To the Editor
When trying to analyze the spread of COVID-19 why are we looking at numbers like total cases of infected people and the number of recovered people? Since we are not testing everyone and the numbers for those testing positive are often late or unreliable (too many false positives or negatives) we actually have no idea of the number of people who have contracted the virus. Furthermore many infected people have mild outcomes or are asymptomatic and never tested. So if we don’t know the real number of people who have been infected how can we possibly know the actual number of those who have recovered. Even those who have legitimately recovered can still be infectious if they’ve touched an infected surface or have quantities of the virus in their nasal passage or mouth where their immune system cannot attack the virus. So recovered does not mean non-contagious.
The only reliable (and therefore meaningful figures) are the number of people admitted to a hospital the number in the ICU the number using a ventilator the number who have recovered from a hospital and the number who have died of COVID-19 and of course the daily number of new cases in each of those categories.
The rest are window dressing and cannot be relied upon. They can also be extrapolated using the infection rates and recovery rates from countries like South Korea and Taiwan where meaningful testing has been done.
This also raises questions about modelling and any presumed validity for planning.
As a separate note – the number of infections and deaths in long-term care facilities have skewed the numbers even more and should be dealt with separately. Those numbers can only be used to show how shoddy and ineffective much of our long-term care system really is.