Is the anxiety-provoking media treatment with the daily death tally really justified ? Containment, draconian measure, is it based on exceptional mortality ?
While we are already at the end of April, it's time to take stock of the seasonal mortality figures from all causes. In France : just connect to the website of the National Institute of Statistics, l’Insee. I relied on two sets of numbers: the first concerns mortality for the month of March 2020, the second the mortality data per month depuis 1946.
The latest figures for global mortality March
The effects on mortality from the coronavirus epidemic are not felt until the third week of March, with staggered excess mortality, compared to the two previous years.
Winter 2020 compared to the previous three
|March||61 404||52 400||59 233||49 159|
|February||49 700||54 800||51 137||51 563|
|January||55 800||59 200||58 611||66 990|
|December||53 800||51 902||55 876||56 223|
|Novembre||50 800||48 718||48 981||48 742|
|Total season||271 504||267 020||273 838||272 677|
The reality of the numbers contrasts discourse on maddening death toll from coronavirus. The Director General of Public Health France, Jérôme Salomon reaffirmed Monday 20 April that the Covid-19 killed "Far more than all influenza epidemics, even the most deadly, and more than the heatwave of summer 2003 " who had done 19 000 dead ...
20 000 officially dead, it's a lot, but the figures show that France is used to high mortalities, around 55,000 deaths per month in winter. For the record, every year 600 000 death in France. The number of daily deaths is generally between 1 500 in summer and 1 800 in winter. What the numbers show us this winter, is that there is no overall excess mortality, at least not until the end of March (271 504 death in 2019/2020 against 273,838 in 2017/2018). No offense to Mr. Salomon ...
Why this figure for global mortality is a good benchmark ?
The "death rate" of a virus, expressed as a percentage of infected people, allows to appreciate the future mortality of an epidemic. This figure for covid-19 was established at 3,4 % (by WHO), justifying the catastrophic forecasts of international experts and the draconian measures that we know in many countries. But ... Some opinions refer to the figure of 0,1%. This expert debate is difficult for the general public to decide! In the end, only global mortality allows us to know if we really experienced a significant excess mortality episode this winter. Apparently this is far from the case at the moment.
On an international scale, the epidemic made in four months 230 000 worldwide deaths, i.e. the equivalent of two days of death under normal circumstances (he usually dies around 150 000 people per day in the world).
We don't know not the number of contaminated
Since not all deaths have been tested to see if they are carriers of the virus, it is highly probable that the figure of 20,000 deaths in France includes people who died of other pre-existing pathologies. The latter were imprecisely "classified Covid-19", either on the basis of a test, either on the basis of a suspected coronavirus based on a clinical diagnosis (see this note administrative and the educational file of Public Health France). People with Covid-19 symptoms are not routinely screened. Regarding the number of "confirmed cases", about 120,000, which also includes asymptomatic people, the results are not that reliable: efficiency at 100 % of the test is not established, also good for false negatives (voir la Swiss medical journal) than false positives (see at the very end of this Sciences et Vie article, the findings of an eminent German virologist). Conclusion, the officially posted virus death rate cannot be trusted!
This is where global mortality can help. We will have to wait until May to include the deaths in April 2020 and thus be able to really compare this epidemic with the usual seasonal flu epidemics. It is indeed possible that the peak is shifted to the months of March or April and not, as in 2017 in the month of January. Ceci étant dit, it will take a number of additional deaths to reverse the overall mortality data this winter, because until the end of February, they showed that this epidemic was less severe than the others !
This calls into question the profusion of images of overcrowded hospitals that, although very real, do not reflect the reality experienced in other establishments (not dedicated to the care of suspected patients). This also calls into question the decision to confine and the position taken by experts on the basis of mathematical projections.. While in January and February 2020, mortality was lower than the previous three years, should the health emergency be declared? What about the health or socio-economic consequences of confinement?? Are the deaths linked to confinement listed?? It would take a commission of inquiry to shed light on these issues, in particular to find out whether the confinement prevented deaths or, on the contrary, worsened the situation.
One thing is for sure, containment was not based on exceptional mortality. He was motivated by mortality projections based on a case fatality rate of 3%, another subject of controversy…
And the seasonal flu in it all?
The French public health agency recorded for Winter 2018-2019 " about 8 100 deaths attributed to influenza ”. Apparemment, in 2019/2020, the deaths melted like snow. Selon un bulletin of 4 March 2020, 72 people died from the flu between November and early March. But this figure, included in the media, is in fact only that of the intensive care unit. How many people have died from the flu in total ? No information on this subject ! In terms of data communication, this is a surprising change from the usual newsletters. In previous years Public Health France reported on a total of deaths, why doesn't she do it today ? The answer in this post !
This article was published in the Pure Santé network, of the Health Nature Innovation group. To follow my next articles, you can join the network.
Voir aussi: "COVID-19 death rate may be 'considerably less than 1%', on Medscape.com