Diamond Princess Mysteries

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

OK, here are my questions. We had a perfect petri-dish coronavirus disease (COVID-19) experiment with the cruise ship “Diamond Princess”. That’s the cruise ship that ended up in quarantine for a number of weeks after a number of people tested positive for the coronavirus. I got to wondering what the outcome of the experiment was.

So I dug around and found an analysis of the situation, with the catchy title of Estimating the infection and case fatality ratio for COVID-19 using age-adjusted data from the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship (PDF), so I could see what the outcomes were.

As you might imagine, before they knew it was a problem, the epidemic raged on the ship, with infected crew members cooking and cleaning for the guests, people all eating together, close living quarters, lots of social interaction, and a generally older population. Seems like a perfect situation for an overwhelming majority of the passengers to become infected.

And despite that, some 83% (82.7% – 83.9%) of the passengers never got the disease at all … why?

Let me start by looking at the age distribution of the Diamond Princess, along with the equivalent age distribution for the entire US.

Figure 1. Number of passengers by age group on the Diamond Princess (solid) and expected number of passengers given current US population percentages (hatched).

When as a young man I lived in a port town with cruise ships calling, we used to describe the passengers as “newlyweds and nearlydeads”. Hmmm … through some improbable series of misunderstandings and coincidences, I’m in the orange zone now … but I digress …

In any case, Figure 1 shows the preponderance of … mmm … I’ll call them “folks of a certain distinguished age” on the Diamond Princess. Folks you’d expect to be hit by diseases.

Next, here’s the breakdown of how many people didn’t get the virus, by age group:

Figure 2. Percentage of unaffected passengers on the Diamond Princess. “Whiskers” on the plot show the uncertainty of each percentage.

In addition to the low rate of disease incidence (83% didn’t get it), the curious part of Figure 2 for me is that there’s not a whole lot of difference between young and old passengers in terms of how many didn’t get coronavirus. For example, sixty to sixty-nine-year-old passengers stayed healthier than teenagers. And three-quarters of the oldest group, those over eighty, didn’t get the virus. Go figure. Buncha virus resistant old geezers, I guess …

Next, slightly less than half the passengers (48.6% ± 2.0%) who got the disease showed NO symptoms. If this disease is so dangerous, how come half the people who got it showed no symptoms at all? Here’s the breakdown by age:

Figure 3. Percentage of Diamond Princess passengers who had coronavirus but were symptom-free. There was only one illness among the youngest group, and they were symptom-free. As in Figure 2, the “whiskers” on each bar of the graph show the uncertainty.

Again, a curious distribution. Young and old were more likely to be symptom-free, while people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s were more likely to show symptoms. Who knew?

There were a total of 7 deaths among those on board. All of them were in people over seventy. So even though the generally young were more likely to show symptoms if they had it, it hits old people the hardest.

Finally, according to the study, the age-adjusted infection fatality rate was 1.2% (0.38%–2.7%). Note the wide uncertainty range, due to the small number of deaths. 

For me, this is all good news. 83% of the people on the ship didn’t get it, despite perfect conditions for transmission. If you get it, you have about a 50/50 chance of showing no symptoms at all. And the fatality rate is lower than the earlier estimates of 2% or above.

It is particularly valuable to know that about half the cases are asymptomatic. It lets us adjust a mortality rate calculated from observations, since half of the cases are symptom-free and likely unobserved. It also gives a better idea of how many cases there are in a given population.

To close out, I took a look at the current state of play of total coronavirus deaths in a few selected countries. Figure 4 shows that result.

Figure 4. Deaths from coronavirus in four countries. Note that the scale is logarithmic, so an exponential growth rate plots as a straight line. Blue scale on right shows the deaths as a percentage of the total population.

At this point at least, it doesn’t appear that we are following the Italian trajectory. However … it’s still early days.

Finally, a plea for proportion. US coronavirus deaths are currently at 67, we’ll likely see ten times that number, 670 or so, might be a thousand or three … meanwhile, 3,100 people die in US traffic accidents … and that’s not 3,100 once in a decade, or 3,100 per year.

That’s 3,100 dead from auto accidents EACH AND EVERY MONTH … proportion …

My best to all on a day with both sun and rain here, what’s not to like?


As Always: When you comment please quote the exact words you are referring to, so we can all understand who and what you are discussing.

Terminology: Yes, I know that the virus is now called 2019-nCoV, that it stands for 2019 novel CoronaVirus, and that the disease is called Covid-19, and that it stands for COronaVIrus Disease 2019 … so sue me. I write to be understood.

Data: For those interested in getting the data off the web using the computer language R, see the method I used here.

Other Data: A big hat tip to Stephen Mosher for alerting me to this site, where you can model epidemics to your heart’s content … Mosh splits his working time between Seoul and Beijing, he’s in the heart of the epidemic seeing it up close and personal, and he knows more about it than most.

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March 16, 2020 6:10 pm

Are you absolutely sure that 3,300 figure for auto deaths is per day and not per month?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 16, 2020 6:37 pm

Willis, the statistical analysis begs a numbers of questions, which likely skew the data.

Foremost of these is the propensity of young people to socialize and engage in promiscuous sex with strangers.

The opposite is likely true for older folks.

Cruise lengths are typically brief, and passangers self-isolated as soon as they became aware of the problem.

Finally, the crew (likely mostly Filipinos) are younger and live in much closer quarters than the passangers. This elevates the risk of communal exposure, as the crew has to interact with each other and the passangers.

Jim G
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 16, 2020 7:10 pm

Having lived aboard ships and submarines, I too can attest that it would be a breeding ground for such a virus. Especially if it has a fairly long incubation period.

RE: Old people being chaste…
To quote Queen Amidala of Star Wars; “You assume too much.”

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 16, 2020 7:12 pm

re: “Even with younger crewmembers, the age skew is still way old.”

Yes … some age skew. I will also submit that these were (are?) “active” oldsters with (what I will call) nominally functional and (probably) ‘clear’ lungs, as opposed to those with longer bed-ridden histories and bascilly inactive, living in a full-care rest home scenario (as in Washington State.)

This brings up the ‘health’ (or biological age or physiological) age thing versus simple chronological age.

Be nice to know the health histories of all involved.

Charles Higley
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 16, 2020 7:22 pm

I traveled on cruise ships for 15 years a young person and the interactions of all levels of people were immense. The below-decks crew, engine room and such, interacted greatly with the other crew in their time off and the service crew had tonnage of interactions with the passengers all day long and even at night. Entertainment went way into the night, so interactions were constant. Cooking was constant also, as there was early breakfast on deck, two sittings of breakfast, lunch on deck with time to go to the two sittings of lunch, afternoon tea with more food, dinner with two sittings, and a late dinner about 11 PM. One could eat and interact with food all day long. How a virus did not get everywhere is indeed a question.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 16, 2020 7:30 pm

“Patient Zero boarded the ship on 20th January. They were kept together for one full month. They didn’t know the virus was aboard until the first of February.”

Really, Mr. Eschenbach, don’t you think it is misleading to say they were kept together for one full month, when they were under quaratine for half of that month?

“[2]. Upon returning to Yokohama, Japan, on February 3rd, the ship was held in quarantine, during which testing was performed in order to measure COVID-19 infections among the 3,711 passengers and crew members onboard.
Passengers were initially to be held in quarantine for 14 days. However, those that had intense exposure to the confirmed case-patient, such as sharing a cabin, were held in quarantine beyond the initial 14-day window [3]. By 20th February, there were 634 confirmed cases onboard (17%), with 328 of these asymptomatic (asymptomatic cases were either self-assessed or tested.”

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 16, 2020 7:43 pm

Willis, the correction is appreciated.

The ratio of passengers to crew is approximately 1:0.7.

With this in mind, the total age group likely skews toward the younger side.

My only point is, it is difficult to establish any statistical inferences with so many unknowns.

In fact, your flawless statistical analysis my paint a false picture of COVID-19 disease spread and death rates.

In a perfect world, a demographically congruent group of people would all interact equally with each other in a confined space.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 16, 2020 8:58 pm

Having never been on a cruise, is their separation between socioeconomic classes? That would be and interesting dynamic to know/track.

John Finn
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 4:17 am


Diamond Princess data is definitely worth analysing. It would be interesting to know how many of the 83% who didn’t contract the virus actually had it but recovered before testing was carried out. Probably not many because the time (Jan 20th to Feb 1st) is too short The UK CMO claims PHE (Public Health England) has a test almost ready for use. I assume it checks for antibodies in the blood. I think the CMO has a theory that there a lot of asymptomatic cases.

Smoking Frog
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 5:57 am

“And as a side issue, ‘begging the o’ doesn’t mean that. It means ass uming the answer. You mean ‘brings up a number of questions’.”

Bravo! Unfortunately, at least some dictionaries are now including RobR’s meaning. A professor friend of mine many years ago gave up trying to get his students not to use it with that meaning. Instead, he tells them to use “logically begs the question” for the original meaning.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 6:39 am

Thanks for clearing that up: “passengers” means all on board. So the 1,400 aged from 20-49 were almost all crew and subject to greatest exposure risk. Their low likelihood of contracting, and high survival rate are good news for that cohort.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 7:09 am

@ Ironargonaut:

Having never been on a cruise, is their separation between socioeconomic classes?

“YES” there is separation, …… the “affordability” of their sleeping quarters. 😊

Coronavirus – the “prevention” will surely prove to be far worse than the “contagion”.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 8:03 am

There may be 3,300 auto accident deaths per month on average but the numbers are not spread evenly throughout the year. These two weeks at the end of March are among the worst two weeks of the entire year for accidental deaths, especially among 16-24 year olds. This is due to spring break, and is the reason why I’ve been predicting that Corona Virus will likely actually decrease the death rate in the USA over the next two weeks.

Unfortunately, the death rate will probably be much higher in the long run, but also not from this novel cold virus, but from the crashing of the global economy and all the hardship that comes with it. We’re close to completing the successful amputation of our heads to “save” us from this cold.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 9:39 am

I’ve been tracking Chris Martenson at peakprosperity. (I think you’d enjoy; he’s a numbers guy too) His point is the death rate rises dramatically when the health care system gets overwhelmed and this may be what’s happened in Italy. He called the situation the Disaster Princess; seemingly the passengers still had full access to functioning health care.

Ian W
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 18, 2020 3:15 am

@Willis and Finn
The current test which is a PCR to find the virus is the wrong test. All it finds are the currently infected. A test that measures antibodies in the blood to the virus which we know are present as some medical authorities are using plasma from infected patients on new patients with some success in reducing the symptoms if not curing them.
I would think that a test for antibodies done on a statistically significant sample of people in each world region would show that almost everyone has had the infection already.

It is really important that this test is done as it might stop the panic if people knew that almost everyone had already had the disease so no point in world economy killing lock downs. The avoidance is worse for everyone than the disease for a small minority

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 18, 2020 3:42 am

@ Robert W Turner

We’re close to completing the successful amputation of our heads to “save” us from this cold.

Right on, …… and this ‘headline’ this morning is proof of the above …..

Around 6 out of 7 with coronavirus may be undetected, study finds

Now that’s quite a “magic trick”, ……….. counting the undetected cases.

Coronavirus – the “prevention” will surely prove to be far worse than the “contagion”.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 18, 2020 6:46 pm

“… way old” Willis?
I’m wishing you’d stayed in grammar mode.

John Macgowan
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 21, 2020 6:39 pm


Please read my post below or the comment I just left on your blog, where I managed to misspell my last name.

John Macgowan

Kurt Schulzke
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 23, 2020 4:52 pm

Will, the Diamond Princess is being analyzed by lots of researchers as an experiment. Like every experiment, it has limitations. But it’s the best we’ve got for the moment. Carry on!

Reply to  RobR
March 17, 2020 2:36 am

“Foremost of these is the propensity of young people to socialize and engage in promiscuous sex with strangers.
The opposite is likely true for older folks.”

Speak for yourself, at the age of 78 I am as promiscuous as I was at sixteen – given the opportunity.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  The_Maluka
March 17, 2020 2:32 pm

Applause 🙂

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  The_Maluka
March 24, 2020 8:21 am

“Speak for yourself, at the age of 78 I am as promiscuous as I was at sixteen – given the opportunity.”

That really doesn’t tell us anything. If you weren’t promiscuous at all at 16…

Reply to  RobR
March 17, 2020 6:23 am

If the stories coming out of “The Villages” and other retirement communities in FL are even remotely true (including the rates of venereal disease), the propensity/frequency of sexual relations of seniors easily exceeds that of younger age groups.

Bro. Steve
Reply to  Nik
March 18, 2020 8:54 am

You beat me to it. As a former Florida resident near the Villages, I was familiar with published reports that it was the leading place in Florida for STDs. There is no evidence that morality improves with age.

Mark Jordon
Reply to  Nik
March 18, 2020 2:49 pm

When you are in your 70’s or 80′ s and have lost your partner or are divorced what do you have to lose

Reply to  RobR
March 17, 2020 7:29 am

A factor in Italy was the availability of ventilators in intensive care. Old people’s ventilators were removed to be used on others. No choice.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  DMacKenzie
March 17, 2020 10:36 am

There’s always a choice. The value judgements used and the consequences of the choice do vary, but that does not change the fact that a choice was made. People just like to say “there was no choice” to evade responsibility for the really difficult decisions that we are sometimes forced to make.

jim hogg
Reply to  DMacKenzie
March 17, 2020 3:31 pm

Paul, I think he meant that they were having to choose and that making the choice was unavoidable in the circs . . .

Reply to  RobR
March 18, 2020 4:02 am

That theoretical self isolation you mention is balanced by the fact that just about nowhere in a cruise ship is truly isolated.

John Anderson
Reply to  RobR
March 18, 2020 8:32 am

> Foremost of these is the propensity of young people to socialize and engage in promiscuous sex with strangers.
> The opposite is likely true for older folks.

Talk to anyone who has worked in an “old folks home” / assisted living facility, and you will quickly be disabused of this notion.

Mark Jordon
Reply to  RobR
March 18, 2020 2:43 pm

You might be surprised about promiscuity among the older folks
One of the communities with the highest STD rate in Florida is a retirement town no one under 50 allowed to live there

Reply to  RobR
March 18, 2020 11:29 pm

According to the article I read, it was the cooking crew that was the origin of the virus, so it kind of guaranteed exposure to all on board. Everyone has to eat. It’s just amazing that more didn’t get sick. This cruise was indeed a “perfect petri=dish”. We never would have gotten such accurate stats anywhere else.

Reply to  RobR
March 19, 2020 2:07 pm

Can I just add that in Florida, it is a well known fact that cases of STDs in retirement communities are a big problem.
“ STD transmission among the elderly is unfortunately a common and growing problem. For example, between 2007 and 2011, chlamydia infections among Americans 65 and over increased by 31 percent, and syphilis by 52 percent.”

Bill P.
Reply to  RobR
March 19, 2020 3:14 pm

One point:

“The propensity of young people to…engage in promiscuous sex with strangers” is likely overblown. In fact, if anything, the rising generation is quite disinterested in sex, for a number of reasons, including the widespread availably of pornography, the #MeToo attitude that allows women to say “no” with alacrity. (And yes, the “porn” thing is stunningly true; in fact, the number of young men who’d prefer view porn and masturbate to having an actual meaningful relationship, much less a casual one that still represents a lot of effort, would blow your mind – no pun intended).

Reply to  RobR
March 19, 2020 8:34 pm

Hi Willis, I found this article when researching how to do statistical analysis that I have barely used since university.

There was a metric to show the how unlikely a particular sample was to differentiate against the actual population. IE for the Diamond Princess sample to differ from the reported population is 1 in 5000. Does this mean something to you and can you calculatte it? I fear China initially needed high morbidity to quell the HK uprising, and its looking like Italy is counting anyone who dies with Corona Virus in online dashboards. If you look at Germany’s figures, the mortality rate is somewhere near the common flu.
Many thanks, and keep up the great work,

Chad Jessup
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 16, 2020 9:15 pm

Still, your point is well taken – be more aware of the drivers on the road who are afflicted with the Coorsvirus, BudLitevirus, whiskeyvirus, etc. than with those carrying the Coronavirus.

Reply to  Chad Jessup
March 17, 2020 3:21 am

Thanks to the social isolation and the closing of bars and restaurants, Corona virus might turn out to be beneficial to overall health.

Reply to  RLu
March 17, 2020 6:17 am

@RLu – Tell that to the people who opened stores, restaurants and bars in the last six months. And their employees. These “restrictions” (my county in Silicon Valley, California just asked everyone to “shelter in place” for the next three weeks) may be good for “health”, but entrepreneurs and poor people in the service industries? Well, we all have to make sacrifices, right? Well, I mean, they do. So what if you’re increasing the homeless population… safety, right? /sarc I’m fine, maybe you are too, but there are a lot of people taking this on the chin right now.

Reply to  RLu
March 18, 2020 2:31 pm

I have not heard an estimate of possible improvement in the rate of new influenza cases after all the changes being made in our lives and economy.

The flu and covid-19 spread by the same mechanisms. Social isolation should decrease transmission of the influenza virus. It would be funny, as in ironic, if the majority of lives saved by the current hysteria turn out to be due to decreased flu deaths.

Maybe a society-wide lesson for the future.

Reply to  RLu
March 19, 2020 7:12 pm

Either way, Death has its needs. We have to allow some way out. Currently death is seen as a newsworthy event, at any age and any condition.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 16, 2020 11:20 pm

And keep in mind that for every person killed in an auto accident, many more are injured, a great many of them gravely injured.
As someone who survived a fatal auto wreck as a young man, in which my best friend was killed and the issue was hardly certain for me over a period of several weeks, including two heroic operating room bring back from the dead moments…I can tell you, being really messed up and surviving by force of will, medical heroics by people who have devoted their lives to helping others, some luck, and just being a little stronger than the guy next to you who died ( I had just quit a job as a bicycle messenger in which I rode a heavy bike hard and fast from sunup to past sundown every single day, rain or shine, foot of snow or dry road, for well over a year. That helps when you are crushed nearly to death) is listed in the stats as “lived”, when the truth is far from that simple.
Many will spend their lives dealing with the consequences of something that did not kill them, but might have, and very definitely changed the way they will be able to live their lives, which in many cases are severely degraded and drastically shortened.
The same is true for people who get viral pneumonia but manage to survive it. For some it is a lousy two weeks, for others, a grueling challenge that tests their ability to endure right to the very limit, and for many such illness leaves them never the same, and takes years away from them.

Wendy K Laubach
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 17, 2020 6:35 am

It will be interesting, if social-distancing goes on long enough, to see whether there are statistical blips of the sort we’re said to have seen as a result of the dietary restrictions during WWII. Fewer traffic accidents, especially drunken ones, for instance? I’ve read that Japan knocked a big hole in its ordinary seasonal colds and flu, evidently by ramping up hand-washing etc.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Wendy K Laubach
March 17, 2020 8:05 am

Ever seen the stats on traffic accidents during blizzards?
They list every accident as being caused by the storm, but do not mention that during the four days it was snowing, traffic accidents were about 1/100th of what normally occur over a ten state area when the whether is good and roads are clogged.

Chuck Dryden
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 21, 2020 4:26 pm


The paper by Neil Ferguson, et al, “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions …”


seems to be the basis for the policies of avoidance currently crashing economies world wide. This paper is based on certain assumptions of the rates of transmission and case fatality rates for COVID-19 illness.

The Oxford University Center for Evidence-Based Medicine has published its own estimates of transmission and case fatality rates for COVID-19 illness.


These estimates are much lower than those assumed by Ferguson, et al, and more in line with, or lower than, your estimates based on Diamond Princess data. Do you see anyone out there working to validate the work of Ferguson and his collaborators? If this work can’t be validated, it would be a very dubious justification for widespread radical changes to our society and economy.

Reply to  dak
March 17, 2020 9:21 am

I’m 74. I never get the flu and no flu shots either. I almost never get a cold, and when I (every 2 or 3 years) do, it will last a few days and be gone.

This winter, I had a very strange ‘cold’. No runny nose or fever, just a very persistent wet cough that lasted 10 days, couldn’t shake it.

Could it have been first round of Corona? If it was would I have some immunity now? More interestingly with respect to this post, what if cruise ship had high population like me? What if your numbers are reflecting a second hit from corona? Maybe there was a mild first round variant.

Reply to  Paul BAHLIN
March 17, 2020 10:42 am

I suspect you had Covid-19. I wouldn’t call it first round, as it appears there is a very wide range in how people respond to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Given the atrocious state of testing in the US, a lot more people may have had Covid-19 than are counted and if we run out of potential victims, the epidemic may end suddenly and sooner than people expect. Not tomorrow though!

Yeah, you likely have good immunity, though I hear that coronavirus immunity fades quicker than most.

Reply to  Ric Werme
March 18, 2020 4:01 am

The theories about early rounds of the virus are highly unlikely, in that we havent seen the associated cases of pneumonia that occur at anywhere near the frequency seen in the known outbreaks.
Italy is running a 3-6% mortality rate in Lombardy. That kind of thing would noticed.

Reply to  Mike
March 18, 2020 4:04 am

Why do you presume Lombardy in Italy to be typical?

Days of Broken Arrows
Reply to  Paul BAHLIN
March 17, 2020 12:47 pm

Good to see your comment, Paul BAHLIN. I had almost the exact same thing. I also never get sick. I’m in my early fifties. My cough lasted over a month, I ran a fever, and I had dizziness and virtually every other C-19 symptom listed. I was so short of breath that going up the stairs made me wheeze. This was insane because I regularly do rigorous treadmill running (and weight lifting) and have built up a lot of endurance. I started slamming Robitussin thinking it was a cold, but it didn’t go away so I assumed “flu.”

I figured I’d picked it up because I was around my nieces and nephews for the holidays. But now that I think about it, this never happened in past years.

Whatever this was, I’ve never coughed so much in my life. I would wake up from coughing and go back to sleep, then wake up again. Now that I have some hindsight, I remember I had the flu in 2003, but the symptoms were different (they included digestive issues).

For what it’s worth, I’m in the DC metro area.

Reply to  Days of Broken Arrows
March 20, 2020 2:21 am

I had a very strange illness late Nov early Dec.
I went thru stages ,sore throat ,fever ,muscle aches, headache, lasted about three weeks but never enough to be more than an annoyance.

See - owe to Rich
Reply to  Paul BAHLIN
March 17, 2020 4:08 pm

I had what sounds like exactly the same thing, but with deafness in one ear, in the first 2-3 weeks of January. But it seems to early to have been COVID-19.


Jim Dean
Reply to  Paul BAHLIN
March 17, 2020 7:58 pm

Very very unlikely. The symptoms don’t match. More likely to be one of a million other possible viruses.

Reply to  Paul BAHLIN
March 24, 2020 6:48 pm

There have been a few reports among my acquaintances of a strange cold or flu in January (New Zealand so in summer). I had a 2-day cold also in January, which is unusual for me. I can’t remember the symptoms but was not concerned, as it resolved quickly with increased Vit C and colloidal silver.

Reply to  dak
March 18, 2020 5:48 am

Unless I misunderstood your question, he states in article

“That’s 3,100 dead from auto accidents EACH AND EVERY MONTH … proportion “.

So yea, he’s saying per month, not per day.

Have a great day 😊

Jon-Anders Grannes
Reply to  dak
March 18, 2020 12:23 pm

The Devel here is that more than 50% of those between 50-90 and all other can have the virus whithout symptoms?

Reply to  Jon-Anders Grannes
March 20, 2020 12:37 pm

The follow-on question would be: “Do those ~50% who test positive, though symptom-free, pose a risk as contagious carriers?”

And a second follow-up: “What exactly does the test identify with a positive or negative finding?”

As half who test positive are symptom-free, i.e. their immune and inflammatory system is not elevated due to the virus, something is resisting infection–what?

Reply to  dak
March 19, 2020 9:12 pm

it is 35,000 per year as an average

Charles Ellison
Reply to  dak
March 23, 2020 2:03 pm

The 3100 must be world wide

March 16, 2020 6:12 pm

The Willis data genius at his best.
Thank you.

Charles Higley
Reply to  chaamjamal
March 16, 2020 7:13 pm

My big question is, if we are panicking over 1000–3000 deaths from a virus that is essentially a flu that attacks the immunologically compromised and elderly with complications, why do we not panic over the 30000–60000 Americans who die from the common flu every year? It makes not sense. There is a hypocritical factor here. Where is the perspective?

Reply to  Charles Higley
March 16, 2020 7:36 pm

There is a CDC projection of 200,000 to 1,700,000 U.S. deaths. Willis’s analysis seems correct, however. Of course we cannot say now what the final toll will be, but I think someone is going to have some explaining to do. I imagine they’ll take credit for actions that drastically saved lives.

Reply to  Scissor
March 16, 2020 9:36 pm

Drastic measures where taken on the ship also, to project that number into a population assuming no drastic measures taken would be just plain wrong. Patient zero on ship for 11 days. Assuming he presented w/symptoms after 5 days and then began spreading disease, that would leave six days for him to spread and one day for everyone he infected assuming they also started spreading at exactly 5 days which is short since incubation is 2-14 days many probably were not contagious until after quarantined. Lets get some perspective, 10 restaurants on ship plus room service. How many people really came within six feet of him? How many ate in the same restaurant on the same day he did? All this data does is show to me that quarantines work if as contagious as made out to be.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  ironargonaut
March 16, 2020 11:46 pm

Wow, great link Willis.
This story answers a lot of questions, but in fact I already knew what was happening on that ship was very far from what any professional would call a “quarantine”>
Also striking is the tone deafness and apparent butt covering of authorities who were more concerned with blame and appearances than with addressing the questions raised by Iwata.
Consider his describing what he saw as a lax attitude and a complete failure to follow best practices. And then the response from authorities:
“Japan’s health authorities hit back at Iwata’s statement, telling The Asahi Shimbun on Wednesday that it was a misconception that the ship was not in the hands of qualified professionals…”

But Iwata never said the people were “unqualified”, or that they were not “professionals”.
He described a failure to follow best practices, to take the illness seriously, to observe well understood principles of infection control, etc.

What this shows is that these people pushing back at Iwata were not listening to what he was saying and taking steps to address the deficiencies. Instead they were reacting with irrelevant denials, and failing to hear what was being said.

One of the obvious conclusions in this whole debacle is to underline the difference between medical professionals on the front line of patient care, and bumbling bureaucrats with fancy titles but little to suggest they are knowledgeable or intelligent guardians of public health.

paul courtney
Reply to  ironargonaut
March 17, 2020 12:06 pm

ironargonaut: “Assuming he presented w/ symptoms after 5 days….” Why assume, when the article Willis cites says zero was symptomatic on Jan. 19? Might want to push the “c” button on your calculator before trying again.

Reply to  ironargonaut
March 17, 2020 7:39 pm

Paul you are correct I should not have believed this article that read as if he was on ship for whole time but since he was only on ship for 5 days, my number is actually pretty good one day less to spread. Willis I read your link and stand by my statement. Could not watch his video as it was removed. Article says in adequate, but that doesn’t mean the same as letting passengers mingle. Some isolation was occurring you do not account for this.

Peter Higgins
Reply to  ironargonaut
March 24, 2020 7:25 am

First sensible comment on the thread!

Jim Whelan
Reply to  Scissor
March 17, 2020 9:58 am

I rely only on cdc.gov for information about the CDC. I can find no such prediction. If you got this from a media source then you can be sure they are doing their usual sensationalizing. It may be picking upo a statement by someone who may or may not have been actually associated with the CDC and blowing it out of proportion.

In any case, don’t believe any media articles and keep your brain active when listening to bureaucrats or political appointees, they may be talking “off the cuff” or vying for attention. Stick to considered official statements for accurate data.

Wim Röst
Reply to  Charles Higley
March 16, 2020 9:10 pm

Charles Higley “Where is the perspective?”

WR: Here is the perspective. Merkel said that 50-70% of the (German) population is supposed to be infected. As the Spanish Flu learns this mainly happens in some months (at that time two big waves and a small one). 70% of the US population is about 230 million people. 20% needs a hospital (46 million), 5% an intensive care bed (11.5 million) and 2.5% is supposed to die (nearly 6 million). As soon as the medical system gets overwhelmed the death rate rises from* 0.5% (South Korea), 0.9% (‘Rest of China – ex Wuhan/Hubei) and 1.2% (Princess Cruise) to 5% or more (Wuhan and now Italy). Doubling the 6 million to 12 million deaths.

A full blown epidemic overwhelmed the top medical system of Wuhan and Northern Italy at around 10.000 registered cases. That’s why nobody should want a full blown epidemic.

Preventing a full blown epidemic means fighting the virus from the very first moment like in a real war. China and South Korea show that it is possible to beat the virus. If the virus can’t transmit at all (!) in some weeks it will die out. That is why social distancing and containment is that important.

In western countries people often are going ahead of governments. Flights and activities often were cancelled on a large scale before most governments acted. But ‘better late than never’ this total fight against the smallest enemy has to happen. To prevent the collapse of the medical system and more.

* A very good analysis and data: https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca

More data and special country pages (click on country name) https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

And for Willis: great and very useful analysis. Thanks!

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Wim Röst
March 17, 2020 12:18 am

Consider being given a choice: We can each spend two weeks of isolated confinement in a room at home (computer, cell phone, TV, video games, books, Kindles, whatever…) and not even interact during that time with people we live with if at all possible…OR…have this drag on for month after month, getting gradually worse for who knows how long, and have severe economic and other sorts of disruptions of a severe nature and for an interminable length of time.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 17, 2020 10:46 am

If a major portion of the population is unproductive for two weeks, it will crash the economy – hard. And most likely, it wouldn’t even stop the spread, just delay it. But with a crashed economy we would have a lot more deaths.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 17, 2020 11:46 am

I do not know what counts as a major portion.
I am talking about every man woman and child.
But of course my thought experiment is a hypothetical.
Even if there was some way to compel compliance, or if people of good conscience simply realized it was possibly an effective way to nip the whole thing in the bud, it would be unsafe and unwise, because there are too many bad guys, too many critical jobs, too many emergencies, etc.
But if two weeks is long enough for most people to clear the virus, and if for two weeks not one single new person was infected, the amount of live virus in the country would fall sharply to a tiny fraction of it’s present value.
That is long enough for virtually all fomites to become nonviable also.
I have to wonder though, if we are watching the same financial news and paying attention to the same economic reports, etc.
The economy has already crashed.
Airline bookings are about 1/3 to 1/2 of what they were last year at this time. Every restaurant and club and concert and movie theater and sporting event and meeting of over 10-50 people…all cancelled and closed.
Hotels are empty and cancellations are accelerating further and further out on the calendar. Same with airlines…cancellations are accelerating rapidly.
In short, what was inconceivable a few weeks ago is a reality today…it has already happened, and the trends are not slowing, they are accelerating.

A major portion of the population is home, and not even going out for food or recreation or taking vacations.
Entire major industries are closed down.
The economy is crashing…or crashed, depending on how you define the term.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 17, 2020 1:22 pm

Two weeks, then what?

No other cases? No travel? No new case? No re-import?

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 18, 2020 10:22 am

On CNBC, Bill Ackman, the well known investor and hedge fund manager, was just saying he had this same idea as I had, but he thinks the President needs to announce everyone is gonna stay home for 30 days, all over the world, and the US will lead and start right away.
If we do that, the progress of the disease will be halted.
If we do not, this will go on and on, and very few companies can survive an extended period of what is happening.
The major auto companies are about to announce they are shutting down production.
Boeing is in danger of declaring bankruptcy, as are the airlines, every hotel company, every restaurant, sports leagues, movie theaters, basically the entire hospitality industry and ancillary services and vendors.
Boeing says they have no liquidity ad access to credit has dried up. They need 50 billion in the short term to survive.
The ways things are being done, this will go on and on, and none of the things shut down has any logical point in time to restart and reopen unless there are no new cases, or very few and a successful treatment is found. I am very hopeful about remdesivir, but it is also likely it will only help a percentage of people. Plus it is not a pill, it is a IV drip every day for ten days, and so no one will be getting that for prevention. Plus antivirals in general have side effects that are manageable but not appropriate to inflict on healthy people.
No one take chemotherapy to prevent cancer. Likewise, no one takes antibiotics in case they might get an infection.
Our economy is crashing, it is doing so now, it is well underway, and something bold and sweeping is the only way to keep it short.
Otherwise it will drag on for a very long time, and likely this is a new disease which will go around the world either seasonally or episodically.

Oh, nice guy…why are you not out in front of the companies injecting people with vaccines for this new virus?
According to you, they are the ones giving everyone the disease and there is no such thing as acquired immunity or antibodies or antigens so why are they doing it.
Get your sandwich board and doomsday bell out and hit the bricks…the world needs to hear your message of uselessness.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 19, 2020 1:59 pm

“they are the ones giving everyone the disease and there is no such thing as acquired immunity or antibodies or antigens so why are they doing it”

More proof your mind is not functioning properly

Reply to  Wim Röst
March 17, 2020 12:32 am

As soon as the medical system gets overwhelmed the death rate rises …

The mantra seems to be ‘Flatten The Curve’. The big deal is social distancing. Does it work?

There is this anecdote concerning the Spanish flu of 1918.

In Philadelphia, city officials ignored warnings from infectious disease experts that the flu was already spreading in the community. The city instead moved forward with a massive parade that gathered hundreds of thousands of people together, Harris said.

“Within 48, 72 hours, thousands of people around the Philadelphia region started to die,” Harris said. Ultimately, about 16,000 people from the city died in six months.

In St. Louis, meanwhile, city officials quickly implemented social isolation strategies. The government closed schools, limited travel and encouraged personal hygiene and social distancing. As a result, the city saw just 2,000 deaths — one-eighth of the casualties in Philadelphia. link

I realize it’s an anecdote, not data. Nevertheless, it’s interesting.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  commieBob
March 17, 2020 1:30 am

In those years, Philadelphia was the second largest city in the country, with some 1.7 million people. Additionally, during the WW II period, hundreds of thousands of extra people were squeezed into the city.
Philadelphia has a large naval base in the city, and is also a busy port on a major east coast river, and was no doubt heavily in the middle of much of the war effort, and vast numbers of people coming and going into and out of the country.

Saint Louis was at the time the fourth largest city in the country, and did have a military base, but it was ten miles from the city, and the city itself had a population of just over 700 thousand.
I am not trying to say that those were not very likely tragic decisions that causes many of the deaths, but the situations are not strictly analogous.
Population differences alone meant that an equal proportion of deaths would be an absolute number about 1/3 as large in St. Louis, not even counting how prevalent the infection may have been prior to these events.
Reading about this event (the Spanish Flu Pandemic), it is apparent that for every assertion and theory one can find, are others that flatly contradict it.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  commieBob
March 17, 2020 3:14 am

Oops, WWI period, meant to say of course.

Reply to  commieBob
March 17, 2020 4:38 am

… others that flatly contradict it.

16,000 x 700,000 / 1,700,000 = 6,588

So, St. Louis had about 1/3 the deaths on a per capita basis. That’s hardly a flat contradiction.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  commieBob
March 17, 2020 8:08 am

Do you purposely misread comments?

Reply to  commieBob
March 17, 2020 9:50 am

Do you purposely misread comments?

Do you purposely write confusing comments?

If someone misunderstands something you said, the most fruitful strategy is to assume that you haven’t communicated well.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  commieBob
March 17, 2020 11:50 am

I’ll take that as a yes.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  commieBob
March 18, 2020 10:37 am

The point is the Spanish flu was far worse in port cities, cities with naval bases, cities on the coast that received large numbers of returning vets, etc.
A parade did not cause all the deaths.
Pittsburg had a higher number of deaths than philly, and it is a far smaller city.
New York had the highest death rate and number of deaths…it is the arrival point for the bulk of arriving troops, and a transit point for outgoing soldiers as well.
Philadephia had a massive number of sick navy personnel arrive just prior to the worst of the upturn in deaths.
As for politicians ignoring the warnings…this was widespread, and even after places on the East Coast had experienced massive waves of deaths, cities across the country still refused to shut down gathering places and give appropriate warnings.
Instead, as in philly and many cities, they downplayed the dangers and told people it was just the grippe.
Also…philly had 1.7 million residents, but a huge number of additional people in the city every day…back then the city was known as the place that made everything.
It was the China of the early 20th century.
Factories by the hundreds, massive ones.
There were well over 2,000,000 people in the city in that time, many soldiers, many transient laborers.

Reply to  Wim Röst
March 18, 2020 11:05 pm

“there is no such thing as acquired immunity or antibodies or antigens so why are they doing it.”


Block that crazy.

Lowell T Wrucke
Reply to  Wim Röst
March 19, 2020 8:22 am

Death rate on Princess 1.2% ?? 7 fatalities out of 3700 total passengers and crew is .00189.

Reply to  Lowell T Wrucke
March 22, 2020 9:52 am

Do they mean death rate over cases of contamination?

Which is a useless metric in general as many people can’t get tested and would NOT even get tested if they could, as they don’t need healthcare and have no clear symptoms.

Reply to  Lowell T Wrucke
March 22, 2020 1:06 pm

Replying to Lowell T Wrucke: I think the calculation is 7 fatalities out of 634 confirmed cases. which I get as 1.104 (also not 1.2 but close, and possibly I’ve made a mistake). I don’t present this as the opinion of an expert. Also I’m not arguing that this is a more appropriate measure than the one you suggest. But I’m guessing that “death rate” has an accepted meaning among epidemiologists.

James A. Schrumpf
Reply to  Charles Higley
March 17, 2020 2:35 am

This time it’s the Boomers most at risk.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  James A. Schrumpf
March 17, 2020 5:00 am

The Boomer’s parents are the ones most at risk.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 17, 2020 6:59 am

If one is 70 and up, the mortality rate appears to be around 8% — probably lower, because we don’t know how many people are actually infected. Boomerism started in 1946 and went to 1964 or so. The early Boomers (1946-1951) are 74-69 years old, well in the danger zone. The youngest Boomers are not quite there yet, but are close.

As a cohort, none are as self-absorbed as the Boomers. I’m one, I should know.

Reply to  Charles Higley
March 17, 2020 4:43 am

Perspective doesn’t sell newspapers, drive website hits, cable news show ratings or those who have short positions in stocks. The media oligarchs are started the panic and are fueling it so they can make more money and for the benefit of statists who can restrict freedoms.

Reply to  Charles Higley
March 17, 2020 6:27 am

Charles H,
Although, influenza mutates every year, vaccinations and resistance (due to past episodes) suppress the infection and mortality rates.

The novel nature of this coronavirus has the potential to be much more deadly than annual flu, for several reasons;
– Natural immunity is likely low
– A vaccine is not available
– The extended incubation period increases the infection rate.
– The kill- ratio, (although uncertain) is substantially higher than influenza.

Steven Moser has been sounding the alarm bells for weeks from Korea. This is a deadly pandemic and how we behave largely determines the outcomes we face.

Fortunately, reluctant family and friends took my advice three-weeks ago and stocked of on essential food supplies. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.

“Be Prepared” – The Boy Scout Motto

Reply to  RobR
March 17, 2020 7:09 am


Fortunately, reluctant family and friends took my advice three-weeks ago and stocked of on essential food supplies. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.

“Be Prepared” – The Boy Scout Motto

Just curious, what were your preparations for Y2K?

Follow-on, what were your preparations for H1N1 (2009), Bird flu, MERS, the “Mad-Cow” disease episode in the 90s, etc.

Do you get a flu vaccine each year?

Reply to  _Jim
March 17, 2020 12:51 pm

SNIP – You’re welcome to post on anything but vaccines.


Reply to  _Jim
March 17, 2020 2:52 pm

While I certainly don’t owe you an answer to your questions, I’ll tell you anyway.

Yes, I received a flu shot, and I took the usual precautions to ensure my computer was updated before Y-2k. I took no real actions related to the other items on your list.

Unfortunately, the media and the administration (to some degree) misled the public regarding the danger of the Wuhan virus.

One notable acception was Tucker Carlson on Fox. The media on the other side of the aisle, were mostly interested in using the outbreak as a reason to bash Trump.

Thankfully, the CDC’s situation reports indicated a global pandemic was likely 2-3 weeks ago.

The writing was on the wall for those willing to look.

Reply to  _Jim
March 18, 2020 10:03 am

SNIP – Give it a rest, amigo. Like I say, you’re welcome to post regarding anything but vaccinations, where you have an idee fixe …


Reply to  _Jim
March 19, 2020 3:47 am

“Like I say, you’re welcome to post regarding anything but vaccinations, where you have an idee fixe …”

I still need your excuses, thug.
Also, the French health authorities that you accused of being antivax would probably want your excuses.

Reply to  RobR
March 17, 2020 8:28 am

(Snipped) SUNMOD

Reply to  niceguy
March 17, 2020 8:52 am

re: “Please provide hard evidence showing vaccine benefits.”

Not you again? The “poster boy” for anti-science and full-out denial of vaccine efficacy?

Reply to  niceguy
March 17, 2020 12:50 pm

SNIP – as I said, no more vaccine nonsense from you.


David Heider
Reply to  niceguy
March 17, 2020 2:23 pm

Are you a member of the flat earth society?

Reply to  niceguy
March 19, 2020 7:01 pm

SNIP – NOTHING ABOUT VACCINES! Is this too difficult for you to understand?


Reply to  Charles Higley
March 17, 2020 6:35 am

Are you joking? Why are you comparing the deaths of the flu during a whole year with a pandemic that just started. Obviously the deaths are few in the first weeks.

Wendy K Laubach
Reply to  Charles Higley
March 17, 2020 6:38 am

The argument that persuades me is that we apparently have enough ICU beds and ventilators to handle the normal volume of severe cases of flu complications–whereas Italy is showing us what it looks like when a new virus causes a spike in simultaneous complications, and the ventilators run out. No one wants to look on the ventilator shelf in the ICU and see something that looks like the toilet-paper shelf at the grocery store. It doesn’t take a very high percentage of case complications to overwhelm an ICU/ventilator inventory that’s not scaled for it. That means the population in general may be at minuscule risk, but the ICUs–where the problem is highly concentrated–are at a severe one, which can be a horrorshow.

Johnny Galt
Reply to  Charles Higley
March 17, 2020 9:53 am

Good point! I wonder if next January we will be forced into lockdown for three months so we minimize ordinary colds and flu?

Reply to  Charles Higley
March 17, 2020 10:27 am


I make that point every day and am told there is no comparison between flu and corona virus. I think there are more similarities than differences and it is therefore relevant to point out the tens of thousands who routinely die of flu every year, even though they may have had a flu jab.


Reply to  Charles Higley
March 19, 2020 12:35 am

why do we not panic over the 30000–60000 Americans who die from the common flu every year?
To ask the question is to answer it.

The “common” flu is just that, common. It isn’t a new threat, one that we initially had very limited understanding of how it’s transmitted, that hides for a while and then acts fast, and with a theoretically wide risk band. Car accidents, HIV, suicides, etc are also all “common”, i.e. they’ve already been factored into peoples’ thinking AND emotional responses. Heck, HIV will claim over 13k people this year, and you pretty much have to VOLUNTEER to get it.


Reply to  Charles Higley
March 19, 2020 9:15 pm

the hysteria is fabricated
There are always someone who benefits significantly from disruptions like this. If you have a lot of money to invest, you want the stock market to fall from 29,000 to 20,000 . . . great time to invest as the market will recover

Charles Ellison
Reply to  Charles Higley
March 23, 2020 2:12 pm

One must be aware that the MSM had been void of “sensational “ news. They must have such news to survive.
Control the news and you control the world.

homer d
March 16, 2020 6:13 pm

RE “That’s 3,300 dead from auto accidents EACH AND EVERY DAY”–source ?
Wiki has For 2016 specifically, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows 37,461 people were killed in 34,436 motor vehicle crashes, an average of 102 per day.[1]
The table below shows the motor vehicle fatality rate in the United States by year from 1899 through 2018.
In 2010, there were an estimated 5,419,000 crashes, 30,296 deadly, killing 32,999, and injuring 2,239,000.[2] About 2,000 children under 16 die every year in traffic collisions.[3] Records indicate that there were 3,613,732 motor vehicle fatalities in the United States from 1899 to 2013.

March 16, 2020 6:16 pm

That’s 3,300 dead from auto accidents EACH AND EVERY DAY … proportion …
That is world-wide, not US.
Annual Global Road Crash Statistics
View the WHO’s infographics on road safety facts.
Nearly 1.25 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 12:47 am

Not to put too fine a point on it (I did after all raise many of these same points in one of the earlier WUWT articles), but there are many injured severely for every death.
And for everyone killed in an automobile accident, there are a large handful killed in other sorts of accidents every single day (or month or whatever the chosen time period), and those people are just as dead and the situations often just as if not more tragic and oftentimes ultimately preventable.

I am not entirely enamored of comparing these deaths to deaths from other illnesses, or from other causes, but I would certainly not ignore the jarring disparity between how various harms and losses are treated.
What is being overlooked and needs to be crystallized and enunciated is that the cross section of those being harmed and killed by this novel illness does not align at all with that of people who suffer a bad or fatal outcome due to the seasonal flu or to any sort of common cold.
A few single cases can serve to just bring the aspect I am referring to into the light: Right now in the US, there are two emergency room physicians in ICU units due to this disease. One on each coast. One of them is a otherwise healthy mid-40s surgeon with many years of experience in dealing with victims of infectious diseases in an acute care setting, and he became ill long after the illness was known and being guarded against. The other is an even more experienced doctor in his 70’s, who has avoided becoming infected by a patient for some 50 decades, only to be infected by a disease everyone was on guard for.
When was the last time anyone heard of this sort of this occurring?
Seasonal flu almost never results in pneumonia in healthy adults between the ages of 16 and 65.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 17, 2020 12:49 am

Oops type again.
That should be 50 years, or 5 decades…not 50 decades of course.

Stephen Richards
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 10:34 am

Willis, there is evidence of people being confined to cabin on the princess. I don’t know how much mixing there would have been through the aircon or with the crew delivering meals and drinks etc.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Stephen Richards
March 18, 2020 10:44 am

People either had balconies or they were allowed out to walk around for a little while each day, and told to stay a distance away from others…but the passageways are narrow…you can see videos and pics of people walking past each other in opposite directions with no way to stay more than a foot or two apart as they passed.
And from what I read…the cabins all have forced air and I saw nothing about HEPA filtration, which would take a lot of energy to force enough air through such filters for that many cabins.
So they all had shared recirculated air.
This is the opposite of how a hospital, for example, would quarantine people with a disease that spreads by air.

Charles Elllison
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 23, 2020 2:23 pm

Most hospitals use PTAC units which serves only the room where it is installed. This is similar to motels.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
March 17, 2020 12:00 am

but if you are in the US that is the world

Tom Abbott
Reply to  yarpos
March 17, 2020 5:03 am

Generalize much?

Freddy Unanalyst
March 16, 2020 6:16 pm

Called smoking -the Chinese and Italian men smoke heavily. Basing policy on unlike communities and cultures is rather silly

Reply to  Freddy Unanalyst
March 17, 2020 2:25 am

Whoa, good point!

And the reason why some people are exposed to the virus but show no symptoms, is because they were exposed to it in the past.

Covid-19 was identified in 2019, there is no evidence to support the claim that it never existed before 2019. For all we know it could have been around humans for millennia.

In my opinion cvd-19 is an election driven false crisis.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Klem
March 17, 2020 3:39 am

Fact check: Mostly false.
In fact it is well known that the outbreak commenced at the end of 2019.
And no one who knows what they are talking about has ever said the virus did not exist prior to the zoonotic event that passed it to human beings in Wuhan, most likely in November of 2019.
It came from a reservoir which exists in some population of wild animals, and is originally derived from a species of fruit bat in that region of the world.
The rate of genetic drift is generally well characterized, and so the emergence of this virus as a distinct strain with unique characteristics can be accurately dated with some degree of precision.

You should try to have better opinions.
Whatever the origin, the stock market crashing and the economy shutting down is not a false crisis, it is a real one.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Klem
March 17, 2020 5:06 am

“In my opinion cvd-19 is an election driven false crisis.”

Maybe you should wait until this virus runs its course before deciding it is a false crisis. I hope you are right.

Another Ian
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 18, 2020 3:34 am

If it is election-driven then it will be over by about Christmas this year then?

Charles Ellison
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 23, 2020 2:29 pm

The question I have is,”Who is stoking this crisis?”

Reply to  Charles Ellison
March 24, 2020 8:38 am

re: ” The question I have is ”Who is stoking this crisis?” ”

The question should be: “Who has the most to __gain__ from painting the presentation administration as being incompetent and inept in handling this affair?”

Reply to  Freddy Unanalyst
March 17, 2020 6:37 am

Unfortunately the data show that the virus is not more deadly for smokers.

Reply to  Elof
March 17, 2020 9:10 am

What data?

Reply to  icisil
March 17, 2020 11:39 am

I don’t think I’ll get a response. The only data I’ve seen on the matter is the absence of data. One study included a row for smokers, but it had no data.

Reply to  Freddy Unanalyst
March 17, 2020 8:02 am

The Chinese have a number of issues that set them apart from the US: 3-5 times as many smokers (increases ACE2 expression in lungs), a culture of alcohol abuse (depletes lung glutathione), prevalence of hepatitis B (depletes glutathione), horrid air pollution (oxidative stress on lungs), possess type of haptoglobin that causes a depletion of vitamin C, and more TB.

Iran also has a problem with TB (as does Italy). TB’s symptoms are indistinguishable from coronavirus illness symptoms. Co-infection of TB with a virus is 5 times more fatal than either one alone. Are the coronavirus patients being tested for latent TB? TB is difficult to test for, so probably not.

Reply to  Freddy Unanalyst
March 17, 2020 10:25 am

In China people eat all sorts of meat, spitting in the streets and have questionable hygiene. In Italy there are 5000 sweat shops employing Chinese( many from Wuhan ) making clothes and living in insanitary and overcrowded conditions. Throw in Holy Communion , kissing during greetings, wearimng jewellery,etc and the R0 which is the figure for spreading disease could be high.

March 16, 2020 6:21 pm

Inasmuch as there are still, as of 16 Mar, 233 active cases, 15 of which are classified as critical, the error range for the fatility rate should be much larger, it seems to me.

Secondly, we do not know when the first person became infected. If it was at the last port, it could easily be that eighty percent of the paasengers were never exposed, or do you have evidence otherwise? It seems you are making an unwarranted, and unstated, assumption that all passngers were actually exposed, or am I reading this wrongly?

Could this not be evidence that quarantining works?

John Sayers
Reply to  jtom
March 16, 2020 6:46 pm

“That’s the cruise ship that ended up in quarantine for a number of weeks ”

The ship sat there for weeks with all passengers and crew active on board.

Reply to  John Sayers
March 16, 2020 7:34 pm

No, it didn’t READ THE STUDY. It went under quarantine on 3 Feb. The testing was done by 20 Feb.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 16, 2020 7:24 pm

Ok, they identified someone who was onboard for five days who displayed symptoms before boarding and later tested positive. He boarded the ship 20 Jan, and by 3 Feb, two weeks later the ship was in quarantine. Where is the argument that more than 700 passengers were EXPOSED to an INFECTIOUS person during this two week period?

How many contacts would be required? He could pass it on, but whomever he passed it to would go through an incubation period before becoming infectious. I can find no good estimate of what that period is. Without more data, I think it is unwarranted to believe people were exposed but not infected.

Please address this, Mr. Eschenbach.

Reply to  jtom
March 16, 2020 7:20 pm

The virus was first detected on an 80 year old passenger six days after he had departed the ship in Hong Kong (his home town); he had been on the ship for 5 days prior to disembarking in Hong Kong, having boarded it in Japan. Apparently, notices to the ship about this passenger went unread, and there was also a 3 day delay in authorities taking any actions when it arrived back in Japan. It’s probably going to be difficult to answer your questions, although quarantining definitely works when it can be done.

The relationship of age vs expression of symptoms by infected passengers is a clue to something, although this too could be confounded by the fact that patients were not necessarily infected at the time. I find it all very interesting. I hope that enough blood work was done so that this can be analyzed along with the above.

Robin Beran
March 16, 2020 6:29 pm

Thanks for an excellent, informative article. It would be interesting to know more about the medical histories of the 7 who died. Is age the only common denominator?

Carl Friis-Hansen
March 16, 2020 6:35 pm

Absolutely interesting.
I wonder if good food has something to do with resistance and immunity?
For sure they will eat well and varied onboard the cruise ships.

John Tillman
March 16, 2020 6:38 pm

Compare and contrast with 12,000 dead in the US from the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

Reply to  John Tillman
March 16, 2020 7:48 pm

About 7500 people die every day in the U.S. or about 2.74 million/year, although this year is a leap year.

John Tillman
Reply to  Scissor
March 17, 2020 2:38 am

The last pandemic to hit the US is liable to prove deadlier than the current one. IMO that’s a relevant observation.

It also infected (some 59 million) and hospitalized a lot more people, so was probably less fatal, despite its high total mortality.

March 16, 2020 6:43 pm

re: “So I dug around and found an analysis of the situation …”

So did I, after reading this account by Tina Hesman Saey, science writer on that same report you read:

Cruise ship outbreak helps pin down how deadly the new coronavirus [actually] is

Outcomes suggest that, in the real world, [only] about 0.5 percent of COVID-19 infections in China end in death
By Tina Hesman Saey
March 12, 2020 at 5:40 pm

Exactly how deadly COVID-19 is remains up in the air. Limited testing and undetected cases — people with no symptoms or ones so mild they don’t seek medical attention — make it hard to pin down how many are infected. And that number is crucial for calculating the ratio of people who may die from COVID-19.

Enter the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Quarantined at sea off Japan after a passenger tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the ship became a natural data lab where nearly everyone was tested and few cases of infection were missed.

Infections and deaths onboard suggest that the disease’s true fatality ratio in China is about 0.5 percent, though that number may vary from place to place, researchers report March 9 in a paper posted at MedRxiv.org.

That 0.5 percent is far less than the 3.4 percent of confirmed cases that end in death cited by the World Health Organization, but troubling nonetheless. The WHO’s number has come under fire because the true number of people infected with the virus worldwide is not known.

About Tina Hesman Saey – Tina is the senior staff writer and reports on molecular biology. She has a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree in science journalism from Boston University.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  _Jim
March 16, 2020 8:11 pm

I saw a video today in which a Wuhan crematorium worker was interviewed at some length. Based on the numbers that were eventually elicited, some 25k people died in Wuhan so far. If the death rate is actually 0.5% it means they actually had 500,000 cases, not 68,000. Deaths are still running at up to a few hundred a day.

Italy may be the best and most truthful data set available outside the ship travellers. Let’s look at these numbers and ratios in a month to see if the cruise ship was indeed an indicator for the general population.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
March 16, 2020 8:43 pm

What was the time period for that 25K of people that died in Wuhan? I’d guess that typically 200-300 die every day in Wuhan from other causes.

Definitely that cruise ship make up is different from the general population. The passengers in general were not poor and the older passengers were probably relatively healthy.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
March 16, 2020 10:03 pm

Italy’s population has a lot more elderly people by percentage and much more socializing among the old and young.

Non Nomen
Reply to  bill
March 17, 2020 5:38 am

Italy is an outlier for various reasons. Approximately 30% of the Italian population are no-responders to antibiotics, presumably because of excessive use. Italian hospitals have a reputation for being “bacteria-friendly”. An extremely high percentage of the deceased are 65+ years of age, with medical preconditions that worsen the immune status. Now push comes to shove: these people fall ill from the virus, bacteria intensify their condition et voilà: intubation, artificial respiration and infusions are being needed. Then, the knell sounds…

March 16, 2020 6:52 pm

I thought the technical term for the virus was SARS-CoV-2 Virus and the disease it causes is currently being called COVID-19.

Not interested in suing anyone, but I wonder if WHO won’t even call the virus by its technical name, aren’t they just contributing to the fear and panic by consistently called it the disease name COVID-19 which is what is killing people. The SARS-CoV-2 Virus is what is giving most young and middle ages people people the case of the sniffles and a cough, or they don’t even know they have it, and are of course still carrying and transmitting it to others. It seems only the Panic part is being spread wholesale by the powers that be. Just my observation IMHO.

Reply to  Earthling2
March 16, 2020 10:25 pm

Just call it the Wuhan virus, or Wuhan coronavirus. That name can last, COVID-19 or whatever it’s supposed to be, is unsustainable. See, I can’t use it without looking it up to check I’ve got it right. Wuhan – no issues.

Reply to  Mike Jonasm
March 17, 2020 2:03 am

The Chinese don’t like that and we must all do what China wants, especially the WHO.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Adamsson
March 17, 2020 5:19 am

“especially the WHO”

And the Western press.

Reply to  Adamsson
March 17, 2020 6:40 am

Charles H,
Although, influenza mutates every year, vaccinations and resistance (due to past episodes) suppress the infection and mortality rates.

The novel nature of this coronavirus has the potential to be much more deadly than annual flu, for several reasons;
– Natural immunity is likely low
– A vaccine is not available
– The extended incubation period increases the infection rate.
– The kill- ratio, (although uncertain) is substantially higher than influenza.

Steven Moser has been sounding the alarm bells for weeks from Korea. This is a deadly pandemic and how we behave largely determines the outcomes we face.

Fortunately, reluctant family and friends took my advice three-weeks ago and stocked of on essential food supplies. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.

“Be Prepared” – The Boy Scout Motto

Reply to  Mike Jonasm
March 17, 2020 9:09 pm


Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Earthling2
March 17, 2020 1:00 am

I do not know of anyone who is feeling or reacting the way they are due to the naming of the disease and the virus, or confusion and inconsistency thereof.
But I do know that no small part of the irrational response is due to the many wild rumors and jackass assertions regarding the origination of the virus.
And I am also fairly certain that part of the reason for the rapid spreading of the illness is that so many people insist on underestimating, downplaying the significance thereof, and even making assertions that the whole thing is a nonexistent hoax.
The exaggeration, blame gaming, finger pointing, and general obtuse jackassery of the MSM regarding nearly every aspect of the whole thing, is certainly not helping anyone.
Would it not be an amazing thing if these people took it as part of their job, or even just as part of their obligation as sentient human beings, to do what they can to help the situation, to cast light and not heat, to use their platform and their pulpit to educate and inform, or merely to have a general sense of responsibility as informed adults to be a positive force in life, instead of a divisive and hateful force for discord and chaos.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 17, 2020 5:23 am

I noticed a few less “Gotcha!” questions from the press at the president’s new conference yesterday. The significance of the virus problem seems to be sinking in a little bit.

Brian Pratt
March 16, 2020 7:00 pm

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – Highway Loss Data Institute website states that there were 36,560 deaths on the roads in 2018. Your point is still well taken.

March 16, 2020 7:10 pm

more curious when factoring that many US deaths occurred in one nursing home. I suppose the more spread out nature of the US population contributes to slower rate of fatality rate? What about people getting sunshine/vitamin D?

Reply to  Joe
March 16, 2020 8:04 pm

The U.S. has a fairly young demographic and for that reason the ultimate death rate should be lower than that observed in Italy for example.

It’s known that vitamin D boosts immunity. It’s been added to milk since the 1930’s to reduce rickets and that campaign worked but still many people are deficient in it. It’s possible that 10 or 15 minutes/day of sunshine or a UVB lamp would be more beneficial than the flu vaccine for example.

With proper dieting, sunshine and more active lifestyles we could certainly reduce the obesity epidemic, heart and kidney diseases and diabetes. Lobbyists don’t want that though.

Steven Mosher
Reply to  Scissor
March 16, 2020 9:36 pm

landed in Seoul on Jan 24th from beijing
First order of business> Vitamin D shot.
Figured that this thing would get way worse and its not sunny

Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 17, 2020 1:50 am

The problem is just as many studies shows it does nothing, if you give people placebo and tell them it’s vitamin D you can actually get higher results. It’s the same for vitamin C, Zinc and any other voodoo cure anyone comes up with.

You can also take up meditation apparently the quacks in psychology says there is data showing that will increase your immunity

So many quacks and so few ducks.

Matthew Schilling
Reply to  LdB
March 17, 2020 8:45 am

Imagine lumping the intake of vitamin D, vitamin C and zinc with “other voodoo cure”s. Wow.

Pat Quinn
Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 17, 2020 4:03 am

Vitamin D might actually be THE vitamin NOT to take- it is good for common cold/ flu but apparently the response it provokes in the body is the very one COVID uses to proliferate.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Pat Quinn
March 17, 2020 8:16 am

No vitamins cure any disease, unless the disease is a vitamin deficiency.
And what does it mean to say “the response it provokes in the body is the very one COVID uses to proliferate”?

That makes no sense.
Do you know what vitamin D is, and how it functions as part of the immune response?
It sounds like you have no idea what makes something a vitamin, or how viruses reproduce in the body.
And no one has to take vitamin D. Your body makes it whenever you are exposed to sunlight.
Are you seriously suggesting corona viruses do more harm in people who spend more time in the Sun?

Reply to  Pat Quinn
March 18, 2020 7:29 am

@Nicholas McGinley – I have to take Vitamin D with calcium since I have osteoporosis – it’s prescribed by a couple of medical professionals treating my condition even though it’s not a prescription, formally. Being from a northern climate my sun exposure is limited.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Pat Quinn
March 18, 2020 10:54 am

I did not mean it in the context of no one requiring it medically.
Yes, if one has a deficiency, you need to take it, or get injections.
Most people should take a supplement.
What I meant was, it is not necessary to take it to get a large amount…going in the Sun with exposed skin will do the trick.
Vitamin D is required for a white blood cell to carry out their functions.
They need to have a molecule attach to them to start the process of cell signaling with other immune cells, for antigen presentation, and for antibody productions, IIRC.
The immune system is utterly incapable of functioning without it.

BTW…all vitamin D requires UV light.
The stuff they put in vitamin suppliments is made using commercial UV lamps.
There is no other known way to make it.
Animals with fur make it by secreting precursors, and then sun transforms it into vitamin D on their fur, and they ingest it by grooming.
Every creature for hundreds of millions of years has needed and got vitamin D which needs UV light…even creatures that live below the level of sun penetration in the ocean.
They get it from things that live higher up and it drifts down to them, or swims down, or whatever.
Not sure about sea vent communities…but it has been well known for a long time that UV is the only way to make vitamin D, and this has been true for over 400 million years.

Reply to  Scissor
March 17, 2020 1:52 am

Oh I should really give one of the many fact check

Answer FALSE or MISLEADING take your pick.

March 16, 2020 7:13 pm

Thanks Willis

One wonders why Italy is in such a mess…?

ps As a 30+ years at sea person I well know the progress of any bug through the crew and scientists ….

Reply to  TomO
March 16, 2020 10:49 pm

It is politically incorrect to generalize about any ethnic group, but I will report what I have heard: Social distancing among Italians as they converse with one another is closer than average, allowing for more touching of each other and exchanging airborne droplets from speaking.

Fabio Capezzuoli
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
March 17, 2020 12:24 am

” Social distancing among Italians as they converse with one another is closer than average”.

That’s quite true, but you wouldn’t believe how close other populace like to get to each other.
Still, I think that Italy’s abnormal death rate is in large part due to the fact that many cases of infection remain undetected, thus inflating the death rate

Reply to  Fabio Capezzuoli
March 17, 2020 8:02 am

I’m sure thats true but the actual number of deaths in Italy is startlingly high. No doubt that means far more are infected than has been shown by testing, but that simply asks a different question – why so many infections in Italy compared with France say?

Reply to  Phoenix44
March 17, 2020 9:43 am

Because being aware of the Italian case, we could act before (two weeks or so) with respect to the infection proliferation.

Despite this, I presume the number of unknown cases may be very high in France too.

Good news :
– Italian cases per day shows the beginning of an inflection (see : https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/italy/). The worst may be behind them.

Dodgy Geezer
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
March 17, 2020 1:59 am

I have heard two rumours passing around the Web. Totally unchecked. I repeat them here because WUWT is a superb place for deflating incorrect data…

1 – The Chinese/Asian ethnic group is supposed to have a greater average of ACE2 receptors in the lungs than Caucasians. This is the receptor the Wuhan virus connects to. So you might expect an increase in transmissibility in this group.

2 – The north of Italy is a leather manufacturing area, and has many companies bought by the Chinese and staffed by Chinese workers. So, given 1), you might expect high levels of the disease there.

I have no idea about the truth of either of these assertions, or how to check them….

Fabio Capezzuoli
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
March 17, 2020 3:52 am

Luckily you have an Italian on hand.

” The north of Italy is a leather manufacturing area, and has many companies bought by the Chinese and staffed by Chinese workers. So, given 1), you might expect high levels of the disease there. ”

Actually the highest concentration of Chinese is in Arezzo, Tuscany, usually classified as Central Italy and they’re for the most part in the textile sector. In the north at least every city and also a good number of small towns now have a Chinese restaurant and/or shop.

I have seen no data and I don’t know if they exist about the ethnic breakdown of coronavirus cases, but the deceased seem to be if not all nearly all “ethnic” Italians.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
March 17, 2020 5:34 am

I think the ACE2 vulnerability was from smoking nicotine, not anything to do with genetics.

Just going by what I have read and seen, there is supposedly a lot of traffic between China and Italy.

The Chinese leadership is trying to float the narrative that the Wuhan virus actually originated in Italy, They claim this is the reason Italy is being hit so hard, because the virus originated there. And the Chinese leadership is also trying to blame Americans for the Wuhan virus. Anyone but themselves, it seems.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 17, 2020 6:14 am

To extend your point, Tom, the following opening is excerpted from:


Covid-19 Is Traveling Along the New Silk Road A striking overlap exists between the path of today’s viral spread and the path of the Black Death in the 1300s.

China’s modern-day adaptation of the Silk Road, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, stretches from East Asia to Europe.

Nearly 750 years ago, Marco Polo famously undertook several voyages from Venice across the Mediterranean Sea, overland through Persia and Central Asia to the court of the great Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan and founder of the Yuan dynasty, which presided over perhaps the largest empire in world history. The Mongols nurtured the Silk Roads of commerce that spanned the medieval world from China to Italy—until the Black Death spread along them in the same direction, wiping out nearly half the world’s population.

Also note that last year Italy signed onto China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) to the consternation of her EU neighbors. Many stories can be found online detailing that.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 17, 2020 7:55 am

Yes, the southern silk road route through Persia (Iran) to Rome was the entire purpose of the ancient Silk road, which was trade with the West (Europe) through Rome. Much as the same new Belt and Road Initiative to present day Europe. Although there are also now other ports of entry such as Athens right next door. But the ethic population in Greece is much lower than northern Italy.

The fact that northern Italy has a lot of ethnic Chinese travelling and living there should tell the story correctly. How many millions of ethnic Chinese Han were allowed to leave China for the 4 corners of the world in early to latter January before China basically admitted they even had a big problem going on. This was a colossal failure of the Chinese leadership to not only admit they had a problem, but they tried to silence and cover it up for at least 3 weeks while allowing millions of their potential infected citizens to escape around the world. This is what we will get if we allow the unbridled Chinaifcation of the world. Probably not PC to say so, but this is the truth of the matter.

Allan Kiik
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
March 17, 2020 7:27 am

Maybe this has something to do with smog – https://www.nzz.ch/wissenschaft/italien-weniger-smog-als-folge-der-coronakrise-ld.1546699
Wuhan had the worst air quality in china, northern Italy in europe.

Thomas Burk
March 16, 2020 7:18 pm

Hi Willis,

Excellent analysis. What is your take on the massive amount of “self-isolating” that is now in full force? How long will we have to put up with this? And what might we see in the next few weeks that could be a good indication that we can begin relaxing this rather extreme reaction that grips the USA in particular?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Thomas Burk
March 17, 2020 5:56 am

“And what might we see in the next few weeks that could be a good indication that we can begin relaxing this rather extreme reaction that grips the USA in particular?”

People will calm down as they see that they can buy all the supplies they need. There are temporary shortages but they are attributable to delivery problems not availability of supplies, and the delivery problems will be sorted out very quickly.

The next two weeks are critical to keeping our health care facilities from being overwhelmed.

In the next two weeks we will have a much better understanding of the extent of the infection and where we need to concentrate our resources.

Once we get the infection rate coming down without our health care facilities being overwhelmed, then we can relax a little bit.

The next step is can we actually stop the spread. That may or may not be possible, but we may have bought ourselves enough time to blunt the fatal effects of this virus for many of those most vulnerable.

If we decide that the virus cannot be contained, then we will have to resume business as usual, while taking our newly-learned vurus fighting techniques, and take our chances with the Wuhan virus just like we take our chances with other viruses. Most people will survive the Wuhan virus no matter what.

Staying apart for two weeks will help the situation very much whether the virus can be contained or not.

Keeping the economy on hold is not good. The sooner we can get back to normal the better, and everyone knows this. The good thing is the US economy is very strong and this virus has not changed that. If we can get back to normal in a few months, then the economy will boom again.

But the longer we are on hold, the more businesses there will be that cannot stay afloat and that will certainly take its toll on the economy. Trump and Congress are going to try to keep a lot of those businesses going as long as possible and that will help, but the main thing is we need to get back to work as soon as possible. We can afford a few weeks to save lives, though.

Wendy K Laubach
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 17, 2020 6:52 am

Yes to this.

March 16, 2020 7:19 pm

Willis Id rather take my chances on a square rigger to Bermuda than any of those cruise ship monstrosities.
‘”Sea Fever “by John Mansfield.:
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

TG McCoy
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 8:56 am

Going to do that Willis. Had an Opportunity to Crew on the Lady Washington –
years ago a 90day trip. Out of Coos Bay. Wife said ‘When you get to Grey’s Harbor, the divorce papers will be ready.” Took the wind out of my sails,so to speak. Had to be satisfied with the Potter 19…
Wife’s mostly Cherokee and she had that ah, I call it “Warpath look”on her face.
Never go beyond that.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  4EDouglas
March 17, 2020 12:09 am

I have done both extensively. Sailing especially on square-riggers requires youth and strength. Criticism of cruising usually comes from those who have not tried it – it is wonderful, interesting, and relaxing especially for we older folk.

March 16, 2020 7:19 pm


Were all the tests completed within two or three weeks of the ship leaving land? If not, a considerable percentage may have been infected, and fully recovered, prior to testing.

Ann in L.A.
March 16, 2020 7:22 pm

Another thing to keep in mind, is that this will not hit the entire US equally. When I looked this morning, West Virginia still hadn’t reported any cases. There is an opportunity there to share resources between different parts of the country.

Reply to  Ann in L.A.
March 16, 2020 9:36 pm

In Washington State: (pop. 7.5 mil. 904 cases – 48 dead.)
King County pop. 2.25 mil. ——- 488 cases – 43 deaths (29 @ at “Life Care” home)
Pierce County pop. 900,000 ——- 38 cases – 0.0 deaths
Snohomish County pop. 800,000– 200 cases – 0 deaths
Spokane County pop. 500,000 —– 3 cases – 0 deaths
Clark County pop. 475,000 ——– 3 cases – 0 deaths

From Gov. “Insane” Inslee:
“Given the explosion of COVID-19 in our state and globally, I will sign a statewide emergency proclamation tomorrow to temporarily shut down restaurants, bars and entertainment and recreational facilities.
Restaurants will be allowed to provide take-out and delivery services but no in-person dining will be permitted.”
Outrageous uninformed reaction that will absolutely help bring on a recession here. IMHO

March 17, 2020 12:53 pm

DANNY DAVIS March 16, 2020 at 9:36 pm
“Outrageous uninformed reaction that will absolutely help bring on a recession here. IMHO”
May I help?
“Trump-hating premeditated reaction that will absolutely help bring on a recession here – Orange Man BAD! Vote for the geriatric in November!”
Fixed it a bit for you.

Beat me what Boris is doing, except stirring the pot.


James A. Schrumpf
Reply to  Ann in L.A.
March 17, 2020 3:04 am

WV’s population is only about 1 million people, and the largest city in the state has around 40,000. On weekends the West Virginia University football team plays a home game with 50,000 attendees, Morgantown becomes the largest city in the State. The rest of the population

There’s also a growing suspicion that the virus may have been there already, based on admittedly anecdotal information about large numbers of severe, flu-like cases back in December and January.

It’s hard to figure, though, how such a thing could happen. Still, several of my family living there and their friends reported being hit by a flu like nothing they’d ever experienced before, with some requiring hospitalization for days from pneumonia.

Time will tell.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  James A. Schrumpf
March 17, 2020 6:30 am

One of my long time friends now living in Montana got a very similar type of thing in mid-December 2019 which put him in the hospital for eight days with pneumonia. It was the worst bug he ever had, and he counts himself lucky to be alive.

TG McCoy
Reply to  James A. Schrumpf
March 17, 2020 9:06 am

I ended up in the ER with flu like symptoms in early Dec.fever,cough,diarrhea. sent me home a couple of days later-wife was in Nursing facility due to here it wen through the plce like wildfire. couple of people may have died from it. This was NE Oregon..High cold dry at the time…no Snow or rain. wife never got “it’…

March 16, 2020 7:24 pm

It would be very informative if we had the distribution of passengers who required intensive care. It is not provided in referred study.

March 16, 2020 7:27 pm


Thanks, Willis.

Some studies that support your observations are now coming along, ones by “The Lancet” outfit are most interesting, as one of theirs concerned this old geezer your/our age who has a good example of COPD.

Turns out that high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary problems and stroke survivors had more fatalities than we “born again breathers” that had smoked for two score years before quitting.

One study acted as the climate alarmists should and actually used the words “hypothesize” that there could be cause/effect between the virus effects and the medication the folks listed were taking. In short, the ACE2 inhibitors made it easier for the virus critters to glom onto to their nose, throat and lung cells.


Great work, as usual Willis.

Gums sends…

Reply to  Gums
March 16, 2020 10:43 pm

Gums cites a Lancet article hypothesizing that ACE2 inhibitors facilitate viral infection.

That seems odd to me since the ACE2 enzyme is the cell wall site the virus plugs into thus facilitating infection.

ACE2 inhibitors prevent calcium from crossing into the arterial cell wall helping to keep the vessels pliable.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  siamiam
March 17, 2020 1:18 am

An hypothesis is an idea, nothing more.
It says nothing about what is true, or even likely.
It is basically a formalized version of a imaginative musing, or idle speculation.
Merely the starting of point for finding out if an idea may have any shred of merit.
Also, the early “studies” I read, and read of, on the subject were all highly problematic, purely speculative, tiny sample sized, and used obtuse inferences and conjectures, and were ultimately nothing but jargon-y and highly referenced forays into guesswork dressed up as science.
For example, a follow up study to the first one on the subject used as a reference base a data set gathered from a study of victims of lung cancer, in order to characterize a “typical” cell surface receptor population cross section for airway epithelia.

Personally, I would not place great stock in breathless Reddit posts regarding highly technical scientific or biomedical issues.
Anyone who does not have the background to place such speculative and problematic ideas into perspective and context is just asking to be misled and misinformed.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 17, 2020 5:38 am

I believe that properly speaking a “hypothesis” is an idea capable of making specific predictions which can be tested to confirm or refute the hypothesis.

Therefore somewhat more than an “idea”.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  BlokeInTejas
March 17, 2020 8:23 am

You would make a terrible climate scientist.

D. Cohen
Reply to  BlokeInTejas
March 18, 2020 5:59 am

Under your definition of hypothesis I’m not sure that Darwin’s theory of evolution qualifies as a hypothesis, let alone a theory. You are requiring “specific” predictions which can be “tested”. Darwin’s theory tries to explain how new species arose in the past with no attempt to insist that it absolutely had to happen that way.

I have read that academic philosophers — who are not coming at this issue from a fundamental religious background — have often objected to Darwin’s idea of “survival of the fittest”, saying that strictly speaking it just amounts to “survival of those that survive”. They wonder what, specifically, it means to be “fittest” and how can you test for it ahead of time, not knowing exactly what new environments and stresses the organisms will encounter. Afterwards, of course, you can come up with a story or explanation for why some survived and others did not — but that’s exactly the problem is, isn’t it, it’s afterwards — so why is it a “prediction”?

wyn palmer
Reply to  siamiam
March 17, 2020 4:27 am

Not ACE2 inhibitors I believe, but ACE inhibitors which effectively increase the expression of ACE2.
This includes type-2 diabetes treating and anti inflammatory drugs like thiazolidinediones and ibuprofen.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  wyn palmer
March 18, 2020 11:01 am

There is a clinical trial underway in China to test thalidomide for efficacy against Fluhan Wu.
No joke…saw it on clinical trials dot guv website.
FluHan Wu is an attempt at lame humor though…

Gotta think of something that rhymes better with Fu Manchu.

March 16, 2020 7:27 pm

The Center for Disease Control is the official agency for reporting epidemics, not the Media. They gather data for the US – CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 36 million flu illnesses, 370,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths from flu. Also flu deaths peak in winter, and generally decline to low numbers at the start of April. That is the Baseline for the US- and the CDC has stated that “this last 2019-2920 season has low to moderate flu numbers” That is, it is very much a normal flu season.
Now look at cv figures so far. There were 41 US deaths for the last 3 weeks, and now the total is up to 68, and we are nearing the end of the flu season. Meanwhile, our markets are running out of food, refrigerators and shelves are empty, and there are upcoming shortages of critical supplies for months. The American worker has always continued on, despite these problems, except for now. The anti-cv “epidemic” actions of the State and Federal governments should be brought into open public discussion now, and not months later. We need to get back to work….

Non Nomen
Reply to  Boston
March 17, 2020 5:53 am


Reply to  Boston
March 17, 2020 8:24 pm

No place in the USA is “running out of food”. Lack of prompt resupply does not equal lack of resources.

Wild, unfounded proclamations like this are more harmful than the damn virus.

March 16, 2020 7:30 pm

what about the people who tested positive once they returned to their own country in the 14 day period afterwards…I am fairly sure there were some in Australia for starters!

Larry Hamlin
March 16, 2020 7:32 pm

Excellent article Willis – as usual. Thanks.

Christopher Chantrill
March 16, 2020 7:36 pm

Thanks Willis. You are da champ.

Things don’t look too good for Italy… Wow.

Rick C PE
March 16, 2020 7:46 pm

Very informative. Thanks. The WorldOMeter site indicates 233 still active cases and 15 “serious/critical”. Is your data more up to date? Or might the final result be a substantially higher mortality rate?

John Gentzel
March 16, 2020 7:49 pm

Nice job Willis!!!

In perspective:
CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 36 million flu illnesses, 370,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths from flu in the USA alone (10/2019 to present)

In the last 24 hrs approximately 60 people died from influenza related complications. In the next 24 hrs another 50-60 people will die from complications due to Influenza.

Total Corona virus deaths in the US 80 total.
Total Corona virus deaths world wide 7100.

2017/2018 US Flu deaths 86000
2009/2010 H1N1 cases 2 billion plus ( we estimate 1 in 3 people on planet earth were infected with H1N1) fortunately it was a very mild form of swine flu.

Source: CDC weekly flu report : https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm
Johns Hopkins Corona virus Map : https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

March 16, 2020 7:51 pm

Willis, the correction is appreciated.

The ratio of passengers to crew is approximately 1:0.7.

With this in mind, the total age group likely skews toward the younger side.

My only point is, it is difficult to establish any statistical inferences with so many unknowns.

In fact, your flawless statistical analysis my paint a false picture of COVID-19 disease spread and death rates.

In a perfect world, a demographically congruent group of people would all interact equally with each other in a confined space.

Karen Smith
March 16, 2020 7:52 pm

I didn’t see anyone mention the studies that show two different strains of the virus. Wouldn’t make more sense (taking into account Italy and Spain) that the cruise ship just had the less virulent strain of the virus? Hence less infected, and less serious cases. The cruise ship would be a perfect place for this to occur, only one patient bringing on the strain, whereas in a country like Italy, you have multiple vectors of infection… ??

March 16, 2020 7:59 pm

Excellent analysis! (Excellent reporting, too.)

However, confounding factors:

1) As noted by several here, the population of a cruise ship is skewed from that of the general. The aged will not be the most vulnerable aged – they are people who have had good medical care, and do not live in heavily polluted environments. (The demographic of old + wealthy also has a much lower smoking rate than even the US population as a whole.)

2) The major cruise lines are, after previous very bad experiences, very close to OCD about cleaning. More than a nursing home – more than many hospitals, in fact. (A norovirus outbreak was the worst of those incidents – and is a far nastier thing to get loose. If I hear about a “novel norovirus” – that is when I will fill the shelves and freezer and lock the bunker door.)

3) Also as noted, the younger demographics are the more social with strangers – and also have a shorter social distance. (Us old grumps don’t want to be hugged except by very close relatives. Many of us not even then.)

March 16, 2020 8:02 pm

Was this data taken after everyone cleared the period of incubation?

Charles Michaud
March 16, 2020 8:09 pm

I get a strange feeling when people compare the absolute number of death by automobile accidents and the absolute number of deaths by COVID-19. That’s not how you determine that automobile accidents are worst than the flu by the absolute the number of deaths. They are not the same death rate!

Someone people even tried to compare the number of death from COVID-19 in the U.S. with the number of death of H1N1 back in 2009, but they failed to mention the number of cases involved.

From the CDC : https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/2009-h1n1-pandemic.html
“From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million)… 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) in the United States due to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus.”

12,469 deaths/60,800,000 cases = .02 % Death rate
Put that into perspective. And from Willis’s article above, “according to the study, the age-adjusted infection fatality rate was 1.2% (0.38%–2.7%)”. Now, if the U.S. gets 60,800,000 cases of COVID-19, God forbids, that’s a possible death count of ABOUT 729,600 at the 1.2% death rate.
Let us not forget that an infection can spread very quickly… exponential anyone?

Wendy K Laubach
Reply to  Charles Michaud
March 17, 2020 7:08 am

Exactly, it’s like comparing the normal aging of your home to either a spark of fire (but it’s just a little spark!) or some termites (but it’s just a few termites!). Some conditions are chronic and stable–sad facts of life. Others are a sign of something that you’d better get a handle on quick, before they overwhelm your resources.

Steve Oregon
March 16, 2020 8:17 pm

I had the same curiosity and not 10 minutes ago shared this with some friends.

How about a random group sampling?
The Diamond Princess – a mini-city of 3700
Total cases 696
New cases 0
deaths 7
recovered 456
active 233
serious critical 15

696 out of 3700 = 18% got the virus
7 out of 696 = 1% of the infected died

You can follow the tally globally and by country.

There have been 182,457 recorded cases.
Active 95,682 Closed 86.775

95,682 Active-Currently Infected Patients
89,519 (94%) in Mild Condition
6,163 (6%) Serious or Critical

86,775 Are closed cases
Cases which had an outcome:
79,617 (92%) Recovered / Discharged
7,158 (8%) Deaths

But missing is any estimate of total people infected as is done with the flu.
Most people infected with the corona never get tested, treated or counted.
They are out there and infectious, with or without symptoms just like people with the flu.
But millions have the flu in the USA alone.
If the cruise ship mortality rate (miraculously) ends up extrapolated to a global scale then we have been witnessing……. something odd?

Chad Jessup
Reply to  Steve Oregon
March 16, 2020 9:11 pm

7,158 deaths divided by 182,457 cases = 3.9%

Anton Eagle
Reply to  Chad Jessup
March 16, 2020 10:09 pm

The point is… the total number of infected is actually much much higher than 182,457. So, the percentage is wrong, and is much much lower than 3.9%.

Steve Oregon
Reply to  Chad Jessup
March 16, 2020 10:14 pm

No you are misled, mistaken and missing the point.
The number of global cases is not 182,457
It is far more and unknown. Likely in the millions world wide.
That 182,457 is only the number who were processed by medical facilities and there can be no mortality rate derived from it.

That’s why the captured populous on the cruise ship is meaningful.

March 16, 2020 8:36 pm

My 21-year-old nieces went on a sold out spring break Caribbean cruise. They left out of Florida on the 8th and returned on the 15th. They had a great time and so far no reports of illness.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Tmitsss
March 17, 2020 1:35 am

Incubation period: 5-15 days.

Reply to  Tmitsss
March 22, 2020 2:26 am

Hang on, over 700 died in Italy yesterday and you expect less than 4000 deaths in the US?

Reply to  Neil
March 22, 2020 3:42 am

Italy also reports that 99% of the deaths were people with underlying health conditions and those over 80. Speculation is that this is happening because Italy has a tradition of multi-generational housing that the US does not.

March 16, 2020 8:36 pm

Thanks – a very interesting analysis, Willis.
I am hearing that the test (used in Australia at least) has a ~ 30% false positive (I think) error rate. If this had been the case for testing on this ship, can you tell us what the effect would have been on your results?

March 16, 2020 8:42 pm

“Really, Mr. Eschenbach, don’t you think it is misleading to say they were kept together for one full month, when they were under quarratine for half of that month?”

So JTom, I guess you figure the regular crew members working under duress were able to effect the perfect “quarantine”. Really ? All these untrained crew members moving food, plates, forks, knives, cups, glasses etc. according to some ad hoc undefined protocol were doing just as well as trained medical staff. What they did on the ship, and it was probably the best these untrained workers could do, was probably for naught. Trained medical staff are having a hard time establishing effective quarantine. The crew never had a chance to be effective. Personally, I would view their whole time on the ship as “exposure”time

March 16, 2020 8:44 pm

Willis, regarding your 83% non-infected rate/17% infection rate…perhaps an interesting “coincidence”:

Compare to the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic. In the US (https://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/estimates_2009_h1n1.htm), the CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (range: 195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) from April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010. The population of the US in 2009 was 306.8 million. 60.8/306.8 x 100% = 19.8% infection rate.


Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Drcrinum
March 16, 2020 9:29 pm

One of the survival advantages deriving from genetic diversity is that animals seem to have an inherent natural immunity of something like 10% of the population, even when they have never previously been exposed to a novel pathogen. That is one reason that, when given an antibiotic, one is strongly urged to complete the entire regimen. Some bacteria are more susceptible and are the first to die. One will then start to feel better. However, if the remaining bacteria are not continued to be hammered, they will come back and all will have resistance to the antibiotic.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 3:09 am

My understanding is that a course of antibiotics is supposed to be designed to allow ample time for the immune system to mop up all of the population of the infectious organism.
By the time of the conclusion of a systemic infection, the number and amount of immune cells and antibody protein fragments in the system of the patient is immense.
As an example, at any given time, the population of immune cells in the blood and tissue of a healthy person is some three to 5 trillion cells, a total mass of ten pounds or more…and maybe twice that.
And the compliment system is a collection of chemicals that has a mass of several pounds all by itself.
By way of comparison, the brain is around 3 to 3.5 pounds.
But the response that is ultimately generated by a person with a strong immune system to rid a person of a systemic infection may consist of an ADDITIONAL temporary population of cells, cytokines, and various other immune system molecules, twice as large or more, as the normal population, which itself may have 98% of the total mass within tissues rather than circulating in the blood or lymphatic system.
A normal white cell count for a healthy adult is between 4,000 and 10,000 cells per milliliter.
When an infection is present, a typical value for the WBC count might be 25,000 to 50,000.
And these cells are being produced in prodigious quantity on an ongoing basis at such times.
With the exception of pathogens that have found some way to hide within cells in a dormant form, there is generally zero pathogenic bacteria just hanging around in the blood stream or within tissues. In order to overcome or be in temporary equilibrium with the innate and adaptive immune systems, vast numbers of any pathogenic organism must be present.
Memory cells ensure that there are no stragglers infecting us at the conclusion of an illness.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 6:14 am

@Willis – actually, referring back to your earlier excellent post, antibiotic response also follows a Gompertz curve. Take a ten day course – the first couple of days, not much response; days three through eight, most of the critters die; the last two gets enough of the rest that the healthy immune systems cleans them out. (One reason that an MD should evaluate the immune system of each patient before prescribing – a compromised system requires a longer course.)

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 9:45 am

Certainly it is possible that a normal regimen of antibiotics will not kill all of the pathogens, and the patient doesn’t fully recover. That is why in particularly problematic infections the physician may follow up with treatment with a different antibiotic. It is a fine line to walk between not giving enough and giving too much.

Inasmuch as toxins are rated with an LD50, the amount of toxin in, say, milligrams per kilogram of body weight that will kill 50% of the subjects, I’ve often wondered why a 100 lb woman will be given the same antibiotic dosage as a 200 lb man. It would seem to me that 1) the woman is given too much, or 2) the man is given too little, or 3) neither gets the optimum dose. I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer when I’ve asked a physician.

As an aside, I’m going to guess that the susceptibility of people to a pathogen looks something like a normal curve. That is, some on the tail will be extremely susceptible, those on the other tail will be extremely resistant, while most people will fall somewhere in between. That can probably be expected to be the behavior of pathogens exposed to antibiotics as well.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 17, 2020 4:53 pm

Doses for dogs are typically weight dependent. Likewise, a major reason for reduced dose recommendations for children.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 18, 2020 11:06 am

It is also strange that they do not advise everyone to start every course of antibiotics with a double dose, to get the blood level up into the therapeutic range as quickly as possible.
It takes more to perfuse a person than it does to keep blood levels above the therapeutic range once the system is perfused.
Everyone should do their own homework on things like the proper course of time and the best antibiotic to use, unless you think your doctor knows everything and is never wrong.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 17, 2020 6:31 pm

Was just teaching this in class last week Willis. Basically you need to hammer them initially and keep going for the full course.
You might find this movie I showed interesting.

Mike Dubrasich
March 16, 2020 9:02 pm

The “experiment” does not include description of treatments, if any, that were applied.

Late breaking info indicates that a common anti-malarial drug, chloroquine, has potential to prevent and cure 2019-nCoV. See for one example:


I doubt the Princess passengers were treated with any anti-virals but cannot say for sure. If they weren’t, and if chloroquine is effective, then predictions of future outcomes from this disease (based on Princess outcomes) may be overly pessimistic.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 16, 2020 10:58 pm

Willis. Chloroquine is a zinc ionophore. Helps the zinc get through the cell wall. Chloroquine is also used in some cancer therapy.

It’s the zinc that does the job inside the cell.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
March 17, 2020 3:27 am

They most certainly were treated with remdesivir.
At least 14 of the sickest of the Americans taken off that ship got remdesivir.
Hundreds more who have been hard hit by the disease in Washington state alone have got the drug.
All of these were given the drug on a compassionate use basis, IOW not as part of a clinical trial.
All 14 recovered.
I have been giving a heads up on this for over a month, and it is still possible to take advantage of a possible pop in the price of the stock.
The Street seems to hate Gilead, even as it may have the drug that at the present time is the single best hope of putting this episode behind us.
We do not need to get rid of the virus to change the trajectory of the economy, only to find out that there is a drug that will prevent death in most cases of severe illness.


Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 17, 2020 6:06 am

I wonder what the long term tolerance would be to taking remdesivir as a seasonal preventative, especially for the elderly. Mechanistically, its mode of prevention and cure seems sound.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Scissor
March 17, 2020 9:01 am

Never happen.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
March 19, 2020 5:09 am

As a matter of fact 15 critically ill US passengers were used by Gilead as a first test group for remdesivir treatment. This is likely to have affected total mortality, since they all survived.

March 16, 2020 9:02 pm

2 strains of the “Wuhan” corona-virus are known to be existing side by side. One is more agressive than the other (as discussed in prior WUWT post invoking this virus) & at least one case had simultaneous infection with both known strains.

Which means, to me, that extrapolating from the Original Post cruise ship data to global “Wuhan” corona-virus data has some limitations. If the cruise ship had relatively acceptable consequences & cruise ship exposure involved the less agressive viral strain that doesn’t mean we can deduce similar consequences in situations involving the more agressive viral strain.

March 16, 2020 9:05 pm

Strange numbers out of Germany.

March 16, 2020 9:09 pm

An “interesting” article about the situation inside the Diamond Princess.