Covid-19 Science

The science behind the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic

REPORTED Covid-19 deaths have no logical meaning

By Juergen Ude : 14th February 2021

One does not need to be a Medical Doctor, to know how difficult it can be to assign cause of death in many cases. For road trauma, cancers, homicide the task is relatively straight forward. For elderly suffering with organ failure, it may not be that easy.

The problem arises when a patient with a comorbidity also has COVID-19. What is the cause-of-death? Many countries, especially those with high deaths have openly admitted of recording a Covid-19 death if the patient had COVID-19, even though Covid-19 may not have caused the death.

  • UK BBC https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200401-coronavirus-why-death-and-mortality-ratesdiffer “During an epidemic, doctors are more likely to attribute a death with complex causes as being caused by the disease in question – a trait known as ascertainment bias. “We know, during an epidemic, people will call every death as though it’s related to Covid-19. But that is not the case,” says Heneghan. “Always, when people look back at the case notes and assign causation, they realise they will have overestimated the case fatality in relation to the disease.” The reason for the bias is that “there’s a tendency to focus on the worst-case scenario”, says Heneghan. “That’s the only message that gets out there.” One example is the H1N1 pandemic of 2009, known as swine flu. Early case fatality rate estimates were inflated by a factor of more than 10. Even 10 weeks into the epidemic, estimates varied widely between countries, coming in between 0.1% and 5.1%. When medics later had a chance to go through case documents and evaluate cases, the actual H1N1 case death rate was far lower, at 0.02%.”
  • United States: “At present in the US, any death of a Covid-19 patient, no matter what the physician believes to be the direct cause, is counted for public reporting as a Covid-19 death.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/nyregion/new-york-coronavirus-deaths.html New York City, already a world epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, sharply increased its death toll by more than 3,700 victims on Tuesday, after officials said they were now including people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died of it.
  • Italy: According to Prof Walter Ricciardi, scientific advisor to Italy’s minister of health the high rates are due to demographics and the manner in which the nation records deaths. “The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/have-many-coronaviruspatients-died-italy/
  • UK: Peter Hitchens https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e66-8_JXq6o
  • Belgium: “And that includes deaths suspected to be from COVID but not actually tested. More of those deaths are in care homes. Dr De Keersmaecker said: "If we think the people are dying of COVID, we count it.”
  • Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-data-definitions-and-sources/ “Public Health Scotland determines confirmed COVID-19 deaths by linking the daily National Records of Scotland (NRS) file for newly registered deaths to ECOSS data, and defines a confirmed COVID-19 death as an individual who dies within 28 days of their first positive COVID-19 laboratory report. This is shown on the webpage as the daily number of new deaths and the total number of people who have died in Scotland having tested positive.
  • NYC: In areas where there is high-level community spread, such as New York City, if a patient is brought to an emergency department in cardiac arrest and has a known positive real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test result for SARS-CoV-2, and dies, that would be considered a COVID-19 death in local death counts. Whether that death may have occurred anyway is impossible to say

To show how nonsensical this ascertainment bias is, consider a death to be deemed a pimple death if the person that has died had a pimple. Pimples will suddenly become deadly.

The medical industry has never considered the presence of a cold at time of death to be the cause of death unless that cold has resulted in a severe respiratory infection and illness. This is so regardless of whether the ‘cold-causing-virus’ could be detected by a laboratory test.

To conflate ‘dying from and dying with the SARS CoV-2 virus, is unscientific and misleading.

Such an approach goes against the common understanding of medical science and good medical practice and risks many unforeseen and unintended negative consequences.

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* The information is dependent on the reliability of the information sources. Links have been given throughout for the reader to verify the contents. There has been no use of models made to prove points. Readers can download data from https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-testing and perform the analysis independently. Many charts use our own technology to display underlying trends and scatter. More information on our technology please visit https://www.bisnetanalyst.com/knowledge-center

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr Juergen Ude has a certificate in applied chemistry, a degree in applied science majoring in statistics and operations research as top student, a masters in economics with high distinctions in every subject, and a PhD in computer modelling and algorithms. He has lectured at Monash University on subjects of data analysis, computer modelling, and quality & reliability.

Prior to founding his own company (Qtech International Pty Ltd), Dr Ude worked as a statistician and operations researcher for 18 years in management roles having saved employers millions of dollars through his AI and ML algorithms. Through Qtech International, Dr Ude has developed data analysis solutions in over 40 countries for leading corporations such as Alcoa, Black and Decker, Coca-Cola Amatil, US Vision and many more. Additionally he has developed campaign analysis software for politicians.