Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Boston Globe: What's the best case scenario for the coronavirus pandemic?

16:06 into the video:

ML: The best case scenario would be that we had been missing way more cases than we thought, and that there are lots of people out there who have been infected and have developed an immune response that we just didn’t know about.

BV: And how likely do you think that is? I  mean know I we need the serological test to look for antibodies among the  population  who are not coming into emergency rooms and IC units to know this for sure, but what’s your sense of that, the fatality rate, are we overestimating that right now?

ML: I think it is clear that, I mean everybody in my business agrees that in the US we are not detecting all cases because of lack of testing, and that maybe the true number is 5 to 10 times the number we think it is, but that’s still a tiny fraction of the US population, and even a small fraction of the populations in the hotspots. So, that could be right, it could be in that range or there could be surprises in both directions.  The surprise in the beneficial direction is maybe there are just a lot of very mild cases that we haven’t seen or that preceded when there was any testing to be had, or that we just somehow missed. And I think that is possible, and there are tiny anecdotal bits of evidence that we are missing maybe more cases than we thought.

On the other side, we are assuming that infection leads to immunity, at least for a while, and while that may well be true there was a paper that came out on a preprint server this morning suggesting that in China maybe a third of people who had documented infections did not have visible immune responses. So if that were true, then that means that for each infection that we get there is less immunity in the population than we thought.

So how those two kind of surprises will play out I think we’ll only know…  we will know the first part of how many people have immune responses at all, I’d  say in a couple of weeks we will begin to have a picture, but the second question of whether those  immune responses are protective, I think it’s gonna   take longer because it is a much harder study to do.