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What Data are Health Experts Using

What Data are Health Experts Using

In Their Alarming COVID Modelling Forecasts?

NORTHERN ONTARIO ~~~~~~  February 24, 2021  (LSN)  What Data Are Health Experts Using in Their Alarming COVID Modelling Forecasts?

We hear a lot about the modelling public health officials use to project COVID case numbers as  we move through the pandemic. One of the prime purposes of this modelling, we are told, is to ensure COVID cases don’t overwhelm the health care system. We aren’t told what data or systems they use for this modelling, only that it is key to determining what measures and restrictions should be put in place in their response approach to “flatten the curve”.

Models Seem to Over Forecast

While most models, to date, have vastly over estimated COVID spread, deaths, and hospitalizations, our governments still insist on using them, maintaining  that they are “following the science. Modelling recently

released by our Federal Chief Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam has predicted such a drastic rise in COVID cases by mid-March that it is literally “off the chart”. This has left many experts scratching their heads including Dr. Martha Fulford, an Infectious Disease Physician at Hamilton Health Sciences and Assistant Professor at McMaster

Dr. Therasa Tam’s February modelling chart, note the yellow and light grey lines predicting an extreme rise in COVID cases.

University. She told the Sun newspaper, “For me the model is only as good as the data imputed and we need to know what the underlying assumptions and data are.”

https://torontosun.com/news/health-officials-cant-explain-dr-tams-rocket-ship-modelling?fbclid=IwAR3-g4oOwM-WKBQauPOEkm3_QGinxUEPcfnJLoKZyBwoPgGyav3wdw0eYS0

 

Opposition MPs, upon the release of Dr. Tam’s new modelling did question Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) experts in that regard at a meeting of the Parliamentary Health Committee, but received no clear answers on what the modelling had been based upon, except that it seems highly focused on the new “variants”. This is not the first example of Tam’s

penchant for “extreme case” scenarios. Her models released in the previous three months all fell short of  a predicted dramatic rises in COVID cases. Now, as she is predicting more dire circumstances on the horizon, Canada has seen COVID cases declining since mid-January. Of course, our health officials and government’s like to attribute this to the lockdowns imposed in many provinces in December. Yet, statistics from other countries, including the US, where some states actually began re-opening in January, and states like Florida and the South Dakota never locked down, are also experiencing the same downward trends from mid-January and continuing into February. This same trend is occurring

 

in virtually every western country in the world. This includes Sweden, which didn’t lockdown, and the United Kingdom (UK), which did, and was also one of the first countries to report new COVID “variants”. This can  be quickly confirmed by quick check on the Worldometer web site. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

Given these statistics, it is hard to believe lockdowns made any great difference in COVID’s case trajectory. Did Dr. Tam’s team take any of this data into consideration when developing this latest model?

Here in Ontario we again don’t know what “science” was followed in the modelling released in

early January 2021 that predicted such a massive increase in daily COVID cases that it led the government to impose an extended province-wide lockdown, coupled with a stern “stay at home order.” Now, as cases diminish, Premier Doug Ford, will no doubt attribute it to the lockdown, despite the downward trending of COVID cases in other countries.

Are health experts are wilfully ignoring certain factors in their modelling process to produce such dire scenarios?

Vaccines?

COVID 19 vaccines are now available. That being said, the Liberal government has done a woefully poor job of actually acquiring vaccines for Canadians. This is partly due to the fact that they entered into a partnership with China to produce a boatload of vaccines back in June. Except the deal fell through when China refused to send vaccine samples to Canada to conduct trials, leaving the Liberal government placing late vaccine orders with other suppliers. Still, we have been told that this dearth in vaccines is coming to an end and soon we will awash in doses. Does Dr. Tam not have faith in the government’s ability to actually acquire vaccines? That is what her modelling seems to reflect.  

 

Seasonal Flu Statistics?

Has the drastic drop in seasonal influenza cases been factored into these modelling scenarios? This trend surfaced early in 2020 once the coronavirus began spreading across Canada. A Health Canada Flu Watch Report for the week of March 15, 2020 noted a sharp decrease in laboratory detections of the flu and a reduction in hospitalizations in both the adult and paediatric populations. A later Health Canada Flu Watch Report for the week of February 7, 2021 continued to report that influenza activity remains low across the country. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/flu-influenza/influenza-surveillance/weekly-influenza-reports.html

One would think such modelling would take into consideration the fact that hospital admissions

for seasonal influenza dropped dramatically over the course of 2020 and the pattern is continuing into 2021. Thus the fewer hospital beds occupied by flu patients, means more beds for COVID patients.

 

COVID Case Statistical Comparisons?

One would also think that, given we have been in pandemic mode for over a year now, looking at past COVID statistics and comparing them to ongoing and current data would be useful to such predictive modelling. Statistics deal in numbers and percentages and when one looks at the percentages, recorded by Health Canada, in terms of COVID deaths and hospitalizations, those

numbers have remained constant throughout the course of the pandemic. Would such consistencies not be of value in predictive modelling exercise as it might relate to health resourcing?

 

COVID Deaths: A comparison of the percentages of total COVID deaths from October 2020 (no lockdown) and from February 2021 (post lockdown), reveal that rates in various age groups remained remarkably constant as the chart below illustrates. The overall percent of COVID deaths in those aged 50 and under was 0.9% in October compared to 1.2% in February—a .03 difference. Meanwhile, those over the age of 70 account for a whopping 90 percent of COVID deaths.  Given that this has became clear two months into the pandemic one would think more effort would be focused on targeted measures to protect this group of people, particularly those in retirement facilities. Instead our governments seem to prefer an approach of rotating and revolving lockdowns that impact everything from mental and physical health,  to educating children and the economy. Do health experts take these impacts into account when they go through their modelling process, or it is pure tunnel vision on cases and only cases?

October 17

Percentage

February 12

Percentage

0-19

0

0-19

0

20-29

0.1

20-29

0.1

30-39

0.2

30-39

0.3

40-49

0.6

40-49

0.8

50-59

2.4

50-59

2.6

60-69

7.3

60-69

7.6

70-79

18.1

70-79

18.9

80+

73.8

80+

69.7

 

COVID Hospitalizations: The percent of COVID patients admitted to hospital for the same two periods also remains consistent. The percentage of admissions in those under the age of 50 in October was 17.3%, and in February the percentage was 16.7%, a difference of 0.6%. Would such information, if factored in with the drop in flu hospitalizations, be of value in determining medical resources needed, as they relate to COVID, rather than looking solely at overall positive case numbers, which seem, largely to be, what the models have been based on?

October 17

Percentage

February 12

Percentage

0-19

1.4

0-19

1.5

20-29

3.1

20-29

3.1

30-39

5.1

30-39

5.1

40-49

7.7

40-49

7.1

50-59

13.9

50-59

12.1

60-69

17.2

60-69

16.6

70-79

20.6

70-79

21.0

80+

31.1

80+

34.2

COVID Intensive Care Unit Admissions: Again the pattern continues when comparing the percentage of ICU admissions for the same two periods. The difference in the under 50 age group is 1.5 percent more admissions in October, compared to February. With such information at their fingertips would it not make sense for health experts to use it to determine the medical resources and facilities required to meet these numbers? Essentially, if you know from past experience that 1.3 percent of Canadians under the age of 19 who contract COVID will require ICU treatment, could you not plan accordingly given that 1.3 percent has remained constant for the past ten months?  If you know, from statistical data that some 21 percent of Canadians between the ages of 70 and 79, who contract COVID will require hospitalization, could you not plan for that by allotting beds accordingly? 

October 17

Percentage

February 12

Percentage

0-19

1.3

0-19

1.3

20-29

3.4

20-29

2.6

30-39

4.9

30-39

4.8

40-49

9.3

40-49

8.7

50-59

20.4

50-59

17.8

60-69

24.6

60-69

26

70-79

23.5

70-79

25.7

80+

12.5

80+

13.2

 

Stoking Fear Never Stops

These percentages have remained constant throughout the pandemic, during lockdowns, during re-openings and during the peak of the pandemic waves. Yet, we seldom hear about this from

our media, instead they bombard Canadians with COVID numbers and statistics, from alarming reports of rising case numbers to the daily death counts and now, of course the new “more contagious” variants from the UK, South Africa, and Brazil. Yet, again, when one looks at statistics from these countries, the variants have had little impact on COVID case numbers.  The UK, as mentioned earlier is in a downward trend and case numbers in South Africa have been dropping consistently since mid-January as illustrated in the Worldometer chart. In Brazil, while there hasn’t been a significant drop in case numbers, neither has there been any dramatic spike. Did Dr. Tam look at this data while creating her models? 

The models and the media’s unquestioning support of them all seem designed to stoke fear in people and it works.  There are many Canadians that live in fear of going to work, or shopping,

fear for their elderly parents or fear sending their kids to school. It also provokes anger and cynicism in a growing number of people who don’t believe COVID is a dangerous as they have been lead to believe, resulting in an increasing number of public protests against lockdowns and other rigid and arbitrary restrictions such as official stay at home orders, curfews, and severe curtailment of outdoor activities.

 

Most people, by now, know that COVID kills the elderly, particularly those in continuing care homes where once it enters such a facility it spreads like wildfire. Over the course of ten months, most of our governments have not found a way to fix this, other than shutting the entire province or country down. It seems, that based on the current mysterious modelling exercises carried out by our federal health experts, we can expect this trend to continue. Health experts will force more lockdowns with this modelling and then take questionable credit for the reduced number of cases, due to arbitrary restrictions, unless more people start pushing back and questioning their rationale and challenging their conclusions.

Northern Ontario 
Kenora, Rainy River, Dryden, Thunder Bay, Terrace Bay Marathon, Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Ontario

#LSN_Health  #LSN_ONNews

By: Roxanne Halverson
Former TBT anchor and reporter
Living in Ottawa (retired RCMP Senior Emergency Management Planner

Northern Ontario
Kenora, Rainy River, Dryden, Thunder Bay, Terrace Bay Marathon, Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Ontario

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