Pontifications: Winter is coming

By Vincent Valery

Sept. 28, 2020, © Leeham News: The end of September marks the time when airlines in the Northern Hemisphere assess their summer season financial performance. Depending on the outcome, they adjust their capacity and evaluate their cash needs to see through the lower demand winter months.

This summer was significantly different from what airlines envisioned earlier this year. They had to re-arrange schedules on short notice to capitalize on the uptick in passenger demand after the lifting of some travel restrictions put in place during Spring.

With a resurgent COVID-19 spread in some countries and the re-establishment of movement restrictions, airlines need to, once again, adjust their plans for winter months.

Dealing with the demand shock while hoping for the best

Airlines around the world witnessed a collapse in passenger demand in a matter of weeks. Some airlines, including flag carriers such as Austrian Airlines, stopped flying altogether during most of Spring.

With the disappearance of virtually all revenues, carriers started hemorrhaging cash. To avoid running out of liquidities in a matter of weeks, several governments provided sizable financial aid packages. The healthiest airlines were also able to raise more money from capital markets and other means, such as sale and leaseback transactions.

When airlines and governments sized the amount of financial aid, they envisioned returning to a normalized situation by the end of 2021. Some predicted passenger traffic would return to 2019 levels by 2022 or 2023 at the latest. Others pointed to 2024 as a return to normal (RTN) for domestic operations and 2025 for international traffic to RTN.

There were some encouraging signs during the early summer. After governments in Europe and states in the USA lifted some restrictions, passenger traffic picked up. In some European countries, passenger traffic reached 40% of the previous year in August.

Crushed hopes of a steady return to normal

However, toward the end of the summer, there started being a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases in Europe. Governments imposed again, without coordination, travel restrictions, and more stringent social distancing measures. By September, COVID cases were on the rise in 27 states in the US.

With European restrictions again in place, passenger carriers significantly adjusted capacity downwards for later this year. US airlines dropped some schedules as traffic once again fell.

When airlines envisioned a return to a normalized situation by the end of 2021, they assumed that there would not be significant second waves that would derail a recovery. It is now clear that this is not the case. A return to a normalized situation will require, as LNA outlined before, the widespread distribution of a vaccine.

The unspoken benefit of aid packages

When airlines requested aid packages earlier this year, they had no visibility on how quickly passenger demand would recover. Things are becoming clearer.

Governments will keep restrictive measures, such as quarantine or pre-flight COVID test requirements, for an extended period. The restrictions will turn off the most casual travelers, and an uptick like this summer seems unlikely until a vaccine becomes widely distributed. People will avoid getaways outside the major holidays.

The uncoordinated travel restrictions among countries make an already bad situation for the airline (and travel) industry significantly worse. Willing traveler cannot make plans because of the lack of coordinated travel rules, such as pre-flight COVID-19 tests waiving quarantine requirements. Visa restrictions add wound to injury.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr stated that demand is currently around 20% of last year. His hopes that demand would recover to 25% by the end of the year look optimistic at this point.

The aid packages gave carriers time to assess the passenger demand situation. While the latest developments amount to a worst-case scenario, airlines now have more clarity. Demand will stay depressed, i.e., significantly below 50% of 2019 levels, until a vaccine becomes widely available.

The only exceptions will be domestic markets where the virus is virtually non-existent, such as China and New Zealand. In case slot waivers are not extended, several airlines will decide to operate flights into congested airports to avoid losing them. But New Zealand banned long haul flights for the indefinite future. Air New Zealand grounded its entire long-haul fleet, except those flying cargo and repatriation.

Hibernating until demand recovers

Airlines have sizable fixed expenses, including aircraft depreciation and leases. Since the beginning of the pandemic, some took the opportunity to retire their older aircraft to save costs. Due to the depressed demand, carriers face the prospect of more aircraft retirements and having to put into long-term storage a significant portion of their fleets.

Airlines already announced significant payroll reductions. US airlines used voluntary employee buyouts to reduce headcounts while under the government payroll support program. With the support likely to expire, airlines will have to furlough more people to limit cash outflows.

However, reducing the workforce proportionally to match the expected depressed demand is not optimal. Retraining crews is time-consuming and expensive. Airlines that excessively reduce payroll would not capitalize on (temporary) increases in passenger demand, whenever they materialize. Passenger traffic would also pick up if governments come to their senses and agree on a global testing framework to waive quarantine requirements.

Some airlines already announced agreements to avoid (or reduce) furloughs in exchange for significantly reduced work hours and pay.

Most passenger carriers will effectively enter a state of hibernation, during which they will operate a fraction of their previous services. Balancing the need to preserve cash and flexibility, crews will work reduced hours.

No one can accurately predict the duration of the period of depressed demand. However, one thing is sure: this winter will feel a lot longer than previous ones.

58 Comments on “Pontifications: Winter is coming

  1. By now, tens of millions of people have had CoViD and recovered, with a very small risk of re-infection for the coming months. I’m one of them.
    The official number is 32 million, but CDC virologists estimate that the real number is about 15 times higher, which is almost half a billion.
    There is, therefore, a very substantial number of people who could potentially fly without peril to themselves or those around them. I, for one, would get on a longhaul flight in the morning…if there were anywhere to go without quarantine.

    It is very disappointing that no effort has yet been made to introduce immunity passports, in combination with much broader antibody screening.
    There’s potentially a huge market just sitting there for the aviation industry, waiting to be tapped.

    • One of the continuing issues with COVID-19 is the still developing understanding of how effective is long-term immunity once someone has recovered from infection. Since there is still ongoing work to understand this there will not likely be any “Immunity Passports” or other similar measures adopted until there is stronger scientific consensus on the topic. At least by policy makers that put credence into listening to health experts.

      [Editor’s note: This Scott is not Scott Hamilton.]

      • I didn’t say anything about “long-term” immunity. If desired, an immunity passport can have a short validity, with a regular requirement to re-measure antibody levels.

        • There are also aspects of can you get it again, people have had it repeatedly.

          Those numbers affected are still unknown.

          The best policy I have seen is tested before you fly, then quarantine for 5 days and test again.

          Fortunately we are rolling out rapid tests at 100 million a day so soon (very soon) test delays is not an issue (though I am somewhat conflicted why we need tests when Covd is not an issue or why we are spending billions on Vaccines when Covd is not an issue)

    • So if you’ve had COVID, you get a go-on-vacation pass? Hey why not? If we all just look out for ourselves, it’s little wonder we can’t get this thing under control. I assume if you have this “immunity passport”, you also brag to others you dont need a mask either? The selfish attitude on display here showcases what’s wrong with society today.

      • Dave agree with you 100%. The selfishness shown by so many is unbelievable and disheartening.

      • As if it isn’t selfish to expect everyone to stay indoors just to facilitate your need for empathy.

        Should we all walk around on crutches, just to show empathy with people who are mobility-challenged?

        • Dave/Jake:

          If Bryce is confirmed recovered and we find that getting infected again is a small number, then there is zero reason he can’t do whatever he wants.

          I would wear a mask out of courtesy due to no one can know (maybe we can brand him with a CF on the forehead ?)

          • @TW
            I consistently wear a mask in shops, etc., even though it currently isn’t required here in The Netherlands. There is such a thing as social responsibility and etiquette.
            Besides, when all this subsides (if it ever does), we may all start to wear masks more often, as a courtesy to others when we ourselves have a cold or stomach bug, for example. Where that’s concerned, we can learn a lot from Asian etiquette.

    • Immunity is theoretical, not proven yet, and worse, if it exists, no idea of how long (if) it lasts.

      • Which also applies verbatim to vaccines.
        Whether you like it or not, many ex-CoViD patients have antibodies, and very few get re-infected.

        If necessary, why not re-test every 3 months?

    • Putting aside questions of if prior exposure confers immunity and for how long there is a statistical issue with using antibody tests to guide public policy.

      Currently a serology test showing you have antibodies does not mean much. (AKA does not have a high “positive predictive value”). This due to a combination of a relatively high false positive rate and relatively low anti-body prevalence in the population.

      The way to think of this is to image an antibody test that has a 5% false positive test. That is it shows you have the antibodies even if you don’t 5% of the time. If you administer this test to a population where no one has antibodies then 100% all positive results will be false. In other words the value of a positive test is zero. As the prevalence of antibodies in the population climbs the chances of a positive test actually corresponding to a person truly have antibodies climbs until it becomes a useful guide to action. But we are not there yet.

      • Odd, then, that antibody-containing serum is donated by ex-CoViD patients for pre-emptive administration to higher-risk patient groups.
        Also odd that hospitals prefer to put ex-CoViD staff in CoViD wards, so as to minimize risk of staff infection.
        But, OK, let’s all just pretend that CoViD antibodies are an illusion…that makes some people more comfortable 👍

        • Bryce my point isn’t that antibodies are not clinically beneficial, don’t create an immune response or are illusions. It is that right now due to the nature of the tests we have and the prevalence of antibodies in the population a positive antibody test does not tell you much and certainly does not justify giving anyone an “immunity passport”.

          • The illusion of protection is also when those with a previous infection still test positive in say airport screening and are refused travel.
            I cant see any claim ‘Ive recovered’ will carry any weight with the airline or indeed the other passengers.

        • @Bryce

          Usually I fully agree with you, but here it seems that very little is known about this bug about ‘immunity’ or ‘re infection’ or 100% secure ‘testing’ indeed a ‘vaccine’ and there’s not going to be any form of efficient international co operation or norms or enforcement sufficient to….etc etc

          Certainty is a trap, also : look how NZ has eliminated, twice!, the bug from their country, look how little they can know about how it might once again get back in, or whether it is still there, but dormant and in a practical sense, undetectable, in humans or animals or

          Next time in – On food, in animals, a bird, an insect….

          Even if only one bug gets in, it can spread rapidly in a protected and isolated population

          Doing lockdowns as a kind of national strongman sport is perhaps sustainable for a short while, the NZ and the Aus are still firing up as the toughest nations on earth, but that will not last

          • The New Zealand response has been admirable, for the reasons you gave: how little is known and how difficult a highly contagious pathogen can be.

            They cannot travel or permit travel easily, but that is true of much of the world as well. I can’t do that here either. But at least within their borders, they can have some degree of normalcy, less fear of infection and more fulsome economic activity.

            That is an achievement and it provides the world with an example of what is possible. It probably can’t be replicated in many places, but like Sweden, represents a learning & control case for understanding. There is value in that and it shouldn’t be dismissed.

          • @Gerrard White

            It’s good to have disagreement…we should have more of it!
            It’s badly needed in the current CoViD debate, because we’re currently using a “one size fits all” approach, which isn’t much good at containing the virus, and which is devastating the economy.
            Virologists have never had to deal with something of this scale and ferocity, and national health authorities are using tactical rather than strategic approaches. There is currently no cogent “plan B” if a safe and effective vaccine isn’t developed quickly. In the meantime, using blanket rather than targeted approaches is going to completely kill economic segments such as the aviation and hotel industries, catering, events organization, etc.

            I’m not the first to float the idea of immunity passports. And even if the topic is fraught with unknowns, it’s still worthwhile having a serious look at its potential merits. My neighbor was re-tested last month and still has a significant IgG titer 5 months after recovery. A person can do a LOT of travelling in 5 months!

            Apart from that: as TW points out above, the idea of testing all passengers prior to each flight has definite merits, and it needs to be seriously considered — preferably not by people who live in a bubble and crave 100% certainty (which is a complete illusion).

            Meanwhile, while the cat is chasing it’s own tail, Lufthansa is losing a million euros every 90 minutes.

    • Back in pre-jet days etc. Travellers would have the equivalent of a vaccination passport, yellow and had a record of all vaccinations, I carried mine into the early 70s, the military dispensaries updated it with current vaccinations.

      Of course with either the WHO or other world org issuing them the US can’t be expected to recognice some thing like that.

    • If an aircraft still has a value, but now gets retired, then the remaining value has to be depreciated immediately. Thus the spike in that value.

      • Yes. If value is based on cycles as well as age then this will be the year of ‘low or zero cycles’ for many planes.
        Age will have indeed stood still. Boeing has 400 of them.

        • In the beginning the engines of parked MAX were run once per week to keep them fit. Much work to run 400 MAX each week. Then, because of parking, trash appeared in the fuel tanks. I guess Boeing stopped to run engines then. A nightmare … who would want those planes.

          • Parked aircraft still get regular 7, 15, 30, and 90 day maintenance checks, involving running the engines, exercising electrical and control systems, and moving the aircraft to equalize tire stress. This is done pretty rigorously and routinely. They are to0 valuable to not be maintained.

            For long term storage, the engines are pickled and are only turned instead of started during maintenance checks. In some cases where the climate is not ideal, they also can be removed and kept indoors on engine stands. There’s been a booming business for those stands as winter approaches. But even stored aircraft still get regular maintenance checks and daily visits. Unless they are retired with no plans to ever fly again.

            The MAX aircraft are now technically undergoing heavy maintenance due to the proposed AD changes. Boeing has been updating their service bulletins and engineering packages for the MAX and both Boeing and airlines are already carrying them out. So they will be ready for service once pilots receive their new certification training.

      • Yes, we only talk about planes which have value, nobody will buy someone’s trash. Age is measured in flight hours, though some maintenance especially for engines count months too, but I think all planes which are parked need to be checked if they want to be used again.

        • I think that’s an exaggeration of the parked planes issues. They are highly valuable asset that would have been looked after accordingly, after all Boeing ‘wrote the book ‘ on how to look after the 737 and would have followed it.

    • Yes, but (and a request for an article from Scott on this)….

      Different conditions cause different degradation problems. So, for example, rubbers (some, most, all?) degrade chemically if not used as compared with abrasively if they are used.

      So, what manufacturer guidelines (from manufacturer of the smallest component right up to Airbus/BCA/GE/RR/P&W etc.) already exist for maintenance & life cyele replacement in such an anomalous environment as many aircraft are currently experiencing? And how are warranties affected?

      As a side example, a significant number of people would advise against purchasing a new vehicle that had been built to order and remained in stock for more than 6 months, due to the raised likelihood of problems through lifespan from compromised rubber and fluids.

  2. What we don’t know is how long immunity lasts. There are apparently four other corona viruses that cause colds. Humans lose immunity to these viruses over time, apparently. If that happens for Covid, then at some point in the future you may well get Covid again and again become infectious. We don’t know what that point is.

    The point is that blithely running around as if you can’t get it again and you can’t transmit it again is unwise, at best, irresponsible at worst.

  3. We need to take with a grain of salt the idea that a vaccine will bail us out. In the US I could imagine about 1/3 of people refusing to take it. If the vaccine is then only partially effective we could be left with imperfect herd immunity and a continuing Covid infection issue.

    And then there’s the issue of how long immunity would last – apparently the four corona viruses already prevalent among humans do not leave lasting immunity. So, how often will will have to get a vaccine to ensure it stays effective?

    If there’s one thing we’ve proved in the last 9 months, it’s that humans are really bad at the kind of discipline necessary to curb the virus (when the zombie apocalypse occurs, we are really screwed). Even in a vaccine era we may need that kind of discipline to make it all work.

    Just saying that we shouldn’t count our chickens relative to the vaccine.

    • Well, we could just put all our lives indefinitely on hold. If immunity is short-lived, then vaccines won’t help. There’ll come a point in time at which we’ll just have to bite the bullit. Becoming hermits for the rest of eternity is not a solution.

      • No, but if it was done immediately and effectively, as in the past, instead of having it politicized worrying about how a decrease in GDP would influence an election, then a big “selfish” mistake was made at the expense of hundreds of thousands of human lives.

        • We will get a lot of information from the trials in a month or two. I would not currently trust anything form the US side.

          Issues with need to -90C at least on one. Hard to distribute and administer (possibly for hospital personal and or patients only )

          And which one do you get or how do you determine which one you want and if you can get it.

          I will certainly take short term if its effective while we work our way through the problems.

          • I’m not an anti-vaxer: I’ve had two different vaccines in the past 5 years, without hesitation. But those were “normal” vaccines that took more than 10 years to develop…as opposed to the rushed vaccines in the current situation.
            It’s worth pointing out that:
            – Phase 3 clinical trials for the AstraZeneca candidate are still paused in the US, after a British trial person was diagnosed with Myelitis Transversa. The Brits resumed trials within a few days, but the US authorities aren’t convinced that it’s safe to follow that path.
            – The Pandemrix vaccine developed by GSK in 2009 for the H1N1 Mexican Flu cause Narcolepsy in an unacceptable number of recipients. It ruined their lives.
            – By definition, any vaccine introduced within the next few months will not have been properly checked for possible side effects on women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. That’s a large and important portion of the population. We all remember Thalidomide.

            Unless you’re 75+ and/or have underlying serious conditions, taking your chances with CoViD may be a better bet than gambling on a rushed vaccine.

          • In fairness, immunity was granted to vaccine makers because the vaccines do have side effects for a small percentage of individuals (less than 0.001% of all vaccinations). But the overall benefit to the population far outweighs that risk.

            This means that some individuals will inevitably suffer harm from a vaccine. So the government set up a $4B fund to pay damages to those individuals. They may hire lawyers at government expense to process claims at up to $400/hour, whether or not the claim is successful. This is a necessary cost to fairly compensate affected individuals, while preserving the net benefit to society.

            Otherwise the benefit could be erased by huge punitive damages that would go to a small group of people, at the expense of many. So it’s a form of self-insurance that is fair to all.

            One of the issues that arises from COVID is that this fund would need substantial increases with a new untested nationwide vaccine. But that cost would be small relative to the cost of vaccination, if the same rate of side-effects prevails.

          • Of course, and those “historical” Vaccines were vetted over a number of years. This Covid-19 will be vetted, too, over a number of years, but the test pool will be me, you and the rest of the populace.

          • Sam, if you can propose another way, that would be welcome. I think as things stand today, society will accept that risk if it produces conditions for economic recovery.

            The vaccine will likely be offered to volunteer groups first, but will also be sought after. Not by everyone but enough to put a major dent in the transmission rate.

            It won’t be forced so you can choose for yourself. It might be required by schools as other vaccinations are, but possibly not if the infection rate remains low in kids.

          • @Rob, Yes, it is a bad situation. Humanity is probably at some sort of major crossroad, and all the bridges are out. History will clearly show what should have been done.

        • Yet every country sees surges and falls in case rate except those that stayed open. When exactly was this done in the past even on the scale it was done? 1918? There were no better ideas put forth, so let’s not pretend there was a simple solution. Need we recall that lockdowns weren’t to “stop” the virus but to not overwhelm hospitals so patients didn’t needlessly die? Quit the political rhetoric

      • @Bryce

        ‘bite the bullit’ – what do you mean : accept that this corona is like the others & we’ll have to get used to living with it? that it kills or seriously wounds those weak, old and infirm (almost exclusively)

        It would be tougher, perhaps, to imagine a world of universal weekly testing hospitalisation quarantines mandatory vaccinations, health passports, standardised health procedures world wide, forcible elimination of obesity and obligatory health levels and con comittant penalties for non achievement of socialised standards

        • There is continuous learning going on, so I think over time there is progress against COVID.

          Recently results have been published that the people who have mild or no symptoms have a coordinated response within the various elements of their immune systems. They all work together in equal strength, and so act as a check not only on COVID, but on each other as well, to prevent storm and auto-immune responses that can be damaging or fatal.

          Above age 65, it’s known that the immune response becomes less coordinated, with one or more elements becoming weaker, but it also can happen due to other reasons than aging. So that matches the pattern we see with COVID fatalities.

          Now there is research into the coordination and balance of the various elements, in hopes it can be measured and perhaps enhanced or managed. If so that would also help auto-immune sufferers, as well as any significant infectious diseases in the body.

          Also raises the question of the biological success of COVID. Its ideal model is the mild or asymptomatic infection, not the fatal infection. If the population responds to favor the mild forms, that is the most successful outcome for COVID. In humans this occurs both in the genetic sense and in the medical sense. So we should see forms evolve which are more contagious but less deadly. There seems to be some evidence of that already.

  4. The WHO currently estimates July 2021 as an earliest feasible date to begin CoViD vaccination…which is thus another 9 months away. But this is not a guarantee, and most virologists play down the immunity that such a vaccine will bestow…opining that it will probably be about as effective as a flu shot.

    IATA came in the past few days with proactive proposals regarding blanket passenger testing prior to flights, but such proposals will probably be killed by paranoia / tunnel vision / denial at a national level.

    One has to wonder what will be left of the aviation industry in 9 months time…

  5. “Passenger traffic would also pick up if governments come to their senses and agree on a global testing framework to waive quarantine requirements”
    Other posters have also mentioned “Immunity Passports” and the like.

    The problem I see with this talk is one of trustworthiness.
    How much do you trust a ‘certificate of cleanliness’ or a ‘vaccination passport’ issued in a country where $US50 is a week’s (or a month’s) wages? Or the one produced for a billionaire whose family endowment is the principal support for his local university hospital? Or one produced in a country where ‘clean’ drug samples are substituted for ‘dirty’ ones on an industrial and officially sanctioned scale?

    I frankly can’t see it working

    • The only way this could work is if the traveling population was statistically similar to the host population. Then the risk of infection from travelers is no greater than the risk in the host country. That is ultimately what must happen for traveling to not be perceived as a risk. How it happens could be:

      1. the virus fades away with time
      2. the vaccine has a min effective protection of a year
      3. the global infection rate becomes extremely high
      4. Countries work globally to equalize their rates

      But there is little chance of the global cooperation happening, outside of a few zones. So it will likely be one of the others.

      Mandatory pre-travel testing could reduce but not eliminate the risk, and there are a lot of variables, as has been pointed out. As long as there is perception of risk, quarantines will be preferred and they will effectively suppress travel.

      There is news of a nasal spray that is effective in preventing infection. So that could serve as a short-term pseudo-vaccine for traveling, if it proves to be valid.

      In the US at least, it seems that the control mechanisms are effectively using a setpoint for transmission rate of 1.0. The rt.live site shows that states tend to oscillate around that value. If higher than 1, the state tightens. If less than 1, they relax. That value more or less assures a moderate rate of spread. It works in terms of flattening the curve, but the uninfected population is still so large that it could continue for a long time yet.

      • Some states are adhering to the 1.0 and some are Covd regulation free and proud.

        note: See the super spread of South Dakota Sturgis Rally (and yes I am a cycle rider and I could not believe the stupidity of the attendees nor State of South Dakota).

    • @Bryce

      I do not think that the aviation industry and associated businesses, tourism and so on, will survive in anything like previous form

      That model was already stretched to the limit, and under pressure from various factors, including climate change politics

      The Max business plan, low cost everything, infected everyone- airlines, tourist operators, regular people everywhere – even into africa, where, generally, roads hardly work even in capital cities, there were suddenly low cost tickets available to cross the continent

      The rush to such globalisation, pervasive in agriculture and industry in general, has brought penalties as well as profits

      Such as – The max crashes, pollution, intolerable factory conditions, and most of all spread of ind ag into hitherto traditionally farmed areas, responsible for the cross pollution or generation of this and other viruses

      A health passport, a certificate, even a vaccine to scale would demand co ordination and co operation on a scale which, if ever these got to the planning stages, will reveal the fragility of this globalisation, it’s not even skin deep – I doubt that any such plans are or will be operable

      Most ‘western’ countries can not operate lockdowns with anything close to efficacity – as currently done this is just a way, the very worst possible way, of living with the virus, perhaps with a few lives saved, but at the expense of others lost and of conditions which create and sustain further and other misery, community breakdown, as well as giving rise to displays of (fantastically in efficient) authoritarianism, as on display in NZ and Aus

      Every health expert, from the WHO on down, predicted an apocalypse for Africa (backward poor no adequate health care) – yet Africa, black Africa has survived with tiny amounts of deaths

      The only country on that continent to suffer severely so far is South Africa, which, guess what, more closely looks like the ‘west’ than any other

      Conclusion – no quick fix, get your ‘western’ style medicine and health care in sync with your globalisation, and be in much better health when this bugs cousins and descendants come to visit

      That may require living more like an African lives, or at least that would be a place to start

  6. Below are statistics from Washington State Department of Health as of yesterday:

    1,854,399 people have been tested (apparently thinking they were sick with Covid19 or were exposed to someone who might have had Covid19, or were required to be tested for work)

    Of these, 1,767,357 have tested negative (over 95%)!

    Of the 87,042 folks who have tested positive, 84,918 have recovered (98%)!

    Of the unfortunate folks who have died from Covid19, 90% are over 60 with approx 94% already having underlying health conditions. (no one under 20 has died from Covid19 in the state of Washington).

    Summary (at least for Wa state): Most people who think they have Covid19 actually don’t have it (over 95%)! Most people who do indeed come down with Covid19, actually recover (98%)! For young folks under 60, the risk of death is extremely low. Older folks over 60 who are already sick or have underlying health conditions need to take necessary precautions to mitigate the risk.

    • @planenegineer

      Your figures are, as far as I know, very close to figures generally given across the western world

      Very very few people suffer severely, or die, from the effects of this virus, apart from those already very un well or unhealthy as well as being very old

      Some of these people have had their lives saved by health care: it would be more accurate to say that their deaths have been deferred by a short period of time

      At the same time the measures instituted to save these few lives from the bug have given rise to other deaths and the miseries associated with poverty confinement and the cessation of normal community life

      It is impossible to over estimate the effects of panick, and the extent to which various ‘experts’ officials or gvmts have decided that this virus is of exceptional danger and requiring of exceptional measures to ‘defeat’ it, even though neither they, nor anyone, knows enough about the virus to contain or to manage it en connaissance de cause, that is with measure and reason

      The scale and spectacle of incompetence, of institutional administrative and political dysfunction and collapse, has accelerated an acute crisis and breakdown across ‘western’ societies and economies

      • That sums it up perfectly.
        There was a heatwave in Europe in August, which lasted about a week. In The Netherlands, it killed 750 people…which is about the same as the weekly death toll from CoViD during March/April. Those who died were old and infirm. So, you survive CoViD — after elaborate measures such as a lockdown and social isolation — only to die a few months later anyway…and you die from something as simple as a heatwave.
        Talk about tunnel vision!

    • Very similar to the situation in most countries in Europe. In GENERAL, the pattern that has emerged here is:
      – If you’re over 75 and/or have serious underlying health conditions, CoViD can be (very) dangerous.
      – If you’re 45-75, CoViD manifests itself as a (very) heavy flu.
      – If you’re 25-35, CoViD manifests itself as a cold or light flu.
      – If you’re under 25, CoViD manifests itself as a (very) light cold, or is asymptomatic.

      Many people — particularly above 45 — experience post-viral fatigue after recovery; but that also occurs with other viral diseases such as mononucleosis, hepatitis and herpes zoster…and it eventually clears up. The horror stories about mass organ damage are largely hot air, except for people who were on ventilators.

      No wonder that many people compare the present CoViD-response to “cutting off an arm in order to save a finger”.

      • @Bryce

        Can you explain why very nearly all ‘western ‘gvmts reacted with such measures, why very nearly all failed to organise these with method and effect, and why they still, after what they name as the failure of such measures after six months or so, wish to re impose them

        One may suppose they all hope for a quick vaccine, but as you have pointed out one is not likely for at least 9 months or a year and longer to scale even for ‘western’ populations, even if the first vaccines are anywhere close to effective

        What is it about martial law that is so attractive? Why are these gvmts and these societies quite so bad at organisation?

        • @ Gerrard White

          I can’t explain it, though I can offer some clues. But I have no doubt that books will be written about this for decades to come.

          The clues:
          – Most politicians do not have a background in science. They therefore defer (to an alarming extent) to the advice of “experts”.
          – These “experts” are almost invariably virologists who may have some knowledge (from books) of how small outbreaks are managed, but have zero knowledge of how to tackle an outbreak of this scale and ferocity. They focus on the virus, and seem to be oblivious to the fact that, in parallel to the fight against the virus, there is huge and worsening concurrent damage in an economic and societal sense.
          – The “experts” have a medical background, and thus have an attendant attitude that “every life counts” — which is ludicrous. From that point of view, management of this epidemic could be better left to a team of statistical mathematicians, sociologists, anthropologists and economists.
          – We seem to have developed a delusion in western society that we’re all going to live to be 85. There is resentment to the idea that the Grim Reaper is still around, and can strike at any time…despite the fact that we see evidence of this every day outside of the bubble of CoViD (just look at the huge numbers of deaths each year due to cancer and heart disease, as well as traffic accidents).
          – We also have developed a delusion that technology can match whatever challenge is thrown at it: hence the blind (almost gullible) belief that a safe and meaningfully effective vaccine will be conjured out of thin air one of these days.
          – Although the Theory of Evolution is one of the greatest pillars of science, we have forgotten (or wish to ignore) that natural selection also applies to the human race.

          Is there anything that you’d like to add to that list?

          Like a patient deprived of oxygen — who can hold out for a little while, but will ultimately reach a tipping point — we’re now starting to see an explosion in the collateral damage arising from the CoViD response — whole industrial sectors on their knees, rising unemployment, ballooning debt, increasing prevalence of psychological problems, etc.

          It’s like a herd of cattle voluntarily walking into the slaughterhouse.

          • @Bryce

            You have the reasons – I’d add only that the willful dismissal of all traditional customary beliefs, especially religious, has replaced any sense of a natural term and conclusion to life and how to prepare and deal with such with…nothing

            Unless it is a kind of trivial statistical competition which boasts of average longevity and increasing longevity as a key indicator of prowess and value, indeed as a ‘right’

            To measure health and healthcare within this context is to mistake the nature of health, and to substitute control as the imperative, via a régime of constant drug taking and degraded foods in lieu of communal notions of place measure and reason

            The goal – factory farming of the masses, duly rendered powerless and docile

            I’d put much of this down to a distorted class structure, the result of the developments you mention, illusions concerning technology, the elevation of the ‘expert’, the elimination of the communal

    • >Most people who come down with Covid19, actually recover (98%)!

      And across all ages 2% don’t. For those 60-70 it is more like 2.5% That may not sound like much, but the chance of rolling two sixes is 2.8% and if you play boardgames you know that happens uncomfortably often.

      • Strange that societies can send off millions of young people to be slaughtered in war…but that the same societies cringe at the idea of hanging a question mark above the lives of elderly people who have already lived a full life.

      • @jbeeko

        Except covid is not playing a board game, neither are you

        The figures are similar across many industrial societies, the very old and already ill and/or obese are at some considerable risk, but the very old always are

        The rest are are at very little risk, of dying at least

        To eliminate the risk for the old of dying from covid, or indeed from anything else, is impossible

        The attempt to continue to reduce this risk, by prolonging life, and by prolonging it in ways which render the aged even more feeble and vulnerable, subject to greater control and authority, less autonomous and more dependent on drugs, is perhaps one of the reasons why any risk is seen as un acceptable even offensive : how is it possible that such well organised science has not managed to do better?

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