back to article Bad news: Coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the world. Good news: Nitrogen dioxide levels are decreasing and the air on Earth is cleaner

As the world scrambles to mitigate the global novel coronavirus pandemic, there is at least one silver lining among the upheaval: air pollution has dropped. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), an ongoing project led by the European Space Agency, has spotted a dramatic decline of nitrogen dioxide emissions in …

  1. cb7

    Air quality has been fantastic here (UK, near an airport and two major motorways) since Monday when many flights got cancelled and many people started working from home.

    It's almost like being in the countryside. I'm loving it. Even if all cars went electric, the air wouldn’t be this clean around here unless the airport shutdown too - or we had a revolution in aircraft propulsion.

    I do wish a speedy recovery to anyone suffering.

    1. wolfetone

      I would think that it would work the same as the smoking ban in pubs.

      The air in pubs has never been cleaner, but now we can smell each other's farts.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Talking of which...

        ...I've heard that, in the past, people would cough to cover the fact that they were letting out a fart. Now, it's the other way around!

        1. Citizen99
          Coat

          Re: Talking of which...

          "Trouser cough"

    2. Psmo Bronze badge
      Happy

      We live under a flight path.

      It's been nice not to have the intermittent drone from 6am to 10pm.

      And I would swear the sky has gone a couple of shades bluer, too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the sky has gone a couple of shades bluer

        IIRC in the weeks following 11 Sept 2001 there was a recorded reduction in cloud cover and associated increase in global surface temperature due to clouds not being seeded by contrails

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: the sky has gone a couple of shades bluer

          So global warming due to a lack of human activity. Is that anthropomorphic warming as well? Damned if you do damned if you don't.

          I'm not a denier, just amused at the irony.

          I am keen waiting to see if the anti-vax mob will still be so pious when a Covid-19 vaccination finally comes out.

          1. Rol Silver badge

            Re: the sky has gone a couple of shades bluer

            I'm hoping Darwin will prevail, and the antivax population eventually become no more.

            1. itzumee

              Re: the sky has gone a couple of shades bluer

              It's a shame that covid-19 isn't more Darwinian in the sense that the stupid and ignorant (mostly millennials it seems) get culled. The reality is that they're less likely to and will just carry on ignoring all advice about social distancing, get infected and then spread the virus to the weak and elderly who are more likely to die as a result.

              1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

                Re: the sky has gone a couple of shades bluer

                REALLY? Because from what I see it cuts across ALL age brackets, pensioners standing gossipping for over an hour well within a foot of each other, whilst one is coughing like mad, middle aged folk ignoring the stay home advice and going out shopping for furniture etc, young parents taking sick kids out shopping

                Age isn't a criteria, its the ignorance level thats at play here, I know plenty of millenials who are being smart, self isolating at home to avoid exposure and social distancing when its absolutely necessary to go out for something

              2. phuzz Silver badge

                Re: the sky has gone a couple of shades bluer

                Millennials are between twenty and forty years of age, so most of us are juggling trying to look after children, and our ageing parents.

                And of course, the millennials who are staying at home as much as possible are the ones you're not seeing. Confirmation bias innit.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "And I would swear the sky has gone a couple of shades bluer, too."

        Thats the chemtrails...why do you think they still have to run empty planes?

        The real question is why they can't add a disinfectant for this virus in with the mind control drugs that are already in the chemtrails? Ay chemits know?

        1. wolfetone

          "The real question is why they can't add a disinfectant for this virus in with the mind control drugs that are already in the chemtrails? Ay chemits know?"

          It won't soak through the tin foil hats.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Being under a flight path I've also noticed the absence of planes. However, as the wet weather finally seems to be clearing for a while the sky is bound to be bluer.

    3. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      or we had a revolution in aircraft propulsion.

      or we had a revolution in aircraft power.

      FTFY - The method of creating thrust will be the same.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: or we had a revolution in aircraft propulsion.

        Living in the lake district, the traffic was fucking mental yesterday. Seems that everyone thinks that they should all congregate here instead of social distancing. All the lanes were chocablock near us. Madness.

  2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Trollface

    Lies!

    Just MORE EVIDENCE that Coronavirus is a LIBERAL PLOT meant to reinforce THE MYTH OF GLOBAL WARMING and undermine the RIGHTEOUS RULE of god-emperor TRUMP (my life for him)! I for one am going to flout BIG GOVERNMENT, go visit the sick and elderly, and ROLL COAL!

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: Lies!

      You have been SUBVERTED by the long-running DIAMOND CONSPIRACY. Your COAL is not SAFE. EVERYONE who depends on heat and moderate amounts of pressure and not too much combustion is IN DANGER. WHEN WILL WE WAKE UP???!?!"?!?!?!?!#

      1. harmjschoonhoven

        Diamonds

        are a cleaner fuel than coal. Just saying.

      2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Lies!

        How much heat do I need to apply to burn diamonds?

        1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: Lies!

          "How much heat do I need to apply to burn diamonds?"

          If I recall my school boy chemistry correctly, drop a diamond ring in the fire and you will find molten gold in the grate but the diamond will be doing its little bit for global warming.

        2. Snake Silver badge

          Re: diamond heating

          Not that much. You can indeed melt a gold ring without damaging the diamonds - that's how the refining industry scraps gold jewelry in bulk to recover the diamonds.

          However you can't do that with platinum jewelry, the hear required for platinum working burns the diamond, darkening it.

          So you can repair gold jewelry with open flame, but you need laser welding to repair platinum.

    2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Lies!

      Donald? Is that you?

      Pull yourself together, will you? Now is not the time to lose your marbles.

      1. nematoad Silver badge

        Re: Lies!

        "Now is not the time to lose your marbles."

        Too late!

        1. DJV Silver badge

          Re: Too late!

          By several decades, I'd say!

  3. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    tHIS IS yUr BreEN on DRhuGS!

    Just say NO2 <whatevs>

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: tHIS IS yUr BreEN on DRhuGS!

      Or was it N2O? I've got a little bit of a problem hearing/thinking going on right now, what with all the flanging and shit...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lung washing Corona Virus

    Well, since soap breaks up the lipids layer of the Corona virus, if only you could get some soap into the lungs.

    Soap vape perhaps? Maybe not! But I'm sure you'll get Darwin candidates to try that.

    I see there is 'lung washing', a medical procedure where one lung is washed after the other to remove surfactant (soap) build up due to an autoimmune disease.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulmonary_alveolar_proteinosis

    Without the auto-immune disease the body clears the surfactant itself. So there is at least one surfactant the body makes and clears in the lungs that could be used.

    So I'm going to go have a nice soapy steamy bubble bath to clear my cough.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Widely available but not for Covid

      Curious, there's a lot of surfactants for lung use that are on WHO's list of essential medicines, but not for the anti-viral use.

      Yet the body makes these surfactants, and whole families of viruses have lipid layers, so it suggests that evolution had a purpose in making surfactants in the lungs, and that could well have been their effect on virus like Corona Viruses:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulmonary_surfactant_(medication)

      Synthetic pulmonary surfactants:

      Colfosceril palmitate (Exosurf) - a mixture of DPPC with hexadecanol and tyloxapol added as spreading agents

      Pumactant (Artificial Lung Expanding Compound or ALEC) - a mixture of DPPC and PG

      Lucinactant (KL-4) - composed of DPPC, palmitoyl-oleoyl phosphatidylglycerol, and palmitic acid, combined with a 21 amino acid synthetic peptide (sinapultide) that mimics the C-terminal helical domain of SP-B.[8]

      Venticute - DPPC, PG, palmitic acid and recombinant SP-C

      Lucinactant (trade name Surfaxin) is a liquid medication that contains DPPC, POPG as the sodium salt, and palmitic acid.

      Animal derived surfactants:

      Beractant

      (Alveofact) - extracted from cow lung lavage fluid, manufacturing by Boehringer Ingelheim

      (Survanta) - extracted from minced cow lung with additional DPPC, palmitic acid and tripalmitin, manufacturing by Abbvie

      (Beraksurf) - extracted from minced cow lung with additional DPPC, palmitic acid and tripalmitin, manufacturing by Tekzima

      Calfactant (Infasurf) - extracted from calf lung lavage fluid

      Poractant alfa (Curosurf) - extracted from material derived from minced pig lung

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The science is paywalled but...

        I don't have access to this paper, but looks like others have wondered too:

        21 Feb 2020: "Pulmonary surfactant–biomimetic nanoparticles potentiate heterosubtypic influenza immunity"

        https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6480/eaau0810.full

        It seems like now would be a good time for every maker of Pulmonary surfactants to try their surfactants in use against the virus, while you have a quarter of million people with the damn virus???

        Wouldn't it be nice, if existing approved lung treatments turn out to be usable against one of the most virulent deadly virus families to strike the planet? Movie plot nice. If nothing we have the plot of 'Independence Day 3'.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I wonder if that is the reason

          https://breathe.ersjournals.com/content/9/6/476

          It makes me wonder if the reason kids don't die from Covid 19 is because they have lots of type II alveolar epithelial cells, making all the lovely lung soap.

          I bet the makers of animal sourced lung surfactants would know immediately if the older or younger cows/pigs etc contain more or less surfactants.

          In other words a simple phone call to the right person would immediately tell you if there is a correlation between age and surfactant production in mammals which would suggest the same for humans and explain the heavy skewing of Covid deaths by age, even below the body decline after 30 years there is a strong correlation.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Pharmacologists on el Reg?

            I see I can buy a nebulizer, and I see it can be used successfully to put surfactant into the lungs of infants with respiratory distress syndrome.

            https://ebneo.org/2019/01/nebulized-surfactant/

            But, fuck it, you can smell the soap in a steaming soapy bath, so you must be breathing it in. So do a quick Darwin test. I just put some baby soap in a pan of boiling water and breathed in the fumes under a towel and fuck me if my breathing isn't a lot clearer. Dumb thing to do, but turns out not to kill you. (Well at least me, but do not try that at home, usual disclaimer, may result in death etc etc etc).

            So now I go investigate surfactants and find that one of them is already used in inhalers:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzalkonium_chloride

            "Many mass-marketed inhaler and nasal spray formulations contain benzalkonium chloride as a preservative, despite substantial evidence that it can adversely affect ciliary motion, mucociliary transport, nasal mucosal histology, human neutrophil function, and leukocyte response to local inflammation.[14] Although some studies have found no correlation between use of benzalkonium chloride in concentrations at or below 0.1% in nasal sprays and drug-induced rhinitis,[15] others have recommended that benzalkonium chloride in nasal sprays be avoided.[16][17]"

            So pharmacologists of el-Reg, what inhaler can I get that contains Benzalkonium chloride? I need the preservative (this cationic surfactant) to be as present in decent strength and the inhaler active ingredient to be as weak as possible, or be a Asthma inhaler.

            Ideas?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Turns out to be used already for COVID 19

              Benzalkonium chloride already used against COVID 19. It's used as an ingredient in the disinfecting spray against COVID 19:

              https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/public-cleanliness/environmental-cleaning-guidelines/guidelines/guidelines-for-environmental-cleaning-and-disinfection

              Turns out you can simply buy Benzalkonium chloride online and its considered safe for cleaning food surfaces.

              1. Chris G Silver badge

                Re: Turns out to be used already for COVID 19

                Benzalkonium chloride is one of the main ingredients used in the disinfectant sprays for beaches in busy tourist spots so it must be relatively cheap and manufactured in bulk. I know it usedto be in a lot of household cleaner too but I haven't read a label lately.

            2. Citizen99

              Re: Pharmacologists on el Reg?

              Friar's Balsam ?

              "The active ingredients are: prepared storax 10% w/v, benzoin sumatra 10% w/v. The other ingredients are: aloes, ethanol and purified water. Friars' Balsam is a dark brown liquid which smells of alcohol. It is supplied in 50ml bottles."

            3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Pharmacologists on el Reg?

              "you can smell the soap in a steaming soapy bath"

              You're probably smelling the scents the manufacturers add to the soap.

              1. DanceMan

                Re: probably smelling the scents

                Makes scents to me.

            4. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

              Re: Pharmacologists on el Reg?

              "I just put some baby soap in a pan of boiling water and breathed in the fumes under a towel and fuck me if my breathing isn't a lot clearer."

              When you get bunged up again, try it without the soap. I think you'll find the effect is about the same - and probably slightly less than if you add something like Olbas Oil to the water.

              1. phuzz Silver badge

                Re: Pharmacologists on el Reg?

                Even better, make yourself some honey and lemon, breath in the steam from that first, and then you can drink it (possibly with whiskey in, although I doubt that's medically advisable).

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Humidifier, baby shampoo, water

                Wasn't bunged up really, it was more a tightness across my chest, and when I breathed in all the way, I found I could breath out only ~70% before breaking into the dry cough. (70% = Subjective, I didn't measure it)

                I'm not sure about things like Olbas Oil, I don't want an irritant in the lungs, I want a surfactant to break the virus down. So the idea is to find a surfactant that has the *minimum* irritation and known to work on Covid. An irritant tends to inflame causing a cough to clear your lungs, but that's not the mechanism I'm after. I had no problem coughing, it was that the cough wasn't clearing any mucus or clearing my lungs, its just a dry deep cough getting in the way of breathing.

                The baby soap caused a big cough cough cough, 3 chunks of white mucus. After an hour the tightness had receded and I found (again subjective) ~85% capacity before the cough kicked in.

                The wife tried it too, she had the wheeze and dry cough, hers wasn't as successful, I suspect she doesn't trust me enough to deep breath soapy air! She barely took any breaths of it.

                I have a new strategy now: I've bought humidifiers, the cold ultrasonic kind, and switched to baby shampoo after reading a research paper on how baby shampoo is a cheap and readily available source of sinus friendly surfactants. I'm wary of Sodium Lautheth Sulfate in the baby wash.

                You humidify whole rooms with surfactant and moist air, the virus cannot survive in that air, hopefully. Every surface is coated with surfactant to break down virus on any surface. Every nook and cranny has surfactant in it.

                You create a Covid unfriendly environment.

                If you have no problem with the milder surfactant, you stay in the room and can breath it in and it should also work within the lungs (not verified). If you have a problem with it, then you can leave the room, humidify the room, switch off the humidifier before using the room. Then at least you have surfactant everywhere.

                The missus doesn't trust me with my BKC 0.1%, or even 0.02% (i.e. 1ml per 5 litres of humidifier water), but she tolerates the slight smell of baby shampoo everywhere in the house. Even though that's an unwanted ingredient.

                Baby's dry cough has cleared up, but then she's a baby with her own batch of lung soap, so that's to be expected anyway.

                My lungs now give me the 85% with a wheeze, but no cough at the last 15% which I consider to be an improvement. Still a slight tightness.

                Or perhaps I have something else and simply getting over it anyway using the bodies immune system. None of the above is a substitute for actual medical help/guidance.

            5. 96percentchimp

              no control: null hypothesis not tested

              You need to do it with just boiling water as a control. Science, bitches.

            6. Nifty

              Re: Pharmacologists on el Reg?

              Mum used to put a coal tar lamp in the bedroom when us kids had coughs. Similar concept?

        2. Simian Surprise

          Pulmonary surfactant–biomimetic nanoparticles potentiate heterosubtypic influenza immunity

          You can tell it's real science because no word is shorter than 8 characters long.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pulmonary surfactant–biomimetic nanoparticles potentiate heterosubtypic influenza immunity

            = lung soap fine mist is strong, totally not gay, cough cure

            OK, "heterosubtypic" stumps me in this context, did he me "broad subtypic"?

            I'm guessing the paper puts some surfactant in the lungs and finds it works against the Influenza virus, which I assume also has a fatty lipid layer.

            If that's true (that influenza also has the soap-vulnerable lipid part) then he just found a generic mechanism for fighting influenza virus.

            Well done him. Pity about the title.

    2. DougS Silver badge
      Trollface

      Tide Pods

      So the Tide Pod challenge turns out to have some value after all! Well, at least if you accidentally inhale instead of swallowing it...

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Lung washing Corona Virus

      My friends' three year old, on being told to wash her hands with soap because it kills the virus:

      "So why don't we all eat soap then?"

  5. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Apparently, the canals in Venice are so clean one can actually see the bottom.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      I don't about seeing the bottom but seeing fish again has been confirmed.

    2. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

      I have seen the bottom, and it is ve' nice!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Seeing the bottom of a Venetian canal might not be a good idea.

      Capiche?

    4. theblackhand Silver badge

      And with all this "working from home" and general boredom from beinglocked in, I've polished the bathroom mirror to the point where I can now see my bottom.

      I strongly do not recommend this...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        "I strongly do not recommend this..."

        I agree. I do not want to see your bottom.

    5. herman Silver badge

      It is easy to see the Venice canal bottoms at low tide!

  6. kbb
    Joke

    Logical conclusion

    So if more coronavirus means less pollution isn't the logical conclusion that more pollution means less coronavirus?

    Everyone...start your engines to save us all!

    1. Slabfondler
      FAIL

      Re: Logical conclusion

      The long, complex answer with full reasoning is: No.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Logical conclusion

        What?

        More pollution -> more people die of pollution -> less people to infect with the virus.

        Massivey increasing the first part should lead to a significant drop in the later, particularly as those with respitory illnesses are affected by both pollution ad thevirus.

        Do I really have to solve everything?

        Lots of love

        Death

    2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Logical conclusion

      No, we need more Pirates to combat global warming!

      Aaaargh!

      1. OssianScotland Silver badge

        Re: Logical conclusion

        Ramen!

  7. ecofeco Silver badge

    It's been dramatic

    The difference has been insanely dramatic!

  8. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Two comments:

    1. I had thought that Greta had been very silent on the matter. Damn, these 17-year-old Swedes are very good at concocting environmentally-friendly plagues. She must have spent months in that lab of hers [1]. And I reckon that she is a Scandy version of Batman complete with whatever her batcave is called [2]. If that doesn't get me on to Fox News (Fair and balanced), then I don't know what will;

    2. This Corona virus malarkey seems to have a hint of the Black Death about it. Good for those who survive, less good for those who don't.

    [1] Of course she has a lab. And an English butler from the east end of London. If she can summon a yacht out of thin air, then obviously she has a lab.

    [2] Wuhan?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This Corona virus malarkey seems to have a hint of the Black Death about it.

      Not even close. Plague killed a third of the population, and it wasn't viral.

      1. Stork Silver badge

        No, it is a bacteria, Yersenia Pestis. I had another Yersenia which just sapped energy for some months. The weak cousin.

        In related news, rats have been found generally not guilty in causing the black death. It was mainly fleas directly human to human. Also fits the fact Iceland had plague before rats.

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      @deadlockvictim

      For a good friday laugh-

      https://babylonbee.com/news/greta-thunberg-condemns-coronavirus-for-ending-world-before-climate-change-even-had-a-chance

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Short answer - we don't know how whether she's silent or not; media attention is elsewhere and it might never go back to her.

      Somewhat longer medium-term answer: The world is getting a hard lesson on what happens when you disrupt the status quo. When the dust settles some of the "must do this RIGHT NOW" policies might start getting looked at more closely. There may be a realisation that change needs to be paced. Disruption gets looked at askance.

      Somewhat longer long-term answer: Societies start looking more carefully at how they work. Is it really a good idea to concentrate work places into ever larger cities with ever-increasing commutes? Can work be returned to being closer to where people live? Should production be diversified and with shorter supply lines? The past few decades haven't been sustainable. Stand by for the new watchword: deglobalization.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Stand by for the new watchword: deglobalization.

        For 6 months, then it'll be forgotten. Like the 60's, revolution was in the air, free love, flower power, the times they were a-changin'. All we actually got were the 1970s.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "All we actually got were the 1970s"

          Mathematics had something to do with that.

          1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

            It was only a matter of time.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nitrogen dioxide levels are decreasing and the air on Earth is cleaner

    Damn, if only we could have it BOTH WAYS, eh? Like, keep fucking the planet and have it groan with pleasure, rather than with pain :(

  10. PhilipN Silver badge

    May I ask.....

    where did it all go? You know, the grimy stuff which had been accumulating for centuries?

    You mean the Earth is able to scrub itself clean in a matter of days? Surely not!!

    1. Filippo

      Re: May I ask.....

      There are many different types of pollutants in the air. Some of them do go away very quickly, and are only present in high amounts because human activity also produces them very quickly. If you stop human activity, they'll drop sharply. When activity resumes, they'll go back to the original levels.

      Others last for a long time, and the epidemic won't impact them much.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: May I ask.....

        "If you stop human activity, they'll drop sharply. When activity resumes, they'll go back to the original levels."

        Agreed. You only have to watch the NO2 video to the levels rising quite rapidly again over the last month in China, not to the the worst levels by far, but quite noticeable that industry is getting back in action again.

      2. PhilipN Silver badge

        Re: May I ask.....

        And the answer to my question is .....?

        1. Zolko
          Mushroom

          Re: May I ask.....

          And the answer to my question is .....?

          a definitive "it depends". Hope that helps.

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: May I ask.....

          It's probably still there, but the fraction of the atmosphere that is over China is relatively small so once it has diffused over the rest of the planet it doesn't show up as a big orange-red false colour splotch.

          An atmospheric chemist (which I'm not) may chip in shortly to tell you that NO2 gets washed out as acid rain fairly rapidly whereas CO2 doesn't. Maybe. Or maybe they won't. Let's leave this assertion here, so that someone who knows better feels obliged to chip in.

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "according to Worldometer's stats"

    Please use official sources to report on this pandemic. WHO's situation report indicates 8778 deaths globally as of yesterday.

    Let's not go rounding up for no reason, shall we ?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: "according to Worldometer's stats"

      Unfortunately both numbers will be woefully short of reality far too soon.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "according to Worldometer's stats"

        Unfortunately both numbers will be woefully short of reality far too soon.

        Over 600,000 people die in the UK every year, of all the usual things, and it takes very little to add another 5k - 10k to that. Obviously a bummer if it's you or someone close to you, but statistically the numbers are not huge.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: "according to Worldometer's stats"

          >>>statistically the numbers are not huge<<<

          That statement need to be followed by a large flashing neon YET.

          This virus will spread exponentially without the drastic measure being taken.

          The Covid expected mortality rate of around 1% when applied to the general population is a very big number and we have do almost anything to avoid getting anywhere near that level.

          1. HereIAmJH

            Re: "according to Worldometer's stats"

            The mortality rate for COVID-19 has been running about 4%, but that is against confirmed cases. Every member of society isn't going to be a confirmed case. Even though I suspect most of us will be exposed at some point this year. Currently we are at 210k cases with a world population of 7 billion.

            And another number to put things in perspective. In 2017 80,000 Americans died from the flu. Yes, that was the deadliest year in decades. But if it's true that China has things under control already, the rest of the world is possibly a month or so behind.

            My opinion is more people will die from economic instability than from this virus. So be safe, but stop panicking.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              3.4% based on tracing

              "Every member of society isn't going to be a confirmed case."

              Actually the number was settling to 5% as China ramped down and WHO estimated it would be 3.4% taking into account the effect you mention.

              "In 2017 80,000 Americans died from the flu."

              300 million * 3.4% = 10.2 million. 10.2 million > 80,000

              If you overwhelm ICU facilities then the 15% don't get oxygen & ventilated, you're looking at a bigger number, e.g. 10% = 30 million. Hence all the talk of 'flatten the curve'.

              The problem is there's no immunity to it yet, and the infection state before showing symptoms mean its spreading fast. So no herd immunity effect.

              There are a lot of other intentionally misleading things going around. e.g.

              https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/flvoev/oc_covid19_us_vs_italy_11_day_lag_updated/

              That graph is lagged so that 100 Italy is in line with 100 USA cases and that choice of lag already compensates for the per capita size of the countries. It already lets you directly compare the curves. You immediately see that the USA is doing less to stop it, and growing faster.

              The man trying to double compensate for per capita in the comments and the sock puppets echoing him are misleading people.

              Notice also the testing of "election cancelled" memes. e.g. "Biden wants to put people at risk voting against CDC advice" trying to sow the idea that the CDC can cancel the election like the Republican did in Ohio.

              If I was a Democrat, I would prep a mail-in election worst case, and a medium spread out case (more days to vote, staggered voting days, more locations, the social spacing markers used in supermarkets, hand out masks and hand wash gel etc.). By showing that elections do not need to be stopped by Covid, you are undercutting the upcoming Republican attempt to block elections.

              Once you let the very partisan supreme court interfere in whether Republican governors can cancel state elections, and thus cancel the Federal election, you have lost democracy for good.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: "according to Worldometer's stats"

            This virus will spread exponentially sigmoidally without the drastic measure being taken.

        2. Filippo

          Re: "according to Worldometer's stats"

          5k-10k deaths is what you'll get *if drastic mitigation measures are taken*. At which point, when the thing is over, it will look like the government overreacted.

          Exponential growth is annoying like that: you need to stop it hard and early, but if you're successful, you can't help looking like you overreacted.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: "according to Worldometer's stats"

            And if you don't stop it hard and early it will look like you did nothing at all.

  12. Thoguht Silver badge

    So the coronavirus is cleaning up the Earths' atmosphere. Almost enough to make you believe in Lovelock's Gaia.

    OK, so even discounting the questionable science of the Gaia hypothesis, it's undeniable that large population concentrations are going to be especially vulnerable to communicable disease. Is it time then to rethink cities before something comes along with a much higher mortality rate?

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Is it time then to rethink cities before something comes along with a much higher mortality rate?

      Maybe, maybe not. Thinking population might not be a bad idea, though quite what could be done about it is less easy to determine, short of giving Covid-19 a free run.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Given that Covid mainly impacts the elderly/infirm and not the breeding age population all that giving it a free run will achive is a severe reduction in free childcare.

        1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
          Coat

          It will also result in a significant population increase. What do you think people do when they can't go out?

          1. fishman
            1. A. Coatsworth
              Devil

              and chill

              1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                Please do not tell any significant others, DIY retailers deliver...

            2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

              Netflix Pornhub

              There, FTFY.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            re. What do you think people do when they can't go out?

            they, they... do they, REALLY?!

            But how, with 2 m social distancing?! Inquiring mind NEED TO know!

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "It will also result in a significant population increase."

            After the Black Death (which itself followed on from a famine earlier in the C14th) the population in England and Wales seems to have remained at the reduced level for some centuries.

          4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            "What do you think people do when they can't go out?"

            But they've shut all the schools and there is no better contraceptive...

    2. Filippo

      I suspect it's easier to improve our knowledge and technicque in biology to the point where time-to-market for vaccines is 10x shorter, than to reverse urbanization. Not that I think achieving the former is easy, but I think that achieving the latter is as close to impossible as it makes no difference.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        I'm not even sure you can reverse urbanisation with the current population. That would be a LOT of small towns and villages needing to be built across what little land is left. Looking at the UK in particular and Europe in general here. For that matter, imagine trying to de-urbanise the greater Los Angeles area! Where could they all go?

        Using typically British black humour, someone mentioned the other day that just letting Covid-19 spread rampant would not only reduce pressure on the NHS in the long run, but help with the housing shortage and social care budgets ;-)

        1. Cave-Homme

          That wasn’t black humour, that was Cummings’ policy...until someone slapped Boris hard and told him what’s what.

  13. Buttons
    Meh

    Visit Kew

    I was just thinking how nice it would be to wander around Kew Gardens right now without breathing in the exhausts fumes from aircraft landing at Heathrow. Oh wait! Damn.

  14. This Side Up
    Stop

    Well, we won't want runway 3 now will we?

    But if people are self-isolating themselves and working at home you would expect emissions from domestic heating and cooking equipment to increase.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Well, we won't want runway 3 now will we?

      Sure, but I'm willing to bet that those burn much less energy than humans loading themselves into multiple tons of plastic and metal and driving dozens of miles. Also, people have to eat and control their climate under all circumstances, so the change from work to home is probably minimal.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Well, we won't want runway 3 now will we?

        Office block climate control is far more efficient than home.

        Especially during the winter, when heating is needed. All those warm bodies, crammed together...

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Well, we won't want runway 3 now will we?

      I wouldn't, particularly as we head into spring in the northern hemisphere.

      I haven't changed my central heating or hot water controls, and we have our main meal in the evening anyway, so the only real difference is that my employer can run the office a little cooler. (Except he can't, because there are some staff still there, each at some safe distance from each other, natch.)

  15. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Nice cover pic from the ZX Spectrum manual. :)

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