Ten Myths About Covid-19 That Most People Don’t Know are Myths (Part 1)
Our network extends beyond resource stocks… deep into other sectors as well. With Covid-19 still a pervasive and fast-changing part of our daily lives, we tapped that network to bring you some unique perspective on the virus.
Darrell Brookstein is a former biotech executive, brokerage firm owner, and author. He spent years in the C-suite of a small publicly-traded biopharma, specializing in prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine development for infectious diseases and cancer.
He’s spent nearly a decade with National Academy and Institute of Medicine-level scientists and their top PhD students on the cutting edge of science in microbiology, biochem, physics and materials science as a Managing Director of The Nanotech Company.
Darrell was also at one time the largest American broker of junior precious metals mining shares, and has worked with and for the likes of Robert Friedland, Rick Rule, and Doug Casey.
Below is Part 1 what he views as “myths” surround Covid-19. Check back tomorrow for Part 2.
We publish ideas. This is not health or medical advice. Please consult your physician.
Yours in profits,
Editor, Resource Stock Digest
August 5, 2020
By: Darrell Brookstein
(See caveats, disclosures, bonafides and CV below,)
By way of introduction, from mid February to early March 2020 (seems a hundred years ago) — weeks before Cuomo and de Blasio were still urging visitors to come to NYC — I was warning friends and relatives about the growing US penetration of the coronavirus that originated in China in late 2019.
On February 21st I sent this thought experiment to friends:
- “Imagine (It’s not too hard) that:
- News comes in a leading newspaper that 3 people in downtown London, NYC or Toronto have the coronavirus.
- A few spouses say to their ‘better halves’ who work in the financial district that ‘maybe you shouldn’t go into work today’ . . .
- News of that hits the papers or goes viral.”
Now it seems so quaint.
Some friends called me “idiotic.”
On the same day I wrote that top forensic epidemiologists felt the actual number of worldwide infections was at least 100X the then current 75,0000 — or 7.5 million (we’re over 16 million now and easily heading past 25M before year end... and we still aren’t capturing numbers for all the children, babies, and asymptomatic cases . . . not even close!).
Flash forward to March 4th, I wrote:
- “People over 65 and especially over 65 with any compromise of the immune system are ESPECIALLY vulnerable and 5X more likely to die than the averages... This disease (Covid-19) is MUCH more serious than the regular flu. Despite the fact (and this should allay much alarm) that about 80% infected have NO or very manageable, light symptoms.
- We are only at the very beginning . . . not even the end of the 1st inning, in the US. Remember, less than 500 people in the US were ever tested as of 3 days ago. We are going to see thousands of infections, and more, probably tens of thousands, here within a month from today as we test 100,000s.
- I would caution against expecting a vaccine any time soon, even with all their limitations. There is an implication from many sources that one could arrive within a year that could be used in the US. NO WAY!
- Good therapies or treatments are or will be soon available, that will help a lot — companies are repositioning already-approved antivirals and some are, though not cures, effective treatments for many.
- Prepare for at least a US and worldwide recession in 2020. Financial asset diversification is your best protection. As people and companies are less in the workplace and play-place, the economy suffers, and two consecutive quarters of negative growth compared to last year seems like any easy prediction.”
On May 5th I offered my play on one of my old friend and business associates, Doug Casey’s, famous lines, an article entitled: “The Situation is Hopeless: but Not Serious.”
I noted on May 5th:
- “‘Shelter in place’, beyond ‘saving the healthcare system’, is just plain wrong, anti-liberty and a ‘cure’ that is far worse than the disease — in every way... even to community health.
- Over the last three weeks we have utterly destroyed our economic system and replaced it with an authoritarian socialism that even Bernie Sanders, in his wildest dreams, could only have hoped to achieve after two consecutive Sanders’ administrations. The economy is FUBAR with the emphasis on ‘beyond all repair.’
- There is no happy ending, for years, at least; we have entered into at least a two quarter to three year global depression. No one under the age of 90 has any memory of ANYTHING like it will be...
- Economic health? Small business survival? Effects on working poor and lower middle class African and Hispanic Americans? How it’s affecting suicide, spousal abuse, child molestation, murder, simple hunger, underserved cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke patients?
- Now, half of all small businesses (think: the employees AND the owners) are at risk of NEVER even reopening.
- The reality is that the virus is already MUCH more pervasive than the numbers of infected shows, SOOOOOO, there is NO WAY the numbers won’t continue to grow… aggressively, AS testing increases. This isn’t opinion, it’s a natural fact.
- People are going to march and protest. Many would be willing to die to stave off starvation. Am I overreacting? Looking at the history of depressions, I don’t think so.
- The UK is already showing a significant uptick in spousal murders compared to last year for the same timeframe. Do you think the US is doing better?
- The elites forget about child molesters within the family, spousal and elder abuse, endemic depression, anxiety, suicide. These major health issues DWARF the problem of Covid-19.Add increased bankruptcies (never seen anything like it, far exceeding even the Great Depression) and market losses? Ready for people jumping off buildings? Teenage suicides? Rioting in the streets?
- No one is.
- Will there be a virus “second wave”? There is no scientific reason to believe the first wave won’t continue through the summer... return the same, or morphed — every single year from now on.”
I wrote a good friend (who is a three-time best-selling investment author and a name some of you would recognize): “I can’t believe it happened so fast. We are all socialists, now.”
He wrote back, simply, "You're right. The socialists have won. But such is life…"
And people call me negative — a gloomy Gus. Oh well. Considering I was pretty much correct on everything from mid-February to early May, I wouldn’t call myself that.
I prefer “thoughtful and knowledgeable”... LOL
Let’s get to the MYTHS.
Myth #1 - Covid-19 is a Deadly Disease
Repeated endlessly by the media and every government leader, it just isn’t true... unless you use a meaningless definition of “deadly” to mean “you might die if you get it.”
Ebola is a deadly disease. Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease. The Bubonic Plague is a deadly disease. Smallpox is a deadly disease.
A pathogen that kills somewhere between 0.3% and 1.0% of those infected is not, and this range may blow out on the downside if the number of current infections soar as I expect.
150,000/25,000,000 + (6/30/20 CDC estimate of then current total infections in US) = 0.60%
In the early “fog of war” these “deadly disease” pronouncements were forgivable, but not after it was clear that somewhere between 70-80% of those infected have light symptoms or none at all.
Once we have more clarity on the huge numbers of those aged two to 22 that were infected between December 15, 2019 and March 15, 2020, the percentage of those dying will drop dramatically, and those who were asymptomatic could rise to over 80%.
Far more than half of the deaths are men over 65 with co-morbidities, people who live in institutional settings (nursing homes, prisons, government housing, etc.), work in crowded or shoulder-to-shoulder plants, or those in crowded areas and living situations of cities who depend on public transportation.
Eliminate these groups and deaths are pretty rare. (Of course, ANY death is a tragedy for loved ones and the person dying!)
Take a look at the numbers for otherwise healthy females under 34; bad symptoms, much less deaths, are truly rare.
Total coronavirus deaths, per the CDC, from 2/1/20 to 6/17/20:
- 0 to 14 years old - 26
- 15 - 34 - 824
- 44 - 54 - 4,976
- 65+ - 83,426
Make no mistake, it’s actually a gross understatement to say, “Corvid mostly kills the elderly.”
Young people? Not so much. Even among them, most have one or more co-morbidities.
Also, remember when the US first passed 2.5 million infections in late June?
At that time the head of the CDC announced that the actual number, at that moment, was in excess of 25 million!
Yet we’re faced at every turn by the media screaming about “this deadly disease” and how another 100,000 or more were added to the infected list.
Do they really need the lesson that you can’t get from 0-60 mph without going through 30?
You can’t get from 2.5M to the already expected 25M+ without a LOT of 100 thousands!
Myth #2 - Covid-19 is Nothing to Fear, It’s Not a Dangerous Disease
Given #1, I wish this was true. But it isn’t.
It’s not only NOT a “hoax”... But it is a VERY serious disease.
IMPORTANT PARAGRAPH FOLLOWS
Covid-19 is MUCH more serious and complicated than the seasonal flu (which kills 30-65,000 Americans every year). Especially in the seriously symptomatic who survive hospital stays, this coronavirus seems to attack several organ systems you wouldn’t expect, given its initial appearance as a respiratory pathogen. Long-term pulmonary and heart damage are especially noted, and there are likely to be other areas that could leave very serious, life-long health issues. Some of these health issues are found already in people with only light hospital stays, and even those who stayed home to come back to health. (Please note: this does not mean the asymptomatic or those not sick enough to go to the hospital will necessarily have these or any bad impacts.)
However, by circumstances of fact, we know NOTHING about the long-term consequences of the disease — INCLUDING asymptomatic infection.
Polio virus has infected millions of people, but less than 1 in 200 had the severe symptoms! Decades later we are seeing Post-Polio Syndrome affecting many of those with less than severe or no symptoms.
Anyone over 65 and anyone with asthma, cancer (ESPECIALLY recently diagnosed blood cancers!), sickle cell, kidney disease, COPD, obesity, heart disease, organ transplant or type 2 diabetes should avoid all exposure to the coronavirus.
Most people won’t die or even have serious impacts from this coronavirus, but if you’re in any of the above categories, your chances of dying go up 5X to 25X!
I’m over 65 and a multiple myeloma survivor. I don’t want a one in 15 or 20 chance of dying.
THIS PATHOGEN ATTACKS EVERY CELL IN THE BODY. ALL OF THE IMPACTS BEYOND ITS INITIAL ENTRY AS A RESPIRATORY VIRUS ARE UNKNOWN AS OF NOW. WHAT WE DO KNOW, NOW, IS THAT THEY ARE AND WILL BE SIGNIFICANT.
And not in a good way.
Myth #3 - The “Swedish Experiment” is/was a Failure
Well, we may look back in 2 years and say that it was, but it is NOT, as of today, despite media and expert shouting.
Sweden, you may know, never locked down; never regulated mask wearing or “social distancing” (I dislike that term. It’s “physical distancing.” Social distancing implies not caring about the people around you); and never closed businesses of any kind.
They educated the public on what to do to avoid infection and let them be.
Initially, this more libertarian approach appeared a failure, as infection rates and deaths soared to multiples of their Scandinavian neighbors.
Much of this was cultural, however.
In Sweden, nursing homes are very large institutions, and infections spread like wildfire through hundreds of people at a time. In Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark nursing homes are typically small group settings.
This accounted for a significant part of the difference in early outcomes.
Looked at another way, as of today, Sweden has about 12 Covid deaths/day. The US, with 1,000/day, has only 33X Sweden’s population. So Sweden currently has only about 1/3 the deaths per population as the US, which has generally pursued aggressive controls and destroyed its economy.
The unintended consequences of the mass manipulation of the US population . . . related to the economy, to alcoholism, depression, anxiety, child molestation, opioid addiction and deaths, spousal abuse, rioting, suicide, misdiagnosis of other diseases and LACK of diagnosis . . . people dying at home of heart attacks, strokes, untreated cancers, dialysis delays . .. is a sad litany of things the US is dealing with (or will, once the media gets the memo!) . . . that have not been exacerbated in Sweden.
As a related aside: My wife had pain taking deep breaths and extreme tiredness for 2 days around Mother’s Day. We called the doctor to see if she could come in for a Covid test. He diagnosed her with Covid on the phone, and told her to isolate for another 2 weeks.
No need to take the test, he said; they don’t trust the results, anyway. Her symptoms disappeared, but we did an antibody test 2 weeks later. Negative. Another 10 days later: Negative again.
Ok, not Covid, what? Chest x-ray in early July showed a spot on the heart. Then; Echocardiogram. Told to have an out-patient angiogram at a top heart hospital nearby. Angiogram doc wants her to stay and consult a heart surgeon as he spots a possible aneurysm. Surgeon orders MRI because he doesn’t want to do open-heart surgery on someone with no symptoms of anything, no pain anywhere, and an unrepairable but no longer problematic, single clogged small artery.
The MRI comes back.
Wife put on a heart/lung machine for immediate open-heart surgery. She’s been out of the hospital (her recovery there was only 3 1/2 days!) for 3 weeks and looks and feels GREAT. . . . . but, she had a major heart attack and the aneurysm blew out (luckily, against the heart sac which acted like a bandaid).
How many people died of heart attacks or strokes, etc. due to misdiagnosis or failure to come in with early symptoms?
Once the Covid-extremists get out of the way, in a year or two, we may find these unintended consequences, along with a destroyed economy and what that means to the less fortunate among us, rivals or dwarfs the death and destruction of Covid-19.
Myth #4 - This Coronavirus Can be Eradicated
Not now, not ever.
Viruses lead endless lives. They move from human host to human host, forever, until (and this never happens, but... if it did...) the host is the last human with it, and they either die OR the last person or group of people with the virus are somehow isolated until 3 weeks after all symptoms have left and they test negative.
There’s a better chance you’ll win the big lottery three times in a row than that this will ever happen.
Spray disinfectant all you want, everywhere you want, it won’t help with anything like the complete destruction of the virus
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 with Myths #5-10...
Caveats, Disclosures, Bonafides and CV
This is not health or medical advice. Please consult your physician.
I’m not a physician or a research scientist, but some consider me “expert” in infectious diseases, vaccines, and drug development, because of my career choices.
I probably know far more about these subjects than most.
I was the #2 for five years at a small publicly traded biopharma, specializing in prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine development for infectious diseases and cancer.
Additionally, I spent eight years with National Academy and Institute of Medicine level scientists (my Scientific Advisory Board at The Nanotech Company, LLC), and their top PhD students on the cutting edge of science in microbiology, biochem, physics and materials science. Twelve years, 60 hours/week, immersed in meetings, reading, writing related to this work.
I authored “Nanotech Fortunes” under the scientific guidance of my partner at the time, Erkki Ruoslahti, MD, PhD a Distinguished Professor, the 2005 Japan Prize winner and one of the most cited bionanoscientists of the last 30 years.
I was the largest American broker in junior precious metals mining shares from 1982 to 1990 (I was one and was a Registered Principal for about 18 years and a Registered Investment Advisor for 9 years.) Doug Casey and I edited and re-released the classic, “Small Fortunes in Penny Gold Stocks” in 1983.
For better or worse, ha ha, I count Doug Casey, Robert Friedland, Rick Rule, Bob Bishop, Jerry Pogue, Ben Johnson, and Jeff Phillips among my business partners and business associates through the years, and I wrote the industry leading “Penny Mining Stock Prospector” and “The Prospector” from 1981 to 1991.
I have authored books and newsletters on niche and highly specialized parts of the investment world, and edited and/or published two best selling books and eight financial newsletters for other authors. I’ve been interviewed in print, on TV and in videos on topics ranging from gold mining, high tech and biopharma company research and natural resource investing to speculation and options trading.
I have significant interest and expertise in investing and speculating at the cutting edge of science, and authored “Nanotech Fortunes” in 2005.
Nothing I say here should be construed as financial or investment advice. Use your own professional for advice.