Yesterday’s coronavirus briefing in Minnesota was basically more of the same misleading garbage. Here is a nit, they and others need to stop referring to exponential growth. I wonder if they know what an exponent is, or maybe they mean a fractional exponent. We have never experienced exponential growth since the very first week growth of the epidemic. They said that the decline in cases was due to the IB’s pause orders and people’s behavior. It clearly had nothing to do with the pause orders, may have had a little to do with voluntary behavior changes, but, much as I would like to give the citizenry credit, anyone who looks at the the case surge curves, including the one in Minnesota, could only conclude that the virus spreads and stops spreading without regard to any mitigation measures. See California right now, the absolute worst state in terms of stringent lockdowns etc. The big lie in the presentation, and it is a lie, I am not going to say they misunderstood the study, or give them some other pass, this is lying. They said the study showed excess deaths in 25 to 44 year olds and those deaths were due to CV-19. I commented on this study last week, and here is what I posted and that is what the study says. You can see that the great majority of the “excess” deaths in this group were not from CV-19. And particularly in this age group we see a lot of misattributed deaths, like car accidents and homicides of people who happened to have a CV-19 positive test at some point, and a lot of “with” not “from” deaths. But never mind being accurate, it is more important to scare the hell out of people.
“This study deals with excess deaths among middle-aged people. (JAMA Study) The authors examined all cause, opioid and CV-19 deaths among 25 to 44 year-olds from March 1 to July 31. Comparisons were made to 2015 thru 2019. 76,088 deaths occurred in this group, 11,899 more than expected. 4535 were supposedly CV-19 deaths, or only 38%. We know what the rest are due to. The authors make the usual comments about maybe we missed some CV-19 cases, but what is far more likely is that deaths were attributed to CV-19 that had nothing to do with the virus, including accidents and homicides.”
Now here are some relevant, Minnesota specific statistics. We have had 57 deaths allegedly from CV-19 in this age group. That is 1.17% of all deaths in Minnesota from CV-19. There have been 128,011 cases among this age cohort, so it is a case fatality rate of .04%. Given the large prevalence of asymptomatic and undetected cases among this age set in particular, I think there have been at least 5 times as many cases as reported, so the real case fatality rate is .008% or less. Below influenza for this age group. And on a population basis, there are around 1,470,000 Minnesotans of these ages. So the per capita death rate is about .0039%. Miniscule, but very scary, boys and girls, very scary.
Notable questions were again about why the restrictions on bars and restaurants in light of the case declines and again, the answer, it is scary out there, boys and girls, it is scary. The same reporter asked what data they had to support statements that cases were declining faster here than in our neighboring states. I know it will shock you, but they were unable to cite any data. That is because it isn’t true and they can’t find any that would support it. As I said, just another day of fear-mongering and ignoring the real data and science.
One more fun with numbers moment. I have mentioned trying to “normalize” cases, especially to back in the spring. Here is a roundabout way to do it. It looks like the week ending November 28 will be our peak in terms of deaths for this current (and probably last) case wave, and that number will be around 430. The high week in the spring was May 9 at 167. So the fall peak is about 2.57 times greater than the spring one. If I look at cases two weeks earlier, the median lag to death, the cases related to the 430 deaths was around 40,757. If I take the same ratio, there would have been around 15,830 cases associated with the 167 deaths in the week ending May 9. That was about 6.7 times the number of actual reported cases in the week (two weeks earlier) associated with those deaths. So that may give you some idea of how many undetected cases there were in the spring.
A few research summaries. Very few, because the publication well is drying up with the holidays. In fact, one summary. This study comes from China and followed 193 patients with varying levels of CV-19 disease or non-disease in the case of asymptomatic persons. (Medrxiv Paper) 31 were asymptomatic and this group had lower viral loads and lower viral shedding than symptomatic cases. They also had lower levels of the acute antibodies that fight infection and those antibodies declined faster. Viral loads and shedding were also lower in people who turned out to be presymptomatic, although not as low as in the always asymptomatic group. It is pretty clear that asymptomatic cases really likely are responsible for almost no transmission. Another myth busted.
And for those of you interested in a great holiday read, the classic book on flu transmission and seasonal/geographic patterns can be found here. (HS Book)