by Dee C
opinion about the corona virus
| A Journal of the Plague Year
Essay One March 28, 2020 @1:40 Central time US cases 111,115 US deaths 1842
Back in early January I ruminated on a short fiction exercise that involved a boy, say a fourth grader, who when asked in class what his dad did for a living proudly announced his father was a prophet. He also enthusiastically averred that he wanted to be a prophet when he grew up, "Just like Daddy."
In the hypothecated short story this was considered a delusion by the boy's teachers and no end of psychologist input was sought out, the big guns the Child Welfare bureaucracy were brought to bear upon the parents, and so on and so forth. The story ended with a fizzle when it was disclosed the father was an actuary for The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. So, in effect one boy's prophet is another man's statistician.
I envisioned the story to be about point of view, or perspective, more than prediction or prognostication. I may have missed the boat on that. The fifteen corona virus cases of not so long ago, cases that "will soon diminish to zero," have scaled up like a loan shark's interest rate. The "vigorish" on this thing is amazing. If I ever write this story, or any other story, current events will have, or have had, a profound influence.
Now we are in the middle of another story and we have to make some choices. One choice, as I see it, is between magical thinking and scientific thought. The magical ponderings of self appointed prophets and the data interpolation of mathematical savants are brought to a fine balance. Given a non-consequential result, magic is more fun, but the results are of dire consequence - no fun at all.
In hindsight the fifteen cases shrinking to nothing was an example of magical thinking. It happens. Everyone is self - indulgent at one time or another. Currently we have another prognostication on the table. This is it: "There are currently safe, well known drugs in the pharmacopeia that can cure the plague."
Now the question is about the truth of this statement. The White House is optimistic. The biggest check on this optimism is the past performance of the White House. But, could it be true? There are serious proponents for a yes vote and there is some supporting data. The most serious well poisoning for a yes verdict is the internet hysteria surrounding this position. Non-scientific, non-medical, non-epidemiologist, opinions abound. The semi-hysterical opinion of obvious magical thinkers is the worst possible recommendation for these drug treatments. Clive Palmer, an Australian billionaire and minor politician has pledged a million doses of hydrochloroquine and the construction of a factory to turn this drug out in quantity for example. Mr. Palmer knows much about coal mining and little about medicine. But, maybe his heart is in the right place.
The best evidence is "The French Study." Professor Didier Raoult of IHU Mediterre Infection in Marseille saw improvement in already infected patients by the application of a 600 meq chloroquine dose over a 6 day period. At completion of this test only 25% of tested patients remained infectious. The study was of 24 infected patients.
The "Surviving Sepsis Campaign: Guidelines on the Management of Critically Ill Adults with Covid 19" ( consortium of 38 hospitals, universities and research organizations) returned no recommendation for the use of choloroquine , hydroxycholoroquine, or the other fast fix drugs. It may be considered that "no recommendation" is not a bad verdict at this point. It is further important to note that the drugs considered are not dangerous when used for the original purposes such as treatment for malaria or aids.
Proponents of quick use of the non- corona predicated drugs seem to universally fear that omission bias fouls the testing waters. That is to say that stones are left unturned because the drugs are not dedicated to the solution of the current problem. Well, of course they won't be until tested.
There is a large body of anecdotal evidence for and against use of these drugs. An anecdote is neither gospel nor gossip, but a story repeated three times will always be different from the original version.
Time will tell and since I can do jack doodle about any of it I will continue to hunker down and wash the skin off my hands.
03/28/2020 @ 4:02 central time US cases 115,323 US deaths 1932