As a person with a degree in science, my mindset is often driven by the scientific method:
The key to a proper and thorough scientific analysis is an accurate and complete data set. Without a complete dataset, any conclusions drawn by scientists will be inaccurate.
Now, let's look at the current viral crisis which is gripping the globe. During this pandemic, we have heard the following from governments and health officials around the world:
1.) Groups of no more than 2/10/20/50/500 individuals are allowed to assemble.
2.) Seniors 70 years and older must only go outside one at a time.
3.) Cruise ships with no more than 500 passengers and crew are allowed to dock.
4.) Cash is no longer accepted.
5.) The mortality rate of this virus is the same/ten times/fifty times that of the normal seasonal influenza.
6.) Up to thirty/fifty/eighty percent of the population will be infected by COVID-19.
7.) Thousands/tens of thousands/hundreds of thousands/millions will die after being infected by COVID-19.
8.) Only 150 people are allowed in the grocery store at a time.
9.) This one is my favourite. Funerals are allowed but no more than 20 family members may attend.
None of these conclusions are driven by science (at least not by a thorough scientific study); they are driven by the agendas of governments, medical professionals/researchers and media spokespeople.
Let's now take a look at some real data. Thanks to various governments, we have relatively complete data on the seasonal flu, the closest analogy that we have to the current viral pandemic. We will compare the data on deaths from seasonal influenza/pneumonia (since influenza is quite frequently a cause of pneumonia) to that of other health issues where this data is available for three advanced economies as well as global data:
1.) United States: Here is a report from the National Vital Statistics division of Health and Human Services showing the ten leading health causes of death in the United States for 2017:
Note that in 2017, there were 55,672 Americans who died as a result of influenza/pneumonia, up from 51,537 in 2016. In 2018, there were 59,120 deaths from influenza and pneumonia accounting for 2.1 percent of total deaths (8th most common cause of death) which works out to 14.9 per 100,000 population.
Here is a breakdown of the same data by age showing how deaths from influenza and pneumonia increase with age:
2.) Canada: Here is a table from Statistics Canada showing the leading causes of death from 2014 to 2018:
In 2018, influenza resulted in the deaths of 8,511 Canadians, the sixth leading cause of death. This is up from the previous year when 7,396 Canadians died from influenza and pneumonia.
3.) England: Here is a table from Public Health England showing the number of deaths from influenza in England from 2014/2015 to the 15th week of the seasonal influenza season in 2018/2019:
In influenza season 2017/2018, the last season for which full data is available, 26,408 people in England died from influenza.
4.) Italy: Research by Aldo Rosano et al in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases found the following number of excess deaths attributable to influenza as follows:
2013/2014 – 7,027 individuals
2014/2015 – 20,259 individuals
2015/2016 – 15,801 individuals
2016/2017 – 24,981 individuals
The average annual mortality excess rate per 100,000 ranged from 11.6 to 41.2 with most of the influenza-associated deaths registered among those 65 years of age and greater. The authors also noted the following:
"Over 68,000 deaths were attributable to influenza epidemics in the study period. The observed excess of deaths is not completely unexpected, given the high number of fragile very old subjects living in Italy."
5.) Global: Thanks to research by John Paget et al, we have a global morbidity study on the impact of seasonal influenza. According to the authors who looked at influenza mortality rates from 31 countries over the period from 2002 to 2011, globally there were an average of 389,000 (range from 294,000 to 518,000) annual deaths associated with seasonal influenza epidemics. Of these deaths, 67 percent were among people 65 years of age and older. Here is a table showing the average seasonal influenza-associated excess mortality by age group and World Health Organization region:
Now that you have all of this data to absorb, let me offer my opinion. Until this current coronavirus pandemic reaches its end and scientists have a chance to study all of the data, we have no idea of the mortality rate, R0 (transmissibility) and age group most affected. All "conclusions" touted by governments, medical experts and the media are simply best guesses at this point in time since the data set is not yet complete and is complicated by the fact that a significant portion of the infected are asymptomatic. With a current total death count of just over 17,000 people, at this point in time, the current pandemic is falling far, far short (thus far roughly 4.4 percent of the global average as noted above) of the mortality numbers experienced during a normal seasonal influenza epidemic. What I find particularly concerning is the fact that governments around the world are using a faulty and incomplete data set to suspend the rights of their citizens to freedom of movement, engineering a "health crisis" to justify their control over all of us through the coercive use of fear.
Let's close with one thought. Everyone has an agenda or bias. In the interest of being completely open with my readers, my agenda/bias is to get people to step back, take a deep breath, look at accurate statistics and decide for yourself what is truth and what is being driven by someone's agenda and how this is impacting their actions. Here are four examples:
1.) Government – the government's agenda is to instil fear in order to gain control. It is also important to remember that many of the health ministers/secretaries of nations around the world are not physicians, epidemiologists or scientists.
2.) Researchers – the research community's agenda is to gain access to research funding and gain public exposure.
3.) Pharmaceutical companies – the pharmaceutical companies' agenda is to maximize profits.
4.) Mainstream Media – the mainstream media's agenda is to maximize readership/listenership thereby maximizing advertising revenue and profits.
Take a deep breath. Read carefully and listen critically. Put everything that you hear into perspective. Understand what motivates people and governments as well as their personal/corporate/political agenda. In three words…..THINK FOR YOURSELF!
As a response to the comments below and since for some reason I can't post my own comments :(, I wanted to provide additional information. I have posted this graphic on a previous posting but it provides us with a very concise explanation regarding the difficult time that Italy has had with the coronavirus:
Italy's health care system is ranked among the poorest in its advanced nation peer group.
Thus far, we have seen very little evidence that the health care system is being overloaded with critically ill, COVID-19 positive patients. At this point, the lack of patients does seem to suggest that it is not as transmissible by community contact as was first thought but only time and proper research will tell.
Please take a few minutes to read this since it will give you a sense of how the medical community is divided on the seriousness of this pandemic:
"Two professors of medicine at Stanford University published an opinion article Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal, suggesting there is little evidence that the coronavirus would kill millions of people without shelter-in-place orders and quarantines.
“Fear of Covid-19 is based on its high estimated case fatality rate—2% to 4% of people with confirmed Covid-19 have died, according to the World Health Organization and others,” the article, headlined "Is the Coronavirus as Deadly as They Say?" and written by Dr. Eran Bendavid and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, reads. “So if 100 million Americans ultimately get the disease, two million to four million could die. We believe that estimate is deeply flawed. The true fatality rate is the portion of those infected who die, not the deaths from identified positive cases.”
The deaths from identified positive cases are “misleading” because of limited data, according to the professors.
“If the number of actual infections is much larger than the number of cases—orders of magnitude larger—then the true fatality rate is much lower as well. That’s not only plausible but likely based on what we know so far,” the professors argued.
The professors cited data from Iceland, China, the United States, and Italy, which is arguably the hardest-hit region when it comes to the coronavirus.
“On March 6, all 3,300 people of Vò were tested, and 90 were positive, a prevalence of 2.7%,” the professors said. “Applying that prevalence to the whole province (population 955,000), which had 198 reported cases, suggests there were actually 26,000 infections at that time. That’s more than 130-fold the number of actual reported cases. Since Italy’s case fatality rate of 8% is estimated using the confirmed cases, the real fatality rate could in fact be closer to 0.06%.”
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