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I accept the data is very noisy and inconsistent with different standards and systems for recording deaths and infections in different countries. In Ireland all deaths in hospitals, nursing homes and the general community due to Covid-19, in the opinion of the doctor, are counted even in the absence of a positive test. Sometimes deaths have been "uncounted" where subsequent tests were negative and another cause of death was found.

As a result, I think our numbers are fairly accurate, and currently stand at c. 1,500. However overall death figures reveal there are no "excess deaths" compared to previous years, so it seems that Covid deaths have simply displaced deaths from other causes. This is not as improbable as it sounds, because the median age of the deceased has been 84, average 82, and the lockdown could also have reduced deaths from flu and other communicable diseases.

The Russian death figures seem v. suspicious given the huge no. of infections, but there have also been reports of pressure on US doctors not to report deaths as Covid unless confirmed by test, and tests not being ordered for the deceased. The Chinese have been reported as not counting asymptomatic cases, and testing has been very sparse in many countries.

So yes, extreme caution in interpreting the results is required. I still think the patterns are interesting and often highlight the data gathering deficiencies noted above. There are so many people involved in this it is difficult for all but the most authoritarian of governments to prevent the truth leaking out, sooner or later. Even the Brits were shamed into including nursing home deaths having ignored them for a long time. Poor data is often better than no data at all.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 15th, 2020 at 11:24:00 PM EST
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