to 16.

    Chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said the patient had come from northern Italy via Dublin.

    Dr McBride said the case had showed a presumptive positive result and it would be confirmed by a lab in England.

    It comes after health officials confirmed two new cases of the virus in England earlier on Thursday.

    The new English cases contracted the virus while they were in Italy and Tenerife, England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty said.

    • N_

      How does he know they didn’t contract it at the airport going out or coming back?

      Did you see the story about Pope Francis?

      • michael norton

        N_ yes the Pope might have it, Easter Mass likely not to go ahead in Rome, first time in one hundred years.
        Just heard a very believable Jeremy Hunt on Radio Four, they started off by saying that once again no government minister would communicate with their listeners.
        J.Hunt said this is the disease of our times, extraoridary methods would have to be taken to hold it down to managable levels, he put 5% of the U.K. population as getting it, if we are capable of suppressing it.
        If not hundreds of thousands of people in the .K. will die from the infection/complications.
        He seems to know a huge amount more than the twerp Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
        J.Hunt had just got back from Geneva where he had been finding out about this stuff.

  • N_

    Analysis of daily figures for outside of China since 15 Feb
    13 data points
    This is certainly going “boom”.
    * simple exponential R^2=0.9862
    * e^(a quadratic), which rises even faster, R^2=0.9975
    * the dear old quadratic fit has R^2=0.9882.

    28 Feb 4662
    29 Feb 5347
    1 Mar 6087
    2 Mar 6884
    1 millionth case 24 Aug

    simple exponential:
    28 Feb 4377
    29 Feb 5075
    1 Mar 5883
    2 Mar 6820
    1 millionth case 5 Apr

    28 Feb 5196
    29 Feb 6476
    1 Mar 8148
    2 Mar 10351
    1 millionth case 17 Mar

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