Friday, May 29, 2020

Are Lockdowns Absolutely Necessary to Contain the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Many countries have imposed strict lockdowns to control the spread of coronavirus.  Marko Kolanovic of JP Morgan claims that numbers had declined because the virus "likely has its own dynamics" that are "unrelated to and often inconsistent lockdown measures".  He cites as evidence a number of places whose infection rates, or "R" values, have continued to fall despite restrictions being lifted.

Coronavirus Transmission Rates Before & After Lockdown. Source: JP Morgan

Are these absolutely necessary? What are its costs and benefits in terms of lives and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries like Pakistan with young populations?  Over 40% of all coronavirus deaths in Europe and America have occurred among the elderly living in nursing homes. Pakistanis age 60+ account for 19% of cases but 58% of deaths. Like US and Europe, older people are much more likely to die from coronavirus in Pakistan.  But average life expectancy in Pakistan is just 67 years and the median age in the country is only 22 years. The explanations offered for low death rates in South Asia include younger populations, more sunshinehigher temperature and humidity, universal BCG vaccinations etc. Yale researchers have argued in a recently published paper to consider universal mask adoption and increased hygiene measures as an alternative to complete lockdown.

Coronavirus Infections and Death Demographics. Source: Pakistan Health Ministry

Are there other tools such as compulsory face masks which can preserve both lives and livelihoods? In a recently published paper tiled "The Benefits and Costs of Social Distancing in Rich and PoorCountries", Yale researchers support universal mask adoption and increased hygiene measures as a alternatives to social distancing and complete lockdown.

What will be the impact of coronavirus lockdown on global economy?  European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borell has said "Analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century. This is now happening in front of our eyes," he said. "If the 21st century turns out to be an Asian century, as the 20th was an American one, the pandemic may well be remembered as the turning point of this process."

Does it impinge on civil liberties of the people? Could such lockdowns cause various physical and mental illnesses leading to deaths and high rates of suicides?

Despardes with Faraz Darvesh host discusses these questions with Ali Hasan Cemendtaur, Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Vast Majority of Pakistanis Support Imran Khan's Handling of Covid19 Crisis

Pakistani-American Woman Featured in Netflix Documentary "Pandemic"

Can Pakistan Respond Effectively to Coronavirus Pandemic?

Can Pakistan Effectively Respond to Coronavirus Outbreak? 

How Grim is Pakistan's Social Sector Progress?

Pakistan Fares Marginally Better Than India On Disease Burdens

Can Imran Khan Lead Pakistan to the Next Level?

Democracy vs Dictatorship in Pakistan

Pakistan Child Health Indicators

Pakistan's Balance of Payments Crisis

Panama Leaks in Pakistan

Conspiracy Theories About Pakistan Elections"

PTI Triumphs Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Parties

Strikingly Similar Narratives of Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


samir sardana said...

Y is the USA.EU and UK not bothered,about the COVID deaths in their part of the world ?

Could it be that they want it ? Who are the dead ? The dead are the pensioners, and the persons,who are fatally sick.dindooohindoo

The gainer in every combo,is the West – which makes one wonder,how the COVID magically mutated in its new avatar.

Posit No.1

Assuming that these dead persons in the West,had a residual life of 15 years, and we can assume that,by August,2020,there will be around 600000 dead in the West.

The pension to a pensioner,would not be less than 12,000 USD per annum, on an average,at the minimum.In addition, the medical and other social costs,on an aged pensioner,would be not less than another 8,000 USD per annum.

If they die,then on 6,00,000 people,if the West saves 20,000 USD per annum, you net USD 12 Billion,PER ANNUM – which will be around 200-300 billion for 15 years

One could argue that the US Fed just printed,the USD 12 Billion – but now it need not.The Youth in the west,had to work at high rates of tax and deductions – to finance the aged pension and health care benefits – which ultimately,led to outsourcing.

The scam would be shocking,if the dead,had no insurance ! That would be telling ! If 6,00,000 are dead,with insurance and an average insurance claim,of USD 1,00,000 – then you have a bomb – to wipe out the insurers.

If 10 million die – we are looking at net savings of USD 200 billion per annum and USD 3 Trillion over 15 years.This will also solve the health insurance problems in the US/EU,as the high claim insurers,will cease to exist – and thus lower the insurance costs,for the young,and the cost of labour in manufacturing.

if the aggregate savings on pensions and medical costs are USD 100,000 per annum,then on 10 million dead,we have a saving of ISD 1 trillion per annum,as a perpetual annuity (which is the minimum target – I suspect) – as the strategem ,is to kill people,with co-morbidities – and these are the people,who are a burden on the medical and pension infrastructure.

So the private LIFE insurers,take a 1 time HIT,in terms of claims paid out – and the state,gets a recurring benefit,in terms of pensions and health care costs – of which,some of the gains of the state,are passed back to the insurers,to offset the claim losses (and keep insurance rates low),and some of the gains to the state, are passed back to the residual young population,to reduce the rates of medical and life insurance.

Posit No.2

Large number of services and industries,in the west,will die out.That will release labour and reprice resources and rents – to drastically lower costs – and that will make,”Make in USA”,viable

How will the state finance the loss of tax revenue and GDP.Ultimately,the state will have to demonetise the deposits, in banks, of the westerners.Simple ! The USA will not be able to demonetise the PRC holdings of US T-bills – not even if the PRC sinks a US aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.

Posit No.3

All the nations who borrowed loans from PRC – will now force the PRC to do debt write offs.That will be a huge loss to the PRC,after the manufacturing shift from PRC to West.Post COVID,If 200 million people are unemployed in PRC – then you have Tiananmen – Part 2 – and then a PRC attack,on the Indian weasels, and US satellite states,like Taiwan.and new stooges like Vietnam.

Of Course,the PRC could also force the IMF,and the WB,to waive loans – but the harm to the PRC,will be done 1st.

samir sardana said...

Posit No.4

Trump postpones the US Polls,as people cannot stand in queues,and no electioneering,is possible – and he has the cure – and by September,the pensioners are dead – death rate and infections rates drops ….. who is the gainer ? If Trump is winning – Putin will stay calm – else,he might attack Eastern EU.If Trump is winning – then it will be the last chance for PRC to annex Taiwan and Vietnam – and make Trump lose face. But the odds of PRC action is medium.

Posit No.5

With massive unemployment in the West – the migrants will exit.Asians were made to clean toilets – that is their worth.They will exit.That will solve the migrants problem,rents and property rates will fall,labour will reprice,and the Westerners,will have to,start to work

The West has to take a BIG PICTURE view.South East Asia and Indian and Nepal ,are over populated,and there is no humanity there.There is no sentience,in the “so called humans”.They are robots – and 80% of them,have to die.Their time is over – they are obsolete, a dead weight,and a burden on earth.This will de-price the resources sector,lower demand,and solve the environment problem,forever.

Africans have been exploited,for at least ,2000 years – and they deserve,many more chances.

There are 3 simple steps

Are the “so-called humans” – having a “sentience” – to be assessed based on their “individual and collective actions”
If not,then they are “robots”
It is time to “terminate the robots”

It is the moral and ethical solution.They are redundant and obsolete,and there is no purpose served,by their existence.Nations in Asia,will not be able to feed or employ these worms,and that will cause strife.hate,violence, genocide,jingoism and the rise of right wing =,demagogic demonic dictators – and then, catacylysmic wars – which will ultimately,harm the West.Anywhich way,the robots will be purged – Virus is better than nukes – for the bots,and the environment.

The COVID antibodies,will ultimately reside in 7 billion people,and those,are the receptors,of the next,”terminal bio-weapon” wnich will hook on those humans, and then based on a mix of the DNA,Genes,latitudes and morbidities – terimate the robots.

It is all evolution.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan: COVID-19 – Situation Report (As of 31st May 2020)


• The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has risen to 69,496 as of 31th May. Increase of 3,039 new cases and 88 deaths in the last 24 hours. Pakistan records highest number of positive cases and deaths in last 24 hours.

• Death rate in reference to the total confirmed positive cases is 2.1%.

• The most affected province due to COVID-19 pandemic is Sindh 27,360, followed by Punjab 25,056.

• The Government of Pakistan declared wearing of masks mandatory at crowded places, markets and in public transport.

• The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has lifted a ban on prayers and congregations in nonMuslim places of worships.

• Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences Islamabad (PIMS) was provided additional ventilator beds to recover from the depleting resources following the emerging spike in covid-19 cases in Islamabad.

• Pakistan Railway will be operating 40 trains, out of 142, across Pakistan till complete control of covid-19 pandemic • Sindh Government has allowed private hospitals to established isolation wards to treat covid-19 patients, under the SOPs outlined by the Sindh healthcare commission.

• Recovery rate till 31st May 2020 is 36.4%.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan sees alarming decrease in #COVID19 deaths doubling time, indicating increased transmission rates of #coronavirus in the #SouthAsian country. Time to act to slow infections rate.

Riaz Haq said...

Noam Chomsky: #India’s #Lockdown Is #Genocidal . ‘People in the informal economy, which is a huge number of people, are just cast out. Go walk back to your village, which may be a thousand miles away. Die on the roadside’. #Modi #COVID19 – EMPIRE DIARIES

A master orator on his heyday, his voice is now so weak and scratchy that one has to strain to follow what he’s saying. Yet, the ol’ man’s brain still runs like a well-oiled machine. His arguments still slice through ours like a knife on butter.

Noam Chomsky, arguably the most celebrated thinker, philosopher and political dissenter of our times, recently aired his candid opinion on the goings-on in India and various other simmering issues during an hour-long video conversation with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! Slamming the Indian administration for mishandling the coronavirus lockdown, he went as far as calling it “genocidal”.

On that revealing show, Goodman asked Chomsky about his thoughts on what is required in an international response to stop the rise of authoritarianism in response to the #COVID19 pandemic.

Chomsky replied, “The current #lockdown is almost… you can almost describe it as genocidal. (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi gave, I think, a four-hour warning before a total lockdown. That’s (affected) over a #billion people. Some of them have nowhere to go.”

Here are some excerpts from that programme in which Chomsky addresses issues in India:


‘People in the informal economy, which is a huge number of people, are just cast out. Go walk back to your village, which may be a thousand miles away. Die on the roadside. This is a huge #catastrophe in the making, right on top of the strong efforts to impose the ultra-right #Hindutva doctrines that are at the core of Modi’s thinking and background.’


‘Since you (Goodman) mentioned India, Modi, who is a Hindu nationalist extremist, is systematically moving to destroy Indian secular #democracy and to crush the Muslim population. What’s happening in #Kashmir is horrifying. It was bad enough before, now it’s getting much worse. Same with the Muslim population; a huge population in #India.


‘India and in fact South Asia generally, is going to become unlivable pretty soon, if current #climate policies persist. Last summer, the temperature in Rajasthan went up to 50 degrees Celsius. And it’s increasing. There are millions of people in India who don’t have access to water. It’s going to get much worse, which could lead to a nuclear war between the two powers that basically rely on the same water resources, which are declining under #globalwarming: Pakistan and India. I mean, the horror story that’s developing is, again, indescribable. You can’t find words for it. And some people are cheering about it, like (US President) Donald Trump and his friend (Brazil President) Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil… a couple of other sociopaths.’

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistani #Harvard doctoral student Talha Irfan commits suicide in the #US after he failed to overcome depression caused by prolonged isolation at his apartment after #lockdown imposed in the country to control spread of novel #coronavirus. #COVID19,Irfan%20and%20Dr%20Irfan%20Waheed

A PhD student of Pakistan origin died in the US after he failed to overcome depression caused by prolonged isolation at his apartment after lockdown imposed in the country to control spread of novel coronavirus, local media reported.

Talha Irfan Khawan, 23, was student of renowned Harvard University where he had gotten admission after accomplishing his Masters degree in Astrophysics from Chicago University.

The deceased student was the only son of head of endocrinology department in Services Hospital, Lahore Dr Khadija Irfan and Dr Irfan Waheed.

Talha was under stress due to lockdown situation, local media said citing family sources. The aggrieved family is in contact with consulate for repatriation of his body.

The coronavirus cases have surged to 1,993,328 in the US amid efforts to develop vaccine to fight off the virus. The death toll has reached 112,142.

Riaz Haq said...

#WorldBank #Economic Forecast 2020 For #SouthAsia #GDP Growth: #India -3.2%, #Pakistan -2.6%, #Bangladesh +1.6% , World -5.2%


India's economy to contract by 3.2% in fiscal year 2020/21: World Bank

India's economy will shrink by 3.2 per cent in the current fiscal, the World Bank said on Monday as it joined a chorus of international agencies that are forecasting a contraction in growth rate due to the coronavirus lockdown halting economic activity.

The Washington-based multilateral lender said that the COVID-19 pandemic and the multi-phased lockdown imposed to curb its spread has resulted in a devastating blow to the Indian economy.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are both projected to experience contractions in 2020. The mitigation measures imposed in these countries are expected to weigh heavily on private consumption, contributing to output contractions of -2.6 per cent and -5.5 per cent respectively, it said, adding that key labor-intensive export sectors like textiles are expected to contract sharply and subsequently recover slowly.

Riaz Haq said...

BMA forecasts #Pakistan #cement sector revival, backed by initiation of #ImranKhan's Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme and #construction package. Sees return to prosperity with 5% growth in FY21 (last 6 months) and 7-8% growth after that as #lockdown ends.

Pakistan's cement industry is likely to prosper in the coming months, due to some positive developments at the local and international level, anticipated by three of Pakistan's leading research houses.

BMA Capital Management forecasts that the cement sector is showing signs of revival, backed by initiation of the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme and construction package announced by the government. Moreover, the easing of lockdowns has raised hopes for improved cement dispatches in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Al Habib Capital Markets states that cement dispatches are estimated to increase modestly due to the gradual easing of lockdowns and the possible announcement of relief measures in the Budget FY21, aimed at increasing construction-related activities.

In addition, Intermarket Securities adds that, despite a slow demand outlook, cement sector profitability is likely to resurge in FY21/22. This would be due to key supporting factors, such as lower international oil and coal prices (energy cost savings) and a steep decline in interest rates by the Central Bank of Pakistan.

It estimated that cement demand and prices will rebound strongly from the 2HFY21 onwards, when the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be more manageable. Thus, the government will likely have more fiscal space to push construction activity – especially the low-cost housing scheme.

Intermarket Securities has upgraded the estimates for the cement industry, in light of the steep declines in international coal and oil prices, and the abrupt and significant cuts in interest rates in Pakistan. Lower coal prices (down 26 per cent YoY in the 4QFY20) is a boon, as coal remains the most significant input cost, along with a shift to furnace oil for power. Secondly, the decrease in interest rate by 525bps will drastically reduce finance costs and boost the bottom-line.

The analytical company, however, remains conservative on its demand growth outlook until the end-1HFY20. It foresees a five per cent YoY growth in FY21 (last six months) and 7-8 per cent YoY growth in the ensuing years. Whereas, during FY19/20 the sector saw intense price competition, where even the major players pushed sales at low prices. It believed that the government could have better fiscal space to push infrastructure from the 2HFY20 onwards. Thus, cement prices will start recovering more strongly.

It anticipated that retail prices will rise to PKR610/bag (US$3.75) in the north and PKR700/bag in the south by the end of FY21, from PKR480/bag and PKR620/bag, respectively, in March 2020.

Having said that, the risks of lower cement prices and depressed demand had not been wholly allayed. Weakness can emanate from the lack of an increase in government spending from FY20 levels (flattish budget allocation or PSDP), a delay in the start of low-cost housing schemes or a concurrent slowdown in exports. Prolonged lockdown conditions could also lead to severe liquidity issues for some producers.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Budget Speech 2020-21


Incentivizing Development REIT Scheme

To incentivize development and construction of residential building through REIT scheme, profit realized from sale of immoveable property is exempted from tax if sold with object of development and construction of residential buildings till 30th June 2020. It is proposed to be extended until 30th


We have also provided historic construction sector incentives for economic revival and creation of jobs by introducing a concessionary taxation regime as under;
a) Fixed Tax Regime

b) No WHT on builders and developers (except steel & cement purchases)

c) Source of income shall not be asked

d) Capital Gains tax on one family house exempted

e) 90% tax waived for affordable housing

f) Status of an industry given


Ehsas - Budget allocation for this flagship program has been increased from Rs 187 billion to Rs 208 billion, which includes various social safety initiatives including BISP, Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal and other departments. These allocations will be used as per the approved policy of the Government in transparent manner.

Subsidies - An amount of Rs 179 billion has been allocated to provide various subsidies in energy, food and other sectors. The Government has decided to re-orient and redirect subsidies to target the vulnerable segments only.

b) Higher Education- Higher education has been adequately funded and allocation for HEC has been increased from Rs 59 billion during 2019-20 to Rs 64 billion.

c) Housing Sector- The Government has promised to provide low cost housing units to the masses. In this regard, an amount of Rs 30 billion has been provided to Naya Pakistan Housing Authority for realization of this dream. Moreover, an amount of Rs 1.5 billion has been allocated for low cost housing through scheme of Qarz-e-Hasna of Akhuwat Foundation.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Budget Speech 2020-21


We have funded projects for improvement of education system through development of uniform curriculum, standard examination system, establishment of smart school and mainstreaming of madaris. An amount of Rs 5 billion has been allocated for these reforms. Moreover, higher education is one of the priority sector of the government to meet the challenges of 21st century quality education in the fields of research and other advanced areas like artificial technology, robotics and automation, space technology. An amount of Rs 30 billion has been allocated to achieve excellence in education.
Science & Information Technology

To train the manpower in the emerging technologies, knowledge economy initiatives etc it is imperative to enhance the capabilities of researchers and research institutes. Moreover, focus is on e-governance, IT enabled services and start ups and launching of 5G cellular services. For projects in these fields, allocation of Rs 20 billion has been made. Under Public Private Partnership, projects in the field of chemicals, electronics and Precision Agriculture will be implemented and the linkage between R&D and industry will be strengthened.
Climate Change

With the evolving global perspective on Climate Change, Pakistan is also adapting itself. Climate Change is responsible for the many shifting trends in Pakistan including off- season rains, shift in crop yields and heavy flooding. This year, the government is allocating Rs. 6 billion to Climate Change initiatives.
Special Areas

In addition to the allocations under current budget, the government has allocated development funds of Rs 40 billion for projects in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Moreover, an amount of Rs 48 billion is allocated for projects in merged district of KPK.
Sustainable Development Goals Programs

To achieve Sustainable Development Goals, an amount of Rs 24 billion has been allocated in the development budget.
Food & Agriculture

For food security and agriculture, an amount of Rs 12 billion has been allocated.
Other Development Programmes

In addition to the allocations under PSDP, special funds amounting to Rs 20 billion have been allocated for management of TDPs in merged districts of KPK. Whereas for rehabilitation of Afghanistan, an amount of Rs 2 billion has been allocated.

Mr. Speaker,

Now I present Part II of the speech, which consists of tax proposals.

Today Pakistan's tax-to-GDP ratio stands at 11% which is the lowest among emerging countries. Regrettably this key indicator of fiscal strength has remained stagnant over the past 20 years. To improve this situation, we initiated a reform process, comprising of holistic strategy combining policy and administrative reforms to eliminate the distortions and boost quality revenue collection. The efforts have so far produced encouraging results with a promising future. Following key achievements have been made during the year:

The historical trend of Pakistan's import-led growth has been replaced with high domestic-led growth.

Unprecedented refunds have been issued which are 119% higher than last year

The narrow tax base has been expanded by bringing retailers into the tax net, and successful installation of Point of Sales (POS) system at 6,616 retail outlets with the aim to increase the number to 15,000 by December this year. Covid-19 has affected the business of common man, it is proposed to decrease sales tax rate from 14% to 12% for business registered with POS. This will give relief to common man and to business also. The measure will help in documentation of economy.

Hotel and restaurant industry has been badly affected due to Covid-19. It is proposed that minimum tax for the industry may be reduced from 1.5% to 0.5% for six months (April to September 2020)

A tax return mobile app has been launched to facilitate individuals and salaried persons, which led to an increase of 37% in the number of income tax return filers.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #Budget 20/21: Gross revenue receipts estimated at Rs 6.5 trillion of which provincial share is Rs 2.9 trillion. Public Sector #Development budget is Rs 1.3 billion, of which Rs 676 billion is allocated to provinces. #Defense gets Rs 1.3 trillion

The budget 2020-21 has the following salient features:

–Total outlay of budget 2020-21 is Rs 7,294.9 billion. This size is 11 percent lower than the size of budget estimates 2019-20.

–The resource availability during 2020-21 has been estimated at Rs 6,314.9 billion against Rs 4,917.2 billion in the budget estimates of 2019-20.

–The net revenue receipts for 2020-21 have been estimated at Rs 3,699.5 billion indicating an increase of 6.7 percent over the budget estimates of 2019-20.

–The provincial share in federal taxes is estimated at Rs 2,873.7 billion during

2020-21, which is 11.7 percent lower than the budget estimates for 2019-20.

–The net capital receipts for 2020-21 have been estimated at Rs 1,463.2 billion against the budget estimates of Rs 831.7 billion in 2019-20 reflecting an increase of 75.93 percent.

–The external receipts in 2020-21 are estimated at Rs 2,222.9 billion. This shows a decrease of 26.7 percent over the budget estimates for 2019-20.

–The overall expenditure during 2020-21 has been estimated at Rs 7,294.9 billion, out of which the current expenditure is Rs 6,345 billion.

–The development expenditure outside PSDP has been estimated at Rs 70 billion in the budget 2020-21.

–The size of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for 2020-21 is Rs 1,324 billion. Out of this, Rs 676 billion has been allocated to provinces.
–Federal PSDP has been estimated at Rs 650 billion, out of which Rs 418.7 billion for Federal Ministries/Divisions, Rs 100.4 billion for Corporations, Rs 3 billion for Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA), Rs 7 billion for COVID responsive and other natural calamities programme.

Riaz Haq said...

My Twitter response to retired Indian Col Pavan Nair

"Do note the allocation for defence and the combat power generated. Compare with Indian defence spending @ 4x and generation of 2x the power. Whither efficacy of spending the defence rupee"

RH: #India focuses more on expensive platforms than on #sensors & #weapons. Examples: Rafale and big ships. #Pakistan's inexpensive #JF17 with its AESA radar & PL-15 air-to-air missile can take on very expensive #Rafale & Pak anti-ship missile can sink a ship

Riaz Haq said...

2.229m people to die in Pakistan if lockdown not imposed?

The Imperial College London's algorithm creates the picture that Pakistan will reach the peak on August 10, 2020 on which day around 80,000 deaths will occur.

The research is sponsored by the UK government which shows the projected deaths from coronavirus in case of lockdown or otherwise in different countries, except the US and the UK. The website says about Pakistan that if it imposes 32 percent lockdown from February 27 to July 11, i.e. for 135 days, then August 04 will be the peak day with 13,570,000 people will be affected. The worst day for Pakistan concerning corona deaths is expected at August 10 and deaths are projected to reach 78,515 after which deaths will start witnessing decrease.

The website says January 2021 will witness end to corona in Pakistan and on January 26, 2021, total death toll in Pakistan from corona would be 2,132,617. It said if the lockdown was not imposed then 2,229,000 deaths will occur in Pakistan by January 26, 2021. If complete lockdown was imposed in Pakistan immediately, then death toll may be restricted to about 10,200 by end period.

In India, total deaths by Jan 25, 2021, would be 14,244,379 without intervention, while with intervention it would be 13,649,520

In Afghanistan, total deaths by Feb 19, 2021 would be 313,531 without intervention. While with intervention the figure would be 305,350.

In Brazil, total deaths by Jan 24, 2021 without intervention would be 2,926,348 and with intervention to be 1,519,453. The figures given by the Imperial College are just a simulation, and not a predication.

Riaz Haq said...

Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson Who Advocates #coronavirus #Lockdown Quits Advisor Role. He had predicted that 250,000 coronavirus deaths #UK (actual 41,000) and 1 million deaths in #US (actual 117,000). He's now predicting 2.3 million deaths in #Pakistan.

On March 16, (Imperial College epidemiologist Neil) Ferguson and colleagues published a paper suggesting that even with some social distancing measures, the U.K. could see 250,000 coronavirus deaths and that the U.S. might have about 1 million deaths. In a worst-case scenario, Ferguson predicted those figures could more than double in both countries.


Imperial College epidemiologist Neil Ferguson developed models that predicted hundreds of thousands would die unless the U.K. imposed drastic restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. His advice was key in triggering Britain's lockdown in March. Under the rules, people are barred from visiting friends and family that they don't live with.

Ferguson quit the government's scientific advisory panel late Tuesday after the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that a woman he is in a relationship with had crossed London to visit him at his home.

Ferguson said in a statement that he had "made an error of judgment and took the wrong course of action."

"I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing to control this devastating epidemic," he said.

Riaz Haq said...

#Texas A&M Study: Face #Masks Critical In Preventing Spread Of #COVID19. Researchers estimate that the measure prevented more than 66,000 infections in New York City #NYC in less than a month. #coronavirus

A study by a team of researchers led by a Texas A&M University professor has found that not wearing a face mask dramatically increases a person’s chances of being infected by the COVID-19 virus.

Renyi Zhang, Texas A&M Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and the Harold J. Haynes Chair in the College of Geosciences, and colleagues from the University of Texas, the University of California-San Diego and the California Institute of Technology have had their work published in the current issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

The team examined the chances of COVID-19 infection and how the virus is easily passed from person to person. Comparing trends and mitigation procedures in China, Italy and New York City, the researchers found that using a face mask reduced the number of infections by more than 78,000 in Italy from April 6-May 9 and by over 66,000 in New York City from April 17-May 9.

“Our results clearly show that airborne transmission via respiratory aerosols represents the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19,” Zhang said. “By analyzing the pandemic trends without face-covering using the statistical method and by projecting the trend, we calculated that over 66,000 infections were prevented by using a face mask in little over a month in New York City. We conclude that wearing a face mask in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent inter-human transmission.

“This inexpensive practice, in conjunction with social distancing and other procedures, is the most likely opportunity to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. Our work also highlights that sound science is essential in decision-making for the current and future public health pandemics.”

One of the paper’s co-authors, Mario Molina, is a professor at the University of California-San Diego and a co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his role in understanding the threat to the Earth’s ozone layer of man-made halocarbon gases.

“Our study establishes very clearly that using a face mask is not only useful to prevent infected coughing droplets from reaching uninfected persons, but is also crucial for these uninfected persons to avoid breathing the minute atmospheric particles (aerosols) that infected people emit when talking and that can remain in the atmosphere tens of minutes and can travel tens of feet,” Molina said.

Zhang said that many people in China have worn face masks for years, mainly because of the bad air quality of the country.

“So people there are sort of used to this,” he said. “Mandated face-covering helped China in containing the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Zhang said the results should send a clear message to people worldwide – wearing a face mask is essential in fighting the virus.

“Our work suggests that the failure in containing the propagation of COVID-19 pandemic worldwide is largely attributed to the unrecognized importance of airborne virus transmission,” he said. “Social-distancing and washing our hands must continue, but that’s not sufficient enough protection. Wearing a face mask as well as practicing good hand hygiene and social distancing will greatly reduce the chances of anyone contracting the COVID-19 virus.”

The study was funded by the Robert A. Welch Foundation.