Lies, damn lies, and statistics

I’ve spent most of my time this week doing four things:

  1. Adding to my work-in-progress novel
  2. Working on a proposal for a company I am affiliated with
  3. Working on a CEO transition for another company
  4. Pouring over COVID-19 stories, facts and statistics

It’s that last activity that is the main theme of this little essay. There’s something about the ongoing C19 worldwide statistics that has been bothering me. The mortality rate. It’s been climbing steadily for a month, and I’ve wondered why. It started at 2-4% when the China stats were all that were available. Since then, it has climbed steadily to today’s rate of 6.1% (see Covid19info.live). Is the mortality rate really 60 times greater than standard influenza?

The only logical reason I can come up with is that we’ve got the denominator wrong. The mortality rate is M = (# deaths / # confirmed cases). If we’ve really miscounted the number of cases, then the death rate could be a lot lower. Integrating everything I’ve read, I’d say the worldwide count is somewhere between 2x and 5x low. Not enough testing, unreliable testing, many countries not even having reliable statistics overall…itr all adds up to a suspicion that the world and the US likely has many, many more cases of C19 than we’re including in the “official” statistics.

That would actually be a best case scenario.  If in fact hundreds of thousands or millions of people have already had the virus and are uncounted, then we’re much, much farther along toward herd immunity than expected. And we could get back to something resembling normal sooner than expected. The fact that this is a best case scenario makes me suspicious of it, but…we’ll see. A Good Friday wish: let’s hope that a lot of us have already had C19 and chalked it up to a bad cold, and that we’ll then be able to walk back out into the world unafraid.