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The Problem with COVID-19 Algorithms

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posted on Apr, 8 2020 @ 02:00 PM
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The Problem with COVID-19 Algorithms
Let’s take a moment to actually look at what is driving all these COVID-19 models upon which this entire country’s economy and national security are being implemented with, some would say, draconian measures.

You keep hearing the Task Force say: “the models are based on assumptions”. Well, that’s a very interesting word “assumption”. In other words, a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof. That is correct, “certain to happen…without proof”. Think of it as a belief system, much like religion. The surprise is when things that unfold in reality just don’t match up - as is with the COVID-19 models. Modeling a virologic outcome or forecast is not like modeling in physics.

The laws of physics do not apply…there is no F=M*A (force=mass times acceleration). In other words, an algorithm is a form of an equation – a^2 + B^2 = C^2; it doesn’t mean anything until you plug in the known values (data) and the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle emerges.

The algorithms in the COVID-19 model are predominately decision trees: If this is “yes”, then the following; if this is “no”, then the following, and so forth. They are complex and contain large quantities of “assumptions”…if 75% of the population uses social distancing, then x number of infections will occur in a population pool of “y”.

So, if we have no “proof”, then what do we use? We use statistical arguments, or Boolean functions (if:then). An algorithm is the equation, or operation that sets the argument against input data. In the case of COVID-19 data in December and January, it was data supplied by China (CCP) and the WHO (no evidence of human to human transmission, under-reported infections, keep your borders open, etc.). The “arguments” applied to that data produced erroneous results. The old “garbage in – garbage out” saying. But are the “arguments” (algorithms) valid to begin with? After all, all models have error (standard deviations).

Another data point is the number of deaths. Sorely lacking is the number of those who passed against those who had underlying pre-existing conditions (cardio and pulmonary). As of now, you could die of a heart attack and if you tested positive your death certificate would say COVID-19; then you are counted into the general pool of COVID deaths. No data scientist looking for objective measurement would apply such a tainted pool.

Like the NHC runs its models on tropical cyclones, one usually uses a collection of models (ensemble), all with differing algorithms, but using the same family of resources (data sets) for their data (measured wind speed, humidity, atmospheric soundings, buoys, and so forth). They take these outputs from the ensemble of models and run a Monte Carlo cycle that usually takes a few hundred cycles to reach a consensus (with a confidence level of around 0.7-0.8) with the least error probability (1.0 is absolute certainty -- the sun rising tomorrow morning is about as close to 1.0 as possible). Some run this Monte Carle cycle thousands of times using super computers, like the NHC does.

So what’s my point? My point is more of a series of questions based on model-based decision making, than a point.
At what point/inflection do you make the virus secondary to the economic wellbeing of the country, as a whole?
What does that point look like?

To paraphrase Kirk: "Sometimes the good of the many outweigh the good of the few or of the one".
When does that trade-off happen and who prevails, the doctor or the economist? The answer to that question will absolutely determine the future of every one.



edit on Wed Apr 8 2020 by DontTreadOnMe because: made paragraphs




posted on Apr, 8 2020 @ 02:38 PM
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yowsers that's a sight for the eyes
Would you be so kind as to add some paragraphs? I don't normally ask but its a lot with no breaks
a reply to: Sandbar



posted on Apr, 8 2020 @ 03:00 PM
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a reply to: PhyllidaDavenport
Sorry. Stream of thought.



posted on Apr, 8 2020 @ 04:03 PM
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To paraphrase Kirk: "Sometimes the good of the many outweigh the good of the few or of the one".



Its nice to see people quoting from one of the greats, Plato, Aristotle and Captain Kirk.

Most governments have told the public that isolation is required to protect the hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients. Clearly that potential existed (aka Italy). But perhaps we need a different way to tackle pandemics like these. Instead of taking the sick to hospital, they should instead be treated in their own homes. With portable ventilators, central monitoing of sick via internet, doctors and nurses available via ambulance styled vehicles, that can make house calls within minutes etc. To minimize resources and contact between patients.

The economy cannot afford to constantly take hits like these. Its already ruined many lifes.



posted on Apr, 8 2020 @ 04:11 PM
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originally posted by: glend

To paraphrase Kirk: "Sometimes the good of the many outweigh the good of the few or of the one".



Its nice to see people quoting from one of the greats, Plato, Aristotle and Captain Kirk.

Most governments have told the public that isolation is required to protect the hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients. Clearly that potential existed (aka Italy). But perhaps we need a different way to tackle pandemics like these. Instead of taking the sick to hospital, they should instead be treated in their own homes. With portable ventilators, central monitoing of sick via internet, doctors and nurses available via ambulance styled vehicles, that can make house calls within minutes etc. To minimize resources and contact between patients.

The economy cannot afford to constantly take hits like these. Its already ruined many lifes.


So true, Mate. Point being that fuzzy statistical models should not be the only decision making component to focus on. Locking down an entire society might work well in a totalitarian authoritative regime. The West is, with all its faults, an open society and ecosystem. Why punish and destroy millions for the life of 100s. It's the law of numbers.



posted on Apr, 8 2020 @ 07:37 PM
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originally posted by: glend

To paraphrase Kirk: "Sometimes the good of the many outweigh the good of the few or of the one".



Its nice to see people quoting from one of the greats, Plato, Aristotle and Captain Kirk.

Most governments have told the public that isolation is required to protect the hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients. Clearly that potential existed (aka Italy). But perhaps we need a different way to tackle pandemics like these. Instead of taking the sick to hospital, they should instead be treated in their own homes. With portable ventilators, central monitoing of sick via internet, doctors and nurses available via ambulance styled vehicles, that can make house calls within minutes etc. To minimize resources and contact between patients.

The economy cannot afford to constantly take hits like these. Its already ruined many lifes.


Like the depression era visiting nurses program?

We don't have enough respirators now and those on them require sedation and restraint - don't see how that would work remotely even with a house call system (which is a good idea)



posted on Apr, 8 2020 @ 10:11 PM
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a reply to: FyreByrd

Thanks FyreByrd for correcting, didn't realize most covid-19 had to be restrained. It does sound horrific for people that need respirators.



The ventilator should have been doing the work of breathing but he was still gasping for air, moving his mouth, moving his body, struggling. We had to restrain him. With all the coronavirus patients, we’ve had to restrain them. They really hyperventilate, really struggle to breathe. When you’re in that mindstate of struggling to breathe and delirious with fever, you don’t know when someone is trying to help you, so you’ll try to rip the breathing tube out because you feel it is choking you, but you are drowning.
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posted on Apr, 8 2020 @ 10:53 PM
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The initial data when this was essentially just early days in China made any projections very unreliable but the spread across a broad range of populations is making predictions more reliable every day. The USA is demonstrating what happens if the overall reaction implementing control measures is too little and too late.

In a month or so we'll have a good idea of the actual mortality rate expressed as a percentage of confirmed cases across a broad range of cultures - it currently looks like around 4% based on China where it's pretty much under control with only 2% (and falling) of confirmed case outcomes undetermined now so that's the figure to beat.

This virus will ultimately infect every human on the planet and, without a vaccine, all we can do is control the rate at which it propagates so health care services don't break down.

If the 4% mortality rate holds up then we could see 300 million lost globally if no vaccine is produced in time.
edit on 8/4/2020 by Pilgrum because: added



posted on Apr, 9 2020 @ 09:48 AM
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originally posted by: Pilgrum
The initial data when this was essentially just early days in China made any projections very unreliable but the spread across a broad range of populations is making predictions more reliable every day. The USA is demonstrating what happens if the overall reaction implementing control measures is too little and too late.

In a month or so we'll have a good idea of the actual mortality rate expressed as a percentage of confirmed cases across a broad range of cultures - it currently looks like around 4% based on China where it's pretty much under control with only 2% (and falling) of confirmed case outcomes undetermined now so that's the figure to beat.

This virus will ultimately infect every human on the planet and, without a vaccine, all we can do is control the rate at which it propagates so health care services don't break down.

If the 4% mortality rate holds up then we could see 300 million lost globally if no vaccine is produced in time.


Realistically, the ONLY way a person can be declared dead, definitively, of any particular disease, is by performing an autopsy to determine if there are indicators that are pathognomonic of that particular disease. Including tissue and fluid assays. This is not being done. I believe that deaths contributable solely to COVID-19 is much closer to 1.5-2.0% . We likely will never have an accurate assessment. CCP's numbers are bogus at best.



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