Covid in numbers: 10 key lessons separating fact from fiction

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1 The UK has been affected by more than 1,000 distinct epidemics

Genomic sequencing has identified over 1,000 different seeds of Sars-CoV-2 introduced in early 2020. Instead of a central outbreak, reverberating outward like an explosion, we now know there was many that were simultaneously erupting across the country. There were many more imports of Sars-CoV-2 from France, Italy and Spain than from China – viruses can fly indirectly. The peak was in early March, after mid-term, but a popular holiday period for adults. In the Champions League football match at Anfield between Liverpool and Atlético Madrid on March 10, 49,000 home fans mingled with 3,000 opposing team supporters, while schools in Madrid were closed and supporters were unable to attend. not attend matches. To add insult to injury, Liverpool lost 3-2 and 4-2 on aggregate.

Guardian graphic

2 Reported Covid deaths depend on the day of the week

The daily counts on the news of the figures of the deaths over “28 days” do not represent the deaths which occurred in the last 24 hours, but those newly reported. There is a clear weekly cycle, with numbers tending to be higher on Tuesdays and Wednesdays due to reporting delays over the weekend. This led to dramatic differences: there were 560 deaths reported for England on Monday January 18, 2021, rising to 1,507 the next day. Since these numbers are released around 4 p.m. every day, they become news and therefore have journalistic significance, however relevant they may be.

3 In the first year of Covid, those over 90 had 35,000 times the risk of dying from Covid-19 as young children

There is an extraordinary difference in the risks facing different generations. Out of more than 7 million schoolchildren aged 5 to 14, 11 died from Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate during the year (one in 660,000). During the same period, 469 died of other causes. In contrast, out of more than 500,000 people over the age of 90, nearly 30,000 died from Covid-19 on their death certificate (about six out of 100). This was 35,000 times the fatal risk for schoolchildren.

Guardian graphic

4 2020 saw the highest number of deaths since 1918 in England and Wales

Some claim that the first year of Covid-19 was not particularly deadly compared to previous years. But it was only two years ago that the total number of recorded deaths in England and Wales exceeded 600,000: 1918, the start of a global influenza pandemic, and 2020.

We should, of course, allow changes in the size of the population. This shows steadily declining death rates, then a noticeable jump in 2020, to return to a level not seen since 2003. The increase from the five-year average was the largest since 1941, when losses of Blitz have increased. Looking in more detail at the evolution of the age profile, 2020 has seen the largest increase in age-standardized death rates for 70 years since the great flu epidemic of 1951. Put in context , 2020 was a historic outlier.

5 The UK has been the world leader in testing Covid treatments

The UK Covid-19 Therapy Random Assessment (Recovery) organization has become the world’s largest collaboration for inpatient trials with Covid-19, with more than 180 hospitals and around 40,000 inpatients so far. ‘now. Recovery leverages the unique infrastructure of the NHS to run multiple, overlapping trials simultaneously, so that each patient can participate in multiple studies. The trials had a great influence. As of March 2021, the inexpensive steroid dexamethasone was estimated to have saved 22,000 lives in the UK and over a million worldwide. Almost as valuable as the search for effective treatments, recovery trials have also established items that have not shown clear benefits, such as hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma, both touted by the US president of the l ‘era.

6 People who have died of Covid have lost an average of around 10 years of life

Some vulnerable people who died in the first wave would otherwise only have survived for a short time. This “mortality shift” often manifests itself when a cluster of deaths from extreme heat or cold is followed by declining death rates. At the start of the first wave, one of us (DS) was quoted as saying: ‘a lot of people who die from Covid would have died in a short time anyway’, while others felt that this proportion could be more than half. The limited death deficit over the next year proved us wrong. It is estimated, on average, that around 10 years of life are lost due to deaths from Covid-19 in the UK and 16 years worldwide.

7 Most people have died ‘from’ Covid rather than ‘with’, but most have had other health problems as well

There have been numerous claims Covid-19 was incidental to the deaths of many people. When Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate in the first wave, it was the underlying cause of death for more than nine out of ten records. This changes somewhat as the virus becomes rarer, the proportion of deaths “with” Covid-19 at 32% by the end of April 2021. When there are fewer viruses, cases tend to be less severe, although the current infection was considered to have contributed to death in some way.

It is rare that there is only one main cause of death. In the first wave, there were pre-existing conditions in 91% of deaths involving Covid-19, with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease present in 25%.

8 Alcohol consumption remained the same during confinement

Personal responses to blockages, such as the virus, vary wildly: The Alcohol Use in England project found that the proportion of people reporting high-risk drinking increased significantly in the first wave, but the proportion reporting reducing their drinking. also increased. Although consumption patterns are changing, when one considers duty paid, the provisional total amount of alcohol consumed appears to remain stable. Alcovision’s survey of more than 80,000 drinkers showed that even when pubs were closed during the lockdown, the average number of drinking days did not change.

9 Most people with Sars-CoV-2 do not infect anyone

It has been estimated, when introduced into susceptible communities without taking precautions, that about 75% of people who caught the original strain of the virus did not then infect anyone else. It is estimated that a small minority (10%) is responsible for the vast majority (80%) of new cases. Some can be particularly contagious, while “super-spreading” events can also occur. There was a choir rehearsal in Washington State where, after more than two hours of closely singing, a person with “cold-like” symptoms caused 52 infections among 60 other singers, two of whom died. later. Prolonged proximity increases the chances of transmission, although the absolute risk may seem low: individuals infected with the original strain infected only about one in six members of the same household.

Guardian graphic

10 The pandemic has been a lifeline for young people

Compared to the average for the past five years in England and Wales, there have been over 300 fewer deaths recorded in 2020 for people aged 15-29. One putative explanation is the reduction in accidents and violence: which means 300 fewer grieving families. These families do not know who they are, unlike the 115 families of people in this age group who died from Covid-19. But experiencing the pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of young adults.

De Covid by Numbers, par David Spiegelhalter et Anthony Masters

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