Thinking Citizen Blog — Counting COVID Deaths and Comparability of Statistics across States and Countries
Thinking Citizen Blog — Thursday is Health, Health Care and Global Health Policy Day
Today’s Topic — Counting COVID Deaths and comparability of statistics across states and countries
I remember being totally shocked when I learned that comparing infant mortality statistics across country lines was highly problematic given different methods of counting what constitutes a child death. Well, apparently, this counting issue exists for COVID deaths as well. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
STATE BY STATE VARIATION: deaths with COVID versus of COVID
1. The CDC recommends that “probable” deaths be counted. But this is not mandatory.
2. “You have situations where a person dies from multiple causes. You could put down COVID, you could put down cancer, you could put down heart disease. So, at one point, it becomes fairly random, and we’re basically at that point.” (Governor Cuomo, June 2020).
3. “Assigning a cause of death is never straightforward, but data on excess deaths suggest that coronavirus death tolls are likely an underestimate.” (Scientific American, May 2020, third link).
NB: “The federal government relies on two parallel systems to keep track of COVID-19 deaths. One, run through the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System, uses reports from the States and is able to be more quickly updated. The second, managed via the National Vital Statistics System, relies on death certificate reporting and what is cited by health officials on that document.”
COUNTRY TO COUNTRY VARIATION
1. Have the numbers been adjusted for the age structure?
2. Can you trust numbers from countries with totalitarian regimes?
3. Have the numbers been adjusted for risk factors? (eg. obesity)
NB: Do differences in testing capacity, public health protocols, and political agendas matter? How much?
EXCESS DEATHS; FROM COVID OR FROM LOCKDOWN
1. Patients are avoiding going to the doctor or the hospital.
2. How many excess deaths are due to lockdown rather than Covid?
3. Are there any reliable statistics on lockdown deaths?
NB: The long term costs of lockdown will not be known for a long time. How are they to be counted?
For the last three years of posts organized by theme:
Please share the most interesting thing you learned in the last week related to health, health care or health care policy — the ethics, economics, politics, history…. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to health are or health care policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random health-related fact that blew you away.
This is your chance to make someone’s day. Or to cement in your mind something really important.