Project Bug Files
Crunching the Numbers: Countries
As the pandemic enters its third year, at the time of writing this piece, there is an ever-growing mountain of data regarding just about every aspect of Covid one could imagine. Information on everything including vulnerability demographics, the efficacy of preventative measures, the impact of diet on symptom severity, and countless other metrics has become available for anyone and everyone to explore. With a seemingly endless flood of information available, you would expect a certain predictability to the course the pandemic is taking. Ironically, when you crunch the numbers you don’t always get the results expected, which leads to the question of whether or not any discernible patterns do in fact exist within this vast ocean of data. This section will explore some of the seeming discrepancies between the data and the expectations, focusing on four high-profile countries, and see what picture, if any, can be drawn from the findings.
Given the sheer numbers of people living in India, as well as the population density in most regions, you would expect the number of Covid cases to be among the highest in the subcontinent compared to any other nation on earth. Furthermore, considering the poor air quality in most areas, along with substandard plumbing, severe symptoms would be expected to go hand-in-hand with high case numbers. However, the numbers currently available are far from the disaster most would expect.
With current estimations of India covid cases at: 34.7m | Deaths: 475k (1.37%) | Cases per 1 Million: 25,498, the numbers, although terrible in terms of human lives, are far from the catastrophic figures one might predict. Unfortunately, the accuracy of these numbers has been brought under scrutiny, meaning that they may be painting a far better picture than is actually the case.
Even so, there are a few factors to consider when interpreting the data. First, there is the use of preventative measures, such as wearing masks and social distancing. Although mask use was at an average of around 44% in the early stages, it saw a sharp increase, reaching about 90% or above, which led to a significant reduction in new covid cases. Additionally, social distancing has been widely practised, further reducing the spread of the virus.
Another factor to consider is diet, given that high animal/protein diets have been found to be detrimental with regard to the severity of covid symptoms. Since India has a substantial number of vegetarians, some estimates suggesting as much as 40% of the population, the role that diet plays in reducing the severity of symptoms cannot be ruled out. Unfortunately, while the data available remains in dispute, no clear picture can be drawn with any reliable accuracy.
With a population at around 330 million, the US is a lightweight in comparison to India, which boasts a staggering 1.38 billion inhabitants. As a result, you would expect the number of covid cases to be substantially smaller, even if the data from India is inaccurate. Surprisingly, instead of the number of cases being smaller, it is nearly half as much again, with the overall statistics coming in at: 49.9m cases | Deaths: 796k (1.6%) | Cases per 1 Million: 150,356. Even more alarming is the fact that the percentage of deaths is higher, something that goes against all expectations.
Again, the data from India needs to be taken with more than a mere grain of salt. But even so, the statistics from the US are alarming, especially when you consider that factors such as air quality, plumbing, hygiene, and medicine are all significantly better than in many other nations. So, is this a matter of data discrepancy, or is it a case of false expectations?
Although the air and water are cleaner in most cases, and high-quality medicines are constantly available, there are other factors to consider. One such factor is preventative measures. It is no secret that the issue of wearing masks has been hotly debated in the US, with fewer than 50% of adults wearing masks in public. Although covid cases were seen to drop when those numbers were higher, the politicising of mask wearing seemed to prove more important than actual statistical figures. This means that as mask wearing continues to decline, large numbers of new covid cases are still coming in, despite an increase in vaccinations.
The fact that America is one of the highest ranked countries in terms of meat consumption also needs to be considered, given the relationship between diet and covid symptoms. Such high protein diets, along with an unhealthy occurrence of obesity, lends to an expected increase in the severe symptom-to-covid case ratio, which is demonstrated in the numbers compared to India. Although the India data is in question, the US figures are still alarming in comparison.
One final factor to consider is the role of medicine in the US. As already mentioned, high quality medicines of all kinds are readily available in the United States, meaning that the population should be healthier as a result. Unfortunately, studies have discovered that an overuse of medications, specifically antibiotics, can in fact weaken people’s immune systems, thereby leaving them more exposed to medical conditions. Combined with the widespread use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, the picture quickly goes from one of optimism to one of concern. The bottom line is that the increase in covid cases, and a high number of fatalities, can in fact be the result of too much medicine, something very few would have ever imagined possible.