COVID Day 64: Data Is As Data Does

For other COVID posts, visit my Quarantine blog.

Yesterday was a bizarre day for me. I started out planning to write a one paragraph piece on the Colorado governor admitting the CDC overcounted COVID deaths in his state by 24%, and then move on to something fun, like a long bike ride. But before I knew it, I was drawn into the numbers, deciding it would be interesting to compare how our government and media were portraying the COVID crisis versus how their Russian counterparts were manipulating facts.

I have to admit that I went into that exploration biased toward the virtue of American exceptionalism; that’s always my bias. A person does not spend thirty plus years engineering nuclear weapons without a strong belief that Americanism is exceptional and worth preserving at all costs and that our communist adversaries like China and Russia are not only evil, but that they intentionally manipulate the truth and mistreat their citizens.

Like most engineers, I set out gathering data and following the numbers to prove my bias was spot on, only to wind up convincing myself that maybe – just maybe – Russia was truthfully reporting their COVID numbers and it was the American government who was manipulating and mistreating their citizens. In fact it so surprised me, I am repeating my analysis today and imploring you to help me find my errors, because my lifelong belief systems needs me to be wrong.

Knowns: Let’s begin with the facts as we have them.

  1. The world population is 7,800 million
  2. U.S. population is 328 million, 4% of the global pop.
  3. Russian population is 146 million, 1.9% of the global pop.
  4. China population is 1,438 million, 18.4% of the global pop.
  5. U.S., Russia, and China are 1,912M, or 24.5% of the global pop.

Assumptions: As we assess the available data, we have to acknowledge that we have no choice but to trust the WHO and CDC, whose integrity is at best questionable. But to move forward, we’ll do what engineers always do, and list our assumptions.

  1. WHO/CDC data is trustworthy
  2. Global number of COVID deaths are 315,740
  3. U.S. number of COVID deaths are 89,567
  4. Russian number of COVID deaths are 2,418
  5. Chinese number of COVID deaths are 4,634
  6. U.S. has the world’s best healthcare system
  7. U.S. has the world’s best access to healthcare
Percent of COVID deaths – based on knowns and assumptions
  1. U.S. is 4% of world’s pop. but account for 29% of COVID deaths.
  2. Russia is 1.9% of world’s pop. and account for 0.77% of COVID deaths.
  3. China is 18.5% of world’s pop. and account for 1.5% of COVID deaths.
Percent of Population who have Died from COVID
  1. Global death rate is 0.004%
  2. U.S. death rate is 0.027%
  3. Russian death rate is 0.0017%
  4. Chinese death rate is 0.0003%
  5. Global death rate without US, Russian, and Chinese data is 0.0037%
  6. Relative to the nonU/R/C death rate, the U.S. rate is 7 times higher, Russia is 2 times lower, and China is 12 times lower.
Expectations and Projections

Given our assumption that the U.S. has the world’s best healthcare system and the world’s best access to healthcare, our expectation should be that the U.S. have the worlds lowest death rate, not adjusting for the overall poor health of average Americans. However, its just the opposite as we are 7 times above average. Is our healthcare infrastructure really that bad and are we really that unhealthy, or is the U.S. not truthfully reporting COVID deaths?

If the world experienced the same death rate in all countries, which could be argued as plausible for a virus, here’s what the numbers would be

  • Global number of projected deaths = 290,264
  • U.S. number of projected deaths = 12,206
  • Russian number of projected deaths = 5,430
  • Chinese number of projected deaths = 53,507

What these projections mean is that if the U.S. has the same quality and access to healthcare as the rest of the world, and if our standard of living is at the same level as the rest of the world, we should expect 12,206 Americans to have died from COVID. You can scale this up or down based on your belief regarding our healthcare and standard of living status.

The question now is if this number is more plausible than the U.S. reported number of 89,567? According to Reuters, which broke the U.S. deaths by state, New York has a death rate 0.044%, which is 12 times higher than the global death rate. Is the health care or quality of life in NY worse there than third world counties or are they cooking the books?

Reuters puts the New York/New Jersey COVID death count at 38,000. I have no doubt that many people died there since February, but was it COVID caused or just business as usual that was incredibly over-hyped by governments and media?

Lets assess this question allegorically: Remember when COVID was heating up and President Trump moved the Naval hospital ship to New York harbor and had the Army convert the Javits center into a 1,000 bed field hospital? Those two COIVD hospitals combined only had a hundred or so COVID patients. Governor Cuomo insisted he needed 40,000 respirators but Trump only sent 12,000 and most of those were never used. The healthcare infrastructure in NY/NJ was never strained and was even laying staff off, which means they were never overwhelmed. This indicates at its peak, the number of people dying each day in NY/NJ was within the capacity limits of business as usual.

According to IndexMundi, 240,540 people die of something not related to COVID each year in New York and New Jersey. So far this year, 90,964 people in New Yorker and New Jersey have died, but the projected number of people who should have died from something (not including COVID) is 90,944. This means that even with the media-hyped COVID crisis, these two states only had 20 more deaths than projected so far this year, which is quite shocking.

This is why the Army/Navy hospitals were underutilized, and why the NY/NJ healthcare infrastructure was never strained. Yes people died in NY/NJ during the COVID crisis/noncrisis, but it was only 20 people more than were projected to die from something already. So does our assessment that only 12,000 Americans probably died from COVID seem right? Yes.

  • Was our conclusion from yesterday that the U.S. sensationalizes the COVID crisis while China downplays it validated? Yes.
  • Was our unfathomable conclusion from yesterday that the Russian people can trust their government’s propaganda more than Americans can trust their government’s propaganda validated? Sadly yes.
  • Has my belief system been unalterably shattered? Yes.
  • Can I/should I trust government and the complicit media regarding anything to do with this COVID crisis/noncrisis? No.

Note: In case your wondering why we should trust the IndexMundi data, it’s because these are the actuarial tables insurance companies use to set rates and given they’ve had hundreds of years to correlate their projections with reality, and given real money is at stake, you can be assured these projections are spot on.

Comments

  1. BRAVO! As a friend of Dwight Jaeger here in Arizona, I thank him and you for your clear insite. By the federal government incentivising corona-19 for greater payments; the CV19 cases exploded (pun intended). Regards,

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