Dear Covid Bed-Wetters, Could You Please Stop Attributing Every Covid-Positive Death to the Virus?

It's anti-science and it's making you look even sillier than you already are

Dr. John Lee points out that due to a double whammy of a.) the way in which covid-positive deaths are being recorded and b.) the further spread of this highly infectious virus we are now on track for supposed covid-19 deaths to start approaching the overall death rate (all without any excess mortality):

It should be noted that there is no international standard method for attributing or recording causes of death. Also, normally, most respiratory deaths never have a specific infective cause recorded, whereas at the moment we can expect all positive COVID-19 results associated with a death to be recorded. Again, this is not splitting hairs. Imagine a population where more and more of us have already had COVID-19, and where every ill and dying patient is tested for the virus. The deaths apparently due to COVID-19, the COVID trajectory, will approach the overall death rate. It would appear that all deaths were caused by COVID-19 — would this be true? No. The severity of the epidemic would be indicated by how many extra deaths (above normal) there were overall.

I’m just a high school drop out and an ex-factory worker, but even I was pointing out two weeks ago if we did the same for the common cold (another coronavirus disease) its apparent body count (everyone who died with the virus) would be in the millions:

Consider the numbers we would arrive with if we used the same methodology for the common cold (which is caused by different viruses from the corona family): Every year there are nearly 60 million deaths. If we assume the average person spends one week each year suffering from a common cold then using the COVID-19 methodology common cold deaths exceed 1 million (60 million divided by 52 weeks).

Yet if anyone tried to claim the common cold stacked up such a body count that would rightfully be seen as absurd.

Up until Thursday last week 6,414 Italian health care workers have tested positive for covid-19. The real number is probably even higher. Also, it’s probably the case these infections are disproportionately centered on Northern Italy.

So what we have is a virus that is running rampant in hospitals and health facilities. Anyone who visits a hospital for any reason right now in Lombardy is liable to be infected with the (rather benign) covid-19 virus. Then should such a person perish he will be counted as a coronavirus fatality regardless of the ailment that forced him to visit the hospital in the first place.

Nope, that’s not good science. You can’t scream that covid is not just like the flu and at the same time attribute deaths to it differently than for every other infection out there:

In the current climate, anyone with a positive test for Covid-19 will certainly be known to clinical staff looking after them: if any of these patients dies, staff will have to record the Covid-19 designation on the death certificate — contrary to usual practice for most infections of this kind.

  1. ravenise says

    One in 10 reported spaniard covid19 deniers (and their victims) are dead

  2. ravenise says

    We’ll take it from someone not living in denial:

    Nasrallah: Coronavirus may be more dangerous than world wars, to change global order

    He urged elites and thinkers to observe the major changes caused by the fast-spreading respiratory disease, whose “repercussions may be greater than the First and Second World Wars” and cause “a new world order.”

    The Hezbollah chief further raised questions about the future of the US and the EU as a result of the crisis.

    “We do not know whether the United States will remain united or whether the European Union will remain, and there is debate about the healthcare systems in the world and about the economic capitalist system.”

    The epidemic has confused the world and caused fatalities, Nasrallah said, underlining the need to learn a lesson from what is happening around the globle.

    Belarus Darwin award in order? Time will tell.

  3. Vijay Vallamudi says

    Firstly, the constant discussion about mortality obscures the following simple fact: MORTALITY IS NOT INDEPENDENT OF HOSPITAL CAPACITY/CAPABILITY.

    What does that mean? It means that if you talk about the mortality of something, say acute appendicitis, there is a hidden assumption about medical availability. Acute appendicitis with Standard medical care has near 0% mortality. This zooms to near a 100% without.

    Once naysayers get this concept through their heads, the next logical question should be:

    Ok what’s the problem with hospital capacity?

    Hospitals get patients in, have patients discharged (or die) every day. Just like whether you are a store, web server administrator, airline, hospitals are constantly managing capacity. Capacity planning involves minimizing costs versus maximizing throughput and ability to manage surges in demand. This is an activity which every industry from the largest to the smallest one-man operation indulges in explicit or implicitly. Hell, if you plan to stock your fridge, you’re doing some sort of capacity planning for your family.

    When there is a surge in any disease or medical need (eg a local disaster when you suddenly get a hundred people with broken bones in one go), hospitals get stretched. Triaging centers are set-up to manage them. Extra doctors are called up, patients are dispersed to less busy hospitals. A key question is how much and how long it would stretch

    This surge happens during flu seasons as well. The surge is mostly predictable because of past history which includes treatment options available, average treatment times (eg flu hospitalizations take 3-4 days on average though there is a tail of course esp for those fighting for their lives), and is regularly planned for.

    Before flu seasons, a lot of planning goes on including rolling out a vaccination program based on scientists best guess about the mutation of the flu virus-es that will likely become pandemic and offering free Flu shots at various places outside hospitals. While efficacy is around 60%, vaccines have been shown both to lessen the adverse effects of the flu and shorten the time to recovery on average.

    DESPITE all of these measures, people die especially the elderly, of mostly respiratory complications but also kids.

    During flu surges, some places do declare Local states of emergency because hospital capacities get stretched. Indeed, a key concern for epidemiologist is tackling a severe flu epidemic which overwhelms capacity. This is precisely why Flus (among other infectious diseases) are so carefully tracked.

    So what’s different about COVID-19? In many ways this was the Flu mutation that scientists were always worried about, but even worse because:

    – this is not like the regular flu for many people (including those who report “mild” symptoms). Blurry eyes, heart palpitations, loss of smell are all reported.

    – it seems to have a higher R-naught, infectious rate, than the flu under normal conditions;

    – it has a long incubation period during which time you’re still infectious. So it’s not clear who has it for days if at all. (Many may show little symptoms).

    -regular flu vaccines (or variations) don’t appear to work to prevent/mitigate/treat patients;

    – the rates of hospitalizations (20%) and ICU (5-10%) is quite high among confirmed cases

    – the severity of symptoms for those who need hospitalization is far greater than that of the Flu.

    – Patients are in hospitals much longer (weeks vs days) for optimal treatment till discharge (or death).

    – Unlike the flu – which has a clear seasonal history – it’s unclear as to whether warmer weather will slow down infections.

    In other words there are a lot of unknowns and what *is* known is not comforting: no vaccine, no standard treatment developed yet, long hospital times, a lot of ventilator usage.

    This is unfortunately the situation many Govts find themselves. And they keep coming back to:

    How do we cut down this exponential growth so as not to overwhelm hospital capacity (which can only be ramped up linearly) leading to more treatable deaths, without killing the economy?

    So what are the policy prescriptions:

    A) Treat this like the regular flu. Advise good hygiene and carry on. Best case scenario, the virus mutates into a harmless form and stops.

    Worst case scenario of this is exponential growth in cases (like the flu or any virus except potentially more infectious) overwhelming hospital capacities to the point where people who could have been saved with treatment, will die in Hospital corridors, streets, homes. So the 5% of those with confirmed cases who need ICU treatment – dead. And the other 15% admitted to hospitals, well let’s hope for the best.

    B) Targetted quarantining: identify clusters of cases, lock them down, do contact tracing to lock down potential infectious. And test widely so you know who’s infected ;and could be quarantined) and who’s not.

    Meanwhile ensure you ramp up capacity of critical equipment, PPEs, ventilators to prepare for any temporary surge.

    This is smart lockdown. And tried with some success in Singapore, South Korea and in many parts of China outside of Hubei.

    C) You’ve in a situation where you’ve lost control of clusters. You have no idea of how many infections there are or more importantly where. You can clearly see the cases rising exponentially as people with symptoms start flooding hospitals to check. You need time to churn out ventilators, PPEs. Your front line Medical staff is at risk of becoming sick and further decreasing capacity.

    Most importantly: you have the knowledge of what happened in Wuhan, Lombardy (where a WSJ article, going off excess mortality reported vs previous years that if anything COVID-19 mortality was UNDERCOUNTED because so many died at home and/or couldn’t be tested because of the volume.

    This is the rationale for complete Lockdown ranging from Hubei style (only one member of a house can go out once per day for supervised shopping) to varying lesser degrees.

  4. glib1 says

    Marko, there have been modifications to the euromomo site. Italy data have disappeared, UK has multiple curves, the map from last week has been modified. The site may have become unusable.

    1. ravenise says

      Plenty of people gaslighting out there to feed the trolls like Marko.

      1. glib1 says

        euromomo is a 31 institutions collaboration and their data a gold standard for european mortality.

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