Issues & Insights:
And ” … BAD news for those who, for a variety of reasons, seek to plunge us back into lockdowns and social isolation, despite the proven devastating economic impacts that would have.
Once again, the U.S. is undergoing a media-driven COVID-19 scare after a “spike” in infections. But as we noted earlier this week, the number of cases depends on the amount of testing. The key gauge to watch is deaths. They’ve been falling since April, and there’s strong reason to believe they’re lower than the official count suggests.
The dreaded Wuhan virus is no doubt a nasty bug, worthy of our vigilance and ongoing concern. That said, its virulence, as measured by the daily number of deaths, appears to be waning, as the chart with this piece, courtesy of the COVID-19 Tracking Project of the Atlantic, clearly shows.
The average number of daily COVID-19 deaths on a weekly basis has fallen from a peak of just over 2,000 to 700 or so. That’s a roughly 65% decline. And it’s no fluke. The figure has been dropping steadily since April.
Hold on. That last number for June 23 on the chart shows a huge jump. Should we be worried? Is this the much-dreaded surge some have been talking up?
Apparently not. A big part of that one-time gain came from a revision by one state: Delaware.
As Youyang Gu, an MIT data scientist who created the COVID 19-projections.com site, tweeted: “To put the increase in deaths in context, Delaware added 69 deaths today: ‘The revision came from identifying 67 deaths dating back to April.’ So if you take out those 67 deaths, the week-over-week deaths have not changed.”
Goldman Sachs’ state-level tracker shows similar trends. The volume of coronavirus tests has risen 23% in the past two weeks, but positive results have increased just 1.3 percentage points to 6.2%. Meanwhile, deaths have fallen over the past two weeks by 12%.
This is bad news for those who, for a variety of reasons, seek to plunge us back into lockdowns and social isolation, despite the proven devastating economic impacts that would have. If COVID-19 deaths aren’t rising, and they aren’t, the rationale for shutdowns evaporates.
But the rationale in the first place could be even weaker than first thought. The reason for this is that the deaths now attributed to COVID-19 might be grossly exaggerated. The evidence is substantial, and has been obvious for weeks. (We first wrote about in late May.)
Dr. Deborah Birx, the respected physician who heads the Trump administration’s coronavirus team, reportedly argued back in May at a closed Centers for Disease Control meeting that the agency’s death estimates were 25% too high, according to a Washington Post report.
Anecdotal evidence at the state level suggests this is true. In fact, estimates may be off by more than 25%.