June 1, 2022 //
In May 2020, we published a summary of our study on “the data behind Covid-19”. At that time, we were still early in the Covid pandemic, with some 20,000 reported positive cases in the province of Ontario. There was great uncertainty about the outcomes of the virus on the health and welfare of the population.
Since then, at Stillwater, we have closely monitored the government-reported Covid data. We did this to protect our staff and families, advise our clients, and develop our own business strategies.
Outlined below is an overview of two years of actual data reported by government health agencies. This data has been highly valuable to us, and I hope it is to you.
Even though the numbers presented below are impersonal, we do this with great solemnity as we understand and grieve the unspeakable pain, suffering, and loss that so many people and families have endured over the past two years. None of this is lost on us.
Statistics theory tells us that we can have a high level of confidence in drawing conclusions from a sample and applying it to the entire population if the sample size is greater than 250 and the sample members fully represent the population studied. The theory also tells us that the larger the sample, the higher our confidence in the results.
The case data we studied is large enough to understand with absolute certainty Covid-19’s impact on the general population, or in other words, we can rely on what the data tells us.
We received and reviewed the results of almost 40 million positive Covid cases from four jurisdictions – Canada (2 million reported and 8.3 million estimated total cases), the United States (25 million reported and 146 million estimated total cases), England (11 million reported and 44 million estimated total cases), and Ontario (700,000 reported and 3 million estimated total cases) (data sources available on request).
In reviewing the data, we considered four factors:
1. The data is for the entire period from the initial outbreak (February 2020) to December 2021, the end of the Delta variant. It was not distorted by the rapidly spreading but less virulent Omicron.
2. All government data only includes cases where the infection was confirmed by a positive Covid-19 test result. This means that the actual number of Covid cases is significantly higher that those reported by the government (see Unreported Cases below).
3. The measures of severity reported do not differentiate between whether Covid was the cause or was incidental to the outcome. For example, there are numerous reports where children hospitalized with a broken bone who tested positive for Covid on admission were reported as a Covid hospitalization.
In most jurisdictions, a Covid mortality is defined as any death where the person had a positive Covid test within a defined period of time prior to the death. The UK health authorities were required to restate their data when it was discovered that some auto accident fatalities were reported as a Covid death.
There is no data yet publicly available that splits outcomes between “caused by Covid” and “with Covid but for which Covid had no impact on the outcome”.
4. The long-term care facilities (LTC) were devastated by Covid infections. For example, in Ontario, approximately 115,000 people live in LTC, more than half of whom are over the age of 85, all have seriously compromised health, and they live in close quarters with others in the same condition. The impact of a rapidly spreading, severe respiratory illness on this group was horrific. With information received from the Ministry of Health through Freedom of Information Requests we were able to separate the LTC cases from those of the general population.
The Center For Disease Control (CDC) has studied and reported on November 16, 2021 their estimate of the number of unreported cases of Covid. They call these unreported cases the “Covid Burden”. By their estimate only 1 in 4.0 Covid infections; 1 in 1.9 Covid-related hospitalizations; and 1 in 1.32 Covid-related deaths were reported (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/burden.html).
Since the testing regime in the USA was one of the most rigorous in the world, it is likely that these results overstate the experience of other countries.
Not surprisingly, Covid-19’s impact on the general population did not vary by country. USA had the same results as Canada, who had the same results as UK, who had the same results as Ontario, who interestingly also had the same results as Australia.
The data from these 4 reporting governments was combined and adjusted for unreported cases using the CDC estimated unreported factors. The results are set out below (note – these results include all the data from long term care facilities. Excluding these would have significantly reduced the over-65 mortality rates).
The starkest observation is that young people under the age of 20 were never at risk. Across an estimated 40 million infections in this age group, less than 1,000 people tested positive for Covid within 3 months of their death. For reference, over the same time period over 1,800 children and adolescents died from unintentional drowning in the US alone. It does raise a question why there was any discussion on vaccinating children.
As well, actual data clearly shows that the mortality risk in healthy people 65 and younger was miniscule – below 1,900 per million people infected.
To put these results into context, over the same time period, more than 1.7 million people died of cancer and more than 1.8 million people died of heart disease.
I was asked recently the question – what does a trillion dollars buy? The person explained to me that when East and West Germany reunited, the government of West Germany spent a trillion dollars rebuilding East Germany. The United States spent a trillion dollars invading Afghanistan. They observed that with a trillion dollars you can build a country and with a trillion dollars you can destroy a country.
Standing here today I am left with the question – what did several trillion dollars buy Ontario, Canada, the USA, and UK?
Are our health care systems better? Are our business communities stronger? Do people have a greater trust in local, provincial, state, and federal governments? Do the majority of the people have greater trust in local health departments? Are we in a better place today that we were 2 years ago? Have we progressed in curing cancer or heart disease? Have we counted the increased number of deaths caused by our approach to Covid? How about the number of future deaths because people failed to get timely diagnosis?
As I look back at the actions of our governments over the past 2 years – ranging from widespread lockdowns, curtailment of informed discussion, mandatory medical interventions, massive financial deficit spending, and the over-riding of constitutionally guaranteed civil rights, I can’t help but think that the actual data is saying that somehow we got it wrong.
I am hoping and praying for some good to come out of the several trillion dollars and the untold sacrifices so many people have made over the past 2 years.
Perhaps a starting point be might a fair, unbiased review of the data and the information our government leaders used to make their policy decisions. Looking forward, I would support the call for more statisticians and less scientists.