Mrs S and I were having a rattle today about this Covid19, having a look at the stats and scare stories circulating around the current borderline pandemic-in-all-but-name. We were sort of okay as far as provisions are concerned, although I might have had to get a bit creative on the culinary front to use up all the odd stuff in the larder. So I thought maybe a large bag of standby rice and an extra bag of flour. After all, I can bake a passable bread, there’s enough sugar and frozen fruit for cakes if need be, although by the end of two weeks Mrs S and I will probably be ready to bite someone’s head off. Possibly each others. However, one should be prepared. Which is what we went and got this afternoon.
With regard to pandemic shopping, there’s no need to go overboard or fight over the toilet rolls as some have done. Why toilet rolls? How many times do these people use the goddamn toilet in a day? One jumbo pack lasts us the best part of three months. I know women use it far more than men but even with three women in our UK home we rarely used more than a roll every two to three days. ‘North’ tells us that the shops had sold out of tampons in the part of London she lives in. We have had little by way of report from Brisbane where ‘South’ my other stepdaughter, is visiting, although I believe she’s currently staying with Brother and Sister in law. At least she won’t go thirsty. Brother in law, like any good Australian, always keeps plenty of beer in the cooler.
Up here in the not so frozen north, Canadians, especially rural Canadians, tend to do things like quarterly, that’s right, not weekly or monthly, but quarterly main shopping trips. So much so that one local grocery chain has regular ‘caselot’ sales where you can go and buy 12, 24 or even 48 cans in a case of basics like baked beans. I’ve picked up the habit of bulk buying certain commodities when there’s a deal on. Like cheap shower gel. I have accumulated enough Dove for Men to last six months, so have stopped buying it.
For our part we have laid in a little extra of everything, from tea and coffee to oats, rice and flour. Not a massive amount, but enough to keep the wolf from the door for well over two weeks. Let me enlarge; here on the Island we have the ever present threat of the ‘big one’, where a 9.0 plus earthquake, some would say an overdue tremor, threatens to smash the entire west coat of North America. So we’re used to keeping a few extra cans in, just in case.
I also thought it would be a useful exercise to run the numbers at the epicentre of the outbreak to get a more accurate picture of how nasty this disease is. In Hubei province, mainland China, the population is around 60 million people, give or take a few million either way.
Out of that population of 60 million, a total of (Monday 2pm PST) 67,743 cases of Covid19 infection have been confirmed. Out of that a total of 3,008 have died from infections caused by the Covid19 virus and the infection rate is beginning to top out, due in no small part to the Chinese authorities hitting everything with massive deluges of disinfectant. Also out of those 67,000 plus cases, a total of 45,235 are listed as recovered. So according to official figures there are a total of a shade under 20,000 people in Hubei still suffering from this very nasty and virulent lurgi. Which means a total of 3.39% of the infected population of 67,707 have involuntarily been shuffled off this mortal coil.
So that’s a shade under 3,390 deaths per 100,000 head of infected population. That’s high, but when you use that per capita death rate on the whole human population, that 3.9% culls around 261,030,000 people out of a grand total of around 7.7 billion. Which is slightly over five times the normal death rate of 57,000,000 per year. On the face of things, that’s a whole lot of dead bodies to dispose of. Time to buy shares in funeral directors methinks.
But no. That’s just a flat rate of 4.4% applied to the world population. Whoops, my arithmetical bad. The most important figure is the total infected, 67,743 out of 60,000,000. A total death count of 3,008 doesn’t look quite so scary now. Because 1% of 60,000,000 is 600,000. Right. So even rounding the deaths to 3,000 means that the total rate is one two hundredth of one percent. One death per twenty thousand population. A total projected Covid19 death count of around 385,000 out of a global population of 7.7 Billion.
But hang on a minute, before everyone goes completely overboard, let’s draw back further and look at these numbers with a more sceptical eye. A quick look at the real figures show a much lower death rate in the more developed areas of the world. Native westerners, generally speaking, have far less physical social contact with non family members. We kiss less than other cultures, we are more socially isolated, which means a lower transmission rate per head of population. We are less communal than our ancestors. Apart it seems from the Northern Italians, who are really catching it in the neck at present with the whole country in lockdown. We get told by certain hysterical commentators that millions may die and while the total may well eventually top one million globally in a worst case scenario, I will lay my money on a global death count from this threat in six, rather than seven figures, if that. However, if the global death count does not go over five figures, the tens of thousands, I think we will have gotten off very lightly indeed.
However, I will stand by my previous advice. Wash your hands and no snogging strangers. You really do not know where they’ve been. Avoid enclosed spaces where you can. If you can walk instead of taking a bus or train, do so. Vitamin D too and sunlight where available. Keep your locale as clean as you can because it’s not just you.
One thing we did notice in our local supermarket while we were stocking up was that folk were doing a lot of involuntary social distancing. People were giving each other wider than usual berths as we stepped past each other along the aisles of produce. There was also a socially subdued air to the whole place. But no shortages. A few special offers were sold out, but that’s nothing new.
For ourselves we are self-isolating as much as possible. Reducing the window of opportunity for any virus transmission. Hunkering down seems to be the preferred strategy for the moment. May I recommend my one remaining reader does the same for the next four to six weeks. Just to be on the safe side.
Covid19 might feel like the end of the world, but if we are suitably careful, it won’t be. Not by a long shot.