Canadians Much Safer June 1

Update at May 31, 2020
It took a lot of work, but I was able to produce something akin to the Dutch advice to their citizens.

The media and governmental reports focus on total accumulated numbers which are big enough to scare people to do as they are told.  In the absence of contextual comparisons, citizens have difficulty answering the main (perhaps only) question on their minds:  What are my chances of catching Covid19 and dying from it?  The map shows a lot of cases, and the chart looks like an hockey stick, going upward on a straight line. So why do I say canadians are safer than it looks like from such images?

First let’s look at daily numbers to see where we are in this process.  All the statistics come from Canada Public Health Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update.

By showing daily tests, new cases and reported deaths, we can see how the outbreak has built up, peaked and declined over the last 2.5 months.  The green line shows how testing grew to a sustained daily rate of 29,000, with a recent drop and recovery (all numbers are smoothed with 7 day averages ending with the stated date.) Note that the curve is now descending after peaking at 1800 on April 22, now down to 893 new cases per day.  This lower rate of infections is despite the highest rate of testing since the outbreak began. Deaths have also peaked at 177 on May 6, down to 104 May 30. (Reported deaths bumped upward yesterday due to a data transmission catchup in Quebec, explained below).  The percentage of people testing positive is down to 3%, and deaths are 0.42% of the tests administered.

But it matters greatly where in Canada you live.  In the map at the top, Quebec is the dark blue province leading the nation in both cases and deaths.  Quebec has always celebrated being a distinct society, but not in this way. Below is the same chart for the Quebec epidemic from the same dataset. The province has about 23% of the national population and does about 26% of the tests.  But Quebec contributes 56% of the cases and 64% of the deaths, as of yesterday.  Here how the outbreak has gone in La Belle Province.

The Quebec graph is more lumpy showing cases peaking May 1-9, including several days inflated by data catchups. Cases have dropped off recently, from 1100 May 7 down to 521 yesterday.  Deaths are also slowing, declining from 110 on May 7 to 71 May 30. Yesterday the reported deaths in Quebec jumped to 202 due to 165 previously unrecorded data, while the actual new deaths were 37 . The animation below shows the epidemic in Canada with and without Quebec statistics.

But clearly everywhere else in Canada, people are much safer than those living in Quebec.  So what is going on?

To enlarge image, open in new tab.

The graph shows that people in Quebec are dying in group homes, the majority in CHSLD (long term medical care facilities) and also in PSR (private seniors’ residences).  The huge majority of Quebecers in other, more typical living arrangements have very little chance of dying from this disease. Not even prisoners are much at risk.

Of course the other dimension is years of age, since this disease has punished mostly people suffering from end-of-life frailties.  A previous post reported that the Netherlands parliament was provided with the type of guidance everyone wants to see.

For canadians, the most similar analysis is this one from the Daily Epidemiology Update: :

The table presents only those cases with a full clinical documentation, which included some 2194 deaths compared to the 5842 total reported.  The numbers show that under 60 years old, few adults and almost no children have anything to fear.

Update May 20, 2020

It is really quite difficult to find cases and deaths broken down by age groups.  For Canadian national statistics, I resorted to a report from Ontario to get the age distributions, since that province provides 69% of the cases outside of Quebec and 87% of the deaths.  Applying those proportions across Canada results in this table. For Canada as a whole nation:

Age  Risk of Test +  Risk of Death Population
per 1 CV death
<20 0.05% None NA
20-39 0.20% 0.000% 431817
40-59 0.25% 0.002% 42273
60-79 0.20% 0.020% 4984
80+ 0.76% 0.251% 398

In the worst case, if you are a Canadian aged more than 80 years, you have a 1 in 400 chance of dying from Covid19.  If you are 60 to 80 years old, your odds are 1 in 5000.  Younger than that, it’s only slightly higher than winning (or in this case, losing the lottery).

As noted above Quebec provides the bulk of cases and deaths in Canada, and also reports age distribution more precisely,  The numbers in the table below show risks for Quebecers.

Age  Risk of Test +  Risk of Death Population
per 1 CV death
0-9 yrs 0.13% 0 NA
10-19 yrs 0.21% 0 NA
20-29 yrs 0.50% 0.000% 289,647
30-39 0.51% 0.001% 152,009
40-49 years 0.63% 0.001% 73,342
50-59 years 0.53% 0.005% 21,087
60-69 years 0.37% 0.021% 4,778
70-79 years 0.52% 0.094% 1,069
80-89 1.78% 0.469% 213
90  + 5.19% 1.608% 62

While some of the risk factors are higher in the viral hotspot of Quebec, it is still the case that under 80 years of age, your chances of dying from Covid 19 are better than 1 in 1000, and much better the younger you are.

Mr. Trudeau, Take Down This Wall !

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