The Numbers Game

As I wrote in one of my previous blogs, Counting on Counting, one of the most important functions of public health is to gather data on new cases of a disease. In mid-July, the WHO stopped counting new cases and discouraged countries from doing the same. Argentina complied by failing to update its deaths in a timely fashion. And now the CDC in the US will no longer provide individual reports on deaths and hospitalisations from the States. This obviously makes it more difficult to gather information on where the virus is spreading and whether a more lethal strain has emerged in a particular area.

Since other countries are likely to stop reporting the numbers of infected and providing little or no information about their deaths, now may be a good time to review what information we do have about how the virus has affected the countries of the world, thus far.

To that end, I have assembled a database of cases and fatalities that I will be utilising in a series of blogs during the next week. This database will contain information up to including data from yesterday, July 31, but will not include any information past that date. Sources for the data include the Situation Reports from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the news threads at PFI_Forum.

To start this series, I thought I’d provide some general statistics:

Total number of cases: over 184,000

Total number of deaths: 1448

Top 10 countries with the most infections:

  1. United States
  2. Australia
  3. Mexico
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Chile
  6. Canada
  7. Thailand
  8. Germany
  9. China
  10. Japan

Top 10 countries with the most deaths:

  1. United States
  2. Argentina
  3. Mexico
  4. Chile
  5. Thailand
  6. Brazil
  7. Australia
  8. Canada
  9. United Kingdom
  10. Peru

Top 10 countries with the highest case fatality rate:

  1. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  2. Tonga
  3. Argentina
  4. Paraguay
  5. Columbia
  6. Brazil
  7. Uruguay
  8. Jamaica
  9. Costa Rica
  10. Cayman Islands
  11. Dominican Republic

I recognise that there are many caveats when considering the significance of these results. I will attempt to discuss them in subsequent blogs later this week.

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2 thoughts on “The Numbers Game

  1. ILI surveillance is not as accurate as lab testing. Switching to this system now makes no sense given that we do not know whether or how quickly the new H1N1 will replace the seasonal flus. Old H1N1 and H3N2 have been circulating together for many years. Also, there is a real concern that the new H1N1 may change, by mutation, recombination or reassortment to a more lethal virus. ILI-surveillance will miss this. Lab testing has a better chance of detecting it. Lab testing plus sequencing would definitely detect it.

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