With any infectious disease, there are two main factors to consider: the average number of people an infected person will infect and lethality. Even with accurate data and reporting, these take time to figure out. But if a country (ahem, China) decides to just STOP collecting the data…well then…oh boy.

Until now, the Chinese have been <<ok-ish>> at collecting COVID data but horrible at reporting it. Throw in nearly a billion people who have been exposed, and China’s new COVID policy is to simply stop collecting the data. Brilliant.

Now, this could have devastating impacts not only on the Chinese but on the rest of the world. OR it could be nothing…I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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Hello from Sunny Calgary. I just wanted to take the opportunity today to a quick update on what’s going on with COVID in China. I think the biggest thing to underline is we really don’t know what’s going on. China has always been an information control space, but they have always been pretty good at collecting data, just not necessarily reporting it.

Yes, there have been problems with the data collection, but what they share with the world just doesn’t match what they see internally. And that’s one of the reasons why a lot of folks like me just don’t trust the data at all. But what they’ve done with this opening due to COVID, this is change the policy completely. Instead of collecting data and lying about it, they’re just not collecting it.

So, you know, supposedly only a few dozen people have died in total from COVID the last couple of years. They were reporting officially back in December that they had a few thousand new cases. But we know now that the new case tally is in excess of a couple of million a day. Some independent estimates say it’s in over 20 or 30 million.

We also don’t know much about the virus and this is where things get a little scary. COVID, it changes relatively rapidly. We’ve been seeing new variants every few months. But in China, now that we have over a billion people who have been exposed all at once, it’s a different sort of scenario. So you can certainly argue that very few countries in the world got it right when it comes to managing COVID. I mean, we’ve all kind of been making this up as we go along because the goalposts keep moving. And whether you believe in natural immunity or vaccinated immunity, most people who are willing to, you know, not be morons about it will admit that people on the other side have a point that is worth considering. This hasn’t been in play in China.

The Chinese vaccines have been proven over and over and over again by almost every country that has tried to use them to be broadly ineffective at preventing COVID. And so most countries that originally started using the Chinese formulas have switched to other formulas that come from different countries. India does their own. Obviously, the Western countries have their own, the Russians have their own. And, you know, some of these are better than others, but the Chinese are definitely at the bottom of the barrel. And so they’ve pretty much vanished from global use. The Chinese also aren’t going to have an mrna formula for at least a couple of years, or at least not one that’s probably ready for primetime. So that’s an issue for another day rather than the outbreaks that we’re seeing in China right now, which means what’s going on in China is something that’s very difficult to predict.

There are two factors when it comes to cover to really any pathogen. First of all, you need to know it’s R0 and that’s the number of people on average that each infected person will then contaminate. And then the second thing, of course, is lethality. What’s your chance of actually dying from this thing? Now, it takes time to figure that out because you first have to wait for the virus to mutate and then you have to wait for it to get into a general population.

And then you have to collect the data and then you have to wait to see if people are going to die. You collect that data, too. So on average, from the point that a new variant emerges to the point that we have a decent grip on how communicable and how lethal it is, it’s usually around six months. And that’s one of the reasons why policy across the world has been so schizophrenic.

Because policymakers are attempting to figure out what to do for health policy before they have the data. And if you wait until after you have the data, you know, you may have lost a few hundred thousand people already. And we’ve seen that time and time again around the world. Now, the Chinese are struggling with this at the moment, just like everybody else, just on a much grander scale, because so few people in the country have any sort of real resistance.

Until recently, no one’s had COVID. And then, of course, the vaccines are not all that great. But for the rest of us, China choosing to not share data, but China choosing to not even collect data means that we can have literally millions of deaths in China and the rest of the world doesn’t know what to get ready for.

We can’t even begin the process of understanding what the new variants that are circulating in China are going to mean for the rest of us. So we know there are at least seven different variants. We knew that back in December. We also knew that at least two of those variants didn’t exist 2 to 3 months previous. So the only data that has existed was back in December, before this all blew up, when the Chinese were still lying about everything.

Now they’re not even collecting the data, so we are not going to have a good idea of what we’re going to be struggling with until six months after this virus breaks out of the Chinese population and into the global commons. 

So it could be nothing. Maybe this is the most mild variant yet. Could be horrible. This could be the most lethal variant yet. We just don’t know. And we won’t know for months. Blehhh.

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