From the annals of grim milestones!

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27, 2021

The U.K. passes one more: As you know, statistics are hard. But within the world of taxing data, there's one statistic our journalists tend to love:

We refer to the classic "grim milestone." 

In this morning's New York Times, a headline announced that yet another such milestone has been passed. Headline included, the news report started like this:

Britain Passes a Grim Milestone of 100,000 Coronavirus Deaths

LONDON—Britain on Tuesday surpassed 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus, a tragic milestone that laid bare the missteps in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the pandemic, as well as the tough choices he now faces in trying to keep lethal new variants of the virus out of the country.

Britain’s death toll has long been the worst in Europe, but a fast-spreading variant of the virus has propelled the country’s daily fatality rates to levels not seen since the peak of the pandemic’s first wave in April, despite a national lockdown. Per capita, Britain’s death rate has been the worst in the world over the last week.

This milestone wasn't simply grim. It was also tragic. 

As a statistic, the milestone in question—100,00 Covid deaths to date—doesn't really tell us much. We decided to fill you in on Britain's current death rate.

Below, you see some relevant numbers. These numbers come from the Covid data site at the Financial Times:

Current daily deaths from Covid-19 per million population
7-day average, as of January 25/26
Portugal: 23.6
United Kingdom: 18.6
United States: 10
European Union: 7.7

The Times seems to mean the U.K. when it refers to Britain. Here are the constituent parts of that fabled realm:

Current daily deaths from Covid-19 per million population
7-day average, as of January 25/26
England: 20
Wales: 11.7
Scotland: 11.0
Northern Ireland: 8.6

Adjusted for population, England's current daily death rate is double our own. The U.K.'s death rate is almost that bad. According to the FT's data, Portugal's rate is worse. 

What's happening elsewhere? Below, you see corresponding numbers from some peer nations. 

Current daily deaths from Covid-19 per million population
7-day average, as of January 25/26
Germany: 9.2
Italy: 7.9
France: 6.0
Canada: 4.2

Finally, those puzzling Pacific nations:

Current daily deaths from Covid-19 per million population
7-day average, as of January 25/26
Japan: 0.7
South Korea: 0.2
Australia: 0
Taiwan: 0

We remain amazed by the lack of journalistic interest in those extremely low Pacific statistics. That said, just let the latest "grim milestone" pass. They'll headline it every time!

Total deaths to date: Adjusted for population, Belgium has suffered many more total deaths than the U.K. has. 

Adjusted for population, the Czech Republic and Italy aren't real far behind. Adjusted for population, our own total deaths to date are roughly 10-11 percent lower than the U.K.'s.

All we know are the statistics contained within the two linked sites.

 

16 comments:

  1. All kneel to liberal God, COVID The Omnipotent!

    All marvel at bullshit stats, liberal God COVID's Bible!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those "bullshit stats" include my husband who passed away last March 21. He was a nice old guy and didn't deserve to spend 10-days on a ventilator before passing away without any family by his side.

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    2. Trump tried to gaslight a viral pandemic, like it was some mouth-breathing Republican voter.
      It's no wonder his parents hated him.

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  2. "We remain amazed by the lack of journalistic interest in those extremely low Pacific statistics. That said, just let the latest "grim milestone" pass. They'll headline it every time!"

    First, it is obvious why there is little interest in Pacific stats. Zero deaths indicates that there is not a problem there. The absence of a pandemic is not news, whereas the struggles of Britain are news.

    Second, it might be suggested that journalists should be interested in how those Asian countries managed to keep their statistics so low. The lack of interest arises from the understanding that there are major cultural differences that mean that we could not enact the same policies here with the same success.

    One way anthropologists classify cultures is into two kinds: (1) individualist (like the US and Britain) versus (2) collectivist (like the Asian nations). In a collectivist culture, a person is raised to be aware of how his or her behavior affects others, to conform to the expectations of parents and authority figures, to not stick out and to work toward the common good, sacrificings one's own needs for family interests if necessary. Traditions are important, as are rules and social norms. In an individualist country, the interests of the individual are primary, children are raised to be independent and assertive, creative, aggressive, and to be less concerned about the expectations, needs or concerns of others. Self interest is emphasized over common concerns, and freedom of action is important. Conformity is seen as a bad thing and individuals pursue their own goals and needs, as opposed to listening to family. Authority is seen as a necessary evil and resistance to it is permissible if it is seen as interfering in individual lives.

    In Asia, then, there is no question about wearing masks. Everyone does it, not only for self-protection but to protect others and because it is the socially imposed responsibility of each person to help keep everyone safe. The same with other rules about social distancing, staying home from work and recreation, and so on. Rules imposed by authorities are followed, not challenged. A collective fight against covid is seen as important to everyone, and government is regarded as keeping people safe not harming them. That means that such countries can enact measures to contain covid and have them be followed scrupulously, by everyone. If you are a nation in which boundaries can be controlled (such as an island nation or one with few official entry points), then measures are more effective.

    I don't need to describe what our leadership and public response has been like. Neither do those journalists who have chosen not to discuss why Japan and Korea can control covid and we and Britain cannot. An effective response here would have relied on advertising and PR to gain public voluntary support and even then, been less successful than Asia, but it would have greatly reduced deaths here. That didn't happen because of Trump and the Republicans. I hope they are happy with their behavior, because this isn't over yet. Does Somerby really want journalists to rehash Trump's failures? I doubt that is productive now that Biden has taken office. It will appear partisan and may further entrench the resistance of the idiots who still won't wear masks.

    I find myself wondering whether Somerby wears a mask when he goes out. If he were a liberal, no question would arise, but he has shown such little sense lately that I wouldn't put it past him to join the forces of evil I encounter at the supermarket, the people so selfish that they cannot wear a mask to protect others whose health may be more fragile than their own.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Adjusted for population, Belgium has suffered many more total deaths than the U.K. has."

    People do not experience covid in the form of deaths adjusted by population size. They experience every death as the loss of a human being who was loved by friends and family and is now mourned, who had a life cut short. It is of no comfort to know that the death rate is lower if you adjust for population size, when it is YOUR loved one who has passed.

    Somerby displays his lack of empathy every time he writes one of these grating statistics reviews, after a pro forma acknowledgement that covid is a tragedy. Every time he adjusts the total deaths that way, he implicitly suggests that those who have died are less important because there are so many more who are still healthy. Death doesn't work that way. Every death matters because every death represents a life that was lived among other people.

    Somerby never thinks about what these statistics mean, what the reality is, behind the numbers. It is as if this were a game he is playing to assail journalists, most of whom know better than to display such callous disregard for death. Somerby needs to find a new hobby, pick a new obsession, and stop grinding his axe on a subject that has considerable personal significance to more and more people.

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  6. “All we know are the statistics contained within the two linked sites.”

    Do tell.

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  7. Adjusted for population the US makes up 8 of the 10 worst areas for Covid deaths per million people, including the #1 spot. Somerby's sad attempt to obscure this significant fact is repugnant.

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