YouTube: Perspectives on the Pandemic | Professor Knut Wittkowski

As sure as I post this, someone will accuse me of some thought crime or another. Nevertheless, I find the Dr.’s observations both intriguing and consistent with other things we are hearing — the failure of the IHME data model we learned about last weekend, for example.

The main idea in the video is the suggestion that “flattening the curve” also broadens it. This seems like pure common sense to me, although I had never thought about it. More than that — if true — it would mean that our public policy on Covid-19 should be much more nuanced than it is.

In particular, serological testing should be given a much higher priority than it currently enjoys. I’d like to see Dr.s Fauci and Birx report the number of serological tests each day in the daily briefing and explain the results. Without this data, the public can’t know the true status of the disease and, frankly, is suceptible to being mislead by public health officials and media who promote policies that are scientifically questionable.

28 thoughts on “YouTube: Perspectives on the Pandemic | Professor Knut Wittkowski

  1. A few observations.

    Did the IHME model fail? I thought it was revised downward as more data became available and the social distancing became more universal.

    Sweden tried the Wittkowski method of less containment and more exposure for herd immunity. They have been doing that for as long as other countries, like Denmark, have done lockdowns.

    Their rates of infections and deaths have escalated and they are now starting to rethink.

    “ Sweden reported 612 new cases on Friday, bringing the total to around 6,000. The death toll has reached 333, with fatalities now running at about 25-30 a day, according to the Swedish Health Agency.”

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-sweden/swedens-liberal-pandemic-strategy-questioned-as-stockholm-death-toll-mounts-idUSKBN21L23R

    “ Sweden’s toll per million inhabitants is 37, compared with 28 in Denmark, 12 in Norway and 4.5 in Finland.”

    That was last Sunday. Tonight the Newshour did a report on Sweden and the latest rate is 69/million whereas Denmark is still about 38.

    Finally, the hardest hit nations of Spain and Italy have rates of around 300/million. They were slow raptors respond so herd immunity should have helped according to Wittkowski. It didn’t evidently.

    I am not sure what he says squares with what is happening.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. A note.

      Wittkowski says we need an 80% infection rate for herd immunity. That would be about 260 million in the US.

      He also says that the death rate is about 2%. That’s about 5.2 million fatalities.

      He does say to isolate the older and the sickly. 50 million of us are over 65. Even if another 50 million are weak and all 100 million could be isolated, that still leaves about 230 million to develop herd immunity. 80% would be 180 million and a 2% fatality rate would be 3.6 million dead. Of course we would not have 80% infection rate of the total population, so that might be a problem.

      Let’s even allow that the numbers are way off. 90% error. That still leaves 360,000 dead.

      Somehow it doesn’t seem a good trade off.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. That was my concern with Wittkowski. The interview seemed so “leading” as if the interviewer had an agenda.

          But the idea of the herd immunity is not new, but are we willing to let do many die to achieve that?

          Liked by 3 people

      1. @Len

        Yes, the basic math makes it pretty clear that letting “nature” take its course (so to speak) would be unacceptable in terms of the loss of human life.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. RE: “Did the IHME model fail? I thought it was revised downward as more data became available and the social distancing became more universal.”

      Yes, it failed. The death projections were revised downward because the social distancing effects were modelled improperly. Nothing in the real world changed, and that is a major concern.

      RE: “Sweden tried the Wittkowski method of less containment and more exposure for herd immunity.”

      Good for Sweden if you believe Wittkowski. We won’t know whether Sweden did right or wrong until the pandemic runs its course.

      The point is not be believe Wittkowski or disbelieve him. The point is to listen to what he has to say and learn what you personally can. As I mentioned in introducing the post, it never occurred to me that “flattening the curve” might be the same as making it wider. Had you ever considered that?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Here is an article that discusses the modeling challenges.

        https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-04-08/new-data-suggests-u-s-deaths-may-be-lower-than-feared

        “ The models used to predict sickness and death vary widely and are admittedly faulty, given that they rely on specific assumptions about what people and governments are doing to stop the contagion.

        The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation — one of the main sources the White House used to inform its numbers — includes data from Wuhan, China, where the government imposed a strict lockdown, isolated infected people from their families and employed thousands of workers to identify and track infected people to quarantine them and monitor their contacts.

        Experts say a group of models offering a range of possibilities — the approach used by meteorologists and marketers — is more reliable than a single forecast.”

        Liked by 2 people

  2. “ Nothing in the real world changed, and that is a major concern.”

    Really? I haven’t left my house but 3 times in two weeks. Most of my neighbors are home all day. The children are not in school. All retail stores are closed. No sports. No concerts. No jobs. No incomes. No flights. No production.

    I I would consider those a pretty major changes, more like upheavals, in our real world. The entire social structure and its dynamics are completely different. Nothing like I have experienced. And probably nothing like it since the 1918 pandemic a century ago.

    Sweden will probably not continue on its present course if the hospitalization and death rate continue to rise. The government is under a lot of pressure.

    Flattening the curve may broaden it I suppose. But the point was not to overwhelm the healthcare capabilities as the virus runs its course.

    Wittkowski may have a point. Let the virus run through the population and isolate only the old and weak. But he still acknowledges a 2% fatality rate. And that is assuming we can isolate 50 to 100 million people. I did the rough math on what 2% would do to 80% of our population while trying to achieve herd immunity. The numbers are staggering. Millions of dead.

    Do you think that people would just continue to work, study, play while 2% are dropping around them waiting for immunity to prevail.

    Have you ever considered that?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “I would consider those a pretty major changes, more like upheavals, in our real world.”

      They are. And the IHME death projection model has always included them. What changed, however, is that IHME revised how it calculates the effect of social distancing in a way that gives them more “credit” for lowering the death rate than they previously had:

      Click to access Estimation_update_040520_1.pdf

      In other words, social distancing itself didn’t change, only the way it is calculated did.

      “Let the virus run through the population and isolate only the old and weak. But he still acknowledges a 2% fatality rate.”

      He actually says the 2% death rate is a fabrication, a consequence of how we measure and report it. He is right about that, and Dr.s Fauci and Birx agree. Fauci estimated back in March that the natural death rate is far less than 1%.

      RE: “Do you think that people would just continue to work, study, play while 2% are dropping around them waiting for immunity to prevail.

      “Have you ever considered that?”

      Yes, I have. People continue to work, study and play during our seasonal flu outbreaks. The open question — which is unsettled at present — is whether Covid-19 is any worse.

      Like

      1. Essentially the modeling is not a failure. It is just revising the effects of social distancing which is not uniform in application or enforcement. Wuhan was the original source of data because that was all we had with respect to seeing how a lockdown would work.

        The seasonal flu is lethal. Even Trump said he had no idea how many died each year.

        But we also vaccinate for the flu annually. And from I’ve been able to discern, the lung damage from COVID 19 is severe if it progresses to ICU status.

        Finally, whether COVID 19 is worse seems obvious. Even with a lockdown in most states it has killed at least 15,000 in 2 months. And this is with meager testing, if any, of the deceased due to a shortage of test kits.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “Essentially the modeling is not a failure.”

          No? Do you consider a model that produces results which are off by 25% to be accurate, reliable, and a solid basis for public policy?

          By the way, as of this morning, IHME’s projected death rate for Covid-19 converged with the standard prediction for the annual flu.

          Like

  3. “… suceptible to being mislead by public health officials and media who promote policies that are scientifically questionable.”

    Don’t forget, the daily briefing is Trump’s show. He is there all the time. He parades these folks out and what they say or not say is obviously fine with him. And the media just relies on, and quotes verbatim, what is said during those briefings.

    So if anyone is promoting misleading or questionable science it is Trump. Despite his past assertions it is his responsibility as to what we hear from his hours long “briefings”.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. RE: “Don’t forget, the daily briefing is Trump’s show.”

      Right. Covid-19 is a Trump conspiracy to get rich on biotech stocks and enslave the American people.

      Like

      1. No. It is a replacement for the rallies he is accustomed to having to spread his lies. Now, they carry more “weight” because they are being held in the WH and receiving full coverage by most cable news channels.

        He’s still spreading falsehoods and fertilizer. But instead of just his supporters, we all have to watch it. I suggested last week that when watching the briefings, you should mute your TV until someone other than Trump is speaking.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Come on, that is not what I said at all.

        You accuse the media and the scientists of misleading the public and now you accuse me of saying Trump is enslaving America.

        Please, get a grip. If the media and scientists are misleading the public, they are doing it with Trump’s blessing. He is presenting the case every day with the scientists. The media is quoting him and them every day.

        So who is controlling the flow of information? Luke Skywalker?

        Liked by 3 people

          1. RE: “I struggled to see how that response was triggered by my post.”

            It was triggered by your words, which I quoted.

            Like

          1. BR: “Why is it valid?”

            Because you played your “Orange Man Bad” card when it is utterly irrelevant to the topic under discussion.

            Like

      3. “Orange man bad”?

        Is it his show or not? He gets guaranteed airtime replacing the evening news shows every single night.

        Who’s show is it if not his.

        And if his scientists, in his HHS, under his Secretary Azar, are, as you suggest, providing misleading or questionable science or information, who is responsible?

        You can’t have it both ways.

        Well, you can have it anyway you want of course. But that does not make you right, or even reasonable.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “And if his scientists, in his HHS, under his Secretary Azar, are, as you suggest, providing misleading or questionable science or information, who is responsible?”

          Who cares? The first question — the one we were discussing — is whether, in fact, the government scientists are providing accurate, reliable data.

          Like

          1. WTF do you mean who cares?

            What the hell is the president in charge of?

            If the government, the federal government, is under Trump’s administration, it is his responsibility, and his alone, to make sure what we are hearing from official government sources at an official government briefing is accurate and reliable.

            If he can’t do that, he deserves to be fired for not fulfilling his duty, failing the American people and abrogating his responsibility. It is that simple.

            You obviously want to blame someone other than the man in charge. I don’t know who that would be, but that would be wrong.

            Liked by 1 person

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