Archive for February 18th, 2021

Why are COVID deaths continuing at a high level?

February 18, 2021

That’s the metric, not cases. that we should stay focused on.
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From the get-go I concluded that “confirmed cases” was a problematic metric (due to false positives, varying testing methods and confirmation criteria, and an uncertain mix of people being tested and their outcomes) …. and that our laser focus should be on “daily new deaths” which, while subject to some definitional variance, is a binary, countable number.

See MUST READ: How will we know when we’ve turned a COVID-19 corner?

Somewhat contrary to my own advice, a couple of weeks ago, I started including the Case Fatality Rate (CFR%) in my morning COVID stats post.

Why is that “somewhat contrary to my own advice”?

Dividing a reasonably reliable number (deaths) by a potentially flakey number (cases) usually results in a potentially flakey “synthetic number” that might be misleading.   

There was a glaring upward trend in the CSR%.

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Noting the upward trend in the CFR%, a couple of readers asked “Why? What’s going on?”

In a prior post, I took a stab at the answer:

The simple arithmetic answer to the question: The CFR% is going up because daily deaths have plateaued (i.e. stabilized at their peak level) … while confirmed cases have fallen sharply.

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While that’s true, it didn’t really answer “why?”, so I started looking at the component number that was exhibiting the greatest variance: confirmed cases.

Why did cases explode, spike and then start declining so steeply?

Were these movements real or just loud statistical noise?

(more…)

MUST READ: How will we know when we’ve turned a COVID-19 corner?

February 18, 2021

Stay focused on the number of Daily New Deaths!
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This is a relevant excerpt from a long ago prior post (May 2020)
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Why have I centered on Daily New Deaths (DND)  as my key metric?

First,  saving lives is our paramount objective, right?  If yes, it should be our focus metric.

Second, I think that most other metrics that are being bandied about are quite problematic.

Counting deaths — while a bit macabre — is a more reliable process than counting, say, the number of infected people.

Sure, I’d like to know the number of people infected with COVID-19.

But, unless everybody — or at lest a large statistical sample — is tested, the number of confirmed cases is subject to lots of statistical issues.

Most notably, who is being tested and who isn’t? What about the asymptomatic “hidden carriers”? What are the criteria for confirming a COVID infection? What about false positives (and false negatives)? How to standardize the reporting processes across states? How to keep governmental units from fudging the numbers?

Importantly, if testing increases, then confirmed cases goes up.

Is that an indication of more virus spread or just a reflection of more testing?

I sure can’t tell.

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Again, counting fatalities is probably the most reliable metric.

Fatalities are discrete events – so they’re countable.

Still, even deaths may have some counting imperfections.

For example, many non-hospitalized people die and are buried without autopsies.  Some may be uncounted COVID victims.

On the other hand, some people may die and be diagnosed with COVID infections. That doesn’t necessarily mean that COVID killed them.  That’s especially true with COVID since it’s  most deadly for people with other health problems.

And, as we stated above, the definition of COVID deaths has changed:

COVID-related” means “COVID present”, not necessarily “COVID caused” … and that, along the way, “present” was redefined from “confirmed” to “presumed”

Further, COVID deaths are a function of two drivers: the incidence of the virus … and, the nature, level and timing of therapeutic healthcare.

Said differently, more effective therapeutic healthcare will dampen the death toll.

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Bottom line:  “Daily New Deaths” is the number we should be watching.

If it shows a consistent downward trend, then we’ll know we’ve turned the corner.

If it stays stable (at a high level) or turns upward, we’ll know that we’re in deep yogurt.

 

Feb. 18: COVID VAX Stats

February 18, 2021

Vaccine Supply & Vaccinations

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Vaccinations per Day

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Vaccine Stockpile    Doses NOT Administered

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Feb. 18: COVID Tracking Stats

February 18, 2021

Cases & Deaths

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Note:  At the index starting date, cases were
~ 100K and deaths were ~ 1,000 per day.

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Case Fatality Rate

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    See Why is the Case Fatality Rate increasing?

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Hospitalizations

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Source: RonaViz.com