Armchair Epidemiologists Versus Shoe-Leather Epidemiologists

Coronavirus Roundup

April 25, 2020

Editor’s Note: Check out a videoconference I did earlier this week with the Ayn Rand Centre UK on Atlas Shrugged and the coronavirus. You will also see my new coronavirus-era hair style. I am told that if I tell you it makes me look like Bruce Willis, you will be more inclined to believe that this is true.

The other guest on the conference was Andy Bernstein, and you can also check out Andy’s recent review of my book.–RWT

I’m going to do one more roundup of coronavirus news before moving on in future editions to some other stories about what is happening in the world and to some of those art and music recommendations I recently promised. We have more information now than we did even a week ago, and the main front in the battle against the virus has changed. So let’s review what’s going on.

It’s Not the Flu

The debate over whether COVID-19 really is more deadly than the ordinary flu is over.

The argument for dismissing the risk always depended on a bit of a “god of the gaps” approach: look for any area of uncertainty in the data and use it to argue for your preferred conclusion. For example, without widespread testing to say exactly how many people have already been exposed to coronavirus, it was possible to find a few studies with very high estimates and conclude that the number of deaths so far are a very small percentage of a very high number of infections.

But like I said, that debate is over. It’s not over because somebody came up with a better argument, analysis, estimate, or forecast. It’s over because we have more hard data.

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