In the UK, if a person dies within 28 days of a Covid positive test, you are counted by Public Health England as a Covid death. Regardless of how the person has died.
In conjunction with this, we also have death certificates included.
Anecdotal case here: I think I mentioned before the city I live in had a local lockdown after the national lockdown was eased. Major testing occured during this time.
A client of mine told me the story of his 90 year old neighbour. In 5 weeks he had 5 negative Covid tests. He then got poorly and passed away. The doctor informed the family he died of pneumonia. The death certificate had Covid-19 on it, despite never testing positive.
Overall, people’s own life experiences will determine their own subjective view on the severity of Covid-19. I am also convinced that psychology drives how a person thinks on the subject too. The issue that political leanings seem to align with a view on Covid-19 supports this. And that is very relevant here in the UK, even though it is majorly underreported.
My brother and I are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. He believes the government are hiding Covid deaths, and are trying to push open the economy far too soon. I couldn’t disagree with him more.
Each to their own. Though regardless of how you fall on Covid-19, or even this video (I found it funny), we should endeavour to listen to each other with open minds. I for one am enjoying the back and forth of views and information. And again, kudos to this forum for allowing free discussion on the subject.
Agreed, Stuart. I’d say JP really just satirizes himself when all is said and done, but this is a good topic.
How, really, would they hide them? I’d say that conspiracy theories operate far too much on both sides, here.
No question about it - such things are more political than ever (at least in most locations and during present lifetimes).
PHE is now in line with Ireland, Wales and Scotland, there. No system is going to be perfect in every case - without the death certificate provision for the count, a person who’d been on a ventilator for more than 28 days could end up in the “non-Covid” category, for example.
There are anecdotal stories that support both an overcounting and undercounting of certain deaths. Certainly, in the beginning in the U.K. and the U.S., there was a drastic under-count, i.e. they didn’t count deaths outside of hospital or without a positive virus test. PHE did make a change about 3 weeks ago - less need to fear that deaths were being missed - and the Covid count declined ~5000 at that point from what it had been.
I think the U.K. has gotten fairly close to the real number, at this point. A few months ago the gap between expected mortality and attributed Covid deaths was fairly large, 16,000+ as I recall. Now, looking at March through July, it’s only 5000 to 6000, although there are still different number sets in the media - this is at least party due to Public Health England’s figures coming sooner, while the Office for National Statistics reports with some lag time, due to review and processing of death certificates.
There’s an old military adage to the effect that we should never attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetency. Not only is accurately determining the cause of a death not as easy as it sounds, but there are always cases that don’t fit neatly into the guidelines. It sounds from this thread that there are so many deaths that should be counted as COVID deaths that are not, and so many deaths that shouldn’t be counted as COVID deaths that are—is it possible that the two categories might cancel each other out?
Maybe I am not understanding your thinking, but the CDC says it’s happening. It is in their count- 5133 people died of injuries plus covid. Covid doesn’t cause injuries. Covid might cause respiratory distress, but not injuries.
Another 7500 people on the list had malignant neoplasms. That’s cancer. I know it is possible to live with cancer a long tim, but one of our county’s deaths was a man with cancer in the end stages of hospice care. He had had a positive covid test before he died, so he is a covid death. Our county health officer came out and said she didn’t think it was caused by covid, but it had to be reported that way. That’s just one death in one county, but how many others are there?
I am sure that early covid deaths may have been under reported, but I don’t see how that is possible now.
True. But is it possible that having the virus hampered their recovery from their injuries? And should that be counted as a COVID death or not?
Again, what influence did the virus have on his survival time from the cancer? Was the immediate cause of his death the virus or the cancer? If the poor doctor who signed the death certificate made the wrong determination was it because she’s part of the conspiracy, or just made a bad choice?
Robert Heinlein has a character in one of his novels who is described as having died of “heart failure.” Heinlein then has the protagonist recall a comment from one of his professors to the effect that “all deaths are ultimately attributable to heart failure.” Similarly, Jimmy Breslin, in The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight tells of a mafioso who “died of natural causes—his heart naturally stopped beating when the knife went through it.”
These cases actually raise significant philosophical questions, questions that may ultimately be unanswerable.
Paul, probably for no good reason this made me think of, “Things are rarely as bad, or as good, as they look.” (Just giddy from nothing but coffee today.)
I’m sure that has happened, and that’s it’s occurring, to an extent. Things have calmed down, now, and I’d say it’s happening less, overall (at least in the U.K., U.S., Australia, etc. - places where the virus outbreak has been around for a while). I do think there is an overarching, compelling argument, however.
Consider 2 situations. One is:
1000 deaths = normal expected mortality.
1180 deaths = observed mortality.
230 deaths = attributed to Covid-19.
Does this make sense? Here we would have 950 non-Covid deaths. The only way there could be that many Covid deaths is if something very substantial occurred to reduce the number of other deaths. Without something that substantial being there, it’s impossible to make a rational argument that this situation doesn’t show an overcounting of Covid deaths.
The second situation:
1000 deaths = normal expected mortality.
1180 deaths = observed mortality.
130 deaths = attributed to Covid-19.
Does this make sense? Here we have 1050 non-Covid deaths. The only way there could be that many non-Covid deaths is if something very substantial occurred to increase the number of other deaths. Without something that substantial being there, it’s impossible to make a rational argument that this situation doesn’t show an undercounting of Covid deaths.
The second situation has the correct proportions for the U.S., for March through July.
Such individual, anecdotal cases are essentially meaningless against the total numbers in the U.S. I do agree that things are much closer now, day-by-day. I’m not saying the undercount of U.S. Covid cases is growing - it may well not be right now. Yet the overall undercount remains very compelling.
I was not addressing the reported statistics, merely the twin ideas expressed in this thread that (a) many COVID deaths are being reported as non-COVID deaths, and (b) many non-COVID deaths are being reported as COVID deaths? It was an idle speculation of mine that perhaps the under- and over-reporting might cancel each other out.
If, however, there is reason to believe that they don’t balance, that is a different situation. It seems that, in the examples you give, all the reported COVID deaths are actual COVID deaths, and it is the extra non-COVID deaths that are questionable. Not being a statistician, I don’t know how to assess either your assumptions or your conclusions, sorry!
We have Covid-19. And a national lockdown that impacted non-Covid healthcare all across the western world. There were also less car accidents, but I believe a restrictive healthcare system perhaps impacted on the mortality numbers on a larger scale than road accidents.
I don’t think we are ever going to truly know the exact numbers on anything. It makes for good debates though
I posted it here because despite the humour it brings up the important issue of faulty numbers being used. And as you can see from the long debate above it is useful as it makes each side consider their arguments and present facts that maybe the other side didn’t consider.
Information is power and your only real tool for dealing with a pandemic from a personal perspective.
I know how tinfoil-hatty this sounds, but when the story first broke, links to the additional causes of death page of the CDC’s website were everywhere in every news report. The reports have largely disappeared out of google results and the stories I have been able to find again have the links removed, or they go elsewhere on the CDC site. I am a pretty good googler and was easily able to find the proper page over the weekend, but by yesterday I couldn’t anymore. I was only able to find the article I linked because I posted it on another thread. It is unusual because they posted the report within the article, they didn’t just link the CDC page.
Sure, it is an anecdote, but so is every single case in the death count. The plural of anecdote is data.
How many of the deaths being used to justify keeping kids out of school and economies restricted are actual, valid covid deaths? Some, for sure, but how many? Enough to make it worth it? I don’t know, and no ones knows when tracking is this sloppy.
I don’t have first hand knowledge of this man, but our county health officer came out during a briefing and said no one thought he died of Covid, but it had to be reported that way. Who’s rule was that? I don’t know. It was a big deal because he was only our third death and everyone was paying attention. They even had a ‘disclaimer’ of sorts on our county Covid page under the death count for a while.
In many countries the numbers didn’t/don’t balance if that means normal mortality plus Covid deaths equaling total deaths to a fairly close degree. Some countries actually had less total deaths than normal. Norway is one, or at least it was a short while ago. The economic slowdown meant less deaths, and their relatively small number of Covid deaths was not enough to make up the difference.
In far more countries, the not balancing lies in there being substantially more deaths than normal mortality plus Covid deaths, i.e. there is a ‘missing’ segment that is the strong rationale for a Covid undercount.
The problem is that he begins with faulty numbers himself. No good way to proceed after that.
What do you think is his point about “the numbers”?
A capital idea!! Having one right now, in fact.
I really cannot agree that his entire point is foolishness; I have to think he’s trying to make some kind of a point. But, ah well…
Our individual perspectives will vary, granted. However, this really is not, as they say, “rocket science.” In that time period (@OldDoug’s example) from March - July, the US had ~1,400,000 deaths. This is about 215,000 more than normal. Attributed Covid-19 deaths at that time were ~155,000.
So, ~60,000 deaths “left over” with nothing else unusual but Covid going on.
Nothing else but COVID and - in much of the country - a lockdown. The only death in my family this spring was my ex MIL who went downhill fast when she could no longer see her friends. She may have died at some point this year, but the lockdown devastated her.
Deaths over the norm are likely either COVID-related or lockdown-related. I would assume most are the former, but I was surprised to see no mention of the latter.
I was talking earlier in the week to my son’s neighbour. She is a district nurse. Her opinion was that the elderly are becoming confused at a faster rate at the moment because they have lost their usual interactions with the wider community. Whilst I recognise that this is also anecdotal, she sees a lot of patients in the community in their own homes on a large rural patch and has 30 years of nursing experience to call on.
“Lockdown-related” will usually mean deaths under the norm. This has been demonstrated many times, around the world, over the past century or more. Lots of studies can be trotted out to show this. Some areas of mortality do tend to rise - suicides go up a little with rises in unemployment, for example. This is outweighed by less traffic deaths, fewer occupational fatalities, less pollution, etc.
Oddly enough, people having more time for physical activity is a good part of the difference.
No problem, Gina - it really is a good discussion.
My opinion of Google has really done down over the past few years. Lack of privacy, the tracking of what we search for, the selling of that information, etc.
Google gives results for what it thinks we are going to click on. Your search results will usually be a little or a lot different than mine. If the system thinks we won’t click on something, it filters it out. Doesn’t matter what we are really interested in.
The worst thing for me is the outright censorship. I want to see everything, and then it’s up to me to select something or not. I still often use Google, but duckduckgo.com has given me better and more complete results many times.
But anecdotal cases don’t really affect things either way, here. We are talking about broad swings of tens of thousands of people, not what happened to some dude’s mechanic’s dogwalker.
Rationally, I can only say that for the U.S. the total presented Covid death number is on the low side. This is because we’ve already accounted for normal, expected deaths - and these include many seemingly “unusual” anecdotal stories. And after taking all those deaths out, and taking the Covid count out, there are still 50,000 or 60,000 deaths left over. Lots of room for more Covid deaths and more anecdotal this-and-that stories.
Looking at Table 3 there, I see we’re up to 7805 people with malignant neoplasms. Okay, yeah - lots of people have cancer, and some of them get Covid-19.
5424 people listed as “Intentional and unintentional injury, poisoning and other adverse events.”
That’s pretty broad, but we’re talking about 7 months, so no surprise that some of those cases occurred. That’s over 30 weeks, so about 180 people a week are having that stuff on their death certificates.
I’m not dismissing this - it does say, “Conditions Contributing to Deaths.” But it wouldn’t be any necessary evidence of inflated Covid deaths. Again, we’ve already accounted for normal or even more-than-normal numbers of deaths from injuries, etc.
It would be different if they all were cases, for example, of somebody getting a positive Covid test one day, and the next some lunatic conks them on the head with a monkey wrench.