The true cost of the pandemic
There was a time earlier in the pandemic when half the people on social media seemed to be sharing charts designed to show that countries whose governments or policies they liked had lower COVID-19 death rates or that governments or policies they disliked had worse ones.
The trouble with almost all these attempts is that comparing the statistics from different countries tends to be like comparing apples and pears.
Even those countries which tried hardest to provide honest reports of the number of COVID-related deaths were probably under-stating the impact during the first wave though those countries are probably over-reporting it now - most of the people in hospitals in Britain who have COVID-19 have other serious conditions as well. For most of those reported as having died within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, there is a good chance that COVID contributed to their deaths
The most accurate attempts to monitor the true cost of the pandemic in terms of human lives lost have been those which concentrated on the number of excess deaths.
There has been important work on this in the past from both the FT and the Economist: for anyone who really wants to understand the true net impact of the pandemic, direct and indirect in terms of human lives lost, the latest Economist site tracking excess deaths compared with the rate at which people were reaching the end of their lives before the pandemic is a must-read.
You can find it by clicking on the link below