Don't Panic Over the China Flu Testing Spike
Common sense is not so common in the mainstream media.
On our comprehensive resource page regarding Wuhan Flu COVID-19, we note, “Regarding the dramatic daily revisions for coronavirus infections and deaths … the dramatic increase in cases is not just a reflection of virology, how contagious the virus is, but is also related to increased testing — the more testing, the more cases discovered.”
Common sense, right? But common sense is not so common in the pool of mainstream-media reporters.
The MSM, particularly the TV talkingheads, in their grossly irresponsible coverage of the China Virus in the last six weeks, failed to make the basic arithmetic connection between increased testing and increased diagnosis. But their objective is, as always, to generate clickbait ad revenue, which often takes editorial precedence over the facts. That negligence is in large measure responsible for the public panic and, in turn, the dramatic response required to both assuage the panic and flatten the COVID-19 spread curve.
This week, federal health officials announced that in the next 5-10 days, there will be an enormous increase in the number of infections reported, corresponding to the enormous increase in the number of tests being administered and faster evaluation procedures.
Amazingly, after Fox News commentator Bret Baier noted, “[The administration] predicts a dramatic increase in the number of confirmed infections over the next few days because more tests are being administered and a backlog of tests are being analyzed,” NPRs Mara Liasson correctly concluded: “Yes, we’re gonna have a big explosion [of infections], and then it will also make the fatality rate get smaller!”
That’s right — somebody in the MSM finally made the math connection.
As we noted in the section “Understanding the Threat – Fatality versus Mortality Rates” on our COVID-19 resource page, the MSM “death toll” fatality percentage reports are based on the number of fatalities divided by the number of diagnosed cases, which is the fatality rate, not the mortality rate. The CDC calculates mortality based on the number of deaths divided by the total at-risk population. For most viral outbreaks, that falls in the 0.1%-0.5% range, far lower than the fatality shock figures being promoted by the media.
And that is a major reason why, as the testing increases, both the fatality and mortality rates will decline. Furthermore, while COVID-19 death records are reasonably accurate, the actual number of infections, even with increased testing, will remain significantly underreported, because many people with mild or no symptoms will go untested.
With increased testing, we are going to learn a lot more about who needs to be isolated, what age groups are most impacted, what age groups are requiring hospitalization, etc. That information is critical. Of course, this will also lead to another round of political and media finger-pointing on the availability of tests.
The good news is, there are indications that cases may be leveling off in Asia.
The bad news is, some reports are relying on China for that assessment. Reputable sources should not depend on China for any information as there is NO reliable data from the nation that has orchestrated a disinformation campaign about the disease, even attempting to blame its origin on the United States.
A much more reliable measure regarding the spread in Asia are the statistics from South Korea, where the fatality and mortality rates may be leveling off — the former being about 1%, and the latter much lower at about 0.2%, in line with bad flu seasons in the U.S.
It will be interesting to learn what we can from U.S. testing by the end of March.
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776