Thursday, December 23, 2021

Death Numbers

It seems as if every weekend I feel encouraged that we are finally on the downward slope of deaths from covid, with only a few hundred per day nationwide, but every Tuesday the reporting numbers catch up and we are at 1500/day again. We all hold out hope that the Omicron* variant is the magic, killing very few but providing widespread immunity because its contagion seems to be sneaking past both vaccine and natural immunity at higher rates than the previous variants. The early information is encouraging on this, but old-timers didn't come up with the saying about counting your chickens for nothing. Things don't happen just because we want them to and they fit our narrative. 

The prediction that the rates of infection would head north in the cold, because Northerners would now be indoors while Southerners can go outdoors has sorta held up. Because states have different rules for what is a covid death, the death rate per million is not an unassailable number, but the counts aren't that far off.  It's not as if one state is reducing or adding to its count by a factor of two, or even 50%. We are talking about 10-20% reductions or increases at the extremes. What you see printed is a rough estimate. Also, the statistics-keeping portion of the CDC seems to be more reliable than its labs or its attitude. Agencies don't act as a unit, as I know from having worked for one. The left hand seldom knows what the right hand is doing. 

But Northern New England and the Pacific Northwest, which have had the lowest rates, along with Alaska and Hawaii, have been seeing terrible numbers for a month, perhaps now abating...we'll see. Pennsylvania continues to do poorly, and North Central has been uneven but generally worse. I think Florida made an enormous mistake opening too early by a few weeks, but the strategy of targeting the oldest and other vulnerable populations for getting the vaccine and enforcing distancing and limited contact seems to have been good, as they have done well through the fall, despite having an elderly population. I don't get why Arizona is passing everyone in death rate. The Mississippi River and Gulf Coast states have had terrible numbers which are only somewhat better.

To remember when reading the news, because people are trying to sell you bridges out there: when you see reports that the vaccinated are dying at higher rates it is important to correct for age (which those reports never do) - the older and more vulnerable have considerably higher rates of vaccination, so those vaccinated people doing all that dying, to convince you the vaccine is worthless, are older with more compromising factors.  When you compare 30-year-olds to 30-year olds and 70 year-olds to 70-year-olds the effect not only disappears, it hugely reverses. Secondly, when sites try and tell you that even people "following the rules" are getting the virus, so that means the rules aren't any good, they are misrepresenting what has been claimed from the beginning.  Distancing, vaccination, and even masking (somewhat) reduce your risk.  No one ever promised you otherwise, and to claim they did is to be, um, dishonest Glenn. One of the reasons we wanted to strangle covid in its cradle was to reduce the risk of new variants. Now that we have new variants, the claim is that "We were never told about this."  Yes you were.  I said it here.

But, as I noted, we may have hope if Omicron is less deadly and spreads widely enough to force the others out - in time. But chickens...hatching.

*I never knew until this week about those names for letters in the Greek alphabet. Big O and Little O - O-mega and O-micron. Right in front of me, unseen.


Grim said...

It’s really the Xi variant by Greek letters, but that was decided to be impolite or undiplomatic.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yeah, if it turns out to be an overall boon he may wish they hadn't bothered, because of the good press it would have given him. I suppose they did the right thing, as fevered minds might indeed think it was named after him, but it does seem a bit much to be that oversensitive. Would they change a long-arranged hurricane name because it turned out to be the first name of a major political candidate in an election year?

Grim said...

Sure. Hurricane Donald is definitely coming in 2024.

Gavin Longmuir said...

"Distancing, vaccination, and even masking (somewhat) reduce your risk. No one ever promised you otherwise ..."

That seems like a lawyerly attempt to rewrite history. Most of the people who lined up for the injectant thought they were getting a genuine vaccine -- something akin to the polio vaccine, which would fire up their immune system such that they would not catch the disease and would not be able to spread the disease. Now the proponents of the injectant tell us to read the fine print!

The most important information is still left deliberately obscure. With the Orwellian redefinition of "case", we do not know how many of those breathlessly-reported "cases" refer to healthy asymptomatic individuals. Nor do we know the real-world False Positive rate. But we do know that very few of those supposed "cases" require hospitalization, and even fewer of them result in death.

In the meantime, we do know that people are dying unnecessarily due to the CovidScam because they are not getting prompt treatment for genuine ailments -- cancer, heart disease, stroke. And we know that families and communities are suffering significant harm from the negative economic & social effects of the CovidScam Lock Downs.

History will not look kindly on those who engineered this inappropriate over-reaction to a disease comparable to a bad flu outbreak.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

It is thee who are rewriting history. Even the CDC never told you the vaccine was more than 94%, and when Delta came, they told you it was less than that, closer to 70%. You have an imaginary definition of what is a real vaccine. Deal with reality.

We know how many people are hospitalised and how many have died. You are the one being "lawyerly" by asserting that fuzziness around the other definitions is HUGE! "Cases!" Oh my! Oh my! Death is death. Post-viral syndrome is a horrible outcome. Neurological damage sucks. Having your family and friends wonder if you are going to survive has meaning. I have yet to hear you even acknowledge that such things are real. Man up. Deal with pros and cons, risks and benefits. While there are chicken littles who get the vapors about maskign, they don't come here, so I don't kick them. What I see, here at my site and the ones I visit, are self-righteous dullards on the other side. So I kick that side because they are simply dangerous.

I keep encouraging people to speak to the people they know who work in ERs and ICUs and getting their opinion, because I have learned from experience that they will listen to no one else other than a live person they trust before them. Nor will you. You don't know any of those people, and you don't care, because you can curate who you listen to, who will tell you what you want to hear. You don't know what you don't know. You are not merely nescient about some scraps of data, you have a mind-set that prevents thinking. You have an incomplete data set and won't admit it, and that is the central problem.

Give it a try Gavin. Give evidence that you have looked at alternative views and weighed pros and cons, and tried to understand why people might be concerned and what some possible weaknesses are to your case and answer them. Steelman your case instead of strawmanning it. Let's see what you've got. Because thus far, it's just repeating crap I can read on a dozen sites that don't admit discussion.

As for not getting treatment for "genuine" ailments, there are now surgeries that are being postponed in the last six months (varying by location) because hospitals are filling up with people who can't breathe. Which seems to be a legitimate concern to me. You are somehow redefining those "not breathing" people as a problem of covid overestimation rather than being a legitimate disease? None of your friends and relatives, I guess.

Gavin Longmuir said...

AVI: "You don't know any of those people, and you don't care ..."

You know an awful lot about me, apparently. How do you know what you claim to know? Is it possible you are misinformed?

While you correctly point out that the CDC fine print acknowledged that the injectants were not 100% effective, talk to the people who lined up and took the shot; the great majority thought they were getting protection, because they listened to Fauci and the media. Go ahead, talk to them.

Almost any action we human beings take in most spheres have costs as well as benefits. We all know this, and yet the proponents of the Lock Downs never acknowledge it. Reasonable people might make a case that the benefits of the Lock Downs exceed the costs, but that is not what the proponents of the CovidScam do. Why are they afraid to look at the whole picture?

Have a Happy Christmas!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I now know with even more certainty, because your answers confirm it. People who have friends working in ICUs - or pretty much anywhere in a hospital or clinic - don't use phrases like covidscam.

I have talked to many who have received the vaccine, not all of whom believed Fauci and the elite media, and some were suspicious at first. They were well aware of the various effectiveness rates between different versions. They knew that it was less effective against Delta, though not many knew the numbers. In my circle, at least, it was in no way considered it something buried in the fine print. I imagine there were some who thought it made them completely bulletproof, but I never met any, in person or online. So your "great majority" and your "never" in the following paragraph are simply untrue. You have made up who your opponents are, and reinforced your belief with confirmation bias from curated reports in some media.

And you did not answer much. I am done. you may have the last word if you wish.

Gavin Longmuir said...

AVI: "I imagine there were some who thought it made them completely bulletproof, but I never met any, in person or online."

You should get out more, AVI.

Of course the sickness or death of any individual can be heart-breaking. If your work places you where you are focused on the 3 in 1,000 who will die from Covid, it must be tough. Thank you for doing it.

At the same time, look left and right at the 997 people out of 1,000 who are unaffected or survive Covid, but whose lives are being upended by the Lock Downs; non-Covid sick whose medical treatment is being delayed; non-government workers who lose their jobs; school kids and college students who lose precious years of education and social activities; businesses which go bankrupt, leaving the owners in a mess and the communities which depended on them in the lurch.

The CovidScam refers to excessive & inappropriate government response to a real illness which is comparable to a bad outbreak of flu. The CovidScam is doing unnecessary long-term medical, social, and economic harm to very large numbers of people. This is the real world -- we need to balance the good that can be done for the 3 out of 1,000 with the harm that is being caused to the 997 out of 1,000 by governmental over-reaction.

As for the over-reaction, initially that was understandable & appropriate, given the first images from China of well-dressed working-age men collapsed in the street. Genuinely scary! If the fact that such images have never been repeated, not in China and not anywhere else in the world, does not make one think "scam" ... then one really ought to get out more!

All the best for 2022. Stay safe!

Jonathan said...

"we need to balance the good that can be done for the 3 out of 1,000 with the harm that is being caused to the 997 out of 1,000 by governmental over-reaction"

It is not the 3 out of 1000 who benefit. It is the much larger number who have likely been spared by vaccines from serious illness and in some cases death.

Zachriel said...

Gavin Longmuir: At the same time, look left and right at the 997 people out of 1,000 who are unaffected or survive Covid

That is probably low. Some countries have population fatality rates over 0.4% with people still becoming infected, implying an infection fatality rate higher than that. Of course, much depends on demographics and quality of medical care, and when the infections occurred. A lot of people died early in the pandemic that might not have died later on. Nor is the pandemic over yet, though there are indications that Omicron may inoculate the remaining unvaccinated population.

Hospitalizations are considerably higher than that. Mortality in ICU improved over time, but using your mortality rate of 0.3%, and an ICU survival of 50%, that means an additional 0.3% of people had a very serious case of COVID but survived. For each person who dies or ends up in ICU, there is a family who was affected. Over a 100,000 children in the U.S. lost a caretaker, for instance.

As Jonathan points out, there is a large number who have likely been spared by vaccines from serious illness and death.

David Foster said...

Check out the graphs on this site for: United States, ages 50-64. It shows death rates from Covid among unvaccinated as running about 12 per 100K population for each of the 10 weeks at the highest portion of the chart, or 120/100K for that whole period. I didn't add up the area under the entire graph, but it will probably come in at around 200/100K for the total year 2021.

For comparison, the most dangerous job in the United States is logging, with 111 deaths per 100K workers. So being unvaxxed in the 50-59 age range exposed you to a Covid death likelihood in 2021 exceeding that of working as a logger for that year.

It is pretty meaningless to look at Covid statistics without stratifying by age, kind of like talking about the risks of aviation without specifying whether we're talking about a scheduled airliner or Navy carrier operations or working as a test pilot of newly-designed aircraft.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

It is nearly meaningless, yes. Most drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel momentarily and not died from it, and more than once. That doesn't make it not dangerous. Same also with auto accidents in general. There are many accidents every year, few die from them. It doesn't mean we shouldn't wear seat belts or regard them as unimportant.

An interesting anecdote: the security guys at church have volunteered to come in armed and pay attention to a dozen little signs, having been trained to. Also, they have a clear idea of what to do in the case of minor and major emergencies. But this is NH, and I don't think we have had a church shooting ever. It is a low probability. But I suppose it can go so badly in the rare instances where this does go wrong that it is worth preparing for. Yet these guys are among our most suspicious of masks, distancing, etc, and most likely to regard covid protocols as overreaction. But aren't those the same things, preparing heavily for a rare event because it could be catastrophic? I only note the irony here, as arguments can be made risk-benefit about both. One of their favorite people in the congregation who would get together with them after service every week was the special forces guy I mentioned months ago, who died from covid.

It is these ironies that tell me that other factors, beyond simple judicious evaluation of the data are what are really driving many supposed scientific and political considerations. If you tell me that this applies to all sides of this in the discussion, I shall not disagree in the slightest. My point is that we need to look at where our likely downfalls are and adjust accordingly.

Donna B. said...

It just plain boggles my mind that anyone would consider politics informative when making medical/health care decisions.

I've noticed that click-bait headlines are now being phrased according to "data" instead of "scientists" or "science". Not that I trusted "data" all that much before...

Brad said...

AVI, I used to come here a lot and this post and your responses reminded me why I have avoided you recently. Not because you have a different view than I do about some aspects of covid. I can get that on any media outlet most anywhere, Rather, it's because of how angry you are at those who disagree. I know you are a thoughtful man and a reasonable man and generally a respectful man and this is just a view from a reader that respects you.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Thank you.