There is some margin for people to interpret data differently but probably not as much as feared. If an instruction were handed down by a governor or the head of a state health department to "cook the books" to paint a rosier picture, or a bleaker picture, there would be leaks, the press would get ahold of the story, and the instigator would be hounded or demolished. It's far more likely that variations in reporting/tabulating are good faith differences in how jurisdictions or entities or individuals do things. As we've noted before, there is merit in the statistics, especially as long as a given jurisdiction is consistent in reporting. Thus, if Belgium reports 200 deaths on April 15 and 25 today, it means something, even if Belgium counts differently than Denmark.
I'm not suggesting that anyone is purposely cooking books or anything like that. I'm just saying this is a group that loves numbers, and just cautioning you that the basis for the numbers being released is NOT consistent and this is known. If you understand that statement, then you understand why I am urging caution.
The data is being released because of the need to provide something to the public that they can understand. It isn't being done to intentionally mislead, its just that at this point even the Wharton graduates need another couple of months to get all the data onto a consistent basis, and then it will take another month to get the required 3-4 peer comparables to confirm. My guess on this is Aug, but it might slip another month or two.
Until then, we use other, more consistent data to infer what we need to know. You can't explain this to the masses, it isn't that it's rocket science, it actually is considerably more advanced mathematics than that.
Yeah, maybe stuff like this?
As it tracks the coronavirus’s spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is combining tests that detect active infection with those that detect recovery from Covid-19 — a system that muddies the picture of the pandemic but raises the percentage of Americans tested as President Trump boasts about testing.
Now that serology tests, which look for antibodies in the blood of people who have recovered, are more widespread, C.D.C. officials said Friday they would work to separate them from the results of diagnostic tests, which detect active infection. One of the agency’s data tracker websites has been lumping them together.
Stunned epidemiologists say data from antibody tests and active virus tests should never be mixed because diagnostic testing seeks to quantify the amount of active disease in the population. Serological testing can also be unreliable. And patients who have had both diagnostic and serology tests would be counted twice in the totals.
Epidemiologists, state health officials and a spokeswoman for the C.D.C. said there was no ill intent; they attributed the flawed reporting system to confusion and fatigue in overworked state and local health departments that typically track infections — not tests — during outbreaks. The C.D.C. relies on states to report their data.
obvert: all accurate to my best knowledge except one minor point:
"The C.D.C. relies on states to report their data."
At this time, and in this pandemic, yes. Looking forward, the data will be re-worked (US first and then international) to provide the CDC with accurate historical data to then work with to create more accurate infection/death/contagion models.
Yes, the mixing of the test types is rampant. At all levels of reporting at this time. Again, the good news is that this can/will be corrected. But, it will be a slow process. Its gonna take a few months.
Alfred's opinion is that this will never be straightened out. I'm not quite so pessimistic. There are a large number of graduate statistics candidates every year, and this type of data analysis will no doubt be the foundation of quite a few theses.