COVID Crisis Post 58: Cause of Death Defined. And US is NOT > Russia.
Quick Q&A session to start:
Q: Why do people die from HIV/AIDS? A: They die due to opportunistic infections as a result of the immunodeficiency triggered by HIV. But we still attribute the death to HIV/AIDS.
Q: Why do people die of a gunshot wound? A: They die due to significant organ damage and/or massive internal bleeding caused by the piercing bullet. But we still attribute the death to a gunshot wound.
Q: Why do people die from COVID-19? A: They die because a person with preexisting conditions (or not) suddenly underwent an immense amount of immunologic stress with subsequent multiorgan damage and failure triggered by COVID-19. But we still attribute the death to COVID-19.
In medicine, death is defined as irreversible cessation of heart, lung, and/or brain function. If something contributed to any of those three organ systems failing, either directly or indirectly, it is a cause of death.
End of discussion. This is how COVID deaths are counted in this country and in many other countries. Because it makes sense. But this is not how it is being counted in all countries.
Like Russia, for example.
Oh man, Russia. Take a bow.
It is pretty incredible how Russia has avoided being a major topic of discussion. Sweden, China, Germany, South Korea, sure. But not Russia.
Putin stated workers across Russia would go back to work starting yesterday morning, with local authorities being able to continue restrictions if appropriate to their particular situation.
Thank goodness for this.
Because Moscow's mayor extended the lockdown till May 31 because he knows how bad it is. The official case count in Moscow is around 125k, but the mayor himself believes its likely closer to 300k+.
As a whole, Russia's daily new case rate is around 11k per day. And this is just what is being REPORTED. All this during a shutdown that resulted in very strict measures being instituted including limiting residents ability to travel outside of their homes.
There is also evidence of people being forced to isolate in hotels/hostels with known COVID-19 patients, even though they do not have COVID themselves. The human rights violations never seem to stop.
The total reported numbers coming out of Russia are laughable. Over 240k confirmed cases with ONLY 2200 deaths? Seriously? At least make the numbers believable 🤦🏽♂️.
Russia shares the 2nd longest border with China, has been a huge trade partner with China, and is now the country with the SECOND MOST cases in the world behind only the US (#1, baby!), yet somehow they have one of the LOWEST CFRs IN THE WORLD at only 0.91%??
Both number of cases and deaths are being SUBSTANTIALLY under-reported. And part of this goes back to how they are choosing to categorize COVID-19 deaths - many deaths are being attributed to causes other than COVID-19, such as heart attacks and pneumonia in COVID-19+ patients, to keep death counts low though COVID IS likely the catalyst behind these deaths.
Again, in an authoritarian government, it is best to downplay the death rate, not overestimate it. So looking at excess deaths is a much better indicator of disease burden, and thus reality. And since countries code COVID deaths differently, this becomes even more important.
In Moscow alone, it seems the number of EXCESS deaths in April confirms peoples suspicion. Official data published on Sunday showed the total number of deaths registered in Moscow was 18% higher than the same period last year, up by around 1400 additional deaths.
The Financial Times believes based on the excess mortality rates, the true mortality rate in Russia may be 72% HIGHER than the official government rate. And this is a CONSERVATIVE estimate as it only includes Moscow and St. Petersburg! If you included other cities and towns, the death rate would likely be even higher.
This is bad. And it gets worse due to the extremely unsafe working conditions caused by lack of PPE for healthcare workers and physicians "mysteriously" falling out of windows after complaining about the lack of PPE.
Finally, how about we add a ventilator blowing up in a St. Petersburg hospital due to an electrical malfunction for good measure, killing 5 patients as a result.
All of my Russian colleagues think the numbers are total bullshit based on their connections back home. And based on all the other evidence, this seems like a no-brainer.
At least our checks and balance system, however tenuous it has been over the past 3+ years, has allowed the truth to come out. So, I guess we should be, uhhhh, proud we are not as corrupt as Russia.
This Russian proverb succinctly describes their "back to work" mentality in the middle of a still out-of-control pandemic:
"When you rush, you make people laugh." Поспешишь - людей насмешишь (Pospeshish – lyudei nasmeshish)
The English equivalent is "only fools rush in".
It does not make sense to open. Their lackadaisical and unscientific approach to the virus is dangerous. And the fact people close to the president are becoming ill show their lack of regard for the benefits of social distancing measures and masks.
Just pure incompetence.
But, oh shit, wait, that seems to describe the US as well...