There are numbers that leave me puzzled in this whole coronavirus story. And they leave me perplexed because, in some way they are numbers that are almost never mentioned in the Italian press. And when the Italian press does not mention something, usually cat hatches there .
The point is simple: the ratio between the number of infected (measured by the buffer) and the number of deaths.
Everyone is focusing on the number of infected people, but it is time to calculate the relationship between the number of infected people and the number of deaths.
The ratio between the number of infected people and the number of deaths in Germany is around two per thousand. Out of more than nine thousand infected, there are about twenty-four dead. In Italy the same percentage is rising, and is bordering on 8% as I write.
The confrontation is merciless. Because also Norway, Sweden and "the usual welfare" have the same percentages. Ilaria Capua put a flea in my ear, who in an article is begging all countries to use the same standards to measure the dead.
Now, you will say that "measuring a dead man" is simple: if one is dead, he is dead.
Already'. But what did he die of?
In an epidemic that mainly affects the elderly and immunosuppressed, the question is not easy to answer. All we can say is that in Italy an 86-year-old person, hospitalized for months in internal medicine in the oncology department, was classified as "coronavirus dead" because he was terminally ill with cancer.
Now this is an extreme example, but let's try to understand what the problem is. We can argue that this person died of Coronavirus because it was the coronavirus that gave the coup de grace. But if we think like that, we're removing a cancer case from the statistics . So we feel very honest if we say it was the coronavirus. But in fact the numbers we are producing will say that coronavirus kills fewer people from cancer. Which, for statisticians, hurts.
In the same way, if we only considered the agent who gave the coup de grace , we would have to consider HIV almost harmless: people who die of HIV die a lot of candidiasis, of hepatitis, and of all the diseases that come when immunosuppressed.
It would make sense perhaps to say that the lady above died 99.99% of cancer, and 0.01% of coronavirus.
Now let's choose a different approach to counting the dead: let's say that if an 86 year old in an oncology department, already immunosuppressed, dies of Coronavirus, then he died of "Cancer complications (coronavirus)". In this case, we represented the concept of before, but the statistics change. And it tells the truth, because in the end we are NOT taking away a dead person from cancer statistics, and we are still pointing to the coronavirus as involved.
Here, my doubt is that there is a difference of approaches between the various countries. And that the German data is more consistent with reality. In that case, a difference of 1:35 would be explained.
But now let's see, if we adopt a single standard, who would win. Suppose that coronavirus kills all cancer patients. If we say that the cause of death is coronavirus, we are erasing cancer from the statistics, providing numbers that say "during coronavirus epidemics, cancer disappears".
And using the same approach for HIV, the number of HIV deaths would drop by at least 75%.
Therefore, it seems sensible to me to indicate the MAIN cause of death, that is the disease that started the dances, rather than the complication that gave the coup de grace.
But in this case, the Italian deaths are less than 100.
It is a political choice.