Taking stock of Covid-19 changes

di Joe Volpe del December 29, 2020

TORONTO - If the first casualty of war is truth, then the war against Covid-19 has collateral damages whose total will be grist for the academic research mill for generations to come. Understand that I do not preach throwing caution to the wind. Like others, however, I think we may have been excessively eager to believe unquestioningly. In short, we may have forgotten to “be critical”, to consider the source and balance the arguments.

And by the way, we have been encouraging our readers to practice tried and true “prevention measures”: frequent handwashing, face covering, social distancing – the same measures prescribed for the Spanish Flu, 100 years ago. Now we have some vaccines. They will be “game changers”.

Psychologically, at least. During phase one, federal and provincial governments actually came out and said they could not share the scientific and mathematical data because they did not want to cause panic. We have been in panic mode since - lockdowns and scofflaws notwithstanding. Governments have been inconsistent in the methodology of reporting testing, infections, recovery rates and even death rates. Even the latter has been subject to suspicion since the standard for death certificates has oscillated between definitively “caused by” COVID-19 and death with the presence of COVID-19.

Nevertheless, when counting Covid-19 deaths per one million of population, the richest, most advanced populations in the world would appear to have the highest death rates. Chart 2 (below) illustrates, rather starkly, the differences. If India had the same rate as Belgium, it would have registered 120 times its current 106 per million. What are they doing to keep those numbers down?

Chart 1 (above) sourced similarly from Johns Hopkins University, Worldometer and the Centres for Disease Control in the USA and Europe, on the other hand suggest we should have been asking a range of other questions. Why, for example is it that only 0.7% of those tested in India prove positive for Covid-19 and that 95.8% of that recover? Closer to home, Canada only reports an infection rate of 1.4% among those tested, with 82.8% recovering.

Of the countries we listed, only the USA, Belgium and Spain have an infection rate among those tested that exceeds 4% (pink column). As to the recovery rates (green column), most range above 75%. France only recently started to list recoveries; the UK and Spain have not from the early stages; Belgium essentially abandoned doing so as it counted the dead (red column).

Even here, fatalities among the infected (yellow column) has yet to reach 3%, except in Belgium and in Italy. In both countries, as in Canada, the overwhelming majority of deaths – close to 80% - occurred in Long Term Health Care homes among residents 70 years of age and older with at least three (3) pre-existing conditions.

Yet, among the measures including lockdowns, this most vulnerable of groups seems to have been forgotten.

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