Wednesday, August 19, 2020

What About Laos?

Laos has had 22 cases of C19, 3 currently active, 0 deaths. Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, are not quite so low, but very low. These are not South Korea or Taiwan, where we can point to cultural support for masks and distancing and good medical care and awareness. It is fair to note that there is little testing and there might be deaths out in the boonies that are just "Eh.  Death.  Who knows why?" that leave actual CoVid unreported, but these national numbers are ridiculously low. If there were a CoVid holocaust in these areas word would be leaking out.  Even though no one, left or right, pays much attention to what is happening in these places, if there were some serious bump in the data, someone would be twisting it around to make some political hay out of it on NPR, The Nation, or some fringe right-wing sites.  It is, of course, very cool to be walking around knowing stuff about some country that everyone has heard of but no one has been paying attention to, so some news would get out.

If you go to and look at the lower reaches of the list you see patterns.  You see islands, whether in Oceania, Indian Ocean, or the Caribbean, or essential islands like Gibraltar, Vatican City, Liechtenstein. Yes, they can keep others out, and are in fact used to keeping others out. There are also a lot of African countries, with similar poor medical care, low social cohesion for masks and distancing, but likely also poor reporting.  Yet I will note again, not that poor reporting. When there are lots of deaths, word leaks out.  The outside world may not believe those reports of death because they are uncomfortable, as the Gulag deaths, 6M Jews, or 25M Great Leap Forward deaths in China leaked out in the 20th C were ignored, but the reports were there.

These places border China, including well-populated areas of China. I have no doubt that China is lying hugely about its current cases, but do we really think that only 1% of the deaths are being reported out? If the true tale of deaths were 2-300 times higher, wouldn't there at least be crazy rumors of this, and fringe sites talking about it?  These places are influenced by China and fear it, but they also can score points by snitching on it to Western media sources. They chafe under the bonds and break free whenever they can.

I suggest something else is going on. These SE Asian countries in such close contact with China, often hundreds of miles of border, have some sort of immunity to C19.  If it can't be masks, distancing, handwashing, or isolation, what else is there?  While this could be a generalised immunity, I think it is more likely that they have a general coronavirus immunity, not because they were exposed to a similar disease ten years ago, but because they have been exposed to a hundred similar diseases over their lifetimes.

If that is true, then the possibility that the Chinese information reflects more truth than we thought becomes possible.  Regions share immunities, but within that context cities and rural areas have different disease pools.  Wuhan has been a city for thousands of years. A disease that crosses over between pangolins and bats (or escapes from a lab after being developed from such crossovers) might be just subtly different enough that it kills city dwellers, but people in the provinces are immune.  Because they have been exposed to coronaviruses based on bats and pangolins before.

We have tended to look at the behavior and results of countries we think are like us, such as developed nations with lots of international contact, and that is quite reasonable.  But it pays to look through the other end of the telescope and see what nations are having no problems at all, and ask ourselves why.  It is quite possible that the rural regions of China are not much affected and even large areas not so dangerous, even as there are historical cities that are so easily devastated that there is not much even draconian measures can accomplish.

I have an apples-to-apples take on the American responses and projections which I may get to this week. (I am working the murderers unit this week where lots of people are concerned with the tiniest shades of disrespect to their rights, making even simple tasks difficult. I haven't got much left when I get home.) But for the moment, consider what is happening in Laos and similar places.


Zachriel said...

According to this report, transparency and a rapid, coordinated response, extensive use of masks and social distancing, a lock-down along with contact tracing were the primary means by which Laos contained the virus.

Sam L. said...

We who live in rural areas don't have many contacts with others, or groups of others.

Dan Kurt said...

RE: "Laos has had 22 cases of C19, 3 currently active, 0 deaths. Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, are not quite so low, but very low."AVI

Answer is likely HCQ is avaliable without a prescription. Malaria is endemic. When one gets a fever, malase one takes a course of HCQ,

Watch some of the talks from last week's DDP meeting on YouTube there are a number on the WuFlu.

Dan Kurt

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Zach's link isn't necessarily a bad one, though I don't know why Counterpunch is taking reports from the Laotian gov't at face value. When things are going well, governments are always willing to say "It's because of all the wonderful stuff we are doing." The other SE Asian countries are also doing well. I had a comment on this identical post over at Chicago Boyz from a person currently living in Vietnam who had been living in China for 13 years before that. He describes a good deal of masking, distancing, and shutdown, which I admit I did not expect. Is it populations which accept this level of intervention because of that docility that is even present from birth, in some observations? Could be. Yet how can they all have such successful governments in this area, as they succeed at so little else?

If I were to bet, I would still say it's immunity, though I might bet fewer dollars at this point.

Uncle Bill said...

This makes a lot of sense - not sure how it could be tested, though. I remember reading that in the 40s-50s-60s, doctors were surprised that older people seemed to have less problem with the flu than younger people. It was hypothesized that they had developed a sort of herd immunity from the Spanish flu, years earlier.

If one wanted to be paranoid, one could speculate that a malicious government might realize that their population had a high level of immunity to a certain type of virus, and that releasing it into the rest of the world could have devestating consequences. Just sayin'.

Christopher B said...

The median age in Laos is 23 vs over 38 in the US. COVID is very survivable for younger people. If I recall correctly that USN aircraft carrier had only one death for several hundred infections and that was a man over 40. The death rate for COVID for people 44 and younger in the US is under 3 percent so it's not hard to believe any even younger median age population has an even lower death rate. Masks and all that other BS likely has nothing to do with it.

Tom Bridgeland said...

I have not noticed that SE Asian peoples are particularly 'docile'! Not a word I would have thought to use for them, at all.

I recall on a trip to Thailand watching boys playing in the river that flows through Bangkok. Other people washing in the river. Urban third world people are simply resistant to bugs! I'd guess they are resistant to corona viruses as well.

Christopher B said...

I want to correct a point I made in the comment above. I was using information from this article

and what I should have said is less than 3% of the people who die of COVID in the US (by whatever definition of death of COVID is used) are under the age of 44.

Zachriel said...

Christopher B: {less than 3% of the people who die of COVID in the US are under the age of 44} so it's not hard to believe any even younger median age population has an even lower death rate.

That could explain the lower death rate, but not the lower case rate. Out of 35000 tests, only 22 have tested positive.