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Covid spread in US, Europe has peaked, now in sustained decline: Report
Chicago, July 4 - COVID-19 pandemic has reached its "disease break point" in the US and Europe such that population-level spread is now in inexorable decline, according to a report by David Capital Partners.
David Capital Partners, LLC is an investment advisory firm. It put out a note on the Covid as it was tied to the US economy.
"Importantly, we believed we could do it. For though the pandemic is first a question of science, in practice it is really a question of statistics, mathematics, and modeling/forecasting. These disciplines are in our sweet spot," the firm said.
"Many believe that the only two paths out of the pandemic are either a vaccine or 'herd immunity'.
We see this as a false choice. In fact, we believe the most likely outcome is a third and different path: that C19 has reached its "disease break point" in the US/Europe such that population-level spread is now in inexorable decline", the report said.
Based on these and other data sets, the report estimates the COVID-19 asymptomatic rate is roughly 75% of infections. For each symptomatic C19 infection, three more are asymptomatic. The multiplier is 4x.
Combining the estimates for symptomatic and asymptomatic infections yields a multiplier of 24-40x. With 2.3 million confirmed cases to-date, this indicates between 55 million and 92 million Americans(17%-28% of the population) may now have infection-acquired specific resistance to COVID-19.The report says that if C19's R0 is 2.5-3.0 and its herd immunity threshold is 60%-65%, then the disease break point would be only 15%-20% specific resistance (a population's precise disease break point likely varies somewhat due to differences in susceptibility and social graphs).
"Our research indicates Europe and the US reached this disease break point in March and April, respectively. We believe spread of COVID-19 in these geographies has peaked and is now in irrevocable, sustained decline", the report said.
"We believe the US reached its disease break point (15%-20% specific resistance) in April and that population-level specific resistance in the US today may be closer to 30%," it said.
"In a perfect world, public health agencies would be independent and evidence-based. That is not reality. Both the CDC and WHO are fundamentally political organizations. Their leaders are politicians, subject to all kinds of outside pressures from countries, funders, pharmaceutical companies, media, and other special interest groups," the report said.
As a result, CDC and WHO guidance has often proven unreliable or outright incorrect during the pandemic. In January, the WHO repeated Chinese talking points by declaring it saw "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission." In March, US health officials encouraged Americans to go on cruise ships and told doctors surgical or cloth
masks were "acceptable alternatives" to N95 respirator masks when treating C19 patients.
The CDC and WHO have repeatedly flip-flopped on public mask-wearing, reinfections, travel restrictions, asymptomatic spread, the safety of hydroxychloroquine, and the allowable size of gatherings. Communication has been a total mess, the report said.
It should be self-evident that two million identified COVID-19 cases in the US is a material undercount. The first confirmed cases in the US were in January 2020. Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the "CDC") indicate a surge in unexplained US deaths with "symptoms, signs, and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified" beginning in mid-November 2019 that correlates with the spread and then April peak of C19 in this country.
"We think it likely COVID-19 was in the US by October/November 2019 ? and that this readily-transmissible disease had already swept across the nation a few months later" the report said.
The magnitude of the undercount is subject to debate ? but the number is large, with many untested symptomatic infections for each confirmed case. An analysis published in April (using CDC outpatient data) by researchers at Cornell, Penn State, and Montana State estimated a 6-10x multiplier. "We think this is a sensible figure", it added.
With serology results (even on a lag) showing 5% to 20% specific resistance ? and population-level resistance likely far higher due to non-antibody resistance and cross-resistance ? the evidence is strong that for the US/Europe, the disease break point is firmly in the rearview mirror.
The research does not see a second wave in US. "We don't see a scientific basis for the idea of a broad-based spike or "second wave" as society re-opens. This is consistent with two months of evidence from countries that have exited lockdown. While new infections may continue at a low level and localized outbreaks may occur in certain
sub-populations, both the US and Europe are likely past their disease break points such that future COVID-19 infections will have great difficulty spreading (and be quickly contained) by the sheer force of population-level resistance," it added.
The research says that the lockdowns did not work. Once a disease is widespread (beyond the CDC's 1% threshold), however, the sole course of action is disease mitigation.
"Halting the outbreak is impossible ? it's like trying to catch the wind", it added. Some policy actions are sensible such as isolating the sick, promoting hygiene and respiratory etiquette, aggressively monitoring and protecting vulnerable sub-populations, and scaling testing to support early identification and treatment of infections.
"But for policies like contact tracing and lockdowns, the scientific literature is clear. They simply do not work. Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic is confirmatory", it added.
The goal should be to minimize severe cases by protecting the vulnerable and taking sensible precautions. Lockdowns do not do this.
By confining people together and maximizing initial viral loads, lockdowns actually may lead to worse health outcomes, the report argues.
The research makes the point that positive tests only matter if they lead to severe cases and deaths or cause healthcare systems to be overwhelmed. "For the 'second wave' states, we don't think either outcome is likely," it added.
"We find such a scenario unlikely. The number of C19 patients currently in US ICU's is 65% below peak. In May, fatality numbers reached 2,700 in a single day. As of this writing, the 7-day trailing average just fell to a new low of 566 ? a drop of 80% in barely more than one month. We empathize with every family who has lost a loved one, and recognize each of these numbers represents a person impacted by this terrible disease. But to us, the data is incredibly hopeful.
Severe cases and fatalities have plummeted ? and we think the trend is likely to continue", it added.
The report says that iIt's difficult to overstate the sheer panic that gripped the United States in March.
"We conservatively estimate this could require 48 million hospitalizations" in the US over the next 3-7 months, intoned University of Minnesota epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm on a widely-disseminated podcast with Joe Rogan. "This is a very serious situation," he added.
"We will overwhelm the American health care system", the report said.
According to the research , the worst of the lot was Neil Ferguson and his team at Imperial College in London. On March 16, Ferguson published a report estimating COVID-19 deaths reaching 510,000 in the UK and 2.2 million in the US. He also predicted peak ICU demand would be "over 30 times greater than the maximum supply in both countries."
The dire forecast led to cascading lockdowns first in the UK, and then across the US, as politicians panicked.
"They should have looked more closely at Ferguson's record of alarmist predictions. In 2009, Ferguson forecast tens of thousands of Brits would die from swine flu (H1N1). The actual number was 477. In 2005, Ferguson suggested 150-200 million people across the globe could die from bird flu (H5N1). The total figure was 282", it added.
In the US, policymakers (especially US Governors) justified lockdowns with a model produced by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington (the "IHME model"). This model proved equally flawed. The IHME model is trend-following and extrapolates past outcomes into the future. This led to dramatic overestimates as the worst outbreaks (Wuhan, Italy, Spain) were projected onto US states.
"A third prize goes to researchers at Columbia University who predicted 136,000 hospital beds would be required in New York City at peak demand in late-April. The actual maximum need was just over 18,000. Columbia University missed the mark by almost 700% in four weeks", the report added.
"With their models in tatters, these researchers have now turned to a new task: revisionist history. In recent weeks, (1) Columbia University published a study estimating 36,000 fewer people would have died in the US if lockdowns had been implemented a week earlier, (2) Imperial College published a study estimating 3.1 million deaths were averted due to lockdowns across 11 European countries, and (3)
researchers at the University of California-Berkeley published a study saying community NPI's prevented 500 million global C19 infections.
These "studies" are total nonsense. All three use modeled results (no actual data) based on the same models that showed zero predictive power during the pandemic", the research said.
"We also are positive on the much-discussed hydroxychloroquine ("HCQ") plus azithromycin ("ZPAK") and zinc combination therapy (the "combo therapy"). HCQ has unfortunately been politicized, but our view is optimistic. The known properties of HCQ and ZPAK provide a solid basis for a hypothesis of efficacy against C19", it added.
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