Friday, May 01, 2020

Trump's Model of the Coronavirus

He presented it yesterday. Reporter:


(from the monologue to Steven Colbert's show last night)

Trump has got to be the world champion at the Dunning-Kruger Contest. Got to.


David in Cal said...

Trump expressed very high optimism about the future. Optimism is not inappropriate for a leader in a crisis.

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. Trump did not say that his optimism was based on his estimate of his own ability. So, his statement was not Dunning-Kruger.


David Appell said...

What's the rationale for Trump's claim?

David in Cal said...

David - Trump's claim is not based on scientific or actuarial accuracy. That's annoying and frustrating to people like you and me. I believe that many of his statements are chosen because of their desired impact. Optimism encourages more effort. It's not a coincidence that remarkable amounts of ventilators and PPE have been produced and distributed. It's not a coincidence that the daily number of tests rose from a few hundred to over 200,000. (Today is was 320,628.) A great deal of rapid, intensive work, by thousands of people, is what produced these results.

An imperfect parallel might be Winston Churchill's speeches early in WW2. Objectively speaking, his optimism a that time might have been considered unduly optimistic. However, he said things that encouraged and motivated British citizens and British military. (Of course, Churchill was a fantastic orator, and Trump is a mediocre orator.)


David Appell said...

David, I just can't believe that you, clearly a very smart person, can defend Trump. I just makes no sense to me at all. It's not about the number of tests today. It's about how he answered this reporter's question, the one in my post. Trump clearly had no answer whatsoever and said, simply, it's just going to go away. Why? Because it will go away. Why? Because it will.

Someone should have asked, why doesn't the flu virus just go away?

Do you really not see the insipidness in his reply?

David in Cal said...

I sympathize with what you're saying, David. I'm like you. I like precision and accuracy and logic. Trump is making predictions with no basis whatsoever. As you say, Trump had no answer whatsoever to that excellent question. His reply was awful from my POV.

However, from Trump's POV it is all about tests. And vaccines, and medicines and PPE, etc.. His goal is to say things that will motivate government and private industry employees to work as hard as possible to fight this pandemic. Trump is on a different dimension than I am. He cares about whether his answer saves lives, not whether it's sensible. I could never talk the way Trump does, but I respect his goal of getting maximum effort from people.


David Appell said...

David, Trump suggested we inject ourselves with disinfectant.

Before that he hawked a drug that turns out to have serious side effects.

Yesterday he said a mouthful of nothing whatsoever about how the virus will go away.

I don't find any of this comforting in the least. I find it frightening. The man is a stooge. He is clearly an idiot. He's not operating on some higher plane. He isn't trying to motivate anyone, and isn't motivating anyone. He's not getting maximum effort from *anyone*. I find it utterly frightening that you think he is. It's frightening to me that he could fool you so much, IMO, to think that's what he's doing.....

David Appell said...

And I'm saying this with respect David, I hope you know......

David Appell said...

...or, at least, I want you to know....

David in Cal said...

David A. "Trump suggested we inject ourselves with disinfectant."

I watched that press conference. Trump suggested research into the possibility that external disinfectants might be a basis for finding something that might work internally. You shouldn't allow yourself to be misled by dishonest Trump-haters in the media.

Regarding HCQ, Trump was looking for positivity, so he promoted that drug, while always acknowledging that it needed to be properly tested. In fact, there was good reason to think that CHQ might be useful. For one, it has been effective against other corona viruses. The FDA decided to permit "compassionate" use. That is, doctors are permitted to prescribe CHQ for corona virus. Like many drugs, it has possible side effects. Anyone using it should have their heart checked periodically. Despite its side effects, it's very widely used for other diseases. I certainly hope it turns out to be useful, because it's widely available. I think it's less expensive that resveritrol, which was just shown to be mildly helpful.

It's difficult to evaluate Trump's effectiveness, because we have no standards. Is 200,000 tests a day an impressive achievement? Who knows? How about 300,000 or 400,000? We have no objective basis to evaluate how remarkable or how insignificant these numbers are. A second difficulty is that the media isn't even reporting these figures. The same media that lies about Trump suggesting that we inject disinfectant fails to report the number of tests, PPE, etc. Unless you watch the actual pressers you won't know these figures.

IMHO common sense says that getting the number of daily tests from a few hundred up to hundreds of thousands is an achievement. Furthermore, having watched the pressers, I know about all the hard word and different steps that were done to achieve this. An article about how the testing frequency was made to be so large would be a interesting and uplifting story, but the media won't report it.


David Appell said...

David, you are WRONG. This is what is so infuriating about Trumpistas. You can't even be *truthful* about what he said.

Here is ^exactly what he said, from

THE PRESIDENT: "Right. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me."

Trump DID NOT suggest research.
He DID suggest "injection inside."

Prove me wrong. Or prove yourself right. WITH DIRECT QUOTES. NOTHING LESS.

Entropic man said...

This sounds like a religious argument.

Whether you believe that Trump is a good or bad President, no evidence will change your opinion.

"My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with facts!"

David in Cal said...

David, you quoted only part of what Snopes reported. The full quote in context shows that Trump's comments were all about suggested areas of research.

Bryan had just presented a scientific study. First Trump suggested a different scientific test of an internal use of light. Trump said,

"So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too. It sounds interesting."

The phase "you're going to test that" refers to Bryan and his research group. Bryan responded,

"We’ll get to the right folks who could."

That response shows that Bryan understood that Trump was suggesting an area of research. Suggesting that researchers test something is the same thing as suggesting an area of research.

Then Trump went on to discuss another possible area of research. When Trump said,

"it would be interesting to check that", he meant it would be interesting for researchers to check that."

IMHO Trump had no business making suggestions for areas of research. Trump knows nothing about this field. His suggestions are worthless. I think the responses from the experts there were polite, not really sincere. However, Trump was not suggesting that ordinary people shine light internally or inject things.


Layzej said...

DiC: "I watched that press conference. Trump suggested research into the possibility that external disinfectants might be a basis for finding something that might work internally."

That can't be right. It was a joke. Remember? It's not at all funny if you interpret it that way.

Clearly what he meant was they should test injection of Clorox: "is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?"

Now that's a funny and appropriate joke to drop during a pandemic press briefing!

You don't understand sarcasm. I wish someone would add a laugh track so people can finally "get" him.

David in Cal said...

Layzej - Trump's sarcasm excuse makes no sense. Maybe he was thinking of some other comment. Maybe he was flat out lying to find an excuse. Regardless, his suggestions about light and antiseptics were undoubtedly sincere.


Ned said...

The next day, Trump clarified his remark as follows:

"I was asking a sarcastic — a very sarcastic — question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside."

Make of that what you will.

As for David in Cal -- I'm afraid it's pointless. If he doesn't recognize that Trump is appallingly unfit for office now, he will *never* recognize that fact.

Trump sat on his hands for six weeks in February and March, hoping that the virus would stay out of the USA, despite numerous warnings that it was already spreading *inside* the USA. Now there are over 1 million Americans with confirmed cases of CV19, over 10 million Americans with undetected cases, 65,000 known deaths (likely over 100,000 by the end of this month) and likely another 50,000 unattributed excess deaths. Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs and economists are debating how long the Recession or Depression will last.

We have had five 9/11s-worth of *known* deaths every week for the past four weeks. During that time, Trump has gone on TV almost every day and acted like a blithering idiot.

Anyone who still supports Trump after all this will literally never change their mind.

David in Cal said...

Ned - I'd give Trump the following grades by time period

January - A+. Cutting off travel from China earlier than any other country saved countless lives

February to middle of March - D.Trump closed the border with Iran and with Europe. Those were valuable steps, since the pandemic was worse in those locations than here in the US. OTOH Trump's statements showed that he didn't understand the nature of this highly contagious disease. The CDC worked on developing a test, but screwed it up royally. The US Public Health Service went out and did some contact tracing and other good work, but much too little to be of significance

Middle of March to today A Trump shut down the country, about when Western Europe was doing the same thing. He followed the advice of top notch infectious disease specialists. He got government agencies and private industry organized and motivated to rapidly invent, produce and distribute spectacular amounts of tests, ventilators, PPE, etc.

Overall Grade: B- The key measure is mortality. The US mortality rate is worse than South Korea, Japan, and Germany, but it's better than most of Western Europe.


Layzej said...

Trump's statements showed that he didn't understand the nature of this highly contagious disease.

But now he gets it. Without a vaccine, the virus will just be gone. "It's going to go. It's going to leave. It's going to be gone. It's going to be eradicated."

Or maybe that's just another one of his classic zingers? Maybe the laugh track would help...

Entropic man said...

"It's going to go. It's going to leave. It's going to be gone."

It will probably fade into the background and become just another illness like flu or measles.

Unfortunately before then it will probably take 1% (30 million) of the US population with it.

Entropic man said...

Found this.

Looking at the graph, Georgia's daily new cases count bottomed out about 5 days after they eased their lockdown last weekend and is now increasing again, just as the epidemiology would predict.

The cold equations apply even if you are a Republican.

David in Cal said...

Entropic man - yes, the Georgia situation is very worrisome. It seems to imply that the world must stay on lockdown until an effective vaccine is developed and universally used. Sadly, the cold equations apply to economics as well as to epidemiology. Staying on lockdown probably means throwing the US and the world into another Great Depression. This is a choice of evils -- big evils. Reminds me of a famous quote from Woody Allen

“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

However, it may not be quite this bad. NBC News, among others, reported, that the mortality rate might be lower than we thought

"A flood of new research suggests that far more people have had the coronavirus without any symptoms, fueling hope that it will turn out to be much less lethal than originally feared. While that’s clearly good news, it also means it’s impossible to know who around you may be contagious. That complicates decisions about returning to work, school and normal life. Various small studies have found large numbers of asymptomatic cases."

The US has about 1,168,000 reported cases and 67,903 reported deaths. Suppose the true number of cases is 3 times the reported number. Suppose that of those currently infected, another 30,000 will die. Then our our mortality has been (67,903+30,000)/(3*1,168,000) = 0.28%. If the mortality rate is 0.28%, and 300 million Americans get the disease, that would imply 840,0000 deaths. By comparison, the average number of annual deaths is about 3 million. (Entropic man, you slipped a decimal point.)


Ned said...

Many of the videos of Branch Covidian mobs have come from Michigan. This one, from Arizona, shows the crowd joining hands to sing "Amazing Grace". Because apparently now you can signal of your dedication to the cause by not merely refusing to wear a mask, but by going to a protest and touching as many strangers as possible. And you can enlist one of our most uplifting songs in the cause of spreading a deadly virus and killing more people.

Enthusiastic, conscious rejection of science and medicine is rapidly becoming part of the identity of these people. If medical experts, Democrats, and the media started warning people that driving cars off cliffs is dangerous, you get the feeling some of these people would drive off a cliff just to express their rage and resentment.

Entropic man said...

David in Cal

Two problems with your calculation.

1) You have underestimated total cases.(WHO estimate that 6% of cases are reported)

2) There is, on average, a 23 days lag between infection and death, so death rate should be calculated as a % of total cases 23 days earlier.

Thus reported cases for the US were 509,000 on April 10th, giving a total of 509,000*100/6=8.5 million total.cases for that date.

Mortality becomees 67600*100/8.5 million=0.8%

300 million infected at 0.8% mortality is 2.4 million coronavirus deaths, about three times your estimate.

Entropic man said...

Oops. The number of reported cases reflects the infection rate 5 days earlier, so I should have calculated total cases from reported cases for April 15th, 18 days ago.652,000.

The calculation becomes

Total infections for April 10th 652,000*100/6=10.8 million

Mortality becomes 67903*100/10.8 million=0.6%

Total deaths becomes 300 million*0.6/100=1.8 million.

Layzej said...

Total deaths becomes 300 million*0.6/100=1.8 million

But if herd immunity is gained after 70% of the population is infected then we should only expect 230 million Americans to be infected. In that case total deaths becomes 230 million*0.6/100=1.38 million.

But don't worry. It's going to go. It's going to leave. It's going to be gone. It's going to be eradicated.

It's the Alfred E. Neuman pandemic response plan.

David in Cal said...

Layzej - Suppose that the current number of Americans ever infected really is somewhere between 3 million and 8 million, with all but 1 million asymptomatic. That leaves between 2 million and 7 million asymptomatic. Let's assume that half of these people have recovered and are no longer contagious. That still leaves between 1 million and 3.5 million contagious, asymptomatic Americans. We don't know who they are. The only way to identify them would be to test everyone at the same approximate time. Meanwhile the disease continues to spread with a high R naught of perhaps 3 or greater.

Under these circumstances, the disease will spread to most of the population, no matter what we do. In fact, that was the assumption of many experts from the get-go. If this is the case, what can we do?
1. Take steps to slow the spread, so that we have sufficient medical capability at any given time
2. Devote all our efforts to developing treatments and vaccines.
3. Try to protect those most in danger of dying.

These assumptions imply that we can't prevent old people like me are at high risk of dying, regardless of policy. At best, I can try to stay alive by staying confined to my home for many months, until a vaccine is available. I suspect that this is my reality.


Layzej said...

You're over thinking it. Don't worry. Be happy. It will go away. It's going to go. It's going to leave. It's going to be gone. Poof!