Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Who Dealt Best With Covid? The Data Are In

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Medicine, Health, History of Science, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

"Whose pandemic strategy really saved lives? Which states or countries lost the most people to the virus? Or to the unintended consequences of mitigation."

These questions head the column by Faye Flam (The Star Tribune, December 6, 2022) who writes for Bloomberg Opinion.

According to Flam, "the most telling statistic turns out to be the simplest: all-cause mortality. The calculation is based on what epidemiologists call "excess mortality," i.e., "how many more people died in a given place and time period than would be expected."

Flam draws these conclusions: 1) COVID has been a global tragedy; 2) vaccines have saved countless lives: and 3) the value of any non-pharmaceutical mitigation measures--masking, distancing, closing businesses and schools--was probably not nothing, but vaccination rates mattered far, far more."

Flam discusses several studies, national and comparisons of countries. "The U. S. had the most excess deaths. ...The 10-most vaccinated U.S. states appeared comparable to much of Europe....Some of these differences may have to do with how badly hospitals were overwhelmed and whether countries were able to do anything to protect nursing home residents, as well as bad luck in getting hit early in 2020."

It is of note that the situation could have been better. Flam quotes Alyssa Bilinski of Brown University who said "comparisons can also help focus on successes -- whose actions weakened what would have been a category 5 hurricanes (sic) to hit as a category 3. These lessons could save lives in future waves of COVID, or the next pandemic."

Flam's column may be read here and I strongly urge you do that so you can read details of the various studies. If you subscribe to The Star Tribune you have electronic access.

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