COVID by numbers [not a book review]

Posted in Books, Kids, Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2021 by xi'an

David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters have made a book out of their COVID related columns in The Observer. Here are ten key figures extracted from that book:

  1. The UK was hit by more than 1,000 separate outbreaks (…) [with] far more imports of Sars-CoV-2 from France, Italy and Spain than from China
  2. Reported Covid deaths depend on the day of the week (due to delayed reporting, and a weekend effect, but smoothing is very rarely applied)
  3. In the first year of Covid, over-90s had 35,000 times the risk of dying of Covid-19 as young children (with no relevance of the figure per se since an extra death of a young child would have moved it from 35,000 to 32,000, since there were thankfully so few deaths of young children)
  4. 2020 saw the highest number of deaths since 1918 in England and Wales (even when correcting for population increase or population ageing)
  5. The UK has led the World in testing Covid treatments (like dexamethasone and hydroxychloroquine, thanks to the centralised NHS, making me wonder why France with another centralised and public health structure was not able to do the same)
  6. People who have died with Covid have on average lost about 10 years of life (contrary to the authors’ intial hunch, and mine as well, to oppose to the less relevant loss of life expectancy across the entire population)
  7. Most people died “of” Covid rather than “with” it, but most have also had other medical conditions (with 91% of pre-COVID conditions)
  8. Alcohol consumption stayed the same during lockdown (which came as a surprise, given the general feeling for the opposite, and still as a worrying indicator of alcoholism)
  9. Most people with Sars-CoV-2 don’t infect anyone (which would need more details, as the figure should be weighted by the base probability to infect someone)
  10. The pandemic has been a net lifesaver for young people (with 300 fewer deaths for 15-29 year old, but it also has had a potentially negative impact on their life expectancy).

causal inference makes it to Stockholm

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , on October 12, 2021 by xi'an

Yesterday, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens, whose most cited paper is this JASA 1996 article with Don Rubin, were awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for 2021. It is one of these not-so-rare instances when econometricians get this prize, with causality the motive for their award. I presume this will not see the number of Biometrika submissions involving causal inference go down! (Imbens wrote a book on causal inference with Don Rubin, and is currently editor of Econometrica. And Angrist wrote Mostly Harmless Econometrics, with J.S. Pischke, which I have not read.)

bravo, Dr. Robert!!!

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2021 by xi'an

Last Friday, our daughter Rachel attended the graduation ceremony for her medical school cohort master graduation. On the Saclay campus next to ENSAE (and so did we!), with nice and short talks by medicine professors and the University President, with a massive (?!) conflict of interest as her own daughter was part of this cohort!  And learned that she will work her first medical internship semester in French Guiana, next month, as part of her choice of a medical specialisation in internal medicine in the French Caribbean departments, over the five next years. Congrats to her and all of her fantastic friends for this massive achievement!!! And [fatherly and a wee bit anxious!] best wishes for this new and exciting period of her life!!! (And concerned thoughts for her female doctor colleagues at the French Institute for Mothers and Children in Kabul, like Dr. Arifa and Dr. Shoranghaize. interviewed in Le Monde the same day.)

Bayesians at the helm!

Posted in pictures, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2021 by xi'an

Just read the announcement that my friend (and former colleague at Warwick U) Mark Girolami became the Chief Scientist at The Alan Turing Institute, joining forces with Adrian Smith, currently Director and Chief Executive of the Turing Institute, into a Bayesian leadership!

congrats, Dr. Clarté!

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2021 by xi'an

Grégoire Clarté, whom I co-supervised with Robin Ryder, successfully defended his PhD thesis last Wednesday! On sign language classification, ABC-Gibbs and collective non-linear MCMC. Congrats to the now Dr.Clarté for this achievement and all the best for his coming Nordic adventure, as he is starting a postdoc at the University of Helsinki, with Aki Vehtari and others. It was quite fun to work with Grégoire along these years. And discussing on an unlimited number of unrelated topics, incl. fantasy books, teas, cooking and the role of conferences and travel in academic life! The defence itself proved a challenge as four members of the jury, incl. myself, were “present remotely” and frequently interrupted him for gaps in the Teams transmission, which nonetheless broadcasted perfectly the honks of the permanent traffic jam in Porte Dauphine… (And alas could not share a celebratory cup with him!)

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