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COVID-19: The Tomas Pueyo Blog Series

April 6, 2020

0.3 Microns. So small you can’t see it.

These blogs have been viewed by over 60 million people and translated into over 40 languages.
Information-rich, not dumbed down. You will know what “The Hammer” and “The Dance” are, why we are currently exiting The Hammer stage and entering The Dance, what it it takes to get to the dance and – eventually – through it, and why we shouldn’t rush it. Very highly recommended, and thanks to Ray Juncosa for sending it to me. [Chuck Almdale]


Important Coronavirus Articles by Tomas Pueyo, with more coming. (Buzzfeed article on Pueyo)

How Bad is the Coronavirus?  March 1, 2020.  14 minute read
And what you can do to curb its spread.
Summary of the article: The world is slowly realizing the true dimension of the coronavirus, but it’s reacting slowly. Here’s a summary (as of March 1, 2020) of everything we know that’s relevant and what we can do to protect ourselves and our communities.


Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now. March 10, 2020. 27 minute read.
Part one of three.
Summary of the article: Politicians, Community Leaders and Business Leaders: What Should You Do and When?
We all should have read this two months ago. Cases and deaths have risen since then, but the charts and analysis are still valid. Not dumbed-down.


Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance. March 19, 2020. 29 minute read.
Part two of three.
Summary of the article: Strong coronavirus measures today should only last a few weeks, there shouldn’t be a big peak of infections afterwards, and it can all be done for a reasonable cost to society, saving millions of lives along the way. If we don’t take these measures, tens of millions will be infected, many will die, along with anybody else that requires intensive care, because the healthcare system will have collapsed.

Some charts from this article are at the bottom of this page.


Coronavirus: Out of Many, One. April 1, 2020. 29 minute read.
Part three of three.
It makes political and economic sense for the US to suppress the coronavirus. For that, states and the federal government each have their own roles that they need to adjust.


Coronavirus: Learning How to Dance. April 20, 2020. 19 minute read.
Part 1: A Dancing Masterclass, or What We Can Learn from Countries Around the World
Summary: The first three articles have been viewed by over 60 million people and translated into over 40 languages. Since then, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has grown twentyfold, from 125,000 to over 2.5 million. Billions of people around the world are under the Hammer: Their governments have implemented heavy social distancing measures to quench the spread of the virus. Most did the right thing: The Hammer was the right decision. It bought us time to reduce the epidemic and to figure out what to do during the next phase, the Dance, in which we relax the harsh social distancing measures in a careful way to avoid a second outbreak. But the Hammer is hard. Millions have lost their jobs, their income, their savings, their businesses, their freedom. The world needs answers: When is this over? When do we relax these measures and go back to the new normal? What will it take? What will life be like?


Coronavirus: The Basic Dance Steps Everybody Can Follow.  April 23, 2020. 18 minute read.
Part 2 of Coronavirus: Learning How to Dance
Any country can follow a series of measures that are very cheap and can dramatically reduce the epidemic: mandate wearing home-made masks, apply physical distancing and hygiene everywhere, and educate the public.


Coronavirus: How to Do Testing and Contact Tracing.  April 28, 2020. 39 minute read.
Part 3 of Coronavirus: Learning How to Dance
Summary: We can reopen the economy again if we do a few things right, including testing and contact tracing. We need to test all people with symptoms and their contacts, which means at most 3% of our tests should turn out positive. We need to identify as many infected as possible, and 70% to 90% of their contacts, to isolate or quarantine them. If we do all of that really fast (within a day or so), it might be enough to control the epidemic. We should hire lots of people to do that, and also use technology. The technology has some privacy tradeoffs, but they are really reasonable. Most of the bluetooth contact tracing apps built today are amazing pieces of technology that will be useless unless they get some fundamental changes.


Coronavirus: Isolations and Quarantines – Not yet published as of  May 14, 2020
Part 4 of Coronavirus: Learning How to Dance


Coronavirus: Prevent Seeding and Spreading.  May 12, 2020. 31 minute read.
Part 5 of Coronavirus: Learning How to Dance
Summary: In this section of the article we cover the importance of continuing to limit travel and social gatherings. We touch on the idea of opening travel in less infected areas while isolating areas of higher risk. This section also reviews the impact large social gatherings can have and the importance of preventing the spread at home.


Coronavirus: Putting it All Together – Not yet published as of  May 14, 2020
Part 6 of Coronavirus: Learning How to Dance
Summary: We will give specific recommendations on each, including a warning: Most countries are not approaching the Dance well. If they continue their current path, they will end up like Singapore.


Should We Reopen Churches?  May 12, 2020. 31 minute read.
Summary: The Coronavirus loves churches. They are its perfect breeding ground: confined environments where lots of people gather for a long time to talk, sing, and touch each other. That’s why temples across the world have closed and masses are conducted online. Yet in the United States, there’s been a debate. Some states have closed churches, while the President asked them to reopen them. The debate is necessary. Churches are important for the spiritual and social lives of many people. It’s essential to try opening them back up as soon as possible.


Coronavirus: Should We Aim for Herd Immunity Like Sweden.  June 9, 2020. 32 minute read.
And what can countries like the U.S. or Netherlands learn from it?
Summary: Sweden has famously followed a different coronavirus strategy than most of the rest of the Developed world: Let the virus run loose, curb it enough to make sure it doesn’t overwhelm the healthcare system like in Hubei, Italy or Spain, but don’t try to eliminate it. They think stopping it completely is impossible. The natural consequence is that most citizens get infected, and that eventually slows down the epidemic. That’s why, in short, people call that strategy “Herd Immunity”. The other strategy is the Hammer and the Dance: Aggressively attack the coronavirus by locking down the economy. Once curbed, jump into the Dance by replacing the aggressive lockdown with cheap and intelligent measures to control the virus. Some countries and states, such as the Netherlands and the UK, or US states like Texas and Georgia, have implemented measures in between the two strategies. So which strategy is best?


Coronavirus: How to Reopen Travel Safely.  June 25, 2020. 11 minute read.
Which citizens should countries allow in? Under what conditions?

Summary: The current plans to reopen EU countries are too blunt. Citizens from different countries are either blocked or fully allowed to travel. This will result in new outbreaks. Instead, there should be tiers of countries based on best guesses on prevalence and value per visitor. Within that, higher value visitors such as those owning a home should be treated differently. There is no excuse for lack of PCR tests. European countries with special situations, such as Sweden, Portugal or the UK should be treated separately.

Some chart snip excerpts from article two, Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance.
All charts are sharper on the original blog.

Above chart 9: Chinese authorities were able to determine, through after-the-fact interviews, just when actual cases (blue-gray bars) began, as opposed to known cases (orange bars). Actual cases began to drop within two days after lockdown, but known cases continued to rise.

Above chart 3: The cost of doing nothing is catastrophic.


Above chart 7: Under suppression (not just mitigation) death rates plummet.


Above chart 13: “Hammering” the virus through suppression for 3-7 weeks, should be followed by “The Dance,” keeping the transmission rate at one transmission per infected person rather than the 2.4 and higher we previously saw.

Once the Hammer is in place and the outbreak is controlled, the Dance phase begins.

Above chart 14: About 50% (or perhaps 45%) of transmissions occur before the infected person has any symptoms.

Above chart 15: What our authorities need to know and need to do to get the contagion rate below one rate per infected person.

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