For those of you who thought SARS was overblown

From the NYT today:

"The death rate from SARS may be significantly higher than health officials had thought, up to 55 percent in people 60 and older, and up to 13.2 percent in younger people, the first major epidemiological study of the disease suggests.

“Mortality rates are bound to change somewhat as an epidemic continues. But unless the numbers fall drastically, SARS would be among infectious diseases with the highest death rates. Until now, fatality rates reported by the World Health Organization had ranged from 2 percent, when the epidemic was first detected in March, to 7.2 percent.”


Pffftftt, but the total death rate is still low right? That means no one has anything to worry about EVER. Call me when SARS starts kills more people a year than donkeys.

Jesus, you are an idiot. What part of “SARS would be among infectious diseases with the highest death rates” do you not understand? Let’s just hope that they manage to get rid of it pretty much once and for all with this one outbreak. If not, we could be enjoying this sort of thing every year during flu season. And, of course, if it really spreads, we could be looking at 1918 Part Deux.

Ok, now is the time to panic.

PROOF that Jason will take the opposite of any stance I do.

I called SARS dangerous and potentially extremely threatening to everyone; Jason responds with ‘Screw that, cars are more dangerous’ (paraphrase)

I mock his position and say that SARS is not dangerous and no one has anything to worry about; Jason responds with ‘Lord HE’P ME! Wesa all gonna diiiee!’ (paraphrase)

Hey Jason: The world is not really round.

Looks like we’ll have to nuke Toronto. Sorry, but it’s for the protection of the rest of North America. Wasn’t there a case in Florida too? I’d been hoping for an excuse to wipe that state of the map (And good news, PR, you’re movin’ on up!)

It depends on how you look at the statistics.
If you take [deaths from sars / cases of sars], you get one death rate, around 4 - 5% (Lower than West Nile).

If you take [death from sars /(cases of sars - people not yet recovered)] you get a much higher death rate, greater than 10%.

The question is, which one is valid? As pointed out in the NYT article, it’s really too soon to get valid data.

I’m not an epidemiologist, but it seems to me that since there’s yet to have been an American fatality, and since almost all of the Toronto cases (according to what I’ve read in the Star) can be linked to a single Patient Zero originating from Asia, there’s some pretty solid evidence that SARS does not do well in subsequent “generations” of transmission outside its cradle.

And since the outbreak has been stabilized and in at least one case totally eradicated in several hard-hit Asian nations (with the glaring exception of the can-do Chinese), it’s probably also early to be predicting 1918 in Asia.

One thing that really pisses me off about the mass media is that they only seem to report on death. If a disaster happens and 30 people die, and 120 people are injured, the focus is completely on the deaths – even if 50 of those 120 injured people lost limbs, will never walk again, were horribly burned, etc. That’s a significant part of the story as well.

Which brings me back to SARS – I have yet to see a single report about the aftermath for SARS survivors. Is it like a cold or flu, where once you’re over it, you’re back to 100%? Or does it do damage to your system like some other viruses – does a harsh case of SARS and a couple of weeks on a respirator mean you’re going to have reduced lung capacity for the rest of your life or something? No idea, because the media reports only on death figures.

NYT had an article on this last week about a Chinese doctor. A month into “recovery” the guy could barely walk on a treadmill for 50 minutes…before the guy was a top notch distance runner. Breathing is a challenge as is general weakness…it ran last weekend or the weekend before…scared shit out of me

But you play one on TV?

The pandemic of 1918 only killed 1% of people who became ill, according to the article.

How do you keep a Cookiepants in suspense?

I seem to recall saying that we should get worried when it turns out to actually be capable of doing damage.

How do you keep a Cookiepants in suspense?[/quote]

Perhaps we could get Jason to create a logical contradiction, instantly creating a hole in space time that would suck Cookiepants in.

Denny, I have no idea what you’re talking about so I’m assuming when you say “mass media” you’re talking about the 6:30 news and the cable nets? Because all this and more (your SARS questions) was well covered in newspapers and magazines. Even the mass-media newsmags, see last week’s Time and Newsweek, covered it from multiple angles. Television news is only good for up-to-the-minute stuff. You’ll rarely find real depth there.

They don’t know a lot of certainties about its transmission at all yet. One of the big problems with Toronto was health care people coming down with SARS even though they were taking all necessary precautions. As far as I know, nobody ever did figure out how the disease was being transmitted in those cases. At any rate, SARS seems rather virulent and long-lasting. You don’t need close contact to get it, as evidenced by that apartment building in Asia, where some toilets backed up and something like a hundred people ended up with SARS.

I’m not saying it’s time to run wild in the streets, but the idiots who looked at the early under 5% death rate and the fact that it didn’t hit the US and concluded “Big deal” really pissed me off. SARS is a serious concern, the attention of WHO and the CDC should be proof of that to everyone. If SARS were to get into the general North American population, it would be a disaster of immense proportions. But maybe you have to live in Ontario, where hospitals 200 miles away from the outbreak closed down all but their emergency entrances to screen everyone that entered the building and cancelled even life-saving surgery, to see how potentially serious it could be for all of us.

Denny, I have no idea what you’re talking about so I’m assuming when you say “mass media” you’re talking about the 6:30 news and the cable nets? [/quote]
Of course. It’s the 21st century. Nobody reads any more.

I used to read. Then I had a baby. Now it’s all I can do to find time to read novels and comics – screw that depressing “real world news” stuff. If I can’t get it from a quick CNN viewing, Google News, or The Daily Show, it doesn’t exist for me anymore.

Yes, I have become what I hate.

I hear you. Didn’t we have this exact conversation, reversed, regarding playing games in your spare time? :D The fact that you watch CNN and the Daily Show puts you ahead of the masses, at least.

Slate had a really good critique of TV news about 2 years ago. The conclusion was that the news was ONLY interested in getting you vaguely angry and that’s it. Every story is designed to give you just enough info to feel something (usually pissed or sad), but not feel enough to want to do anything, and not enough info to know what to do, or really understand what’s going on. It’s not news, it’s brief controlled outrage. It sort of creates this ignorant, barely informed, mass of people who think Saddam Hussein is Osama Bin Laden’s father… or something. Watch the news tonight with that in mind. There’s some truth to that criticism.

‘And here’s the list of all the people in the world you did not die today: Anderson Aron…’