Q&A of the Day – The real risk factors for COVID-19
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
Facebook: Brian Mudd https://www.facebook.com/brian.mudd1
Today’s entry: Good morning Brian, I’ve listened to your program for nearly a decade and it’s great straight forward reporting by the numbers. You continue this tradition with the COVID 19 crisis by reporting the numbers everyone is focused on and this is my problem. Can you move ahead of the crowd and report on the survival statistics? For example, the rate of survival for persons with no pre-existing conditions and those of one condition and so-on. Also no one I know of is reporting on these statistics nor possible therapies and their success rates. Are the doc’s finding ways to treat this for the typical patient or are they still sending you home to live or die as they were 6 weeks ago? Long story short my family and I need more information than we are getting on the illness itself as we are both at risk with pre-existing conditions and two toddlers in the balance. The numbers are interesting facts but are ultimately meaningless for decision making for our future. The numbers currently reported add up to we are all going to get it and probably very soon. So factual reporting on the real risk of death would help greatly.
Another number that would be great to know is at the current exponential expansion rate, when do we hit the 50% mark in the population and see the infection rate on the decline? Of course this is a theoretical number/date because the virus can mutate, but it would be a tool to possibly forecast what may come.
Thank you for your time and keep up the great honest reporting.
Bottom Line: I hear you and understand. I’ll take the opportunity of your note to provide a bit of backstory as to how and why I’ve reported as I have. I’ll also get you closer to answers you’ve asked for. All Floridians are and have been living under a state of emergency. That’s where the conversation begins. In my mind there’s a time for educated projections and a time to strictly stick to the knowns. During potential matters of life and death, specifically during a state of emergency, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to guess, provide incomplete information or engage in theoretical discussion. This is similar to my approach in reporting other emergency situations, like hurricanes for example. I understand the frustration, share it and I’m aware some engage in conjecture – though I’ve noticed many who have, have been woefully incorrect. Being familiar with my work, you’re aware that I operate off of the premise. If the premise is false anything built on that false premise will fail. This pandemic has been an extraordinary challenge to balance the facts with information that hopefully keeps you ahead of the curve. Efforts to do so have included research which has shown the potential for the virus to meaningfully mutate every 15 days, use of even the most basic facial covering reducing the spread by 66% and the use of a face mask in conjunction with social distancing reducing risk by 97%. Masks being more effective than lockdowns at stopping the spread, etc. During this pandemic many skeptics have heard only what they want to and condemn the rest. Many driven by emotional fear will do the same. As always pragmatism is important. I’ll address each of your points based on the best available data. First, regarding the increased death rate for preexisting conditions.
- The CDC completed a study of over 1.7 million cases and found those with “at-risk” conditions were twelve times more likely to die of COVID-19. The research didn’t break out those who had multiple conditions from those who had one.
Regarding hospitalization rates. Using CDC data:
- 9% overall – ranges from under 1% for those younger than 18 to 17% for those over 80
- The preferred/most common current treatment for critical cases is remdisivir. According to the initial study by the National Institutes of Health, remdisivir improved outcomes/the odds of survival for those critically ill by 31%
As for the idea commonly referred to as herd immunity/50% + infection rates... Only 1.1% of the US population is known to have contracted COVID-19. We’re a long way from that eventually and it’d only be a guess as to when we get there. We’ve seen herd immunity fail badly in Brazil and Sweden. Also, we know COVID-19 is highly contagious – 2.5 more contagious than the flu, however I’m not of the mindset everyone has to get it. For example, as a borderline germaphobe who has used many of the current hygiene recommendations, I’ve only contracted the flu once over the past 22 years. Adding a mask into the mix statistically mitigates in the increased risk of spread of COVID-19. Aside from that example, there’s wisdom in attempting to keep the spread at a minimum until there’s a vaccine and readily available treatment options. The 1918 pandemic, the deadliest in US history, was brought about by the H1N1 flu virus. What is now the most common form of the seasonal flu. Why was it so deadly then and common now? Vaccines and treatment options for most who are severely impacted.
Hopefully this has been helpful. I’m truly doing my best to ride the fine line in responsible coverage that’s also helpful, useful and repeatable – what I’ve always aimed for with my stories.