• Glenn Wilson
    There is some confusion about the impact of Mexico's limited Covid testing and understanding about how widespread Covid is in Mexico. You may have heard that the US and the EU are not doing a good job of containing Covid-19. How does Mexico compare to them?

    So, here are two graphs that will, I hope, make the situation a little clearer. The graphs are from 91-DIVOC using data from Johns Hopkins University.

    Screenshots of the graphs are included below from the time this article was written (October 12, 2020). You can click the links to see the current version of the graph with updated data.

    For an "apples to apples" comparison, the data in the graphs is shown per capita or "normalized by population" for comparing data across countries with very different populations.

    First the number of new cases of Covid-19 (weekly average) for Mexico, the United States and the European Union.
    Hey, Mexico is doing pretty good! Mexico does look good based on the number of new cases compared to the US or EU.

    But, with the limited testing in Mexico that is misleading.

    Here are the new deaths from Covid-19 (weekly average) for Mexico, the United States and the European Union.
    Not so good. :sad:

    We are in the middle of a pandemic. Low numbers of confirmed infections should be understood in the context of limited testing.

    Don't let your guard down.

    (The recent spike for Mexico is due to a methodology change in counting cases.)

    For Part II, see: Understanding Mexico's Covid Statistics Part II.

    For Part III, see: Testing Rates and Death Rates: Understanding Mexico's Covid Statistics Part III.

    For Part IV, see: GTO and SMA Death Rates: Understanding Mexico's Covid Statistics Part IV.

    More in the category Health and Medical.

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  • JanGregory
    Glenn. completely agree with your explanation. Context is everything.
    Viv a' vis San MIguel... do you think the number of cases recovered and deaths are accurate and recovered/deaths are reflecting only those Covid cases that were hospitalized?

    Jan Gregory
  • Glenn Wilson
    I don't have special access into how accurate the numbers of confirmed cases are here in SMA. Mostly, I know what is reported in the press.

    But, working backwards from deaths and using an estimated Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) I come up with a multiplier of about 20 to apply to the confirmed cases to get an estimated actual number of infections. In other words, if there are 590 confirmed cases, I estimate that actually represents about 11,800 (590 x 20) actual infections.

    Cases recovered are only determined for confirmed cases so recovered and active cases are likely off by a similar factor, in my estimation.

    Deaths are probably much more accurate -- not off by a factor of 20! -- but we could be missing some deaths from Covid-19 in the official stats (people that never visited a doctor or were not hospitalised, for example), as is the case for the US and Mexico as a whole as shown in a number of "excess mortality" studies.
  • JanGregory
    I agree. What's becoming more and more apparent from looking at global statistics... the SARS2 virus is highly contagious, the number of infected is very high, but the mortality rate is very, very low compared to previous pandemics, e.g. influenza 1918, 1957, 1968.

    There's a lot of argument and politicizing this Covid19 disease globally as well, so realizing this continuing trend remains is significant. As well, the other finding that becomes apparent after 8 months, is the actual deaths in any of the age range are almost 98% due to co-morbidities... mainly obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

    Possibly, but only possibly, the total population infected, which is not calculated or known, is pushing this ever closer to herd immunity, and we might reach that point sooner than anticipated.
    Which any epidemiologist will admit is the ending of all previous epidemics. The herd aspect lowers the R naught infection rate to a tolerable level to resume normality in society though the disease doesn't actually disappear in many cases.

    And again, what is especially significant this time... this is the first time in history entire countries have done complete quarantines of the population. Before, quarantine was used successfully n isolated geo-locations where there was a high community spread. Country-wide lockdowns are killing the Western economies excepting Sweden. SE Asia is still in complete lockdowns. Thailand lost 36% of GDP, millions of jobs gone forever, since they rely heavily on tourism. Same same for Vietnam and Philippines.

    China is not suffering at all, their economy is moving up
  • Glenn Wilson

    "the mortality rate is very, very low compared to previous pandemics, e.g. influenza 1918"

    Well, let's hope it is less than the 1918 Pandemic:

    The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919. In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.
    CDC: 1918 Pandemic (H1N1 virus).

    Despite extraordinary efforts, more have already died from Covid-19 than died from the 1957 flu:
    About 70,000 to 116,000 people died in the United States...Wikipedia: 1957–1958 influenza pandemic

    And, more have already died from Covid-19 than died from the 1968 flu:
    The estimated number of deaths was ... about 100,000 in the United States.CDC: 1968 Pandemic (H3N2 virus)

    "the actual deaths in any of the age range are almost 98% due to co-morbidities..."
    The actual deaths from Covid-19 are due to Covid-19:

    One way of looking at the precise number is to ask how many COVID-19 deaths had coronavirus as the UNDERLYING cause. That is, the cause that precipitated any other issues, or the thing that actually killed a person. The CDC has actually estimated this, and puts it at >95% of all COVID-19 deaths, meaning that the vast majority of deaths recorded as caused by coronavirus in the U.S. were caused by COVID-19.

    In other words, most COVID-19 deaths were almost certainly caused by COVID-19.
    COVID-19 Deaths Are Mostly Caused By Coronavirus
  • JanGregory
    Not being argumentative Glenn, it's just that for me...the statistics are a lot like reading tea leaves. So I would offer this. We're both reading the tea leaves here to a large extent, but conversation like this is still useful and informative. And a bit of fun while cooped up in self-isolation. don't you agree?


    Pandemics are global disease outbreaks where epidemics are localized

    Previous influenza pandemics in US were under-reported by a large degree... due to health infrastructure and reporting systems. Comparisons are also more difficult due to much lower total US population and much higher rural population numbers where pandemic reporting could be expected almost nil. Deaths in winter due to pneumonia are always high and they were undoubtedly much much higher in those pandemic years and were they reported as pandemic deaths. Most likely not.

    In fact, I was 18 in 1968 and only learned of that pandemic around 25 years ago. Was under some medical care 1968, no mention of it. The draft board certainly didn't take any notice!

    All in all, the comparisons are difficult because different times, different reporting and different institutional responses. I've yet to find a contemporary from the era, who knew of the 1968 pandemic as general knowledge.

    "The actual deaths from Covid-19 are due to Covid-19"

    Correct. That will be on the death certificate. However, we have to note that most other infected individuals in same age range, social status, and geo-location without the co-morbidities do survive. Those arriving with co-morbidities have a very hight mortality rate. Individual physicians and frontline workers in Covid ICU are all reporting this anecdotally on numerous blogs and even in the media. Praises to those doctors and healthcare workers for their efforts, they've almost halved the ICU mortality rate we saw at the beginning by trying new treatment protocols and with new therapeutics that are saving 1000's of lives now.

    In any death, physician friends tell me that deciding on "cause of death" for a death certificate is their most difficult task. Because the family will see it. Myocardial infarction occurs mostly in those with known co-morbidities, and a small number with congenital issues.

    And while myocardial infarction will be on a death certificate, you are unlikely to see notes for a BMI of 34, diabetes, and hypertension.

    Those co-morbidities are all diseases too. Cause of death from disease is more accurately described as a synergy of many causal diseases and circumstances.

    And I'm no health freak, though I try mightily to practice better health.
    However, it's pretty hard to miss the rising curve in the West over the decades for lifestyle diseases placed atop the rising curve for heart disease and stroke.

    I lived in Thailand for many years. On arrival, obesity was unheard of, heart disease wasn't a topic in public conversation, and Type 2 diabetes very rare. Today, they are all going through the roof with large increase in overall mortality. What occurred in a few decades was a dramatic change in diet and lifestyle. Western foods and a modernized economy.


    P.S. I'll reiterate my gratitude for your efforts here and on Civil list, Glenn. You are accurate and disciplined to keep it up. Thanks.
  • Anthony
    Thank you for all you do for the community, Glenn. It’s a tremendous service you offer and I commend you.

    Of course the COVID-19 deaths are caused by COVID-19. Those willing to so glibly discount the enormity of this pandemic, even in this forum, probably take their lead from someone in Washington, D.C. who shall go unnamed. They are part of the problem rather than being part of the solution.

    We in México are in a very dangerous period right now and we’d do well to assume that contagion is at its highest levels yet in SMA. The numbers of deaths due to COVID-19 are vastly undercounted both here and in the US. And with even less testing here than in the US, and therefore less contract tracing and other wise public health practices being followed, we can expect that it will get much worse before it gets better. Please, please, please friends: do not be lulled into carelessness by those who would minimize the crisis we are going through. Let’s live through this.
  • deborah bickel
    Glenn I have been following deaths reported by autopsy from this time last year ( I believe you reported the same data) You are absolutely right in your estimates that we are looking at at least a 20 fold increase since the pandemic. I also think we are severely undercounting the deaths from COVID as well Mexican families are reluctant to seek care and die at home of acute or chronic respiratory disease. i have no estimate but completely agree with Antony. These are dangerous times and attempts to normalize what we are going through is a disservice to the affected community. This is not the time to visit San Miguel as a tourist or otherwise. I am here because it is my home and my business depends on it. Those with more resources might consider vacationing elsewhere until we have a vaccine.
    Deborah Bickel Be Well San Miguel
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