Video: Why we should ignore most reported COVID-19 statistics

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Credit: John Minchillo/AP

Every day we wake up and check COVID-19 updates. Governments usually announce 6 main numbers: 1) New cases 2) Total cases 3) New recoveries 4) Total recoveries 5) New Fatalities 6) Total fatalities. These numbers are ok, but only 2 of them may be reliable in the case of COVID-19; sadly the new fatalities and total fatalities.

We will not be able to confirm the real total number of recoveries in any country as of now. Even the titles we give to those numbers are not accurate, those are not just “new cases,” we’d rather call them “number of patients who tested positive out of the those we tested in 24 hours plus backlog from the past days or weeks.”

The number of new cases could drastically change based on the number of tests you do. If you conduct 1000 tests and you get 300 cases positive, what if you conduct 2000 tests? And what about the thousands who got the disease and recovered without being tested? So what indicator should we look at? The number of fatalities due to COVID 19 may be a much more reliable indicator.

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Dr. Wessam Atif is a medical doctor and a published public health action researcher. Dr. Atif focuses on qualitative research in Public Health, Sanitation, Hygiene Education and Healthy public policy to support governments and policymakers of developing countries to achieve better public health goals. He is studying his MPH at the University of Manchester. Recently, Dr. Atif has cooperated with the World Health Organisation as a technical consultant to develop risk-based hygiene & sanitation inspection systems in the Western Pacific Region. Find him on Linkedin

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