The Ireland Event - COVID-19 Vaccination

For the past year, I’ve been consumed with how COVID numbers are used/manipulated to create political narratives. From China to WHO to don’t-test-don’t-tell to COVID Trutherism in all its forms … that’s been the windmill I’ve tilted at for almost 12 months now.

Last week I became consumed by a new twist on all this – COVID numbers that were being largely ignored. Insane infection numbers coming out of UK and Ireland, apparently driven by a new virus strain, that we acknowledged over here but didn’t seem to be too mussed about.

It reminded me of the COVID numbers coming out of Italy last February. Was Europe once again our crystal ball? Were we once again going to ignore THAT?

And when I say “insane infection numbers” I mean a 30x spike in COVID cases in Ireland over the span of two weeks in late December, where the R number – the basic reproductive rate of the disease – went from something around 1.2 to something around 3. Where you suddenly went from a few hundred new COVID cases every day to more than six thousand cases every day. All in a country the size of Alabama (which, btw, currently has about 4 thousand cases every day).

So I’ve been trying to figure out what happened in Ireland, and whether it could happen here.

To do that I had to research this new UK-variant of the virus. I had to research the way in which COVID is explosively spreading in Ireland, and whether that was similar or different to US. I had to research what it MEANS to have an R-number go from 1.2 to 3.  And finally I had to dig into why this ‘Ireland Event’ was not being discussed by US COVID missionaries (to use an Epsilon Theory term) like Scott Gottlieb or Tony Fauci.

I’ll start with the conclusion.

I believe there is a non-trivial chance that the United States will experience a rolling series of “Ireland events” over the next 30-45 days, where the COVID effective reproductive number (Re not R0) reaches a value between 2.4 and 3.0 in states and regions where a) the more infectious UK-variant (or similar) COVID strain has been introduced, and b) COVID fatigue has led to deterioration in social distancing behaviors.

A single Ireland event is a disaster. A series of Ireland events on the scale of the United States is catastrophic. If this were to occur, I’d expect to see a doubling of new COVID cases/day from current levels in the aggregate (today’s 7-day average is 240k/day), peaking somewhere around 500,000 new daily cases before draconian economic shutdowns (more severe than anything we’ve seen to date) would occur in every impacted major metro area. Hospital systems across the country would be placed under enormous additional strain, leading to meaningfully higher case fatality ratios (CFRs) as medical care was rationed. Most critically, this new infection rate would far outpace our current vaccine distribution capacity and policy. Assuming that vaccines are preferentially administered to the elderly, aggregate infection fatality ratios (IFRs) should decrease, but the overall burden of severe outcomes (death, long-term health consequences) would shift to younger demographics.

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Disclosure: This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal ...

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