Archive for excess mortality

how to count excess deaths?

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2022 by xi'an

Another terrible graph from Nature… With vertical bars meaning nothing. Nothing more than the list of three values and both confidence intervals. But the associated article is quite interesting in investigating the difficulties in assessing the number of deaths due to COVID-19, when official death statistics are (almost) as shaky as the official COVID-19 deaths. Even in countries with sound mortality statistics and trustworthy official statistics institutes. This article opposes prediction models run by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and The Economist. The later being a machine-learning prediction procedure based on a large number of covariates. Without looking under the hood, it is unclear to me how poor entries across the array of covariates can be corrected to return a meaningful prediction. It is also striking that the model predicts much less excess deaths than those due to COVID-19 in a developed country like Japan. Survey methods are briefly mentioned at the end of the article, with interesting attempts to use satellite images of burial grounds, but no further techniques like capture-recapture or record linkage and entity resolution.

a French paradox?

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2022 by xi'an

There has been some debate (in France at least) as to why the country was one with the highest rate of infection (among West European countries), still rising [with half a million new cases reached on 25 Jan., almost 1% of the entire population].However, the increase in the number of ICU admissions has been much less dire, with hospitals still operating below maximum capacity (although in tense conditions) and a stable death rate (in the entire population) below the US and the UK rates [and therefore a decreasing fatality rate].While arguments on a much higher testing rate have been discarded, other explanations for the elevated levels of contamination include the general slackness in enforcing and respecting distanciation and protection rules, as shown below by the more limited decrease in commuting (although there are many confounding factors), and the high contamination rate among young (and not yet vaccinated) children and their unrestricted access to schools…While the vaccination rate is rather high (at 93% of people above 12 being vaccinated to some extent), it could explain for the lower fatality rate and hence for the country being one of the best achievers in terms of excess mortality.

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