CAN WE TRUST THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) STATISTICS? — PART 2

virus picture from here (en.wikipedia.org))

In CAN WE TRUST THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) STATISTICS? — PART 1 we considered the overall problem of trusting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) statistics. Here we will look at a specific issue. How much can we trust that death rate number?

We don’t know who has had COVID-19.

Uncounted millions had COVID-19 symptoms, but no positive test (msn.com).

Experts estimate tens of millions of Americans contracted the coronavirus but are not included in official tallies because of testing errors, misdiagnoses, a sluggish public health response and ignorance about the disease during its early days in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that there have been about 3.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide and at least 136,000 deaths. The actual number of infections is likely 10 times the number of reported cases, CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a news conference June 25. (from here (msn.com))

When someone is asymptomatic, they probably won’t even go to the doctor to get tested. Moreover, once people get over COVID-19, we have to use a different test to verify that someone has had the virus, and that test is not as available as the test to detect an active case.  Therefore, we have probably undercounted the number of COVID-19 cases.

We seem to be overestimating the number of COVID-19 deaths

There are couple of reasons why we are probably overestimating COVID-19 deaths.

Given the bias and the vague definition of a COVID-19 death, we have probably overcounted COVID-19 deaths. Therefore, the number of people dying from COVID-19 appears to be greater than it is.

Observation

When the experts talk about the death rate, they are comparing the number deaths against those who tested positive, but lots of people who had the virus have never been tested. So we don’t have a good measure of the number of people who have been infected. In addition, we seem to be overcounting COVID-19 deaths, assuming a positive test for COVID-19 accurately indicates the cause of death. If we are undercounting the number of COVID-19 infections and overcounting the number of deaths, then COVID-19 is probably much less lethal than many of us think it is.

Unfortunately, the national news media is trying to scare us, and they have been largely successful.

A survey shows that Americans believe some 30 million of us have died from the coronavirus, which means they are off by more than 2,000 percent. (continued here (breitbart.com))

Given the hysteria generated by the news media, is it any surprise that many Americans think 30 million people have died of COVID-19?

Additional References

To Be Continued

 

28 thoughts on “CAN WE TRUST THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) STATISTICS? — PART 2

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  1. Tom,

    The entire COVID statistics fiasco root cause is linked to the failed economic theory of a global economy and the sad foolish decisions made by past political leaders to outsource the USA manufacturing and machinery to other Nations.

    For example, 90 percent of PPE equipment made on high production machinery is located 8000 miles away from the USA.

    I wrote a post today titled, Machinery Lack Folly, which explains my statements..

    https://rudymartinka.com/2020/08/06/machinery-lack-folly-king-solomon-blog/

    While I agree your topic on statistics is relevant, my point of contention is that if N95 masks were available, all the statistics would have been 95 percent less.

    Plus the resultant economy quarantine time frames would have been shortened into only the time frame to produce the PPE masks and equipment instead of going on six months and counting.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good series, Tom. The truth is, this mess is so politicized, we may never know the true numbers. There’s so much fraud going on. For instance, there are several people I know in Illinois who went to get tested but because the line was so long they went home without getting tested. They all got letters in the mail saying they tested positive for COVID-19!

    What’s tragic is that we have shut down our economy, ruined many businesses, and may have caused untold harm to our children because of these political scare tactics.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good work, Tom. A couple of things that haven’t been discussed, at least in my state, covid 19 deaths fall under the collective category of “pneumonia, flu, and covid suspect.” Cause of death is actually a really complicated thing to discern. Even the CDC says it can take 2-3 years to sort it all out. People don’t actually die of viruses, they die of pneumonias and respiratory distress and organ failure. When you are elderly or fighting something like cancer, it can be really difficult to sort out exactly what chain of events lead to your death. In my state, we’ve already had to remove several obvious homicides and suicides. Yes, they had covid at the time of their death, but that’s obviously not what killed them.

    I don’t wish to cause any fuss, but George Floyd had covid. He also had an enlarged heart, likely caused from drug abuse. He also had a bunch of cops kneeling on his neck. It’s obviously a heated issue in the country right now, but it gives you a picture into how challenging it can be to figure out cause of death.

    Really tragic, the other day Florida did an autopsy on a nurse and discovered she died of a kidney infection, not covid. She never had covid at all. It’s exceedingly tragic, because the assumption that she had covid resulted in her not being treated for the kidney infection that eventually killed her. Very sad.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @Julie

      Modeling works well when we have stable system, and we constantly testing our model. Then we can adjust our parameters and equations until they are accurate. That works great on assembly line and not too badly with respect to the weather. This pandemic is not an assembly line. It is more like weather forecasting. Unfortunately, because of the politicians, it is like forecasting climate change.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Regarding the powerline blog post, they are seriously undercounting deaths. The CDC numbers they rely on to come up with their assessment are preliminary numbers, that at least for the latest weeks reported grossly underestimate death counts, simply due to lags in reporting. The numbers take at least three months time before they approach their final value, in the first week they are reported they are at about a third to a half of the final value.

    Like

    1. @marmoewp

      That’s your complaint?

      Our doctors now have experience with the virus, and they are getting better at treating it. At this point, the so-called cure is worse than COVID-19. Keeping the economy and the schools shut down does more harm than the virus, but hysteria –can’t let Trump win — is what it is.

      Like

        1. @marmoewp

          We shut down the economy because our leaders used an epidemiological model that has never been accurate and insisted upon making decisions for everyone that they did not have to make.

          Like

  5. Great stuff Tom, with lots of excellent reference links to keep in my back pocket, thanks! We share similar sentiments with our posts today. And the media is most certainly not helping things, or they are helping if the objective is to get Joe Biden elected. Can’t tell for sure if their motivation is purely that or just ratings or a combo of both, but their trafficking in panic porn with coronavirus is off the rails.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You sure that’s just panic? Typical numbers for people dying of all causes was 2.8 million deaths in 2018. For the seven months of this year we would expect 1.6 million to die. Comparing that to 150,000 thousand dead with / from Covid-19, you have about one in ten deaths from / associated with Covid-19. That’s with what part of the population having gone through infection, already? Maybe 10%?

      Like

      1. In my book it is. Leaving aside whether the true deaths with Covid and not of it actually amount to those numbers, the media, at least here in the U.S., continually traffic in panic porn, hollering about rising cases numbers while paying no mind that the death counts from April’s peak has dramatically dropped and aside from a few localized hotspots remains flat. They also make 0 corrections when the data turns out to be flawed which seems to happen weekly here and never discuss that most of those new cases are either asymptomatic or don’t amount to much beyond mild, to medium or unfortunately a severe flu. Not fun but nothing to panic over.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. @marmoewp

        Originally, the concern was that 2.2 million would die. Originally, the concern was that we would overload our hospitals.

        Because of the economic shutdown, more people are dying, and that is not just in my country. When our economy crashes, that seriously affects poor people in other nations. Our economy provides us the resources we need to stay healthy. If some people want to stay in quarantine forever, that their choice. But why does have to they don’t want to do so? Why do some people have to force what others consider cowardice upon those others?

        We quarantine the sick, not the healthy. If a disease we cannot tell who is sick, perhaps we are overreacting.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @Tom
          If you do not wait for the vaccines to become available you will still look at about an additional 750,000 deaths (assuming 10% of the population has gone through infection already and 60% would yield herd immunity), provided you keep current restrictions. If you get rid of all of the restrictions, your hospitals _will_ get overwhelmed, drastically increasing your infection fatality rate, resulting in even higher numbers.

          Why do some people have to force what others consider cowardice upon those others?
          Why do some people want to force what others consider recklessness upon those others. Inside a dry forest, it takes one hundred out of one hundred people to not start a fire.

          Like

          1. @marmoewp

            You made some mistakes. Bad assumptions.
            1. Children get the disease. No. They don’t.
            2. The elderly and others who are vulnerable would not continue to isolate themselves and that younger people would not be protective.
            3. Government coercion works better than voluntary solutions.
            4. We are not getting better at treating the virus.
            5. A vaccine will work and soon be available.

            Like

          2. @marmoewp

            Do we live in a dry forest? Yes. One person can, if they choose to do so, do tremendous damage to others. So, we prohibit words and deeds that involve causing harm to others. We don’t stop people from going to work. We don’t stop children from going to school.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. 1. Children get the disease. No. They don’t.
            They do however get infected and it spreads quickly, given the opportunity.
            https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6931e1.htm
            It is my understanding, that children are just as infectuous as adults.

            2. The elderly and others who are vulnerable would not continue to isolate themselves and that younger people would not be protective.
            Because it worked so well so far? No care workers turning up ill for work, out of fear of losing their job? No hotspots due to families who just had to have all their relatives at the family gathering? No hotspots due to church services for the brave?

            3. Government coercion works better than voluntary solutions.
            We can readily see, just how responsible the general public is behaving voluntarily in bars, at politcal rallies and on the beaches. Including the brave, who consider wearing a mask a sign of cowardice, as if bravery would impress a virus.

            4. We are not getting better at treating the virus.
            Yes, we did get better and we continue to do so. None of this matters, once the hospitals are overwhelmed.

            5. A vaccine will work and soon be available.
            We have several promising candidates and more still in development. But yes, it will still take a year or so.

            Like

          4. @marmoewp

            1. It is funny how studies just miraculously appear, and this one indicates it is an early release. Since Big Tech will even suppress our president, it is difficult to find anything contrary to Liberal Democrat wisdom, but it is there.
            https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/146/2/e2020004879
            https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200710100934.htm

            Fact is that COVID-19 poses less risk than the flu to young people. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/older-adults.html

            So, closing down the schools is more harmful to children than COVID-19.

            2. People have the right to make their own decisions. God exists, but there is no big bureaucrat in the sky we should worship.

            3. You have a law, and people are still breaking it? So you want to give the government more power? News. Dictatorships kill people by the tens of millions. Laws work because:
            a. People understand the law. COVID-19 laws don’t make sense.
            b. There is wide, popular support. Fear is not a sustainable policy. 30 million people have not died, and some people are starting to notice.
            c. The law is enforceable. People slap a piece of cloth over their mouth, leave their nose uncovered, and they are wearing a mask. It is a joke, but they are obeying the law.
            4. The hospitals are always full. It is how they make money. In nonemergency times, doctors stay busy doing elective procedures. Because it is not an emergency, there are not that many people in the hospital with COVID-19, but there are plenty of fear porn peddling reporters.

            5. We may even have a COVID-19 vaccine before the election. Then, of course, that vaccine will be treated as poison by the news media. Frankly, unless you are elderly or already sickly, it foolish to be so afraid of COVID-19 that you confine yourself to solitary.

            Think! How do we punish prisoners? How do we break someone? We put them in a cell alone and leave them there. That is your solution for COVID-19, and you suggest the people who don’t want this wonderful solitude are evil or irresponsible? Because the disease is not dangerous to most people, it doesn’t make any sense to quarantine everyone. It is just punishment.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. @Tom
            We put them in a cell alone and leave them there. That is your solution for COVID-19, and you suggest the people who don’t want this wonderful solitude are evil or irresponsible?

            Such nuanced observation, I am in awe, how you try to understand the other side. Seriously, where do you get this nonsense from? Is putting up strawmen the only way you can stand your ground in an argument? I would think not.

            I am fully aware, that social isolation is cruel and damaging to anyone. We can not switch off the economy and flick it back on again in a year’s time from now. However, the hard decisions that need to be taken, need to be made with a keen eye for the actual data and not be based on wishful thinking. I welcome it, if children can go to school, provided we can do it without raising infection levels too much (exact value to be determined 😉 ). I do have a problem with your absolute positions that you parade around, that Covid-19 is basically harmless, that the only detrimental effect that seems to count is deaths, etc. I would hope for you, that holding these positions as absolutes is only a facade, an armor that you think you need when talking to them communists.

            One more word on children. The summer camp study shows, IMO, that children can readily get infected and infect others, given the right circumstances. But school is not a summer camp, you can manage it with a lot less close contact. On the other hand, the AAP-article starts out with findings in Switzerland that children were seldomly the first to be infected in a family. That’s wonderful news, until you realize, that the data was collected while Swiss schools were closed, children were staying home and it was basically only the adults having contacts outside of home — how on Earth, did any of the children manage to catch the virus outside of family at all, under these circumstances. In Germany in some states summer holidays are over already, and children are going back to school, with various protectives measures taken. It will be interesting to see how this works out. I intend to keep you posted.

            In the mean time, I would love to see, that taking basic sanitary precautions is no longer seen as a political statement. Is it really the freedom to infect your neighbors, that the Republicans want to fight for?

            Like

          6. @marmoewp

            I have not said that COVID-19 is harmless. I have said that it poses little risk to most people. The elderly need to avoid it if they can. Think! If the median age for the COVID-19 dead is 78, then shutting down the economy and the schools is dumb. Most elderly are retired. Forcing young people to self isolate causes them more harm than any possible good, but all you can talk about is stopping the spread of the virus. Now you have pointed to the excuse of a vaccine. That was not the original purpose of the shutdown, and we still don’t know if a vaccine will work. Bait and switch!

            I will deal with whether children spread virus in my next post in this series. Given the propensity of politics and government money to drive science, I have little confidence in scientific studies these days.

            Like

        2. This is an interesting thread, Citizen Tom.
          Originally, the concern was that 2.2 million would die. Originally, the concern was that we would overload our hospitals.

          I think this is a point that cannot be overstated.
          The military set up mobile hospitals, we had naval medical units ready and it all went basically untouched. Our hospitals were not overwhelmed, so let’s open up things and see what happens. Well, now that is done and we’re seeing some spikes in certain places which would be expected.
          This is pretty standard procedure for how diseases spread. Months of shut down were enough to bring the economy to its knees, but I’m of the opinion it was a good call under the circumstances. But it can’t go on forever. It is an odd thing when people are blaming the president for the economic collapse while demanding the continued shut down that brought it.
          Saw an Onion piece this morning:
          “Study finds most restaurants fail within first year of it becoming illegal to go to them”

          Schools should open (though exceptions perhaps for the hardest hit areas).
          I do believe children are germy vectors but this is nothing new. N95 masks exist and immunocompromised/elderly/ folks with co-morbidities should wear them rather than expecting the world to shut down. It has been shut down long enough.

          Per the vaccine, I’m not as hopeful. To my knowledge, the most promising version was said to have a “robust immune response”…which could mean a lot things, but as the worst effects of covid (with longstanding organ complications) are the result of a robust immune response (cytokine storm), I myself would give it a hard pass (assuming I’d have the option to decline). I also suspect it would have a low enough efficacy rate that we could expect a higher number of asymptomatic carriers.
          But that’s just me noodling out loud.

          Like

          1. @Liz
            @marmoewp

            I don’t claim to be an expert, but the head of the CDC says he has no problems with children going back to school, and some studies show children don’t spread COVID-19, that they can get it, but they have little to do with transmitting the virus.

            One of the things that grate on me is the way Liberal Democrats complain Conservatives don’t listen to the experts, that we ignore the science. That is not the problem. The problem is when we start forcing people to comply with our opinions on the “science” we politicize the experts. Then we cannot trust the science because the science has become political. Therefore, we don’t have a choice. We have to figure out who is telling the truth about the science.

            Do I actually want to publicize my opinions on diverse topics? I am arrogant enough, I suppose, but I also understand the risk.

            Proverbs 10:13-14 New American Standard Bible
            13 On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found,
            But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.
            14 Wise men store up knowledge,
            But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.

            One thing I think most people appreciate is that wise people do not say any more than they must. In fact, the Bible is quite explicit about the wisdom of saying no more than needs to be said.

            Proverbs 17:28 New American Standard Bible
            28 Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;
            When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.

            Still, we cannot stand idly by when some people are intent upon evil.

            So, the topic for my next post will be about this, I suppose. Do children spread COVID-19?

            Like

          2. @Liz

            Saw an Onion piece this morning:
            “Study finds most restaurants fail within first of it becoming illegal to go to them”

            We make it too easy in this country to be a satirist.

            Given the track record of flu vaccines….

            Like

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