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Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



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And then it was gone

16 June 2020

COVID-19 is going to kill us all.

Well no. In fact, something very strange is happening around the world right now.

In almost (I must stress "almost") every country, infection and death rates from COVD-19 are falling dramatically.

Yes, measures such as lockdowns and social-distancing have had a significant effect on reducing the spread and death-toll from the disease (New Zealand's outcome proves that) but the decline is more than can be explained solely by such simple changes.

In fact, when you look at media reports coming out of countries such as Europe, the UK, Australia and many other places where the virus is still "in the wild" and should be spreading due to social contact, lockdowns are for all intents and purposes - over.

Beaches are filled with swimmers, BLM rallies have people rubbing shoulders with others and packed at high density in to small spaces.

So why aren't infection rates climing exponentially again?

We were told that there was a very real risk of "a second wave" of infection, once lockdowns were eased -- but there's little evidence of this happening.

The data does not fit the narrative right now so what's going on?

Well it's interesting that many virologists predicted right from the start that CV19 would weaken over time and become less potent, less likely to produce death.

Is this exactly what's happening?

A look at the death-rate (number of deaths divided by the number of confirmed cases) certainly shows that we've gone from a peak of over 12% to well under 4%, a significant drop in "lethality".

This drop may be even greater than it appears at face value. As the virus weakens, the number of asymptomatic or almost asymptomatic infections will increase as a percentage of the total. The result of this is that there are now probably far more unreported CV19 cases than there has been in the past. Those getting the virus may not even be aware that they've caught it and this will skew the official data.

Let's not think for one moment however that CV19 is not still a significant health risk, especially to the "at risk" group of elderly or already infirmed who seem so susceptible to its worst outcomes. However, all the data is starting to indicate that those early predictions were correct and the virus is losing potency.

How does this happen?

Well apparently, as the virus mutates (and there are now many strains in circulation), those variants which produce lesser symptoms tend to spread more widely. This is because often, those infected are unaware of their "infectious" status due to the reduced severity of symptoms. This means those people are more likely to pass it on to others in blissful ignorance of their own state.

The more virulent strains produce such severe symptoms that those afflicted can be quickly quarantined and kept away from others -- effectively halting the spread of the disease.

Over time therefore, the predominant strains of the virus will be the weaker ones and the "killer virus" we knew at the start will eventually become something like the regular influenza viruses we've lived with (and died from) for centuries.

One of the main unknowns right now is whether exposure to a milder form of CV19 provides any immunity against the more potent strains, and exactly how long any immunity lasts. The latest reports indicates that antibodies are still detected in the blood of survivors for at least two months and it will be some time until we have more infomration on the long-term immunity (if any) that being infected provides.

So it could well be that CV19, as we know it today, will simply disappear and the world will return to normal in a far shorter timespan than the doomsayers have predicted.

Let's keep our fingers crossed.

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