Fresh Takes

COVID-19: Transparency needed

Since the start of the pandemic, the COVID-19 “active case” counter has been hammered home daily by politicians and the media. One of the goals of this systematic reminder is to make sure that we all stick with the program, that we don’t think we’re out of the woods, and that we remain on guard.

Even though everyone has already heard at least once that the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are really the most at risk, this daily repetition keeps us in a nervous state that reinforces docility regarding government directives.

Fear is pernicious in that it crowds out thinking, and the fact that the active number of cases was not going down attracted the attention of only a small number of keen observers who questioned the likelihood of this, given that an infected person has only two options: getting better or dying. We should thus have seen contrary movement in the number of active cases on the one hand and the number of deaths and recoveries on the other. The stagnation of active cases makes no sense.

This anomaly was corrected on July 17, when the INSPQ adjusted its official figures on the distribution of detected cases: The percentage of active cases suddenly plummeted from 44.4% to 2,5%, recovered cases jumped from 45.6% to 87.6%.

If nearly 90% of detected cases recover, this means that the recovery rate is actually much higher. Thus, if we detect only a third of total cases (non-detected cases being either asymptomatic or benign), the recovery rate rises to 95.8%. This is a very different situation.

The INSPQ’s spectacular correction was done discreetly, and it is shocking that no official has expressed surprise, and that it has received almost no attention in the media. Yet precise data shared in a timely manner are necessary if the public debate is to rest on actual facts. Even if we can be thankful that the revised data are finally available, it is not clear how often these will be updated.

CASES ACTIVE RECOVERED DEATHS Active % Recovered % Deaths %
ORIGINAL 56,316 25,029 25,675 5,612 44.4% 45.6% 10.0%
CORRECTED 56,569 1404 49,531 5,634 2.5% 87.6% 10.0%
Difference 253 -23,625 23,856 22 -42.0% 42.0% 0.0%
Difference % 0.4% -94.4% 92.9% 0.4% ​- ​- ​​-

(Table: Jean-Pierre Aubry, independent economist)

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