Thursday, June 16, 2022

Ventilators and Covid

I am not a doctor.  I run an informal blog where I just noodle about, reading this or that story, commenting with my feet propped up, blathering about what interests me.  I avoid my own areas of expertise because I just don't have time to do them justice. This goes triple for subjects like medicine or almost any science, law, auto mechanics, or ballet dancing - subjects that are well beyond my ability to speak to them even halfway credibly and not look stupid.  

But this story jumped out at me.  Sadly we know several who died from Covid.  That's why I don't make light of it.  I get the problems, the Covid regulations, the disaster that all these measures were and the lives shattered by them.  But the disease is still serious.

Nonetheless, a few weeks ago my wife and I were discussing these last couple years.  We thought of those who we know who died.  A few of them were already in medical facilities because they were suffering from serious, basically terminal, problems.  When her uncle died of Covid, I was shocked he was still alive.  He had about a half dozen serious and essentially fatal conditions.  

But something else came to us as we thought about the people we know.  Everyone who died was in a hospital.  Even if they went to the hospital only for Covid.  True, almost everyone we know who died had some serious aliment one way or another.  But whatever the case, they were all  in the hospital when they died.

On the other hand, we also know many who came down with Covid who didn't die.  In fact, almost everyone we know came down with Covid, including us.  It could be serious and some of us were hit hard by the symptoms.  But almost none of us went to the hospital.  I think only one we know of went to the hospital who didn't pass away.

Three we know had it bad.  Real bad.  Close to death bad.  This includes two close family members - one who was fully vaccinated and the other who wasn't vaccinated.  There were times we thought we were going to lose them.  But they stayed home and fought it off.  And both have medical issues, including one with serious respiratory limits.  Yet they didn't die. 

Everyone we know of who died died in a hospital.  I have no way of knowing if they were on ventilators or not.  I think one was, a young fellow who was a classmate of my oldest.  He went to the hospital early December and was on a ventilator through most of the month, sadly passing a week or so before Christmas.  Yet everyone we know who lived stayed put and stayed home.

I won't say I'm not trying to say something, because I clearly am.  We've watched as the medical community has fumbled the ball a dozen times with this.  And that's without the politics of it.  Just the initial promise of what the vaccinations would do versus what they actually seem to do - based on what we know right now - is staggering.  When my wife and I thought of this, and then I saw the above article, I must admit it did little other than reinforce our initial observations.  And suspicions. 


  1. (Tom New Poster)
    You fight a war with the weapons you have, and evaluate their effectiveness on the fly. We had many systems in WWII that worked (P-38, sea-launched torpedos), some that didn't (our air-launched torpedos), some that needed constant modifications (Liberty ships, B-17). All that had to be kept secret from watchful enemies. But COVID is not a conscious enemy, so there's no reason rigorous debate over the effectiveness of various measures had to be suppressed or ignored. Fear of the unknown, hated of "Orange Man", the imperious arrogance of some men of science are some of the reasons.

    1. I agree. Nice WWII references BTW. I don't expect the medical community - or any scientific field - to be perfect and always right. I merely expect it to be honest when it's been wrong.

    2. The torpedoes used by our submarines at the beginning of Ww2 did not work. Problem well described in ‘Silent Victory’.

  2. My mom worked as a nurse for MANY years until her retirement. Dad was an EMT for awhile as well and my first couple of jobs were also at the hospital in town.

    Healthcare is... extremely frustrating to try and talk about with people because it seems like nobody wants to admit just how dang complicated the body is and that a lot of times our "science" around it is more of a best guess (or "odds favorite"). Causality is a tricky thing on the best days - much less when it comes to the body. Did ventilators kill people or were people most likely to die most often put on ventilators?

    Probably what has frustrated me most about the wuflu has been a greater concern for a blame game than any actual talk about dealing with a new disease. You couldn't even talk about masks or possible treatments or hardly anything without being shouted at that you were killing grandma and little children.

    I know there was a lot of talk about what's been going on, but personally I think we as a people got so used to the idea of having tamed Death and Disease (now War and Famine on the way!) that a sudden forceful realignment of our perspectives - that we were still not much better than our ancestors when it comes to control of our world - was a shock that so many still can't process.

    1. Yep. I'm not trying to say there was some vast conspiracy or anything. It's just something we noted that came to mind when I saw this. I think the bigger problem is that nobody will break these things down for us and really lay out the facts and figures. They pick a pet stat here or there and repeat it until it no longer helps the cause. In fact, through Covid it felt like medical pros were busier selling a product than informing a patient.

    2. I didn't really appreciate the knowledge/ignorance of medical professionals until I got a somewhat but not all that rare condition. Without getting into specifics, it's something that might affect 1 in 500 people. But it has similar symptoms to a few different things that affect maybe 1 in 20 people. So of course I kept seeing doctors and specialists who told me that they were 100% certain what I had and how to fix it, only for things to not work again and again. It went away after the last treatment but I'm still not sure that the last doctor got things right; it might have just went away on its own or have been caused by some passing environmental factor.

      What this really showed me was two things:

      1.) There are a lot of things that doctors will not know. This isn't necessarily their fault, since there is so much involved with health that no individual could know everything.

      2.) Doctors are extremely reluctant to say that they don't know, especially when they have an explanation that might work.

      Because of that experience, I wasn't really surprised when I saw a very smart and accomplished doctor relative of mine calling Ivermectin "dangerous horse dewormer."

    3. Rudolph. Nothing will recalibrate your understanding of medical knowledge more than having children 14 years apart. I think it's safe to say 1/4 of the things they told us to do or not to do to keep our baby safe they told us the opposite by the time our last child came along. We still shutter and wonder which one was skating on thin ice, or were they wrong about both?

    4. In Boy Scouts, the guidelines for first aid seemed to change every couple years. When I joined bin 2011, turnequets were a no-no. Soon afterwards, information coming in from the front lines in Iraq changed our understanding. Now it was in.
      The treatment for an accident victim going into shock changed as well, if I recall correctly.
      Twice I've tried googling the pros and cons of olive oil. One site said they lowered the risk of arteries clogging, another said they raise the odds.
      Now that I think about it, I'm not sure why I was surprised when all he k broke loose during covid. If we still can't make up our minds on proper CPR procedure after all these years, how could we not expect them to screw up a situation like the Wuhan Virus?

    5. Without getting into specifics, it's something that might affect 1 in 500 people. But it has similar symptoms to a few different things that affect maybe 1 in 20 people. So of course I kept seeing doctors and specialists who told me that they were 100% certain what I had and how to fix it, only for things to not work again and again

      Ross Douthat fell ill in 2015 while he was in the process of moving from DC to Connecticut. He consulted 11 different doctors during his last months in DC, and they all drew a blank and ended up telling him to see a shrink. He consulted doctors in Connecticut who told him in short order he had Lyme disease, which is common there but rare in DC. Unfortunately for Douthat, he had an antibiotic resistant case and has never fully recovered, though he evidently feels healthier than he used to feel.

  3. IIRC, they improved outcomes by pushing oxygen and re-positioning the patient. I believe ventilators were abandoned after the first wave.

    My hypothesis in re the pattern you notice would be (1) luck of the draw and (2) adverse selection.

    I do think perhaps they have better therapeutic techniques abroad. Couldn't help but notice during the omicron wave that Britain's case fatality rate was about 1/3 of ours. Not sure what's up there. OTOH, the post-omicron wave in Britain had a peak daily death toll that slightly exceeded the peak of the omicron wave. By contrast, the post-omicron wave here appears to have prevented the daily death toll from falling further, but induced no noticeable increases in that metric.

    1. Of course I have no idea what they were putting into them through these ventilators. I just know the ones who died were in hospitals, and one my son's age on a ventilator. And that was this last year. Those who got it, and even got it bad with compromised health conditions, but didn't go to the hospital, lived. I'm sure there are many factors, but I'm also sure we'll likely never see them unpacked and explained.

    2. There are ant heaps of academic and professional literature published every year. Many universities will allow you to use their databases if you take out a friends of the library membership. And the reference librarians will help you build your bibliography.


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