Let’s survive the coronavirus pandemic

Greg Cochran doesn’t suffer fools gladly

Greg Cochran responding yesterday on his blog to somebody who thinks covid-19 can kill only a few thousands or tens of thousands of people worldwide:

Unfettered, a brand-new virus like this one, with an R0 > 2, will infect over 50% of the population. Got that?

A closely observed population on the Diamond Princess, lost 1.4% of all those infected – dead as Judas Iscariot. That was with good hospital care.

That fraction goes way up if there is no such care, and that is inevitable if huge numbers of people all get sick over a short time. So, in that situation, more like a 4% death rate.

(3.3e8)(0.5)(0.04) = 6.6 million. Bob’s your dead uncle.

Which part of this argument do you disagree with? The laws of multiplication?

That 6.6 million is potential deaths in the United States alone, not the world, as you already know if you took the time to read Cochran’s numbers, because 3.3e8 (330 million) is the approximate population of the US.

Cochran is right about this but most people can’t tell because they can’t understand arithmetical arguments, even one as simple as this. The math here is nothing more than elementary school arithmetic, but even though almost everybody knows elementary school arithmetic, very few people have the ability to think with it.

Cochran is one of the smartest people publishing today, and he deserves a wider audience. His writing is extraordinarily terse, and I suspect it goes over most people’s heads. If the average IQ were 160, he would be famous.

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