We Need More Than Data To Fight COVID-19

We need the right people to gather it and interpret it and it ain’t reporters or politicians or doctors and nurses.  It’s statisticians like

Dr John Ioannides Professor of Health Research & Policy at Stanford University

His research interests are clinical trials. He has worked in the fields of evidenced-based medicine and clinical investigation.  In particular, randomized trials and in appraisal and control of diverse biases in biomedical research.

He says: “The one situation where an entire, closed population was tested was the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its quarantine passengers. The case fatality rate there was 1.0%, but this was a largely elderly population, in which the death rate from Covid-19 is much higher.

Projecting the Diamond Princess mortality rate onto the age structure of the U.S. population, the death rate among people infected with Covid-19 would be 0.125%. But since this estimate is based on extremely thin data — there were just seven deaths among the 700 infected passengers and crew — the real death rate could stretch from five times lower (0.025%) to five times higher (0.625%). Even this highest estimate is phenomenally lower than the 3.4% initial estimate from the WHO.

Fareed Zakaria quoted him on last Sunday’s program and then had three experts on a panel that totally ignored the numbers.  WHY? Because these numbers are boring and will not sell media time.  Furthermore, it is not entertaining.  It is not sensational.  So what is the right investment strategy if Professor Ioannides is correct?

Here is some data from the field:

From Bloomberg Prognosis today

China’s Data on Symptom-Free Cases Shows Most Never Get Sick

About Frank Sortino

Frank Sortino is finance professor emeritus from San Francisco State University and Director of the Pension Research Institute which he founded in 1981. For 10 years he wrote a quarterly analysis of mutual funds for Pensions and Investments Magazine and he has written two books on the subject of Post Modern Portfolio Theory. He has been a featured speaker at many conferences in the U.S., Europe, South Africa, and the Pacific Basin. Dr. Sortino received his Ph.D in Finance from the University of Oregon and has carried out research projects with many institutions like Shell Oil, Netherlands and The City and County of San Francisco Retirement System.
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