M-m-m-my Corona: Journal #4

The ideas, thoughts, and resources that follow are intentionally not in any sort of logical order. Just where my mind, my fingers, and Google have taken me as I try to learn more about COVID-19 and its impact on our world.

1) The research center referenced by the White House provides daily updates on overall COVID-19 projections.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) provides daily projections for expected COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities. They indicate that their models are based on the following:

...data on confirmed COVID-19 deaths by day from WHO websites and local and national governments; data on hospital capacity and utilization for US states; and observed COVID-19 utilization data from select locations to develop a statistical model forecasting deaths and hospital utilization against capacity by state for the US over the next 4 months.

At the moment, the IHME model projects the following:

- On the low end, a peak daily fatality total of 1,233 deaths occurring on April 10

- The mid-range peak is 2,214 daily deaths occurring on April 15

- The high peak is 3,440 daily deaths occurring on April 19

- 81,443 total deaths by June 1 (with a range spanning from 36,562 to 144,665 deaths)

Obviously these are simply projections, and as Dr. Fauci mentioned during the latest task force update, projections are only as good as the assumptions being made when developing the models.

One note on their summary page did stand out to me:

Current predictions suggest the first day where the range of daily COVID-19 deaths is expected to fall under 100 could be June 28.

June 28. Seems so far away.

2) Interesting article that discusses the complexity of the statistics involved in attributing deaths to specific diseases.

No doubt everyone has heard the "COVID-19 hasn't killed as many people as the flu, why don't we freak out about the flu" argument.

While I could give you a whole list of reasons why equating COVID-19 and the flu is irresponsible---the least of which involves the makeshift morgues popping up in cities that have been hit hard by this virus---I think this article is interesting because it explains the process in which deaths associated with specific flu seasons is calculated by looking at "excess" death numbers.

One interesting quote:

Estimating flu deaths is something of an arcane art, in which statistics plays as important a role as the virus itself. Very few deaths are ever proven to have been caused by flu alone, just a handful in most years. The rest are the result of examining “excess deaths” in the weeks of the year in which flu is widespread, and attributing a proportion of them to the complications of flu, such as pneumonia.

Worth a read if you're looking for an explanation on why comparing seasonal flu to COVID-19 isn't really a fair comparison.

More later.

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