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Old 11-29-2020, 03:55 PM   #1
GullFoss
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Default Quantifying the human costs of lockdowns and restrictions

I've been doing a little research into Covid deaths in Alberta, and wanted to share some of the outputs (to the end of October 3rd, 2020). I honestly wasn't looking for this data when I first started and I have some experience working with data - but mostly in a finance role. To my knowledge, this is the first attempt at trying to quantify the human costs of the lockdowns/restrictions. Maybe these findings are nothing - it's possible it's just spurious correlation or I've made a mistake in working the data. So take it for what you want. I'm just sharing.


First, the chart below shows populated adjusted deaths rates relative to 2016 for 2017-2020 by age group. What you can see is that in 2020, the 65-84 and 85+ age cohorts are dying less than in any year between 2016-2019. In contrast, there is a clear jump in death rates for those aged 0-44 and a meaningful rise for those aged 45-64 in 2020. For example, the chart suggests that under-45s in Alberta are dying at a rate that's ~20% in 2020 vs 2016.



The next step is to ask, how many excess deaths have there been in the 0-64 cohort thus far in 2020? The raw data seems to suggest around 650 to October 3, 2020. This compares to 227 people who have died of Covid to October 3, 2020.



"Does it correlate with the lockdowns?" Seemingly...but with a lag.



Well "what is causing the jump in deaths for those under 65?" Unfortunately, I don't have access to this data for 2020. It hasn't been released. But we can look at 2019 data and see how Albertans generally die. Below is a chart outlining that overdoses and suicides are among the largest causes of death for the under-50 cohort. So it's not a stretch to think the majority of those excess deaths in the under-50 cohort were caused by an increase in suicides and overdoses.

And remember, that for every suicide and overdose death, there are numerous others people are becoming depressed and entering into a world of addiction - issues that may inflict damage for decades. This seems like a potentially serious issue across the country - especially considering Alberta has had the LEAST RESTRICTIONS of the other four large population provinces.




But I think that the narrative suggests that in saving the mostly over-70 cohort, we're potentially inflicting much trauma on the young. This is a lot more complex than "Economy" vs "Suppression of COVID to save the lives". The data above suggests we may have lost more lives from the lockdowns/restrictions than from COVID itself.

We obviously need some level of restrictions - without restrictions, Alberta would have a lot more than 227 COVID deaths to October 3rd. But if the human cost of lockdowns and restrictions on the younger cohorts is this significant, it also needs to be a significant part of our consideration and discussion.
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Old 11-29-2020, 04:00 PM   #2
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Can you share all the sources and data? Also a more thorough explanation of the methodology for your graphs and the data used, along with an explanation of each graph and axis.
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Old 11-29-2020, 04:08 PM   #3
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Yeah - I'll upload the excel sheets to my google drive. It would be nice to have it peer checked for errors and methodology. Thank you for offering :P

The data is StatsCan and Open Alberta.
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Old 11-29-2020, 04:30 PM   #4
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Source Data Files

Chart 1-3:
https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1...pid=1710000501
https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1...pid=1310076801


Chart 4. https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/4481...age00xlsx.xlsx


Chart files

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Nub...ew?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AIO...ew?usp=sharing

Last edited by GullFoss; 11-29-2020 at 04:46 PM.
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Old 11-29-2020, 04:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GullFoss View Post
I've been doing a little research into Covid deaths in Alberta, and wanted to share some of the outputs (to the end of October 3rd, 2020). I honestly wasn't looking for this data when I first started and I have some experience working with data - but mostly in a finance role. To my knowledge, this is the first attempt at trying to quantify the human costs of the lockdowns/restrictions. Maybe these findings are nothing - it's possible it's just spurious correlation or I've made a mistake in working the data. So take it for what you want. I'm just sharing.


First, the chart below shows populated adjusted deaths rates relative to 2016 for 2017-2020 by age group. What you can see is that in 2020, the 65-84 and 85+ age cohorts are dying less than in any year between 2016-2019. In contrast, there is a clear jump in death rates for those aged 0-44 and a meaningful rise for those aged 45-64 in 2020. For example, the chart suggests that under-45s in Alberta are dying at a rate that's ~20% in 2020 vs 2016.



The next step is to ask, how many excess deaths have there been in the 0-64 cohort thus far in 2020? The raw data seems to suggest around 650 to October 3, 2020. This compares to 227 people who have died of Covid to October 3, 2020.



"Does it correlate with the lockdowns?" Seemingly...but with a lag.



Well "what is causing the jump in deaths for those under 65?" Unfortunately, I don't have access to this data for 2020. It hasn't been released. But we can look at 2019 data and see how Albertans generally die. Below is a chart outlining that overdoses and suicides are among the largest causes of death for the under-50 cohort. So it's not a stretch to think the majority of those excess deaths in the under-50 cohort were caused by an increase in suicides and overdoses.

And remember, that for every suicide and overdose death, there are numerous others people are becoming depressed and entering into a world of addiction - issues that may inflict damage for decades. This seems like a potentially serious issue across the country - especially considering Alberta has had the LEAST RESTRICTIONS of the other four large population provinces.




But I think that the narrative suggests that in saving the mostly over-70 cohort, we're potentially inflicting much trauma on the young. This is a lot more complex than "Economy" vs "Suppression of COVID to save the lives". The data above suggests we may have lost more lives from the lockdowns/restrictions than from COVID itself.

We obviously need some level of restrictions - without restrictions, Alberta would have a lot more than 227 COVID deaths to October 3rd. But if the human cost of lockdowns and restrictions on the younger cohorts is this significant, it also needs to be a significant part of our consideration and discussion.
It's not a stretch to think the excess deaths are suicide and overdoses?

By all accounts suicides are down in Alberta right now. That was as of September.

Does closing of safe consumption sites, the busiest one on the province have a roll to play? Does the UCP approach of abstinence have a roll to play?

We have barely had any restrictions. We aren't France or Australia. This summer was basically a free for all. I miss a lot of things but I haven't been locked in my house since March.

Job loss, depression etc are all very real. However suicides, overdoses have been increasing for a good decade, where was the concern in 2017 from all the new mental health crusaders. This is really disingenuous as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 11-29-2020, 04:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GullFoss View Post
I've been doing a little research into Covid deaths in Alberta, and wanted to share some of the outputs (to the end of October 3rd, 2020). I honestly wasn't looking for this data when I first started and I have some experience working with data - but mostly in a finance role. To my knowledge, this is the first attempt at trying to quantify the human costs of the lockdowns/restrictions. Maybe these findings are nothing - it's possible it's just spurious correlation or I've made a mistake in working the data. So take it for what you want. I'm just sharing.

It's not a stretch to think the excess deaths are suicide and overdoses?

By most accounts suicides are down in Alberta right now. That was as of September.

Does closing of safe consumption sites, the busiest one in the province have a role to play? Does the UCP approach of abstinence have a role to play?

We have barely had any restrictions. We aren't France or Australia. This summer was basically a free for all. I miss a lot of things but I haven't been locked in my house since March.

Job loss, depression etc are all very real. However suicides, overdoses have been increasing for a good decade, where was the concern in 2017 from all the new mental health crusaders.

There's a lot that goes into this, it definitely isn't as simple as saying lockdowns caused this.
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Old 11-29-2020, 05:06 PM   #7
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One thing to note in all of this, is even if excess deaths are plausibly more than covid deaths, that this is with a very heavy focus on keeping covid under control. I am not saying that this is your intent, but I find that sometimes people look at things like this and compare them very equally. We definitely should be looking at stats like this and figure out how to minimize or help it as well, but covid is as low as it is (for now, could change in the coming weeks) due to quite a bit of work to keep it there.
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Old 11-29-2020, 05:20 PM   #8
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Wow tough subject. I view all excess and covidc confirmed deaths as the total toll of the Pandemic. I see it like direct and in direct fatalities in a disaster or war. Thus it is a grim reality that we are going to see booth styles of death. But how can we best balance it all?

My thought is to try and bring it to as much of and end as quickly as possible. There is evidence that harsh and strictly enforced Lockdowns allow for a better rebound for the people. Yes we will lose some people, but we are already loosing people and I think this would cost fewer lives long term.

We are no longer in a situation we can escape unscathed, we can only choose how badly scarred we get.

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Old 11-29-2020, 06:54 PM   #9
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Just by the thread title alone, it's tough to take the premise seriously. How do you blame lockdowns while not accepting there is a pandemic, and without any government intervention there may have been far more suicides? You can't tease out cause and effect from these numbers considering the alternative isn't no lockdown and everyone is happy, no matter how hard you try to.
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Old 11-29-2020, 08:04 PM   #10
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The no restriction strategy comes with a minimum .25% death rate.

So that’s 11250 Covid deaths. People also die from lack of hospital space and in that scenario I suspect mental health isn’t going to do to great. So preventing a run away Covid environment is very important in minimizing.

So if the above is accepted it dwarfs the numbers that you are looking at. Many US justifications are about to cross .1% death rates and still in the middle of serious outbreaks.

The other interesting thing about Alberta excess deaths is we were high this year prior to Covid starting.
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Old 11-29-2020, 11:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuzz View Post
Just by the thread title alone, it's tough to take the premise seriously. How do you blame lockdowns while not accepting there is a pandemic, and without any government intervention there may have been far more suicides? You can't tease out cause and effect from these numbers considering the alternative isn't no lockdown and everyone is happy, no matter how hard you try to.
Yeah, he didn't do that at all.
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Old 11-29-2020, 11:40 PM   #12
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I would be skeptical about using any single year as a benchmark, so the first chart is a bit problematic. For BC for instance, the death rate among 0-44 year olds increased by 17-18% from 2016 to 2017, stayed pretty high for 2018, dropped back to 2016 levels in 2019, and now in 2020 is up about 20% above 2016. Can we attribute the entire 20% increase in 2020 to COVID/mitigation measures? No, because we've seen jumps pretty much just as high in other years.

Taking an average helps a bit, but even then normal fluctuations are inevitable. Just as a quick test, I looked at the 5 years prior to your numbers. I took the average death rate among 0-44 years olds in Alberta from 2011-2014 and then compared it to 2015. 2015's death rate (deaths as a percentage of total population for that age group) was about 17% higher than the average. That doesn't seem too different from 2020 vs 2016-2019, so again it's hard to really say that pandemic response is driving that when it has happened before in recent history.

Also, you've probably accounted for this but just in case you didn't, make sure if you're using data from that Statistics Canada site that you ensure that you're counting the same number of weeks. If you do Jan 1 - Oct 3 in 2020 you get 40 weeks of data, but in 2017, 2018, 2019 it only produces 39 weeks of data because of how the weeks line up. So that alone is going to show 2-3% higher death counts in 2020 vs any of those years if you don't add a 40th week for those years.
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Old 11-30-2020, 12:58 AM   #13
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Excess deaths is an important statistic because it helps measure the total impact of the pandemic. It avoids mistakes from countries or regions that under reported Covid related deaths as well as accounts for deaths that would have occurred anyways. I do think it is much too soon to start reaching for any kind of conclusions but the data Gullfoss presented is something I think can invoke good discussion.

On that note here is my observation that I am really puzzled about:

I've been looking at excess deaths using:
https://ourworldindata.org/
If there is any reason their data is flawed please let me know.

If you go down to the second graph plotting excess deaths by age and countries there is no surprise that for most countries the 85+ and 65-74 age groups have spikes in the spring when we first locked down. Its lesser pronounced in the fall because data could be incomplete or the fall flu season does contribute a large number of deaths anyways so excess deaths is at a wash but that can be debated.

What I find perplexing is that if you plot ages 15-64 for almost every country it looks like noise between +/-10% excess deaths. The exceptions are Spain, Italy and England who had their healthcare systems overloaded in the spring. Looking at Germany, Finland, Portugal, Canada, Israel or Sweden or any other country they've counted is close to average when taking the running avg over the year. There is no obvious spike for most unless their public health systems were overwhelmed.

The one exception is the US. Their 15-64 excess deaths mirrors their excess deaths for the older age groups throughout the whole pandemic and even exceeds it % wise in June-July. This is completely different than the trends seen in all other countries. Since mid March the excess death rate for 15-64 in the US has consistently exceeded 20% according to this data! This doesn't make sense to me since their health care was said never to be at max.

My hypothesis is that this is one of the best indicators of how broken the American health system is compared to the rest of the world.
My wife suggested obesity is rampant in the US and could be a factor too but I don't see how this explains the ongoing trend.
A third hypothesis is the data is incomplete and could be faulty too. This always is important to consider

Curious to other interpretations.
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Old 11-30-2020, 01:03 AM   #14
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Pandemic, lockdowns, whatever. It’s all the same. I want us to minimize COVID deaths but also want people to admit that fighting this thing is a lot harder on people than just staying home.
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Old 11-30-2020, 01:05 AM   #15
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Queensland's suicide rate did not rise amid coronavirus pandemic, defying expectations, new research shows

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The Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Queensland's Griffith University found the state's suicide rate had remained at about 14 deaths per 100,000, despite the community enduring lockdowns and an economic recession.

Lead researcher Dr Stuart Leske said there had been evidence of suicide increases during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 and SARS in Hong Kong in 2003, and it was not clear why there had not been similar trends this time around amongst vulnerable groups.

Although the overall suicide rate was unaffected, Dr Leske said COVID-19 had still contributed to at least 36 suspected suicides in Queensland from February to August.
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Dr Leske said it was difficult to speculate on why there had not been the rise that politicians and mental health professionals had expected.

He said it was possible that — like after natural disasters — the effects of the pandemic could be delayed.
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Professor Shand said previous evidence from the Global Financial Crisis showed there was a correlation between high unemployment and suicide rates, but other supports can help mitigate the effects.

She said in countries where there was good social welfare support, such as unemployment benefits, the suicide rate had not increased.
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Old 11-30-2020, 01:20 AM   #16
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What about Japan?
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Old 11-30-2020, 01:51 AM   #17
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What about Japan?
https://ourworldindata.org/excess-mortality-covid

Sorry I missed the link to the excess mortality data by country. Taiwan and South Korea are the only Asian country represented and is pretty much noise independent of the age group. I expect Japan's numbers to be similar since they haven't reported any excess deaths.
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Old 11-30-2020, 08:39 AM   #18
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Suicide up in Japan?

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn...hnk/index.html
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Old 11-30-2020, 10:33 AM   #19
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I always go back to thinking what things would be like if we did nothing.

I hear oh we have more deaths from this and that vs covid.

But what if there was zero lockdowns and did nothing specifically through the winter. I think things would quickly turn nightmarish. Imo.
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Old 11-30-2020, 10:52 AM   #20
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I always go back to thinking what things would be like if we did nothing.

I hear oh we have more deaths from this and that vs covid.

But what if there was zero lockdowns and did nothing specifically through the winter. I think things would quickly turn nightmarish. Imo.

Either you do nothing and people die or you lockdown and people think it's a hoax. It's like Y2K.
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