On The Strange, Unexplained Characteristics of Covid-19

The doctors we have been speaking to, and who have been dealing with patients critically afflicted by what is being dubbed “Covid-19”, are telling us they are observing a very specific clinical condition; they are seeing a very peculiar pneumopathy, one with an evolution very different from what they are used to. They say that because of the high level of false positive and false negative rates on available PCR test results, they have learned to recognize the pneumopathy itself, based on clinical signs. They say that what they are seeing isn’t perfectly specific, but that they still have almost never seen it before.

Again, this only concerns critical patients, that is a very small minority of people considered “infected”. This is what they say: on the scanner they are seeing pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial pulmonary lesions. These critical patients end-up suffering from acute respiratory distress, requiring intubation. One astonishing aspect, apparently, is the dissociation between their relatively well preserved lung mechanics and the severity of hypoxemia; such a wide discrepancy is virtually never seen in most forms of acute respiratory distress syndrome (this last observation corresponds well to this doctor’s testimony, which has made the rounds on social media these past days (video archive 1, archive 2)).

In other words, although the crisis is (statistically speaking) largely exaggerated, even though the fear-mongering by the media is borderline criminal, and despite the fact the reaction by governments is indisputably disproportionate and tyrannical, there is something going on. Something very strange and peculiar, something doctors weren’t at all used in seeing, and something that is not known to be usually caused by coronaviruses.

But this is the key takeaway: critical cases of “Covid-19” are being diagnosed clinically, given their external symptomatic manifestations. It is currently assumed a novel coronavirus is causing this condition. This is a probabilistic assumption however, it has not being rigorously established. Given more than 50% of “infected” people are perfectly healthy, given that a majority of tests are false positives, and given the fact a very large amount of the population would presumably test positive should wide-scale testing be mandated, it is reasonable to ask whether something else is causing the critical respiratory syndrome some hospitals are observing the world over.

With that in mind, please consider the following strange, unexplained facts.

Covid-19 seems very discriminatory in the way it affects regions of the world. Some countries report as much as a thousand times less deaths per inhabitant than Western European countries, which are the most affected so far. Sure, this could be explained by the fact certain countries have less population density; or that they’re in the Southern hemisphere (i.e. it’s summer there right now); or that the epidemic hasn’t yet fully developed there; or that cases aren’t being counted properly. Yet, despite these caveats, there are still astonishing discrepancies.

For example, let’s compare Spain and Portugal. The two countries are neighbors, juxtaposed on the Iberian Peninsula. Spain has 92 people per square kilometer, Portugal 114.5; the latter is therefore slightly more densely populated. They enjoy a similar level of development. They share a border of 1,214 km, the longest uninterrupted border within the European Union. One study says Portugal was quicker to take measures to combat Covid-19, but actually both national governments declared the highest level of alert at the same time (12th March for Portugal, 13-14th March for Spain). Spain’s restriction on international travel is to this day much more restrictive than Portugal. And yet, as of this writing, Portugal has 11.57 deaths per million inhabitants, versus 145.6 deaths per million inhabitants in Spain. In other words, Spain has suffered, so far, more than 12.5 times more deaths than its neighbor Portugal when adjusted for population.

A similar phenomenon can be observed with other European countries; Italy and Spain are strange outliers; even when accounting for air pollution plus age in Italy, and whatever other freak explanation in Spain, the fact they lie by such a wide margin ahead (178 deaths per million inhabitants and 145 deaths per million inhabitants respectively) has no satisfactory explanation. The following group comprising Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg all have between 35 and 45 deaths per million inhabitants. Now consider Germany, with 6.52 deaths per million. Slovenia, 5.32. Albania 3.49. Romania 2.21. Serbia 1.86. Hungary 1.54. Czechia 1.51. Croatia 1.47. Bulgaria 1.14. Poland 0.58. How does one explain such a high discrepancy in death rates? All of these countries are extremely well connected. They are all part of, or candidate to, the EU. Italy has 51 more deaths per inhabitant than Albania, despite the fact there are 500’000 Albanians residing in Italy and that they there is intense exchange between the two countries. Croatia, Italy’s neighbor to the East, has 121 times less deaths than its neighbor when adjusting for population. Germany has 11.2 more deaths than Poland; that’s a full order of magnitude!

A similar phenomenon can be observed in Asia. Taiwan is being praised for its authoritarian measures, as it had only two Covid-related deaths. And yet, Taiwan has 50,000 undocumented workers from Southeast Asia, many of them serving as caregivers for the elderly and infirm. And what about Hong Kong? It has had only 4 deaths. They will say it’s because people wear masks, and in the next breath say such masks are only marginally useful. Something doesn’t add up. And even if they’re lying about their numbers, the fact is their hospitals aren’t overwhelmed.

Of course China is another example. Beijing is 1,150 km away from Wuhan; Shanghai, 840 km. Wuhan was locked down well after millions of people have had the opportunity to travel between cities. Why are these cities not reeling?

Some will say random distributions produce clusters and non-homogeneous distributions. That may be true at a fine level of granularity (e.g. some villages in a hardly-hit region may be spared). But to have such wide discrepancies, i.e. such non-uniformity, we are led to believe that the distribution is, on the contrary, not randomly distributed.

One may remember the “vaping illness” that winded down in the USA just as Covid-19 started affecting China. These two conditions have a lot of peculiar similarities.

  • The disease at the onset was very difficult to distinguish from influenza; the diagnosis was established by exclusion, if doctors didn’t find an infectious agent.
  • Initial cases included breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, cough, and/or chest pain.
  • Severe cases involved in the outbreak of severe lung illness involving acute respiratory failure with hypoxemia.
  • Many patients have required medical treatment with supplemental oxygen, with some requiring assisted ventilation.
  • Diagnoses included pneumonitis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
  • There were geographical clusters (e.g. seven healthy adults in Kings County, California, all requiring hospitalization).
  • The median age of deceased persons was 51 years and ranged from 15 to 75 years.
  • The disease affects two-thirds of males.
  • As of January 21, 2020, a total of 2,711 hospitalized cases of lung illness associated with the use of vaping products have been reported to the CDC, with 60 deaths (2.2%).

Here is an idea: the rare but real respiratory distress that some doctors, in some places, have been seeing, is not caused by a virus. As to what is causing it exactly, the jury is still out. We will be exploring hypotheses in future posts, so stay tuned.