Dan O'Heirity

Covid-19 Facts and Figures From Around the World

According to my preferred live data source – which is updated in real time for the number of new daily cases and the number of new daily fatalities with the data being rest at GMT+0 – there have been 8,468,922 confirmed CCP virus cases. There have been 451,982 deaths. Two days ago there were 143,409 new cases and 6,592 new deaths. Yesterday there were 145,954 new cases and 5,264 new deaths. Today, saw 146,111 new cases and 5,264 new deaths. The data source that I use draws its statistics from 213 countries and territories around the world. However, 13 countries in the world account for the vast majority of new daily cases and new daily fatalities. These countries include the United States, Brazil, Russia, India, Peru, Chile, Iran, Mexico, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, South Africa and Columbia.

Two days ago on June 16th, these 13 countries accounted for 115,371 new cases against the daily figure of 143,409. The percentage figure is that 80.44% of new daily cases can be attributed to these 13 countries. The same 13 countries accounted for 5,493 of daily fatalities against the overall figure of 6,592 new fatalities. The percentage figure is that 83.32% of new daily fatalities are accounted for by these 13 countries. Yesterday June 17th, these 13 countries accounted for 115,171 new cases against the daily figure of 145,954. The percentage figure is that 78.90% of new daily cases can be attributed to these 13 countries. The same 13 countries accounted for 4,166 of daily fatalities against the overall figure of 5,264 new fatalities. The percentage figure is 79.14% of all new daily fatalities.

Turning to today, 18th June 2020, these 13 countries accounted for 115,328 new cases against the daily figure of 146,111 new cases. The percentage figure for these 13 countries is 78.93% of all new daily cases. The same 13 countries accounted for 4,166 of daily fatalities against the overall figure of 5,264 new fatalities. The percentage figure for these 13 countries is 79.14% of all new daily fatalities. So, broadly speaking these 13 countries account for 80% of new daily cases and 80% of new daily fatalities meaning that the remaining 200 countries reported in my data source account for only 20% of new daily cases and 20% of new daily fatalities. If you define a pandemic as a disease, “prevalent throughout an entire country, continent or world” or as “an epidemic over a large area” then an interesting question is raised whether we currently have a pandemic.

Is Covid-19 Really a Pandemic as Defined by the World Health Organization?

13 countries account for 80% of new daily fatalities and new daily deaths. The remaining 200 countries worldwide account for only 20% of new daily cases and new daily fatalities. In what sense would we want to say that the CCP virus is prevalent throughout the world? After all, over the last 3 days, and indeed going even further back in time, 13 countries are account for the vast majority of new daily CCP virus cases and fatalities. The flaw in this line of argument is, of course, the shift in the CCP virus over time. The CCP virus ravaged Europe which is now recovering to some degree. Following Europe, the CCP virus has become prevalent in these 13 countries. Next, the CCP virus might take hold in countries in the developing nations, African countries for example. Thus, you might say that the virus is prevalent across the world. However, I am still finding the idea of a pandemic to be troublesome. The likely reason for this fact is that more is needed than a dictionary definition of a pandemic because a dictionary definition is not sufficiently detailed with respect to the more subtle criteria for defining a pandemic.

The World Health Organization defines a pandemic as, “the worldwide spread of a new disease.” O.K. Not much more helpful than the dictionary definition. However, the WHO goes on to say that a pandemic is differentiated from a seasonal influenza – which affects hundreds of countries around the world – in terms of the severity of the impact of a pandemic. In other words, a lot more people will die from a pandemic and the deaths will not be restricted to a particular age group such as the elderly or those with pre-existing health conditions. The interesting point here is that I believe that the the CCP virus pandemic has been felt most severely by the elderly and by those with pre-existing medical conditions. These various points are tending me towards the line of thought that the CCP virus “pandemic” is beginning to look more akin to a typical influenza season. Furthermore, and this is a point that I will look into in much more detail, the CCP virus has so far killed less people globally than would be the case in a normal influenza season. Matters may of course change but I’m going to say for now that the whole pandemic idea seems to be over blown.

China Blames the World – and Salmon – for New CCP Virus Outbreaks in China

There is a story from ABC News on June 17th reporting that, “China has raised its emergency warning to its second-highest level and cancelled more than 60 per cent of flights to Beijing amid a new coronavirus outbreak in the capital.” “China in Focus” reported on 15th June that the outbreak had started at Xinfadi, a Beijing wholesale food market that is the size of hundreds of football pitches.

No surprise there. However, Chinese government officials have said that the virus “is definitely not from Beijing but is imported.” State media quoting a Chinese CDC expert says that possible countries of origin include European countries, American countries or Russia. You would have to say that China is covering its bases in terms of blaming this outbreak on different countries around the world. And of course China would have to blame new cases on international travellers because, as Beijing has told the world many times, China brought the virus under control because China has a superior form of government.

According to China in Focus, Chinese authorities have also said that the CCP virus has been found on chopping boards used to cut up imported salmon. Consequently salmon suppliers in Denmark and Norway have not been able to send any salmon to China because the market is closed. The salmon story now gets utterly bizarre with the “China in Focus” presenter Tiffany Meier managing to say with a completely straight face that the CCP virus is rare in fish because the virus attacks the lungs and fish do not have lungs.

Honestly, I nearly fell off my chair laughing after that piece of information was delivered. Moving on from the fish theory, Professor Keith Neal, who has over thirty years experience in controlling infectious diseases such us Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Ebola has offered the view that China gave the virus to the world and that it was always likely that the world would give the virus back to China by which he means that the virus may have arrived in China with travellers returning from overseas. OK then. Poetic justice which, of course, none of us should be happy about.

China’s Public CCP Virus Discourse Seems a Bit Confusing

According to the “China in Focus” story, Monday the 15th June saw 36 new CCP virus cases in China which was the “second consecutive day of record numbers.” The outbreak has also spread to three other provinces, Liaoning, Hebei and Sichuan. In terms of these figures, there would seem to be a rough correlation between the Beijing outbreak and data from my preferred live data source in which China reported 40 new cases on Wednesday 17th June and 44 new cases on Thursday 18th June. Perhaps China is telling the truth for once. However, the attempt to point the finger for the latest outbreak at international travellers and guiltless salmon might tend us to think that such is not the case and that China is continuing in its tradition of lying about the origins of the virus.

However, an ABC story reports that, “Chinese officials described the situation in Beijing as “extremely grave.” Furthermore, the story reports that Party Secretary Cai Qi told a meeting of Beijing’s Communist Party Standing Committee that, “This has truly rung an alarm bell for us.” As the ABC story notes, “It’s a sharp pullback for China, which declared victory over the virus in March, and stands as a warning to the rest of the world about how tenacious the virus is“. The last time that I checked, China was not given to being particularly truthful about the CCP virus situation. The idea of a Party Secretary referring to “alarm bells ringing” or a Chinese official referring to the situation as “extremely grave” would have been unthinkable. This makes me wonder what has changed, or more exactly, what China might be up to with this kind of talk.

A very long time ago I posted on how China was trying to change the narrative of the CCP virus to paint itself as a victim of Covid-19, just as the rest of the world has fallen victim to the virus. The idea was, of course, complete nonsense because China brought Covid-19 upon itself by trying to cover up the virus in December 2019 and early January 2020. Furthermore, the world has fallen victim to a pandemic because China sent it citizens around the globe at a time when China knew that human to human transmission of the virus had occurred. However, I am wondering whether the current shift in discourse is another example of China trying to spin the narrative that the country is a victim of the virus. I’m not sure but what I do know is that public officials are not allowed to speak for themselves. They speak for the CCP and at the behest of the CCP. So, ultimately, any public statements are part of a CCP strategy to present a picture to the country and to the world.

China Is Still Trying to Bully and Intimidate Australia

China is staying true to form in bullying and posturing on the world stage. Tensions remain high between China and India along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) which serves as the border between the two countries. It would appear that twenty Indian soldiers have been killed in a fight in the Galwan Valley between troops from the two sides. No shots were fired but the confrontation is considered to be the most serious conflict since 1975 when Chinese troops killed 4 Indian soldiers. In a different form of bullying and intimidation, it would appear that China is continuing in its efforts to threaten Australia. This time the focus would seem to be on Australia’s iron ore exports to China. “The Global Times” – an English-language Chinese newspaper under the People’s Daily – has reported that customs officials will carry out quality checks of iron ore imports from Australia at the request of the buyer. You can confirm this fact by taking a look at the story in “The Global Times” which was actually published on the 20th May 2020, with the new quality checks to be introduced on 1st June 2020.

If you look carefully at the story you will read that, “According to the new supervising rules, which takes effect on June 1, customs officials will inspect iron ore at the request of the trader or the importer. Previously, customs officers conducted mandatory on-site inspections of iron ore batch by batch.” This would see to suggest that there would actually be fewer checks of iron ore since checks would only be conducted at the request of the purchaser. However, the same story then reports that, “When necessary, Chinese customs officers will conduct test [sic] for harmful and toxic elements in imported iron ore, according to the new rules.” So, all in all the situation is pretty confusing. However, China is pretty much dependent on Australia for iron ore imports and so it seems unlikely that China is “going after” Australia’s iron ore exports in order to punish Australia for calling for an independent inquiry into Covid-19. China can make its political and economic points through stopping other Australian exports such as barley, beef ,wine and cheese.

The Global Times story reports that, “China has largely suspended imports of Australian beef due to quality issues. China also slapped an 80-percent tariff on Australian barley imports on Monday after an 18-month antidumping and anti-subsidy probe.” It seems entirely clear that China’s actions actually have nothing to do with anti-dumping or anti-subsidy probes. Rather, as Yu Lei, a chief research fellow at the Research Center for Pacific Island Countries at Liaocheng University says, “This is another implicit warning to Australia. It is associated with how Australia has acted.” So, on the one hand the publication wants its readers to believe that there are quality issues with Australian beef and that Australia has been guilty of “dumping barley“. On the other hand the story is telling its readers that the actions have been taken in order to warn Australia about “how it has acted”. In other words Australia has offended Beijing and Beijing is retaliating by trying to harm Australia economically.

My thoughts in the previous two paragraphs are confirmed, to some degree at least by “Small Caps”, a financial review website. In a story published on June 17th, the argument is made that China needs access to Australian iron ore and that China’s actions in slapping tariffs on Australian barley and warning Chinese tourists and students to stay away from Australia should be viewed as China asserting itself rather than as a sign that there will be an economic war between China and Australia. China’s message may well be that Australia should not “instigate” action against China and “Small Caps” advises that Australia should follow rather than lead in actions against China. The article concludes on China and Australia saying that, “They will certainly continue to have their differences but both will have learned from the current skirmishes and both need to rekindle economic growth more than they need to fight over ideology“.

First Published June 18th, 2020

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