Monday, March 9, 2020

It Won't Last. It Can't.


Two posts today - this is the serious one.

The shocking news that EVERYONE entering Israel has to be quarantined for two weeks is leaving many people wondering what will be with Pesach. My guess: This requirement will not last long.

There are several reasons for this. First of all, it's too catastrophic for the economy to sustain for long. Second: Once corona starts popping up more widely among people in Israel - as will inevitably happen - there will no longer be a point to quarantine.

At some stage, corona will just be something that society accepts, because it's too costly to try to halt it - like cars. Cars cause a tremendous number of fatalities and accidents, but society is unwilling to live without them. Corona will just be accepted as a slightly more severe version of the flu - which kills hundreds of thousands of people annually - and life will go back to normal. Hopefully this will be before there is too much damage to the economy.


  1. A Charedi rabbi claimed that he was currently speaking with the messiah (mesheach in Hebrew). This same rabbi claims that G-d has much anger for the Jews. Maimonides understands that G-d does not get angry because G-d does not have human emotions. This point aside, the haredi rabbi claims that G-d is punishing non-Jews, specifically the Chinses (unfortunately, and I hope this is just rumor, some claim that Asian genes allow them to catch coronavirus more so than other races). In any event, this rabbi is essentially saying that G-d is punishing the non-Jews for the sins of Israel. This is an injustice and anti-biblical because G-d always punished Israel, or the sinner for that matter, when they sinned. The son does not pay the sins of the father. Furthermore, the rabbi claimed that G-d loves Israel and the Jews so much so, that He will personally intervene to prevent coronavirus from spreading to Israel.

    As you can tell, this rabbi is full of it. RNS's recent essay explains that eventually, like it or not, coronavirus will spread to Israel, as it has been infecting other nations. As of this writing, there are about 550 cases and 22 deaths in the US. Although people susceptible to fatality rates resides mostly among the elderly and ill (the virus seemingly does not affect childen,) the bacteria is known to permanently damage the lungs. Currently, Israel and Russia are developing vaccines taken from a relative of the coronavirus family. Nevertheless, the bacteria spreads. The Iranian president now has coronavirus. Even a well-respected US senator is being self-quarantined for testing. In Iran, Imams are encouraging muslims to kiss shrines that are infected with coronavirus (superstition); making natural selection work overtime. At least our Iranian threat will no longer be an issue. Jokes aside, I think that everyone coming to Israel should be quarantined for MORE than two weeks. Studies have shown that two weeks are simply not enough. Look at Italy. In fact, China has announced that any escape attempt is liable to death. This is serious.

    All and all, I agree with Mark Zuckerberg that we should treat this epidemic AS IF it were the black plague. Elon Musk, however, seems to disagree. In any event, let's hope and pray that this virus does not become the "new" common flu.

    1. One small correction to what you said above. Corona virus is a virus and not a bacteria. They are two separate things. Against a virus, you would receive a vaccine, but the treatment for a bacterial infection involves antibiotics. However, if someone is hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, he/she may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.

    2. Not to be too pedantic, and apologies being so, but please do not interchange "bacteria" and "virus." Aside from being technically incorrect, I first wondered if you were referring to something else (as if you were saying that since a bacterial infection of the lungs can be permanently scarring by analogy we should be careful of corona virus, or maybe for someone who has corona virus a bacterial superinfection is permanently scarring or something). Yes that was mental gymnastics that turned out to be unnecessary, but, as I said, I was confused...

    3. Thank you for pointing them out. I appreciate your corrections.

    4. Neither Mark Zuckerberg nor Elon Musk are qualified to speak about this issue or give directions.

      I'll stick with experts in this actual field like Dr. Scott Gottlieb and his recommendations. Dr. Tony Fauci. Etc.

      As for the charedi rabbi, he's even less qualified than Zuckerberg to give advice. Anyone who claims to be personally talking to the messiah is a nutjob. Are you sure this rabbi isn't a Xtian? They think their messiah is God.

    5. @student V

      Interestingly enough, the Charedi rabbi is supposedly one of the top rabbis in Israel. It is my understanding that he is not a Christian. In any event, I agree with you that he is nuts. I also agree that we should listen to scientists in matters of coronavirus.

  2. I think you're missing one thing, why they are doing it: currently, the health system in Israel is stretched extremely thin, and there are reports every winter that there aren't enough beds. By even delaying it by a month, as the number of influenza infections drops, the hospitals will be able to handle more COVID-19 cases as there will be less strain from other seasonal illnesses.

    You're right it won't last, but because the goal isn't to stop infections, but to give the healthcare system time to be able to deal with it.

  3. Wouldn't it be easier to quarantine those the disease might endanger and let everyone else go on with their lives?

  4. At this point Covid-19 seems to an order of magnitude more deadly than the flu and we have NO idea how bad it will get. There are now now multiple mutated strains and a vaccine may be a year away.

    Bill Gates, a REAL rationalist has a much better response than
    stating this is "slightly more severe than the flu". Without being alarmist, he says it could be a "once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about" and "I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise"

  5. Healthcare resources and supplies need to be built up to deal with an "accepted in society" Covid19 without overwhelming the system and having huge mortality rates. The mortality rate in Italy has been 8% because the system is overwhelmed. Italy has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. But the nature of this virus is such that it directly infects the lungs and the severe cases are needing ICU, respirators, etc.

    "Patient surveillance" and travel restrictions like Israel is doing right now is keeping the disease in check. It's buying time (invaluable!) to properly prepare and build up the system to be able to deal with this virus on a larger scale if God forbid it expands before therapeutics and/or vaccines are developed against it.
    You show in your diagram exactly what the purpose of these measures are.

    But another thing that needs to be pointed out is that the curve on the left side results in dramatically higher mortality rates. When the system is not overwhelmed (right side curve), the severe cases can be given the proper care, and fewer of them will die. Dramatically fewer.

    They need to expand hospitals and the ICU system to prepare for this. They need massive stockpiles of PPE, not only for healthcare workers but for citizens too.
    They need to discourage large crowds from gathering.

    The world was woefully unprepared for a pandemic, and it didn't have to be. Now hopefully in responding to this one, we'll be better prepared for the next one.


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