Imagine someone tells you that in 2020, 7.5% of people who have their first dates on a Tuesday will end up getting married. Does that seem like a high percentage or a low percentage? Would you tell your friends to schedule their first dates for a Tuesday or avoid scheduling first dates on a Tuesday?
The answer should be that you would ignore that statistic entirely as you would the death rate statistics of COVID-19. Why? Because the above 7.5% marriage figure, as well as the reported COVID-19 death rate figures, are based on unknown quantities. And the elusive unknown regarding COVID-19 has been the total number of people who have had the virus. How many Americans were infected with COVID-19? Nobody knows, and without that number, the published death rates are worthless.
So, today, when doctors and other "experts" state a death rate figure or death toll prediction, they are making an unscientific guess. No scientist on the planet can report an accurate death rate at this time.
Yet the media continues communicating this frequently changing estimate as if it means something. Statistics are powerful because a death rate of 2.6, would be responded to by the government at an entirely different level than a death rate of say .01.
Nevertheless, some believe a death rate based on presumed cases is better than working with nothing. It's that kind of guesswork that has created total death estimates in the United States, ranging from 30,000 to 2.2 million. And it's the extreme assumptions based on nothing that could needlessly shut down the entire economy and crash the financial system.
Unreliable overblown forecasted death totals are not victimless statistics. They create their own set of hazards that can impede the healthcare system from doing its job. They can make a bad situation much worse and can cause avoidable fatalities.
Should the U.S. government not have a response to the current pandemic? Of course not, but it does suggest that the most drastic response should be taken only as a last resort when all the facts are not known.
But COVID-19 might soon reveal just how damaging a virus it is when a new test recently approved by the FDA reaches the public.
According to an April 3rd Fierce Biotech article, a rapid antibody blood test for COVID-19 also known as a serological test, has been developed that can quickly determine who has been exposed to the virus.
The test that can produce results in 15 to 20 minutes was developed by Cellex and uses a fingerprick of blood and a small strip, similar to a combination of a blood glucose test and a home pregnancy exam.
An April 1, 2020, article in World Economic Forum states, "Serological testing allows us to see who was infected and who wasn't infected." So, if all goes well, the results would make it possible for scientists to form an accurate picture of the overall death rate for COVID-19. It would unwrap one of the main mysteries of the virus that has put the world on edge.
Knowing the actual death rate of COVID-19 will allow authorities to proceed with a measured response. And determine if the current levels of business shutdowns are still required, possibly putting America back to work. It will also allow the healthcare system to deploy, shift, and preserve resources and ultimately save more lives.
© 4/2020 Rick Hayes