Deaths in European Countries

By November 10, 2020Commentary

Here is another updated version of the chart showing per capita death trends in European countries.  Gee, look who is toddling along there at the bottom.  Wonder what that country might have done different than the others in the Spring wave?  Must be a lot of mask wearing in that country as well, maybe double and triple mask-wearing, face shields, goggles, the whole works, or maybe people just don’t go out at all in that country.  I would suggest googling mask use surveys and googling pictures of current life in Sweden to answer those questions.  Then all you commenters from this weekend who are so sure I am an idiot who doesn’t understand anything can explain this chart to me and explain how it shows that lockdowns work and masks work to prevent community spread and deaths, so that not wearing them must mean catastrophe.  And please also go the Worldometers country chart and look at total deaths per capita there and see where Sweden ranks against other European countries and explain that to me as well.  Sorry to upset your preconceived notions with actual facts and data; it is a rough world out there when you are incapable of gathering and understanding even the most basic information.

Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Nancy says:

    Keep up the good work Kevin. You give me the courage to keep pushing back in whatever small way I can.

  • dirtyjobsguy says:

    We have an office in France (Nice area) with a Swedish Employee so I keep up to date on European COVID data. The Swedish data really matches the general trends I see here in Connecticut. A bad early period that burned out quickly with a smaller current spike. I think the swedes have more inherent isolation in housing (fewer multigenerational households) that also helped. I think they also are more realistic about the limitations of contact tracing with COVID-19. This I think is the key failure of most of the test based responses.

  • Dan says:

    “ all you commenters from this weekend”. I wonder if they now have time to attack blogs like yours now that they are done spreading misinformation about Trump and or corrupting the election process to get biden elected by any means necessary. Now we will be expected to obey since biden assures us he knows how to get rid of Covid.

  • Daniel Smith says:

    Can’t wait to read your reaction to Governor Walz’s performance today.

  • Nick says:

    Interesting chart. I have been watching Sweeden too, as their approach (herd immunity, with some exceptions) is much different than most of the world. I wasn’t able to find that chart on the OurWorldInData site however. I did find this one, which seems to paint a less rosy picture for them compared with the US:

    https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-data-explorer?zoomToSelection=true&minPopulationFilter=1000000&time=2020-02-22..latest&country=SWE~USA&region=World&casesMetric=true&interval=smoothed&aligned=true&hideControls=true&perCapita=true&smoothing=7&pickerMetric=total_deaths&pickerSort=desc

    Interested in your take on that. However, comparing two such vastly different countries seems like there may be some inherent problems. I’ve recently been watching a much more local comparison… Minnesota case rates vs North Dakota. I feel this may be more relevant, since we’re somewhat similar in size, climate, yet different in that ND has been comparatively anti-mask. Here’s a site I like for looking at by state data:

    https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america/minnesota?view=infections-testing&tab=compare&test=positive_tests

    Unfortunately the link compares MN to all states, so you have to select just ND to clear the clutter. Doing that, you see that North Dakotas infection rates, and death rates per 100k are in the last couple months trending far worse. Seems to me to be a fair comparison of the impacts of MNs more restrictive masking requirements. Seems to back up our approach.

    Just some alternate data for consideration. I don’t see clear answers myself, so I like exploring different points of view.

  • Kevin Roche says:

    It took a lot later and a lot longer than I anticipated but it is up now

  • Ricard says:

    Nick – One alternative is simply timing. Everyone is going to come across Covid sooner or later. Covid has thus far not been a Minnesota problem so much as a metro area problem; this is still pretty much the case as 65% of all deaths are in 4 metro area counties. However, outstate counties are starting to report more deaths at a slightly increased rate than in the spring or summer (which can also point to a seasonal factor). Some age group data have not significantly changed at all for three months at least; still only one death in the 0-4 age range and only 1 death in the 20-24 age range. That latter group is also the age range with the highest number of cases. It’s also worth noting that about a month ago a summary of colleges showed over 72,000 student cases, 3 hospitalizations and zero deaths. If we’re going to follow the data the answer points to age and morbidity demographics, not masks. As ‘The Great Barrington Declaration’ states, focus on and isolate the easily identifiable ‘at risk’ population and let the rest get on with their lives.

  • Bradley McDonald says:

    Kevin, You are brilliant. I read you every day and finally found the subscribe button. Your thoughtful analysis is needed to keep the IB honest (no chance). Thanks for your efforts.

  • Peter S. says:

    I was a strong early supporter of masks. For me the Asian examples of Japan and South Korea were sufficient to strongly suggest they work.

    Then, the data started coming in for mask mandates. It is extremely hard to find any correlation in cases, hospitalizations, or deaths and mask mandates. You can pull up almost any graph of covid and fail to see any effects of mask mandates. Look at Spain right now. A survey last month showed somewhere around 96% of Spaniards answering that they “always” wore a mask, but their current numbers are spiking. Italy is the same, with somewhere around 92% claiming they “always” wear a mask.

    The question for me is why? Are particles just too small for masks to make any difference? Possibly, but then I’d expect higher numbers of health care workers to have gotten it.

    For me, the biggest clue for why masks don’t work in the wild, but do seem to work in a health care setting, is watching the people I work with wearing theirs. I had to sit through an hours-long meeting last week with 6 of us there the whole time, and another three who came and went. (I was sitting right by the door to the outside with lots of fresh air blowing my way.) My coworkers were constantly touching and adjusting their masks. One was resting their chin on their hand for a while, with their hand in full contact with the front of their mask (this coworker turned 70 this year, has a chronic immune disease, and qualifies as fairly high-risk.) I keep reminding people that the whole point of a mask is to be a covid collector, and that not touching it is really critical. They just laugh and shrug. When I caught my boss doing it, she said “but my nose itches!” Well, that’s okay then! (boss is also around 70.) The kicker is, I work in an admin department of a hospital. I even watch some people in the department who have medical training touching theirs all the time. It drives me crazy.

    Then, go out on the street or into a store and it’s the same thing. Poor quality masks worn over and over again, constant touching and rearranging. If a mask is doing its job, and if you are exposed to covid, then a mask is essentially toxic waste. That’s why they work in a health care setting. The standards, training, and protocols prevent the constant touching and adjusting of masks, and health care workers are trained not to touch their face.

    I’m becoming more and more convinced that covid will burn through until we get a vaccine, and we can’t stop it any more than we can stop the tide. Our focus should be on mitigating the effects on residents of long term care homes and people at high risk.

    PS. I flew on an airplane in July, and many people on board sterilized their space with wipes when they got on board. I flew again the day before yesterday, and I think I was the only one on board who did. Pandemic-fatigue is real.

  • Kevin Roche says:

    A lot of useful information. I keep saying and I believe it, that a mask will prevent transmission, either from or to the wearer at least some of the time. You point out some of the obvious problems that keep them from being more effective. If they are effective against say even 90% of exposures, and I don’t think it is that high, it is just obvious that across a large number of exposures there will be transmission. Thank you.

  • Sarah says:

    How about including New Zealand in this chart? New Zealand took somewhat similar approach like rest of the world in contrast to Sweden. I am not a fan of lockdown. But numbers of sweden and NZ looks close. Wanted to understand your insight on it.

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