Exploring Human Potential

100,000 – 240,000 Deaths? Are you sure about that?

Posted on | April 3, 2020 | 2 Comments

Mike Magee

We all sort of knew this was coming. A President, who is TV bound and a (somehow) entertaining pathologic liar, gets caught up in a life or death crisis where truth and trust are prerequisites.

This leaves Americans (and Cable News networks for that matter) with a difficult choice:

a) Turn him off.

b) Leave him on but ignore him and trust but verify Fauci and Birx.

c) Seek out other reliable sources with a truthful track record.

Medical journalists are increasing choosing c), and specifically turning to a few institutions including Columbia, Harvard and the University of Washington. The University of Washington received an unexpected glaring light when Dr. Deborah  Birx displayed a single screen shot of their interactive Covid-19 case maps, focused on the “peak” or the “hump.”.

As the Washington Post reported today, “Almost the entirety of what the public knows about the death projection was presented on a single slide at a briefing Tuesday, from the White House coronavirus task force. A White House representative said the task force has not publicly released the models it drew from out of respect for the confidentiality of the modelers, many of whom approached the White House unsolicited and simply want to continue their work without publicity.”

That was confusing enough since the source is a public-facing site with broad exposure and a $280 million 10-year endowment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is the Institute of Health Metrics Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington directed by widely recognized public health professional, Dr. Chris Murray.

Dr. Chris Murray

Murray’s fame was well earned in his ground breaking statistical work with the WHO in charting the Global Burden of various diseases in nations across the Globe. This vertical study, covering the last two decades, is a landmark in design and import, defining the challenge and strategies that work in pursuing population health on a nation by nation basis.

When Covid-19 hit, Murray, with full support from the University of Washington and the Gates Foundation, wasted little time in refocusing all their resources on the pandemic that was now at their doorstep.

Those who still tune in to the President’s afternoon briefings continue, along with beleaguered reporters, to question basics numbers like: How many have been tested? How many likely have the disease? How many will be hospitalized? How many will require an ICU and/or a ventilator?

As Dr. Deborah Birx pointed to the screen shot, she affirmed that If everyone does their part perfectly, between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans will die.

Yet multiple anonymous White House reports this morning quote Dr. Tony Fauci as saying to his colleagues, “I’ve looked at all the models. I’ve spent a lot of time on the models. They don’t tell you anything. You can’t really rely upon models.”

Epidemiologists and health statisticians at Columbia and Harvard are on record as stating they’ve been contacted on short notice to provide death projections as well but that time and data limitations and absence of testing make it difficult to project.

At the very least, Americans deserve a visit to the University of Washington’s IHME site. So here it is. If you move the timeline to current peak date, April 21, you will find Dr. Murray’s projections which include that day –  2448 deaths nationwide, and 242,537 hospitalized covid-19 patients with 14% occupying ICU beds.

The projections assume full social distancing in the U.S. through May 20, 2020.


2 Responses to “100,000 – 240,000 Deaths? Are you sure about that?”

  1. peter wagner
    April 4th, 2020 @ 11:19 am

    If you do nothing more than plot the LOGARITHM of the actual cumulative USA cases and USA deaths over time from January to now, that plot is essentially linear and shows, using linear extrapolation, that the entire population will be infected by early May by when almost 8 million people will have perished. Being a plot of actual numbers, it incorporates all the current mitigation efforts. Let’s hope I am wrong and the curve does flatten.

  2. Mike Magee
    April 4th, 2020 @ 12:10 pm

    We can only hope. Thanks, Peter.

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