You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘second wave’ tag.

Mission Accomplished? Uh, Whoops, Not Quite!

By Shlomo Maital

Bush’s Mission Accomplished speech

   A small bit of 17-year-old history: In his “Mission Accomplished” speech (named for a banner displayed above the speaker) United States President George W. Bush spoke on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003.   Bush stated it was the end to major combat operations in Iraq.  We won. Yay!  

   Bush’s claim —and the sign itself—became controversial after warfare in Iraq increased during the Iraqi insurgency. The vast majority of casualties, both military and civilian, occurred after the speech. 

   Fast forward. In the Wall Street Journal, Vice-President Mike Pence declares, just two weeks ago: “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave’. With testing, treatments and vaccine trials ramping up, we are far better off than the media report.”   Meanwhile, the US is among world leaders with some 50,000 new cases daily. And President Trump? CNN reports: in mid June, “ when U.S. health officials reported nearly 27,000 new Covid-19 cases, President Trump said in a television interview that the virus was “dying out.” He brushed off concerns about an upcoming rally in Tulsa, Okla., because the number of cases there is “very miniscule,” despite the state’s surging infection rate.”

     Mission Accomplished? A victory lap?   Not quite. And people are dying as a result.

     My country Israel is no exception. We are among world leaders in new cases per 1,000 population. And the numbers are rising.   A bloated coalition cabinet is like a carving I once saw, a two headed snake, one head trying to eat the other.   This, after our Prime Minister took ‘credit’ for Israel’s astounding success in defeating the coronavirus.

     And it is no second wave. It is the continued first wave, of a sneaky wily piece of ribonucleic acid that is humiliating the vaunted brainpower of humans, 86 billion brain cells for each of the 8 billion or so people on earth. Two to zero, in favor of the virus.

     No, mission not accomplished. And the arrogance of claiming that it is, is itself criminal.

One Terrible Picture – Worth Thousands of Words

By Shlomo Maital


New COVID-19 cases in the United States, daily, from early March

The graph above shows new COVID-19 cases daily, for the United States, up to date. It speaks for itself. (The graph is from the New York Times).

This is what happens to a country with inept criminal leadership, or lack of leadership, and a politicized pandemic where wearing masks is ‘unconstitutional’, where political leaders buckle under popular pressure and open the economy too soon – and then find they can’t close it again. Go back to Memorial Day weekend, Monday May 25 – and the crowds that gathered at beaches and parks – and you can see the second wave 14 days later.  And no, President Trump and Vice-President Pence, this is NOT because of increased testing! 

   So nations of the world! Look at this closely. If you make the mistakes the US has made, heaven forbid, this is what awaits you.

   As I write this, new cases in Israel are exploding. But very little is being done.

Beware of the Second Wave! 

By Shlomo Maital

   As the ‘rate of doubling’ (number of days COVID-19 cases double, from every three days to weekly or more) slows, in some countries, even plague-ridden ones like Italy, a new danger emerges: Complacency.

   Writing in the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof warns of a second wave.

“….countless thousands will still die because of past mistakes and complacency. A pandemic is like an oil tanker: It continues to move forward long after you hit the brakes. In China, deaths didn’t fall sharply until a month after controls had been imposed. The benefits from social distancing in the United States will take time to ripple through the system, and there will continue to be new infections — and many more deaths.

  Kristof continues: “The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington has a constantly updated model that predicts that the daily death toll across the United States will rise until April 16 and then slowly decline. By the beginning of August, it estimates that more than 93,000 Americans will have died from Covid-19.”

   “More bad news: Case fatality rates have been creeping up, and lethality may be greater than many had expected. Germany was hailed for a death rate of only about 0.5 percent, and South Korea was not much higher; now both have case fatality rates well above 1 percent.   In models of the virus that my colleague Stuart A. Thompson and I published, we used a death rate of 1 percent. But if the South Korean death rate by age is applied to the demography of the United States, the American case fatality rate is about 2 percent, according to Dr. Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

 “A great majority of the deaths in the United States will have been avoidable. South Korea and the United States had their first coronavirus cases on the same day, but Seoul did a far better job managing the response. The upshot: It has suffered only 174 coronavirus deaths, equivalent to 1,100 for a population the size of America’s.

  “That suggests that we may lose 90,000 Americans in this wave of infections because the United States did not manage the crisis as well as South Korea did. As of Friday night, the U.S. had already had more than 7,000 deaths. ….. while we can bend the curve, it will bend back when we relax our social distancing.

  “This is more bad news, for many people seem to believe that once we get through this grim month or two, the nightmare will be over. But the virus is resilient, and health experts warn that this may be just the first wave of what may be many waves of infections until we get a vaccine sometime in 2021.

   “We’re just looking at this first wave,” noted Dr. Murray. He estimates that in June, some 95 percent of Americans will still be susceptible to the virus. “The world’s on fire with this virus,” said Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, and this means that even if one country succeeds in putting out the blaze, sparks will keep arriving from elsewhere to cause new outbreaks. He added: “I think the transmission will continue to occur for some time.”



Learning From Taiwan: A Deeper Look [Clue: Democracy & Transparency]

 By Shlomo Maital

   In previous blogs, I wrote tersely about how Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong have excelled in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

   An article in gives more details about Taiwan’s success. A brief summary: Democracy and Transparency.

   Andrew Leonard writes: “Taiwan Is Beating the Coronavirus. Can the US Do the Same? The island nation’s government is staying ahead of the virus, but don’t ascribe it to “Confucian values.” Credit democracy and transparency. And preparedness (a detailed plan put in place after SARS in 2003).

   “AS OF WEDNESDAY, the nation of Taiwan had recorded 100 cases of Covid-19, a remarkably low number given the island’s proximity to China. Some 2.71 million mainland Chinese visited Taiwan in 2019, and as recently as January there were a dozen round trip flights between Wuhan and Taipei every week. But despite its obvious vulnerabilities, Taiwan has managed, so far, to keep well ahead of the infectious curve through a combination of early response, pervasive screening, contact tracing, comprehensive testing, and the adroit use of technology.”

   “Taiwan’s self-confidence and collective solidarity trace back to its triumphal self-liberation from its own authoritarian past, its ability to thrive in the shadow of a massive, hostile neighbor that refuses to recognize its right to chart its own path, and its track record of learning from existential threats.”

 A BBC report this morning recounts that Taiwan was hit hard by SARS in 2003. In its wake, Taiwan set up stockpiles of medical equipment and detailed contingency plans. The moment China announced the case of a strange type of pneumonia, Taiwan was ready. Incoming flights had passengers tested for fever before they left the plane.

   For political reasons, mainland China has vetoed Taiwan’s membership in the World Health Organization. As a result Taiwan has had to prepare for pandemics on its own, without WHO help. That has proved a major boon.

      Andrew Leonard continues: “The threat of SARS put Taiwan on high alert for future outbreaks, while the past record of success at meeting such challenges seems to have encouraged the public to accept socially intrusive technological interventions. (Jason Wang, a Stanford clinician who coauthored a report on Taiwan’s containment strategy, also told me via email that the government’s “special powers to integrate data and track people were only allowed during a crisis,” under the provisions of the Communicable Disease Control Act.)”

     Leonard continues to describe Taiwan’s transparency: “Taiwan’s commitment to transparency has also been critical. In the United States, the Trump administration ordered federal health authorities to treat high-level discussions on the coronavirus as classified material. In Taiwan, the government has gone to great lengths to keep citizens well informed on every aspect of the outbreak, including daily press conferences and an active presence on social media. Just one example: On March 15, Vice President Chen posted a lengthy analysis of international coronavirus “incidence and mortality rates” on Facebook that racked up 19,000 likes and 3,000 shares in just two days.”

   Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong are now battling the ‘second wave’ – COVID-19 cases of citizens who contracted it abroad and are now returning home. (Of course nations have to allow their own citizens to re-enter the country).   If only Europe and the US would open their windows, much can be learned from how Taiwan handles this ‘second wave’….because, chances are, there will also be a second wave in Europe and the US.

Thanks WIRED for making this freely available!…

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital