Reason why you think we already hit the bottom on March 23, and one reason why we haven’t

by brianmcn

 

Why we have bottomed already: We know we’re under-counting cases, as some mild/asymptomatic infections fly under the radar. A few serological tests are starting to try to measure antibodies to see what fraction of the population has had the disease in the past. The scant data so far suggests perhaps we have under-counted cases by a factor of 2 to a factor of 80. Suppose it’s on the high end and we’ve under-counted by a factor of 40. The implications are that about 20 million Americans may have already been infected (about 6% of the population), and that the actual fatality rate of the whole infected population may be closer to 0.1%. We’re learning better ways to treat those who need hospitalization to recover. A slow burn towards herd immunity becomes more feasible both because it is happening so rapidly and because even the worst case for fatalities would be close to what the best case was thought to be a couple weeks ago.

Why we haven’t bottomed already: Suppose we’re only under-counting by a factor of 2. Less than 1% of Americans have gotten it yet, and there’s still room for it to get 100x worse. Opening the economy just puts us back to where we were in February, with huge risk of more outbreaks, except that we’ve already burned through a substantial portion of PPE stockpiles, while a generally-available vaccine is probably still at least 11 months away. We’ll be forced to shut down the economy again or else face a completely overrun hospital system which will just add to the death toll and have its own economic and societal impacts.

Based on what we know so far about the virus, I feel there is still a hugely wide range of possible outcomes. Uncertainty makes it hard to make effective plans.

 

Disclaimer: This information is only for educational purposes. Do not make any investment decisions based on the information in this article. Do you own due diligence.