Guy M wrote:The only measure worth looking at is excess deaths over time...
While still basically agreeing that excess deaths will be the best
way to do country-to-country comparisons when the whole pandemic has unwound, I did get some information from a Greek friend last night that confirms comparing just COVID-19 death figures is meaningful. Greece is reporting deaths in all settings, i.e. hospitals care/nursing homes and the community, which is also what the UK is now doing. They are including all deaths where infection with COVID-19 was recorded, even if the death was not caused directly by COVID-19.
I think that means that COVID-19 death figures for the UK and Greece can be compared, obviously scaling for population size. Because the number of cases and deaths per million population has been so much lower in Greece, COVID-19 has had a much less serious impact on the healthcare system overall and so I think non-COVID-19 treatments have been able to carry on more normally in Greece than in the UK. If I am correct, the contribution to excess deaths from failure to treat other complaints should be much lower in Greece than the UK, although I am sure there will be some excess deaths in Greece from this cause.
I get a strong feeling that the UK government will come to rue the day they said that they should be judged on excess deaths when the pandemic has run its course. I fear that they are not going to be far from the top of the list.
PS As an aside one of the people on the question time panel on Thursday night was a scientific/medical advisor to the Scottish Assembly on COVID-19. At one point she was asked her opinion of which countries had done well and Greece was included in the list along with the usual candidates like South Korea, New Zealand, Norway etc. In her opinion no relaxation of lockdown at all should be implemented until test, trace and isolate was fully operational.
PPS After several days with no new cases at all, South Korea recently opened up an area of Seoul that had been closed because it is full of bars and nightclubs where large numbers of people normally congregate. There was an increase in the number of daily cases up to around 20 to 30 per day. They think this was caused by either a single active case visiting many venues in the club scene area or possibly 2 or 3 active cases. Within a matter of a couple of days they had traced and tested over 10,000 contacts. The UK is currently running at between 3,000 and 4,000 new cases per day with very little relaxation of lockdown. What test trace and isolate capability is needed to effectively deal 3,000 new cases per day if you need to be able to trace and test 10,000 contacts because of 20 new cases? It is also worth noting that South Korea has a much more extensive tracking system than the UK will ever have. As well as an App that records location, either from the phone's GPS system or, if that is disabled, triangulation from cellular phone masts, they also use facial recognition software on surveillance cameras, credit card transactions etc. In addition they publish maps showing routes taken by positive cases that the public can view and avoid those areas until they have been disinfected.