A shitshow, or rainbows and unicorns

I realize that pretty much all my blog posts the last month have been about isolation and the Coronavirus. Apologies for that, and I’ll try to do better starting Real Soon Now.

Before that, I do want to make some predictions about the rest of 2020. There are two possibilities – a continuing shitshow, or, rainbows and unicorns. Unfortunately the shitshow is most likely. A very intelligent SF author from Great Britain, Charles Stross, has laid out the coming shitshow pretty bluntly. It won’t be fun.

Note: the picture above is my representation of the rainbows/unicorn scenario. I don’t have a good picture of a rainbow. Beautiful KY redbud from Emily’s yard will have to do.

The less-likely alternate future of rainbows and unicorns has two possible sources. One, extremely effective treatments for C19 becoming widely available. For example, if remdesivir proves to be better than even hoped and Gilead Pharmaceutical doesn’t charge a crazy amount for it. That would make catching the virus no worse than getting a bacterial infection, as in “Take these pills, check in with me in week. You’ll be fine…”.

The second rainbow/unicorn scenario is if it turns out the virus is much more pervasive and infectious than is thought today. “Reliable” stats on C19 show about 2.3M confirmed cases worldwide today (4/18/2020), with about 700K cases in the US. Many folks including me think that count is very low. If, for example, the virus has already infected 5% of the US population (that would be about sixteen million people), then the actual death rate is much lower than we calculate right now, and, we’re a lot closer to herd immunity.

That’s great news if you’re one of the 16M who’ve already been infected and didn’t know it. The bad news in this scenario is that the entire country will ultimately get the virus after waves and waves of reinfections and something like 10.5 million Americans will die over the next 12-18 months (That’s a staggering number, but the math is pretty straightforward. That’s 328M people, with 80% infected yielding herd immunity, and a 4% mortality rate among those infected – 328M x 0.8 x .04 = 10.5M.) And for those of you in the lucky 96% survivor group, the economy will still be crushed. Yikes.

Sooo…with this essay I guess I’ve convinced myself that there are only two scenarios after all. The only way out of said massive shitshow is an effective treatment or vaccine, soon. That’s not impossible, but it’s not likely.

And on that happy thought I’ll go back to my morning routine. Or I might just go shopping for that truck I’ve been thinking about. Why wait?