Food for thought on "peaked" European COVID deaths

Given there is a "long" lead time (two to three weeks or more, it seems) between contracting the virus and dying from it, the peak and then the beginnings of the decline in the daily new death rates, arguably, may take place before the severe lockdowns could have had an effect. This is a public policy debate that will run and run

Covid-19
How viral is it?
The_commentator_logo_updated9
the commentator
On 30 March 2020 07:54

There are early signs, and because they are early we plainly need to be extremely cautious, that the new daily death numbers might have already peaked, or nearly peaked, in most European countries.

There is a major methodological problem with death rates due to a number of factors. Chief among them is the way "cause of death" is defined, especially the apparent fact that COVID-19 as a cause of death is being definied differently in different countries, and differently in some countries from the beginning of the outbreak compared with today.

That nothwithstanding, given that there is a "long" lead time (two to three weeks or more, it seems) between contracting the virus and dying from it, the peak and then the beginnings of the decline in the daily new death rates may take place before the severe lockdowns could have had an effect. If that happens, there will be major implications for public policy.

Many governments phased their measures in gradually, so that is an obvious point of contention. Similarly, there isn't enough data to be sure how long the afore mentioned lead time actually is.

But, with those caveats firmy in place, when you are looking at death rates today, you could well be looking at outcomes that may be correlated with public policy enactments that took place in most countries at least 14 days previously.

In Britain, they didn't even close the pubs until 9 days ago; ditto the schools. In Sweden, they haven't closed them at all. That gives much food for thought, does it not?

It is understandable that governments have adopted a better-safe-than-sorry stance, but they should also be flexible enough to adapt policy to the new data as it comes in. To repeat, we need to be cautious, and there is no suggestion from this article that governments should change policy based on a few days' data.

See figures from Worldometer for Italy, Spain, France, the UK, and Sweden which tend to show a recent peak in daily deaths.

 

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus