Archives for January 2021
In the never-ending diet and health antagonism, it happens that researchers, clinicians, and various advocates trend toward “specialization” in a favorite cause of death. For diet and health, various forms of heart and vascular disease seem to prevail.
Thus, it becomes the hammer to which everything is then its nail.
You know the drill. Fat clogs your arteries, or, red meat causes cancer, ad nauseum. And so on. The problem is, in large observational studies based on dietary questionnaires and advice, in the end, you end up with about 6 deaths here to a half-dozen elsewhere, of any cause.
So, you have the advocates touting that their particular dietary intervention “lowered CVD deaths.” Yea, maybe, but cancer deaths were higher, and total death was about the same. More or less life eventually ends in more or fewer deaths, period.
Since I and others are all but too familiar with these tricks of the trade, I have been anticipating at least preliminary figures for all-cause mortality, now that year-2020—with any luck—has died and gone to the big calendar in the sky.
Actually, my long time acquaintance and commenter here often, back in the day, Ned Kock, has gathered the numbers. He’s a math and science geek with degrees, in case you’re wondering.
It’s a short post you can read in 3 minutes, tops, so I encourage you to give him the traffic. Just a primer.
Briefly, the trend upward in total deaths per 1,000 of population from roughly 8.4 to 8.8, 2015 – 2020, tracks with the increasing average age of the population, which is also increasing in absolute terms. In other words, the same explanation that has prevailed every year prevails for 2020 as well.
The green line is the more interesting, representing the increase in total deaths over the previous year which, nominally, is a function of both increasing total population and advances in longevity (average lifespan). A downward trend means: population increased by less percentage than previous years, and/or average age of death increased, and/or people are on average a little more healthy or medicine and surgery is a bit better. It’s likely some combination of all three.
But, what it utterly and completely falsifies is the notion that Covid was anything at all in-particular in 2020. Simple. Plain. Fact. Choke on it. 1.27% more deaths in 2015 from 2014, trending downward to 1.12% more deaths in 2019 over 2018, and the same 1.12% 2020 over 2019. Suck on it.
As I was tracking all-cause mortality over the course of the year as data was coming in, I knew by summer that by end of the year there would be little, if any “excess death,” which would suggest there was really something up with Covid that’s more profound than the average death from respiratory illnesses annually. Never mind that according to the WHO database, there have been about zero deaths worldwide from influenza from April 2020 (scroll to the charts at the bottom, and yes, you can check the database yourself).
But, since there were lockdowns and closures of a massive number of things, I thought it might turn out that lockdowns save net lives because jail cells are relatively safe. They protect you and keep you safe from that nefarious and scary thing called life. Surely, traffic incidents, minimally.
But, looks like a 6 or a half-dozen thing on the large. So what might explain part of the offset?
So, apparently, Covid still got plenty of folks, though indirectly. My guess would be suicide and overdose, all in the context of an indoor, sedentary, depressing, locked-up “lifestyle.”
I have had to exercise undue restraint in writing this post. You know what I mean.