Who won the Covids?

It’s not a trick question. Of course the rich, the connected and big companies won but today let’s look at fatality rates around the world.

You might argue, why bother? What does it matter if a few of one country’s diabetic dementia patients got to live eighteen months longer than another country’s?

A good question, and one for which I have a good answer:

This time around the pandemic virus was fairly mild. Next time, and there will be a next time, it might be more like bird flu, SARS or Ebola.

As I said about a year ago, Covid is a good practice run to see what countermeasures can work against a respiratory or otherwise highly contagious virus.

Now that we’ve got more than a year’s worth of data, let see what jumps out at us.

I’m using Worldometer’s Covid tracker and setting the table of data to sort by Deaths /1M pop. Keep in mind that these figures are mostly pre-vaccine.

Winners

Islands. Many, many islands.

Greenland, Samoa, Fiji, Singapore, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia.

In amongst these island are some not-islands that can be sealed off like islands: South Korea (not much traffic across that land border), Eritrea, Bhutan.

There’s another group in the low-fatality set that are not island-like at all: most of the countries in Indochina. What happened there? Got lucky? Dodgy figures? Tight borders? I don’t know.

There is also a large number of sub-Saharan countries here. Could be unreliable reporting, very young populations or a lack of urbanization. I’m guessing.

Note that some islands did badly despite being islands: Japan and most of the Caribbean are in the middle of the pack, Malta had a high fatality rate and the UK was among the highest.

The lesson here looks pretty obvious. It is possible to keep out highly infectious diseases by closing borders if you can seal them properly.

I am not justifying Covid border closures. They were an overreaction and the cost was too great to liberty and the economy. What I am saying is that if a future, seriously nasty virus is doing the rounds, border closures are a plausible way of keeping it out for some countries.

But, for how long? At the time of writing Taiwan, Singapore and other places that initially suffered little from Covid are experiencing large outbreaks.

Sometimes a virus will turn out to be a flash-in-the-pan that disappears as soon as it appeared, like SARS. In that case, border closures might be enough on their own.

If the virus threatens to become endemic, border closures can only buy time. In that case, governments must ask themselves: buy time for what? To prepare hospitals and hoard medications? Gather further information? Develop a vaccine? If the last, can borders really be kept closed that long? And how will you get the population to accept their reopening?

These are things governments should consider before closing the border rather than a year after closing them as Australia did.

Losers

There are some clear but mysterious patterns among the nations with the highest Covid fatality rates.

First we see much of Eastern Europe: Hungary, Czechia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Croatia, Romania.

Then there’s Latin America: Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador etc.

Why?

There’s no pattern to their policies. Some enforced strict lockdowns and mask mandates, some didn’t. Chile and Mexico were polar opposites in that respect.

Any ideas?

Together with Eastern Europe and Latin America we find mixed in a collection of Western countries: Italy, UK, USA, Spain, France, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland.

Some of this is age-related. Asia has old countries too, but they were able to insulate themselves better.

Some of it probably relates to preexisting health and fitness. The worst-performing countries in the group tend to be the fattest. I wonder if that was a factor in Latin America, although the data I looked at suggests the women there are fatter than men while Covid attacks men more than women.

Once again, Western polices varied widely, from Sweden staying largely open to the UK arresting people for going out to buy wine and chips.

For the record, Scandinavian countries aside from Sweden came around the middle of the pack alongside much of the Middle East and the Caribbean. I have heard several theories as to why, including a bad 2019 flu season and closed borders, but I don’t know. Some of their internal restrictions were not much tighter than in Sweden.

Let us note, not for the first time on this blog, that all the supposed medical prowess of the West did little to help against Covid until the vaccines were developed, and the evidence is mounting that this is because effective, conventional treatments were suppressed for a combination of political and avaricious reasons.

It is sobering to realize that when the Big One hits, pharmaceutical companies will again be thinking first of profit and politicians will begin calculating how to make themselves look good and their rivals bad. How to manage the infection will be an afterthought, if Covid was any guide.

It’s probably nothing, but . . .

All regions that did badly have a lot of European DNA in their populations while those that did best have more Asian DNA.

Conclusion

If some sort of airborne super-Ebola starts spreading around the globe tomorrow, we still don’t know much about what policies might help.

Some countries could close their borders to limit the spread for a while but aside from that it’s hard to make sense from these varied outcomes.

More than a year ago I said, when the dust settles we need to examine Covid policies and see what worked. We now know that Covid isn’t very dangerous, with the average age of fatalities being around the same as the average life expectancy in most places, but questions remain.

We need serious research, not an amateur blog post, to figure out what these patterns teach us about the spread of viruses. This research needs to forego the political baggage that has dogged Covid at every step, peer through the fog and figure out why some countries got the worst of it.

In 2020-21, the poorly performing countries lost more elderly and very ill people than in other places. In some future pandemic, they might be losing millions of healthy people compared to tens of thousands in luckier places.

These differences might be due to random factors that we can’t control like the nature of the population or the geography of the country.

If, on the other hand, some policies for managing pandemics really are more effective than others, we should probably figure out what those effective policies are.

18 comments

  1. luisman · August 2

    Your analytical approach is, I’d say after the last 18 months, wishful thinking. 99% of the governments of all countries have shown that they can’t be trusted to uphold the safety or the freedom of their people. And it seems the majority of the ruled want to be ruled by an authoritarian state. If that is the result of the last 18 months, I’d say, OK, then let’s take out the clutter (like democracy, so called rights, etc.) and work to install authoritarian states which won’t fail and go under in a few decades. If we can’t have freedom (most people don’t seem to want it), let’s at least try to get as high a level of safety as we can muster. And maybe a few countries decide to maximise freedom, where stubborn idiots like us can go.
    As for the COVID bean counting, we will never know how many people died only because they were infected with this ‘novel’ virus. The rt-PCR test used was too unspecific and largely misapplied (too many cycles). It’s still unclear to me, if there’s ANY country in which a lot more people per year died in 2020 than on average in the last 5-10 years.
    Watching some sailing channels on TheirTube (falsely named YouTube), it seems that Fidji, Tonga and maybe some more remote island nations are 100% COVID-free. None of them completely closed their borders, as it’s actually impossible due to international trade. I guess they were just lucky until now. It’s probably a saner approach to life to get rid of our hubris, thinking we can absolutely control nature.
    Besides the possibility of getting wiped out as a species by ten thousands of atomic missiles, we have built another method: lab generated viruses. Good luck to us?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nikolai Vladivostok · August 2

      My next post is called The masses don’t want to be free.

      Liked by 1 person

    • overgrownhobbit · August 2

      I checked Tonga because i know how massive the men there get… And yes, according to this site (https://covid19.who.int/region/wpro/country/to) no deaths. Zippo. In 2021. 30% of the population rolled the dice with the anti-Covid therapy jabs, so that’s not it either.

      Note that Coronachan took out the ‘flu in 2020. Gone. Like magic.

      I submit that what you are looking at is pure GIGO. Loads of data, most of it baloney.

      There are only a handful of pure sources: The Diamond Princess and the U.S. Teddy Roosevelt.

      Like

      • Kentucky Gent · August 4

        I am thinking that (tropical) island life includes getting outside. A lot. At the homeless shelter where I volunteer, we found that eating outside and staying outside worked great at preventing COVID, but being indoors caused it to spread like crazy.

        Like

  2. Catxman · August 2

    The virus attacked population groups which are most dependent on government money. In that sense, Covid was a financially successful and admirable virus: it scythed population groups that were draining the treasury dry. And really, when are we going to acknowledge that life can be dangerous and pursuing safety at every other expense comes with a heavy cost?

    — Catxman

    http://www.catxman.wordpress.com

    Like

  3. steven6004 · August 2

    Eastern Europe has an ageing population, hence the high mortality. Some countries are way worse than Japan or Germany and with a higher median age (Bulgaria, Lithuania etc). Also – the poplulation is not willling to get vaccinated and distrusts authorities in general (with exceptions probably in Czech and Estonia, and to some extent Hungary).

    About Latin American mortality – my suggestion is unhealthy lifestyle. Most Latin Americans I’ve seen are small and fat, both men and women. I’m not sure if it’s genetic (most non-european locals look like the guys from the Willow movie) or sth else

    Like

  4. overgrownhobbit · August 2

    Also – the poplulation is not willling to get vaccinated

    The WHO claims Bulgaria is polio-free and en route to eliminating measles. So, it is unlikely that the people are not willing to get vaccinnated.

    They are probably unwilling to roll the dice on a novel anti-Covid therapy that claims to have vaccine-like properties, and for which no long-term safety data exists. Certainly not on the say-so of facists or commies (and who can blame them) when the odds of a young person getting seriously ill from the disease appear to approach zero.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Klaus · August 2

    Top post – thank you. My three conclusions about the pandemic in Germany are,

    – The State failed miserably in its first responsibility: protecting the citizen. WHAT would it have cost the Germans to have, I dunno, five million masks stored in, say, military bases, to immediately provide some sort of protection for the oldies, the medical staff, the emergency services? Peanuts. Facinating absurdity. When masks were few, the Chinese, of all people, sent freight jumbo after jumbo, to Frankfurt, with NOTHING else, but masks on board.

    – The State a-c-t-e-d like it knew what it was doing…but improvised wildly. Conclusion: think for yourself.

    – I don’t support everything Israel does but whatever you think of them, the ex-PM made POLITICALLY the (masterful) decision to be the first (or one of the first) to get jabbed, live, on TV. If I was Chancellor, I would have the same…with all the Cabinet. Anyone who declined? Immediate dismissal. The man displayed leadership.

    Like

  6. oldfossil · August 2

    This goes to show that viruses/virii are a helluva lot smarter than you think. They understand the concept of national borders.

    Like

  7. KJ · August 2

    “In some future pandemic, they might be losing millions of healthy people compared to tens of thousands in luckier places.”

    In a “real” pandemic – such as Spanish Flu and Bubonic Plague were – governments wouldn’t have to persuade/coerce their populations to take “vaccines” (or whatever they are), wear masks, limit social activity, and close the borders. The people would overwhelmingly support these measures and willingly comply. Nothing persuades and convinces like seeing the bodies piling up right before your eyes, seeing your friends and family and famous/noteworthy people drop dead in large numbers from the disease.

    The difference with “Covid” is that it wasn’t/isn’t a REAL pandemic, it’s a media-generated pandemic. And it continues because it serves so many purposes and agendas for the various authorities and elites around the world. It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of “viruses.”

    Like

    • Nikolai Vladivostok · August 2

      Instead of lockdowns, there would be mandates forcing essential workers to continue going to work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • KJ · August 2

        Correct. They’d have to force people to go to work.

        Like

    • dickycone · August 5

      I’m vague on this, but it’s my understanding there are a number of reasons that it’s unlikely a deadly super virus that kills hundreds of millions like the plagues of previous centuries will appear. Reasons include things like people in our century being aware that washing your hands is a good idea. If you think about it, Bubonic plague still exists. There are outbreaks among animals in the state where I live from time to time, but it rarely if ever kills anyone anymore.

      Like

  8. Anonymous · August 3

    And when the covidiocy seems to be losing its potency for scaring the peasants into compliance with health-slavery now comes the variants, the re-frightening.
    All of this has a smell of religious fear mongering.
    In the medieval they used gargoyles.
    Today we use virugoyles. (Sciencey!!)

    Like

  9. Kentucky Gent · August 4

    “The worst-performing countries in the group tend to be the fattest. I wonder if that was a factor in Latin America, although the data I looked at suggests the women there are fatter than men while Covid attacks men more than women.”

    Just because the women are fatter than the men doesn’t mean the men aren’t fat!

    “Any ideas?”

    Check alcohol consumption per capita. Also, diet. Could be a vitamin D correlation.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Aristonicus · August 4

    How many of the Sub-Saharan and Indochinese countries are in the Malaria belt? Could the widespread use of HCQ and similar have proven prophylactic?

    Like

  11. dickycone · August 5

    “It is sobering to realize that when the Big One hits, pharmaceutical companies will again be thinking first of profit and politicians will begin calculating how to make themselves look good and their rivals bad. How to manage the infection will be an afterthought, if Covid was any guide.”
    It’s so strange how lefties and Daily Show Democrats turned on a dime about Big Pharma when the TV told them they needed to get vaccinated to be good people. “Big Pharma is good and we should trust them. They’ve always been good, we have always trusted them.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kentucky Gent · August 6

      Well, Emmanuel Goldstein didn’t trust them. He must be doxxed.

      Like

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