• Dr. Petryk

What is “Flattening the Curve” and does Social Distancing Work?

This is a very controversial topic and I believe that it is best to point out some facts and let the reader decide.

“The Curve” that everyone has seen, is a computer generated “model” based upon a theoretical “algorithm.” Surely, everyone has seen the models plastered all over the news as well as the daily briefings from the White House but for practical purposed, the model is pasted below.

There are several things that need to be understood in order to begin the discussion. Like all things that “research” produces, it is very important to find the money trail, and the models that have been used are no different. To reiterate, these are “theoretical models” and not based upon any sound, scientific, peer reviewed research, these are a computer generated “theory.” The “large” curve suggests the number of cases if no “preventative measures” are taken, whereas the “small” curve suggests the number of cases if some measure of prevention is taken.

Some things to dissect:

1. Part of the difficulty here is that the virus is so “new”

a. As mentioned in a previous blog, the virus is presumed to be “rather new,” which is why Covid-19 (CV19) has been referred to as “novel” (meaning new)

b. Given that it appears to be “new,” it is difficult to use any “sound scientific” data to support any epidemiological model/theory.

2. It’s origins not yet truly known and verified (though there are numerous theories)

a. Again, as mentioned in a previous blog, the origin of Covid-19 (CV19), it still in question.

i. It was first presumed to have originated in bats and then transmitted to an armadillo type of animal called a Pangolin

ii. In Chinese Medicine, Pangolin scales are believed to have medicinal qualities and are used in treatment of human dysfunction throughout the world

iii. There are now new questions surrounding the origin of Covid-19 (CV19) and suggestions that it was released from a biological laboratory in the Wuhan Provence, which leads to new questions as to the origin of the virus

3. And it’s true Ro (pronounced R-knot) not known

a. In medicine, there is something called a Ro. This is the “rate of transmission” or in other words, it’s how “infectious” the organism, in this case a virus is.

i. For a better perspective; Influenzas’ has an Ro of approximately 1. – 1.3. This means that every infected person can transmit the pathogen to 1 – 1.3 other people

ii. As of 3 weeks ago, Covid-19 (CV19) was believed to have an Ro of 2 – 4. This means that every infected person can transmit the pathogen to 2 – 4 other people. So, let’s use 3 as an easy number… every infected person can spread the pathogen to 3 people, who can spread it to 9, who can spread it to 27, etc. It is this where the true concern lies as the Ro is obviously very, very high. On the bright side, the newer numbers suggest that the Ro will be lower though those numbers have not yet been made available

This really is something very infectious and therefore potentially very serious and this is where the public health officials become very concerned however; the “graph” is not being interpreted correctly by most people. Most people look as the graph and erroneously think that ‘flattening the curve” means that we will “reduce the number of cases overall” and this is completely incorrect.

The “large / tall” curve simply suggests the number of cases at one given point in time or, a better way to understand this is, how many hospital beds are going to be needed “if no precautions” are taken. So, obviously, this is a serious, very serious concern because there would simply not be enough hospital beds to treat those who are ill. Whereas, the “small/flattened” curve simply suggests how “some preventative measures” would potentially reduce the number of hospital beds that will be needed to something that would be “more manageable.”

So, please don’t mistaken the “curves” as any reflection of the “number of cases” overall, it is only how many would potentially end up in the hospital. Sadly, this has absolutely no bearing on the overall number of those infected.

Here comes social distancing. Again, I am sorry to tell you that this is a theory. It is based upon common sense but not any type of sound, peer reviewed scientific fact. Again, it is not likely to have any effect on the number of overall cases however; it is being used so that the hospitals are not “overrun by those requiring admission and advanced treatment.”

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