Experts Think You're Too Stupid For Data

Recently, Alberta Health attributed their youngest COVID-19 related death to a 14-year old boy. This triggered the family of the 14-year old to criticize the reporting, calling it "fake news."

Days later, Alberta's Chief Medical Officer, retracted the death from their covid count making a half-apology. What's concerning here, is that in the aftermath we aren't seeing a push for more data or even more accurate data. Instead, we are seeing "experts" argue that comorbidities should not be made public, as it may "undermine the public's understanding of the disease."

In what reality does withholding information create a better understanding of anything?

But, before we get to that, we need to look at how the CBC is still reporting "fake news." Or, at least egregiously incorrect news.

In a recent update around the reporting of Nathanael Spitzer's death, CBC journalist Wallis Snowdown writes:

Hinshaw announced the province will no longer report COVID-19 deaths of children until a review process has been completed to confirm the actual cause of death.

Then, about 7 or 8 or sentences later, Snowdon writes:

After a COVID-19 death is reported, each case is assessed to ensure the reporting is accurate. If fault is found, the case is removed from Alberta's COVID-19 statistics.

No. Clearly each case is not accurately assessed. That is the impetus of why you are even reporting on this! Especially, when you quote Hinshaw announcing that they will now review cause of death in children.

Snowdon then goes on to assume that releasing data around comorbidities will result in this faulty conclusion:

Pre-existing conditions can range from severe to minor — and just because someone has a comorbidity does not mean they were likely to die before contracting COVID-19.

Of course not! Why are you making that assumption? Why are you assuming the public will make that assumption? Terminal Brain Cancer is not the same thing as having Diabetes. But, in either case, we can say that, statistically, you are more at risk of hospitalization and death if you contract COVID-19 and have underlying health conditions. This association has been made all around the world.

[Dr. Noel Gibney, professor emeritus in the department of critical care medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton] said tracking comorbidities can contribute to a broader understanding of the pandemic, but sharing the data publicly is problematic.

The public cannot be trusted with data around comorbidites... Wow. These elite academic types must think very little of the general public.

[..] the data also stigmatizes those with underlying health conditions.

Further, Ubaka Ogbogu, an associate professor in the faculty of law and the Katz Research Fellow in Health Law and Science Policy at U of A, joins in on this sentiment:

People who have these comorbidities are going to live in fear.... And that anxiety is not being matched by any action from these governments to actually show that they're trying to protect those who are especially vulnerable.

What? This entire Country is living in fear! Why else would fully vaccinated individuals be wearing a cloth face mask outdoors?

When COVID-19 hospitalization and death data is stratified by age and comorbidities, it highlights the reality of who is at risk. There is nothing wrong with these people in a social context. I have yet to see anyone stigmatize people suffering from cancer or heart disease, or for ageing. Is this stigmatization so prevalent that we should indeed withold information from the public?

Prior to COVID-19, is was quite normal to acknowledge that immunocompromised individuals were at high risk of complications from influenza infection. What has changed since then?

Having this data available allows the public (and researchers!) to compare and analyze outcomes from around the world, painting a clearer picture of the characteristics of COVID-19 and how it's affected by underlying health conditions. This helps the public to better understand their own risk profile, and could inform more targeted interventions in order to avoid lockdowns and mandates in the future.

In contrast, these experts believe that data from a publicly funded institution should not be made public because they fear that the public may interepret the data in a way that does not align with their narrative or interpretation.

October 17, 2021