By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
One of the most frequently-asked questions about the Chinese virus is how many of those who die after becoming infected die of the virus, and how many merely die with it? The Office for National Statistics in the UK has now studied that question. Of the deaths occurring in March 2020 in England Wales in patients known to be infected with the virus, five-sixths were deaths of the virus and the other one-sixth were deaths with it. Of those who died of the virus, 91% had pre-existing comorbidities.
It is not particularly surprising that the overwhelming majority of virus-related deaths were caused by the virus, for it has a drastic effect on the respiratory systems of those whom it puts into intensive care, leaving little room for doubt as to the proximate cause of death.
Raw data show that up to 10 April 2020, there had been 10,350 deaths registered in England and Wales involving the Chinese virus. Of these, 6348 (61%) were male and 4002 (39%) were female. Most deaths were among those aged 65 or over (8998, or 87%). Of these, there were 3485 deaths among those over 85 (34%). These figures suggest that there would be little harm in allowing the under-50s to go back to work.
Globally, the daily compound growth rate in cumulative confirmed cases is now below 5% in most of the countries we are tracking. We are now at the point where it would be more useful to deduct deaths and recovered cases from the totals before calculating the growth rate, but both are so poorly counted that it seems best to continue with the present method. The case-graph shows that countries that have been in lockdown can now start dismantling them.
Fig. 1. Mean compound daily growth rates in cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the world excluding China (red) and for several individual nations averaged over the successive seven-day periods ending on all dates from March 28 to April 22, 2020.
It has been suggested that looking at the growth rate in cumulative cases is not valuable because all that is really being measured is the increase in testing. There is indeed a close correlation between the number of tests and the number of confirmed cases, but – as this column has repeatedly pointed out before – correlation does not necessarily imply causation.
It remains true that most of the confirmed cases were tested because they were showing symptoms severe enough to require investigation. It is no surprise, then, that there remains a tight correlation between the rates of growth in confirmed cases (Fig. 1) and the rates of growth in deaths (Fig. 2), after allowing for the fact that deaths arise some 14 days after the appearance of frank symptoms.
Furthermore, since the rate of testing is increasing but the compound case-growth rates are falling, the indications that lockdowns can now be carefully dismantled are all the stronger.
Fig. 2. Mean compound daily growth rates in cumulative COVID-19 deaths for the world excluding China (red) and for several individual nations averaged over the successive seven-day periods ending on all dates from April 4 to April 22, 2020.