By James D. Agresti
November 8, 2021
In a PolitiFact article titled “Why the Covid-19 Survival Rate Is Not Over 99%,” employees author Jason Asenso argues that about 1.7% of U.S. residents who contract Covid-19 die from it. However, he makes use of a naive strategy to calculate this determine, and authentic strategies present that the common Covid-19 survival fee is firmly over 99%.
Medical journals have documented the lethal harms of exaggerating the fatality fee of Covid-19. Nevertheless, Facebook is amplifying PolitiFact’s false declare by utilizing it to censor real information about this concern.
The Denominator Problem
PolitiFact calculates the C-19 loss of life fee by dividing the quantity of people that “have died” from C-19 by the variety of “confirmed Covid-19 cases” in the United States. Using knowledge from August 6, 2021, that is 614,300 deaths divided by 35.2 million instances, which equals 1.7%.
That simplistic calculation suffers from a deadly flaw that medical students have repeatedly refuted. For instance, a 2020 paper revealed by Cambridge University Press warns that this strategy produces a big “mortality overestimation” for Covid-19 as a result of it confuses two very completely different measures of mortality referred to as the “case fatality rate” and the “infection fatality rate.” The first of those is the fee of loss of life amongst confirmed instances of the illness, whereas the second is the fee amongst everybody who has had it, together with individuals who had been asymptomatic or by no means recognized with it.
The measurement of the hole between these figures was estimated by a 2020 paper in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. The examine discovered that 13% of all C-19 infections in the U.S. from the outset of the pandemic by way of September 2020 had been “recognized and reported.” This signifies that for each reported case in the first six months of the pandemic, there have been about seven instances that went unreported.
While that hole has dropped over time attributable to extra in depth testing, excessive charges of delicate and asymptomatic C-19 be certain that many new instances aren’t reported. In the phrases of a November 2021 CDC article:
Case reporting underestimates the complete variety of SARS-CoV-2 infections due to underdetection of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic instances and variation in the use and availability of diagnostic testing.
Despite PolitiFact’s failure to acknowledge this reality, medical students have publicly emphasised it since early in the pandemic. For occasion, Dr. Brett Giroir—the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—knowledgeable journalists in March 2020 that the Covid-19 loss of life fee is “lower than you heard probably in many reports” as a result of “many people” with C-19 “don’t get sick and don’t get tested.” He referred to as this a “denominator problem” as a result of all of these individuals “do not get counted in the denominator.”
By ignoring these lots of unreported instances, PolitiFact’s methodology shrinks the denominator in the loss of life fee calculation, making the fee appear far greater than actuality. As detailed in the Cambridge University Press paper, this blunder was the probably reason behind a “10-fold increased mortality overestimation in March 11, 2020, US Congressional testimony.”
Incidentally, the one that gave that testimony was Dr. Anthony Fauci, regardless that it conflicted with a commentary he had lately coauthored for the New England Journal of Medicine. In it, he and two different federal well being officers defined, “If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%.”
Without counting on that assumption, a various array of medical journals and organizations have accounted for unreported instances and decided that the C-19 fatality fee is nicely under 1%. This consists of however shouldn’t be restricted to the following:
- In March 2020, Oxford University’s Center for Evidence-Based Medicine estimated that the C-19 fatality fee ranged from 0.17% to 0.25%. In October 2020, it barely revised this to “somewhere between 0.1% and 0.35%.”
- In January 2021, the Bulletin of the World Health Organization revealed a examine that estimated the C-19 fatality fee at 0.23%. This is about 1/fifteenth of the World Health Organization’s March 2020 estimate of 3.4% that didn’t account for unreported instances.
- In September 2020, the CDC published the following “best” estimates of Covid-19 an infection fatality charges for individuals of various ages:
- 0.003% for individuals aged 0–19 years.
- 0.02% for individuals aged 20–49 years.
- 0.5% for individuals aged 50–69 years.
- 5.4% for individuals aged 70+ years.
The final of these figures for the oldest age group was corroborated a month later by a examine in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. It discovered that Danes aged 70 and above had a C-19 fatality fee of 5.4%. Likewise, The Lancet revealed a examine in April 2021 that estimated the C-19 fatality fee at 4.3% to 7.4% amongst individuals aged 65 and older in Geneva Switzerland.
Due to widespread misreporting like this text from PolitiFact, the public has been grossly misled about this matter. A scientific survey commissioned by Just Facts in November 2020 discovered that 65% of U.S. voters believed the C-19 loss of life fee for individuals aged 70 and above is 25% or greater, and 39% of voters thought that half of everybody on this age bracket died in the event that they caught C-19.
Trusting Claims Over Facts
PolitiFact is nicely conscious of the CDC figures above as a result of the goal of its so-called reality test explicitly quotes them, and PolitiFact hyperlinks to the CDC’s doc that accommodates them. However, PolitiFact claims that “the data does not show the likelihood of surviving Covid-19.” Instead, PolitiFact studies, “These numbers are meant to be used for estimates of death over time, said Dr. Ruth Etzioni, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Washington School of Public Health.”
Those assertions instantly battle with the CDC doc in query, which states that the figures are for the “infection fatality ratio” underneath “the existing standard of care.” The doc leaves no room for misinterpreting this as a result of it defines the an infection fatality ratio as “the number of individuals who die of the disease among all infected individuals (symptomatic and asymptomatic).”
Moreover, the doc highlights the inherent flaw in PolitiFact’s calculation by explaining that the an infection fatality ratio “is not necessarily equivalent to the number of reported deaths per reported case because many cases and deaths are never confirmed to be Covid-19, and there is a lag in time between when people are infected and when they die.”
In quick, PolitiFact disregarded the apparent information of this matter in favor of an unsupported declare from a particular professor. That’s not “fact checking.” It is misusing cherry-picked consultants to unfold counterfactual claims.
In the 2020 Cambridge University Press paper, Dr. Ronald B. Brown—a Ph.D. who makes a speciality of pathophysiology and epidemiology—paperwork the mortal risks of overstating fatality charges and emphasizes that these “seemingly minor miscalculations” can develop “into disasters.” His prime instance is the C-19 pandemic.
In the paper, Brown particulars how false fatality charges sparked “exaggerated levels of fear” and “severe mitigating measures” that “caused considerable global social and economic disruption.” Some outcomes of this embody “domestic violence, closed businesses and schools, laid off workers,” “anxiety, anger, and posttraumatic stress,” “massive” development in authorities debt, alcohol abuse, and stopping “people from seeking needed health-care services.”
Reams of medical publications have confirmed such harms. A tiny pattern of those consists of research and analyses from the American College of Emergency Physicians, the journal European Psychiatry, the CDC, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the journal Frontiers in Public Health, and American Journal of Health Economics, and the Journal of the American Medical Association.
With disregard for these lethal implications and the simple information of this matter, PolitiFact is resurrecting the falsehood that the common Covid-19 loss of life fee is firmly above 1%. This declare, which was prevalent close to the outset of the pandemic, has been totally debunked.
Intensifying the dangers of those grave risks, Facebook is utilizing PolitiFact’s misinformation to censor a submit which precisely quotes CDC estimates for the loss of life fee. PolitiFact declares that is a part of its “partnership with Facebook” to “combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.”