By Eyal Shahar
Counting the dead used to be the work of epidemiologists, statisticians and demographers. So was analyzing the numbers and drawing conclusions. In the past year many are counting deaths, but the numbers have no meaning without the context of a relevant time period, population and history. That is, epidemiology.
The most counted country is probably Sweden, a stubborn dissenter that refused lockdowns, mask mandates and contact tracing. By the time of this writing, 14,349 Swedes have reportedly died from the coronavirus. Has the Swedish model failed? Were the lockdowns justified? Were the economic and social upheavals in most of the world an unavoidable necessity?
The answer to all is a resounding no. The first (and not the only) witness: Sweden. To understand the testimony, we need to learn only two concepts: “flu year” and “excess mortality”.
“Flu year” versus calendar year
Many calculate mortality statistics according to the Gregorian calendar, but December 31st is not a meaningful end date for winter mortality in the northern hemisphere. The flu wave and the associated wave of mortality reach the peak at various dates, and sometimes secondary waves appear. Furthermore, the use of the Gregorian calendar combines the mortality in the first part of one winter (sometimes mild) with mortality in the second part of the previous winter (sometimes severe). There is no scientific justification for this grouping when analyzing historical trends.
Categories: Health and Medicine