Friday, July 10, 2020

Relative Risk and Kid Coronavirus Infections

This news article from Texas is all over the place lately.  Here is a brief explainer of why it isn't as bad as it seems. (It is not great, but everything is not great.)

The report is that "307 children and 643 staff members" have been diagnosed. Let us posit for the sake of argument that these numbers are real.*

Say also that there are 10 kids for every adult and that today's percent positivity rate (20%) represents the true proportion of infections.**

That means out of roughly 3200 staff members, 20% got infected (643). But there were, say, 32,000 children, and so about 1% of them got infected. 

This is what public health experts mean when they say children are less likely to get sick and less likely to die. (See also the screenshot below from the  'covkid project '. Even if, god forbid, every child in intensive care were to die, the mortality rate would be 2 per thousand cases.)***

Will some people have long term lung damage, weird neurological side effects, and lifelong disability, even children? Yes, and I'm not dismissing the seriousness of those (vote, vote blue, and don't let anyone repeal the ACA!). I'm asking you to read news with a critical eye to whether the incidence is one in a hundred, or one in a million. 

* None of the coronavirus numbers are real except for total excess mortality.
** This is also not true but we need some kind of number. 
*** Yes, I know, these numbers are also fiction, but we have to use something.

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