Saifedean Ammous : #COVID19 Stats Show That We Are Overreacting (and Bungling the Economy too)

LAW & ECONOMICS / Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

The onus is on you to illustrate clearly how your hysteria is justified, not on the others whose lives have been suspended because of your hysteria.

Thread on Twitter

Potential False-Positive Rate Among the ‘Asymptomatic Infected Individuals’ in Close Contacts of COVID-19 Patients : 80% (see this journal)

Majority of testing has so far been done on sick ppl & those in contact with them. The more you test, the more positives you will get, regardless of underlying transmission & infection dynamics. This means infection data is a better measure of the extent of testing, not infection.

Death rate data is measured based on people who are being tested, and these are overwhelmingly sick, and most of them with many other conditions. Extrapolating to the general population seems odd. See this journal :

Icelanders did their statistics unidiotically: Test a random sample of the entire population & then look at infection & death rates. If infection rates are steadily increasing then the disease is spreading. Detection =/= infection. (See “Iceland is Doing Science — ~50% of People with COVID-19 Not Showing Symptoms

Icelanders found 0.86% of the population has the virus. ~50% of virus carriers show no symptoms. ~50% show mild cold symptoms. Out of 409 cases detected, six are hospitalized, one in ICU, and one died.

This Italian town tested its entire population of 3,000+, twice, 10 days apart. If they had simply kept adding numbers of detected infections, like everyone else does, their data would have shown continuously increasing infection, but instead (see “Why mass COVID-19 testing — even of those who are symptom-free — is key to stopping spread“:

The most interesting thing we learn from Vo and Iceland is that comprehensive testing allows us to see the likelihood of getting sick from contracting the virus. Contrary to what your favorite hysterics inform you, catching the virus is NOT a death sentence.

In three months, 7,500 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19, around 2,500/month, and most of these had other serious illnesses. Meanwhile, 2.6 million people die from pneumonia every year, averaging ~200,000/month, or 80x the deaths from COVID-19 (see “Pneumonia” at

This, of course, is when stat-molesters jump in to inform me that pneumonia is known, but COVID-19 is new & its spread could be exponential BUT, you’d need to base this on something far less moronic than using infection & death rates among the sick to project to the population.

So far we know:
-tests have large error margin
-positive tests only associated with small chance of being sick
-vast majority of COVID-19 cases have other serious diseases
-We have 80x more pneumonia cases than COVID-19

Are these good reasons to suspend the lives of billions?

Paranoid hysterics have an endless list of potential scenarios and exponential horrors that might happen from the virus. One wonders why they don’t apply the same level of hysterical paranoia to the consequences of suspending economic production?

Will this virus overload hospitals? Perhaps, but nowhere near as much as what would happen from the majority of the hospitals’ supply chain being massively disrupted by hysteria. Yet panicking about a virus makes your brain look much bigger than worrying about stupid markets.

For example, take this hysteric idiot: Millions of deaths is a settled matter of fact & refusing to suspend your life can only mean you want it to happen. But not destroying the livelihood of millions is “inscrutably indeterminate chance of improvement in the economic outlook.”

Being hysterical makes you think like an idiot, it doesn’t make you infallible, nor does it oblige others to respect your emotional instability or your dumb math. Onus is on you to illustrate clearly how your hysteria is justified, not on others to ruin their lives for it.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this