Sat 2022-Nov-12

Some Good News About COVID-19

Tagged: COVID / MathInTheNews / Statistics

We just may be turning the corner.

Excess Mortality

The indispensable Eric Topol draws our attention to the global excess mortality situation:

Eric Topol @ Twitter: Global excess mortality

First, let’s talk about excess mortality. It’s basically the death rate from all causes observed now, minus the death rate you’d expect (usually a historical average over about the trailing 5 years). Over at Our World in Data, which is what Topol’s using, they track the average death rate 2015-2019.

So positive excess mortality means we’re dying faster than usual, presumably due to COVID-19. A zero excess mortality means we’re returning to normal. A negative excess mortality, such as Japan, means masking & social distancing not only stopped COVID but likely also influenza and other diseases.

So to what is Topol calling our attention? A couple things to note:

  • The estimated excess mortality is trending strongly downward, back to baseline. COVID-19 is not over, but vaccination and previous infection have given us some immunity, along with effective treatments like paxlovid.
  • The 95% confidence limits – the gray lines – while a bit broad, have a lower limit below 0%. So it’s not entirely unbelievable that the excess mortality is already back to baseline.

So, there you go: COVID-19 isn’t over, but we’re getting a lot better at not dying. Now if only we can get better at not getting sick… and not getting long COVID.


Notes & References

1: Nope. BTW, now experimenting with screenshotting tweets and linking the image back to Twitter, instead of using Twitter’s mechanism. In case, you know… Twitter is eaten by, say, an Elongated Muskrat. Or something.

Published Sat 2022-Nov-12

Gestae Commentaria

Weekend Editor, Tue 2022-Nov-22 19:43

Yes, that is absolutely good news!

In fact, it’s better than it appears on the surface: it’s taken just once a day (so maybe better patient compliance) and it doesn’t seem to need the ritonavir booster to block the liver enzyme that degrades it (so probably fewer drug-drug interactions).

On the other hand, it’s the exact same mechanism of action as paxlovid (3CLpro inhibitor). So it works as well as paxlovid, but any paxlovid resistance mutations will hit this new drug as well.

And… some people who sound relatively crazy to me have been discussing how to breed SARS-CoV2 variants with exactly that resistance. I wish they wouldn’t do that!