More than 180,000 Americans have died of coronavirus as of Monday
The CDC’s latest fatality data shows that COVID-19 was listed as the sole cause of death for just 6% of those killed by the virus
94% of fatalities were in people who also suffered at least one chronic health condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity or heart disease
On average, people who died of coronavirus had 2.6 additional underlying health conditions
The study looks at the cases of 122 people who have died in the region outside of a hospital setting – either at home or in accommodation for the elderly – and whose deaths were attributed to Covid-19. Half of this group were aged 88 or over. Of the 122 cases, 111 were judged to have extensive comorbidities (the presence of one or more additional conditions) and 11 had moderate comorbidities. Not one of those who died, in other words, were in good health. In only 15 per cent of cases was Covid-19 judged to be the direct cause of death. Covid-19 was a contributory cause in 70 per cent of cases, and in the remaining 15 per cent death was judged to have been caused by another underlying cause – most often heart disease. The study can be read here, in Swedish.
Review of autopsy reports enabled the determination of the relative contributions of undiagnosed COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions on deaths. Of the 67 autopsies done at our hospital during the first 2 months of lockdown, only two autopsies identified COVID-19 that was undiagnosed before death. More frequently, reduced access to health-care systems associated with lockdown was identified as a probable contributory factor (six cases) or possible contributory factor (eight cases) to death. These causes included potentially preventable out-of-hospital deaths such as acute myocardial infarction and diabetic ketoacidosis, in which patients contacted the health services by telephone and were advised to self-isolate at home rather than attending hospital. Direct reference to financial or work pressures caused by COVID-19 was identified in three of ten cases of suicide.
• There was “massive confusion” about different Covid data between England’s health bodies. “Public Health England figures are about double the ONS figures because PHE are reporting anybody who has had a positive Covid death in the past… This will get increasingly confusing as we go into the next Winter because there could be a new outbreak and new deaths while also still reporting on historical deaths… This is a problem for epidemiologists and media… ”
• Even a “28 period cut-off is still not ideal for accurate death numbers because there is “immediate cause and underlying cause… Immediate cause means you’ve had Covid within 21 days but outside of that, it becomes the underlying cause — something that contributed to your death but wasn’t a direct cause. A 21 day cut-off would be helpful because it gives a clearer understanding of that distinction”
• “We follow excess deaths which is the most accurate information about what’s going on at that moment, but it can’t tell you what those deaths are caused by” (i.e. people not coming forward with heart attacks etc)
• “There’s an important distinction between lives lost and life years lost. One of the things we’ll be watching very closely over the next six months is how many people would have actually died in the next six months… That’s where the excess deaths really matter. If we start to see it trend significantly under for the next few months, we’ll start to come forward with information that suggests there was a group of vulnerable people that any respiratory infection would have shortened their life.”
• “In the media you’ll always hear about catastrophe and the consequences of that. One of the things we notice is that when you don’t hear anything that usually means there’s good news happening. So when Sweden looks worse you hear about it but when it’s not so bad, like now, you never see it in the media.”
Here, it seems that PHE regularly looks for people on the NHS database who have ever tested positive, and simply checks to see if they are still alive or not. PHE does not appear to consider how long ago the COVID test result was, nor whether the person has been successfully treated in hospital and discharged to the community. Anyone who has tested COVID positive but subsequently died at a later date of any cause will be included on the PHE COVID death figures.
By this PHE definition, no one with COVID in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness. A patient who has tested positive, but successfully treated and discharged from hospital, will still be counted as a COVID death even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later.
It’s becoming clear that the social distancing rules – even if the new one-metre rule – are unnecessary.
Across the United Kingdom, epidemiologists, public health officials and local bureaucrats are stamping their feet and gnashing their teeth. They’re furious about the fact that daily deaths from Covid-19 are continuing to decline at a precipitous rate. Contrary to their dire warnings, the easing of lockdown restrictions hasn’t led to an uptick in the rate of infection. The much ballyhooed ‘second spike’ has refused to materialise. The virus has all but disappeared.
The extent to which Covid-19 has vanished isn’t immediately apparent from the figures. The death tolls announced each day refer to all those deaths involving coronavirus that have been ‘registered’ in the last 24 hours. That includes people who died weeks ago – sometimes months ago – but whose paperwork has only just been completed. If you look instead at the number of actual deaths in English hospitals in the last 24 hours, that gives a clearer picture. The number on June 23 was four – all in the north west. Fewer than 20 died in London hospitals in the past week.
“I want you to remember these people died WITH the coronavirus and not FROM the coronavirus“