Covid19 collateral damage

Collateral damage comes from military, it means unintended death or injury resulting from military operations. There is a good chance Covid19 pandemic fight results in deaths of people not infected with the virus itself, so it has collateral damage.

Inflated death count

Belgium reported recently a substantial number of Covid19 deaths, it made it the world leader in mortality per million of people. There were comments in local media suggesting all deaths in nursery houses for old people were qualified as Covid19 related, without confirming actual virus presence in deceased. Indeed on official page you can find information like the one above dated 17.04:

Of the 5 163 people who died, 44% died in hospital, 54% in a rest and care home, 0.6% at home and 0.2% in another location. The deaths in hospital are all confirmed cases. Deaths in rest homes are either confirmed cases (7.8%) or suspected cases (92%)


Population mortality impact

Since half of deaths contributed to Covid19 are just suspected, there is clearly a bias to attribute all deaths to the virus, inflate its toll. On the same site you can find information on total mortality in Belgium, chart copied from the article is displayed below.

Source: Analysis on the excess mortality due to Covid-19

There is a clearly visible surge of daily deaths, from mid March to mid April, we can read the following numbers:

  • Total deaths 300 to 600 (solid orange)
  • Covid19 confirmed 0 to 100 (dashed green)
  • Covid19 confirmed and suspected 0 to 300 (solid green)
  • Covid19 suspected 0 to 200 – difference between Covid19 total and suspected – area between solid and dashed green

Covid19 collateral damage – suspected deaths

Covid19 suspected deaths are those from care (nursery) homes, who passed away and had no positive Covid19 test. It is not clear if medical authorities plan to confirm virus presence in post-mortem. We can presume suspected and confirmed deaths alike are reported as Covid19 deaths. This is a flaw, suspected deaths should be verified, there may not result from the virus directly. They may be just collateral damage resulting from:

  1. Elevated stress level. Media stories about Covid19 mortality, especially among older people clearly make people anxious and raise stress level. Extraordinary lock down measures taken by government don’t make people tranquil. Permanent stress is hazardous, it deteriorates health and may result in premature death.
  2. Medical resources focused on epidemic response reduce care level for patients with chronic disease. This does not result from bad faith, just shortage of resources and allocation inefficiencies.

Death from virus and collateral damage separation

In order to understand epidemic impact It is important to report death causes correctly. We have a combination of virus epidemic and fear epidemic. Inflating deaths related to the former does not make curbing the latter easier. Belgium decision to report suspected cases had big impact on reported numbers:

Of the 7 094 people who died, 45% died in hospital, 53% in a rest and care home, 0% at home and 0% elsewhere. The hospital deaths are all confirmed cases. The deaths in rest homes are both confirmed (10%) and suspected (90%) cases.

Source 26.04 report

7094 * 0.53% * 0.9 = 3384, almost 48% of total deaths are suspected ones. This introduces a huge margin of error to collected data. Some suspected cases are direct Civid19 victims, others are collateral damage, proportion remains unknown.

Medical resources allocation issues examples

  • Hungary decided to empty hospitals. In early April the Hungary government ordered hospitals to ensure that over 30,000 are available for Covid19 patients, the number was then increased to 40000. Hungary has recorded 250 deaths from the Covid19 as of 24.04, and has 2,383 known cases. This had an impact on existing patients who were forced home.
  • Italian province Lombardy hard hit my Covid19 had many hospital beds available, but was short on family doctors and general practitioners. Patients who should have been recovering at home were taken to hospital, putting undue stress on capacity. Doctors making house visits were not adequately protected. Some died and others may have inadvertently spread the virus. Details here.

Final advice

Stay calm and breath normally. Excessive fear of Covid19 can kill you faster than the virus. Virus can sneak in, decision to join collateral damage ranks is on you.

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