This is a commonplace book to organize the most important, useful, and long-term reliable information and data sources I have found. Because the situation is constantly changing, this is not the easiest read. Check out data and rigorous analysis, policy advocacy, status reports, preparation, hygene, humour, and unsorted or just browse.

My commonplace book includes German, some Italian, and English resources and focuses on Austria and Canada which are the countries most important to me.

I have met many many thinky talky universitied people who as of early May do not know things about this virus which were easily available in English in March such as “if sufficient hospital resources are available, the fatality rate in a typical rich-country demographics is around 0.5%; if sufficient hospital resources are not available it is several percent.” These key facts do not seem to be controversial amongst experts in epidemic disease. Agnotology is a useful word; neither the old media nor the social media which replaced them are good at spreading the key facts and ways of thinking which let you make use of daily news.

Data and Rigorous Analysis

a log chart of deaths from covid-19 over time by thirteen countries in the North Atlantic and West Pacific regions

If you want one figure which shows the massive failures of governments in the North Atlantic and western Europe, this will do it (from Our World in Data). In a global perspective, the difference between countries in this region which handled the pandemic better or worse than each other is far smaller than between them on average and countries in the west and south Pacific on average. These countries are so diverse that they burst through any attempts to special plead them away like a catapult bolt through a rotten plank.

  • Jinghua Li et al., “Estimation of the epidemic properties of the 2019 novel coronavirus: A mathematical modeling study,” medRxiv, 20 February 2020 {estimates that in China, this virus has R0, the number of people each infected person infects, around 4 not 2-3 as many Anglos were still saying in March … epidemic flu is around 1.3-1.5, by 31 March after two weeks of shutting down nonessentail business and three weeks of closing universities the government of Austria estimated a R0 of 1.7 (Beiglböck et al.)
  • Nishiura et al. (Mar 3, 2020). “Closed environments facilitate secondary transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)” Pre-print released 28 February 2020 {again, ignored well into may as busybodies shouted at people meeting outside}
  • Rothe et al., “Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany,” 5 March 2020 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2001468schol {another major warning bell: it is much easier to contain a disease if people get sick and stay in bed rather than continuing their lives}
  • Gilmour, S. et al. “A Bayesian estimate of the underreporting rate for COVID-19 based on the experience of the Diamond Princess cruise ship.” [Submitted]. Bull World Health Organ. E-pub: 12 March 2020. doi: {based on experience with the cruise ship Diamond Princess, argues that China is identifying and reporting about 10% of infected people}
  • Icelandic Ministry of Health, “Large scale testing of general population in Iceland underway,” 15 March 2020 {about 10% of people in Iceland tested through the health care system, and 0.86% of the population in a random sample, tested positive in the middle of March. This would imply that about 3000 people in Iceland were infected at that date, but as of 27 March only a thousand have been identified … false positives may explain part of the difference}
  • Ferguson et al., “Impact of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) to Reduce COVID-19 Mortality and Healthcare Demand,” Imperial College London, 16 March 2020 DOI:
  • van Doremalen et al., “Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1”, 17 March 2020 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973
  • Claudio Cancelli, Luca Foresti, Coronavirus, studio su Nembro: «Il numero vero di morti è almeno 4 volte quello ufficiale» Corriere della Sera (Milan), 25 March 2020 (Italian version and English version) {“Nembro, one of the municipalities most affected by Covid-19, should have had – under normal conditions – about 35 deaths. 158 people were registered dead this year by the municipal offices. But the number of deaths officially attributed to Covid-19 is 31”}
  • Oriol Güell, “El coronavirus causa más muertes de las detectadas,” El País (Madrid), 28 March 2020 {official statistics show coronavirus doubling the normal death rate, but 3-5 times as many deaths from all causes are being registered as a year before}
  • Mathias Beiglböck, Philipp Grohs, Joachim Hermisson, Magnus Nordborg, Walter Schachermayer, Experten-Stellungnahme zur COVID19 Krise vom 30.3.2019 (English executive summary v. 2 dated 31 March at {estimates that the reproduction number of the virus in Austria was still 1.7 after two weeks of closing all nonessential businesses and three weeks of limited closure}
  • “Coronavirus: Sechs von 1.161 Stichproben in Österreichs Schlüsselberufen positiv,” Oberösterriechisches Volksblatt, 2 April 2020 {of 1,161 workers in supermarkets, care homes and hospitals tested on 29/30 March, six tested positive on 29/30 March, a rate of 5 per 1000. At that date, about 1 person per 1000 population in Austria had been diagnosed with covid-10}
  • Bommer, C. and Vollmer, S. (2020) “Average detection rate of SARS-CoV-2 infections is estimated around six percent,” 2 April 2020 {uses the somewhat-reliable figures for deaths, and the somewhat-more-reliable data on death rates among infected people by age, to estimate what the number of deaths in a given country imply about the number of cases 14 days earlier: they estimate that 1% of the population of Austria was infected on 31 March}
  • SORA: COVID-19 Prävalenz (10 April 2020)
  • Adelina Comas-Herrera and Jose-Luis Fernandez, unpublished report summarized in The Guardian (May 2020) The rate of excess deaths in old-age homes in the UK from 13 March to 1 May is 2.5 times the Office of National Statistics figure for deaths in old-age homes due to coronavirus “from 13 March to 1 May, there were 19,938 “excess deaths” in care homes – that is above the average number of deaths for the same weeks in the previous five years. Only 8,310 of these were specifically linked to Covid-19 by the ONS”
  • Derek Lowe, “Hydroxychloroquinine: Enough Already?” In the Pipeline, 22 May 2020 summarizing “96,032 patients were registered in these hospitals with the coronavirus during the study period (December 20, 2019 to April 14, 2020); this is a large data set. The mean age of the patients was just under 54 years, 54/46 male/female. 14,888 of them were in the treatment sets defined above: 1868 got straight chloroquine, 3783 got chloroquine with a macrolide, 3016 received hydroxychloroquine by itself, and another 6221 got HCQ with a macrolide). That leaves 81,144 patients as a control group getting other standard of care. … The mortality in the control group was 9.3%. The mortality in the chloroquine group was 16.4%. The mortality in the chloroquine plus macrolide group was 22.2%. The mortality in the hydroxychloroquine group was 18%. And the mortality in the hydroxychloroquine plus macrolide group was 23.8%.
  • Andrew Gelman, “A trolley problem for our times,” 1 June 2020 {argues that the data in the study of 96,032 patients was made up by the provider}
  • Derek Lowe, “Surgisphere and their Data,” In the Pipeline, 2 June 2020 {backtracks on the Lancet study of 96,032 patients because its data comes from a tiny company run by questionable people}
  • Kimberly A. Prather, Chia C. Wang, and Robert T. Schooley, “Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” Science 26 June 2020 DOI: 10.1126/science.abc6197
  • Emanuel Goldman, “Exaggerated Risk of transmission of Covid-19 by fomites,” The Lancet Infectious Diseases 3 July 2020 {argues that there is very little evidence of transmission of the virus by patient to object to patient, while air transmission is well documented}
  • Ramanan Laxminarayan et al., “Epidemiology and transmission dynamics of COVID-19 in two Indian states,” Science, 30 Sep 2020 DOI: 10.1126/science.abd7672 {“No positive contacts were identified for 70.7% of index cases for whom reliable contact-tracing data, including test results, were available.” In other words, 70% of known cases in two Indian provinces were not in contact with anyone else who was subsequently diagnosed}

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Policy Advocacy

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Status Reports

Tirol: Tiroler Tageszeitung “Das Coronavirus und die Folgen”
Innsbruck Informiert
Austria: Amtliches Dashboard COVID19 {national and regional figures differ due to different decisions about whether to count active cases or all cases including the dead and the recovered}
Iceland: COVID-19 Iceland
British Columbia, Canada British Columbia, Canada
WHO with daily situation reports
Robert Koch Institute
??? {I can’t find anything on who runs this page, so caveat lector}

I do not recommend Wikipedia, people familiar with statistics from different countries say that theirs do not agree.


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