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Source: Kevin Drum

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5 Responses to Outlier

  1. Vic says:

    Now, to be honest, find the chart that shoes “new infections” versus “deaths” and you will see a completely different thing than what this chart implies. I am neither a doctor, nor an infectious disease expert, but I have to question what we are being told when what a USED to be the most important thing, deaths, now is never mentioned, and the data actually shows a steep decline. Is this just more testing? Is it from people following social guidelines? Is it the start of herd immunity! Is it that lots of people have and continue to have it harmlessly? These are critical questions raised obviously from the data, but those who understand the data don’t talk about it, and the media is only concerned with narrative, not information. Really, look up that data, you might be surprised. I’ve seen it, it’s shocking how much it suggests we aren’t getting the full story. Why?

  2. Just me says:


    Herd immunity has nothing to do with death rates. In fact, the spike shows the opposite of herd immunity. If we were at the start of herd immunity, the infection (not death) numbers would be dropping. “Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely.” See https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/herd-immunity-and-coronavirus/art-20486808. Infection numbers, i.e. “spread of disease from person to person,” are not dropping. And we are still a VERY long way away from herd immunity. “[I]n the U.S., 70% of the population — more than 200 million people — would have to recover from COVID-19 to halt the epidemic.” Id.

    Also, deaths are a lagging indicator. Today’s deaths are last month’s (last week’s?) new infections.

    In any event, I am not sure what data you are looking at, but I wonder if this might give you something to think about: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/state-timeline/new-deaths/florida/0

    The chart shows that Florida hit its daily deaths peak on May 8 with 51 daily death. By May 26 (about when Miami started re-opening), Florida was down to 30 daily deaths. As of yesterday, we’re back up to 48 daily deaths. We’re talking about a 62.5% increase in daily deaths in about a month and half. That seems more or less consistent with the sharp increase in reported infections after adjusting for the lagging indicator nature of death versus infection.

    I have mixed feelings on the lockdown. Fear of dying is no reason to stop living. But I don’t see a conspiracy – at least not anything more insidious than news outlets competing for eyeballs.

    You might find this interesting: https://www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=53858. It’s a bit dated now (June 17), but I think it speaks pretty effectively to your comment.

  3. There is no question that the death rate as a fraction of infections has gone down. There are a lot of theories as to why. Two factors that seem important are that initially a lot of the infections were of very old people, in senior centers of one type or another. Compared to the initial outbreak more cases are hitting younger people, and they are much less likely to die (although we’re still learning about long-term effects, and not all of it is very cheerful). Another factor is that doctors and hospitals have a better idea of what works — putting very ill people face down, some drugs like dex that help the very ill, etc — and that had also reduced the fatality rate. Some people also speculate the virus may have mutated to a less-deadly strain, but I’m skeptical.

    Personally, I’ve always been more interested in the infection rate than the death rate, although both do matter. It’s the infection rate that will determine when it’s safe for me to go out again. The trouble is, the infection rate is harder to measure, as we have to guess how many infected people never get tested, and that’s very hard when some important fraction have no or very minor symptoms.

    That said, the current death rate projections are upsetting. Even with the CDC’s lower death rate projection of 0.6%, that still means c. 2 million total deaths in the US just from the virus, not counting knock-on effects (e.g. folks who avoid hospital visits when they need them). I’ve seen other, higher projections, with the outlier being 500,000 by the end of this year. All of these projections, of course, are very sensitive to how we react, how much testing/tracing/lockdown we do, so they are all very very speculative.

  4. Vic says:

    As I said, I’m neither a doctor nor an infectious disease expert, but I do wonder why when the media changes it’s narrative, and there is no question that it has. A few months ago, it was all death rate, all the time, and lots of people screamed about how meaningless that number was by itself (true). Now, deaths are never, or nearly never, mentioned, it’s all about infections. You have to wonder why that is? An obvious answer, is that for whatever reason, that’s the most terrifying number, whatever it may actually indicate. I just don’t think we are really getting unbiased facts on any of this. The CDC has admitted that it lied to us in the early days so that we would do what they wanted us to do for their purposes, so who’s to say we aren’t still being given a shaded truth? I just don’t know.

    The fact is, I was very sick with something back in February. A number of people I know were as well. Was it a Covid? Who knows. Neither I nor anyone I knew ever got tested. A lot of people I know, throughout the country have similar stories. How many of us have had it with no consequences, nor even symptoms (since that’s possible)? What does that fact mean for the numbers? Am I now immune, if I had it before? I don’t know, those who do aren’t saying.

    What we do know is that the actual fatalities are in the ten-thousandths of a percent in the US. And most of them were elderly people with serious underlying conditions. So how should we be moving forward with what we know now? I’m not sure anyone is seriously discussing that. Lots of politics going on though. Not conspiracy, just politics.

  5. The claim that “the media” doesn’t focus on death rates is specious. I see it all the time. To pick only the most recent example I encountered today, Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has daily graphs on it (https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2020/07/coronavirus-growth-in-western-countries-july-8-update/ for today’s). Even though I would prefer to see the infection rate…..

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